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posted: 7/30/2013 8:02 PM

MLB drug shame remains a stain

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  • After a week's worth of high drama, second-guessing and radio interviews, it seems Rodriguez is about to be lumped with New York Yankees who sort of just didn't fit, failed or just faded away.

    After a week's worth of high drama, second-guessing and radio interviews, it seems Rodriguez is about to be lumped with New York Yankees who sort of just didn't fit, failed or just faded away.
    Associated Press File Photo


For the players who didn't cheat, it's pretty simple.

Those baseball players who sought a competitive and financial advantage by taking drugs both illegal in baseball and the real world, stole dollars and pennants from those who remained clean.

"I saw a guy recently who was named in one of those reports," said Rick Sutcliffe. "He was walking across a field and I thought, 'That son of a (bleep) cost me a World Series.' He cheated and we lost."

Not too complicated -- unless you have some sort of agenda.

There are those -- both civilians and media -- who defend the steroid era still because they promoted it and are embarrassed for having done so.

There are those who have defended the steroid freaks and are simply too ashamed today to consider that they may have been wrong.

And there are those who have deluded themselves into thinking cheating before drug testing is somehow different from cheating after drug testing, even though the sole reason for cheating at all was, well, to cheat.

They are only fooling themselves -- and probably not even themselves.

Congress passed the Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990 to amend the Controlled Substances Act and provide criminal penalties for illicit use of anabolic steroids.

Yeah, um, they made it a felony to use steroids illegally. So it was what you'd call in legal terms, um, illegal.

Doesn't sound too complicated.

Most Hall of Fame voters have grasped the concept and made their voices heard, and those who stole from the history of the game will not be included in the most historic of halls in Cooperstown.

Even Bud Selig -- who profited more from steroids than just about any other person in the game -- has arisen from a slumber and is finally punishing the offenders, desperate near the end of his career to alter his legacy.

So angry was he that Ryan Braun disappointed him -- and used a technicality to beat suspension -- that Selig has gone after Braun with more zeal than anyone.

Selig will tell you baseball is cleaner than ever, but it wasn't even a positive test that led to the latest scandal. It was an angry investor/client who exposed the Biogenesis story to the Miami New Times, and the result has brought down Braun and will soon yield more suspensions.

"I'm waiting to see when the hammer comes down what comes out," Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson told reporters over the weekend in Cooperstown. "I get disappointed when I hear guys say they only did it one time. That upsets me, too. Yeah, one time. What's the difference? I only robbed a bank once.

"Guys cheated, created an uneven playing field. I don't have any sympathy for them."

Seems pretty simple.

"PEDs make bad players good, good players great and great players Hall of Famers," Curt Schilling said on ESPN this week. "It's just unfair to the guys who played it straight."

Guys like Andre Dawson, who waited nine elections to reach the Hall of Fame after his career was swallowed whole by the steroid era.

"The consequences of that era of PEDs were big for me, and a lot of guys were forgotten," Dawson said earlier this year. "Now, the guys who did the drugs have to face the consequences."

And he doesn't buy the notion that writers can hold their noses and vote for the cheaters, or find excuses to look past steroids.

"That's a cop-out. It's the writers' job to decide who belongs in the Hall of Fame, but they don't want to punish guys who cheated?" Dawson said. "The all-time hits leader (Pete Rose) isn't in the Hall, and I know it's not the writers' call on that, but Pete has been punished.

"You telling me you don't have the heart to punish those guys?"

Players cheated, and they are still cheating. The incentive to make money far outweighs the risk, and it will until players fear the loss of contract and career, something that appears impossible now and unlikely in the near future.

Nevertheless, it would be effective.

In the meantime, spin it any way you want to make yourself feel better about the steroid era. Say it was fine. Say it was good. Say it was fun. Say it just doesn't matter.

Say baseball looked the other way, so you might as well, too.

Go ahead.

But to the players who lost games and money because of it, including Hall of Famers, they think you're delusional or perhaps motivated by ego or something inexplicable.

Spin that, too, if it makes you feel better.

•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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