2005 was indeed an interesting year in the baseball world.
The Chicago White Sox won their first World Series since 1917, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols were again having monster years, and Jason Giambi and Ken Griffey Jr., again rose to prominence.
2005 was also a break-out year for the former MVP and six-time All-star, Jose Canseco.
In ’05 Canseco rocked the baseball world by admitting to steroids, pointing the finger at many former and current players, and releasing a tell-all book; Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big.
Whether it was to again enter the spotlight, regain the glory that was once his, or simply get the guilt off his chest, he sure did drop a bombshell, not only on the game of baseball, but the sports fraternity as a whole.
There are certain unwritten rules in sports, and revealing locker room insights or the off-filed antics of your teammates are two of the most highly regarded.
Many dubbed Canseco a rat, and a selfish egotistical former all-star looking to get back at the game that no longer needed him. In fact Canseco did break the code, in spite of this; he lit the fuse that ignited a clean-up that many deemed necessary.
Canseco’s admission started a chain reaction, a string of events that led to Congress and MLB working together to try and fix the game led off its rightful path.
Many remember that fateful day when Mark McGwire stood before Congress and almost certainly sealed his fate confirming what many believed; he was a user and abuser of steroids. And how could you forget the finger pointing protest of Rafael Palmeiro claiming that “I have never used steroids. Period”. We all know how that ended.
The Congress fiasco turned out to be a dark day for the game. Childhood heroes were revealed as frauds and the innocence that encompasses every baseball fan was again shattered.
When looking back, in light of the circumstances, Canseco’s admission was the best thing that has happened to the game in a long time.
As witnessed in the year of the pitcher, the game is again on an even keel. Six no-hitters, including the two perfect games, pitchers enjoyed their best season since before the “steroid era”. The average runs per game for each team in 2010 was nearly a run lower than in 2000 (5.39 compared to 4.44), and an enhanced drug policy enforcing a more regulated testing system has shown the fans that game can be played clean.
Dubbed the “Godfather” of steroids, and while that may be true, enhancers have been part of the game for years yet never been fully discussed. That is until Bash Brother #1 decided it was time to open the lines of communications for one reason or another.
Steroids have made a huge impact on the game, one that will never be forgotten, one that will be remember in infamy long after we are gone. Future players, managers, executives, and GM’s will hopefully learn from the mistakes that were made.
Canseco changed the game by what he did, and again by what he did.
With any bit of luck, this new “Pitchers Era” will bring back the excitement of the chess match that many have been longing for.
Who knew the cleansing of the game would be started by the man you least expected?