I often talk sports with my brother-in-law Phil. He can’t seem to get over a young buck like myself surpassing him in the ranks of sports knowledge. But that’s beside the point. He helped me come to a revelation, about what is happening in the game today just by mentioning the success of Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald, who is proving he can play in this league but did not get the chance until steroids were tested strictly.
Each era in baseball since its inception could be described with its own specificity. The same way we have classifications for certain eras throughout history, like ‘The Bronze Age,’ ‘The Middle Age,’ and the era of today that goes back to when legitimate sources of news, and information turned into entertainment, ‘The Ignorant Age.’
For the first age years of the 20th century it was known as the ‘Dead Ball Era,’ which speaks for itself. For about 20 years after that it changed drastically into the ‘Lively Ball Era,’ which had a lot to do with the addition of the cork in the center of the ball. Really though, blacks and Latinos were were barred from playing at this time, so the two time frames should be grouped together and called ‘Strom Thurmond’s ‘retroactive dream come true’ Era.’
The ‘Integration Era’ is when the game started to take on the form it has now, blacks are allowed to play, pitchers are not worked until ‘their arms fall off,’ and strategies such as advancing runners with sacrifices, and stolen bases became more prevalent. A lot of the league’s best players however, fought in ‘World War II’ so the game was deprived of its greatest talent.
The ‘Expansion Era’ started in the early 60’s and ended in the mid-70’s, and followed by the ‘Free-Agency Era.’ During the ‘Expansion Era’ it experienced two drastic changes, one that favored the pitchers with the enlargement of the strike zone, and later the lowering of the mound to give hitters an advantage. The separation into two leagues, and the addition of the Designated Hitter were also significant. The ‘Free-Agency Era’ allowed players to move from team to team, and is the seminal moment in the George Steinbrenner run Yankees that allowed them to monopolize the ‘high-price free-agent,’ the same way Wal-Mart has monopolized broke peoples budget.
We all know the era after that, the ‘Steroid Era.’ There have been 41, 50+ Home Run seasons in the games history. Four of them by Babe Ruth, 19 from the period of 1995-2005, and only 4 since they implemented the tougher steroids policy in 2006. The other 14 were accumulated over a 60 year period from Hack Wilson’s 56 in 1930, to Cecil Fielder’s 51 in 1990.
The depositions from Jose Canseco, and the prominent figures in the ‘Steroid Era’ from 1995-2005, such as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds, who were all exposed of using steroids in some way with McGwire’s pussy-footed admission, Sosa’s shady act he put on in the Congressional hearings that could come from only a guilty conscience, and Bonds’s relationship with Balco’s Gary Anderson, and Victor Conte, tell us that the foundation of Major League Baseball was rotted with a disingenuous format.
The new steroids policy has changed the game drastically. We see the legitimacy of it, as it does not discriminate by popping players like Rafael Palmeiro who was on the way to a Hall of Fame career, and Manny Ramirez who has always been a prominent superstar in the league. We have not seen guys come out of nowhere to hit 57 home runs, like Luis Gonzalez. And this year we are seeing pitchers dominate as the steroids begin to wear off of these players. There has already been 4 no-hitters, 3 perfect games (2 official), and there are 10 players with under a 2.50 ERA, 3 of them under1.85. From 2000 to 2005 there were 11 pitchers who finished with an ERA under 2.50, and only two, Pedro Martinez with a 1.74 ERA in 2000 (greatest pitching season ever), and Roger Clemens (who was on steroids) with a 1.87 ERA in 2005.
Right before our eyes we are seeing a new era in baseball. This brings me back to my discussion with Phil how he mentioned Darnell McDonald, who couldn’t get into the league until now at the age of 31, a guy that was cheated out of the chance because his peers were taking steroids. Daniel Nava is another career minor leaguer who is now thriving in his opportunity to play in the big leagues.
What could we call this new brand of baseball? For the first time we are seeing the game in its most genuine form. Prior to integration, and the years after that it took a bunch of tweaks to eliminate the flaws and improve the integrity to make the game as genuine as it could be. Then as managers, and players began to master the strategy of the game is played at its best, steroids became the backbone of almost every star-players success.
So I’m going to coin this as the ‘Genuine Era’ of baseball (I’m swinging by the place where you make patents now).
Only thing they need to do now is implement a salary cap.