Major League Baseball's notorious era of steroid use has reentered news cycles with the recent hall of fame inductions last week, putting debate over the Steroid Era back on the table.
The common denominator between many players during this era is that they all used steroids at some point in their careers. It was amazing for fans to watch these guys crush records every year and hit home runs to the moon. The race between Sosa and McGwire to beat the single-season home run record is a story that received unprecedented media coverage in sports history. Every time either player walked up to the plate it was must-watch television. It is undeniable that each of these players benefitted from the use of steroids throughout their career, but it isn't crazy to think that the MLB profited from their steroid use perhaps even more than they did.
In 1994-95, there was virtually no MLB season. The owners went on strike because of disagreements with the salary cap. The average American sports fan didn't give a shit about baseball. It was a dying league going through the longest strike in professional sports history, and mid-dynasty Michael Jordan dominating with the Chicago Bulls had everyone's attention (who can blame them).
Under pressure, the league had to take action once the strike was resolved in order to make baseball a profitable business again. Some would say their big move was to turn a blind eye to steroid use, and it was fucking awesome. Athletes the size of refrigerators would walk up to the plate holding a bat that looked more like a toothpick in comparison. On a nightly basis, fans could see them smash 650 ft monster home runs. Even pitchers took advantage of PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs) and were consistently throwing in the high 90's.
It's suspected that over half the league was on roids. There has been much debate over the ethics of steroid use, but how can you say that the athletes of this era had a competitive advantage when the majority of their competitors were also taking PEDs? One year, Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs off of pitchers who were most likely also on roids!
Not only can these players be considered some of the best in history, but they were also so entertaining that they essentially saved Major League Baseball.
Hall of Fame voters fail to take this into consideration every year. Barry Bonds would hit 200 homers a season against hall of fame pitchers from the 1960s and prior. Also, the league, for all intents and purposes, encouraged their steroid use, how could you blame them? Leaving these guys out of the hall every year is an injustice to baseball history.