MLB: Are Performance Enhancing Drugs Bad for Baseball?

November 3, 2011

Dirty Hands

The first word that comes to your mind when your hear the word baseball is steroids. Yes, drugs such as steroids and Human Growth Hormones can be dangerous to the players but don’t they add excitement to the game? Very few people would want to waste 3 hours of their day watching a game with only a few hits and only a couple runs scored. Steroids and HGH may not be the worse thing for baseball if they add excitement to the game.


Major League baseball has changed the game of baseball by testing for steroids at all professional levels. Baseball “die-hards” commend the MLB for getting rid of steroids. However, the game has been significantly hurt.  Average fans really did not care about players using steroids because it made it more fun to watch.  The height of steroids use was from 1990-2004.  In ’98 Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa changed the game of baseball forever.  This highlight season was filled with drama and excitement.  prior to this year, the home run record was 61.  Sosa and McGwire shattered the record.  Sosa finished with 66 HR and McGwire finished with 70 HR.  This created a buzz around baseball that wa never seen before.  The whole country was on the edge of their seats with every at-bat.  A few years later in 2001, Barry Bonds shocked the world by hitting 73 HR.  Although these players’ legacies have been tainted due to steroid use, they brought the game to a level that will never be reached again.


TV ratings for the World Series have gone down by almost 25% since 2004.  Major League baseball believes they saved baseball by getting rid of all steroid use, but unknowingly they took the “X-Factor” out of the game.  Scoring has decreased .5 runs per game.  Since 2004, there have only been five players to hit more than 50 home runs and no one has hit more than 58 HR in a season.  Without the home runs, baseball is becoming less relevant in today’s society. 

There are many times in life where we must look the other way in order to get the outcome that is best for all parties involved.  After looking at how baseball has changed over the past five to six years, it seems like steroids didn’t kill the game.  They actually helped raise fan interest.  Human Growth Hormones are on the verge of being banned by the MLB.  This might put an end to all big-hitting players.  We may never see a player hit more than 40 home runs in a season.  In order to keep growing, MLB must find a way to keep fans interested.   Everyone can agree that these supplements can be considered a way of cheating and they can be harmful to the user but the players that used these supplements produced results that allowed baseball to grow as a whole.

Should Major League Baseball not have banned the use of steroids in order to keep fans interested?

Would the ending that would have occurred, the MLB having higher TV ratings and excitement, have been worth not banning steroids?



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5 Comments on “MLB: Are Performance Enhancing Drugs Bad for Baseball?”

  1. benjishanus Says:

    With all do respect, I’m actually somewhat insulted and outraged by this thought process. How can you possibly try to justify the use of an illegal substance in the game of baseball, a sport featuring so many role models to young kids and fans in general. Not only that, but there is a reason why steroids are an illegal substance. They are detrimental to the human body and can cause serious side effects down the road. Allowing the use of steroids would completely tarnish the game of baseball. This is not an opinion, this is a statement. You said that “average fans really did not care about players using steroids because it made it more fun to watch,” but that is blatantly incorrect. In reality, no one knew at the time that players were using performance enhancing drugs, which is why they were able to get away with it for so many years.

    I understand your point that more home runs and runs scored in general could make baseball more fun to watch and possibly improve ratings. However, if you’re so fixated on that claim, than how about just move the fences in? Some teams have done that, such as the Tigers a few years ago. The Mets have also released plans to do the same thing this offseason. Bringing the fences in a little is a simple fix to a problem you’re blowing way out of proportion. There are other ways to work around this “problem” other than allowing drugs. Another scenario: a few years ago, the NHL implemented a rule limited the size of pads that goalies could wear, with the intention of having more goals scored. This idea worked out fine for the NHL. It was as simple as that. No illegal drugs or anything else of that nature was necessary or even though about for obvious reasons.

    Allowing steroids and other ILLEGAL performance-enhancing drugs would destroy the game of baseball as we know it, America’s pastime. There is a reason why these drugs are not permitted on any level under any circumstances. We cannot simply just “look the other way” with such a major issue that will inflict so many detrimental consequences. So the answer to your questions is a resounding NO, there is absolutely no reason that steroids should be permitted in Major League Baseball under any circumstances.

  2. chkeeler Says:

    The home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire in the 1998 season can be credited for attracting me to the game of baseball. Being a little boy in first grade, the two looked like superheroes, smashing longball after longball over the fences. Our home team, The Detroit Tigers, were never really good until late in middle school, so Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa gave our family something to cheer about in baseball. I would hurry home from the bus stop every afternoon to watch the two with my mom and sister, eager that Sosa and McGwire may break the all-time records. What we didn’t know was that these men were cheating.
    Years later when the report came out that both Sosa and McGwire had used PED’s during their home run battle, I felt a sense of anger towards them. My heroes turned out to be liars, frauds, sellouts. Yes, they were able to attract lots of fans and generate revenue because of their wrongdoings. However, the two led an entire nation to believe that these men were naturally talented. They were a sign of what was good with America. They gave me, as a young boy, dreams that maybe one day I could play like them if I worked hard enough.
    Would TV ratings be higher if steroid use wasn’t restricted? I would actually say probably not. Home runs would not be as rare as they are today, and the fans would have gotten used to seeing them hit on a routine basis. Home run races would have become an annual happening, and fans wouldn’t have cared as much. And let’s get something straight: the only reason the MLB stiffened their steroid use policy was the result of things such as the Mitchell Report (which named over 50 players that used steroids during their playing careers) and Jose Canseco coming out and “ratting” on his former players. The MLB was not really concerned with what their players were doing until the public was made aware of the wrongdoings. Their only choice was to change their testing policies to make it seem like they were actually disappointed in the players. When it was found they had dirty hands, they changed the game to make it seem like nothing had happened.

  3. scottmha Says:

    We need to not look at what steroids give to the game but instead we should look what they take away from the game. Since when is it ok to condone the use of illegal drugs that will sacrifice the safety of its players to add more excitement to the game. Why would we ever value TV ratings and money over the honesty and dignity of America’s pastime? Not only does steroids neglect player’s natural talent and take away from those players who don’t use steroids, but it sets an awful example. An example that young athletes will observe not only in America but also all over the world. Baseball is a global sport, found in countries that have not even been modernized yet. Many of the players that make up the MLB today are from Japan and countries in the Caribbean-the league is a model for diversity. To permit players to use performance enhancers, tarnishes the game and makes baseball a poor role model to aspiring athletes all over the world. By approving steroids baseball will have lowered its standards greatly.

    There are other alternatives, besides permitting the use of steroids, to add to the excitement of baseball. As one of the bloggers above me commented, bringing in the fences in some “pitcher-friendly” ballparks (see Petco Park) might be an ideal alternative. Adding instant replay to the game is not a bad idea, but instant replay is a whole different debate within its self, just ask Bud Selig. Another idea is to lengthen the distance between the pitchers mound and home plate, which would give the hitter more time to react to the ball allowing hitters to raise their average and potentially their power, but this seems unreasonable. Maybe it’s not the game that we need to change but instead the way the “average fan” views the game. It’s not out of the ordinary to get excited by a single HR. That one powerful swing, that sends the ball 400 feet into the air over the right field fence is exciting but compare it to a dominant pitcher. A homerun happens then the batter trots the bases and its over. A pitcher has to go out there batter after batter inning after inning and perform every time. Their stamina is unmatchable, watch a pitcher throw a complete game or just watch Justin Verlander (circa 2011). What they do could be considered an art form its Picasso-esque.

    So is steroids really a viable option to add excitement to the game?
    No, to me personally there is no debate, maybe its just fans that need to re-evaluate the way they view the game.

  4. sbyr Says:

    Is the aftermath following the use of steroids actually an entirely good one? Perhaps legalizing steroid usage would attract more fans, increase ratings, and add excitement to the game. However, I think the biggest problem that would be created by this cheating is the incredibly negative impact on kids who look up to these players as role models. Allowing steroid use essentially sends the message that cheating is OK and also diminishes the value of good old-fashioned hard work. As someone already mentioned, these alleged benefits would be temporary. One of the only reasons McGwire and Sosa were so exciting to watch was because not everyone was using steroids and thus they had an unfair advantage over most of the other players. If steroids were used universally throughout the league, everyone would theoretically be better. Would this lead to more exciting plays? Maybe. Or, would it make these actions that were previously rarities—and thus exciting—common and consequently less exciting. While this is an interesting issue to discuss regarding the Dirty Hands problem, I think that the negative effects ultimately outweigh the positive ones.

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