Bob Costas On Steroids

Last night on Costas Now I watched as he took on steroid use in baseball. It included a panel discussion with former players Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan.

It also included an interview with Willie Mays that I found to be thoroughly enjoyable.

Here are a few thoughts about all of this. Baseball has a real issue on its hands that it needs to deal with. The prevailing world opinion is that steroid use is simply wrong and should not be used. For a while I sat on the fence on this issue and even downplayed it but I have changed my mind.

I want to see steroids removed, completely, from baseball.

I thought that it was interesting to hear Bob Gibson say that given the chance he thinks that he might have used them, that he wanted to win that badly. I didn’t like Joe Morgan’s answers, there is something about him that I am just not fond of.

I loved Willie Mays. It just made me smile when he said that there was no one better than he was and although I don’t remember seeing him play that is probably a fair statement. He could do it all.

I know that Barry Bonds is his godson, but at this point Mays has got to accept that Barry took steroids and that it is senseless to try and defend him. That is it for me, for now. Here is a snapshot of what Costas has to say about all this.

Costas Commentary

“So what’s the big deal about the steroid era in baseball? All performances are to some extent a product of prevailing conditions. After all, if Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew, or George Brett had played around the turn of the century, they surely would have had seasons where they hit .400. Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux can’t get anywhere near Cy Young’s 511 career wins not because they aren’t as good, but because no modern pitcher gets the ball as often. Changes in ballparks, travel, scheduling, strategy, rules – comparing era to era is not always a case of apples to apples. But here’s a key distinction: As the game evolved, those variations affected all competitors equally, and in their time, all those performances were authentic. The steroid era is not a mere variation. It’s a gross and unnatural distortion, both of the game’s history and of contemporary competition, since many used and many did not.

There are three seismic shifts in post-1900 baseball history. Two – the advent of the lively ball and the breaking of the color line – helped the game tremendously. The third, the steroid era, now haunts the game. Only segregation represents a greater blot on the game’s history and integrity. The Black Sox scandal of 1919 involved one team, one year. Pete Rose – one guy. The steroid era, still ongoing, likely involved every team, and more players than we can count. Baseball can’t have it both ways: It can’t celebrate its history and revere its records, and then turn a blind eye when its history and its record book are poisoned.”

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  1. Z May 5, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    I think NASCAR did the right thing with the way they handled their drug policy…you test positive three times and you’re out. They do successive and increasingly severe suspensions (and rehab requirements) for 1 and 2 and then with 3, you’re done with NASCAR for life. And I think this is the correct approach. Baseball needs to grow a pair and enforce their rules otherwise, why have them?

    I concede that yes, there has to be a start date..a clear start date but by being wishy washy about it and refusing to get serious…baseball makes it clear that it’s about filling parks and much less about the integrity of the sport.

  2. Jack's Shack May 4, 2006 at 1:20 pm


    There are a few challenges with that. First we aren’t going to have a complete record of who did what, not to mention that some of the guys were using when it was legal.

    So we would have to set a date that said everyone after this period is…

    And then I think that we need to be tough, but that it shouldn’t be lifetime banishment for a first offense, it is a little too harsh for my taste.

    But that doesn’t mean that you can suspend them for 50 games or so.

  3. Z May 4, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    I have to agree. There is no love for Barry Bonds in Pittsburgh (yes, they still very lustily boo him when he’s here) but the facts remain, pumped on steroids his accomplishments have absolutely zero validity when compared to men who did NOT enhance their physical abilities with drugs. No comparison at all. So okay, yeah, we get to leave out everyone who HAS used steroids and broken a record. That includes Mark McGuire. And I also believe that the ONLY sanction that ISN’T a slap on the wrist IS banishment for life. If baseball allows this to continue…what’s next? Steve Austin hitting them out of PNC Park with his robotic arms???? I have absolutely NO doubt it would come to that…none at all.

  4. Jack's Shack May 4, 2006 at 6:35 am




    I don’t think that they should be banned for life, at least not for an initial offense.


    That is part of it, but there is just something about his manner that irks me.

    FWIW, I liked the Big Red Machine: Concepcion, Foster, Rose- good players.

  5. The Misanthrope May 4, 2006 at 6:15 am

    Costas did indeed say it nicely. It might be you’re not fond of Morgan because he has played on teams that Dodgers fans have hated over the years — The big red machine, and of course the Giants.

    Also, I think that the owners will get steroids out of baseball to help avoid paying anything more than they have to.

  6. Outoftown May 3, 2006 at 8:01 pm

    I 100% agree. Baseball needs to clean up their act, or else. I personally think that people caught using steroids should be banned for life. I think they are doing a lot more harm to the game than Pete Rose did.

  7. Ezzie May 3, 2006 at 7:51 pm

    I’ve always liked Costas. Well put.

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