a juiced SUIT column by Chris Jungle
I think I've figured out what to do if I ever have to testify before Congress about anything. I'm going to lie. "I believe that nicotine is not addictive." "I never had sexual relations with that woman." "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt about it." "I have never taken steroids. Ever."
Strangely enough, out of all those lies to Congress, it's baseball that has actually punished the liars. The tobacco companies had their billions of dollars worth of settlements reduced immensely. Clinton was impeached but slipped on by. Bush got his war, and it's still going on. The big boppers in baseball, however, are looking more human every day.
Home run slugger Mark McGwire's nonadmittance of steroid use was mostly seen as a nondenial. Sammy Sosa used a translator to explain how he has never used steroids. Of course, he talks to reporters every day in English, and he's having an injury filled and pitiful season at the plate. Barry Bonds has yet to step on the baseball field since the accusations. Jason Giambi apologized in general because he's sorry. Sorry for what? He's just sorry. The whistle blower, Jose Canseco, is on a VH-1 reality show (a punishment in itself).
Then, there's Rafael Palmeiro. The Baltimore slugger was the most adamant about never taking steroids. The most recent man to pass the 3000 hits and 500 home run mark. The one guy who seemed to be getting through the whole ordeal unscathed. Then baseball tested him and discovered he's been taking steroids.
I've come to believe all of the homer ball boys of the late 1990s (and probably earlier) were due to pumping the 'roids. I think a lot of HUGE asterisks need to be added to the home run records of recent days. Bonds *73*, McGwire *70*, Sosa *66* (and the other Sosa 60 home run stats), Maris 61, Ruth 60. Hey, those old Yankees don't need any stars at all.
I love baseball. It was the first sport I followed. All those stats, baseball cards and bubble gum fascinated me, and during my first ten years of life, my team, the Kansas City Royals was a pretty damn good team. I played one full season of little league baseball. During the second year, pitchers would hit me just so I would cry, and I quit. The game weeds out those who can't hack it.
Such will be the case with the steroid boys. I think you will see more than a few of the old boppers retire in the next year or two. They sacrificed their ability to juice their bodies temporarily. When players quit using the drug, you will see how much they can't hit the ball. McGwire couldn't bat .200 during his final year. Bret Boone has been cut by two clubs for his inability to hit this year. Guys are getting injured more. Roid ball is dying.
Was baseball a little late jumping on the problem? Yeah. Does it tarnish the game? Baseball tarnishes itself on a regular basis. Will it kill the game? The Red Sox won the World Series last year, and the apocalypse didn't occur. Maybe, it is just a game after all.
I'll admit it, I liked seeing the home run race between McGwire and Sosa. I liked watching Barry Bonds destroy the baseball every other at bat. I was duped by the dopers. But there's something every year that's worth following. Derrick Lee is contending for the Triple Crown even as the Cubs fade from the race. The Yankees just might not make the playoffs (please, please). The Royals, um, well the Royals are developing some, no, the Royals have shown signs of, eeee that's not it--oh all right, the Royals suck big time.
Basically, my point is that roid ball will become another chapter in the long history of baseball. The game will go on as the old sluggers wilt. It took a while for the hammer to come down on steroid users, but it has begun. Teams are adjusting. Two doubles works just as well as a home run. Small ball has merit, just ask the White Sox. Guys can still jerk it out of the yard on a regular basis, but it's going to be an accomplishment for someone to hit fifty home runs a year again.
All I really learned from the ordeal is that everyone lies before Congress. In fact, I think it's expected. "I have never, ever, and will not, and in the interest of national security, done anything that would be considered a detriment to anyone, including myself, but especially others, that could implement me as doing something considered not good, illegal, or misleading to anyone on earth except the evil doers who know who they are. Thank you, and God Bless America."
Chris Jungle has never taken a brain-smartening drug to enhance his columns.