Seattle Cal Ripken Jr. called the steroid controversy "a black cloud over baseball," but also considered it an opportunity for parents and youth coaches to talk to children about the dangers of drug use.
"Give them an education on what's right and what's wrong," Ripken said Sunday during Seattle's game against Texas. "You hope kids aren't getting the wrong message. There's a right way and a wrong way to go about doing things."
Ripken, who retired from the Baltimore Orioles in 2001, broke Lou Gehrig's record of playing in 2,130 consecutive games. Ripken played in 2,632 straight games before voluntarily ending the streak in 1998.
He's on a 10-city tour to promote an instructional book co-written with his brother, Billy. Ripken holds youth clinics on his visits, and the steroid issue isn't always a popular topic for adults.
"It comes up periodically," he said. "It's one of those things that you don't want to bring up all the time. When it does surface around the ballpark, I think you want to address it and interpret it for them."
Kids pay attention to big leaguers, Ripken said, and they're talking about steroids in baseball.
Ripken recounted the story of his son's friend, a slap-hitter who recently hit a deep home run.
"To my amazement, as he ran around the bases so excited, the kids started joking with him that he was on steroids -- maybe his nickname was 'Roids," Ripken recalled.
"It gave a good opportunity for coaches and parents to address the issue," he added. "Steroids are not the answer. There are no shortcuts. It dawned on me at that moment that we'd have to deal with that issue, like a lot of other social issues."
Ripken said having the topic in the open also presented a chance for management and the players' association to find a solution, though he declined to express any ideas.
"It certainly is a black cloud over baseball right now," he said.