I want the damn asterisk

Of course, it isn’t fair players from the steroid era are all painted with the same brush of suspicion and scorn reserved the cheaters. It’s painful players who had nothing to do with steroids are lumped in with the others just because they played in this era.

It’s not fair, but since when is “fair” ever the issue?

There was the dead ball era, the lively ball era, the pitching era (take a look at some of the pitching numbers from 1968), and now we have the steroid era.

Steroids are part of baseball’s history, and we all know history isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, it is dirty and distasteful, which defines the steroid era. However, Major League Baseball, and I’m talking about Bud Selig and the MLB Players Association, can’t stick their heads in the sand a second time.

They did so when McGwire and Sosa danced pretty around the bases and that night in St. Louis when the former embraced Roger Maris’ kids. How upsetting to think of that now. The media, of which I am a part of, cheered them on with only a minority bothering to ask the disturbing questions or look under the dirty rocks.

And, it is being done so again without any label to this era.

I want the damn asterisk. I want this to be known as the steroid era, and I want every player linked to steroids to have the asterisk next to his career numbers. I want the notation they aren’t recognized as all-time record holders.

It won’t totally clean things up, but it will out those recognized as cheaters and define this disturbing era.

29 thoughts on “I want the damn asterisk

  1. John

    I agree.

    However, no one cares.

    I remember reading something some time ago about cheating – buying term papers or tests or whatever. A very common response was every one does it why not me?

    The internet makes it very easy to buy a paper or a test you are too stressed to do it right. There are too many things on the line. Good grades from a good school leads to good jobs.

    My point is that no one in baseball has the integrity to want to do it right. Bart Giamatti is no longer here. The union tips off the players that the tester is coming Monday. Then the fans say that player X never got caught so why are we whining?

    I just saw something on Manswers the other day where they were talking about cheating. They had the device strapped to your body where the fluid was supplied by someone clean. Unless the tester is standing in the stall with you, who will know? Then of course there are the usual drug remedies that are supposed to clean out your system.

    I join you in raising a stink about this, but just so you know that we are playing the part of Sisyphus.

  2. First question.
    When did the steroid begin and when will we be able to say it is over.

  3. This is as much an era as the dead ball era. It is a shame for those who didn’t cheat, but another way to look at it is as a devaluation of the HR as an important statistic. Perhaps we will begin to value the RBI, the hit, the batting average and the on base percentage more than we used to. Perhaps we will be slightly less statistics obsessed and be more interested in watching the game for what it was.

    As far as the asterisk. John McGraw was infamous for cheating on the basepaths whenever possible it the (then only one) umpire’s attention were taken – we do not have an asterisk next to his name. Pitchers used to throw spitballs and other junkballs and they don’t get asterisks either.

    Oh, what about an asterisk for every single white player who played before Jackie Robinson. Is it not cheating to keep a very large, very competitive group of people out of baseball?

  4. Steroids have been illegal in the United States since 1991. Do the laws of the United States stop at the doorsteps of sport clubhouses? I don’t think so, nor do I think the authority of the MLB athletes union supercedes the authority of the local Police Department. This charade about athletes getting special treatment with their unions is ridiculous and needs to stop. They should be obeying all the laws the rest of us do. (Think Plax)

  5. Athletes don’t get special treatment. They have a right to privacy like we do. They chose to start testing on the condition of anonymity. In fact, athletes have far fewer rights than we do regarding steroids. Nobody is going to stop you on the street and ask you to pee in a cup.

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  7. And players pre-steroids era were on greenies.

    And before that, African-American players weren’t allowed in Major League baseball.

    There is always something to point to in every era that gives players an advantage. The steroids need to stop…it’s wrong and it’s blatant cheating, but in when looking at actual stats and such, people tend to forget about all of the other past issues that affected them as well.

  8. Delcos: I think you’re in the minority on this one, and as much as I like to argue with the majority, they make excellent points, especially j_k and Pelham, so you are on your own on this one my man.
    (4): I have to disagree with your attack n the union in your write up. Any agreement with the union was signed and agreed to with ownership. The 2003 testing was a win-win for both at the time. The Union didn’t want testing and the owners didn’t “want to know” why the HRs were growing so much. They both ,loved the full houses that were coming to see a horrible Cardinal team that without McGwire would have been playing to half empty houses. The only thing that went wrong for both sides was the number to make testing mandatory was reached.

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  10. Anybody remember the “Chicks love the longball” commercial. There is no need for an asterek. Just like people know the deadball era was over around 1920, and that 1968 was an aberration, they will know that the 1990s and the first half of this decade was the steriod era. That era is over now, thanks to testing. Some marginal players will still try it, but big name players have too much to lose.

  11. I hate to break it to you guys. The era is not over.

    It will be over when real penalties are enacted.

    Teams lose draft picks when players are caught cheating. Teams lose World Series trophies when they cheat. Teams are fined. Managers are fired.

    Players get suspended and their contracts voided when they cheat. Players get banned for a few years when they cheat. Records are deleted for the years in question.

    Until you have real penalties for current and past practices the status quo prevails.

  12. I’m sure JD may eventually put it up as a topic, and I’m sure many of you already know, but Santana is out of the WBC.

    Threw off a mound today for the first time (as is his norm, apparently) and everything went ok…thankfully.

  13. (9) Dave- The union will never allow those types of things and even the most hardline owners know that.

    There will always be something because someone out there is always ahead of the curve. I do agree, however, that a lot of the bigger names probably would refrain from it based on the chance alone. But that doesn’t mean you won’t hear superstar players in the future pop up as positive testers.

  14. Dave, I disagree. I know it will never be 100% clean, I think its a lot better now. There are no more 50,60.70 HR seasons except for Aroid a couple of years ago. Now all of his achievements will be forever tainted. I think thats enough of a deterrent.

  15. Ray,

    I have to disagree. The steroids ARod used years ago were designer steroids that were not detectable. If you have tests and they are not detected, but you go back in a few years and find something you could not and punish them for it then they won’t do it.

    As MrMet and others have said the unions won’t allow it because they are part of the problem. All of baseball is the problem. The owners, the players, the union, the trainers, the fans, etc.

  16. This isn’t comparable to the dead-ball era or the “high mound” era that ended in 1968, because those eras featured environmental factors which were constants to everyone who played.

    Steroids are different, because their usage wasn’t a constant to everyone who played. If A-Rod was juiced, but Jeter wasn’t, how can you put an asterisk next to Jeter?

    That said, the move to put an asterisk around everything from this era will ultimately cause the non-users to “out” the juicers. Anything less than this approach will result in a continuation of the cover-up.

    And, by the way, three cheers for Peter Gammons. What a hard-hitting interview.

  17. (15) Tiffany- I enjoyed the interview for entertainment value…but I thought it was anything but “hard-hitting”

    Just my opinion, of course.

  18. If any era deserves asterisks it is the era before 1947. Until that time players were banned for color. The other items mentioned, well they all had the same mound, and they all could have used steroids. Before 1947 they all couldn’t play. Would Ruth have hit 60 in 27? Would Williams have hit .406 in ’41? Where are the *** for the most questionable records out there?

  19. JD: I agree, you need the steroid *. why? where are Mark Maguire and Sosa now? as soon as they stopped they sucked.

    Come the babe was just the oppposite, he hit home runs despite being drunk off his ass now that’s talent.

    Listen cheating is cheating. It isn’t like steroids are vitamins replenishing what you lose in a course of a day. These are artificial enhancements used to make you more than your body frame can handle.

    Sports stars unlike movie stars, have an image to portray. Or at least they should. But even today they don’t want it.

    Hence why all i really have left is baseball and soon I may not even want to watch that… it all depends where the next step in the debacle of sports takes us.

  20. (18) The Babe only had to face half the great pitchers of his era. Why no asterisk? He excelled in an era of racial cheating.

  21. Harry(19)

    He couldn’t face himself that’s for sure. He was a great pitcher in his own right. if only he was on the national league!

    Please dont confuse Racial barriers with steroids. Jimmy the greek lost his job for that ;-)

  22. (20): I’m not confusing the two Steve C. The point is really that you can asterisk for all kinds of things, making no record meaningful.

  23. Chiti, (19) just correcting a fact, You say Ruth only faced 50% of the great pitchers of his time. The population of blacks in Ruths time was about 5%. I think you are comparing apples to oranges here.

  24. Sadecki The real point is that every era has something that can be asterisked for all different types of reasons. Greenies, different height mounds, juiced balls, dead balls, roids, discrimination, small parks, big parks, spit balls, whatever…..

  25. Chiti, this is true. Some things affected the game more than others. Thats why I say no to the asterek. People who care enough about baseball history to get involved in the stats will know about the variables involved in each record. BTW Strawberrys got a book coming out about the drugs he and his teammates took in the 80′s. Some excerps are in the post. Should make for interesting reading.

  26. But see the difference between “DRUGS” and performance enhancers is that they are the opposite. The fact that the 80′s mets played so damned well on the booze and drugs tells ya a lot. But if they were on roids like Nails. then my respect goes out the door.

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