2054: A Steroid Odyssey

March 15, 2004

The year: 2054. The place: National Baseball Hall of Fame and
Museum, Cooperstown, N.Y. The scene: A Little League coach takes
his team on a tour.

Wow, Coach! It says on this plaque that this Barry Bonds guy hit
73 home runs in one season!

Yep. 2001, Zenon.

Cool! Nobody's hit even 50 homers since, like, before President
Schwarzenegger, right, Coach?

Yep. Not since Aught-2.

But what does the hypodermic needle next to his name mean?

It means his records are suspicious, Blorzo, because he may have
taken steroids. All the players in this section of the Hall have
needles next to their name. That's why people call this part
Dupers' Town.

Why did they take stereos, Coach?

Steroids, Zyzzgy. They were banned way before you were cloned.
They made you mad strong. Guys would go on them after the season,
come back 25 pounds heavier and knock the ball from here to the
ozone shield. Guys started hitting home runs with check swings!

Cool!

Well, not really. Steroids gave you zits everywhere, raged you
out, shriveled your testicles and messed with your liver and
heart. Half the guys who took them were dead by the time they
were 50.

Why didn't anybody stop them, Coach?

We should have, Pluton. I think we were just so amazed by all the
homers. We'd never seen anything like it! It took 71 years for
two guys to hit 60 or more homers, and then, suddenly, the
milestone was broken six times in four years!

Uh, duh, Coach.

I know, Quarky. We were all fools.

But how did all these stereo takers get past the index-finger
drug test in the on-deck circle?

See, nobody tested for steroids back then. Well, except the NFL
and the NBA and the NCAA and the Olympics.

Why not baseball?

Fehr.

People were scared?

No, fear was how you pronounced the guy's name, Mr. Don Fehr. He
was in charge of the players and he got whatever he wanted. And
he didn't want testing.

He didn't know they were bad for you?

He knew. He used to help run the U.S. Olympic Committee. But he
was more into making his guys money than saving his guys' lives.

Why didn't the commissioner of baseball do anything?

Please. Bud Selig? He was slower than frozen ketchup. Selig
against Fehr was like a burp going up against a hurricane.
Nothing like Commissioner Costas later.

So how did they get rid of the stereos, Coach?

Well, that's the great part, Glixxy! It all started on one
incredible Opening Day, in 2004. A huge group of the older
players were sick of seeing the reputation of their game go down
the drain. So they decided to start getting tested on their own!
Suddenly, hundreds of ballplayers were taking tests, proving to
the world that they were clean! They taped the lab results to
their lockers. And the guys that didn't get tested got booed
every time they came to the plate. People kept hollering, "Gimme
a pee!" and singing, "UR-ine TROU-ble!"

But it was a great year for pitchers. And tailors, of
course--they had to take all the uniforms in. Players that year
lost the equivalent of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

So what did Mr. Bonds do when they caught him?

Oh, they never caught him. He always insisted he hadn't taken
steroids, and if he had, he hadn't realized it.

How? Did they sneak the steroids into his transdermal of Zork in
the morning?

Good question, X-77. He never said. He retired in May that season
and never spoke to anybody again. Everybody was so sad, the party
only lasted a week.

What about this guy, Coach? It says he hit 70 in one year!

Yeah, Mark McGwire. He admitted he took andro, which a baseball
study proved acts like a steroid in your body. He quit three
years later and became a pro golfer, only 100 pounds lighter than
he was.

What about this Sammy Sosa guy? It says he went from never
hitting more than 40 home runs to hitting more than 60 three out
of four years.

He packed up and disappeared in the middle of the night when
people started saying it wasn't just his bat that was corked, it
was his body, too.

(There is a pause.)

Coach, all these Dupers kind of creep me out. Can we beam back to
the regular Hall of Fame now?

Sure, Trog. Hey, kids, who wants to go see Pete Rose's display?
Compared with these guys, he looks like an Eagle Scout!

Yaaaaay!

COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER

Suddenly, hundreds of ballplayers were taking tests, proving to
the world that they were clean!

If you have a comment for Rick Reilly, send it to
reilly@siletters.com.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)