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Steroid users can own records, but not our hearts

Citizen Staff Writer



The steroid users can’t wreck the game. They never could.

They can have the records, the awards, the money, the mansions – and, God bless them, they sure have all that – but the taint is on them.

Mark McGwire is basically in self-imposed exile. Sammy Sosa? As easily forgettable as his English.

Barry Bonds, the most hated man in baseball, forever will have an asterisk next to his home run record, the little postscript that Hank Aaron – the real Home Run King – never deserved.

Roger Clemens, denying, denying, denying, appears intent on going down with his ship. Let him.

Then there’s New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who wants us to believe that he’s now so sorry, so earnest to tell the truth, that he didn’t even bother with any of it until Sports Illustrated outed him last week with reports of a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.

Figures that the guy who lied to Katie Couric in a “60 Minutes” interview, the guy who has a hard time hitting in the clutch, wouldn’t fully own up to anything.

Instead, he whines about being naive about steroids and the terrible, terrible woe-is-me pressure of having to live up to his $252 million contract while with the Texas Rangers.

Want pressure, A-Rod? Try living paycheck to paycheck.

Nice try, all of you.

We have become by alternate turns outraged and disappointed about our major league steriod freaks. But apparently we didn’t much care about who was using and who wasn’t because we kept voting with the one thing that matters – our pocketbooks.

Through all of the blind-eyed steroid era and now its aftermath, while commissioner Bud Selig fiddled with the All-Star Game and earned his way up to around a staggering $18 million in annual salary, attendance soared across the major leagues.

The numbers dipped slightly last season – it’s the economy, stupid – but only after the major leagues reported attendance records in each of the previous four years.

That’s because A-Rod’s revelation and all the rest of the unseemly mess doesn’t change the symphony of the game, the perfect math of the diamond, the intricate, delicate drama of I-pitch-it, you-try-to-hit-it.

With major league spring training beginning another round in Tucson on Saturday, as pitchers and catchers report for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies, there are all the old reasons to head out to the ballpark.

No. 1: Sunshine.

No. 2: . . . uh, it’s baseball.

It marches on just fine.

A-Rod and the rest of the All-User team traded in a lasting legacy for short-term glory. They’re winners in that regard.

Did you know that 14 of the past 26 Most Valuable Players – counting both leagues – have either admitted to using steroids or been implicated?

Congratulations, fellas. Your kids must be so proud.

With their wretched excesses, these guys have swung a hammer to the record book as if it was a Jamie Moyer fastball down the middle. It’s regrettable, but, shoot, who much cares anymore?

Your childhood heroes are still your childhood heroes.

You can take them out of the record book, but not out of your memory.

It’s a truth that baseball, more than any sport, is steeped in tradition, its statistical bridges to the past. But at the end of the day records are for suckers anyway.

Comparing eras is always troublesome, and while advanced mathematical models can make some sense of it, it’s mostly an intellectual endeavor that produces chatter, not results.

The steroid beasts – the liars and cheaters – don’t win.

They will live on in the record books, but not in our hearts.

We know which is more important.

Anthony Gimino’s e-mail:



Spring Training begins this weekend for the Diamondbacks and Rockies:

Saturday: Pitchers and catchers report

Wednesday: All players report

Feb. 25: Opener, D’backs at Rockies, 1:05 p.m., Hi Corbett Field

Feb. 26: White Sox at Rockies, 1:05 p.m., Hi Corbett; D’backs at Indians, 1:05 p.m., Goodyear

Feb. 27: White Sox at D’backs, 1:05 p.m., Tucson Electric Park; Rockies at Angels, 1:05 p.m., Tempe

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