Confirmed or Suspected Users of Performance Enhancement Drugs and Baseball Records

Since 1900, the game of baseball had undergone many changes. In 1909, Ty Cobb led the American League by hitting nine home runs. In 2001, Barry Bonds set the record by hitting 73 home runs. Before 1920, pitchers were allowed to doctor the baseball. After 1920, many new and legal pitches have been developed to help the pitcher get batters out. Some of these pitches were the screwball, slider, and the split-finger fastball. During the “lively ball era” of 1920 to 1930, batting .400 for a season was accomplished eight times. In 1968, the pitcher’s mound was lowered to help out the batters. Due to baseball expansion, many new teams and new stadiums have appeared. Some of the stadiums have led to great hitting achievements. Just look at the batting statistics at Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies. The list of changes is endless.

The reason, for citing a few of the major changes in baseball is to set the stage for my argument. When Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961, due to the extra eight games in the season, many baseball people wanted an asterisk placed next to the new record of 61 home runs. Baseball executives decided not to do this which led to a debate for several years. Today, 61 home runs is no longer the record and no one is concerned about the asterisk.

Barry Bonds, an alleged steroid user, holds the new season home run record of 73. Many baseball people want an asterisk or worse yet the record ignored. Maybe 25 years from now a new player will break this record by hitting 80 home runs. After the record is broken, will anyone be concerned about the old record and how it was accomplished? My answer is no.

Before 1947, African Americans were not allowed in the Major Leagues. Should all records accomplished before 1947 have an asterisk next to them?

For those people, who favor the disallowing of records established by players who are confirmed users of performance enhancement drugs, I raise several questions. Suppose in the future some human enhancement drugs were legalized and baseball removed those drugs from their banned list. If the records of those players, that used the now legalized drugs, were removed from the record book what would we do now? What about those players that are just suspected of using these drugs? Do we disallow their records? What about those players who have used a drug which is banned after the player established the record? Do we disallow their records?

One can see that the disallowing of baseball records leads to a slippery slope.

On the other side of the argument, Hank Aaron, in statements made to the press, believes their records should count but an asterisk should appear behind the records.

My position is all baseball records must stand without any asterisk until broken. Of course, individuals can put their own asterisk alongside any record. Each person can decide for themselves which player deserves to be called the record holder.

Original Comments:

5 Comment(s):

Chris Sbalcio said…

The usage of steroids is obviously a very touchy subject for the baseball world. We all know that players used the drugs, some more than others. But to sit here and say that all of those players’ records are tainted would be insane. I agree that we should not be placing asterisks next to names in the record books, ESPECIALLY not to a guy like Barry Bonds who, although it does seem fairly obvious, has NOT been found guilty of using PEDs. However, we can voice our opinions all we want, but in the end, even if there are no asterisks next to their names, what is going to happen is that these players will be punished by people who have no authority to do so on their own beliefs, the BBWAA writers. They may not give guys like Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod, and others entrance to the Hall of Fame even though they clearly still had the skills to accomplish what they did, albeit possibly to a lesser degree. Record-holders will not be in the Hall of Fame, and sadly, eventually it’s just going to look bad for the game. Suspensions? Fine. Asterisks? No way.

August 19, 2012 01:01:15


Dennis said…

I had commented a week ago that players were still using PED’s. Yesterday, Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for using Test. As you know, he is the All Start 2012 MVP and certainly was making a run for a new multi year contract after turning down SF who offered 27million over 3 years. Victor Conte, the former owner of BALCO stated yesterday “Still, plenty of players are cheating with impunity by using substances such as fast-acting testeosterone. Conte estimated that 50 % of players are using fast acting test. What does test do: It essentially enhances the impact of workouts and helps speed recovery providing users with an increase in energy, muscle size and strenght. My point to my baseball pals is that the debate continues over the previous steriod era- when in fact- they are still using. This is the nature of the beast.

August 17, 2012 04:48:04


stanley Rothman said…

Before commenting on Mark’s remarks,I would like to give a very brief timeline on illegal drugs and baseball. October, 1988: A writer accuses Jose Canseco of steroid use. June, 1991: Steroids are added to the baseball’s banned list. October 2004: All drugs banned by Congress are added to baseball’s banned list. January, 2005: Players and owners agree to a new testing program. Players failing the drug will have their names revealed. March, 2005: Baseball revealed that 2% of the 1,183 tests administered in 2004 were positive for performance enhancement drugs. December, 2007: George Mitchell releases a 409-page report on the use of performance enhancement drugs in baseball in which he names 81 players. Some of those named were RogerClemens, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Eric Gagne, and Troy Glaus. I agree with Mark that no record should be removed from the record book.Since there was no drug testing until 2005, it would be impossible to identify those pitchers and positional players that used steroids or other illegal drugs for part of their careers. One solution is to label those years for which it was agreed upon that there was steroid use as “The Steroid Era”. In essense we would be putting an asterik on a period of time. One possible span of time could be from 1986 to 2006. By establishing a steroid era, records established by players during those years can all be kept without applying an asterik. This approach will leave it up to the fan to decide whether a player’s record should or should not be diminshed by illegal drug use. Players who clearly did not use illegal drugs would not be punished and their records will be that much more appreciated. Of course a method must be established for finding the years for this era.

July 23, 2012 10:18:19


Mark Torre said…

Great Blog topic and a perspective that is shared by many fans an players both past and present. Being a huge baseball fan and having an interest in the history of baseball I appreciate the feat that Barry Bonds accomplished, and whether or not he took steroids, hitting 73 home runs in a single season takes a herculean effort. For that reason alone I don’t believe that the record should be taken out of the books. 129 MLB players are either listed and/or implicated in the Mitchell report. The questions of whether or not Barry Bonds took steroids has a fairly obvious answer. There is no doubt in my mind that 129 players does not even begin to scratch the surface of the extent to which steroids or other banned substances such as HGH or Andro were used. That being said, it is impossible to completely remove the Home Run Record from the record books. After all, you would then need to remove the RBI, the Wins from games that those RBI affected the outcome, the opposing pitcher’s ERA, etc, etc, etc… The record books from 1986 through 2009 would need to be completely rewritten! So to say the record should be removed is extreme. I do however believe that it is important to recognize that steroid use did occur during the time the 73 HR record was accomplished. The best way to do this is with an asterisk that denotes a positive test for HGH (a steroid). A black eye for America’s past time, Yes. It is also part of the history that needs to be remembered. To sweep it under the rug would be a disservice to the game. Not only is steroid use cheating, it’s also illegal. That is what differentiates it the most from “Stealing Signals” or using too much pine tar on a bat or using a foreign substance during a pitch. The US Supreme Court felt so strongly about steroids in baseball that they even got involved. By adding an Asterisk to the record books, it does not diminish the fact that the record occurred, it simply says that it occurred while using a banned substance. Personally, I could take all the steroids in the world and maybe… just maybe hit 1 HR. To hit 73 HRs in a single season is amazing. Take it back even further to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the 1998 season. It’s been well documented that these HRs were also hit while using banned substances, however it doesn’t take away the fact that I was glued to the TV to watch them do it. Baseball and it’s record books are filled with heroes and villains (depending on your allegiance), most of the records are pure, but some aren’t. I feel that by not putting an asterisk, it in someway does a disservice to those players who did it the right way, by the rules. Nonetheless, the records exist and baseball plays on. In 20 years someone will have broken the record and asterisk or not, Bonds will hold the 2nd, maybe even 3rd spot on the single season HR list. I look forward to the next Blog post and congratulations on your book!

July 21, 2012 04:14:29


Deb Meole said…

Can’t wait for your book. I am sure it is filled with facts I never knew about. Congratulations on finishing your book!!

July 14, 2012 06:04:26


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