Unless of course, these are merely exercises in taking “provocative” stances in lieu of any real ideas.

I miss steroids. I also miss amphetamines. Greenies. Speed. Uppers.

Because you know what I really miss? I miss upper-deck home runs. I miss lower-deck home runs. Look, at this point I would settle for a two-hopper to the wall. Give me some hits. Some runs. Let’s take baseball back a few years, to a time when no-hitters were special and when All-Star Games didn’t knock me out like two Ambiens and a sap to the skull.

Baseball has changed, and not for the better. Purists out there love the dynamics of a pitcher’s duel, but you already had Spain vs. Netherlands — now you want to deny me my Harvey’s Wallbangers? I want McGwire dueling Sosa and Mike Lupica writing about them like a giddy teenage girl. I want Barry Bonds homering from the on-deck circle. I miss Luis Gonzalez. Where have you gone, Brady Anderson?Gregg Doyel, CBS Sports.com, July 15, 2010

This Home Run Derby, this perfect advertisement for the monstrosity that baseball has become, got me thinking. And once I start thinking, I start Googling. And I found this little tidbit in my research for this column:

The 1999 Home Run Derby, which featured juiced sluggers like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, also featured juiced baseballs. Rawlings did the trick, stuffing the baseballs with stuff so lively that McGwire was hitting balls nearly 600 feet. Rawlings’ illicit involvement, at the behest of Selig and MLB officials of course, isn’t just a rumor but an on-the-record accusation by someone who would know: Dan Duquette. He was the general manager of the Boston Red Sox in 1999. The location for the 1999 All-Star Game and Home Run Derby? Boston’s Fenway Park.

This is what Duquette told Boston radio station WEEI in May:

“That was something when McGwire was hitting them out. They were going up over the light tower. I’m gonna tell you for a fact, those balls were juiced. We’ve got juiced balls for the Home Run Derby, I bet you didn’t know that … Rawlings [juiced the balls]. It added to the entertainment value.”

Nice message.

Baseball has been devastated by its devotion to the long ball, and by the lengths its players have gone to hit them. And still baseball trots out the Home Run Derby every year.Gregg Doyel, CBS Sports.com, July 12, 2009

(link to the elder editorial, taken from Baseball Think Factory and Craig Calcaterra)