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January 18, 2013

Lance Armstrong and baseball doping

I am shocked by the uproar surrounding Lance Armstrong's admission that he used performance enhancing drugs after years of lying about it. Is anyone more surprised about Armstrong than they were when Barry Bonds was finally trapped in a web of lies.

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Looking at the Cards from a fan's perspective

I am shocked by the uproar surrounding Lance Armstrong's admission that he used performance enhancing drugs after years of lying about it.

Is anyone more surprised about Armstrong than they were when Barry Bonds was finally trapped in a web of lies.

Let's look at this from a wide angle: Competitive international bicycling is a sport that has been rife with doping scandals for decades. So, when you already know that some of the best competitors in the field are using performance enhancing drugs and then this dude comes along and totally dominates the field for the better part of a decade -- no one can touch the guy -- how can anyone believe he's clean?

It's hard to feel sorry for people who believe is something that is so obviously not true.

Like when Armstrong was winning seven Tour de France titles, it seemed like everyone involved with MLB was willing to look the other way and believe a fairy tale when Barry Bonds was cheating his way up the home run chart and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing Roger Maris in an unfair fight.

No one breaks the 61 home mark for 37 years. Then not only do two people do it in one season --the mark is eclipsed six times over the next three years. What an amazing coincidence!

So I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who are broken hearted to find Armstrong -- or McGwire, Bonds, Sosa, Rafael Pameiro, Miguel Tejada, Alex Rodqiguez or any other player because they idolized them and thought they were super human while still being a mere mortal.

What really stinks is the damage to the integrity of their sports.

If another great cyclist emerges and wins five Tour de France titles in a row it will not only be done in front of highly raised eyebrows. It will always be explained "Johnny Jones one his fifth consecutive Tour today which would have been a record except that Lance Armstrong cheated and won seven titles that don't count anymore."

In baseball, I would be shocked if a clean player would ever really have a chance to break the 73 homers in a single season mark set by Bonds. That's pretty darn close to hitting a homer every other game. And it's hard to imagine even a freak of nature hitting that many balls over the boards without Lou Gehrig batting .340 with power behind him in the clean-up spot.

So every little kid from now until the end of time who looks at the record book is going to be led to believe that the best players in the history of the game are not Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth. Instead they're a bunch of cheaters who might otherwise have been completely forgettable.

The top six spots on the single season home run list are occupied by guys who are linked to performance enhancing drugs. Four guys on the all-time homer list, including number one, are cheaters.

As time fades, no one would remember those guys' accomplishments -- if not for the fact that they have been memorialized forever in the record book. And at the same time, the fakes make the genuine article less impressive.

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About Cheap Seats

Scott Wuerz has reported for the Belleville News-Democrat since 1998​. He writes about the St. Louis Cardinals from a fan's perspective in his Cheap Seats blog.

Contact him at swuerz@bnd.com.

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