h2h Corner on Steroids and Why Fantasy Matters More than Ever

Why am I one of the happiest people that “Big Papi” David Ortiz’ name appeared among the Performance Enhancing one-o-three? It’s only minorly because I hate the Roid Sox (see what I did there) just a smidge less than the Yankees, being a bitter Orioles fan and all. When the best thing that happened to your team was trading away the best player your organization developed in the past 10 years, then you get a little bitter.

No, I’m happy because I am probably the biggest Barry Bonds fan there is. I always liked how human Barry was, especially his failings in the big moments – albeit before I learned what a small sample size meant. He was brash, he was egoistical, he was flat out superb.

When he became the non-Canseco poster child for PED use, I, for a very short time, denied it – exclaiming that there was no evidence. As the evidence quickly mounted, I shifted to the fact that at least half of the players caught using were pitchers – which, in my warped sports fanatic mind, meant the cheating (bending the rules) cancelled each other out. Slowly, I had to resign myself to the fact that Barry Bonds, perhaps my favorite baseball player (sorry Cal), represented everything that was wrong with baseball.

So if Bonds represented everything that was wrong (self-centered, not a team player, not a winner), certainly a player like Ortiz represented everything that was right (selfless, great teammate, jovial, winner, champion). So why revel in his squirmy “I took some shakes in the Dominican Republic and they could have been tainted” defense? Because it wasn’t just Barry, it wasn’t just jerks like AROD and Canseco – it was almost everyone. Canseco puts the number at 95 percent – would that shock anyone (search for “never saw steroids”)?

I know at this point no one cares about steroids in baseball – it’s become a given like in the National Football League. So there could not possibly be the deluge of columns as when the news initially broke. However, at some point people need to reconsider the vilification of Barry Bonds. He remains one of the greatest players of all time. Say what you want about the person, but as a player he was magnificent in his time.

So what does this mean for the baseball fans who loved Big Papi, who are going through the grief of realizing your hero was tainted? Just shrug it off – you can’t root and love these people as if they are any better than you and me. Instead of following them based on some subjective morality – look at the objective numbers against other objective numbers. This is where fantasy baseball can help. At the end of the day, who took or did not take steroids won’t tarnish your perspective. Papi was on the best team I ever assembled – I’m grateful for that.

While legends never die, numbers never lie (as long as you look at the right numbers). Statistics are sublimely accurate and unwavering – they may not be juicy, but at least you know what they are saying. So enjoy baseball and fantasy for what they have become: more about numbers than the players. Given the recent falls from grace, is that a bad thing?

I know a lot of you disagree so let’s hash it out. Steroids: good, bad, non-entity?

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