With all this talk about the NBA ref betting hoopla and how it may have affected the outcome of the Spurs-Suns 2007 playoff series, we couldn’t help but make the leap to baseball’s steroid crisis. To be sure, there are some key and obvious differences, but for the sake of argument, both scandals broke the sacred trust between the sport and the fan: the fact that the games (and their outcomes), for one reason or another, weren’t legitimate.
In this day and age, given Barry Bonds’ cringing home run chase and the Giants’ own struggles, there presumably aren’t many true baseball fans who don’t want to see performance-enhancing drugs abolished from the game. But in the same way that Suns fans are upset about this year’s playoffs, should the Giants’ own steroid-spurred (no pun intended) success run from 2001-2004 (or thereabouts) ignite ire in their National League foes?
Because of the BALCO case, a home run chase and a looming grand jury indictment (gulp!), the Giants have been at the epicenter of the steroid crisis, and have had many a non-Bondsian player under suspicion. In no other season is this more evident than the epic 2002 run to the World Series. Take a look at that year’s lineup.
C: Benito Santiago: implicated in BALCO case; had a career year in 2002 (All-Star)
1B: JT Snow
2B: Jeff Kent
SS: Rich Aurilia: heavy suspicions; (home run tallies from 1998-2004: 9, 22, 20, 37, 15, 13, 6)
3B: David Bell: implicated in HGH investigation
LF: Barry Bonds: … um, yeah.
CF: Marvin Benard: implicated in BALCO case (note: Lofton picked up at trading deadline, Shinjo platooned with Benard.)
RF: Reggie Sanders
P: Jason Schmidt: heavy suspicions abound after noticeable 5-8 MPH drop in velocity after steroid testing; had career year in 2002
So, six of the nine regulars have some type of link (granted, some are more speculative than others) to performance-enhancing drugs, which leads us to this question:
If you could eliminate steroids from the game, would you have given up that magical, memorable playoff run?
That season may have been the finest moment in recent Giants history. Bonds was must-see television. Schmidt was the most dominating pitcher in the league. Snow, Kent, Aurilia and Bell put together a scrappy infield. Kirk Rueter and Livan rounded out a lovable pitching staff. That was also the year that the great Robb Nen sacrificed his arm/career for the team. So Rally Monkey mental anguish aside …
Would you give back the 2002 World Series?