Sunday, February 20, 2005

Smizik: Steroid stink doesn't taint records

From Bob Smizik in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"The point to all of the above is this: Steroids are a blight on baseball, no question. But they have neither ruined the game nor made meaningless its cherished records.

This column has defended Bonds in the past. It will not in the future. Still, what is the explanation for him batting .370, .341 and .362 in the past three seasons -- the highest three averages of his career? How do steroids improve your hand-eye coordination?

Bonds broke McGwire's record and McGwire broke Maris' record when steroids were not illegal in baseball. Their accomplishments are not tainted and should stand on their merit."

First, I agree that under the rules of the game at the time, Bonds and McGwire's records are legitimate. Steroids were not banned in baseball.

Secondly, Smizik's right about steroids and natural ability. I could take steroids until my heart explodes, but I'll still never, ever be able to hit Randy Johnson.

I take issue with one thing: Tony LaRussa defended McGwire as steroid-free, and no one has produced definitive proof of deliberate steroid abuse by Barry Bonds. He said he used a cream that he didn't know was doped. It was legal in baseball at the time, and he's passed tests since. Why can't we accept the man at his word?

Unlike most Pirate fans, I like Barry Bonds and I believe he was the greatest player to ever where a Pirates uniform (with all due respect to Roberto Clemente). Barry Bonds is in a class with the greatest baseball players of all time - so what if he's an asshole? (An image primarily perpetuated by the media and Jeff Kent - he may be a very nice guy.)

Anyhow, Smizik's right. Even if they used steroids - the records were earned under the rules of the time.


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