Major League Baseball has always been thought of as America’s past-time, but throughout the 90’s, the popularity of Major League Baseball was dwindling. Attendance gradually declined from 1990 through 1997 and team memorabilia sales were dropping at an alarming rate. Then something happened. Two players put the league on their backs and baseball was saved.
In 1999 Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa took the baseball world on a magic carpet ride from city to city, crushing home runs in every ballpark they went to. If the Cubs or Cardinals were coming to your town, “fans” came out of the woodwork to go see history in the making. Ticket sales skyrocketed and jerseys flew out of the team shops faster than Sammy Sosa could spring out to his position in right field. By the end of the season McGwire and Sosa hit 65 and 63 home runs respectively, both eclipsing Hank Aarons all-time home run record. Again, baseball was saved.
Now, this is all old news. If you weren’t caught up in the hype of the 1999 MLB season, you didn’t have a pulse. It was exhilarating. Every night you flipped on Sportscenter to see if/how many home runs Mark and Sammy hit. The next day at work the water cooler conversation was some version of, “Did you see how far that ball went that McGwire hit?” It was magical.
Fast forward seven years and Major League Baseball is in the middle of a steroids controversy, and guess who two of the first ‘victims’ were? That’s right, McGwire and Sosa. MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig, hired former Senate Majority Leader, federal prosecuter and ex-chairmen of The Walt Disney Company, George Mitchell, to investigate the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball.
Mark McGwire testifying before Congress
I am not going to get into the details of what has happened since then because, unless you have not had access to a single media outlet in the last 3 years, you know exactly what has transpired, and quite frankly, I am sick of hearing about it. So why I am writing about this? To shed some light on a different point of view.
Do fans really care that their favorite player is/was taking steroids? Check out this blog, and read the comments at the bottom. That is how I view the issue, and how I assume most others do as well. There is evidence to support the other side of the argument as well, that fans do care about what their favorite athletes put into their bodies, but I raise the question again, how much do they really care. As long as baseballs are flying out of ballparks, fans are buying tickets (thus supporting the product put out on the field) and jerseys are finding their way to kids closets, is there an issue with steroids? Or are we just running out of things to talk about?
I am not going to attempt to answer the question. I want you to think about it and form your own opinion. Leave me a comment, change my opinion, get your point across, but I am going to leave you with this:
The United States is in the middle of the biggest economic downfall since the Great Depression. Bank executives are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lavish business trips and office decorations while their employees are literally losing their life savings. Bud Selig made $14.5 million last year (but did pay his employees more than most other sports leagues) and now has Congress handling his dirty work. From a public relations/marketing perspective, sure, Bud is trying to ‘do the right thing’ by cleaning up baseball and leveling the playing field, but do we really need Congress to do that? Don’t you think our government has bigger fish to fry right now than whether or not A-Rod took steroids six or seven years ago? Shouldn’t the politicians and shady business men who have put our country into a recession be dominating the headlines?
… maybe people really do care about steroids after all …