Commentary: Baseball must wipe slate clean

Published On:
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
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Have you ever had a black eye that just wouldn’t heal?

Even when the swelling seemed to be fading, somehow you knew that somewhere a punch would inevitably blacken it up again.

This is baseball and steroids: pro sports’ biggest and most enduring black eye.

Well, it’s time for Dr. Spivack to ice that eye and hinder much of the pain. Like your mom after you first crashed that two-wheeler, I’m here to help baseball through its darkest hours, because the clock struck midnight a long time ago.

I write this less as a sports column and more as a social-justice thesis, pertaining it to the Great American Pastime.

For our approach to steroids is in itself wrong. Our manner of accountability, our continued unrest at what have become expected revelations, has not helped.

It seems that the two approaches to evaluating steroid use lie at opposite ends of the spectrum.

One end is asserting that we must never accept steroids, not now and not even in the past, emphasizing the value of the past and its record books (and thus the need for constant surveillance of the sport’s history).

These record books seem to hold as much esteem as the game itself, and are why a hitter like Mark McGwire and a pitcher like Roger Clemens get left on the stake or in a congressional hearing longer than they needed to be.

The alternative approach suggests the hopelessness of the entire situation, accepting the, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” sentiment that basically states that in order to even the obviously uneven playing field, it is now easier to simply permit steroid usage on all ends.

Both approaches accept many of the grim realities, but their attempt at a solution is merely a focus on the problem.

So let’s pick ourselves up and start anew.

We simply cannot go back in time. Knowing this, baseball fans must ask themselves if they want this strain to ruin their friendship, or if they have the capacity to accept life and move on.

And now for the thesis. I say we give everyone one free pass, with a strict deadline.

Players of all sorts: rich or not as rich and famous or not so famous; they all can apply.

All of baseball will have one day and one day only to take on the pointed finger, while sharing the media’s often-cruel microscope.

The shadow of mistrust will be removed and the past can be just that. Since the cracks can’t be restored anyway, assurance becomes the quality worth seeking.

Of course this assumes one crucial element: Assurance for the future. Baseball, its players association and its associates, must, like the Olympics, make steroid usage the quintessential equivalent to murder with a constant and competent police force.

Like both comparisons, injustices are impossible to prevent. Nothing, not even the game itself, is perfect.

But if fans know that stringent testing coupled with disastrous consequences are in place, there will be far less discussion on how the next phenom went from 20 homeruns to 40.

And the era of today will always be referred to (such as it is now) as the Steroid Era.

However, if we can remove the cloud of the past, accepting the flood but remaining grateful for the foundation, we’ll be able to see clear skies for the future.

This is how baseball can move forward.

Think Josh takes steroids just to write? Let him know at joshua.spivack@asu.edu.