The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

June 19, 2012

Can we get past the steroids mess now?

So they couldn’t pin it on The Rocket.

After 10 weeks and too many dollars — any amount is too much for the government to spend worrying about baseball — a jury decided that Roger Clemens was not lying to Congress back in 2008 when he said he had never used steroids to win baseball games.

Great.

Can we move on now?

It’s not that I think Clemens is innocent. Far from it, in fact.

Of course Clemens was using shooting up. What was a pitcher supposed to do in those days?

You’re facing roided-up meatheads like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro and Barry Bonds. You think you’re going to sneak a fastball past them if you don’t add a few extra ticks by doing some doping of your own?

Clemens did what he needed to do to remain one of the game’s elite pitchers. He used steroids. And he kept using them, keeping his fastball above average well past the age that most professional athletes begin to break down.

It was wrong. Dishonorable. Dirty.

But it’s over now.

George Mitchell launched a 21-month investigation, found that a lot of ball players were juicing up and Major League Baseball cracked down.

Today’s game isn’t the same one that had McGwire and Bonds hitting tainted home runs into Big Mac Land and McCovey Cove.

Nearly a full run per game has been cut off the league average since 1999. These days it seems another slightly above average pitcher is flirting with a no-hitter at least once a week.

We all know some of the game’s biggest stars played above their natural talent levels. Nobody in their right minds looks at Barry Bonds’ 762 career home runs without subliminally adding an asterisk.

But what are we going to do about it now?

Nothing.

If the government can’t prove the Clemens was fibbing when he stood in front of Congress and claimed his innocence, what is left to do?

Our elected officials have no business thumbing around baseball, trying to clean things up. They have many other things to focus on, like trying to cut into the trillions of dollars worth of debt we’ve racked up.

So can we please declare an official end to the Steroid Era? If you haven’t noticed, baseball is full of some pretty good stories right now.

R.A. Dickey, his Major League career left for dead, just threw his second straight one-hitter and is 11-1. The long-suffering Washington Nationals are 12 games above .500. The youthful Royals are slowly bringing exciting baseball back to Kansas City.

So let’s enjoy one of the best parts of summer and put the nasty 1990s and early 2000s to bed.

If only we could find some pitching for the Royals.

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