The League

Gene Wang
Fantasy Guru

Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

It's All About Expectations


Football is a violent game, and the athletes are not guaranteed anything financially but their signing bonuses. One hit can end a player's career, and in the worst circumstances, a player may never walk again.

Of the four major professional sports in the United States, football is the most risky by far. That's why football players get much more leeway when it comes to testing positive for banned substances.

Baseball is the least physically demanding of the four major American sports. That's why you see guys who are badly out of shape on the baseball diamond. As former Phillies first baseman John Kruk famously said: "I'm not an athlete. I'm a professional baseball player."

So when we read about Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and others being accused of using performance enhancing substances, we are incredulous.

Do baseball players really need HGH to gain an advantage at the plate? Ted Williams never did, and he was the last player to hit .400. Neither did Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron, both of whom held the all-time home run title.

Bonds won three MVP awards before the steroid allegations and already was on his way to the Hall of Fame. He didn't need performance enhancing substances to become an all-time great, yet he remains at the center of the steroids controversy. Bonds's godfather Willie Mays played the game clean and compiled ridiculous statistics.

So did Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and Cal Ripken Jr., among others. That those players were able to have exceptional careers without using banned substances makes players who tested positive look all the more foolish.

By Gene Wang  |  February 9, 2009; 8:00 AM ET  | Category:  Steroids Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Football fans care more about teams than players. A football player will be criticized for hurting his team. However he is not as much a lightning rod as a baseball player. Also the longer careers of baseball players make them more identifiable.

Posted by: verbal8 | February 9, 2009 1:23 PM

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