The ’Roids of Summer Posted by: McQ
on Friday, December 14, 2007
ESPN has a list of all the players who purportedly used human growth hormones (steriods or "performance enhancing drugs") during their time in the Major Leagues. Some are still active. None of the names came as a particular surprise to me.
So what do I think about it all? Well I'm conflicted. On the one hand I say players should be free to do whatever they think they need to do (within reason and without violating the rights of another) to enhance their abilities and skills. They play at a level in which the demands on those abilities and skills is extremely high and if they don't exhibit the necessary level, they're gone. It is also a level of play the fans demand.
On the other hand, MLB is a private organization which has every right to make the rules of game as they see fit. And one thing MLB constantly tells its fans is it is interested in maintaining the "purity" of the game. That says to me that everyone competes on equal footing. Obviously the use of performance enhancing drugs by some in contravention of those rules destroys that for which MLB supposedly strives and, apparently, most fans want.
You see, more than any other sport, baseball is a game of statistics and records. And fans love those stats and records and will spend hours lovingly arguing all sorts of arcane things and do so with the relative assurance that they're making apples to apples comparisons.
And now this.
Although not unexpected, it definitely taints the game. Just as bad, however, has been MLBs role, or lack thereof, in all of this. It's fine to make rules, but when you don't enforce them, or do much to ensure they're being followed, you can expect scandals like this.
The question then becomes, what is MLB actually going to do about this? It is finally fish-or-cut-bait time for the organization we know as professional baseball. Is it going to enforce its own rules to the point that we see real sanctions/punishment for proven violations of their rules? Or are they going to turn a mostly blind-eye toward it and slap a few players with minor sanctions. My guess is the fans, for the most part, are going to want to see something significant done, while the players and player's union are going to fight anything tooth-and-nail.
It would be smart, for a change and for the health of MLB, to remember where the $6 billion they took in last year came from.
I used to be a big sports fan. Not anymore. Along with the bloated and dishonest stats of the modern era, the extent of the commercialism and greed have turned me off. On top of that, the attitudes of many players is that they are now rich enough and famous enough to do as they damn please. Sports have become a showcase for bad behavior. Players with integrity are now an exception rather than the rule. Many of them nauseate me so much that I very rarely even bother to watch a game on television anymore.
The entire affair strikes me as the next part of the ongoing fight between the owners and the player’s union. Anything the owners attempt is rejected by the union with the accompanying assurance that the issue will decided by litigation and political influence peddling, not negotiation. Former Democratic Majority Leader Mitchell was not hired for his acumen as an investigator.
A player using HGH is probably safe in continuing to do so. The owners made a big splash this week, but the players will respond, and they have their political pull too.
Yeah, maybe. It’s true there was no subpoena power, but why would a player willingly cooperate with this investigation? Don’t give me the "well, if they’re innocent, they’ve got nothing to hide" crap, either, especially not at this blog. I’ve been involved in investigations both formal and informal, from both sides, and innocent of any wrongdoing every time, and they still scare the crap out of me. The first rule of defense attorneys is STFU. I don’t any possible upside to the players having cooperated with the investigation.
Also, and it’s already been pointed out by Clemens’s agent, and Don Fehr, that the simple release of these names makes 95% of the public immediately conclude that Clemens and Pettitte are dirty, despite the fact that all the Clemens stuff comes from a single, uncorroborated source, with many reasons to doubt his credibility. I hate the Yankees as much or more than any other Red Sox fan, but it sure seems people are eager to convict, based on only the first allegation.
As for the HOF, any HOF voter with any integrity will either exclude EVERYONE who played between 1990 and 2007, or exclude any steriods information from his vote. Because, and this can hardly be debated, it’s a total crapshoot in terms of "knowing" who did or didn’t use! This is a case where a little bit of information, or a small part of the picture is worse than no picture at all. Because, without a comprehensive investigation, you’re excluding someone from the Hall because he happened to have a certain trainer at one point in his career. Or because Jose "I may be a total douchebag, but at least I’m willing to take others down with me" Canseco took a dislike to you.
For the record, Human Growth Hormone is NOT a steroid, and wasn’t banned by the league until 2005 or so. Not that these MSM hack sportwriters know the difference ... or care.
McQ points out that MLB brought in $6 Billion or so last year (on par with the NFL). And that was during the midst of hearing about Steroids damn near every day. By and large, the public has made up their minds that they don’t care about Performance Enhancers. If they did, attendance and revenue would be dropping. But they’re not: they’re actually skyrocketing.