Last night should have been a night for the ages for America’s supposed National pastime as Aaron Judge broke the single-season home run record of Roger Maris. Instead, it was nowhere near the iconic event that it should have been. Judge instead was called the single-season home run leader for the American League because a juiced Barry Bonds hit 73 twenty years before. Can you imagine the hype if this had happened in 1984? You know when people still cared about baseball! Instead, all of this was ruined because of the supposed Steroid era that many people believe saved Baseball.
The Baseball strike of 1994 almost killed Baseball itself as the season ended with a month or two left. So did Baseball need saving in the years following that strike? The answer is yes, but saving it for the interim Baseball was destroyed for the future. People don’t like to hear that what they invested in cheering for was tainted, and make no mistake it was tainted.
The “steroid era” has changed MLB and made it nearly impossible for its fans to enjoy the sport they once loved. The key factors are the late 1990’s and 2000’s use of anabolic steroids.
Many people were captivated by the offensive spike that occurred at the end of the twentieth century. It’s impossible to know precisely how many people were lost or won in the tug-of-war that was the steroid era. However, TV ratings can indicate the importance of that time.
It is difficult to ignore the stats that show there were more home runs than ever during the “steroid era”. The stadiums continued to fill, and signs that said “chicks love the long ball” began to appear.
This slogan hints at what might happen if the “long ball” disappears. In the mid-2000s, home run numbers began to decline, and TV ratings also started to fall. The virus was now in the bloodstream of MLB, causing it to be unable to perform as normal. MLB’s attendance also fell, causing a free fall unlike any other sport in recent history.
Because of their popularity with the average fan, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, are two of the most prominent names in MLB. McGwire and Sosa started a race to break the single-season home run record in 1998 MLB.
It was not known at the time that McGwire and Sosa used anabolic steroids. However, many people have wondered if it even matters. McGwire would set the single-season record for home runs with 70. Sosa would tie it at 66.
Many people forget that 1998 was not just about McGwire or Sosa but also all the elite hitters in MLB. The NY Times recently wrote this review of 1998, which included these words:
“Of the 13 players who hit more than 40 home runs that year at least eight were proven to be steroid users.”
The last steroid-related incident occurred on the field in 2003 when Barry Bonds broke McGwire’s single-season home run record for 70 with 73 for the San Francisco Giants. Since then, Barry Bonds has been linked to steroids. The consensus is that Bonds used steroids for at least three years.
Alex Rodriguez was widely believed to have a silver lining, and many thought he would be able to regain the home run record. In 2008, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids.
It’s not clear who else took steroids in the 1990s or early 2000s. The public might never find out the truth. Check out the top baseball odds.
Let’s look at the overall MLB attendance in 1993 before the strike. Over 70 million fans attended Major League Baseball games. In 1995 after the strike, that number had dropped to 50 million in total attendance. That number spiked to over 70 million during the 1998 and 199 seasons.
In 2007 that number had jumped to close to 80 million in attendance. Last year in 2021, that number had dropped to 45 million.
The Deciding game of the 1999 World Series drew over 25 million viewers, and last year’s deciding game drew 13 million viewers.
It’s obvious that the Steroid era brought baseball back for a decade, but the long-term effects have killed Baseball.
No sport is as enthralled with its history as baseball is. Numbers are huge in baseball. You have 56(Dimaggio’s hitting streak), 511(Cy Young wins), 715(Aaron All Time HR record), and 61(Maris’s single-season record). I could go on and on, but you get the point. That one period in time destroyed hallowed records, and they can never be recovered.
Baseball, like Hockey and the NBA, has turned into more regional sports than anything else. The NHL has always been a regional sport, and the NBA destroyed itself(But that’s another article).
Baseball may never have had a resurgence without the steroid era, will I think it could have but not as big as the steroid era blew it up, but it would have come back on its own. But imagine last night if the steroid era never existed and how big Judge hitting number 62 would have been.
It robbed all of us that used to be Baseball fans, and more importantly, it robbed Aaron Judge of immortality.
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