America's Favorite Game

Columnist On Steroids And Baseball

This week's commentary by 60 Minutes II Columnist Bill Geist.
The 2004 baseball season is under way, and home runs are again flying out of stadiums every few minutes.

Remember those Nike commercials that used to say "it must be the shoes," to explain Herculean athletic feats? These days, fans are saying "it must be the steroids."

The president made them a national priority in his State of the Union address. Congressional hearings were held. And the attorney general held a press conference announcing charges against four men accused of distributing steroids -- one of who was homerun king Barry Bonds' personal weight trainer.

Still, the baseball players union came out against any meaningful testing, saying "steroids are not worse than cigarettes" -- although studies show steroids may cause heart, liver, and kidney damage, higher blood pressure and cholesterol counts, hardening of the arteries, impotence, aggression, enlarged breasts, shrunken testicles, acne and hair loss, nausea and diarrhea.

Steroids may cause health problems, but they may also cause more homeruns, higher salaries, more excitement, more fans, and more profits. Making money is America's game.

Baseball, America's other game, has always reflected the times, and these are times of popping pills to improve ourselves: pills to improve our moods, our toenails, to grow hair, erase wrinkles and improve our sex lives. If Viagra isn't a performance-enhancing drug, what is?

Let's stop playing games. Baseball should just start an exciting new steroid-friendly "open" league, where anything goes! No holds barred! Go right ahead, put steroids in the dugout water coolers if you want. Human growth hormones, amphetamines, double espressos, whatever, and may the club with the best team chemistry win.

See Homer leaving Yankee Stadium, hear "Holy Cow", and see BG catching ball at "Welcome to New Jersey" sign.

Of course, you would have to build bigger parks much bigger than Yankee Stadium -- or have your outfield play really deep.