Two days ago, baseball fans got the shocking word that there would be no inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. The long shadow of performance enhancing drugs has darkened the bright lights of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and other stars who might otherwise have qualified for Cooperstown.
In a serendipitous, if almost certainly unrelated, followup, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced yesterday that the MLB would be expanding its testing program for human growth hormone. Going forward, players will be subject to random, year-round blood tests as well as baseline testosterone readings to help measure for use of synthetic testosterone. The World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory will be authorized to keep records of the players’ blood levels and other stats.
The Major League Players’ Association, which has staunchly opposed increased testing in the past, has issued a statement in support of the change. Prior to the ‘90s, the heyday of the steroid scandals, such scrutiny of pumped-up players could not have been imagined. But recently, high-profile cases of athletic doping in nearly every major sport have put the issue on the big screen TVs of America’s sports fans.
Will the new rules restore trust in our super-hero athletes? How will the fans react to “cleaned up” baseball – will the games still hold the same excitement without the bigger-stronger- faster factor? Is this the end of major league baseball as we’ve come to know it?
Elliott Almond, Olympics, soccer and college sports reporter for the San Jose Mercury News
Lincoln Kennedy, former NFL offensive tackle; played 11 seasons for the Falcons and Raiders. Currently, a broadcaster on Fox Sports Radio
Tomm Looney, broadcaster with Fox Sports Radio