With the other shoe reportedly about to drop in the Biogenesis scandal, steroids are once again at the forefront of the baseball discussion. The issue of who is or isn’t using isn’t much of an issue at all for some fans, including former big league closer John Rocker.
Rocker appeared on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland on Tuesday, and was asked about his opinion on steroid culture in baseball. A guy like Rocker — a former PED user who has a penchant for creating controversy — wasn’t going to sidestep the question, and sure enough, he told the hosts what they wanted to hear, saying PED use was necessary to “keep up with the Joneses” and that baseball was a “better game” at the height of the steroid era.
“At the end of the day when people were paying their $80, $120 whatever it may be, to buy their ticket and come watch that game, it’s almost like the circus is in town,” Rocker said. “They are paying to be entertained. They want to see some clown throw a fastball 101 mph and some other guy hit it 500 feet. That’s entertainment. You’re paying to be entertained.
“And was there anything more entertaining — I don’t care how each man got there — was there anything more entertaining than 1998, watching Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire chase 61 home runs? … That was a mesmerizing time and a great time for every baseball fan out there. … It was entertaining and the people were getting their money’s worth.”
Rocker then went on to say that, in his case, PEDs were most useful when it came to recovering over the course of a season, telling the hosts, “I can’t go to Bobby Cox after I blow a save on a Sunday and say, ‘Well, Bobby, I was tired from the night before.’ ”
Rocker also argued that steroids should be legal: “That’s just my obnoxious opinion,” he told the hosts — and got downright scientific in his defense, explaining that players will always be ahead of the curve with respect to steroids, and implying that there will never be a way to truly rid them from the game.
"The best tests out there, the ones the Olympics use, can only test for 500 molecular combinations of 50,000 possible combinations," he said. "They’re going to cost you, but the guys who want (untraceable steroids) can certainly pay for a chemist to build them."
Rocker makes some salient points in his defense of steroid use, but the controversial closer suddenly becoming the voice of reason doesn’t do much to squash the issue. There will always be purists out there who will always view PEDs as a black mark on their game, regardless of how prevalent they are. And there are others who couldn’t care less, so long as the pitchers keep throwing hard and the batters keep hitting the ball out of the ballpark.
It ultimately comes down to whether you judge the game for its entertainment value, or for the authenticity of the product on the field.
So the question must be asked: Were you not entertained during the steroid era? And if you weren’t — or if that doesn’t matter — how would you eliminate the use of PEDs in Major League Baseball?