Column: Steroids saved baseball

Players began using steroids in order to increase our viewership.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Jose Canseco and now Alex Rodriguez. All of these big name players have admitted to, or are suspected of, using steroids. Most fans are quick to judge these players, and many people think these players should not be voted into the Hall of Fame.

Steroids have been a hot-button issue ever since Congress decided to investigate the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the MLB. Canseco, Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee have been the major sources of information for both Congress and the media. Media coverage of this issue has been exhausting, with a headline about steroids almost every day.

Many fans blame the players, the commissioner or the player's union for the steroids era. Realistically, we need only to look into the mirror to see who is really at fault.

That's right. It is our fault these players turned to steroids. We are to blame, and the sooner we can admit this, the sooner we can get back to watching baseball the way it was intended to be played.

Why is it our fault? After the strike of 1994, no one wanted to watch baseball anymore. Fans stopped watching in record numbers, and baseball was in serious danger. The league had to find a way to make people start watching again. That way was home runs.

The MLB experienced rejuvenation in 1998, when McGwire and Sammy Sosa broke Roger Maris' single-season home run record. Fans started caring again. Thus, the league was faced with a very tough decision: remain morally sound and fail financially or start juicing and make some money.

Obviously, the league chose the latter. Can we blame them? They did what most people would have done -- try to make money. It would seem the commissioner knew about the steroid use but turned a blind eye to it, as the league was once again prospering.

Now that the fans are watching again, steroids are no longer necessary. But, we should not punish the players who took them. After all, they helped save the league, and we, as fans, need to forgive and forget.

Let's label this period of baseball the "Steroids Era" and move on. Put asterisks by all the records set during the past 10 years. Vote the best players from this era into the Hall of Fame, but put them in a special section.

Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro saved the game of baseball, albeit illegally, but if I had a vote, these guys are first ballot Hall of Famers for sure.

As for the 103 other players who tested positive for steroids at the same time A-Rod did, keep their names a secret. Why must the media crush every role model in the league? Why should we throw more players under the bus? Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

Let's stop blaming the players who used steroids and start blaming ourselves. Only then can we get back to enjoying America's pastime.

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