Yglesias (awesome title, btw, Matt) has this exactly right:
Can I say that as someone who doesn’t really follow baseball, I’ve been pretty surprised at all the gnashing of teeth over the revelation that Alex Rodriguez was using steroids back during the period when Major League Baseball had no real testing and sanctions policy for steroids. Haven’t we reached the point where we should just assume that back then all the players were using something? After all, what kind of big-time baseball star would willingly eschew a performance-enhancing substance whose use was widespread among his teammates and competitors and which there was no serious policy in place to prevent? It would have to be someone who wasn’t taking his baseball skills all that seriously.
If there is a whinier group of people than the so-called baseball “purists” who want to run around throwing asterisks up next to every record in the game, I don’t know who it is. Everyone knew. The fans, the players, the owners, the officials. Everyone. Now, all of a sudden, people are shocked. Here is a series of numbers for you:
1996 – 50
Now, if you just so happen to think that player all of a sudden found his swing in 1996, it is probably pointless to argue with you. You might, however, be qualified to work as a baseball writer.
Everyone knew this was going on, and here is the worst part- the guys doing the juice that everyone is shitting on now probably saved the game of baseball in the late 90’s. People seem to forget how hurting the game was after the strike in the 90’s.