National Columnist

Bring steroids back to MLB: Excitement dwindles as good drugs fade away


Hate Mail: Get in line, groupies

Kids, don't read this. Or if it's too late, if you're already reading this, fine. Here you go: Drugs are bad. Don't do drugs. Just say no.

Are they gone? Can I speak the truth now? Good. Here it comes:

Scott Miller
Hey Doyel, if you want juice, go watch Cowboys-Raiders. Or tour a Tropicana plant. Leave baseball alone. Read more

I miss steroids. I also miss amphetamines. Greenies. Speed. Uppers.

Because you know what I really miss? I miss upper-deck home runs. I miss lower-deck home runs. Look, at this point I would settle for a two-hopper to the wall. Give me some hits. Some runs. Let's take baseball back a few years, to a time when no-hitters were special and when All-Star Games didn't knock me out like two Ambiens and a sap to the skull.

Baseball has changed, and not for the better. Purists out there love the dynamics of a pitcher's duel, but you already had Spain vs. Netherlands -- now you want to deny me my Harvey's Wallbangers? I want McGwire dueling Sosa and Mike Lupica writing about them like a giddy teenage girl. I want Barry Bonds homering from the on-deck circle. I miss Luis Gonzalez. Where have you gone, Brady Anderson?

Dallas Braden would have had zero chance at a perfect game against a steroid- and amphetamine-fueled lineup. (Getty Images)  
Dallas Braden would have had zero chance at a perfect game against a steroid- and amphetamine-fueled lineup. (Getty Images)  
Instead, this baseball season has seen four no-hitters, with a fifth denied by a blown call. Used to be, we would see one no-hitter a season, maybe two if we were lucky. Now we're on pace for eight or 10. The no-hitter has become one of the most overrated events in sports. It's like having a 1,000-yard receiving season in the NFL, or sleeping with Tiger Woods. Who hasn't?

The first half of the season had Roy Halladay throwing a perfect game, which is perfectly acceptable because he's a great pitcher. But it also had Dallas Braden throwing a perfect game, and that's not, because he's not. Armando Galarraga isn't even very good, and he was perfect for 9 1/3 innings. And this guy from the Reds who took a perfect game into the ninth inning on Saturday, Travis Wood? I've never heard of him. And I live in Cincinnati.

Ubaldo Jimenez threw a no-hitter this season. So did Edwin Jackson, who is 6-7 with a 4.92 ERA. Jimenez's no-no is less of a surprise, because he has been unhittable all season. He's 15-1, for god's sake. He's Denny McClain minus the munchies.

And when Denny McClain won his 31 games, it was 42 years ago. That was 1968, known in baseball lore as The Year of the Pitcher. In the National League, Bob Gibson set the major-league record with a 1.12 ERA. In the AL, Luis Tiant set the MLB record by holding hitters to a .168 batting average.

Baseball freaked out, as well it should have. It shrank the strike zone. It lowered the mound from 15 inches to 10. And by 1969, soccer was gone. Baseball was back.

I want baseball to do it again, and I don't care how it happens. Lower the mound another 5 inches. Drop it to ground level. Hell, dig a pit in the middle of the infield and make pitchers lob the ball like a grenade. I don't care -- just get me offense, and get it stat.

I need stats, and not Ubaldo Jimenez's 87 hits allowed in 127 innings. He pitches in Coors Field, for crying out loud. I know it has the humidor, but it also has the biggest outfield in baseball. Lot of room out there for balls to drop, assuming batters can get the ball out of the infield. Which they cannot do.

Not without steroids. And greenies. Glass. Ice. Sulphate. What have you.

See, I have a sinking feeling that this isn't simply the Year of the Pitcher, Part Two. What if it's more than that? What if it's the start of the Decade of the Pitcher? The Offensive Ice Age?

Danny Knobler
The first half had plenty of good to look back on, setting up a second half with plenty of promise. AL grades

Scott Miller
The best race sure looks to be the NL West, where four of five teams could legitimately be in it. NL grades

American League second-half preview

National League second-half preview

Knobler: Returning All-Stars will make impact

Miller: Padres surprising while sitting pretty

Power Rankings: All-Star Funtime Extravaganza

All-Star Game: NL 3, AL 1 | Miller | Knobler Best and worst of season's first half

What we're seeing right now, I fear, is the first true year of the post-steroid era. After a few years without the juice, guys have shrunk back to their regular size. They've shrunk like old men, only it's not the discs in their back that are compressing. It's their forearms. It's their biceps, triceps and pecs. Used to be, players showed up for spring training with a freshly 'roided body, and baseball writers oohed and aahed about their "new physique" and "offseason workout regimen" and fans ate it up and scoreboards blew up. It was fun for all but the pitchers, but pitchers were getting rich along with everybody else so who really cared?

I miss those days. Never thought I would, but there it is. I miss them.

Is this where I'm supposed to be concerned about the effects of steroids and greenies -- base, billy, whiz -- on an athlete? Sorry. Find another bleeding heart. Players know the risk now, just like they knew it then. They're grown men. If they want to roll the dice with their testicles, I want to let them. Let those things shrink to the size of raisins. Just let the baseballs fly.

For me, the All-Star Game was the final straw. Perfect game after perfect game was weird, but OK. Weird things happen in baseball. Small sample size, etc. And while the 2010 All-Star Game is just about the smallest sample size possible, it's also the exclamation mark on a sad little sentence: Baseball teams just don't score anymore.

You saw the introduction of the AL starting lineup, right? I kept waiting for Twins catcher Joe Mauer to pop out of the dugout, lugging his three AL batting titles and his career .323 batting average. And I waited. And waited. Mauer was batting seventh, and yet, where else was he going to hit? Ahead of Miguel Cabrera or Josh Hamilton or Vlad Guerrero? Nope. He batted seventh because seventh is where he belonged in that lineup, and still that lineup managed just one run and six hits. The National League lineup wasn't much better: three runs and seven hits. Well, that's what the line score showed when I woke up the next morning. I didn't stay awake to the end.

I'm not sure the players were awake, either. See, they need their greenies. Their bennies, their crystal, their yaba. They need those things, because the baseball season is too long -- a single game is too long -- without them. Imagine doing your job without Starbucks. That's Chase Utley without his greenies.

So if you want to be a stickler about the laws of the land, not to mention the shrinking of the testicles, fine. We can do that. Baseball can continue to ban steroids.

But bring back greenies, huh? I miss the sight of the ballplayer rounding third.

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. More importantly, he is 4-0 as an amateur boxer, with three knockouts. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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