Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Steroids, Schmeroids

Okay, I'm finally chiming in on the steroids issue. Let's see... Steroids have been an issue, and a publicly known issue at that, since the 80's. Canseco and McGwire have admitted it. It was an issue in McGwire and Sosa's home run chase. Canseco wrote a book about it. Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters gained leaked grand jury testimony implicating Barry Bonds. Bonds' ex-mistress squealed. Rafael Palmero is a laughingstock. Many players squealed. Squealing was publicized. The squealers backed off their squealing. Baseball acted surprised. Congress had a conniption fit. Baseball bent over and grabbed its ankles. Now it's investigating itself with charges of conflict of interest. Bonds' employer is the most silent of all. Bonds is chasing Babe Ruth and Henry Aaron and cries for his head, his retirement, an asterisk and even erasure of his statistics are everywhere. All of this begs the following question:

So what?


First, I'll start with steroids themselves. My view on drugs, "legal" or illicit or whatever term one wants to use, has changed over the years, and has a great impact on my view of the whole steroids issue. I don't care what the players are taking, simply put. Steroids are called "performance enhancing substances." But again, so what? There are many performance enhancing substances players are taking. With their fitness and training routines, myriads of protein powders, vitamins, medications, dietary supplements and the like are taken all the time. Few of which are "natural", that is not part of regular life like eating fruits and vegetables. What about Curt Schilling's bloody sock? What a national hero he was, taking on the Yankees on their way to a Boston World Series victory with a slap together surgery and a fat shot of cortisone. The picture of his bloody ankle was the picture of the year.

Cortisone, by the way, IS A STEROID! So what's the difference? Should Curt Schilling's ring be taken away? How many home runs did legendary drinker Mickey Mantle hit because he took aspirin to fight a hangover? Should he be removed from the hall of fame? And for fifty years we've been sold the idea that a freaking bowl of Wheaties is a performance enhancing substance, for crying out loud! Steroids are everywhere in our society, used by many of us to fight asthma, heal surgeries, you name it.


So steroids, or at least an ambiguous and ever-changing sub-category of them, are "illegal", either by dictates of baseball or civil law. If Barry Bonds is using a banned substance, then that's between him and his employer, the SF Giants. If the Giants want to overlook any contractual obligations Bonds has, then that's their business. The Giants have a silence policy on the whole issue. If baseball wants to enforce their rules, then oust Bonds. But if they want to overlook them for the betterment of the game, so what? Let them do so. Unwritten rules in life trump many of the written ones, and the fine print (letter of the law) is used mostly when the spirit of the law is broken. The issue of the "legality" of steroids just goes to show how desperately ill our society really is. Politicians write the laws, and our society looks to their laws as a standard of morality? How sick is that? The scum of the earth is our standard for morality?

Grand Jury Testimony and SF Chronicle Reporters

Isn't it interesting that two SF Chronicle reporters gained leaked grand jury testimony (leaking testimony is a felony) and are using it to implicate Bonds? How can their use of this testimony be justified? If it's a felony to leak this info in the first place, then it's also a felony for anybody to use testimony to confirm their claims. It's also interesting to realize that if the leak is false, it would also be a felony to use true testimony to refute their claims. The reporters have placed themselves in a pretty good position. Any legitimate criticism of their grand jury claims is a felony.

The US Congress

Okay, this pisses me off more than any other facet of the steroids issue. Since when does Congress put itself in the place of baseball's commissioner? Do these blowhard politicians have no shame? Talk about nosy busybodies. They threaten baseball with who knows what if they don't implement their own "voluntary" steroid policies. It's at this point that the policies fail to be voluntary. They are coerced, plain and simple. Written or unwritten, policy against steroid use becomes in a de facto sense US law. Many players are from foreign countries. When the Congressional hearings hit the news, our fearless media trekked to Latin countries with their cameras rolling to show us how easy it was for Latin players to obtain steroids over the counter. In effect, US law now applies to foreigners in their own countries! Not to mention to Canadian businesses. Let's see, a Dominican player who plays for the Toronto Blue Jays is subject to the US Congress? I should have been a high school civics teacher.

Baseball's Self-Investigation
Baseball is fooling nobody. I'm not naive enough to believe that baseball knew nothing of the last several decades of steroid use. I can't believe that they are that ignorant either. They had an image to recover after the strike in '94. Steroids were a welcome thing to overlook. So if baseball was content to let be what was, did it have a problem at all? If not, is it our business now? Baseball is sticking its finger into the wind of public opinion, and there's a storm out there. George Mitchell, who works for the Red Sox, an investigator? The tie to Congress looks good. But baseball should really tell Congress to go whiz up a rope.


Steroids, schmeroids. I've got Giants season tickets, and hope I'm there to see the home run record broken. If Bonds took steroids, it's not really my business. And it's not my business to make sure Bonds makes it other people's business. If you're upset at steroid use, then fine. You don't have to watch baseball.


  1. c'mon Steve, tell us what you really think!

  2. i'm with you - i think you might have a career move to run against Feinstein as an independent baseball fan. Nah - politix is hopeless.

    BTW - morris is an awesome pick-up. 3-0 in the 6th last i checked.