Buena Vista University head baseball coach Steve Eddie knows what it means to be addicted. To baseball, that is. Despite spending seven years gracing groomed infields just a step from the majors, his love of the game hasn't cooled since his return to northwest Iowa for a coaching career.
So scars on the great American game - from the Mitchell Report on steroid abuse to scandals with stars like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens - strike close to home.
The Mitchell Report, which condemns 85 professional baseball players for alleged steroid use, has turned condemning eyes towards the darling of American sports. Eddie, in his eighth year of coaching the Buena Vista University in baseball, recognizes the prevalence of steroid use today but believes there is more than one way to look at the issue.
"There's a lot out there the media tries to spin. Both sides - the Players' Union and management - try to find ways to spin it to fool the general public," Eddie said. "I think everyone turned a blind eye to it in the past, because it was also pretty widespread in the late '90s."
ESPN.com says the report is "putting a question mark if not an asterisk next to baseball records and threatening the integrity of the game itself," and insiders wonder if the public will ever look at the sport the same again.
Eddie's experience in the minors provides him with an inside look at the problem that few others in northwest Iowa have. Eddie, an Albert City-Truesdale product, played college ball for the University of Iowa and started his minor league career with the Billings Mustangs (A) in 1993. He continued to be a utility player and worked his way up through AA teams such as the Indianapolis Indians and Chattanooga Lookouts. He played AAA ball with the Charlotte Knights for part of the 1999 season before opting for a career in coaching.
Things were a little bit different when Eddie was in the minors, but the change has been for the better., he says. Prior to 2003 when all major league players were mandated to test for steroids, the 40-man rule meant the maximum 25 major leaguers and 15 minor-leaguers reserved by a club were excluded from being tested.
"Now even the major leaguers are tested, so I think it's cut down the usage," Eddie said. "However, I'm sure there are things being manufactured that can't be tested. Players are always going to find an edge to boost their performance."
College baseball seems largely immune to the steroid craze, and young athletes seem to be aware of the risks.
Despite the attention the Mitchell Report brings, Eddie believes steroid use is presently at an all-time low. However, that does not prevent him from wanting to see awareness being raised.
The continued cases of steroids in the media, including the Mitchell Report, prove the relevance of Eddie's concerns.
"I wish there would be a few more reports on players (who used steroids) that have suffered illnesses later on in life," Eddie said. "I just wish they'd understand the long-term ramifications and see that as a deterrent from doing it."