The League

Barry Svrluga
Sports Reporter

Barry Svrluga

Washington Post Staff Writer

MLB Records Sacred

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Two reasons:

1. Baseball records are simply more sacred than those from football. The all-time home run king is in the public consciousness in a way that the all-time leader in touchdown passes is not. There can never be a football equivalent of McGwire-Sosa in 1998 or even of Bonds in 2007. If the public and the media believe those records were acquired artificially -- as it appears Bonds's were -- then the reaction will be much harsher.

2. I think there's a general perception that steroids more directly impact quantifiable performance improvements in baseball. If you can hit a ball farther because you used steroids -- say, on average, 15 feet farther -- then that probably translates directly to X more home runs in a season. Throwing a ball faster may translate directly to more strikeouts. In football, being stronger or faster might mean you deliver a more jarring hit or streak down the field more quickly, but it doesn't necessarily help you pile up quantifiable numbers.

By Barry Svrluga  |  February 9, 2009; 11:56 AM ET  | Category:  Steroids Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Yeah, it's baseball's Cult of the Individual.

I've heard a lot about how various records should have an asterisk or someone should be kept out of Cooperstown, but not that any team's fans missed out on a World Series because of PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs).

If you root for baseball as a TEAM sport, the fact that Roger Maris' or Hank Aaron's memories have been minimally tarnished because a couple of aging sluggers on .500 teams might have been using chemicals is a blip.

Posted by: WmarkW | February 9, 2009 6:21 PM

In college I played a power sport, wrestling Univ. MD 1973, and there were always rumors about this or that athlete being on roids, some I knew personally were true. I never used them and the majority of the rest of the guys on the wrestling team never used them either. Football however was not so clean. I do not approve of the use of any chemical enhancements and support a lifetime ban against anyone who uses. It is that simple, anyone who watches college or pro football has to see the danger of juiced players amok giving each other concusions and worse. Just like on the job site were anyone in a serious accident is automaticlly given a drug test, when a player suffers a serious injury, all involved in the play should be required to submitt to a "state of art" drug test. Only then will players and fans get the message that drugs and safety are serious issues to be enforced seriously.

Posted by: tniederberger | February 9, 2009 8:13 PM

What we have to decide is what our priorities are. Do we care more about preserving the integrity of the game, and the credibility of the accomplishments of those players to excel? Or do we care more about the entertainment and the "industry" of professional sports? We have faced scandals before. So far, we have chosen to protect the integrity of the game. In this case, I hope our complacency doesn't lead us to surrender our principles because the problem appears too big, too complicated, too sensitive for us to take on. And because those individual records in baseball are enormously important to the players, I think it is time for MLB to say emphatically: test positive for any of the performance enhancing drugs that are on the banned list, and you forfeit any right to hold an individual, official MLB record of any type, and any right to enter the Hall of Fame. Period. We should not make rules, and then choose to overlook the significance of players who choose to ignore them.

Posted by: jcz1 | February 9, 2009 8:19 PM

Baseball has much more individual attention. In the batter's box you have one guy, in the camera, nowhere to hide. His offensive numbers are mainly up to him with little input from teammates.

Not so in football. You could be the most juiced WR or RB that could leap tall buildings but if the offensive line does not block, the QB can not get you the ball. Much more of a team game. Not as focused on the individual.

Posted by: jeffu1 | February 9, 2009 9:24 PM

I agree. Baseball is simply a far more personal game than football, and it's achievements, while aggragated into a whole, are largely individual. It's the same reason that QBs and receivers are the glam positions in football-people actually see them, know what they look like, and can quantify their accomplishments than they can the grunt guys on the line.

Posted by: hillary12 | February 10, 2009 7:40 AM

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