Originally Posted by vaticanplum
It's all kind of moot really, because things happened when they did in the circumstances under which they did. Every single record does and unfortunately they just can't evolve in the same way the sport itself does. As long as we want record books to celebrate the achievements of the sport's great players -- and it's a noble thing to do, I think -- the allowances for the changes in time and the acceptance of the way things were in the past just have to be made. I do agree that sometimes the Hall of Fame and the record books and things of that nature are taken too far in being used as a basis for comparison, when I think they should stand as more of simply a celebration of accomplishment under the circumstances in which they took place.
What you say above is my point. The sport evolved, or the players in the sport evolved before the sport outlawed whatever disgrace the players participated in.
But one thing you say is "If it wasn't against baseball rules, they took it." And that's the problem in this situation as I see it. Steroids ARE against the rules in today's game. Bang, that paritcular extenuating circumstance is shot down. We can examine why steroids weren't illegal many decades ago, whether they existed, if so how strong they were...it doesn't matter. We can't change the fact that they weren't illegal and we can't know how a change in this rule might have affected the players or the game. But Barry Bonds knew they were illegal and he knew how they affected the game. I don't see this as another argument of steroids vs. gambling. They're both against the rules in the game as it stands today and anyone who breaks those rules under our current system should be punished for it.
The key is they are against the rules today
. I believe it's been pointed out by someone else, but if not ... were they against the rules at the time Bonds used them?
That is the key right there. Barry Bonds could have used all the steroids he wanted in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 etc ... but if the game didn't outlaw them, then how did he do anything wrong? He did not break any rule within the game, which is why the game will not do anything to punish him even if everything in the book is proven to be absolutely true (the lone exception is if that proof includes information that he fixed the steroid tests).
This is where the whole illegal argument comes into play, and I understand that.
Assume you're walking down the street and I throw a 99mph fastball at your head with the intent to injure you. Chances are, I'm getting arrested, prosecuted, you name it. If I'm on the mound and do that, do I get prosecuted? Very doubtful. I might not even get thrown out of the game (so in effect, I could throw at your head with an intent to injure you again!) It's the same way in hockey; on the ice I can skate up to you and essentially assault you, but if I did the same thing on a street sidewalk then I'm likely to be charged with assault.
The sport will police itself, and in some cases that extends beyond the reach of the law policing some illegal activities that occur on the field of play. The most important aspect of this is it's the job of law enforcement officials to police illegal steroid use in society, not the law of baseball officials. Baseball officials are only responsible for policing their own laws within the game itself.