How The Steroid Era Arguably Helped Baseball

On August 7th, at 11:00 am. it was announced that the Yankees would release Alex Rodriguez after the game against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 12th. The retirement of the .295 lifetime avg, 696 home run hitting, and .930 career OPS, Rodriguez, will be a closing chapter of one of baseball’s darkest times. That being the steroid era.

However, in a time of one of baseball’s biggest ongoing issues, there was some good that came out of it. And some can even say, that this was the era that in fact saved the game of baseball.

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Image from: Sportslistoftheday.com

The era that lasted from the late 1990’s into the early 2000’s, was an era where balls were being sent out of the park at a faster rate, records were being broken, and most of all ratings were through the roof. People like to forget about the era where so many players cheated and tried to manipulate the game, however, I think it is a very important time to remember and never forget, because the game we see today, without it, might have been very different.

Going all the way back to the 1994 season, MLB owners and players were unsuccessful in reaching a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement. The players went on strike and the season came to an end on August 12th. No deal was reached and by September 14th Bud Selig officially canceled the rest of the season and playoffs. It left a lot of fans upset and disappointed.

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Image from: Al.com (AP file photo)

When baseball was officially back in 1995, it seemed that baseball was in a very dark place. Attendance was down and that was after ticket prices were also down. An attendance struggle across the league continued during the 1996 season.

However, something was brewing. In 1996, Over 15 players had at least 40 home runs, before the strike in 1993 only five players had done that. From the years of 1996-2001, there were at least ten players who hit 40 home runs or more each year. To be honest, some players were players who shouldn’t have.

Then there was the unforgettable home run race of 1998 between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa to beat the single-season home run record of Roger Maris, which both were able to pass, while 9 others hit over 40. Then in 2001, Barry Bonds surpassed both the sluggers to have the all-time single season home run record beating McGwire’s 70, with 73 home runs

It is not crazy to think that there was a correlation between the home run ball and MLB revenue, especially to see that type of jump shortly after the strike of ’94. I am in no way saying I support the steroids that helped the home run ball era, now coined as the “Steroid Era.” But, it is a time that I do believe saved baseball. It was a time that baseball had to reach into a dark place to pull out some light, and lift the MLB back on its feet.

Let’s look at the increase in MLB revenue from 1995-2001:

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With Alex Rodriguez’s baseball days coming to an end (hopefully), it is a chapter of the game that can officially be put to an end. There are indeed other players who still juice, but in a time where steroids were the norm, the game nowadays has come a long way to stray away from that time.

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Image from: Robert Sabo (New York Daily News)

So, Alex Rodriguez, I am not saying thank you in any way, but I am saying I appreciate your efforts to help the sport, in a very unorthodox, and not favored way. Now walk away.

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