For the past few years all the buzz around the Major League Baseball and sports in general has been surrounding steroids. Players like Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa have had their names thrown into the mix of the talks. Everyone looks at them when they first began playing and them now. They say that, “Oh, they are just so much bigger now.” As a result, they must be on steroids. I think that is just stupid. How can we as Americans treat people that way? It goes against everything that this country is founded on. People can work out and get the same size Bonds and Sosa are, the only thing steroids do is make the process easier and faster. From everything I hear, Bonds is a gym nut and works out all the time. He also has developed as a hitter over time. Players grow into HR power. Young kids tend to not reach their power potential until later. This could also be evidence in favor of Bonds. Now as far as if he is on steroids or not, I have no clue. I will make that accusation when I see his test results. Until then, my mouth is closed on the issue and others should be too.

Recently I posted a response to the Uncouth Sloth’s article about Bonds. Brian Hipp also chimed in on the comment section and on his own site with some great things to say. I was ridiculed in the comment section of that post for saying that someone should be considered innocent until proven guilty. I think this should apply to sports as well as the court of law. After all, sports take place in this country, so the same principles should apply. Hear me out now; I am not saying that I don’t think athletes–and specifically Barry Bonds–are not using or have never used steroids. No one is naive enough to believe that. What I am saying is that we cannot and should not base our opinion on nothing other than speculation and rumors. The only way it should happen is after a player has failed the drug test. To speculate on the idea discredits potentially innocent peoples’ accomplishments and brings negative press and publicity to a sport that we all love and enjoy very much. We must if we are writing about it and reading about it.

MLB tested players last year “anonymously.” The results of those tests revealed that steroid and drug use was a growing problem in baseball. I feel that this is a problem that needs to be dealt with quickly and strictly. The current policy for baseball is merely a slap on the hand for offenders. I wouldn’t be afraid if I was a player. You can cheat 5 times before you’re suspended for 1 year. What kind of punishment is that? Hopefully the results of the tests last year will make baseball understand that something needs to be done. Selig, who I happen to think is an alright commish, wants to implement mandatory drug tests for the players. There are two problems, however. The first of these is the players’ union. They are such bloodthirsty, money hungry pigs that they will not even dream about discussing anything that might infringe on “The players’ rights.” Screw that!!! What about players’ health? What about the employers’ rights to maintain a drug-free environment? What about the paying customers that want to see drug-free baseball? Do our opinions not matter? The fact of the matter is this: in life, a lot of times when you are in the application process for a job, that job requires a drug test as a condition of employment. Even more often than not, employers may at times test their employees periodically. Baseball is a job. There should be no exceptions to this fact. Owners should have the right to test their employees.

The second problem Selig has is that you can test the players all you want, but if you do not have a proper punishment in place, it does no good. Baseball and sports in general need to adopt the following policy. The first time a player is caught using, it calls for a mandatory one year absence without pay. That player is also required to undergo a drug rehab program and successfully pass that. Everyone should get the chance to be forgiven for a mistake. One time and one time only, though. None of this Dwight Gooden stuff where the guy gets busted time after time and is still let back into baseball. If you break the rule, fine, we’ll forgive you. People make mistakes. If you break it again, then the sport does not mean as much to you as it should. As a result, you should not be a part of it anymore.

By talking about Bonds and Sosa and other players without actual hard core test results it does nothing but bring potentially innocent people down. It also brings the sport of baseball down. That is something that I hate to see. People may ridicule me and call me naive, but I care about this sport very much. I love it very much and want to see it continue to be “The National Pastime.” So if you ask me if Bonds is using, I will say I don’t know. I will never say anyone is until I see test results. Ridicule me if you want, but it’s what I feel. I would love to hear your thoughts though.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail