Barry Bonds, Ryan Braun, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez. When these household baseball names are spoken about, there is only one thing that comes to mind to baseball fans. Steroids. Their spectacular achievements have never been seen before in history. It is hard to imagine that someone who has not previously taken PEDs will be able to break the records that these men have broken. During each of their MLB careers, these players were praised at one point or another for being the cream of the crop in the league. However, once their use of PEDs started to become apparent to the public, all previous accolades for these athletes were deemed invalid and they were categorized as cheaters.. Ryan Braun, league MVP in 2011 admitted to taking steroids during this season. His legacy as being one of the best players in the league is now forgotten. Barry Bonds, most well known for leading the league in homeruns in 2001 with 73, also forgotten. These players who have put themselves in the MLB record books during their steroid era have little to no credibility left.
It is hard to say if Major League Baseball will ever be respected as a sport that produces natural athletes like it has in the past. With PED use in baseball still so apparent, the MLB must do something to stop this trend before the sport is completely legitimized as a cheaters game. The only way to do this is to re-brand the way society views baseball and its recognizable use of steroids. Players that use PEDs not only see results on the diamond, but their physical stature becomes greatly elevated. Barry Bonds, in my opinion has one of the most notable body changes from pre and post steroid era.
This picture illustrates Barry in his early and late stages of his career. The difference is quite astonishing.
According to mlb.com, the policy for the use of steroids now provides a 3-tier suspension system. The first time a player is caught, he must serve an 80 game suspension. The second time he is caught, he must serve a 162-game suspension with an additional 183 days of pay suspension. The third time he is caught, he receives a permanent suspension from both the Major and Minor baseball leagues.
I strongly believe that this 3-tier system must be even stricter in order to eliminate PEDs from the game and re-vamp the MLB as a warranted sports league. The league needs to implement a zero tolerance policy regarding the use of steroids. This will do two things that will help provide a boost to the league. It will implement a strong fear in players that will have them question if taking steroids is worth their career as a professional athlete and it will aid in the re-furnishing of the league as a whole. There have been countless players who have used steroids; some have been great while others have been terrible. The risks simply do not outweigh the rewards when it comes down to a player’s reputation and future.
Another interesting factor that has changed in the MLB since the rise of PED usage is the increase of homeruns per game. As seen below, the early 1990’s shows that there was less than 1 homerun per game. As the 2000’s began to come along, that number shot up tremendously, peaking at about 1.15 homeruns per game. A statistic like this does not rise that much by chance, there has to have been an additional factor. That factor must have been the use of steroids. The game has changed from a small ball, every run and every batter matters to a more home run dominant game. Although this makes the game more amusing to watch, I strongly believe that steroid usage is the number one factor which influenced this large change.
Steroid usage in baseball has changed the way the game has been played and viewed by its fans. If the sport wants to change its reputation, it must act fast. Players must feel a sense of serious fear when deciding whether or not to take these drugs. After all, taking PEDs are illegal, and what nationally recognized sport wants to be linked with a drug that has only brought hardships for the leagues reputation?
Ryan Braun admits to lying, says he used PEDs during 2011 MVP season (Yahoo Sports)
MLB steroid use regulations
Barry Bonds Stats, Video Highlights, Photos, Bio (Major League Baseball)