Sammy Sosa (left) and Mark McGwire (right) smile while preparing for a game between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Winners never cheat, and cheaters never win… or so we thought. Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Alex Rodriguez were some of baseball’s best, just unfairly so. 

Steroid users have never been admired in Major League Baseball by their organizations or the league. Yet, that can never take away their success on the baseball field. While steroid users often get looked past by Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame, there is a tide that is seeming to change within the Major League Baseball video game. 

On March 20, 2023, San Diego Studios, who create and develop MLB: The Show, released a social media trailer introducing the new legends in the game: two of which are prolific home run hitters with notorious backgrounds. 

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire are both famously known for their 1998 summer, in which they both broke the previous record of home runs in a season; Sosa hit 66 while McGwire finished with 70. However, both have the stigma following them of being Performance Enhancing Drug users. Mark McGwire has publicly admitted he used them; however, though caught using a corked bat in June of 2003, Sosa has not. Nonetheless, their career accolades have gone for naught, as Cooperstown has recognized neither.

MLB: The Show is no different. The game tends to follow the Hall of Fame with the stigma surrounding MLB steroid users, regardless of how much they can promote the game. The cover athlete of MLB: The Show 21 was Fernando Tatis, Jr., and following his suspension for using the enhancers in 2022, he was immediately removed from the game’s circulation. This expressed clearly how negatively MLB: The Show and San Diego Studios view steroid users. 

However, fast forward a year. San Diego Studios teased the MLB: The Show fanbase with two major and other steroid users, including Ryan Braun. While this is a major change, this may have been foreshadowed in earlier years of MLB: The Show. In MLB: The Show 21, David Ortiz, who has a history of a steroid suspension, was added to the game, but nothing has been to this extent.

Kevin Brado, an MLB: The Show content creator with over 53,000 subscribers on YouTube, expressed his excitement about the new legends. 

“The additions of McGwire and Sosa is possibly one of the biggest adds SDS (San Diego Studios) has ever done,” Brado said.  

Brado continues with his optimism for the game’s future, ” I think this will open the door for more steroid players to be added to the game like (Roger) Clemens, ARod, and many more.”

Brado gives a glimpse into what the future of what the “MLB: The Show” games could look like with the addition of these infamous steroid users. 

Brado’s thoughts are a common theme throughout MLB: The Show content creators. Ashley Sanders, another content creator of MLB: The Show with over 10,500 subscribers on YouTube, said, 

“As a fan and content creator of the game, I am so excited! There’s always a fun buzz around the community when new legends are announced, especially two very well-known names.”

Having these new legends not only increases fan excitement for the video game but also increases the marketing and sales for the game. Steroid players are typically well known, notoriously albeit; however, it offers a new benefit to San Diego Studios. 

While legends this big are exciting, they are rare to come by. Derek Jeter was wanted in the game for several years within the MLB: The Show community before being announced alongside McGwire and Sosa for MLB: The Show 23. Yet, it’s clear San Diego Studios listens to its fanbase and strives to get the big names in the game. Although, some players don’t desire to be in it. 

 One specific example of this is Barry Bonds. Barry Bonds has been adamant about his rights access being restricted for not only MLB: The Show but for many advertisements as well. While Brado explained that adding him into the game is difficult, that hasn’t stopped San Diego Studios from trying. MLB: The Show created a player in MLB: The Show 16 that was based on Bonds just under a pseudonym; “Reggie Stocker.” While Barry Bonds will always be a desired legend in the game, the addition of Sosa and McGwire opens the door to many more previously excluded players.

Brado explained his wish list of MLB: The Show legends, “I hope to see Tim Lincecum one day in the game. Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Ted Williams, there’s a lot, but mainly Lincecum for me.” 

Despite their tarnished reputation, baseball fans often greatly admire these athletes. Just like Brado and Sanders, many more players are excited to see the future of the game and access to more baseball icons. Adding Sosa and McGwire is just the beginning of a new era within MLB: The Show, the Steroid Era.

Noah Douglas is a student of Sports Media and Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Noah is from Pewaukee, Wisconsin where he graduated high school and graduated Waukesha County Technical College with his Fire Protection Technician Associates Degree. Noah is focussed on becoming a Sports Journalist in the future.