MLB Owners Knew About Steroids…And Did Nothing
It shouldn’t come as much of a shock to anyone, but at least the initial shock has to be there when the first man speaks up about it. Corussports reported comments from former Montreal Expos owner Claude Brochu Friday that there was knowledge of rampant steroid use was evident amongst owners and even the Commisioner’s Office in the 1990s, and they simply turned a blind eye to it.
Nonetheless, my lack of surprise is palpable. Rob Neyer posted a rough translation in his blog today, and like him I am wary of taking any of his comments too literally, but from what I can gather from Brochu’s remarks he is basically saying that the owners knew about steroids, tried to stop it, and when they realized it was such a big problem stopped trying. That’s too bad, and now it’s too late for them to fix what will forever be known as the Steroid Era.
It’s easy to argue that the 1998 season, in which Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa each blasted over 60 home runs to break the single-season record, was too euphoric to bring down the thrill of watching them hit ball after ball into the seats. In a sense, I can’t blame them for it. At the time, who would want to ruin that?
The problem is, nobody said anything. Everyone went along for the ride. The fans turned a blind eye. The media turned a blind eye. The owners maintained their unwritten code of silence. And ultimately it caused larger-than-life careers to crumble, or at the very least become forever tainted. Because MLB let it become such a big problem, any player who has stepped onto a major league diamond in the last 20 years is villified, for many in spite of their innocence. I have a tough time accepting that nothing could be done about it. In retrospect, banning every user and using replacement players for a couple years seems like a better idea than just simply letting it happen.
If something had been done a long time ago about this, plenty would have been saved. Baseball would retain much of its credibility. Alex Rodriguez would have come along and delivered a Hall of Fame career anyway. The Cooperstown careers of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds would be intact. Ken Caminiti and Steve Bechler might still be alive. And innocent (up to this point) stars like Albert Pujols and David Ortiz wouldn’t be wrongfully questioned. What would we have lost? Mark McGwire, who we lost anyway when he embarrassed himself in front of Congress then disappeared into the mountains somewhere.
For the sake of major league baseball, I hope Brochu is only the first owner to out himself on his insider knowledge of PED use in baseball. For the sake of the game, someone needs to assume responsibility for this. That might be the only way the steroid cloud doesn’t follow baseball forever.