Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Chat about Baseball and Steroids

Here's a slightly edited version of an IM conversation I had with Sue today. For those of you keeping score at home, this would be Boston Sue, not to be confused with Williamstown Sue, or 14th Street Sue, or San Francisco Sue, or any of the other assorted Sues in my life. The discussion presupposes a little bit of knowledge about the situation, but if you've got that, we do a pretty good job of conveying my opinions on the Baseball Juicing Scandal.

It opens up with a quotation Cory sent to me today.

from the A-Rod press conference:

Freudian Slip of the Decade:
“I’m here to take my medicine.”
Alex Rodriguez, February 17, 2009

Sue: oh that's an unfortunate choice of words.
Me: hehehe
Sue: personally i think all the steroids stuff is b.s. - as far as calling out individual players.
Me: oh i totally agree
Sue: 1. mlb knew damn well it was going on, but it was filling the seats, so they were completely happy to look the other way
Me: at least for things that happened before 2004
Sue: 2. it wasn't even illegal when some of these guys were doing it.
Me: well, it kind of was, but it was awfully fuzzy until '05
Me: and a LOT of them were doing it
Sue: 3. the ones who were able to stay ahead of the testing or who were just better at hiding it will never be called to the carpet.
Sue: let the past go. set a competent testing (and punishment) policy now and just move forward already
Me: and while it's kind of fun to watch mr. rod wriggle around and try to sell the idea that he had no IDEA what his 'cousin' was shooting into his ass (other than that it was purchased over-the-counter in d.r.)
Me: it would be one of the all-time peaks of hypocrisy for MLB to punish him for it at this point
Sue: exactly
Me: what's more, i haven't spoken to a single baseball fan who disagrees with us
Me: but, of course, i live in fake america, not real america
Sue: lol!
Sue: but even what they're doing to reputations, future hall of fame chances, etc. is disgusting
Me: the sports writers are vying for attention
Me: the hall of fame and MLB record keepers know better
Me: and hopefully will act like it
Sue: i dunno. people are already saying clemens won't make the hall of fame after his debacle
Me: it's a pity that mcgwire became the poster boy for juicers so early in the discussion

Me: because i don't think that his not getting into the hall had anything to do with 'roids*
Me: clemens not getting in would devalue the hall of fame to the point of reducing it to an homage to the past

Me: it would be a HUGE mistake
Me: bonds too

Me: a-rod too
Sue: agreed
Me: and now that we've solved everything, it's time for me to go home!
Sue: woo-hoo!!!
Me: thanks once again for the brilliant and witty I-correspondence

So there that is. Let me clear up a something before people get all yitzy. I am not endorsing or advocating the use of anabolic steroids, for ballplayers or anyone else. I am opposed to them. They're bad for you. Really bad.

A co-worker of mine said something to the effect of "I have no problem with steroids. I like home runs. Baseball players are like horses - they should shoot up with whatever they want if it makes the game more entertaining for the fans." Now, I disagree with that on a whole bunch of levels. That said, I also disagree with the notion that pro athletes are a good compass for healthy living and/or ethical behavior. That ideal hasn't been particularly valid since World War II, at least not in this country. Henry Aaron, who was and is one of my all-time baseball heros, admits in his book I Had a Hammer that he 'tried using' amphetamines, as was common in his era to increase alertness and endurance over the long season on the road. We don't know for sure how much he used them. And I don't care. He was a great baseball player. If you think the fact that he took speed compromises his claim to being a great man, so be it. I actually think there's an argument to be made that Hank Aaron may be a 'great man.' (You'd have to look far and wide to find someone who'd say that about Barry Bonds.) No one is perfect. And, once again, I think one would be ill-advised to turn to Major League Baseball for models of healthy living.

To sum up:

A bunch of guys (including but not limited to Bonds, Rodriguez and Clemens) took steroids.

A bunch of guys (including but not limited to Hank Aaron) took speed.

Don't know how you'd call it a performance-enhancing drug, but Doc Ellis threw a no-hitter while he was on LSD.

Babe Ruth's regimen of high-fat food, beer and cigars is the stuff of legend.

And while we're on it, baseball's alcohol consumption has never exactly been limited to the champagne at the end of the World Series.

Let this be a reminder to the people who want to start pasting a bunch of asterisks all over the record books and bolt the doors of the Hall of Fame.

I think it's good that Baseball is getting serious about making sure that its athletes don't take steroids. (If it is in fact serious - Baseball had no trouble with steroid use when all those home runs were bringing back disillusioned fans. If you believe that the owners and coaches - and sportswriters - weren't aware of what was going on, I've got a stadium in the Bronx to sell you.) And while there's still a civil libertarian part of me that thinks that there should be a wide berth of freedom in terms of a person's right to put things into his or her own body, I think an honest and enthusiastic national education effort about the effects of anabolic steroids (not to be confused with a big ol' propaganda campaign) would be a great idea. While they're at it, maybe they wouldn't mind covering things like food additives, high fructose corn syrup, livestock antibiotics and growth hormones, and the environmental ramifications of agribusiness.

We can hope, right?

Meanwhile, the full teams are reporting to Spring Training. Can we shut up and play ball?

*For those of you who don't really follow baseball - I think the media stink about Mark Mcgwire being excluded from the Hall of Fame because he admitted juicing is just more fog. He didn't get into the Hall because his career didn't warrant it, steroids or no steroids. He was, as dad would say, a One Tool Player. He could hit for power. Period. And not necessarily when you needed him to. Argue with me if you want (by all means!) but I think that you'd almost have to admit that if they let in Mcgwire, they have to go back and let in Roger Maris.


Lori said...

Amen, brother! I'm sorry, but 103 other players were "caught" in the past week or so, but only one is getting attention. I'm no ARod lover, but geez...you know who I hate more? $17M/year commissioner Jackass Sielig. 'nuf said.

syb said...

I love that you go from Baseball to HFCS & Agribusiness.

And, as usual, you make a whole lotta sense here. Thanks!