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David Ortiz Weighs in on Steroid Debate

On Feb. 16th, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz became the most recent player to weigh in on steroid use in baseball and possible consequences of such, responding to Yankees Alex Rodriguez's positive test in 2001-2003 with the Texas Rangers. Ortiz came out publicly to support a year-long ban for testing positive, effectively rejecting the current MLB policy of 50 and 100 game suspensions for a first and second positive test respectively. Unfortunately, in the A-Rod case, this policy wasn't even active when he tested positive and will probably result in heavy scrutiny and no ban...and according to MLB attendance records, there doesn't need to be.

Despite the surprise around Major League Baseball at the Rodriguez steroid leak, there is no surprise here. The man hit 52, 57 and 47 home runs when he was using, but because he was in Texas (versus New York) and a young phenom, people brushed it off. However, this is not acceptable in New York, especially after slumping his entire time there. The bottom line is the new MLB policy was not in existence when he tested positive, so it is practically impossible for Rodriguez to be the disappointment of many Sox fans.

What Rodriguez did was unethical and immoral, but in reality is not going to affect the game of baseball, as is the case with practically all steroid cases. The Barry Bonds case is only such a big deal because it became a perjury case, but until it hit, no one batted an eye when Bonds broke the home run record and hit 73 home runs in 2001--which, needless to say, is unheard of. However, ticket sales have never been better in baseball and that won't change depending on steroid use or not.

The only thing we can take out of the A-Rod scandal is to learn from it and fix the steroid policy accordingly. Ortiz's proposed ban is smart for moral reasons, but at the same time, baseball is business and people might be more hesitant to spend money on games if their favorite players aren't playing because of a year-long steroid ban. Nevertheless, this would clearly discourage players from using. Although Bud Selig has been adamant on erasing steroids altogether, steroid usage is really just an ethical and health-safety issue, but has ultimately not shown to discourage baseball fans--which, at the same time, can hinder progress Selig is trying to make in dealing with steroids and baseball.

The bottom line is that what Rodriguez did was deceitful and unethical and if it had occurred during the current steroid policy, he should have been reprimanded. However, this will merely give the media a field day, with little effect on Rodriguez, his contract or his stay in New York. Good news is that he will probably think twice before using again, and will hopefully maintain a steady .200 BA because of it. Furthermore, this incident will hopefully discourage other players from using and keep the game clean and honest for true baseball fans. Players should also continue to be role models for young athletes and should not promote such dangerous actions simply to get ahead in sports. Despite what sports fans might think, steroids do not make the game better and baseball has been iconic for centuries without them and therefore should baseball officials should continue to work to erase them from America's pastime.

Rani Smith


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