I find that a really good way to get on somebody’s nerves is to challenge their belief system. I never do it just to get on people’s nerves of course, but I do enjoy a good debate from time to time. It’s fun to exchange ideas, and sometimes watch people squirm when you point out things that contradict what they believe. Even if I share the same views as a person, I enjoy playing Devil’s Advocate far too much. If at the end of our debates, they were able to bring up several good arguments I’ll always respect them for it, knowing that they believe in their viewpoint because they’ve thought it through, and not just because everyone else believes it. Having said that, I’ve had the following debate many times before, and I’ve never been able to convince anybody to change their opinion about it. I’m not even suggesting that I agree 100% with my own opinion, but I do enjoy entering a debate as the dark-horse.
The topic is (once again) the baseball/steroid issue. My stance is “Who cares?”
I was inspired to write this after seeing the new Gatorade commercials for the G Series. If you don’t know, Gatorade has a 3 part process now. First you eat a ‘chew’ to prime yourself before playing sports. Then you drink regular Gatorade (which is now called ‘perform’) while you’re playing sports. Then there’s a ‘recovery’ shake to drink after you play sports. Awesome!! There are a lot of supplements which can give you more energy to be sure, but Gatorade may just be that (fair/unfair) advantage that you need. Kind of like steroids (but I’ll get back to that).
I always find it interesting that they have a steroid witch hunt involving 2 retired players, namely Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. They really want to set an example by trying to ruin the legacy of the greatest hitter (arguably) and pitcher (arguably) of this past generation. They couldn’t do anything to them while they were playing, because for most of their playing years, Major League Baseball didn’t even have a steroid policy in place. Now that they’re embarrassed by how poorly they handled it, they want to blame like half a dozen guys for what Jose Canseco claims 80% of the league did? How fair/unfair is that? If these guys played for the Yankees while admitting to taking steroids, it would have blown over quickly. They’re being punished for dishonesty along with Pete Rose, and that isn’t even about drugs. I mean MLB and drugs?? They were nowhere near this upset when half the league was coked out in the 80s. I think it’s ok to punish guys now that there is a clear rule in place, but before that players were going to push boundaries. If the league doesn’t set any than shame on them. Do you think it’s fair/unfair to “Ben Johnson” them by making a couple of guys the scapegoats for what was a league wide problem. Ben Johnson was the fastest man in the world, Roger Clemens was the best pitcher, and Barry Bonds was the best hitter. They were sinners like everyone else, but they were punished for their greatness, not their steroid use.
What do steroids do anyways? I don’t think it teaches you to throw a curveball, or to hit one either. It does help you recover better though. When you play 162 times in 182 days, you better be able to recover. Luckily Advil helps. I’ll never forget an aging, but still amazing Nolan Ryan who was the first Advil spokesman that I can recall. I know after a tough game, I can take a couple of Advil and feel amazing the next day. Was it fair/unfair for Nolan Ryan to take Advil?
What makes a variety of supplements, vitamins, good food, and over the counter medication OK, but steroids not OK? Is it because it’s illegal? Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal. Lots of players have done that, but none have an asterisk beside their name in the record books claiming they didn’t really do what they did. Assault is illegal. Players get into fights sometimes, shall we re-write the record book for that?
So why are people so mad about the whole steroid thing? I think it’s a fairness issue. Most people would have been told by now that life isn’t fair, and would agree with that. Why do we expect other things to be fair then. Baseball isn’t fair. It never has been. Is it fair that someone should have heaps of talent, and someone else doesn’t? Is it fair that someone is 6 ft 4, and someone else is only 5 ft 9? Which of those 2 kids gets drafted? The talented 6 ft 4 kid who hasn’t done much, or the over achieving 5 ft 9 kid who put up big numbers in high school? It’s the 6 ft 4 kid every time. Is that fair/unfair?
Now we all hate the big millionaire best player in the game, that gets greedy and takes steroids so he can get more money/fame/records. That’s usually the example people think of when they think of steroid use. What about the guy that signed a pretty good contract, and is under a lot of pressure to perform, but maybe he’s got a nagging injury, and doesn’t feel like he’s earning the money that the team is paying him, the team is losing, and if he could just get back to feeling a little more healthy like he used to when he was a better player, maybe he could contribute a bit more and get the weight of the world off his shoulders for 5 minutes, and he sees everyone else doing it so he………. or the guy that’s 32 years old and has been that close but no cigar prospect/career minor leaguer, who’s dreamed every day of his life of being a major league baseball player, and he got so close he could almost taste it, but younger, bigger, stronger kids with more ‘upside’ keep bypassing him on their way to the big leagues, and if he could only muscle a few more fly balls out of the park, the big club might take notice and call him up for a few weeks so he could die happy knowing he achieved his lifelong dream. Maybe just one time……….Could you find it in your heart to forgive these guys if they took steroids? I could! In fact, I’ll take it a step further and say as a fan, I respect them for risking their health to try to get better. They wanted to be better at their jobs!!! I would love to have employees like that. It takes a strange mix of stupidity and desperation to become a steroid user. Somehow as a fan, I think they did this for us! We can argue their methods, but we can’t question their dedication.
In closing, I guess it’s not really as much of an issue any more. MLB does have rules now. They were a little late to the party, but there are now consequences for getting caught taking steroids. I think I just wish they would stop all the nonsense about trying to dig up the past. This was a ‘Lord of the Flies’ scenario where if there are no controls in place, chaos ensues. MLB has nobody to blame but themselves, and I think it’s in poor taste for everyone to try to hang a few guys out to dry for a problem that hundreds if not thousands of people should be punished for. Let’s just call it bad management and move on. Now players know the parameters and can stick to using other performance enhancers like Gatorade.
Is that fair/unfair?