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Steroids in Baseball: What's New York Got to Do with it?

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As I've written before, I don't think there's any reason to think that the Mitchell report snared most of professional baseball's juicers. Just on logical grounds, if a couple of accidental low-level distributors looking for a deal implicated so many players, think about what a real investigation -- with subpoena power -- could have turned up.

There's a lovely rightness about the fact that so many players on the New York teams -- the Mets as well as the Yankees -- have gotten caught in the Mitchell net. There's even a kind of historical appropriateness about the companion fact that Red Sox players either didn't use the stuff, or got lucky.

Excepting the past few years, ever since Harry Frazee sold the Bambino to the Yanks, 88 years ago this week, the Yankees and Boston have recapitulated the older story of New York and Boston: once a commercial powerhouse in the colonies and new nation, Boston declined in the face of New York's growing merchant, financial, and manufacturing power, never to regain its colonial-era leadership. Similarly, we tend to forget that the Red Sox were the true powerhouses of the American League in the teens, winning the World Series in 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918. After losing Babe Ruth, and a slew of other stars, well, if you're reading this you know the long, sad story.

For the better part of a century, Boston's been a baseball backwater, just as the former "Hub of the Universe" really became the Hub of New England, and not much else.

During that time it's been New York, and the Yankees, who've led the U.S. economic powerhouse, and built the most successful and lucrative franchise in the history of American sports. Who built the most gigantic payroll in the game, all the while complaining about "high-priced free agents"? And which sports town trains the most scrutiny on its teams, from all kinds of media? In which city do athletes most worry about the "pressure" of the hometown media and fans? In which city team is winning a pennant and losing the World Series considered a deep failure? And on which team do we have the most evidence of widespread steroid use -- and I love this, given the economic parallels -- and distribution?

You got it.

I love New York.