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January 28, 2008 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Steroids, "Other Drugs," and Baseball: a Voice of Scepticism on the Impact of Steroids on Major League Baseball. Eric Walker suggests a "juiced" ball made much more of an effect than PEDs.
posted by mrgrimm (32 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I poked through that site the other day. It's sort of disorganized, but mainly on the money.

The balls have definitely been juiced. People love home runs.

Also, the trend to build smaller and "cozier" ballparks... and the diluted pitching talent as baseball quickly went from 26 to 30 teams. There are just so many factors colliding, many of them kept secret (like ball manufacturing) and no control data, that it's very nearly impossible to find one magic cause.

I also flinch at the media reports (and the Mitchell Report, for that matter) when HGH is lumped in as a performance enhancer. That makes no sense, chemically or logically.

I wonder, given HGH's popularity as a "life extension" therapy among the affluent, how many of the sitting Senators investigating baseball know all about it already. I'll have my eyes peeled for uncomfortable squirming.

(And someone might as well queue the "I can't stand baseball" comments from MeFiites who can't resist commenting anyway.)
posted by rokusan at 11:30 AM on January 28, 2008


“If power were up, we’d see it in the statistics,” Walker said. “But the boost just isn’t there.”

He really needs to buy a new copy of Total Baseball. What color is the Fenway Park LF wall in his world?

I accept that it's not all PEDs creating the current situation in baseball. But there's an increasing body of evidence showing the big sluggers used them. Yes, the balls have apparently been juiced too (see 1987), and stadium foul territory plays into it too. But denying the issue of players using PEDs to improve their hitting or extending the career, that's willful blindness.

But given his history with San Francisco, he can be forgiven for thinking no player for the Giants would EVER do that.
posted by dw at 11:33 AM on January 28, 2008


Mythbusters recently proved that corked bats don't help batters. But it's still cheating. And in the case of steroids, unhealthy.
posted by DU at 11:37 AM on January 28, 2008


I also flinch at the media reports (and the Mitchell Report, for that matter) when HGH is lumped in as a performance enhancer. That makes no sense, chemically or logically.

But isn't HGH used for rebuilding and restoring injured tissue?

It's not going to make anyone stronger, but if you're a pitcher, it would give you an advantage in recovery time. If it means you can throw 1-2 MPH faster, last one more inning, or mean you can pitch a few more games out of the pen you wouldn't otherwise... that's a few million on your contract right there. And if you're a marginal pitcher, it's the difference between a $500K league minimum deal and a $25K contract as a AAA pitcher.
posted by dw at 11:37 AM on January 28, 2008


If it means you can throw 1-2 MPH faster, last one more inning...

But that is exactly what HGH will NOT do. You may return from injury more quickly, sure, just like any new healing or recovery treatment/therapy. But there is zero evidence your performance will improve, or be any different than you were before.

Steroids, sure. Amphetamines, sure. HGH, no.
posted by rokusan at 11:42 AM on January 28, 2008


That Mythbusters episode was disappointing. The topics chosen were silly. Of course damp balls are more dead, that was not a myth to start with; the corked bat test misunderstood the purpose of corking by using the same speed-of-contact with or without; and who in the world ever thought sliding was faster that running (they conclude it's about stopping... which everyone learns in little league). They were all straw-man myths.

It was funny that they had Clemens there, though. :)
posted by rokusan at 11:45 AM on January 28, 2008


Funny you should mention stimulants, rokusan, I just heard this morning that ADHD diagnoses are the new thing in pro baseball. Some would say these guys are just seeking prescription stimulants, but I don't think people would do that to America's Game.

PS I think that one big football dude is on 'roids.
posted by Mister_A at 11:49 AM on January 28, 2008


"It's amino acid. It's 191 of them."
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:50 AM on January 28, 2008


They were good myths for me, a person who doesn't watch any pro ball at all.

But I did wonder if the corked bat was more about reaction times than kinetic energy. But if so, then I'd think using a corked bat would still be a bad idea--you are retraining your reflexes for the wrong thing.
posted by DU at 11:50 AM on January 28, 2008


I should have been clear that the part of that site that I'm not in love with is the disparaging of steroids as an impact. What it's right about is that so many other factors are also in play, but receive little attention.
posted by rokusan at 11:50 AM on January 28, 2008


DU, the real reason players cork bats is to improve their bat speed -- a lighter bat can be swung faster, which causes a ball to fly farther. In the MythBusters test, they artificially fixed all the speeds to the same, and then concluded that a corked bat (swung at the same speed) was no advantage. Silly.

Sorry for the derail. My andro-rage kicked in and I felt baited.
posted by rokusan at 11:54 AM on January 28, 2008


Yes, the ADHD thing is funny. For some mysterious reason, pro ball players seem to get doctors to diagnose them with ADHD at a rate something like 30x higher than the general population. Conveniently, the medications are all amphetamines.

As if ADHD wasn't already overdiagnosed in the general population. :)

Of course, greenies have been part of baseball for 50 years, so whatever statistics they affected are today's baselines.
posted by rokusan at 11:58 AM on January 28, 2008


Juiced balls, juiced players...either way the historical progression of MLB statistics is awfully mucked up.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:10 PM on January 28, 2008


But that is exactly what HGH will NOT do. You may return from injury more quickly, sure, just like any new healing or recovery treatment/therapy. But there is zero evidence your performance will improve, or be any different than you were before.

But speed is as much about comfort and preventing injury as it is about ability.

Relief pitchers throw harder than starting pitchers because they don't have to pace themselves -- most nights they're going to throw ~20 pitches vs. a starter's 100.

Throwing a 97 MPH fastball does a number on your arm and shoulder physiologically. Throwing 94 MPH, less so. But 94 MPH gives a batter just that much more a chance to make contact.

If HGH can repair a few more microtears than the natural healing process can, that would give a relief pitcher an advantage, since he can throw 97 a couple more times in an outing than if he healed naturally. And if that extra 97 MPH fastball turns an RBI single into a strikeout, then that's added value.

So, point taken that HGH isn't going to make anyone bigger/faster/stronger. But it's certainly going to give a player an advantage with recovery time and allow him to use more of his own natural ability.
posted by dw at 12:12 PM on January 28, 2008


Of course damp balls are more dead, that was not a myth to start with

That wasn't exactly what they were testing. They were testing whether the Rockies' humidor actually had an effect on batted balls.

Now, what would have been interesting is testing whether balls travel farther when the outside air is hot than when it's cold or humid vs. dry.
posted by dw at 12:18 PM on January 28, 2008


Kinetic energy is proportional to mass and to the square of the velocity. Let's say a corked bat can be swung 20% faster than a regulation bat. That delivers 40% more energy for the same mass of bat. But then the bat's mass has to be more than 60% of the original to keep the savings--is a corked bat that heavy? And if the mass is more than 2/3 the original, can you really swing it 20% faster? Not to mention structural issues.

I would enjoy seeing an episode devoted to the question, though.
posted by DU at 12:22 PM on January 28, 2008


rokusan,

There is a body of evidence that certain mental disorders are more prevalent (eg OCD, which is often found in players with ADHD) in baseball players - or that the nature of baseball tends to attract individuals with these symptoms (not 30x I'm sure). I have no cite, but was told this by my son's orthopedic surgeon and his psychiatrist.

As far as steroids in baseball, I'm around the game a bit more than the average fan - and I have spoken with a number of insiders/players but certainly no expert - my guess would be that until a couple of years ago, probably 75% of players used something to some degree. Probably approaching 98% if you include those players who were legitimately prescribed PEDs for various reasons.

Fuck the asterisks, much ado about nothing. Test, verify, and suspend, but forget the retroactive stuff...

BTW, I expect that HGH will make a player bigger/faster/stronger/heal faster/better eysight/more lean muscle mass, I'm not sure what would make anyone say that - its human GROWTH hormone.
posted by sfts2 at 12:41 PM on January 28, 2008


DU, typically, corking will take something like a 45 ounce bat down to 42 ounces. What you're gaining is: increased time to look at the ball (a millisecond or two, but that's enough sometimes), increased bat speed, and mainly a lever effect where the bat's center of mass has been moved towards the player's hands, which increases control as well as speed.

Zumsteg's book "The Cheater's Guide to Baseball" discusses this.
posted by maxwelton at 1:10 PM on January 28, 2008


*waves hand dismissively*

Pffft.

I remember hating baseball back when it was still difficult to do so; back when you despised it because it was boring. Now you have all these easy conveniences to raise your ire; steroids, smaller ball parks, questionable league records, you kids today don't know how good you have it. Back in my day, we had to really work to deplore the National Pass-time, what with charming movies and likable personalities, I mean, we had to hate in knee-deep snow; uphill. Both ways.

Stupid kids. Get off my outfield.
posted by quin at 1:15 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Keep your filthy "sports" away from our beautiful drugs.
posted by telstar at 2:55 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Since any added strength hitters get from steroids would not help them make solid contact with the ball, but only hit it farther when they do, Walker instead examined a more appropriate statistic: total bases per hit, also known as Power Factor."

Well, that's not really true. Being able to swing faster should result in more hits as well, and better hits.

I haven't gotten further than that, but this seems to be a poor way to start an argument.
posted by klangklangston at 2:59 PM on January 28, 2008


The problem here - and it’s continually overlooked because baseball is more product now than sport - is not the effect on the game or entertainment but the effect on the players.
Sport, all sports, is supposed to be about the striving for achievement - human acheivement and excellence not only in skill but in physical prowess - health, fitness, athleticism.

Most of the sports we now enjoy are the pro-wrestling versions of sports - the form without the substance.
Who cares whether or not you can perform better or not on steroids and other drugs (I find that hard to believe, in school I went from 1st string to 2nd string because the guy behind me went from pressing way less than me (and being less strong in general) to far more than me in less than a year. And, gee, he suddenly developed a bad case of acne too. Hmmm.)
I did a cycle of steroids when I had an injury a long time back - didn’t make me superhuman but I felt like it and I had a commensurate spike in my level of performance. I was sorely pressed to not do it illegally (but, y’know, I wanted to have kids with just one head and I’m fond of my liver).

The focus of all this is on performance, as though that’s the bottom line. Performance is supposed to be a result of hard work and mindful sacrifice you put in to be more athletic and skillful than your opponent - but the goal is supposed to be being healthy. This kind of cheating only cheats the athletes. Fans are there mostly for the spectacle (which is why I think the lawsuit is off base (no pun int’d) I mean you don’t go to Vegas thinking you have some kind of chance of really winning).
But I can see being upset because it perverts the whole idea of what sports are supposed to be.

I want my kids in sports not so they can be ‘winners’ or become professionals and earn big bucks, but because the study of sport helps train the body in much the same way mental games - chess for example - help train the mind.
I don’t believe in the ‘everyone wins’ garbage kids are being taught. You must play as hard as you possibly can to win, but it is only through losing that we really learn to progress and improve.
One must learn to love physical activity and exercise for the same simple and obvious reasons one learns to love learning and mental exercise for it’s own sake. It’s just plain good for you. I feel like a dufus for commenting on all of this because it’s so obvious. But it’s also being completely ignored.

It is an old story though. The Spartans used to blow off Olympic events they thought they couldn’t win.
These modern day records will eventually be rendered as irrelevent as who won the wrestling match in Delphi between the Athenians and Elyros. Doesn’t matter how impressive it was - 5,000 years from now: who the hell was Barry Bonds?

Few people ever learn the only competitor you must best is yourself. It’s the only one that’s always going to be with you.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:58 PM on January 28, 2008


Back in my day, ballplayers were for shit!
posted by Cookiebastard at 4:07 PM on January 28, 2008


There's an interesting take on this over at FireJoeMorgan.
posted by ORthey at 5:38 PM on January 28, 2008



He really needs to buy a new copy of Total Baseball. What color is the Fenway Park LF wall in his world?

Home runs can go up without power per se going up--just make it easier to get hits, period. As veteran ball players have long observed, "Take care of the hits and the home runs will take care of themselves." All that PEDs can affect is power, and what power determines is the percentage of hits that will go for home runs: no one can hit a ball out of the park till they first hit it, period. When hits become harder to get, as with the shrinkage of the strike zone in 2001, home runs go down even though *power* per se is unaffected; and, of course, vice versa. And all that is aside from the indubitable and significant juicing of the ball in 1993, which gave rise to the so-called "offense explosion".


But denying the issue of players using PEDs to improve their hitting or extending the career, that's willful blindness.

What counter-argument, based on fact and actual data--as presented on the site or from wherever you can obtain it--do you offer to the particular assertions made on the site? Other than "I don't want to believe it"? I would say that not answering the specific fact-based analyses there (which are scarcely limited to mine--there are at least five others cited) is what constitutes "willful blindness."


But given his history with San Francisco, he can be forgiven for thinking no player for the Giants would EVER do that.

Is that something you would say to someone face to face? I certainly hope not.


But isn't HGH used for rebuilding and restoring injured tissue?

Please read the page "Healing Effects of PEDs". One, the medical profession, including names you might know (such as Frank Jobe and Mike Marshall) does not think hGH (or steroids) have a significant
effect; two, real-world data show that as the so-called "steroids era" progressed, average playing time for everyday players was diminishing, not increasing.

Also, a fine article by Amy Shipley (in the April 30, 2006 Washington Post) says the same thing about pitching and PEDs: no help.


Well, that's not really true. Being able to swing faster should result in more hits as well, and better hits.

Not so if you DTM. As noted on the site, a ball hit to the infield will get to the fielder roughly 7 milliseconds faster even assuming a muscling-up well beyond what seems feasible--or say 10 milliseconds if it's hit on the ground instead of as a line drive. If the infielder is moving really fast toward the ball (say 25 fps), that might mean 3 inches difference, though probably less. The number of hits any one man gets that would have been outs had the infielder gotten 3 inches closer to the ball is impossible to know for sure, but almost certainly somewhere near zero. (All this is on the site.)

Swinging faster is the entirety of what power accomplishes: bat spped determines ball exit speed, which determines distance travelled in the air (for a given launch angle).


[I]t perverts the whole idea of what sports are supposed to be.

That is, of course, an individual subjective judgement. But be aware that quite a number of professional ethicists disagree, many strenuously. I suggest you look through the site page on sports ethics to see what they say in detail, but let me ask how or why Lasik surgery or knee braces or Tommy John surgery or, for that matter, cleats or post-game ice packs are not "perversions of what sports are supposed to be".

Sports are supposed to be whatever we humans, who created them out of whole cloth, want them to be. If we want them to be exhibitions of people doing difficult things as best a human can do them, fine. If we want them to be examples of what naked savages with help or understanding can do (isn't getting training acquiring an "unfair advantage" over someone with less or poorer training?), then ban everything: raise children alone on a tropical island, then when they're adult, throw them into an arena and see what they do. That's "natural" carried to its logical conclusion.


Anyway, all I ask is please, read the site through carefully before commenting on what it does or does not say. Thank you.
posted by Eric Walker at 6:01 PM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Interesting about the ADHD thing. Spring training last year I photographed the player who ended up throwing the winning pitch of the '07 World Series and he was very open about his ADHD diagnosis.
posted by photoslob at 6:07 PM on January 28, 2008


"Not so if you DTM. As noted on the site, a ball hit to the infield will get to the fielder roughly 7 milliseconds faster even assuming a muscling-up well beyond what seems feasible--or say 10 milliseconds if it's hit on the ground instead of as a line drive. If the infielder is moving really fast toward the ball (say 25 fps), that might mean 3 inches difference, though probably less. The number of hits any one man gets that would have been outs had the infielder gotten 3 inches closer to the ball is impossible to know for sure, but almost certainly somewhere near zero. (All this is on the site.)"

That's not what I meant. What I meant is that the batter, able to swing the bat faster, should make contact with more pitches (and good contact more often when they do hit), irrespective of the fielding. In fact, assuming that your math is solid and the effect respective to fielding is negligible, this should be seen most in home runs and fouls. I'd have to actually go over the data to see if this bears out, but to argue that the time a ball takes to get to an infielder is the primary speed benefit to a batter seems silly.

Further, unless you want to dispute that players were taking steroids at greater levels than prior during the "Steroid Era" (which I'd be fine with, assuming there were data to support that), you have to at least acknowledge that many players thought they were getting a significant advantage. If they weren't, why risk it?
posted by klangklangston at 6:31 PM on January 28, 2008


ps— Your site is down now, at least for me, so if you've arguments to make here, I suggest you make them here rather than directing back to your site.

Or invest in better hosting.
posted by klangklangston at 6:33 PM on January 28, 2008


No one has ever claimed that any PED improves visual acuity or reflex response speed; all that PEDs can possibly do is increase muscularity.

Seriously!!! I'm sorry, but this is just wrong.

There are increased neurological adaptations with steriod usage.

This has shown up in print before and said by world class strength coaches. I'm not going to dig up the material but if you want look it up try: Paul Chek, Charles Staley, or any number of coaches that have been around for at least fifteen years and trained world class athletes.

The author starts the article by accusing people of being ignorant of basic facts...hhmmm that article sucks.

Also, HGH works on a number of levels, just as steroids do, so it's not as simple as --> more muscle or --> stronger tendons.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:58 PM on January 28, 2008


Home runs can go up without power per se going up--just make it easier to get hits, period.

You mean like, oh, building bandbox parks? Or putting a team a mile above sea level?

All that PEDs can affect is power

If that were true, then you would see barely any pitchers caught, right?

What counter-argument, based on fact and actual data--as presented on the site or from wherever you can obtain it--do you offer to the particular assertions made on the site?

How about "it was a bunch of things?"

For instance, your graph shows the "juiced ball" came into the league in 1993, the same year the Rockies entered the NL with the Marlins. And that says two things to me:

1. Expansion diluted the pitching stock. And I look at your power graph, and lo and behold, five noticable spikes -- 1961, 1969, 1977, 1987, and 1993. Four of those years were expansion years (though '69 was helped by the mound lowering). 1987 is the lone outlier, and we all know about that year.

2. Expansion diluted the defensive ability of teams. Mind you, the Rockies and Marlins weren't exactly filled with defensive superstars, but they were at or above replacement level, and it meant that 18 guys with replacement level gloves were now patrolling IFs and OFs. Now, admittedly, it's hard to argue that Alex Cole playing CF for the Pirates instead of Al Martin would have made that much of a difference, but Cole's RF in Mile High was .4 points higher than Martin's in Three Rivers, and that could have saved what, 10-20 runs? (I'll ask Dave Cameron next time I see him.) The improved defensive statistics are revealing more and more that defense isn't just something you can cast aside like Billy Beane in the early 90s as "overrated" and "too expensive."

Of course, we can also talk about the new ballparks with a smaller area of foul ground or the shorter fences down the lines. We can talk about the arrival of the batter's eye and how that increased offense (there's an analysis somewhere out there that shows Safeco offense rose slightly once they got a how-black-is-black batter's eye up in 2004 or so.)

All that said, you can't just deny that the usage of steroids, which has been confessed to by successful and marginal hitters and pitchers, hasn't been part of the cause for the increase in offense. All the cause, no, but definitely part of it.

The flaw I see in your argument is that you're not even willing to put part of the blame on PEDs.

My question to you is what evidence can you show to prove that "the ball was juiced" that would survive Occam's Razor? The stats you show me don't prove anything I didn't already know. Since 1993 four teams have entered the league, two stadia have been built at 3000 feet above sea level or above, the "retro" craze brought in smaller areas of foul ground, shorter fences, and taller upper decks to block/channel the wind; and players are seeing more fastballs in the late innings thanks to relief pitching. Oh, and numerous players have admitted to or tested positive for PEDs.

And you know what? There's more evidence for each of these causing the power surge than there is of a juiced ball causing it. All you have is one statistic and a handy graph. I recommend you read Derek Zumsteg's Cheater's Guide To Baseball, particularly his chapter on PEDs where he looks at Bonds' daily numbers during his 73 HR season.

Is that something you would say to someone face to face? I certainly hope not.

Any place, any time, anywhere. Because I'm a Mariners fan. Getting punched in the face is better than watching this team trade its future away for gimpy players yet again.
posted by dw at 10:28 PM on January 28, 2008


“but let me ask how or why Lasik surgery or knee braces or Tommy John surgery or, for that matter, cleats or post-game ice packs are not "perversions of what sports are supposed to be".”

In part because they’re equally open to any player if not part of the sport. I can get Lasik - or any other surgery, and so can any other player.
But most importantly - because it doesn’t sabotage their overall health. They won’t die earlier as a result.
Cleats are an integral part of the sport- everyone wears them. Ice packs are universally used to reduce swelling and they won’t fuck up my liver.
These things are made to ease injuries and are long long proven not to have side effects. Although as it is, I resist the idea of having Tommy John surgery as antithetical to one’s own fitness. A line must be drawn somewhere when a player is willing to destory himself to achieve. By the same token one should not usurp the right of the athlete to determine his or her own fitness, so I wouldn’t make it illegal per se.
But my kids aren’t going to throw theirs arm out at 15 years old.


“If we want them to be examples of what naked savages with help or understanding can do (isn't getting training acquiring an "unfair advantage" over someone with less or poorer training?)....”

Training is ubiquitous. Training depends on the amount of work you’re willing to put in. You can’t control how hard your opponant works, but you can control how hard you work. If you work harder, if your training is superior (I’ll use Hollyfield as an example here) you will win. Everyone has equal access to training.

Training will not destroy your testicles.
My point is not that steroids and other drugs are unnatural, but that they are in the first place illegal and force an athlete into a choice between surreptitiously destroying himself and (maybe) performing at a higher level or maintaining his or her health and perhaps not performing at that level.

In the second place, if it’s only about performance - if sports are whatever we wish them to be - why not mandate any and all performance enhancing drugs without regard to consequences?
Indeed - if chemical enhancement is ‘good’ why don’t we force them to take them - why don’t we force military personnel to take them?
Why don’t we force high school students to take them?
Sure, sports can be whatever we wish them to be. I’m saying we’ve focused on performance and that is at heart ultimately harmful.
Hell, why don’t we just bring back blood sports?

We didn’t create sports out of whole cloth - sports are based on measuring health, fitness and athleticism without - and this is important - without resorting to real violence, like war.
You want to prove you’re physically superior to someone without killing them? One of the best ways to do that is to wrestle them.
There are other refinements - how well one works in a team, finesse, speed, plenty of contests - ALL of which exist to measure physical attributes or attributes with a strong physical component - such as teamwork.

Football being a classic example. Many folks have pointed to football as an example of sublimated warfare. And that’s exactly what it is. Of course, to hippie types that’s ‘bad’ but it’s a healthy, non-lethal display with clear victors and a variety of athletic requirements. Of course, once you inject drugs and overemphasize winning at the cost of health, it’s not so healthy anymore. And it does more accurately mirror warfare. And what’s happening now to old ball players getting screwed out of money, health care - is that any real surprise considering the mindest of folks who think sports is all about just amusing their sensabilities? Those are human beings, not automatons.

But I think 95% of the assholes pushing for steroids have never actually - y’know - participated in a sport at a competitive level. I have. I’ve seen what steroids and other drugs do to fighters and football players. Especially the types who don’t want to eat right, sleep instead of chasing tail and drinking, etc.

And all I ask is please, read the comment through carefully before commenting on what it does or does not say.
Because my point has nothing to do with the main thrust of the site - and that is exactly my problem with it. The focus on performance and what chemicals have what effects is a moot point to me.

And you can apply ethics to gambling in Vegas if you want - counting cards or whatever - is that right or wrong? Well, the house is working hard to take your money and they stack the odds, so why not try to do the best you can? Why not cheat a little? Everyone else has a system or whatnot.

I’m saying - either way you’re gambling so it doesn’t matter. And in this case you’re gambling with your health.

My point is that the bottom line of records, wins, etc is not as important as one’s own health. But then, we’re not talking about YOUR health here, are we?

Argue with someone who’s making the case you feel comfortable in refuting, because you haven’t addressed my argument at all.
Either steroids and other drugs are healthy and good for you, or they’re not.
If they’re not healthy they don’t belong in sports - which are - granted, to me - just fucking games the only real purpose of which is to test your own athleticism and improve yourself. Not an end in and of themselves.

Of course, most folks are either spectators or selling something related to the specticle and those are their ends. And putting performance at the bottom line is just fine by those folks.
Gladiatorial games were popular. If drugs are harmful, but ok in sports - why aren’t axes, swords, maces, etc. allowed anymore? Two men, or better, teams of men and women slaughtering each other for our amusement would probably sell a lot more tickets.
So let me ask - why is wielding an axe against a defenseless opponent and hacking off his limbs a “perversion of what sports are supposed to be?” Axes are perfectly natural.

It’s not like it’s about the health of the players, right?

Bottom line, it’s just a game. You either believe it’s money and fame and records that keeps score, or you believe it’s physical and mental well being and quality of life.
Too many players get used and used up. I’ve seen it. And I’m at an age where I’m training and competing with people younger than me and succeeding because I have the skill and most importantly the experiance while retaining my physical prowess. Guys I played ball with in college some of them can’t get up a flight of stairs without help. Me, I’m knocking down 20 year olds.
If I’d eaten junk food and boozed it up as a kid thinking the painkillers and steroids would compensate there’s no way I’d be in the excellent shape I’m in now.
Maybe, if I’d done that I could have gone pro and maybe been 2nd string for the Cardinals or Browns or something. I had talent. And maybe I’d have a million dollars in the bank. But I couldn’t pick up my kids and throw them in the air or run distance or teach my girls Azik Krav Maga or play rugby with my guys or hell, move the couch around, hunt, hike, pack junk in the attic for my wife, all those simple physical skills take a lifelong commitment to health.
It’s just not worth it. And that’s not just ‘to me’, exploitation is exploitation whether you’re a willing participant or not. Sports is supposed to be about people - that's who we're watching out there. I could not care less about the game itself. It's just a tool.
Unfortunately, like with so many things, people are far more obsessed with it, fetishizing it, than with the human component.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:05 AM on January 29, 2008


Either steroids and other drugs are healthy and good for you, or they’re not.

So, you're saying you're either with us or against us? Your comment is a bit mind-boggling (and all over the place). I'm not sure we disagree much in toto, but the devil is in the details. I may be disputing the effect of steroids on baseball statistics, but I'm certainly not arguing *in favor* of steroids. I am saying it's not quite as much of a national emergency as George Mitchell and Henry Waxman would have you believe.

To make it clear, I don't dispute that "using steroids" in the MLB is "cheating" (now) and violators should be punished by the league's rules.

Football being a classic example. Many folks have pointed to football as an example of sublimated warfare. And that’s exactly what it is. Of course, to hippie types that’s ‘bad’ but it’s a healthy, non-lethal display with clear victors and a variety of athletic requirements.

NFL players have an average lifespan much lower than normal humans, with a long list of examples of painful and debilitating mental injuries. Again, not as black and white as you, or the "hippies" (jeez) would have us believe. (Do hippies even care about football?)

Thanks for contributing, Eric. Sorry you had to pay the $5.

One last comment:

“but let me ask how or why Lasik surgery or knee braces or Tommy John surgery or, for that matter, cleats or post-game ice packs are not "perversions of what sports are supposed to be".”

In part because they’re equally open to any player if not part of the sport.


Lasik surgery costs thousands of dollars. You think Barry Bonds Jr. doesn't have a better chance of getting Lasik surgery compared to Joe Schlabotnik Jr? Success in sport should not be determined by financial resources. That's why Lasik surgery and PEDs fall into the same "performance enhancing" camp, in my opinion.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:02 AM on February 4, 2008


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