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Steroids tarnish great game

By Doug Gorman

When I was in elementary school this was one of my favorite times of year because spring training was in full swing.

I loved baseball, and as the old saying goes, "spring is the time when a young man's fancy turns to baseball."

Whoever came up with that slogan could have been talking about me.

I used to gobble up the preseason baseball magazines that hit the newsstands this time of year.

I couldn't wait to read what the so-called experts were writing about my favorite players.

One of my fondest spring-break memories was when my family went to Florida to escape the final blast of winter in St. Louis. While my mom and sister were lounging on the white sands in Clearwater, my father and I journeyed to nearby St. Petersburg to see Cardinals play the Mets in an exhibition game.

I was in my element. Like so many little boys, I was star struck around a major league baseball game. I sought out autographs of my heroes, adorned my bedroom walls with sports posters, and had shoe boxes full of baseball cards stored in my bedroom closet.

I fell asleep at night listening to baseball games on a transistor radio, which for years sat on my nightstand by my bed.

My biggest worry as a young baseball fans was would my favorite players get voted in to the all-star game, and would the Cardinals still be in a pennant race come September?

The Bob Gibsons and Lou Brocks of the world were my heroes, and I still remember Joe Torre as a standout player, not the future Hall of Fame manager he has become with the Yankees.

Articles and columns from spring training centered around some young prospect trying to make the big leagues for the first time, or some veteran trying to play one more season before hanging up his uniform for the last time.

Baseball fans never read about steroid use among major league players. I'm not sure steroids even existed in the 1970s.

Now, the steroid issue has become bigger than the game itself.

Instead of watching Barry Bonds chase Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron's all-time home run records, fans are left to wonder whether one of the game's greatest hitters used performance-enhancing substances.

There should be no need for Jose Canseco's tell-all book about players who participated in steroid use in an effort to help play the game better.

In a time when national secruity, health care and social security reform should be Congress' biggest concern, they too have decided to get involved in the great steriod debate.

I can't understand why Canseco felt the need to stab former teammates in the back, and maybe Congress has overstepped its bounds by getting involved, but with all the talk about steroid use, maybe where there's smoke, there's fire. With baseball now beginning to test its players for steroids, if there is a problem, it will all come out in the wash.

Even if a small percentage of major league baseball players are using, my question is why?

If steroid use helps increase batting average, or home run production each year. is it still worth it?

I don't think so. Has cheating become an accepted way to get an advantage over an opponent? If test, hearings and tell-all books are true, the answer to that question is yes, and that's sad, because the once great game of baseball is already tarnished.

(Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the Daily. He can be e-mailed at dgorman@news-daily.com )