Are the Major League Baseball record books tainted? Can a single drug change the way a baseball fan looks at the record set by Barry Bonds or opinions about a man who hit 762 homeruns (Pitch 1)? Steroids have the ability to turn an average player into a player that can qualify and succeed as a Major League Baseball player. They also provide the “good” player the ability to become a “great” player; a “great” player to become a “superstar”. But more importantly in regards to the player’s performance, steroids give the injured player the ability to heal more rapidly, therefore returning to the playing field quicker than the average person.
Due to the unfair advantage steroids give the athletes, Major League Baseball has outlawed the use of steroids. In 1988 U. S. Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act which was a law that “Amended the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and created criminal penalties for persons who distribute or possess anabolic steroids with the intent to distribute for any use in humans other than the treatment of disease” (Roberts 1). Then in 1990, “believing that the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 legislation was insufficient, congress quickly replaced it with the Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990” (Roberts 1).
This Act added anabolic steroids to the federal schedule of controlled substances which criminalized their non-medical use (Roberts 1). Finally, Commissioner Fay Vincent issued a memo to all Major League Baseball teams regarding the use of Steroids in 1991. In the memo, Mr. Vincent indicated that steroids will be added to the Major League Baseball’s list of banned drugs (Roberts 1). Effects of Anabolic Steroids on Major League Baseball can be described as a ripple effect.
The ripple effect begins with the player which in turn affects the team which in turn affects Major League Baseball as a business. From a personal perspective, anabolic steroid use can affect the player both mentally and physically. The affects of anabolic steroid use on the team brings on negative publicity and moral. All the while anabolic steroid use affects the business of Major League Baseball through this same negative publicity and the viability of newly created records. A player chooses to use anabolic steroids to improve his physical and perceived mental advantage. Steroids are a synthetic version of the human hormone called testosterone” using the steroids to improve their skills mentally gives the player a false sense of hard work and their improved abilities (Mishra 1). Physically, steroid use on the human body according to Raja Mishra, “Stimulates the development of bones and muscle, promotes skin and hair growth, and can influence emotions. ” More specifically in males, the human hormone “testosterone, is produced by the testes and the adrenal gland” (Mishra 1). The use of an anabolic steroid can enhance a mediocre athlete’s abilities into the skills of a great athlete.
Steroids cause a human’s testosterone level to soar. When this hormone is high, body tissue will repair itself at an abnormally high rate. When a person exercises, the body tissue is broken down because of the way an athlete pushes their body during the workout. An average athlete will take a day off from exercising to allow their body to completely recuperate. Someone who is under the influence of steroids recovers at a much faster rate which helps an athlete gain a significant advantage. Not only do steroids have negative effects, they have many negative effects. “Steroids fool the body into thinking that testosterone is being produced.
Sensing an excess of testosterone, the body shuts down bodily functions involving testosterone use, such as bone growth. The ends of long bones fuse together and stop growing, resulting in stunted growth. ” (Mishra 1). There are also many other side effects steroids cause; “acne, genital changes, water retention in tissue, yellowing of the eyes and skin, oily skin, fetal damage, coronary artery disease, sterility, liver tumors and disease, and death” (Mishra 2, Goldman 76-85). All of these symptoms were evidenced when “A 23-year-old bodybuilder, complaining of severe groin pains, was taken to the hospital.
Doctors found his liver and kidneys had stopped working. He was immediately rushed to the intensive-care unit. Four days later, he died when his heart stopped. His autopsy revealed that he was a steroid abuser” (Mishra 1). Mentally, steroid use affects the baseball player by giving him a false sense of self confidence and it “serve as a sort of ‘hormonal amphetamine upper’” (Goldman 25). Also anabolic steroids, when cut off, will cause extreme depression because the athlete’s muscles “melt away” and the lack of hormonal production can lead to an athlete having suicidal thoughts.
This state of mind was proven when a doctor named Ron Goldman surveyed 198 of the top Olympic athletes. 52 percent responded to the survey “That winning was so attractive, they would not only be willing to achieve it by taking a pill, but they would give their lives in five years to win. (Goldman 24) Steroids not only can affect a person physically and mentally but they can affect your personal reputation, integrity, and what you have accomplished. When an individual’s name is linked to steroids, immediately his name is tainted and all he has accomplished becomes questioned.
Using Barry Bonds as an example, he hit 762 homeruns and had 2558 walks in his career. (Pitch 1) These records, although very prestigious, are now viewed as artificial. Basically, all of his records and awards are all suspect. He may not have been proven guilty, just suspected use was enough to have a cloud over his reputation. There is even talk among the baseball analysts that his records set should be removed from the record books because steroid use can be viewed as a form of cheating used to accomplish such feats.
Moving on to the team aspect of baseball, one can imply the old saying, “guilty by association. ” The media and the general public, typically view the teammates of the steroid user as someone who also uses steroids, until proven otherwise. A professional baseball team gets recognized for winning and reaching out to the community, but steroids can bring an umbrella of suspension to the entire team. This point is proven in Jose Conseco’s autobiography when he admitted he “implicated that ten of his former teammates including his brother as steroid users” (Roberts 1).
Not only does the player’s steroid use affect his immediate team players, but it also casts additional suspension to the entire Major League Baseball as a whole. When a player is exceeding his normal performance level, the general public immediately suspects steroid use based on previous players who have been linked or proven to be steroid users. Major League Baseball players understand the penalty, if linked to steroids, can have on the player or the team in general. The general public is very harsh about steroid use; many feel that steroid use affects baseball in too many ways negatively.
An example of steroid use affecting the morals of the team was shown when Alex Rodriguez was stated as a steroid user in the Mitchell Report. The Mitchell Report published in 2002, linked many names of professional baseball players as steroid users. Alex Rodriguez was eventually proven guilty of steroid use in early 2004. In 2003, Alex’s team, the New York Yankees won the American League Pennant. The year after his conviction, the negative publicity affected the 2004 New York Yankees team when they did not make the playoffs the following year.
Many sports analyst reported that his steroid use was directly related to their poor performance the year following his conviction. This led to many downfalls other than just the team losing. There were financial deficits and the owner had to deal with more than usual. The third and final affect steroids have on Major League Baseball is its economic impact. The economic impact of Major League Baseball can be broken down into three major categories: the player, the fan, and the owner. The economic impact of steroid use on the player starts with his salary.
A player initially signs a contract with a professional baseball team; it usually includes a large signing bonus. A large signing bonus, invested correctly, could put a player in a sound financial position for the rest of their lives. The player usually starts with their minor league team and must earn a position on the major league team. In some cases a minor league player will choose to use steroids to enhance his abilities, to gain a spot on that Major League team. The earnings the player will make on the investment of his signing bonus will outweigh the chance of getting caught using steroids.
Although his name would be ruined, the athlete would have an adequate amount of money to live his life without baseball. Once the suspension emerges, typically the owner will begin a process of determining if the player should stay on the roster. If a player is caught using steroids, they are immediately suspended for fifty out the 162 games, with no pay (Wilson 84). For example, Alex Rodriguez makes $25 million dollars a year; therefore, he makes $154,320 dollars per game, which means he will lose $7,716,049 dollars if he were to get suspended.
If he has been suspended there could be language in his contract giving the team management the right to trade him or release him from his contract. Using this same example, Alex could completely lose his job all together or another team could pick him for a much reduced salary. When one takes all of these scenarios into consideration, it almost makes economic sense for an athlete to choose to use steroids. Even though Alex lost $7. 7 million dollars he still earned $17. 2 million dollars. If he paid 30 percent in taxes, his net income is approximately $12 million dollars.
Investing the $12 million, on an annual basis, earning about 3 percent interest, he would bring home an annual salary of roughly $362,000 dollars, which puts him in a top earning bracket in the United States. A man can cheat his way to the top of Major league baseball and still make more money than an average American. When a person makes the choice to become a professional athlete, one can be argued that they become a role model for children and adults. “The recent example of Mark McGwire’s drug use is a good case to strengthen this argument.
There is apparently a good deal of anecdotal evidence to suggest that there was a marked rise in drug use by children in the United States” (Wilson 141) linking his drug use their choice to try steroids. “At their worst, they can be a joyless endeavor where losing is equated with personal failing and winning becomes just a means to egoistic self-posturing over others” (Simon 200). This example shows the selfish attitude an athlete takes when choosing to use steroids towards the game of baseball, the fans and the way they are portraying the Major League Baseball player.
When a young fan, or an aspiring baseball player, sees a good athlete such as Mark McGwire beating records and winning awards for his exceptional play, they think steroids will do the same for them. Even worse, Mark McGwire finally admitted to using steroids and has been allowed to keep all of his awards and records even further leading an innocent child or adult to make a poor choice. Their choice to use steroids my not turn the way they had planned. When a professional athlete is performing very well and leading a team to a winning season, the game attendance will go up.
Not only is the fan base attending to see the team win but also to witness the great skills of the particular athlete. Once that player is suspected of using steroids, the fan base begins to question the intensions of the player and the viability of the wins. If the player then gets suspended, the game attendance will go down causing the team to lose money on ticket sales, concessions sales, merchandise sales and medical expenses. The team’s overall budget will be affected by these declines in sales and additional expenses.
The medical expense portion of the budget is affected because “There also has been an alarming increase in injuries. James Andrews, an orthopedist in Birmingham, Ala. , who treats many professional athletes, says he has never seen such a rush of muscle tendon injuries and thinks it could be related to steroid use”. (Antonen 2) Now the owner must reforecast his budget because he may not have the money he planned to use for future player contracts, possible upgrades to a stadium or in general the owner’s personal income. Corporate sponsorship, a major contributor to an overall Major League Baseball team budget, can also be affected.
If a team loses a player that was leading a team to a pennant race and possible World Series, they also lose the additional income from the playoff games and less exposure for the corporate sponsors. A losing team will also experience difficulty securing sponsorships for the coming year due to the losing season as well as the negative effects of the steroid use. Some companies may chose not to be associated to a particular team solely on the purpose of a player using steroids on its roster. The less number of games on TV due to the losing season lowers the exposure a corporate sponsor will get for the dollar amount they were expecting.
In conclusion, the principal theme running through this paper is that steroid use affects many aspects of Major League Baseball trickling down from the player to the team to the economic and business aspect of the game. Steroids can affect the player in a positive and negative way. Its use can help a player become a great athlete and lead him to earning a large salary and possible additional income from product endorsements. The negative effect to the player using steroids can affect their bodies physically and mentally and ruin either a successful and prosperous career or eliminate a rookie’s possible prosperous career.
As the player becomes involved with steroid use, the team is affected as a whole. When a player is accused of taking steroids, immediately the entire team is under suspicion including management. This cloud of suspicion will cause the team morale to deteriorate, which will lead to many more negative effects. These negative effects can lead to a losing season further creating economic problems for him and the team. His contract may have stipulations that can lead to a suspension or a trade to a team, for a huge salary cut.
Once accused, fans begin to lose support for the player and the athlete’s particular professional team. When fans become unhappy with a team, they stop attending games, stop purchasing merchandise, and hurt the concession sales at the game due to poor attendance. Additional issues arise in the budget including increases in medical expenses and many other unforeseen in a team’s original planned budget. Steroid use is such that the reader could actually conclude that Major League Baseball is not managing the penalties enough to discourage using, not only by professional players, but also by rising youth.