The 2022 MLB season has been marked with several historical feats.
First, Miguel Cabrera became the seventh player in Major League history to record 3,000 hits and 500 home runs for his career.
Next, Albert Pujols, “The Machine,” became the fourth player to hit 700 home runs as he went on an unreal tear to close the season and help the Cardinals clinch the NL Central.
Finally, Aaron Judge set a new American League record for home runs in a season with 62, breaking fellow Yankee legend Roger Maris’s mark of 61 and capturing the attention of Americans everywhere.
With all of these historic feats, a renewed surge in viewership has helped baseball achieve a level of social relevance it has not accrued since the days of the Steroid Era. While I grew up after its heyday, watching archival footage of the seminal moments of this era gives me goosebumps.
Jose Canseco hitting a ball quite literally to the moon in Toronto. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chasing the all-time home run record in 1998. And, finally, watching Barry Bonds baffle pitchers and managers with one of the most unforgiving swings in baseball history.
A player so good that he had a 47.3 WAR from 2001 to 2004. This WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was so high that it surpassed the total output of five different Major League teams.
The list goes on and on for the ridiculous stats and achievements that players who used PEDs had. However, these stats are frequently being swept under the rug by the media and the MLB itself. While this may seem like the ethical and correct decision, it is harming the sport of baseball, and the Hall of Fame induction of players like Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa is long overdue.
It is not lost on me that I am not the first person to have this argument; however, too frequently, people seem to forget the impact that these players had on the sport of baseball. Coming off of the 1994-95 strike, the MLB was in disarray. Fans were angry, which showed in average attendance, as throughout the league, games were sparsely attended, and morale was at an all-time low.
However, things started to turn soon after, as more and more players were hitting an obscene amount of home runs. Attendance and viewership skyrocketed, and baseball was not only saved, it was fun again.
So, with that, why is the MLB pretending that their best era did not exist? They owe their jobs and, frankly, their entire organization to the success of Bonds, McGwire, and the rest during the Steroid Era. Rob Manfred and the National Baseball Hall of Fame are on a misguided quest to gatekeep and tailor baseball history to their liking, neglecting the contributions of so many great athletes.
While baseball has seemingly entered a renaissance with players like Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani, and more dominating the game, it is unwise for the MLB to pretend that the Steroid Era did not happen. Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, and the rest deserve their flowers and a Hall of Fame induction, as, without them, baseball would have drowned in a sea of irrelevance. As October baseball nears, hopefully, the league can capture the magic that seems to be stuck in the 90s.