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Did drug use taint a great moment in baseball?

By Ryan Webb
I. J. Samson Junior High School
St. John's, Newfoundland


September 8th 1998. Probably the biggest day ever in baseball history.

The entire world was watching as slugger Mark McGwire came up to bat. He was facing the Chicago Cubs pitcher Steve Tracsel at the top of the 4th inning, and after one simple pitch, and a tremendous swing by McGwire, baseball history had been changed.

As the ball sailed over the fence, it marked McGwire's 62nd home-run of the season. This home-run had made him the first player ever to beat Roger Maris' single season home-run record set thirty seven years earlier.

There were many who had tried to beat this record in previous years but this was the first year that had two and three players chasing the record neck-to-neck the entire season. The home-run race had become a battle between two of the greatest players in the major leagues, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, each were striving for the same goal.

McGwire had stayed ahead in the race pretty well the entire season except for the few times when Sosa got ahead by one or two. But the most controversial part of this season had to be McGwire's admission to taking the muscle-enhancing drug androstenedione.

Mark McGuire

After he publicly admitted to taking the drug, it brought up many questions such as "is his record tainted?" or "should his record actually count?" This also brought up the issue of whether the drug should be banned from the Major League Baseball Association.

Androstenedione has been banned from all other professional sports, the Olympic games, and the Commonwealth games. It is also illegal for use in Canada. However, since the wonder drug is legal in the Major League, it will not affect McGwire's new home-run record. But the drug could affect his health.


Sammy Sosa

When the drug is first taken, it helps your athletic performance. Your body begins to recover more quickly from tiredness and your stamina increases. The purpose of the drug is to increase the level of testosterone in the user's blood and to help build body muscles, but this can cause several dangerous side effects after extended use of the drug. These side effects can include liver damage or even liver failure, baldness, acne, or shrinking testicles.

I feel that McGwire's use of drugs can affect his younger fans. The use of the drug could give the young fans the mistaken impression that it's all right to take drugs. McGwire's admission of taking androstenedione will obviously affect young players who see him as a mentor and their feelings towards him. And he probably disappointed many of his fans.

Another thing to consider in this case is Sammy Sosa, the other player who passed Roger Maris' record, without taking this drug.

Sammy Sosa finished the season with 66 home-runs -- only four behind McGwire and five ahead of Maris. Sosa had also broken the record, but did not receive half the attention that McGwire did. 

For example, if someone had decided to keep McGwire's 62nd home-run ball, it would have had an estimated value of one million dollars in U.S. currency. But Sammy Sosa's 62nd home-run ball was not even worth a quarter of McGwire's. Also, unlike McGwire, there is very little chance that Sammy Sosa will make it into the Hall of Fame based on his achievements this year. I do think both players had a great season and that they both deserve equal credit and neither should be treated like they're second best.

Roger Maris

Now that this year's regular baseball season is over, Mark McGwire can finally take a break from the spotlight, Sammy Sosa can now concentrate on helping his team advance to the finals, and the fans can look back over a season they won't soon forget.


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