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Some think just legalizing steroids would make it all easier.

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Some think just legalizing steroids would make it all easier.

by Paul Kix

What if everybody in baseball juiced? Sure, it's almost a rote question now: Ah, didn't they at one point? But what if it were out in the open, encouraged even? If you cast aside the rationale that the effects would be no less comical than the "All Drug Olympics," you're left with the nagging realization that baseball would be, for the first time in ages, transparent and, ironically, pure. That's miles ahead of where the game is now.

Michael Hogan at Vanity Fair argues for steroid acceptance if only because the game is already full of cheats: the runner sliding into second on a routine ground ball never hopes to beat the tag so much as stab the shortstop trying to turn a double play. That's fundamental to how the game is played. So is chewing tobacco, which contains nicotine, which can calm a pitcher's nerves and increase his level of concentration. Hogan asks why, if we accept small amounts of cheating, we don't welcome big, vial-dripping doses of it.

The answer, of course, is that baseball would become a perversion of itself. Who's to say it hasn't? That was basically the argument of that former minor league player who last year looked for fellow former minor leaguers to file a class-action suit against MLB, The Steroid Era isn't really about the guys who take steroids. It's about the suspicion of who is taking them. That's what drives it. This suspicion plays out now in academic settings, too, where college students take prescriptions for ADD to stay sharp -- or rather, just as sharp as the guy sitting next to them, whom they suspect of popping pills. If no one knows who is cheating, everyone feels the need to cheat.

In the end, we're not advocating for an open steroid policy. We just wish baseball would be more honest with itself. Buster Olney makes the great point that the Players Association is the only one that can affect change but so far, players have decided to literally stand behind Alex Rodriguez during his mea culpa, and, figuratively, "stand behind Manny…[and] support him in any way we can," according to the union's statement. That sends a terrible message to the rest of the players. It's time for the MLBPA to realize that the game is only as fair as the union allows it to be. And if this current standard endures, the union might as well allow for everyone to juice.


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