It's time for Major League Baseball to have a grown-up conversation about the legacies of its players, past and present.

Ever since the true origin of how the monstrous power numbers of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa along with current superstars Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun were created, the league has had a conundrum on its hands. What to do about these players and their numbers?

Some purists say any player who played during the so-called "Steroid Era" should have an asterisk next to his name. I believe that is a fair assessment based on what has taken place since the 1994 baseball strike. Even though the current home run leader, Barry Bonds, is linked to steroids and did not fail any MLB-mandated drug tests.

And if the pundits, experts and other baseball savants want to put a footnote in the numbers of these players, why stop there? Let's also put an asterisk behind any player who played before the color barrier was broken by Jackie Robinson in 1947.

The crux of the argument given by so-called experts is the players who got caught using PEDs achieved their numbers only with help from drugs. Since that is the case, we can also say the numbers achieved by the players pre-integration would not be what they are if it weren't for racism.

Would Ty Cobb have been the all-time leader in stolen bases for as long as he was if James "Cool Papa" Bell was allowed to play in the big leagues? Perhaps not.

Would Babe Ruth's numbers pale in comparison to Josh Gibson's alleged 800 home runs? Or would Cy Young's stats be eclipsed by Satchel Paige if he were allowed play earlier than he did? After all, Paige's debut with the Cleveland Indians didn't happen until he was 42 years old.

If the people who may have to make the "asterisk" decision one day decide to give a warning to the career numbers of the men who played during baseball's late-'90s resurgence, the same should happen with the players who clearly benefited from a dark period in our country's history.

Be consistent.

Evan F. Moore is a RedEye special contributor. @evanfmoore

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