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Commentary: Enough with baseball and steroids

  • Story Highlights
  • Roland S. Martin: Baseball was in the doldrums until 1998 home-run race
  • Martin: Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa race to break home-run record stirred interest
  • Martin says baseball had a terrible drug problem
  • But he says it's time to turn the page on baseball's deal with devil
By Roland S. Martin
CNN Contributor
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Editor's note: A nationally syndicated columnist, Roland S. Martin is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith" and "Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America." Visit his Web site for more information.

Roland S. Martin says it's time to get over the fact that baseball turned a blind eye to steroid use.

Roland S. Martin says it's time to get over the fact that baseball turned a blind eye to steroid use.

(CNN) -- I loved baseball as a kid. I still have fond memories of my siblings and me, members of the "Astro Buddies" club, heading to the Astrodome, the eighth wonder of the world, to watch the Houston Astros play.

I played the game in elementary and high school.

But now, I'm sick of it, especially when steroids are brought up.

The latest baseball drama surrounds a New York Times report quoting two lawyers who say that former Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa's name was on a list of players who tested positive for an illegal substance in 2003. The list supposedly contains more than 100 names of players who tested positive that year.

This report comes on the heels of Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees admitting that he used performance-enhancing drugs a few years ago; Manny Ramirez testing positive and suspended for 50 games; and the continuing drama surrounding Roger Clemens. All three were considered locks for the Hall of Fame. But based on what we keep hearing, that'll never happen in this holier-than-thou era.

OK, got it. Baseball had a terrible drug problem. Now they have a drug testing plan in place that has some teeth in it. So, can we just move the hell on?

Seriously, I'm tired of rehashing the drama. As a sports enthusiast, I would love nothing better than to think that athletes in baseball, football, basketball or any other sport are as pure as heroes from yesteryear. But cheating is cheating. It has been around from Day One, and if a player thinks he can get an edge, well, it's a good bet some will try to get it.

Sosa has always been suspected of using drugs, but now that two lawyers say they saw his name on the infamous sheet, he has gone, according to Rick Telander's column in the Chicago Sun-Times, "from hero to zero."

But you know what? I don't care. Can we just all accept the fact that all of baseball -- players, management, owners, the unions -- turned a blind eye to performance-enhancing drugs ravaging the sport? And they did so because baseball was on its way to being comparable to the National Hockey League or soccer in the U.S. -- irrelevant to sports fans.

After the strike in 1994 wiped out the World Series, fans were angry and didn't give a lick about the sport. But then came 1998 and the home-run derby put on by St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire and Sosa, both trying to break the record of 61 homers in a year set by Roger Maris of the New York Yankees.

Fans were riveted by the hitting prowess of the two, and people were following their every at-bat. I was working at KRLD-AM in Dallas, Texas, that summer, and we would break into programming to broadcast the call of their at-bats when they were about to break the record. Yea, everyone had Sosa-McGwire fever.

Baseball became relevant again. The players redeemed themselves, management was happy to say they worked for the sport, and the owners were delirious because the money came rolling in.

So there we have it. All of baseball pulled a Robert Johnson, as in the legend of the classic blues singer who supposedly got his gift for music by making a pact with the devil. Or maybe more like Judas. The sport turned in its integrity for a few pieces of silver.

Let's just accept this as a fact, acknowledge those were the dark days and move on. It's just tiring to keep going back to what happened then. It's done. It's over. So let it go.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland S. Martin.

All About Sammy SosaMajor League BaseballDrugs in Sports

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