PED’s, performing enhancing drugs. Pretty simple, straightforward, right? Or, you know, roids, juice. Whatever your preference may be when referring to them, if you even know what they are, then you’ve likely seen the influx in media coverage surrounding PED’s in recent days, weeks…years. This is a subject I’ve wanted to stay away from and simultaneously write about for about that long. What prompted me to finally jot these thoughts down, and share them with you all? My niece.
I walk into the living room and see my niece, engulfed in peanuts. In her hair, smashed into the couch, between her frigging toes. My first thought? Baseball. In general, and also the fact that those peanuts came from McCoy Stadium just one night prior. The same McCoy Stadium that I get chills walking into and hearing “put me in coach, I’m ready to play”, chills that I didn’t even get when having the honor of suiting up and playing on that field. Baseball occupies a special place in my heart. Can I watch a complete ballgame any earlier than September? God no, but you’d have a have time telling me there’s a more beautiful sight then a well manicured baseball diamond, or a sweeter sound than the crack of a bat, or that Olivia Munn is anymore beautiful than a 5-4-3 double play (well, that one may be a push). And while most Americans would rather choose to past their time with the NFL or even the NBA, Baseball will forever be America’s pastime.
And now for the juicy part. PED’s aren’t anything new in sports, certainly not in baseball. You guys remember little ol’ Brady Anderson, no? Or the 98′ home run race? Barry Lamar Bonds? Who is my guy by the way, like Barry really was THE man, but come on, clearly something was up. You all remember the Mitchell Report, and Rafeal Palmeiro’s heartfelt vow. Those guys went and spoke to congress and some lied, well, they all lied, some just admitted to it after the fact. They took the beatings (slaps on the wrist) and life went on. Clemens and Bonds were destined for jail, yeah, that never happened, never will. Some of those guys still play, some of them were done playing when they went under oath. Nobody won, and the MLB certainly lost.
There are two fundamental reasons why PED use has reached the heights it’s currently at. 1) The people who genuinely care, me, us, the fans, the purists, have no say, and those who do have say, the owners, the GM’s, the commish, really and truly, don’t care. As we all know, it’s about the money, as it’s always been and as it always will be. Who wants their star player sitting down for 50 games? Their goes any chance at a pennant race, which equals $. There goes the ticket sales, there goes the merchandise, there goes the endorsements. This A-Rod situation fits the bill to a tee! Cashman doesn’t want him to be suspended because he’s a liar or a cheat, disgrace to the game even. He wants him out so that he can attempt to void his monstrous contract. A-Rod’s done, he’s finished and this is the Yankee’s loophole to not only wash their hands of him, but save a cool 100 mill. It’s that simple, this whole mess, is THAT simple.
2) While this is a major issue, it’s not a major league issue. It’s a single A, cape cod league, college, high school problem. And don’t get me wrong, PED’s is a predominant issue in every major sport. Let’s not forget, baseball is our one major sport where kids can, and typically do go straight from high school to the league. 17, 18 year olds attempting to be on the same level as grown men. Now, I coached high school baseball this past season and while none of my kids were juicing (I know, because we only won 1 game) I’m sure there are plenty of high school kids using HGH and other performance enhancers because well, they can. Last I checked, they don’t drug test you coming off the school bus. College may be a bit tougher, but the kid’s are still doing it, same with the minors, and so on. The argument is typically made that the NFL and NBA need to work closer with the NCAA to stop money from changing hands, whether it be from a runner, or a booster, or an agent. A lot of the same can be said with Major League Baseball. This issue is bigger than them, bigger than each individual league. Unity and a huge dose of intolerance may be the only remedy here.
As I stated above, this is somewhat of a touchy issue as there is some many variables, and loopholes, and conspiracies, and so on, and so on. PED’s is a big issue, probably an even bigger one then we think, and that’s saying a lot. The MLB seems poised to suspend a handful of guys in the coming days, but here’s the kicker. Much like they did with Ryan Braun, they’re negotiating with these guys on how long and when they’ll be suspended. Really? Seriously? These guys are cheating, blatantly at that, and you’re letting them dictate the terms of their suspension, for cheating? That a way to make a statement guys. I’m not gonna blame Anthony Bosch, I’m blaming Bud Selig. Unfortunately, the guys wit all the power aren’t willing to shake things up, and that’s likely not to change anytime soon, as money is in the epicenter and things typically don’t go smoothly or rather, morally correct when big money is involved. Truth is, no one really cares. Ok, so I care, the fans care. So I’ll rephrase that statement, no one who can actually fix it, cares.