Drug Bunt

If faith in stats is a baseball fan's lifeblood, what to do when the numbers are doped up?

Contrary to the sunny health report given by the National Football League to the media, many experts, including Professor Charles Yesalis of Penn State University (co-author of The Steroids Game), think that steroid use is more rampant in pro football than in baseball. "It's just that we don't care as much about it," says Yesalis, "because we don't see cherished records being threatened in football." Exactly. Faith in statistics is the lifeblood of fan interest in baseball. What happens when the average man's faith in the integrity of baseball statistics is shattered? What happens when fans no longer accept the numbers as a true reflection of the players' abilities?

In truth, we don't have any real evidence that the current drug policy doesn't work—it came into full effect only after Bonds and Giambi hooked up with trainer Greg Anderson. If there's one thing that owners, players, fans, and press can all agree on, it's that there's going to be a horrendously ugly PR disaster for baseball as Bonds draws closer to Aaron's record. Surely Major League Baseball can begin doing damage control right now by working with the union to come up with a drug policy that doesn't violate their employees' rights.

Allen Barra is the author of Brushbacks and Knockdowns: The Greatest Baseball Debates of Two Centuries and Big Play: Barra on Football.

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