The decades-long debate on MLB doping

Fried, poached, or scrambled OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay, manipulated by Lee Lim

How do records obtained while on steroids compare to those obtained without?

On October 4, the New York Yankees lost against the Texas Rangers. Outfielder for the Yankees, Aaron Judge, broke the American League record for home runs in a single season. He beat Roger Maris’s home run record from 1961 with a record of 62 home runs – a record that has stood for 61 years. Although, the National League record still stands at 73 home runs in 2001 by Barry Bonds.

There is much controversy over Bonds’ records, as he was found to be using steroids back in 2003. Therefore, it begs the question of whether these types of records obtained while using performance-enhancing drugs should continue to be valid within baseball. Baseball supporters and commentators believe that, due to Bonds’ steroid use, his records are now tainted. Therefore, his records should be terminated, because baseball needs to move on from its steroid era which took place from the mid-1990s to the early-2000s.

Since Major League Baseball (MLB) still recognises Bonds’ record as being valid, that means that the record still stands as the record to beat. Bonds’ record also surpasses Babe Ruth, whose record was 60 home runs in a single season in the American League. Bonds is not the first MLB player to be caught doping. Many big names in baseball who have doped have admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.

The players who have admitted to doping have received forgiveness from fans over the course of a few years. This includes former New York Yankee player Alex Rodriguez and former Colorado Rockies player Jason Giambi. However, players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have not admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs and have received more negative push back from fans and commentators as many believe that they are lying to the public.

The MLB does not want to spark controversy and has let the debate of “tainted” records due to doping be decided during the Hall of Fame voting. The organization thinks that alleged steroid users not being accepted into the Hall of Fame by the voters speaks volumes compared to not addressing the MLB records by alleged steroid users. In his 10 years on the ballot for the Hall of Fame, Barry Bonds received 66 per cent of the votes which is well short of the 75 per cent which is required to get into the Hall of Fame.

In his tell-all book Juiced, Jose Canseco states that during his playing career from the mid-1980s to the early-2000s, as much as 80 per cent of MLB players took steroids, and acknowledges that he used steroids for his entire career. Therefore, how many more records are tainted from steroid use by players that the public or MLB does not know about? Unfortunately for Aaron Judge, his moment of record-breaking glory was clouded by the inevitable questions of doping and tainted records due to the MLB’s past.

Judge’s record-breaking moment should be celebrated as it showcases that it is still possible to break records that may seem improbable to break. The New York Yankees are currently 0-2 against the Houston Astros, going into game three of the League Championship Series. This will give Judge the opportunity to beat the most post-season home runs of eight in a single season, held by Carlos Beltran and Barry Bonds.


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