Let’s stay off the soapbox

Baseball’s Hall of Fame ballot is out, and the selections for enshrinement in Cooperstown, N.Y., will be announced early next year.

So, with that, cue the self righteous baseball fans, writers and radio and TV personalities getting on their soapbox about steroids in baseball.

“Steroids has tarnished the game we love so much, blah, blah, blah. Sanctity of the game, blah, blah, blah. Something holier than thou, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. ”

The past six years, the baseball writers — mostly guys who couldn’t play above Little League —  successfully voted to keep Mark McGwire out of the Hall of Fame.

This year, they really get to climb up on their high horse because they get to do the same to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa  — McGwire’s fellow poster boys for everything that’s bad with the universe.

To these voters, I’ve only got one thing to say: Get over yourself.

Actually, I’ve got several things to say. I just liked the sound of that.

As I’ve said before, if your name isn’t Peter Gammons or Bob Costas, shut the heck up when talking about steroids in baseball. The writers and fans who turned a blind eye during the so-call “Steroid Era” of baseball are almost as guilty as the players who took the shots in the behind.

Either you were completely ignorant when McGwire and Sosa put on the great home run chase in 1998 —and when Bonds passed them three years later — or you were completely nuts to think that a home run mark that stood the test of time could suddenly be broken like it was a money record at the box office.

Or, you just didn’t care. I’d like to think I fall into that category.

As crazy as it might sound, the usual suspects like McGwire, Sosa, Bonds and Derek Jeter are not the only players who used steroids. Everyone who played in that era is suspect because we just don’t know. We can only hope our favorite players were clean.

OK, so I was just joking about Jeter. Still, players didn’t only use steroids to hit home runs. Steroids are actually quite beneficial to improving baseball skills in many different areas.

You’re also crazy if you think the era of performance-enhancing drugs is over in baseball because the latest collective bargaining agreement allows for each player to be tested once or twice per decade.

Athletes will always find a way to stay ahead of the game. Adderall, the modern-day greenie, is the newest drug players are turning to as a PED. Well, at least it’s the new excuse when an NFL player gets busted for steroids.

Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall said last week that he knows of players who take Viagra as a PED, giving new meaning to the term getting up for the game.

A lot of players cheated during the “Steroid Era.” A lot of players cheat today. Rogers Clemens struck out a whole lot of steroid users. Barry Bonds blasted a lot of steroid-enhanced pitches over the fence.

Players like Bonds and the Rocket are, somehow, vilified as the face of a black mark on the game of baseball. It’s a black mark, though, that pails to comparison to the racism that kept black players out of the game for so many years. (See, I can get on the soapbox, too.)

I don’t care what some self righteous sportswriters think, players who dominated their era should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Period.

Of course, I wouldn’t want to be honored by an organization not smart enough to include Roger Maris, Pete Rose or “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in the first place.

Uh, ho. Time to move on before I get on the my soapbox again.

Big Boss anniversary

Monday marked 10 years since Bruce Sayler, aka the “Big Boss,” barely survived a horrific accident. Early on Dec. 3 — after working late on Dec. 2 — Bruce suffered a heart attack while driving home.

He crashed his truck into a pole and suffered all kinds of injures. Among other things, Bruce’s legs were shattered, and he spent 37 days in the hospital. The first week or so, he had a breathing tube shoved down his throat.

(Bruce discussed his comeback in his latest column.)

It was sometime early that Tuesday when reporter Barbara LaBoe called me to tell me the news.

“Bruce had a heart attack on his way home from work last night,” Barbara said. “He got in a wreck and broke both his legs.”

I’m not sure if I said this or not, but I know I thought it. “He can still be at work by Friday, right?”

At the time, we didn’t know the severity of Bruce’s crash, but we did know the severity of the upcoming weekend at the sports desk at the newspaper. It was the first weekend that boys’ and girls’ basketball teams played in the same season in Montana.

We also had the Mining City Duals and the Whitehall Duals coming up that weekend. We fretted about that week for a long, long time, and anything short of a hospital stay was not an excuse to miss.

Without Bruce, that was easily the worst working weekend of my life. As I tried to read the faxes from the Whitehall Duals and swore about wrestling coaches and school officials who couldn’t write legibly, I couldn’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, Bruce hit that pole on purpose.

It took a while, but eventually Bruce started getting around on a wheel chair. Then he walked with a walker, crutches and then a cane.

Now, 10 years later, Bruce walks around only with a slight limp as he works with me on this website.

Thinking back to the first time I saw him in the Intensive Care Unit of St. James Healthcare, it really is nothing short of a miracle that Bruce has bounced back as strongly as he did.

The best part is he did it all without taking anabolic steroids, greenies or Adderall.

Well, at least we hope he did.

— Sportswriter Bill Foley, who could probably use some performance-enhancing drugs, writes a column that appears in ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. twitter.com/Foles74