One of the unsung storylines of the steroid era in Major League Baseball is that ties to performance-enhancing drugs left the sport with very few superstars that casual fans could cling to.
Many of the top stars of the last 20 years have been linked to PEDs (e.g. Alex Rodriguez) or have been nagged by rumours of PED use (e.g. Albert Pujols). Many of the remaining stars have retired.
What was left, was a sport that had one true superstar that transcended the sport with no links to PEDs, Derek Jeter. And while Jeter is still a superstar, he rarely still plays at an elite level.
But in the last 2-3 years we have seen an influx of new young superstars that the sport has not experienced in a long time.
Guys like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Yasiel Puig, Matt Harvey, and Stephen Strasburg are all just starting their careers. And you can make an argument that all five are already superstars that even casual sports fans are familiar with and interested in.
These are guys that play the sport at a high level and whether it Harper’s hair, or Puig’s bat-flips, or Harvey posing nude, they do things that young fans love and old fans hate.
And pissing off the older fans is the secret to moving the sport of baseball forward. Those fans aren’t going anywhere no matter how much they scream and yell.
Young sports fans will flock to superstars, especially the stars that older fans hate.
With teams playing six games per week, baseball is a sport that is strongest at the local level. These young superstars will bring eyes back to televisions on the national level, something that has been waning in recent years.
Steroids left a black mark on the sport of baseball. But as that era begins to pass, the sport once again is moving in the right direction and the next generation of stars will reinforce baseball’s position on the sports landscape.
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