Baseball to Investigate Steroids

With the recent release of Game of Shadows by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, a novel that accuses major leaguer Barry Bonds and others of taking steroids, the image of baseball has taken another major hit. After Sports Illustrated Magazine ran an article with an excerpt from the book there were outcries for an investigation and a cleansing of the game by the media and fans alike. They wanted to know that the game they love so much, the American pastime, has not been tarnished. The league responded by contracting former U.S. Senate majority leader George Mitchell to lead an investigation of players, most prominently Bonds, and their alleged use of steroids. The players will continue to play for their respective teams during the investigations, but it could have a major effect on the players, the fans, and the game of baseball. “The goal here is to determine facts, not engage in supposition, speculation, rumor or innuendo,” said Bud Selig, Major League Baseball commissioner.It is unclear how many years the investigation will encompass, but some reports say that Mitchell’s investigation will extend as far back as 1989, the year when steroids were first made illegal in the United States. What will an investigation yield? How can anything be proved? During the writing of Game of Shadows, Wada and Williams reportedly read more than a thousand pages of documents and conducted more than 200 interviews, so the information in the book seems to be very credible. But what type of punishment will be levied on the players? Will they get suspended? Or can the investigation dig up enough dirt to charge players that pleaded not guilty in front of a Grand Jury with perjury?The investigation must be conducted very carefully because baseball is in a volatile state and cannot afford to have the game tarnished more then it already is. The role of mediator for the investigation falls in the lap of Selig, whose job it will be to clean up whatever mess Mitchell digs up.In baseball, a game of statistics, the most respected record, Hank Aaron’s 755 home runs, is in jeopardy. As Bonds, who currently has 708 home runs, approaches the previously untouchable record how will the league and fans react?Some analysts believe that the commissioner will suspend Bonds before he gets to Aaron’s record. In order to do that he will need to investigation to reveal enough incriminating information to give him probably cause.One of Major league Baseballs biggest sponsors, Bank of America Corp., has already taken their stand on the situation when they said that they would not take part in a celebration of Barry Bonds passing Hank Aarons home run record.”We are a company where confidence and trust is held high,” Cathy Bessant, Bank of America’s global marketing executive, told Bloomberg News. “A company like ours is always going to choose the untainted opportunity. There is no reason to stand up for controversy.”Home Depot followed suit by saying that they would not support the festivities unless there was an investigation that found Bonds to be innocent.Pepsi Co., on the other hand, said that they would recognize Bonds in a “muted way” according to Pepsi Co. North America president Dawn Hudson.But what will happen to all the home runs that Bonds has hit thus far in his career? What about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa?They were the first players to break out in the “steroid era” and it was McGwire and Sosa who, during the 1998 season brought fans back to the game with their fantastic chase of Roger Maris’s 61 home runs.Will it be enough just to place an asterisk next to their records? Fans will demand more drastic measures than that, but a totally satisfying course of action seems improbable. It will be next to impossible to prove what home runs were hit when players were on the “juice” and whether or not the pitchers they were facing were on steroids as well.McGwire and Sosa bring up a different issue. Their epic home run chase took place in ’98, four years before baseball banned steroids. So, technically, McGwire and Sosa never “cheated” but it comes down to a moral and ethical issue that is weighing heavily on the minds of Hall of Fame voters. The voters have until the end of December to decide whether or not to vote McGwire into Cooperstown. Game of Shadows chronicles Bonds life from his intense jealousy of McGuire’s status as Home Run King to his partnership with “Weight Guru” and steroid aficionado Greg Anderson. Bonds, in frustration towards the fame and accolades McGwire was receiving, was reportedly quoted as saying, “They’re just letting him do it because he’s a white boy.” His racist comments continued as he stated that Sosa’s pursuit was entertaining but doomed because as a matter of policy, “they’ll never let him [a Latin player from the Dominican Republic] win.”This attitude has contributed to the negative view of Bonds by the sports world. This sentiment will work against Bonds as he tries to battle critics and history to overtake Aaron.