I’m sick of soap-box-building journalists complaining that steroid use has hurt professional baseball. I know I’m a huge nobody (Peter Gammons is yet to return even one of my many calls) but I think I can explain why everyone should just calm down about baseball (and other sports) being “ruined” by steroids.

Sports are, for better or worse, a reflection of the society that worships them. And in the real world people cheat (and in the case of baseball, steroid use wasn’t even technically cheating until this season because there really wasn’t a rule against it, but whatever). I don’t care who you are, in your life, you have cheated on something or someone. In professional sports, these guys do what they have to do. I’m excluding college sports from this opinion because those kids aren’t paid (stop laughing) and they are supposed to be getting the most from their minds and bodies in a nurturing environment. When I hear about a college kid cheating, I get mad. When I hear about a professional cheating, I shrug.

If you’re on a team that I root for and your cheating brings us a championship, all the better. Call me cynical, call me mean, hell don’t return any of my calls period (I’m looking at you, Gammons), but why should I care if a pro cheats? A pro has a job to do, a family to feed (insert your own joke here) and a career to extend. I want to win. And if you can get away with killing the quarterback that just threw three TDs in the first quarter against my team, I think you should grab that QB’s knee and break it in half. That’s life. And if the family of that quarterback happens to kill you during the off-season, we will replace you. Again, that’s life. It ain’t easy.

(Side note: how the hell is Jose Canseco still alive? I know baseball fights always look really pansy if Nolan Ryan isn’t involved, but do these guys really let rats just get away with stuff? Playground rules dictate that Canseco be killed. I’m not advocating his murder. I’m just wondering is all.)

I expressed my opinion on sports cheating to an older gentleman whose name I forgot (I’m a random people person) and he said (I think) the following: “It’s about integrity. You have to have integrity in the workplace, in sports, in politics, in everything.”

To which I replied, “Give me an example of integrity in sports, politics or business.”

“All right,” he said. “So I can’t do it. But it’s supposed to be there.”

Yes it is. It’s supposed to be there. But it’s not. I live at 511 Real World Avenue, USA, Planet Earth, and I can tell you that no one here expects honesty or fair play. People should not be credited for doing what they are supposed to do, but they are. In St. Louis, they love Albert Pujols because, in addition to being one of the best hitters in baseball, he is hard working, he donates money to charities, he doesn’t use drugs and he is a family man. Does that mean every baseball player has to be Andy freaking Griffith? Absolutely not. It means that our standards are so low that when a pro behaves like a decent human being, he is heralded as a hero. No one would care how nice Albert Pujols is if he didn’t play so well. It’s only after we watch the players win that we worry about their depth of character. And if they have no depth of character, we just shrug and say, “Who cares? The guy wins us games.” Winning always comes first, and these sappy, woe-is-the-state-of-sports journalists know that better than any other non-athlete. Here’s something else these sap-masters know: most professional athletes will always do whatever they can to insure the length of their careers, the size of their paychecks and their chances of winning.

And I say good for them.

Because losing sucks.

Keep in mind, I’m not advocating cheating. I’m advocating a dose of perspective. Everyone who’s still worrying about steroids in baseball needs to mellow out. Here are two things that will never leave sports or society at large: drug use and cheating. You can cry about the detrimental effects of cheating and drug use, but you will never, ever have a totally honest, drug free world. And if you did, I think you’d be very bored.

So, sports fans, enjoy the saga that is Baseball 2005: The Drug Test Year. But do not build a soap box and do not judge. People are people. They do what they feel they have to do.

And Commissioner Bud “come one, everyone gets the undercoating” Selig can't stop them.

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