The year of 1998 was a banner year for Major League Baseball. It was the year where the fans returned and embraced Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's chase of Roger Maris’ single season homerun record that had stood for 37 years. It was the savior of the game at the time, but 7 years later, that chase “exposed" baseball as the game of performance enhancing substances (steroids).
Last night, Sammy Sosa (finally) hit a home run. That two run shot put him ahead of Mark McGwire on the homerun run list at 584, which moved him into sole possesion of sixth place all-time. And while this is going on, rumors are still swirling about the possible return of Barry Bonds next month, who is only 11 HR's behind Babe Ruth and 52 away from Hank Aaron's record of 755. And now, with Victor Conte pleading guilty in court on steroid charges, looks like Bonds is now free to spout his innocence some more, and play the victim role ( who else has pushed you off the bridge, Barry??)
The question I ask you is, “Does anybody even care about these records anymore?" I say we take a page from McGwire's March testimony in front of Congress. Let's move on and not talk about the past. But, at the same time, we should place an asterik by these “steroid-era" records before we bury them in a grave that they belong. No, I'm not indicting EVERY player from this era, but the overall numbers speak for themselves. Jose Canseco and the late Ken Caminiti's admittals that they took illegal substances also speak for themselves. In a perfect world, everyone who cheated would own up to such, but it ain't gonna happen.
Because of this, today's records are laughable. Baseball wanted offense, the chicks can dig the longball all they like, but these monster, steroid induced numbers have damaged the game more than any work stoppage ever could. It may not show in the attendance figures yet, but the integrity of the game has broken. Looks like Henry Aaron's legit record be the next thing “broken" by Major League Baseball. Congrats Barry.
John Onan is sports writer/moderator at the online players union http://www.playerunion.com and football writer for http://www.realfootball365.com he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org