Baseball getting unfortunate odors

August 14, 2005|By BYRON FERGUSON

Phew. What you smell is not that of a dead skunk on the road. That is the smell of the deal that Victor Conte cut with federal prosecutors in San Francisco.

A four-month jail sentence in return for admitting he distributed steroids and laundered money? A lousy four months for admitting the obvious?

Folks, this means you can nearly destroy a billion dollar sport, trample on the laws of the land, leave a trail of destroyed careers and bodies in your wake and spend all of four months behind bars. Conte has struck the best deal since the Yankees got Ruth for the cost of a third-rate play from the BoSox.

Gone now is perhaps the only chance to have Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Marion Jones and others testify in public. Now, none of them will probably ever answer a single question about steroids under oath. Sadly, we may never know exactly which athletes were involved in the illegal use of steroids.


Baseball will try to convince us that a lot of good has come from this scandal. They will tell us that they now have tougher drug testing policies in place. Never you mind that they hid their collective heads in the sand while all this "juicing" was going on. As the ball sailed out of the parks, the turnstiles clicked like they hadn't clicked in the history of the game. Mo' money, mo' money, mo' money was to be made.

So what's a little cheating among friends? The public was getting what it wanted. The owners were getting what they wanted. The players were reaping the rewards, too. Problem was some folks had seen enough.

Eyebrows were raised after seeing records that had stood for years and years begin to fall by the wayside with alarming regularity. As soon as a record was set ... BAM, it was broken. The country had barely caught its collective breath from 1998 and Mark McGwire's 70-homer season that Barry Bonds was smashing the record with 73 in 2001.

Not only were records getting shattered, bodies were beginning to fall apart. Players weren't just pulling muscles; now they were having muscles rip completely off the bone. The fans grew suspicious. It was one thing to cheat, quite another to flaunt it. Some of these players had physiques that comic book heroes would be envious of. How some of the all-time greats of baseball held their tongues at what they were seeing was, shall we say, a "Marvel."

And the man who had the biggest impact on this shameful chapter in American sports history gets a lousy four months of jail time. Did I mention that Conte will also be under house arrest for an additional four months? His lawyers are already hard at work trying to strike a deal to ensure that Conte will not be denied his remote control privileges.

"A Voice From The Crowd" is a weekly feature in The Herald-Mail which gives sports fans an opportunity to be a sports columnist. This week's guest columnist, Byron Ferguson, is a resident of Smithsburg. Comments on his column can be sent to

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