Yesterday night, Chris Davis hit his 51st home run of the season, breaking the Orioles single-season home run record.
But with this record, he will also almost certainly hear continued steroid accusations from the dregs of social media, sports talk radio hosts and maybe even an anonymous player.
Every great power hitter like Davis or Jose Bautista who unexpectedly pops up in the foreseeable future will be subject to loaded questions and columns that are only meant to “start discussion.”
This is because Major League Baseball has, by a Chris Davis home run-sized margin, publicized its war on performance-enhancing drugs while the rest of the major American sports leagues, most notably the NFL, have sat idle.
The last two decades of baseball have seen the memory of some of the greatest performances of all time permanently corrupted.
Grandstanding congressional hearings, shady deals with HGH dealers and steadfast proclamations of clean play shattered by a postive test have led to a skeptical league.
If you ask any casual sports fan which sport has a drug problem, you will get baseball as an answer nine times out of 10, with cycling likely being the 10th answer. You definitely won’t hear any mention of football.
And why is that? Just looking at the mechanics of the two sports, you can clearly see football, the sport involving the pushing of 350-pound behemoths, as the sport where PEDs are more beneficial. But it’s baseball that comes under fire for the supposed infestation.
In football, you also have the extremely rapid recoveries of 2012 MVP Adrian Peterson, 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs, and now 2012 Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III.
All these athletes have been described as having “superhuman” recovery times.
Yes, they all get the occasional question of a little “extra” help, but these questions are all waved off with a simple “no.”
All of them will probably waltz into the Hall of Fame with nary a snear if they continue their gridiron magic. Meanwhile, Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza have been denied entrance to baseball’s Hall of Fame despite no evidence at all of “extra” help, just whispers by every other sports columnist.
So what makes the NFL different from the MLB?
Sure, MLB has the track record, but we launch accusations at players who were in middle school when Barry Bonds was destroying everything.
Perhaps it’s how the NFL deals with positive tests for PEDs: It doesn’t disclose what drug the player tested positive for.
The Seahawks really could have an Adderall problem.
Or maybe there has been a calculation by every PR firm tied to an NFL player that if you’re going to test positive for a PED, Adderall will lead to the least backlash.
And maybe, just maybe, the fact that the NFL does not test for HGH is part of the reason why we don’t hear any accusations.
In the end, we’re probably just in different eras of each league.
During training camps, the NFL conducted a league-wide population study of HGH use, similar to what baseball did in the early 2000s (you might remember the positive tests of Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz leaking).
This will lead to a more accurate positive test threshold that might someday ramp up the suspensions to the point where the public is forced to see the joke that is the NFL’s current HGH policy.
If HGH use is as rampant as anonymous players’ whispers claim, the awkward questions that have plagued baseball will spill into football.
And you never know if they will eventually spill into other sports. They should.
After all, Biogenesis whistleblower Porter Fischer has said that he also had clients from the NBA, NCAA, professional boxing, tennis and MMA.
But the only sporting body to express any interest in going after its cheaters? Major League Baseball.
Think the MLB’s crusade against PEDs is futile? Think the culture of drug use in the NFL is a travesty? Let Jack know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.