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A-Rod Took Steroids
February 7, 2009 3:49 PM   Subscribe

In 2003, Major League Baseball ran a testing survey to see if they had a steroid problem. They did, but the names of the 104 players testing positive were kept secret. Today, one of the names was revealed: Alex Rodriguez.
posted by Stylus Happenstance (115 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
A-Roids?
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 3:51 PM on February 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Christ, what an ass-cheek.
posted by phaedon at 3:56 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm shocked! Shocked, I say.
posted by Caduceus at 3:58 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


So far Jose Canseco turns out to be the most honest man in baseball.
posted by cell divide at 3:59 PM on February 7, 2009 [13 favorites]


Now it all makes sense.
posted by felix betachat at 4:00 PM on February 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


So is this a surprise?
posted by C17H19NO3 at 4:01 PM on February 7, 2009


The case against Barry Bonds is so incredibly asinine and the Justice Department should be ashamed of themselves. They basically grabbed a guy that they felt was taking some shortcuts (possibly not breaking then-baseball rules and possibly not breaking the law -- but both are irrelevant) to maintain an edge at his profession where he earns eight figures. It is well known that many if not most of his peers were doing the same thing. The brought him into federal court without charging him with anything, and then forced him to answer questions about his corner-cutting on the record. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine being forced to testify about what corners you cut at work? If you admit to certain things, you lose your job. If you don't admit to certain things, then you can be charged with the federal offense of perjury.

That is so insane I can't even believe that there is not an enormous backlash against the federal government for it. Does that even remotely sound like a useful purpose for the federal court system? Does it not suspiciously sound like entrapment? Remember -- Bonds isn't being tried for using steroids. He is being charged with lying to Grand Jury. But why in the hell was a Grand Jury even compelling him to testify about such a thing? It is so incredibly ridiculous.

Professional athletes use steroids in very sport. Every one. Steroids increase strength, speed, and recovery time. The individual sports need to test the athletes, penalize them in accordance with their rules, and move on.

I love that the NBA doesn't test for steroids. You think speed, strength, recover time, and jumping might be things that NBA players want help with? You have seen the rookie/veteran comparisons of Bonds and McGuire. You ever look at the rookie/veteran comparisons of Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson or Karl Malone or LeBron James, or any other stars? But no one asks or questions the NBA. When it eventually comes out how widespread the steroid use is in the NBA, I wonder how it will impact the legacy of someone like Michael Jordan if he is shown to have used steroids.
posted by flarbuse at 4:03 PM on February 7, 2009 [16 favorites]


So is this a surprise?

Not really, but it is kind of a big blow. A lot of fans, me included, held out hope that A-Rod wasn't a user - he's on pace to destroy the all-time home run record, and the thought of having a clean home run king was exciting. Maybe we were being naive. Seems we were.

This sucks. I'm depressed.
posted by ORthey at 4:03 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, yeah. Why in the name of Fuck is the government involved at all?
posted by ORthey at 4:05 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of fans, me included, held out hope that A-Rod wasn't a user - he's on pace to destroy the all-time home run record, and the thought of having a clean home run king was exciting.

This is exactly how I felt about it. I don't care for the Yankees, but I really wanted him to break that record.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 4:06 PM on February 7, 2009


Do they all get to line up for a good ass-fucking by the American Sports-watching Public?
Oh.. Well call me when they do.
posted by Balisong at 4:09 PM on February 7, 2009


Context for non-seamheads: Rodriguez, one of baseball's two or three biggest stars, has been one of the names frequently whispered but never backed up with evidence. As cell divide mentions above, the widely-ridiculed Jose Canseco, who indeed cited A-Rod as the biggest-name user, is looking more and more correct every day. His motivations might be suspect, but so far he's finked very accurately.

This article, while also lacking actual evidence, does cite four difference (anonymous) sources, which seems rather careful of them, and comes from a very respected reporter at the sporting equivalent of the Paper of Record. This is like Sy Hersh in the NYT naming a key figure in a government crime. It is not proof, no, but it is very very unlikely this is not true.

None of A-Rod's use is a surprise, and SI clearly felt they had enough evidence to take a stand re A-Rod. But buried beneath the pictures of the fallen star is the real gem of a shitbomb: the alleged complicity of the Players' Union, which is said to have regularly "tipped off" A-Rod and some of baseball's other biggest stars about just when their "random" testing would occur, so the players could use masking agents and/or be clean on the correct days and months. If this is true, and the union was actively working to hide steroid use by the players, then this is a huge, huge story that goes very far beyond individuals like Bonds and A-Rod.

Peter Abraham at the Lower Hudson Yankees Blog is all over this angle and is bringing the best clarity I've seen so far.
posted by rokusan at 4:15 PM on February 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


*different, obviously.
posted by rokusan at 4:17 PM on February 7, 2009


Rodriguez is doping isn't news. What I want to know is who got pissed off enough to leak only his name out of 104 players.
posted by ardgedee at 4:18 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


So is this a surprise?

You can't be a sports fan without a healthy dose of self delusion. "There's always next season".

Doping is a fraud on the fans and the sport itself, and I have absolutely no time for it. Stiff, stiff punishments and better testing are the way to go. Rio Ferdinand (British footballer) was banned for eight months for missing a test (not testing positive) in 2005. That's the idea.
posted by athenian at 4:20 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


A very sad day for baseball. The government should strip baseball of the anti-trust exemption that they enjoy so much and open up the market. Let anyone start a team and attempt to compete.

Baseball has been without a Commissioner for about 20 years. Apparently, that is a long enough time to ruin baseball. Maybe the federal government should consider regulating the game as the leadership cannot figure it out.

.
posted by zerobyproxy at 4:21 PM on February 7, 2009


Not really, but it is kind of a big blow. A lot of fans, me included, held out hope that A-Rod wasn't a user - he's on pace to destroy the all-time home run record, and the thought of having a clean home run king was exciting. Maybe we were being naive. Seems we were.

See, this is why I don't understand sports. Didn't some guy already break the home run record--the guy who set the current one? And if someone does break it, it'll just be another record to break. So why is it so exciting when a record is broken?
posted by nasreddin at 4:24 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, wasn't there a whole discussion of whether the FANS would reject baseball after the initial revelations, much like the hockey strike, and the football, um.. whatever..


Its all up to the fans to decide, regardless of the legal and union punishments, right?\

So, you all are fans, right?
posted by Balisong at 4:25 PM on February 7, 2009


I love that A-Rod's nickname lends itself to every undesirable situation in which he is involved. It sure makes it easy for the New York Post.

Cheating on his wife: Stray-Rod
Overpaid: Pay-Rod
Juiced: A-roid
Dating Derek Jeter: Gay-Rod
Serial Killer: Slay-Rod

Obama, how about a salary cap on MLB since they have an antitrust exemption?
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:27 PM on February 7, 2009 [12 favorites]


I would support the drawing and quartering of Don Fehr.

Hell, we could use Steinbrenner's horses to do it.
posted by felix betachat at 4:29 PM on February 7, 2009


The case against Barry Bonds is so incredibly asinine and the Justice Department should be ashamed of themselves.

I disagree. This was about dismantling the BALCO machine, and Bonds is as much part of that mess as any of the other athletes involved. And despite what the Bush White House told you, lying to a grand jury is punishable by law.

I love that the NBA doesn't test for steroids.

They do.
posted by dw at 4:31 PM on February 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well, if "A-Roid" ends up catching on and all his sponsors drop him, he can always fall back on Preparation H.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 4:34 PM on February 7, 2009


Whatever. I've been taking steroids for years and nobody cares. Can't a guy get a little attention over here? THIS MAKES ME WANT TO SMASH THINGS.
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:35 PM on February 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


Does that even remotely sound like a useful purpose for the federal court system? Does it not suspiciously sound like entrapment?

You seem to be ignoring the fact that the government's target in the investigation in which Bond may have lied to the grand jury was BALCO. Of course it's a useful purpose of federal courts to investigate and shut down companies that distribute Schedule III controlled substances illegally.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:41 PM on February 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


*Bonds
posted by MegoSteve at 4:42 PM on February 7, 2009


The A-Rod stuff I can take or leave. But the fact Gene Orza was tipping players off, well, that's big.

The widespread doping in baseball was all about the players and owners making money. So, while the MLBPA was held up as the evil party trying to block drug testing, there's some evidence that the owners tacitly approved steroid use. Yeah, they ran those commercials and make a big song and dance about the drug testing program, but end of the day they knew that stars meant TV dollars and butts in seats, and heck, if the players were doping to become those stars, well, that's just horrible! We'll do this song and dance and... hey look, the white guy just passed Maris!

I've been wondering if all this information leaking out is about the owners discrediting the MLBPA and shifting the blame onto them, with the idea that they can not only get the advantage going into the next round of CBA negotiations in 2010-11, but that they can also use this as an opportunity to get some of these big contracts written off. Does seem far-fetched, but given the economic situation, they need every advantage they can get.
posted by dw at 4:43 PM on February 7, 2009


> THIS MAKES ME WANT TO SMASH THINGS.

How far can you hit a fastball?
posted by ardgedee at 4:47 PM on February 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


So why is it so exciting when a record is broken?

Is this rhetorical? Because it means someone's the best at doing something.
posted by inigo2 at 4:48 PM on February 7, 2009


Headline: SOMEONE WHO GETS PAID WAY TOO MUCH TO PLAY SPORTS TOOK DRUGS *SIX YEARS AGO*. YOU SHOULD CARE! (and not pay attention to news that matters, like the economy)
posted by mrbill at 4:49 PM on February 7, 2009


hey look, the white guy just passed Maris!

Seriously, that was a huge moment for racists when the white guy took the record from the blackwhite guy.
posted by inigo2 at 4:50 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


A-Rod-enfreude
posted by MegoSteve at 4:52 PM on February 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Time to start rooting for Pujols (if you haven't been already)!
posted by bjork24 at 4:54 PM on February 7, 2009


MLB releases statement on Sports Illustrated story about Alex Rodriguez's 2003 failed steroid test.

"Any allegation of tipping that took place under prior iterations of the program is of grave concern to Major League Baseball, as such behavior would constitute a serious breach of our agreement."
posted by netbros at 4:55 PM on February 7, 2009


I don't get it. Aside from the fact that someone waved a wand and said these things are legal and these things are not, how are steroids different from Gatorade, great trainers, strange vitamins, oxygen chambers, and whatever? Oxygen chambers seem like cheating to me, but who cares?

And don't tell me it's for the players' health or some nonsense. Pro football players die a decade earlier than other folks. These people take huge impacts or various kinds of repetitive stress injuries, so we must not be that concerned about their health.

Oh, yeah. It's because we can test for steroids. That's about it.
posted by adipocere at 4:59 PM on February 7, 2009


The steroids help him hit higher pop-outs in clutch situations
posted by horsemuth at 5:03 PM on February 7, 2009 [26 favorites]


See, this is why I don't understand sports. Didn't some guy already break the home run record--the guy who set the current one? And if someone does break it, it'll just be another record to break. So why is it so exciting when a record is broken?

Well see, besides the fact that I find record-breaking to be awesome (I'm a stathead and that kind of shit makes my day), I was actually specifically talking about perhaps the most hallowed record in all of sports, and right now it's owned by a pretty obvious steroid user, which sucks.
posted by ORthey at 5:04 PM on February 7, 2009


The steroids help him hit higher pop-outs in clutch situations.

Comb through the archives of the sadly defunct Fire Joe Morgan and you'll see that his allegations of being a bad clutch player are bull.

But: lol.
posted by ORthey at 5:06 PM on February 7, 2009


He takes steroids? Really? So what? He's got frosted tips and he's a whiny ponce, that's the crime! sorry, jesus fuck I hate the yankees and a-rod worst of all.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:14 PM on February 7, 2009


Who cares? The public has been clamoring for more and more since the expansion started. And MLB has delivered. Just the NFL, the NBA and the NHL. And any track thing. And the bicycle people. And the cross-country skiers. Athletes aren't taking steroids to get a competetive edge on their opponents, they're taking them to prolong the love affair with the fans.
posted by jsavimbi at 5:17 PM on February 7, 2009


Obama, how about a salary cap on MLB since they have an antitrust exemption?
Salary cap or no, the same amount of money will flow into Major League Baseball. The only difference that the salary cap will make is how that money is distributed between ownership and talent.

You're essentially saying, since the government has given the owners an unfair advantage over possible competitors, let's make up for that by punishing the owners by forcing them to have larger profits than they otherwise would.
posted by Flunkie at 5:18 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


*Bonds

Appropriate.
posted by cmgonzalez at 5:21 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The steroids help him hit higher pop-outs in clutch situations

There has to be a statistic for that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:24 PM on February 7, 2009


The government should strip baseball of the anti-trust exemption that they enjoy so much and open up the market. Let anyone start a team and attempt to compete.

Bill James said this years ago, and as soon as I read it I knew he was right. The antitrust exemption makes no sense and is at the root of most of what's bad about the game. Too bad they'll never get rid of it.
posted by languagehat at 5:27 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damnit, the worst thing to come out of this post is ORthey's news that Fire Joe Morgan has shut down. I had kinda forgotten about reading it for a while, but it got me through many afternoons this past spring when I ought to have been working. That sucks. I would also like to echo bjork24's comment about rooting for Puj. I will cry like a little girl if he ever gets outed.
posted by friendlyjuan at 5:31 PM on February 7, 2009


A-Fraud!

I'm sure that's not original, but I hadn't heard it, and I'm pretty proud of myself. It only took me 15 minutes too!
posted by diogenes at 5:40 PM on February 7, 2009


Which came first, "A-Rod" or "J-Lo"?
posted by ORthey at 5:44 PM on February 7, 2009


A-Rod, then he rolled over and went to sleep, and then J-Lo had to finish herself off.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:10 PM on February 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Bill James said this years ago, and as soon as I read it I knew he was right.

I figure pretty much any new league will go the way of the XFL pretty damn quick. What's the point of the sanctioned monopoly exemption at this point, then? I would bet a nickel if I had 500 billion of em on any new team or league not sanctioned by MLB making it past season 1.
posted by spicynuts at 6:10 PM on February 7, 2009


The government should strip baseball of the anti-trust exemption that they enjoy so much and open up the market. Let anyone start a team and attempt to compete.
What is the actual effect of the antitrust exemption? There are independent professional teams that are well within the markets of MLB teams. For example, pretty much the entire Atlantic League is within the markets of the Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Nationals, and Orioles. There are other such independent leagues too.
posted by Flunkie at 6:13 PM on February 7, 2009


The steroids help him hit higher pop-outs in clutch situations.

No, the steroids help him longer homers in meaningless situations. The high pop flies to shallow left field are his own talent at work.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 6:19 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


A-Fraud!

I'm sure that's not original
Yeah, sorry, you're several years late on that. He's been called that ever since he became the highest paid player, at least.

I think the nickname-based insult that you're looking for, applicable to the current situation, is "A-Roid".
posted by Flunkie at 6:24 PM on February 7, 2009


I would also like to echo bjork24's comment about rooting for Puj. I will cry like a little girl if he ever gets outed.

Just a hunch, but: start investing in Kleenex.
posted by rokusan at 6:25 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't worry he has lots of money and will be OK. Steroids are a part of major league baseball: however I believe players are takings a lot less less because of mandatory testing;
They should just leave baseball players alone and worry about the pro football player.
No one is so big and so fast all of the time except by taking juice.
posted by Upon Further Review at 6:27 PM on February 7, 2009


There just needs to be a goddamned purge. The cheaters need to be booted from the league, their records expunged, their names should never grace Cooperstown.
posted by popechunk at 6:27 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


nasreddin, dude... I'm pretty far from a sports fan but can understand why people get excited about record breaking events. It may not matter to you (or me for that matter), but that doesn't mean that it doesn't matter to plenty of others, and asking why should anyone care, stating that this is why you don't understand sports is either obtuse or mealy mouthed grumbling. I don't watch sports, all that much, but I certainly understand why people do watch and do root for particular teams/individuals, they had done so for thousands of years, it's not friggen advanced math.
posted by edgeways at 6:28 PM on February 7, 2009


I've always wished there were baseball players whose nicknames were "Con-rod" and "Push-rod".
posted by Tube at 6:30 PM on February 7, 2009


Time to start rooting for Pujols

Eww...
posted by dirigibleman at 6:32 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


nasreddin, dude... I'm pretty far from a sports fan but can understand why people get excited about record breaking events. It may not matter to you (or me for that matter), but that doesn't mean that it doesn't matter to plenty of others, and asking why should anyone care, stating that this is why you don't understand sports is either obtuse or mealy mouthed grumbling. I don't watch sports, all that much, but I certainly understand why people do watch and do root for particular teams/individuals, they had done so for thousands of years, it's not friggen advanced math.

I was asking in all sincerity. If you understand it, then more power to you. I'm not saying sports fans are dumb or anything, and I'm perfectly aware of why rooting for sports teams is popular. I'm just wondering about records. Why is it any more exciting that Joe broke the pole vault record than that Bob broke the biggest-booger record, or whatever?
posted by nasreddin at 6:40 PM on February 7, 2009


dw-- Well, for what it's worth, I've always blamed the union more than the owners. The owners have lost every single battle with the union since the mid-1970s. Now, the owners deserved it, at first, as they'd been mistreating ballplayers for a century (read Ball Four for insight on drugs in baseball and ownership haughtiness circa 1969).

But I really can't see how you blame the owners, when they couldn't get a darn thing they wanted in any confrontation with the union, and the union was hell-bent on defending the interests of its wealthiest players at the expense of guys in AAA who didn't want to take steroids. There may well have been some willful blindness on the part of the owners, but they were never calling the shots.

And Flunkie, I personally would like to see a salary cap and a salary floor. A cap doesn't have to redistribute money from players to owners; it can redistribute it among players, and ameliorate the imbalance among teams.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:46 PM on February 7, 2009


What is the actual effect of the antitrust exemption?

The actual effect is to prevent owners from moving teams without the agreement of the other owners. This is generally considered to be a "good thing".
posted by smackfu at 7:04 PM on February 7, 2009


I was asking in all sincerity. If you understand it, then more power to you. I'm not saying sports fans are dumb or anything, and I'm perfectly aware of why rooting for sports teams is popular. I'm just wondering about records. Why is it any more exciting that Joe broke the pole vault record than that Bob broke the biggest-booger record, or whatever?
posted by nasreddin at 8:40 PM on February 7 [+] [!]


Think about our hunter/gatherer ancestors, specifically hunters which is really what sports replaces in our evolutionary tendencies, and when the biggest guy came back with the biggest kill, it was talked about for generations, until the next great one.
posted by plexi at 7:23 PM on February 7, 2009


Plus, why baseball is so much fun, as opposed to boring-ass american football, is it is a game of statistics. It is all numbers. Someone hits a foul and suddenly you are enamored with data points. Just look at the back of a baseball card, it's like an excel spreadsheet.
posted by plexi at 7:25 PM on February 7, 2009


I don't get it. Aside from the fact that someone waved a wand and said these things are legal and these things are not, how are steroids different from Gatorade, great trainers, strange vitamins, oxygen chambers, and whatever? Oxygen chambers seem like cheating to me, but who cares?

Well, that is the question.

Take laser eye surgery. You can overcorrect slightly, make a player slightly farsighted, and it could improve their ability to pick up a ball out of the pitcher's hand. If that means 10 points of average or OBP, that could mean the difference between a league minimum deal and a multi-million dollar contract.

I think steroids are bad because they're illegal and they're clandestine. A guy getting laser surgery, that's legal and will usually be out in the open (especially during 19-2 blowouts when the announcers are reading verbatim from the media guide). Most of the things you list are things that a guy making $10M/year can get his hand on legally, and probably even promote it (The 3M Hyperbaric Chamber, endorsed by Fred McGriff!) Even then, you see derision for having better people or training.
posted by dw at 7:26 PM on February 7, 2009


i honestly don't get it. if guys want their nuts to shrivel up to the size of peanuts for the sake of getting bigger biceps, let them do it. it's their bodies they're harming, nobody elses.

such a fucking waste of money prosecuting people over this shit.
posted by liza at 7:31 PM on February 7, 2009


I was asking in all sincerity. If you understand it, then more power to you. I'm not saying sports fans are dumb or anything, and I'm perfectly aware of why rooting for sports teams is popular. I'm just wondering about records. Why is it any more exciting that Joe broke the pole vault record than that Bob broke the biggest-booger record, or whatever?

Come on now, chief. You're smarter than that, stop taking the piss, it's boring.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:41 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've despised Anabol-Rod since he left Seattle. I hate that how hard you have to suspend disbelief to be a baseball fan these days with all this 'roid nonsense.

I vowed when the Mitchell Report came out that that was it - no more baseball.

But those damn Red Sox roped me in. I feel the same way about Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkalis that some folks do for Mr. Pujols. The day either of those two mooks get nailed for using the clear, and I'm taking myself out OF the old ballgame.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:59 PM on February 7, 2009


i just found out that some of my favorite musicians have taken drugs - do you think i should stop listening to them or just put an asterisk next to their names?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:00 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm just wondering about records.

As plexi suggests, baseball is the ultimate numbers game in professional sports. It's a game where the greatest players fail two-thirds of the time. It's a game where statistics can be kept on nearly every situation and, due to the pace of the game, can be referred to in real-time and can play an important role in strategy or in understanding the game.

While I would argue that statistics like home run records are too dependent on the era to be as timeless as some other statistical categories, the reason people care about such statistics is because it allows spectators to quantify achievements relative to past excellence. The question of who had the sweetest swing or which lefty threw the nastiest hook are open to endless speculation, but (for MLB) the all-time home run leader and which lefty pitcher has the lowest ERA are matters of fact.

Time to start rooting for Pujols

I nominate Manny Ramirez as the modern superstar least likely to ever be tainted by steroid accusations/evidence.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 8:03 PM on February 7, 2009


Never heard of A-Rod till he started fucking Madonna. Ah... ignorance is bliss.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:05 PM on February 7, 2009


A-Rod should just be glad he wasn't photographed hitting a bong, or this would go much worse for him.
posted by aaronetc at 8:32 PM on February 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Cheating on his wife: Stray-Rod
Overpaid: Pay-Rod
Juiced: A-roid
Dating Derek Jeter: Gay-Rod
Serial Killer: Slay-Rod


Putting up huge numbers early in the season rather than down the stretch: May-Rod.
posted by stargell at 9:05 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd never have thought A-rod would cheat. Never.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:05 PM on February 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


spicynuts:I would bet a nickel if I had 500 billion of em on any new team or league not sanctioned by MLB making it past season 1.

Oh yeah?
Granted the league didn't make it more than a year, but lots of the teams were incorporated into MLB. Houston, New York, Washington, Los Angeles...
posted by jckll at 9:18 PM on February 7, 2009


if guys want their nuts to shrivel up to the size of peanuts for the sake of getting bigger biceps, let them do it. it's their bodies they're harming, nobody elses.

The point is that the guys who don't want their nuts to shrivel up are competing for roster spots with guys who are juiced, and the feeling is that a player shouldn't have to do a chemistry experiment on himself (with illegal drugs) just to keep up with the cheaters.
posted by stargell at 9:29 PM on February 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Real question here... exactly HOW do steroids make you a better baseball player? Just talking about batting here... not running or throwing.

You can either connect with the ball or you can't... and I'd submit that it's debatable as to whether or not brute strength is involved in increasing the distance you can hit the ball. There's some skill and a wee bit of luck involved, not to mention hitting the sweet spot, but I don't see overall how steroids really make a difference. At least not in baseball.

Most people have a poor understanding about the use and effects of steroids, equating it only to a magic pill or liquid shot in your ass that somehow makes you a god. As usual, what you read in the news ain't always the norm or for that matter the truth. There's work involved, HARD work - but I'd be digressing from the subject if I went into my roid-range rant about steroid methodologies.
posted by matty at 10:07 PM on February 7, 2009


HOW do steroids make you a better baseball player?

How Steroids Help Hitters, New York Times (2003)
posted by rokusan at 10:22 PM on February 7, 2009


"Can you imagine being forced to testify about what corners you cut at work? If you admit to certain things, you lose your job."

I realise these guys are just playing a game for money but it still qualifies as a job. They even consider themselves "professionals". I expect my accountant to not be speeding while he's doing my taxes and I'd like to think the grill guy/dishwasher at my local eatery isn't cutting corners in the bathroom. Why should these guys be any different?

matty writes "Real question here... exactly HOW do steroids make you a better baseball player? "You can either connect with the ball or you can't... and I'd submit that it's debatable as to whether or not brute strength is involved in increasing the distance you can hit the ball. There's some skill and a wee bit of luck involved, not to mention hitting the sweet spot, but I don't see overall how steroids really make a difference. At least not in baseball."

A main thing is you can practise longer and more often thereby increasing the skill level. It would seem self evident that stronger players are going to be able to hit the long ball better than weaker players though of course such things can be deceiving. So even if you're hitting the same amount of pitches more of them are going to be for extra bases.
posted by Mitheral at 10:35 PM on February 7, 2009


I nominate Manny Ramirez as the modern superstar least likely to ever be tainted by steroid accusations/evidence.

Or sanity.
posted by dw at 10:35 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


dw-- Well, for what it's worth, I've always blamed the union more than the owners. The owners have lost every single battle with the union since the mid-1970s. Now, the owners deserved it, at first, as they'd been mistreating ballplayers for a century (read Ball Four for insight on drugs in baseball and ownership haughtiness circa 1969).

I hate to tell you this, but the owners always deserved it. Even after the Reserve Clause fell with the Messersmith case, they kept trying to put their hand on the scales. And I know how much you want to blame the union for high salaries, but no one is holding a gun to the Yankees' head making them pay $161M to Sabathia.

But I really can't see how you blame the owners, when they couldn't get a darn thing they wanted in any confrontation with the union, and the union was hell-bent on defending the interests of its wealthiest players at the expense of guys in AAA who didn't want to take steroids.

On the one hand, it is what unions are supposed to do -- defend the workers. At the same time, minor league players are technically not part of the MLBPA, so the union could give a rip about them.

And truth is, the owners could have broken the unions, like the NFL did. The problem was they weren't willing to go all the way with replacement players.

There may well have been some willful blindness on the part of the owners, but they were never calling the shots.

There are stories that the A's ownership in the late 80s knew about 'roid use in the locker room and went as far as tacitly approve it (though those stories are apocryphal). There are similar rumors about LaRussa in St. Louis. There's even been some questions about why the Mariners' minor league system had such a disproportionate number of minor league suspensions in the first year of testing.

One way or another, owners profited greatly off players on PEDs. They only finally cracked down when they saw their revenue stream threatened by public backlash, and they saw an opportunity to win one against the union.
posted by dw at 10:58 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


flarbuse, I feel you about Barry. But what the hell does the NBA have to do with it?
posted by AceRock at 11:25 PM on February 7, 2009


Steroid use has everything to do with breaking the most important records in baseball. More seasons played = more at bats = more liftetime hits, RBI, home runs, etc.

I sort of found myself getting back into baseball with stories like the Tampa Bay Rays doing good things against all odds, but whatevs. There are much more interesting and fun-to-watch sports being played these days. Baseball can rot.

Now Korean baseball -- that's ten kinds of win.
posted by bardic at 2:34 AM on February 8, 2009


It's a game where the greatest players fail two-thirds of the time.

Not really. The greatest batters (that's who you're talking about - great pitchers and fielders succeed far more often than your ratio) may only get clean hits a third of the time, but they also contribute in ways that don't show up in batting average. A sacrifice fly hurts a batter's average, but helps the team. A long at-bat that makes the pitcher throw a bunch of pitches makes that pitcher leave the game sooner, even if the batter doesn't reach base. Good hitters have a lot of long at-bats and draw a lot of walks, which also doesn't count in batting average.

First-pitch double-play grounders and popups that don't advance the runner are failures. Those are the best results for the team in the field. Batters who do those a lot are failing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:38 AM on February 8, 2009


A sacrifice fly hurts a batter's average...

No, it doesn't, since a sac fly doesn't count as an at-bat... but it does hurt the batters OBP, if you wanna get all picky, since he didn't reach base.
posted by rokusan at 5:03 AM on February 8, 2009


(Okay now I feel like I'm reciting the Monster Manual or something. Can I retract the pedantry? Maybe let's have one baseball thread without measuring our geek balls sorry...)
posted by rokusan at 5:04 AM on February 8, 2009


Real question here... exactly HOW do steroids make you a better baseball player? Just talking about batting here... not running or throwing.

You can either connect with the ball or you can't...


Seems like a strange over-simplification, in addition to being well-answered in that NYT article, it's pretty clear that noones claiming that Barry Bonds, Rodriguez were poor players magically transformed into good ones.
posted by jeremias at 5:23 AM on February 8, 2009


(...) exactly HOW do steroids make you a better baseball player?

"Exactly" doesn't have much to do with it, because part of the glory is how inexact baseball is. It's a game of inches, they say, and it is exactly true. So steroids (et al) won't turn a loser into Barry Bonds, but it might help turn Barry Bonds into BARRY BONDS.

A tiny edge, over the course of a season, can make a huge difference.
Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It's 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There's 6 months in a season, that's about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week - just one - a gorp... you get a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes... you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week... and you're in Yankee Stadium.
-Crash Davis, Bull Durham
posted by dirtdirt at 6:17 AM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been rooting for Pujols all along, since he's in my hometown. I think he is probably clean. He's just such a moral guy. However, I don't think he'll break that record, though it's certainly possible. If he does, it will be because he has good health for a long period of time. He's a lot like Hank Aaron, but with better bat control and a higher average. He doesn't swing for home runs, just line drives. Some of those line drives ARE home runs because he's strong. And look at his consistency -- very much like Aaron. I don't think Aaron ever hit 50 home runs in a year. He was just a consistent line drive hitter, with power, for a really long time. The 'really long time' was the key to Aaron's grabbing that record. Bonds achieved most of his homers in a short period of time (the steroid era, basically). Close to 200 homers in THREE YEARS. Clearly steroids. The growth of Bonds' head and neck were another clear indicator.

With A-Rod, I was never sure on steroids, because he was a phenomenal player early, and has stayed that way. So, either he started steroids early and kept going, or he didn't really need them much (and thus should have avoided them).

You can pretty much count out A-Rod, Bonds, McGwire for the Hall of Fame. I highly doubt any of them will get in with this stink on them.
posted by jamstigator at 8:08 AM on February 8, 2009


There just needs to be a goddamned purge. The cheaters need to be booted from the league, their records expunged, their names should never grace Cooperstown.

So do you just kick out the 104 players caught in this one session of testing? Or do you pull your head out of you butt (Schilling) and realize that just because these guys were the ones caught doesn't mean they were the only ones doping. And how do you deal with the older guys? The ones taking greenies and amphetamines and all that?
posted by inigo2 at 8:16 AM on February 8, 2009


I love that the NBA doesn't test for steroids.

That's because it's not a sport anymore.
posted by Zambrano at 8:35 AM on February 8, 2009


This specific discussion always gives me a chuckle. The idea of that steroids are used by the players in (name of popular sport here), and there is a big apeshit argument about it (that goes exactly nowhere). Sometimes one of the is players "tossed to the wolves." Followed by a collective *GASP*! The discussion always ends with a collective "meh", and everyone goes back to rooting for whoever they like.
Another thing, BALCO was just one fish in the sea. There are plenty of people with Organic Chem degrees floating around out there looking to make some extra cash. And they don't mind whipping up a batch or two of some "juice".
posted by P.o.B. at 8:47 AM on February 8, 2009


What is the actual effect of the antitrust exemption? There are independent professional teams that are well within the markets of MLB teams. For example, pretty much the entire Atlantic League is within the markets of the Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Nationals, and Orioles. There are other such independent leagues too.

Do you see anyone lining up to offer big TV money to the independent leagues? Would you spend more than a few bucks to watch one of their games? No, you wouldn't, and neither would anybody else, because it's third-rate baseball. First-rate baseball is confined to the major leagues, because they have a monopoly from top to bottom, and if you don't play along with them you don't get to play with the big boys. Major League Baseball is just as big a monopoly as Standard Oil was back in the day, and it's exactly what antitrust legislation is supposed to prevent. The only reason MLB gets away with it is that the Supreme Court allowed itself to be swayed by specious appeals to emotion about "America's pastime" and the green fields of their youth and all that crap. Federal Baseball Club v. National League is one of their all-time worst decisions.
posted by languagehat at 9:54 AM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Real question here... exactly HOW do steroids make you a better baseball player? Just talking about batting here... not running or throwing.

You can either connect with the ball or you can't... and I'd submit that it's debatable as to whether or not brute strength is involved in increasing the distance you can hit the ball.


I don't think anyone is arguing that steroids can take someone with zero hand/eye coordination and magically turn that person into an 75 HR per year baseball player. There is a basic level of playing ability we're taking for granted considering these people have made it into the major leagues in the first place.

However, for someone who already has reasonable natural strength and is already a power hitter (so the basic ability to hit a baseball well at a professional level is already a given), the question is how can that little extra muscle and power effect their ability. For example, does that extra oompff allow a ball hit to center field that would otherwise be a 425 ft. fly out at the warning track to go the extra five or so feet to turn into a home run? How else do you explain how Barry Bonds, who was already known as a power hitter long before any suspicions of steroids started to cloud over him, hit more HR's per season at the point in his career when most baseball players skills are starting to deteriorate? (Ditto Mark McGuire)
posted by The Gooch at 11:16 AM on February 8, 2009


Too, steroids and PED's in general can help pitchers, via making them able to train more (and leg strength is important). In terms of recovery time from exertion, it presumably helps recovery from the exertion of pitching. I noted in the NYT article that it apparently also builds muscle mass if one isn't lifting/exercising.

There are PED's that apparently improve eye sight. I need to go to sleep, can't track down the article, but a club cyclist wrote about getting the full compliment of PED's ideal for cycling, maintained the regimen on the advice of someone with knowledge of what to use and how to use them. He said the results were astonishing--to include improved vision. I wanna say human growth hormone was involved.

He said he had to throttle himself back while cycling with his club because full-go mode would have shown such a rapid, massive improvement that his PED use would have been obvious.
posted by ambient2 at 11:35 AM on February 8, 2009


People give professional cycling a hard time about doping, but they are making a serious effort to confront and fix the problem. Unlike some sports. Apparently.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 11:37 AM on February 8, 2009


Jamstigator - "He's just such a moral guy"

So is St. Andy Pettite.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 3:14 PM on February 8, 2009


I seriously do not give a shit what they take or when. If they want to inject themselves with radioactive horse blood while in the on-deck circle I just do not care. The question is, why do you all care? Because steroids are illegal? So fuckin' what?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:25 PM on February 8, 2009


If you don't like sports, try this analogy:
I seriously do not give a shit what they take or when people post on Metafilter. If they want to inject themselves with radioactive horse blood while in the on-deck circle post self-links or spam or plug GiveWell I just do not care. The question is, why do you all care? Because steroids self-links are illegal? So fuckin' what?
--Todd Locken
posted by MegoSteve at 7:39 PM on February 8, 2009


Your analogy fails because steroids make baseball players better at the game, not worse. Please try again.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:24 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


There just needs to be a goddamned purge. The cheaters need to be booted from the league, their records expunged, their names should never grace Cooperstown.

So do you just kick out the 104 players caught in this one session of testing?


It's not a popular opinion but I, for one, would do exactly that. Along with any player caught in any session. Their right of privacy was violated when their law breaking was revealed in an illegal way? Fine, so that won't be admissible in a criminal case and they won't be convicted of anything in federal court. They can even sue the government for damages for violating their privacy, there. They can win, I'm fine with that. Compensate them.

But they're out of baseball. All of them.

Leaguewide balance would shift radically and unpredictably, especially at first, until the better organizations once again developed better players and began to succeed again.

It'd be unprecedented, chaotic, league-changing. Entire rosters and teams would be devastated and would have to re-grow all over again.

And then it would start to be over.
posted by rokusan at 9:41 PM on February 8, 2009


Your analogy fails because steroids make baseball players better at the game, not worse.

Perhaps they makes the players better, but steroids don't make the game better. If merely making players better was the object, the MLB would also allow aluminum bats and spitballs and the outfield fences would be moved in fifty feet.

Do you even watch baseball?
posted by MegoSteve at 5:43 AM on February 9, 2009


If it's that important for you to know, I played baseball as a kid, and, as an adult, go to the occasional game. I hope that helps.

Also note that you're wrong once again. In your example, Perhaps they makes the players better, but steroids don't make the game better. If merely making players better was the object, the MLB would also allow aluminum bats and spitballs and the outfield fences would be moved in fifty feet in no way does that make the players better. It makes the game easier.

"But!," you will cry "that's what steroids do!" And you'd be wrong. We watch sports - or at least I do, when I do - to see athletes excel in a way that we mortals could never hope to do. Changing themselves is not changing the game. They already dedicate their lives and their minds to techne, are in fact often emotionally and mentally stunted by their devotion to sport. So what if they use drugs to get better? Is that really so much more damaging?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:55 AM on February 9, 2009


Do you see anyone lining up to offer big TV money to the independent leagues? Would you spend more than a few bucks to watch one of their games? No, you wouldn't, and neither would anybody else, because it's third-rate baseball. First-rate baseball is confined to the major leagues, because they have a monopoly from top to bottom, and if you don't play along with them you don't get to play with the big boys.

This same thing could be written about football or basketball, and those don't have baseball's anti-trust exemption.
posted by smackfu at 5:57 AM on February 9, 2009


We watch sports - or at least I do, when I do - to see athletes excel in a way that we mortals could never hope to do.

That is precisely why I like baseball - because the players don't have to be some kind of physical outlier to succeed. I am defining success here to mean being selected to play on a major-league team. Yes, ballplayers tend to be large, muscular men, but there's also a place for a Pedro Martinez or a Jerry Remy. Their having exceptional innate ability makes watching their play worthwhile, but it doesn't make them appear to be a different species. For a player who already has that innate ability to artificially make himself into something superhuman ruins the whole thing.

The line between what's allowable and what isn't is a tough one to define. Eye surgery seems questionable to me. Steroids are way out of bounds.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:55 AM on February 9, 2009


You ever look at the rookie/veteran comparisons of Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson or Karl Malone or LeBron James, or any other stars? But no one asks or questions the NBA. When it eventually comes out how widespread the steroid use is in the NBA, I wonder how it will impact the legacy of someone like Michael Jordan if he is shown to have used steroids.

Don't.
posted by trueluk at 8:37 AM on February 9, 2009


Alex Rodriguez Confirms Steroids Report
posted by rtha at 11:55 AM on February 9, 2009


That's it. This time we're breaking up for good, MLB, and if your junkie ass comes crawling back again, I'm getting a restraining order.
posted by padraigin at 12:25 PM on February 9, 2009


Are there players that started their careers in the 90's that haven't used steroids?
posted by zzazazz at 4:13 PM on February 9, 2009


Wait, wasn't there a whole discussion of whether the FANS would reject baseball after the initial revelations, much like the hockey strike, and the football, um.. whatever..


Its all up to the fans to decide, regardless of the legal and union punishments, right?\

So, you all are fans, right?


Yeah, and like everyone else, most of us don't care very much.

In good news, pitchers and catchers report this week.

That is precisely why I like baseball - because the players don't have to be some kind of physical outlier to succeed.

I dunno. Even little Pedro is 5'11," 195. If you're lucky enough to visit a dugout/bullpen sometime, you will likely be startled by the size of the players. The average height of a baseball player is 6'1"-6'2". There aren't many little guys (who aren't defensive specialists).

I think soccer is a slightly more democratic sport where extreme skill can overcome physical liabilities, but even in that sport, there's no substitute for speed. Almost all professional athletes are physiological outliers.

Golf and/or tennis? Darts? Bowling?
posted by mrgrimm at 4:32 PM on February 9, 2009


I love the sweater that he is wearing in his confession video. He's paying some PR flack big bucks for suggestions like, "Alex, despite the fact that we are in Miami and it is 80 degrees and you are sitting under camera lights, put on this this sweater. It will soften your image and make your orange skin tone really pop."
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:46 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


i only hope people get off barry bonds' back because he has NEVER tested positive for any steroid use.
posted by michellein at 8:08 PM on February 9, 2009


i only hope people get off barry bonds' back because he has NEVER tested positive for any steroid use.

Instead they have vials of steroids with his DNA on them. Come on now.
posted by inigo2 at 6:25 AM on February 11, 2009


There are PED's that apparently improve eye sight. I need to go to sleep, can't track down the article, but a club cyclist wrote about getting the full compliment of PED's ideal for cycling, maintained the regimen on the advice of someone with knowledge of what to use and how to use them. He said the results were astonishing--to include improved vision. I wanna say human growth hormone was involved.

Here's the article you're talking about. And HGH was indeed named as a means of improving eyesight.
posted by heffalump at 7:48 AM on February 11, 2009


That is precisely why I like baseball - because the players don't have to be some kind of physical outlier to succeed.

I've seen this observed before, and I think it does go to the heart of one of the reasons baseball is seductively attractive to its fans.

These guys are not seven feet tall, and they don't weight 430lbs. From the stands, they look like normal-sized folks, and it becomes easy to believe the illusion that these are pretty close to regular people. A fan can connect with pro baseball players because it's so much easier to lie to yourself... "That could be me."

Which is another reason that there's such a slippery unease about pro baseball players becoming seven foot tall, 430lb monsters. It's breaking that illusion that they're regular people, plus a bit of luck, some time in the gym, and practice.
posted by rokusan at 9:55 AM on February 11, 2009


soccer is a slightly more democratic sport where extreme skill can overcome physical liabilities, but even in that sport, there's no substitute for speed.

Don't know - Peter Crouch (lanky Portsmouth forward) is definitely not quick, but he's played up front for England.

On the other side, Brighton's Dean Cox, a winger, is famously short, but very quick (Brighton fans sing "we've got tiny Cox").
posted by athenian at 11:37 AM on February 11, 2009


Metafilter: a liquid shot in your ass that somehow makes you a god.
Late, low hanging fruit...is there any sweeter?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:40 AM on February 24, 2009


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