Tonight Sammy Sosa joined an elite club in baseball - the 600 Home Run Club. That means his name will join the immortal ranks of Ruth, Aaron, Mays and Bonds in baseball memory.
And of course some people are not real happy about this. This is mostly because Sammy is so closely linked to steroids. Of course Bonds is as well, but pretty much anyone would tell you that even if Bonds hadn't done steroids he would have easily reached 600 home runs.
Already there's debate about whether or not Sosa should be admitted to the Hall of Fame.
And I don't understand this at all.
Whether baseball and the jackass writers that vote on the Hall of Fame care or not, they were in many ways equally responsible for letting the steriod era exist and thrive. Columnists couldn't get enough of McGwire and Sosa during the home run race. They wrote that the two men saved baseball and were changing the face of the game. Baseball looked the other way because it needed to be saved. Neither the writers nor baseball seemed to care about steroids, even though McGwire and Sosa looked like cartoon superheroes.
Then suddenly when steroids became an issue, the writers and baseball suddenly switched gears. This is bad, this is horrible, let's hang them from a tree. In other words, where can we find a scapegoat?
Even though I'm no fan of steroids, the Hall of Fame stance taken on McGwire and the questions currently being asked of Sosa are ridiculous.
Whether or not they did steroids is ultimately irrelevant. Sports is about entertainment. I was entertained when they hit 500-foot home runs. Most people were. We can look the other way, we do it all the time.
Now if you're going to get all high and mighty on me by saying, "No we can't. If we look the other way it'll hurt the integrity of the game," you can forget it. You watch the NFL every Sunday. There's a good chance more than half those guys are 'roided up, and we don't give a damn. Len Pasquarelli of ESPN recently wrote about how if he could start an NFL franchise with any one player, he would choose linebacker Shawne Merriman - and this was after Merriman had been suspended for using steroids. If Merriman were a baseball player, he'd now be a permanent pariah. Instead in football he went to the Pro Bowl.
There's no tangible difference between football and baseball from an entertainment standpoint. They're both businesses meant to entertain. During the steroids era, baseball saved itself - with the help of writers - by ignoring the writing on the wall. And it worked. Football's been ignoring the writing on the wall forever, which is one of the main reasons it's this country's most popular sport.
Regardless of how Sammy Sosa got to 600 home runs, he helped the sport, made it watchable, and most importantly, he entertained us. Isn't that enough? Besides, he's never even tested positive for steroids like Merriman did. And that should at least count for something.