Let's all stop talking about steroids in baseball now

14 May

baseball-steroidsI started this piece last week during the Manny controversy, but never got around to posting it. It’s old news now. On the one hand, I should probably hold on to it until the next inevitable freak-out over steroids, but on the other hand…nah. Gonna post it now.

I feel like I’ve stated my case regarding steroids in baseball about a hundred times to a hundred different people (which is about 25x my amount of friends, so you can rightfully conclude I lash out at anyone in my vicinity who broaches the subject). To save myself from extra work, I’ve decided to write down my three main arguments once and for all, and I’ll plan on linking to this post every time a new MLBer gets banned and people temporarily lose their minds. It seems that after news of every suspension, the question shouted over and over again is “how do we know what is real anymore? Everything is tainted now!” Shut up, all of you.

As you can guess, I couldn’t care less about these athletes getting caught. Doesn’t change my opinion of the player, doesn’t cause me to love the game any less. My one frustration with this issue happened long ago, and it was directed at the players union that had too much control when the usage became more evident, so Selig’s attempts to reign in the issue were unsuccessful. That’s about it. I’m not saying it’s not newsworthy and shouldn’t be reported, but the rage and moral judgments is insane. 

Here are the three main reasons I find most people demonizing the baseball players to be misinformed and hypocritical.

1. No one has asked the lame “what sort of example is this setting for our children?” question after suspensions in other sports. Athletes in the NFL and in other sports have been caught as well. We all know that. What I don’t know is when the outrage and judgment and tsk-tsking toward those athletes is going to happen. I’m guessing never. The only response I’ve ever gotten to this question is something along the lines of, “football is a different sport; it’s aggressive and physical and it’s pretty much expected the players are doing whatever they can to get an edge” … and a bunch of similarly nonsensical BS.

Athletes in every sport use any and every possible advantage at their disposal. There is zero reason baseball players need to be held to a different standard. How angry/hurt/disappointed should you be about Manny’s suspension? As angry as you were at Kevin Williams and Pat Williams of the Vikings last year. As angry as you were when cyclist Floyd Landis tested positive. If you reacted differently, you are a hypocrite and you should not be allowed to state your opinion.

2. There is no definitive proof to how much these substances help. Anyone claiming PEDs have the ability to turn regular old ballplayers into monstrous super-athletes is talking directly out of their ass. Ask them for proof. (But only if you enjoy watching idiots stammer and change the subject. )

I’m not claiming that steroids are worthless; baseball players are dumb, but not so dumb they’re going to stab themselves in the ass for no reason. But just how helpful are ‘roids? Most signs point to a very modest effect. They can’t improve hand-eye coordination or grant you athletic ability. From what I’ve read, they help build muscle and cut down on recovery time, and help remain strong in the dog days of summer. None of which turns a good player great. So cool it with the idea that taking ‘roids results in instant all-star appearances. It doesn’t.

(And PS, your “but look at how dominating Bonds was at the end of his career!” does not count as evidence of otherworldly steroids benefits, especially if you haven’t researched Ted Williams or Hank Aaron’s late-career stats. Almost as dominating. Occasionally great athletes do the unthinkable. Seriously, it happens.)

3. Breaking the rules isn’t a modern phenomenon. What is with this “oh heavens, this game isn’t as pure as it once was” BS? How far up your own ass must your head be to still cry shock that athletes will do anything it takes to win? It’s in their goddamn DNA as hypercompetitive athletes, not to mention it’s their fucking job.

Do you know if Babe Ruth or The Mick or Koufax or Ted Williams cheated? You do not. Was there a time in baseball history when players weren’t interested in bending or breaking rules to help win games (let’s run through the list again: scuffing balls, stealing signs, corked bats, spitballs, greenies and a bunch of other tactics)? No, there was not. Manny is in a long line of thousands of athletes who have broken the rules to get an edge.

The behavior of athletes isn’t of the highest moral conduct – everyone on the planet should understand that by now – and if you’re relying on them to be role models, I’m thinking the problem lies on your end. They’re just athletes trying to entertain you, so kindly get off your high horse when discussing them.

So to answer your silly, never-ending “how do we know what experiences aren’t tainted?” question: probably none of them. Doesn’t make them any less real. Grow up.

***

(I’m all ears if anyone wants to offer a counterpoint, by the way. I’ve been asking, and have still never received a lucid argument from the opposition.)

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One Response to “Let's all stop talking about steroids in baseball now”

  1. Chuck May 18, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    *So cool it with the idea that taking ‘roids results in instant all-star appearances. It doesn’t.*

    Two words: Brady Anderson

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