Baseball’s steroid era could lead to fan apathy

Posted June 03, 2011, at 7:47 p.m.

There will be more problems with these names and how to deal with them as time goes by.

The steroid era in baseball has left a long, ugly spot on the game and it will only grow.

The other day the names of Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa came up on “This Day in Baseball” charts, relating back to their homer-pounding years.

How do you treat these stories now? Do they get the full attention as did Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record?

They do not and probably never will, but these numbers in the shadows exist and they are in the MLB record books as just that — records.

How would you treat the history of the home run years now if reporting on them? Would you recite the never-ending publicity and hoopla attendant to every at bat when Sosa, McGwire and Bonds were chasing each other for the record for most home runs in a season?

Can those stories, even if told, leave out the steroid attachment?

This is where the damage to the game resulting from the drug-enhanced numbers really hurts.

Rather than reporting on the game and its magic numbers and moments, we are left with a paragraph, then 10 footnotes, another paragraph and another 10 footnotes.

There is no disagreement now that the drugs resulted in the higher home run numbers. Whether it was because of the quicker muscle recovery time from the last game and/or the ability to build muscle mass, the numbers are performance enhanced.

Some players have admitted to using the drugs, some continue to say no, some say nothing and some, Bonds at this moment in his court case, say they used but didn’t know that’s what they were using.

In all cases, the extent and duration of use is very difficult to ascertain.

Alex Rodriguez said he used when he played in Texas, but not elsewhere. That raises eyebrows and further questions that will probably never be answered.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez continues his quest for most home runs in a career, a record now held by Bonds (762).

The toughest time in deciding how to treat these inflated numbers will come when the players become eligible for consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Number comparisons are the very cornerstone for entry or rejection into the Hall. If the numbers were illegally enhanced, as they were, now what?

All of this has left the fans cold. They are not fooled by the numbers or the lies.

Fans have lives to lead and worrying about MLB records is pretty far down on the worry list.

There is a lot of shoulder shrugging from fans on this matter. For MLB, that is the most dangerous reaction of all.

From on-field exploits came the epic stars of the game. From those stars came adulation of the game and tickets bought.

From drug-enhanced performances came head shaking and shrugged shoulders.

The resultant apathy toward the game could be the steroid era’s most profound legacy.

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