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Swallowing the steroids story

Like car wrecks on busy city streets, some stories just refuse to go away; Michael Jackson, the 2004 election, Michael Jackson, Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson, Scott Petersen, Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton's body parts and Michael Jackson.

Sports stories are the same. Kobe Bryant, Pete Rose, Kobe Bryant, the Red Sox and Kobe Bryant have spent time in the news for what seems like forever. And I think I read something about Kobe Bryant a couple of times.

But now the baseball steroid story looks like it will top them all.

Some major leaguers, either a handful or dozens, depending on who's talking, have apparently been doping for years in hopes of improving their games. Some are denying a problem exists, some are covering it up and some are admitting it.

All involved are wishing the story would just go away. It's not going away.

This story will never die because Barry Bonds is chasing the all time homerun record of Hank Aaron. Barring injury, a baseball strike or other unforeseen events, Bonds will likely overtake Aaron no later than early season 2006.

Aaron was not a steroid user. By all accounts, Bonds is. The argument: should this career homerun record along with a few others be marked with an asterisk?

The asterisk would designate those that played in the era of rampant steroid use.

My question is if an asterisk is used next to baseball records, will it be used just for homeruns, just for certain players, or just for a certain time period? Should pitchers that won 20 games before the days of steroids get discredited for not having to face the juiced up sultans of swat? Lots of questions there.

What I dread, and what I likely will avoid, is every time Barry Bonds comes to bat in pursuit of the homerun record many TV networks will break away to the scene. The breathless announcers will be talking like a runaway freight train about Bonds, the record, and steroids. The banter will put Michael Jackson's story on the back page. Maybe that's good.

To use an asterisk or not to use an asterisk? That's a question that's going to be around for years to come.

Unfortunately, it is a sports story. It is a sports story not about what happens on the field, but what athletes put into their bodies.

We've come to expect superhyperprolonged news from Hollywood and politics, but getting choked on such a sports story will be a tough pill to swallow. Get you a big glass of water; this story, unlike a pill, won't dissolve anytime soon.

Web posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005


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