Steroid scandals might have rocked baseball, but there can be little denying the positive impact they have had on the game. Baseball purists might enjoy a 1-0 game, but many fans in the modern era became enamored with the home runs and run production that became a greater part of the game. Attendance rose sharply during this time as the Toronto Blue Jays broke the 4 million mark for a season in 1991. Since that time, the 4 million home attendance mark has been broken eight more times.
Steroids certainly led to more home runs and run production, but there were other effects on the sport. Pitching had to improve or mistakes left over the plate could easily turn into majestic shots that would easily clear the center field wall. Star players could use steroids to recover from injuries and play even better at the same time. Even when power hitters happened to draw a base on balls, steroids helped many of them have enough speed to steal second to get into scoring position. The game was full of muscle, and many players were exceedingly buffed inspiring awe in most fans. In the sport of baseball, the average Joe of previous eras was being replaced by the linebacker from Ohio State. Offense lured in more fans, making well pitched games that much more of a joy to watch.
The following 15 reasons are why steroids were good for the game of baseball. They might not be good for people and players to use, but the sport of baseball directly benefited from their use. That might also help explain why many of these steroid scandals have been so late to develop and have failed to produce any meaningful results.
There's an old saying that no publicity is bad publicity. Baseball received some notoriety because of steroid use and other PEDs, but despite any negative press it may have received, people were tuning in to see for themselves. People had to be suspecting something fishy was going on when home run numbers ballooned and other stats became more impressive, but they couldn't look away. Where there's attention, where there's controversy, our next entry comes up...
14 Money $$$
The MLB wouldn't like to admit it, but its steroid era provided the league with billions in revenue. They turned a blind eye to it because of the money they were generating. With home runs, OBP and runs all going up, so did revenues, and in turn, so did salaries. While today's participants of the game might condemn what was done before them, they are benefiting with higher salaries, which really took off because of the era that so many now try to write off.
13 Closed The Gap With the NFL
In today's landscape, the NFL leads by a mile in terms of league revenue, television ratings and coverage. An NFL season is only 16 games long, yet the NFL seems to remain relevant for all 52 weeks of the year. Baseball's 162-game season is long, making it hard for fans to keep interest throughout the year. Its peak comes in September and October when pennant races heat up and eventually the Fall Classic is on the line. The steroid era narrowed this gap in coverage and interest between the two sports.
12 The Game Was More Entertaining
The bottom line is, professional sports are still part of the entertainment business. When consumers are expected to dish out over $100 of their hard-earned money to go to a game, they're expecting to be entertained. Baseball in the 90s and early 2000s made it easy to do that, as fans couldn't get enough of days at the ballpark. Many fans from this era have since stopped watching or following as closely, as they find the entertainment value in today's game pales in comparison to the "steroid era".
11 They Saved Baseball
The 1994 strike alienated many fans from the game. Labor stoppages had affected other sports, like football in 1987 and the NHL would undergo a lockout later that year, but at least they never prevented the league from handing out its annual championship. That was not the case in baseball, as the 1994 strike wiped out the season from mid-August on, preventing a 1994 champion from being crowned.
The excitement created by the league's power hitters eventually lured fans back in. Who knows where the game would have been had it not been for the boom period of the mid to late 90s.
10 More Tape Measure Home Runs
9 More Physical Marvels
8 Greater Run Production
7 The 1998 Home Run Chase
6 Barry Bonds
5 More 5-Tool Players
4 Better Pitching
3 The 40-40 Club
2 Recovery From Injuries
Although injuries have not been new to baseball, the number of injuries seemed to be on the rise as more multi-sport players chose baseball over football in the 1980s and 1990s. Many of these players lifted weights for football, and muscle tears and pulls seemed to be running rampant throughout baseball at this time. Weight lifting helped to drive the ball far, but swinging the bat and chasing pitches requires more flexibility in addition to all the power and strength. Many players started to realize that steroids would help significantly reduce the recovery time from many of these injuries that seemed to be byproducts of playing the game with all the extra bulk.
1 The Explosion of Home Runs
Obviously, the biggest reason steroids were good for the game of baseball was what they did for the home run. The game of baseball was starting to attract some talented athletes who could have easily played another sport, and fan interest and attendance was on the rise. It might have been overlooked as mere coincidence, but home run totals increased disproportionately as well. In 1987, a record number of 4,458 home runs were hit in both leagues. By the year 2000, this total rose to a historical high of 5,693. The single-season total of 55 home runs hit by a single player was surpassed 11 times between 1997 and 2002. This number was only eclipsed by Roger Maris, Babe Ruth (twice), Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Greenberg, before this time. In 2001 the wiry Luis Gonzalez hit 57 home runs and Alex Rodriguez followed with the same number in 2002. In three different seasons, Sammy Sosa hit over 60 home runs in 1998, 1999 and 2001. This exciting element to the sport of baseball certainly livened up the game during this era, helping to fill even more seats.
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