In December of 2011, I wrote about Ryan Braun getting suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. Today, Braun was suspended for the remainder of the season for his association with Biogenesis and the use of another illegal substance to gain an advantage in Major League Baseball. Certainly, Braun won’t be the only player suspended, and the media circus will really take off when Alex Rodriguez gets his suspension in the coming days or weeks, but many others have been linked to the Miami-based lab, including:
Unfortunately, some of these players have been here before, particularly Braun, Rodriguez, and Melky Cabrera, but what is it about performance-enhancing drugs that is causing this type of reaction from fans, media, and baseball?
Cheaters have always been able to get by without extreme testing, suspensions, and legacy-tarnishing damnation. Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame (1991) and he doctored baseballs with spit and vasoline. Joe Niekro had a 22 year career filled with knuckleballs and sandpaper on his fingers. Whitey Ford is a Hall of Famer (1974) and he cut the baseball with his wedding ring. Players in the 1950’s through the 1970’s popped greenies and players in the 1970’s and 1980’s were snorting cocaine.
So…while taking steroids is altering the body, is it hurting the game?
One could argue and point to Barry Bonds‘ massive head and asterisk-laden home run record for some reference, but Bonds still had to hit the ball. He may have been able to recover quicker, but doesn’t baseball want their stars on the field?
What if Ken Griffey, Jr. was on steroids instead of aging so poorly, would he have broken Hank Aaron‘s record and kept playing? He played 140 games or more just three times from 2000 until his retirement in 2010, but would people have remembered a Herculean physique as he got older instead of the backwards cap and smile that people remember so fondly of “The Kid”?
What if pitchers took MORE performance-enhancing drugs so that they didn’t miss starts? No need for platelet-rich plasma injections, just inject some mega-bull semen into your body, or whatever it really is that is making an athlete that much more impressive than his counterparts.
The end result from Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire looking like chiseled body builders swinging toothpicks was excitement. More people were in seats because people wanted to see a special player hit the baseball off of the face of the moon and not seven no-hitters in one season.
There is value in a pitcher’s duel, but Philip Humber? Kevin Millwood? Should these guys be listed under no-hitters for the 2012 season? Give me more players hitting almost 40 home runs before the All-Star Break like Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and give it to me yesterday.
Baseball is a game that hasn’t progressed much over history. There are still nine players on a diamond, throwing a small round ball and hitting it with a long, round, wooden bat. Players are bigger, stronger, and faster in all sports today than they were twenty years ago, just compare Michael Jordan to LeBron James.
Players take care of their bodies differently, using vitamins, shakes, and many other dietary supplements to increase their strength and stamina. They are playing a game for 10 to 15 years and then moving on to autograph shows, families, and hitting or pitching coach jobs and can only earn at the highest level after their arbitration years are over and they reach free agency. This gives players about four to seven years to earn their top dollars, while producing enough to make them an asset for their team still. If that requires help, they should be entitled to it because, after all, it is their body, their future, and their side effects that they have to live with.
The chances of a player dying from steroids, as people seem to blame on former All-Star Ken Caminiti, is that people are just as likely to do something asinine after having several concussions in football, like the late Junior Seau. Why should MLB protect players from themselves when the NFL seems to not care one bit about their players, particularly those who have already retired?
Let the players play, produce, and be exciting to watch. Protect them from pitches to the head, fans running onto the field, and from being taken advantage of by agents and scouts in Latin America, but don’t tell them how to take care of their bodies. Bud Selig needs his stars on the field and the stars need to be doing what they do best, and if they need a little help, they should have it. Every other era in the history of the game has had access to something, so why not these guys?
- Milwaukee Brewers: Steroids Latest Victim (swingwithamiss.wordpress.com)
- Why Do MLB Players Still Use Steroids? (theface-off.com)
- Former MVP Ryan Braun Suspended For Rest Of Season (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- A-Rod nearly certain to receive ban for Biogenesis (cbssports.com)
- Ryan Braun suspended: Braun admitted to drug violations, suspended for season (examiner.com)