The Steroid Era: Beauty Through Crime

Baseball is a true form of art in the sports world. Whether it’s a batter timing up a 100-mph fastball or an outfielder making a diving catch to save a game, all parts of the sport work together to create a beautiful game. The players in the MLB are able to make the game look silky smooth on both sides of the ball. This has always attracted me to the sport. However, this beauty can also be corrupted.

One of the most controversial periods in baseball history was the “Steroid Era.” This was a point of time from the late ‘80s through the late 2000s in which many of the league’s best players took performance-enhancing drugs resulting in a wild increase in offensive performance. From an art perspective, this period enhanced the beauty and style of the game through high-powered offenses across the league. But from a crime perspective, these drugs went against the policies put in place by the MLB to keep the game fair.

The 1990s was when this era truly took off. This is where we saw huge statistical seasons from big names like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds (and plenty more who took various types of steroids). A memorable season that encapsulated the steroid era was the 1998 season. McGwire and Sosa were in a heated battle for the home run title that year. Both players broke the previous record (held for 37 years). McGwire set the record at 70 home runs while Sosa hit 66 home runs and was awarded National League MVP. This record didn’t last long though as only three seasons later, Barry Bonds topped McGwire’s record with his own 73 home run season. Steroid use was able to unlock the true potential of the sport’s great players, but some still view this as damaging to the sport.

Some regard this period of baseball as the sport’s golden age. It changed the MLB and how people perceived baseball. The offense became the focal point of the game, and people came to stadiums in anticipation of the next big splash. My Dad, a Giants fan like myself, has told me that during the season Bonds set the home run record that you could see him hit a home run almost every other game he played. So even though it was a crime that these players took performance-enhancing drugs, was it possibly all to the benefit of the art of the game? Once the MLB cracked down on steroid use, the league saw a streak of its lowest ratings for some of the biggest games of the year (All-Star Game and the World Series). Maybe it’s time to look back into the league’s policies and allow a PED that the whole league can use. Return baseball to its status as America’s Pastime and bring back what made baseball fun to watch.

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Tim Sweeters

One thought on “The Steroid Era: Beauty Through Crime

  1. Baseball truly is a beautiful sport and despite their PED usage, there is no denying that these players were excellent baseball players. Even if the PEDs may have increased their strength, they still need incredible skill to be able to play at the level that they did. While I agree that this era of baseball was likely very exciting to watch, I don’t necessarily agree that leaguewide PED usage would be the answer to making baseball somehow more enticing. The sport is already incredible and it would feel tainted knowing that every player was using PEDs. Also, every year the players are only getting stronger and better and they will eventually approach or even exceed the levels that the PED players were at without having to take any PEDs.

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