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20 years ago next week....Seattle Mariners' pitcher Randy Johnson struck out Oakland's Ernie Young at 9:45 p.m. PDT and that was it for the 1994 baseball season. Done. Finished. Over. No playoffs, no World Series (for the first time in 90 years). Baseball went on strike and didn't return for 7 and a half months (even eating into the 1995 season)

When it returned, the game was hurting. People were upset. I know I was. I had planned to go to Jacobs Field in Cleveland to see my beloved Indians play for my 21st bday. My bday is August 19....8 days after the last game of the 1994 season was played. They weren't going to the ballpark, attendance was down. They weren't watching on TV, the ratings were down. They were migrating to other sports like NBA (something to do with this guy named Michael Jordan returning to basketball after he didn't want to be a replacement player in baseball as he had played in the minors during the 1994 season). The NBA found a way to capitalize on this & i personally believe that's why the league is so popular now.

Baseball had to do something to get people back and I think that's how we wound up with what is now know as the steroid era.

What's better than watching sluggers chase Roger Maris' 37-year-old record for most home runs in a season (61)? Not much...I mean, even Nike built an advertising campaign around Mark McGwire's monstrous booming homers and brought "Chicks Dig the Long Ball" into the baseball vernacular. The home run is sexy and the chase of that record by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa is the highlight of the 1998 season.



“A terrible beauty has been born” and it's known as the Steroid Era.

Baseball benefitted from the drug-induced soaring long balls. Three years after, the chase for 61, Barry Bonds came along and blasted 71 bombs in the 2001 season. Attendance numbers were rising back to pre-strike levels, ratings were coming back. People were excited about the game. My Indians were winning....so I was excited as well (well until my interest waned as I focused on other things and I drifted away from the game from about 2001-2007.)

Then the lies started catching up to MLB and ended up being exposed in 2002. First, recently retired player Ken Caminiti admitted that he had used steroids during his National League MVP-winning 1996 season (he died in 2004 from a heart attack linked to steroid use). Then the BALCO scandal broke taking down Barry Bonds (this is also the same scandal that exposed sprinter Marion Jones). Sammy Sosa failed a drug test & more stories came out from former players saying "hey, I took steroids" or "hey, that guy took steroids" including Jose Canseco's infamous memoir Juiced.

It's just my opinion that commissioner Bud Selig knew about the steroids the whole time, but decided to turn a blind eye because it was a way to get people excited about the game again. He continues to turn a blind eye as recently as last year with the mere slap on the wrists for the players who were busted in the 2013 Bosch steroid scandal. Really?!?! 50 games and if your team made the postseason, you still got to play. Don't even get me started on the whole Alex Rodriguez legal wranglings. I just get beyond furious fired up mad...mostly because of what is in the next paragraph

It wouldn't be the only shady business in Selig's tenure. There have been rumblings for years that he wouldn't award the city of Cincinnati the all-star game because of his supposed personal grudge against Pete Rose & fears that the fans will make it a giant Free Pete Rose protest. (for those not familiar, Pete Rose is serving a lifetime ban from baseball for gambling/betting on baseball. He never bet on his team to lose though. Also, it is rumored that Selig will not review Rose's application for reinstatement because he holds Rose responsible for the death of former commissioner & friend Bart Giamatti who died of a heart attack 8 days after banishing Rose from baseball). Cincinnati will finally get their all-star game next year in 2015....I don't think it is coincidence that it will be the first all-star game following Selig's retirement as commissioner.

A terrible beauty was born in the mid 1990s & I think last year's suspensions were a reminder that it's still alive and well, but I also think the fact that several notable players from the steroid era are coming up short in Hall of Fame votes. Yes, chicks (and other fans) still dig the long ball. I am just grateful that many of the long balls I loved and adored were hit by Jim Thome of the Cleveland Indians. His name has never been linked to BALCO, the Mitchell Report or Bosch. He was just a country strong farm boy from Peoria, IL who once belted a homer 511 feet at Jacobs Field. He hit 612 of them...almost all of them during the steroid era. I'm headed to Cleveland shortly after writing this....one of the first things I will do when I get to the stadium is gaze in awe at the statute that was just unveiled over the weekend to honor one of the "good guys who did it right".

PS. Free Pete Rose....he never cheated on the field like these suckers. Alas, that is another post at another time.

Comments

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
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penpusher
Aug. 4th, 2014 07:05 am (UTC)
I think we think alike! Here's one of my essays on this topic from 2009: The Game No One Can Play
aimercat
Aug. 7th, 2014 05:51 pm (UTC)
well u know what they say about great minds....
beeker121
Aug. 4th, 2014 11:22 pm (UTC)
Selig absolutely knew, even if not in the strictly legal sense, and used the ensuing home run derby for all it was worth.

This is a fun direction to take this topic.
aimercat
Aug. 7th, 2014 05:50 pm (UTC)
thank you....i was struggling with the topic so I had to write what I knew
halfshellvenus
Aug. 5th, 2014 12:20 am (UTC)
This was an interesting read, and I'm not even a baseball fan. :D
aimercat
Aug. 7th, 2014 05:49 pm (UTC)
thank you
karmasoup
Aug. 5th, 2014 02:13 am (UTC)
I managed to get through this by sharing it with my housemate, who is a sports freak, as in, takes fan to the next level. Otherwise, sports for me is one of those dry subjects that makes my eyes glaze over, like they often do whenever he is rambling on about this or that... I often have to interrupt him with the statement, "You know I DON'T CARE, right???" Despite my aversion to the pastime, though, the writing here is cohesive, clever, and even entertaining. Well done.
aimercat
Aug. 11th, 2014 09:50 pm (UTC)
thank you. I knew I was taking a risk going with a sport-oriented entry, but I have to write what I know.
ryl
Aug. 5th, 2014 07:28 pm (UTC)
I never did understand all the hate against Pete Rose. I agree with you, he played honestly unlike the steroid users.

I also will never understand why anyone would do steroids willingly. I was put on prednisone once for a blood disorder and I can honestly say that is the worst medication ever devised by man.
aimercat
Aug. 11th, 2014 09:51 pm (UTC)
the ones that hate him maintain that he still broke a rule in the rulebook. funny cuz i've called out some of these people for having steroid-linked players on their fantasy teams. pretty sure "don't take steroids" is somewhere in that precious rulebook as well.
zhent
Aug. 5th, 2014 09:26 pm (UTC)
I remember the baseball strike. I went to Camden Yards and watched Cal Ripkin continue his Iron Man run with scab players. Strike baseball was surprisingly good at the time.
aimercat
Aug. 7th, 2014 05:48 pm (UTC)
did you know that any of the players that continued on in MLB from that weren't allowed to be on like authenticated photos or merchandise? Hence why there is 2004 Boston photos that don't have Kevin Millar in them.
tonithegreat
Aug. 5th, 2014 10:29 pm (UTC)
I would never have guessed that someone could get from the topic to "Free Pete Rose!" But I enjoyed this. Well done.

I'm seeing a big blank spot toward the middle of this, btw. Maybe because I'm reading by phone safari, but I figured you'd want to know.
waltzmatildah
Aug. 7th, 2014 01:41 am (UTC)
The blank spot is a youtube embed. Just, FYI :)
(no subject) - aimercat - Aug. 7th, 2014 05:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aimercat - Aug. 7th, 2014 05:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
jem0000000
Aug. 6th, 2014 01:34 am (UTC)
I really don't understand steroids; I've taken them to keep breathing, and I'm always glad to go back off them again. The side effects are awful.
aimercat
Aug. 11th, 2014 09:53 pm (UTC)
I clearly remember a football player dying from cancer that he thought was caused by his steroid use on Jim Rome's old ESPN2 show. He was basically in tears saying "hey i know i'm dying. Kids don't do this to yourself"
(no subject) - jem0000000 - Aug. 15th, 2014 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
eska818
Aug. 6th, 2014 06:16 am (UTC)
I don't know much about baseball, but you told this story well.
aimercat
Aug. 7th, 2014 05:48 pm (UTC)
thank you
mistearyusdiva2
Aug. 6th, 2014 10:46 am (UTC)
Baseball is hardly known in our part of the world but you have written it well making it an interesting and informative read and I guess the tale is similar to other sports heroes put on a pedestal and shocking us by turning out to have doped ... like Lance Armstrong maybe....
aimercat
Aug. 7th, 2014 05:49 pm (UTC)
yes....notice all the companies didn't have a problem profiting off of Lance and his "feel good" story....deep down, i wonder how many were in on the secret because it lined their pockets well.
eternal_ot
Aug. 6th, 2014 01:59 pm (UTC)
This was pretty interesting to read..I liked the way you played with the prompt..:) Good feat!
aimercat
Aug. 11th, 2014 09:53 pm (UTC)
thank you.
bleodswean
Aug. 6th, 2014 03:05 pm (UTC)
GREAT use of the prompt!!! I support steroid use....and it's complicated, I get that. MLB forever and ever!!!
aimercat
Aug. 7th, 2014 05:50 pm (UTC)
thank you
az_starshine
Aug. 6th, 2014 10:12 pm (UTC)
I love this. Great job!

And yeah, it was such a dark time for baseball. My husband is a big baseball fan, and since I grew up in Washington State, I'm very familiar with the Big Unit. My husband and I talked about when Mark McGwire beat the record, and how even though he was juicing, it was like people didn't mind all that much, because he was a likeable guy.

And yes, it's time to free Pete Rose.
aimercat
Aug. 11th, 2014 09:55 pm (UTC)
on the other hand, you have Jose Canseco who has been a douche bag and Barry Bonds who has been a douche (though he's still beloved by a lot of fans which baffles me)

I love that the Reds have so much Pete Rose stuff in their team museum next to their stadium. it's like a big ol EFF YOU to baseball at times.
waltzmatildah
Aug. 7th, 2014 01:44 am (UTC)
I know literally nothing about baseball (except that I went to a game at Wrigley Field last year and was bored to tears), BUT... I am very into cycling...

So while the specifics of this entry mean nothing to me, the overall theme? Heh.

Nice entry.

Edited at 2014-08-07 01:44 am (UTC)
aimercat
Aug. 11th, 2014 09:56 pm (UTC)
bored to tears at Wrigley!?!??! omg, i wish i could've done some Freaky Friday trade with you. That is like the games most hallowed grounds (with Fenway) since they are the oldest stadiums left standing.
kajel
Aug. 7th, 2014 02:54 am (UTC)
Nicely done.
aimercat
Aug. 7th, 2014 05:48 pm (UTC)
thank you
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