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Steroidera
January 11, 2010 9:10 PM   Subscribe

Retired MLB star Mark McGwire admits taking steroids. In an interview with ESPN, McGwire admits he used injectable steroids*, but for injuries. He claimed he could hit home runs without them.

In 1998, McGwire and Sammy Sosa achieved national fame for their home run-hitting prowess in pursuit of Roger Maris' single season home run record; McGwire would break the record and hit 70 home runs that year. McGwire is in the news after denying steroid use in 2005 in front of the US Congress. Now he is attempting a return to professional baseball as a hitting coach.


Side effects of steroids may include backne, rage, tripling in size, and destroying the Major League Baseball single season home run record.
posted by uaudio (142 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Actually he didn't really deny it in front of Congress, he "wasn't there to talk about the past."
posted by uaudio at 9:12 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah. And people only read Playboy for the insightful articles.
posted by barc0001 at 9:13 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah? Well I could TOTALLY nail this record distance bean-bag-toss withOUT my go go gadget cyber-arm!
posted by Juicy Avenger at 9:16 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite comment on the whole mess came from current Uncanny X-Men writer Matt Fraction, on Twitter earlier:

"it is totally normal for a 35-year-old man to transform into a meat-rhombus."
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:17 PM on January 11, 2010 [48 favorites]


Jose Canseco told the truth. If only MLB had a Hall of Honesty rather than a Hall of Fame.
posted by grounded at 9:19 PM on January 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is my surprised face.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:22 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


If this is the terrifying truth, I'd definitely rather seem him sock a few dingers.
posted by eggplantplacebo at 9:27 PM on January 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


Mark Mcgwire admitted to steroid use and Sarah Palin got a gig at Fox News. Apparently, it was National "No Shit?" Day.
posted by Cyrano at 9:31 PM on January 11, 2010 [59 favorites]


So, can I officially gloat at my parents who always sort of disapproved of me idolizing Jose Canseco rather than Mark McGuire back when I was 8?
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:33 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the all-time home run list looks like without steroids.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:35 PM on January 11, 2010 [11 favorites]


There are 4 different simultaneous 24 hour days within a single rotation of a meat-rhombus.
posted by griphus at 9:35 PM on January 11, 2010 [17 favorites]


I was surprised to hear this on the news. Surprised because I thought it was a given.
posted by The Deej at 9:37 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Either its untrue, or he is the victim of a set of horrible circumstances: it's his lot in life that no one will ever really know the truth except him.
posted by uaudio at 9:39 PM on January 11, 2010


Remind me again why Pete Rose is never allowed in the Hall of Fame?
posted by banannafish at 9:41 PM on January 11, 2010 [22 favorites]


Metafilter is home to a number of 'roid deniers and apologists. I eagerly await their appearance in this thread.
posted by bardic at 9:42 PM on January 11, 2010


It was a given to most of the rational sports public. I don't think the American sports fans really wanted McGwire or Sosa to be destroyed personally. The summer of 1998 was sports history, and people will probably still be talking about these guys for many years. And most of us really bought into these two guys that were competing to win this crazy record that many people thought would never be beat. It helped baseball attract back millions of fans.
posted by uaudio at 9:44 PM on January 11, 2010


> It helped baseball attract back millions of fans.

And all it cost was the the integrity of its record book.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:50 PM on January 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


I haven't been this shocked since the day Rosie O'Donnell came out of the closet.
posted by The Gooch at 9:54 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


MLB sponsored by Viagra - a performance enhancing drug.

Ohhhhhh the irony.

As a long time A's fan he was jackin' em from day one.

Rhaomi - pull Griffey, Thome and Thomas from the list and maybe we will discuss it. Then pull Ruth Foxx Williams and Ott for not playing post Jackie Robinson and baseball looks alot different.

Different eras same game. Never had much integrity beyond little league.
posted by pianomover at 9:56 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


banannafish: “Remind me again why Pete Rose is never allowed in the Hall of Fame?”

Because he cheated. Cheating is cheating; the fact that other people have cheated in their own different ways doesn't change that.
posted by koeselitz at 9:56 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Remind me again why Pete Rose is never allowed in the Hall of Fame?

He won't pay for a ticket?
posted by eriko at 9:57 PM on January 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sorry, I'm speaking too loosely. He broke the rules. Rulebreaking isn't exactly the same thing as cheating, but it's just as bad.
posted by koeselitz at 9:58 PM on January 11, 2010


Remind me again why Pete Rose is never allowed in the Hall of Fame?

Juicing up is cheating, but it's not cheating. Hope that clears it up the difference.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:00 PM on January 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


He still had the gall (in last night's Costas interview) to claim that he would have hit just as many home runs without steroids:

Costas kept throwing him life preservers, giving McGwire multiple chances to acknowledge that steroids -- even as an unintended incidental effect -- helped him be a better player. McGwire refused all efforts, continuing to thrash about in the murky water that he would be the same 70-home run behemoth without steroids.

"Absolutely," he said. "I truly believe so."


What a dick. That said, anyone (even in 1998) who truly believed he and Sosa weren't doped to the eyeballs was either willfully ignorant or in denial. All of that sportswriter "HOW COULD WE HAVE KNOWN?!?!?!?" swill we were subjected to when the house of cards started to fall made me want to puke.
posted by you just lost the game at 10:04 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter is home to a number of 'roid deniers and apologists. I eagerly await their appearance in this thread.

Really? Do you have some examples? (not being snarky, I'm genuinely curious).
posted by ORthey at 10:06 PM on January 11, 2010


Actually he didn't really deny it in front of Congress, he "wasn't there to talk about the past."

Former Congressman Tom Davis said that McGwire was candid about his use of PEDs when they spoke behind closed doors, off the record before the infamous Congressional Steroid hearing, but that he felt that he couldn't say it under oath because he was afraid of being prosecuted so he chose to sidestep those questions.

And I'm sure he had something to be afraid of, he would have made quite a head in a prosecutor's trophy case.
posted by inturnaround at 10:08 PM on January 11, 2010


Though I still keep up with MLB and try to catch Cubs games every so often, it all pretty much went to hell for me after the '94 strike. Everything since has just been further embarrassment. I miss real professionals like Cal Ripkin.
posted by Roman Graves at 10:13 PM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey! Whaddya know? His brother has a tell-all book coming out next month!

That said, McGwire has set a fine example for this nation's youth.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:16 PM on January 11, 2010


Juicing up is cheating, but it's not cheating. Hope that clears it up the difference.

Amusingly enough, taking steroids wasn't against the rules of MLB until 2002, so McGwire wasn't cheating at all. He was probably breaking the law, but not cheating, and certainly not cheating in the way that gambling on baseball is cheating.
posted by Copronymus at 10:17 PM on January 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wait ... how is breaking the law in order to be better at the game not cheating? I don't think the rules specifically say you can't poison your nearest competitor, but I'm pretty sure it's still cheating under the rules.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:32 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jose Canseco told the truth. If only MLB had a Hall of Honesty rather than a Hall of Fame.

I remember rumors about Canseco being on roids when I collected baseball cards as a kid. In fact, I think there was even a puff piece article in some sports magazine that had him saying something like "I never take anything stronger than a milkshake" or something really hokey like that. This would've been 91-92, when he was a big deal. Whereas I never heard any whispers about McGwire until the home run record was in the news. From what I can tell, Canseco pretty much just fessed up because he wasn't fooling a single person anymore.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:32 PM on January 11, 2010


(The "milkshake" thing was in direct response to steroid rumors, not just some random hey-kids-don't-do-drugs crapola)
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:33 PM on January 11, 2010


Try looking at some Barry Bonds threads for starters. The basic argument from many was that MLB's institutional racism was a perfectly valid excuse for Bonds to juice.

That and we all know Hank Aaron was popping greenies every day in his life.
posted by bardic at 10:39 PM on January 11, 2010


Why is he coming clean now?
posted by Camofrog at 10:52 PM on January 11, 2010


Wait ... how is breaking the law in order to be better at the game not cheating? I don't think the rules specifically say you can't poison your nearest competitor, but I'm pretty sure it's still cheating under the rules.

Well, most of the substances that were on the banned list before 2002 were things like cocaine and marijuana that were themselves illegal, so clearly they thought there was a need for a rule beyond, "also, don't do anything illegal." I'm sure if a player tried to kill another player, it would be very bad for him, but I also am not entirely sure that MLB needs penalties for that sort of thing separate from the legal penalties that would presumably come crashing down.
posted by Copronymus at 10:58 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


uaudio: It was a given to most of the rational sports public.

And none of them cared as he slowly began to transform himself into the Great Grape Ape.

I don't think the American sports fans really wanted McGwire or Sosa to be destroyed personally.

Because a good come-from-behind underdog story (relatively speaking, since we're probably talking about millionaires here) matters more to people than whether they did it honestly.

The summer of 1998 was sports history, and people will probably still be talking about these guys for many years.

We're certainly talking about them now!

And most of us really bought into these two guys that were competing to win this crazy record that many people thought would never be beat.

Just like how that computer IBM built is now the chess champeen of the world.

It helped baseball attract back millions of fans.

This is true, and one more is born every minute.
posted by JHarris at 11:08 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I feel bad for the players who DIDN'T cheat. While McGwire, Bonds, Sosa, et al were getting accolades, the accomplishments of guys who weren't cheating were diminished and ignored by the media and fans. Never mind apologizing to his former teammates and fans. McGwire, Giambi, Pettite etc. should go apologize to all the guys who didn't cheat. Those were the people hurt by the cheater's actions. Guys who couldn't sign a bigger contract because they DIDN'T lead the league that year. Guys who wound up leaving baseball because they weren't "good enough."

This is why cheating is wrong. It not only unfairly magnifies the accomplishments of the dishonest, it also diminishes the accomplishments of the honest. Quite honestly, I think Pete Rose deserves to be in the HOF more tham McGwire because all Rose did was break a rule (and then lie about it). Pete Rose diminished himself. McGwire & company diminished everyone around them.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:08 PM on January 11, 2010 [23 favorites]


Why is he coming clean now?

Camofrog: I suspect his admission has something to do with his taking a coaching position with his old team (St, Louis Cardinals). I could see them wanting the air cleared so it won't be a distraction to the team during the season. After not making it (again) into the HOF this year, I think McGwire is afraid of becoming a baseball pariah.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:12 PM on January 11, 2010


Pete Rose is banned from baseball. McGwire gets hired as a hitting instructor. The joke is on MLB, letting all that tradecraft go to waste.
posted by grounded at 11:24 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why is he coming clean now?

Because that much steroids takes a long, long time to leave the body.
posted by bwg at 11:34 PM on January 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Could he dead lift 450 pounds using his teeth?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:35 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The best part of that congressional hearing wasn't McGwire saying he wasn't there to talk about the past then start crying, it was Sammy Sosa pretending that he didn't understand english, even though he'd given interviews in english before that.
posted by dead cousin ted at 11:36 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was probably breaking the law, but not cheating

I apologize, I meant to write that McGuire is a [cheater], not a "cheater", {cheater}, `cheater` or a cheater.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 PM on January 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anyway, him and the rest of the steroid bunch (Bonds, Sosa, Palmeiro, Canseco, etc) won't ever get into the hall of fame anyway. Also, McGwire has has basically been a recluse all this time until he got this job with the Cardinals, which might explain why he's coming clean now.
posted by dead cousin ted at 11:42 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm the token denier/apologist- hello, all! I think PEDs are fine, and the most significant danger- like with illegal recreational drugs- is largely from their very taboo nature preventing safe doses and proper education. These are millionaire athletes who could afford the best medical care possible to ensure PEDs are as minimal damaging- or even completely safe- as they are willing to risk. Their bodies, their lives. And it doesn't 'asterisk' anything: McGwire hit 49HR his rookie year, so either he was juicing then or he genuinely was an insanely talented homerun hitter. You can't have it both ways. Bonds hit 762 homeruns, among many other achievements, and was robbed of a chance to finish out his career by a bunch of panty-waisted journalists and ill-informed "fans". But even if you discount the past decade, he was a first-ballot HoF before even the slightest hint of PED. Whatever these guys did do, he did so in a climate where he faced pitchers also on the juice, pitchers who didn't fatigue in September like they used to, and battled for offensive position against other hitters similarly muscle-bound. He deserves no more of an asterisk than players who never faced a black opponent or internationally developed and scouted competition, players who popped amphetamines like Maris or Aaron. And really, players you've never heard of take PEDs... but a PED doesn't make you talented where you weren't, it just makes you not break down over 162 games as much or as quickly.


What's most stunning that people in this thread are suggesting Rose should be in the HoF while McGwire shouldn't (actually, the case against McGwire being in the HoF purely for accomplishments isn't a wholly unfounded one- not so with Bonds). McGwire and others were taking drugs that weren't against the rules at the time, to stay competitive and healthy over the grind of a long season. They were doing nothing different than you taking your morning coffee, or your backache pills, to get a "little boost". But they were always trying to be better for themselves and their team, and PEDs are at best a wrinkle on the whole act of conditioning and working out. What they were doing was less cheating than stealing signs or storing the game balls in a cooler or having your groundskeeping crew mow the grass a certain way, in the scheme of things. There was a time when working out at all was seen as impure- but please, take a big bite of the monkey gland, it gives you a boost!

Pete Rose bet on baseball, on his own team, and some allege against his own team. The fundamental nature of the sport as a competition between two teams, and not a rigged event controlled by gamblers, was threatened by Rose as it was by the Black Sox in 1919. Now, whatever else you might say about McGwire, he was still trying to win. He was no more destroying the fabric or integrity of the sport than Michael Phelps and others at the Olympics in their Glide-o-Matic 3000 (tm) swimsuits. But if Michael Phelps were being controlled by bookies and throwing his last gold medal round swim on purpose... hm...

Oh but please, revel in your own ignorance.
posted by hincandenza at 11:55 PM on January 11, 2010 [18 favorites]


dead cousin ted: Anyway, him and the rest of the steroid bunch (Bonds, Sosa, Palmeiro, Canseco, etc) won't ever get into the hall of fame anyway. Also, McGwire has has basically been a recluse all this time until he got this job with the Cardinals, which might explain why he's coming clean now.
Quite simply, if Barry Bonds isn't in the Hall of Fame, then the Hall of Fame isn't the Hall of Fame.
posted by hincandenza at 12:00 AM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


They were doing nothing different than you taking your morning coffee, or your backache pills, to get a "little boost".

Heh.

The fundamental nature of the sport as a competition between two teams

Doping very clearly and obviously alters the balance of competition just as much as gambling, if not more so.

Anyway, there will always be that asterisk next to these individuals' artificial "accomplishments". Few remember the cyclists or olympic athletes who dope and I suspect that will be the case, too, for the increasingly marginalized niche that juiced-up baseball players will hold in American culture.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:06 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where's the "riiiight" tag?
posted by Spatch at 12:07 AM on January 12, 2010


wow hincandenza, you're hilarious.
posted by Locobot at 12:19 AM on January 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Quite simply, if Barry Bonds isn't in the Hall of Fame, then the Hall of Fame isn't the Hall of Fame.

I pretty much agree with you, although I find Bonds to be a despicable person overall (not that that matters). But those hall of fame voters are some tight-assed bastards and they're dealing with the whole steroids backlash so it's not terribly surprising.
posted by dead cousin ted at 12:19 AM on January 12, 2010


hincandenza: These are millionaire athletes who could afford the best medical care possible to ensure PEDs are as minimal damaging- or even completely safe- as they are willing to risk.

It doesn't work that way, at least not with all of them. Plenty of PEDs are intrinsically dangerous no matter what you do. Some of the damage is subtle and comes in the form of decreased lifespan, increased risk of cancer, etc. and thus doesn't necessarily show up at the time of use. And some of them (particularly some of the endurance-increasing drugs) have a fair chance to just straight up kill you even with the best of medical care. Look at top-level cycling - it isn't all that rare to have a doping cyclist drop dead from some of the drugs (or even some of the more dangerous non-drug techniques, like blood doping.)

In the end, I'm pretty strongly against it. Being a serious athlete already basically consumes your life at the time you're doing it. I don't want it to consume the rest of it for these people. Athletes will just push it, and push it, until they're right up against the line of survival - you know they will - and we'll end up in a situation where top athletes probably only succeed for a couple of years while their bodies still hold up, before being diagnosed with something horrible and having maybe a few years of sickly 'retirement' before they die. Assuming they don't just drop dead on the field.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:20 AM on January 12, 2010


Although I agree with most everything hincandenza says, I'm not denying or apologizing. Then again I don't really follow or care that much about sports.

It doesn't work that way, at least not with all of them. Plenty of PEDs are intrinsically dangerous no matter what you do. Some of the damage is subtle and comes in the form of decreased lifespan, increased risk of cancer, etc.

Cites, please?
posted by P.o.B. at 12:45 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


pianomover: "Rhaomi - pull Griffey, Thome and Thomas from the list and maybe we will discuss it. Then pull Ruth Foxx Williams and Ott for not playing post Jackie Robinson and baseball looks alot different.

Different eras same game. Never had much integrity beyond little league.
"

Can you please tell my why you want Griffey pulled from that list? He has shown absolutely no signs of using steroids and hasn't come up in the Mitchell Report or any other reports on steriods. I can see making a case for Thome and Thomas but Griffey is more then likely clean.

When I told my mom, who never follows sports at all, that McGwire had admitted to using steroids she said "Well duh....is that supposed to be a surprise? Even I knew he used them."
posted by lilkeith07 at 1:07 AM on January 12, 2010


Athletes destroy their bodies for our amusement. Have you ever seen a 50 year old former pro athlete do something as simple as walk down the street? Their bodies are ravaged. Their knees destroyed. Their brains concussed. How are the disputed side effects of steroids any worse?

Why is okay for a baseball player, when dealing with a destroyed elbow, have a tendon moved from his knee to replace it and then be able to throw harder than ever before, but not okay for him to modify his hormone levels?

There's nothing "natural" about most modern athletes. Unlike baseball players of years past modern players work out and have a regimented diet. But you and I and everyone else gets to make our day to day lives a little easier thanks to modern pharmacology and they instead have an arbitrary line in the sand that suddenly says they're cheaters ex post facto for using these chemicals.

Is it because we're talking about "drugs"? Has the war on drugs propaganda so seeped into the social consciousness that any talk about drugs suddenly brings up thoughts of crime and immorality?

I've always been confused by society's purported desire to see athletic competition at the absolute highest level just as long as drugs or chemicals aren't involved.
posted by thecjm at 1:24 AM on January 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


... that suddenly says they're cheaters ex post facto for using these chemicals.

Did someone say chemicals?
posted by bwg at 1:46 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Few remember the cyclists or olympic athletes who dope

"Heh" indeed!

posted by Chuckles at 1:47 AM on January 12, 2010


I'll weigh in on the side of not caring if professional athletes "dope."

But there is a downside: A pernicious effect is that doping excludes all but super-talented "naturals" (see KG, Jr.) from competing with players who "augment." If you're an A-ball pitcher who needs another 3mph on your fastball, and all of your competitors for the AA slot are doping, you have the choice of going home or shooting up. Most farm-team players don't make diddly and odds are long on them making the big leagues anyway; there is a huge incentive to grab every advantage they can. These players (generally) cannot afford the best care money can buy and probably self-medicate without really knowing what they're doing.

And the point above about the surgeries your typical player has during his playing career make a gentle mockery of the anti-dope stance.
posted by maxwelton at 1:56 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


That doc Ellis clip bwg linked says basically everything I could want to say about the history of PED (90% using amphetamines in the 60's?!) and about asterisks.

Max welton does make a decent point, but since anonymous schmoes overwork themselves into cardiac issues and miss time with their family for middle-class earnings, we're back to the "Your body, your choice". Sport at this level is inherently high stress on the body; the PED may not be such a huge risk, as the science improves everyday. And yes, athletes will abuse themselves in pursuit of success- but then, we've had NFL players die during practice due to the heat/stresses that are encouraged as normal.

KG, Jr. also eschewed much in the way of working out, and maybe if he'd been more into fitness, his body wouldn't have hit that wall. And I disagree you have to use PEDs; PEDs don't turn a scrub into an all-star, they mostly just let a player rebuild tissue faster so they aren't a wreck by September. If anything, the rigors of pitching probably make PEDs more appealing for hurlers than hitters, but some people prefer to think "The Clear" would let any of us catch up to a MLB fastball.
posted by hincandenza at 2:27 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


taking steroids wasn't against the rules of MLB until 2002, so McGwire wasn't cheating at all.

This is the problem with having written rules. People tend to equate the letter of the law with morality.
posted by DU at 2:57 AM on January 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


PEDs don't turn a scrub into an all-star, they mostly just let a player rebuild tissue faster so they aren't a wreck by September.

This is always the line trotted out by steroid apologists. No one's saying that McGuire's a no-talent hack who just pumped enough juice into his veins to become a great MLB player.

Sports are about strength, speed, talent and endurance. Steroids allow players to train harder and do more rigorous workouts, and then their bodies rebuild tissue faster. If he'd actually had to worry about over-exerting himself, he might not have hit as many. Steroids also help out the reflexes a bit. It's not magically going to turn out 50 homers that would have been shallow pop flies, but it'll be maybe 5 more over the fence because the player has a bit more time to make the choices. Fewer bad pitches swung at, and more contact with the ball, leading to fouls rather than strikes.

Little, incremental improvements that make all the difference. Again, no one says McGuire would have languished in AA ball without steroids, but he wouldn't have hit as many homers, and the influence is pernicious. It tells all aspiring players, "Shoot up, or be doomed to be surpassed by others who will."
posted by explosion at 4:36 AM on January 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Mitrovarr: “In the end, I'm pretty strongly against it. Being a serious athlete already basically consumes your life at the time you're doing it. I don't want it to consume the rest of it for these people. Athletes will just push it, and push it, until they're right up against the line of survival - you know they will - and we'll end up in a situation where top athletes probably only succeed for a couple of years while their bodies still hold up, before being diagnosed with something horrible and having maybe a few years of sickly 'retirement' before they die. Assuming they don't just drop dead on the field.”

This is a really good argument, I think. It's not really about the fact that 'drugs are a bad example' or something like that - almost the opposite. I think we ask athletes to be too much of an example to us; in such an environment, winning becomes the highest value, and is pursued at any cost. We've already seen in another thread how the very nature of the game of Pro Football in the US is causing men the age of 45 and 50 to have so much brain damage they go nuts and start drinking antifreeze; I think we can take it as a given that professional sports are simply far too hard on the body of the individual.

hincandenza: “These are millionaire athletes who could afford the best medical care possible to ensure PEDs are as minimal damaging- or even completely safe- as they are willing to risk.”

I think you're misjudging the character of the American athlete. They are not hippies or yoga instructors; they don't go to their doctors asking, "gee, how can I make sure that my long-term health is secure?" They go to their doctors asking: "how can I win NOW?" The nature of sports in this country is such that caring about their long-term health is a sacrifice that pro athletes can't afford to make if they want to be good enough. We've already seen that pro football players completely disregard their own health on every play - accounts make it clear that the vast majority of linemen, for example, routinely suffer concussions throughout every game, but they simply shake them off and keep playing. And I don't blame them; it's what they're paid to do, what they're told to do, and what they're expected to do.

At some point, you dust yourself off, shake the other guy's hand, and walk off the pitch, satisfied that whatever happened you both played well. There are limits to how far you go to win; you don't cheat, but you also shouldn't sacrifice your well-being or your body to win, either, and I have to say that I sometimes have the feeling that this is the norm in pro sports. Steroids should be a line we draw to make sure athletes are taking care of themselves for the future; sure, it's nice to win games, and it's good to be competitive, but when you reach the point where you're giving yourself hormonal therapy that will almost certainly have long-term effects (for one thing on your sexuality) it's probably time to draw the line, smile, and say it no longer matters all that much whether you win or lose, only that you played well.
posted by koeselitz at 5:10 AM on January 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


You don't say.

He must be broke and have a book coming out.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:26 AM on January 12, 2010


Camofrog: "Why is he coming clean now?"

Statute of limitations on perjury?
posted by Joe Beese at 5:31 AM on January 12, 2010


Because he cheated.

Betting for your team should never, ever, not even on Planet Baseball in the constellation Pine Tar, be considered cheating. The notion is patently absurd. What could anyone be worried about? That the "cheater" will try harder?

Pete Rose bet on baseball, on his own team, and some allege against his own team.

Oh, "some" allege, do they? Is that the same "some people" that always seem to agree with whatever statement you're trying to make? I love those "some" people. What's even better is when you can get "some experts." That's how you really seal an internet claim. "Some experts" say sniffing used toilet paper gives you a twenty-four hour high!

Drop the weasel words.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:33 AM on January 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


Regarding the "Pete Rose cheated too, he should be in the HOF" argument, I'm gonna quote myself from a previous thread, because I'm so goddamned eloquent:

If Sosa, or McGwire, or Bonds make it into the Hall, there will be absolutely no reason that Pete Rose shouldn't be in.


Gambling on baseball when you're an active player is an entirely different kind of rule violation than spitballs, bat-corking, or even roiding.

Spitballers, bat-corkers, and roiders are all after the same thing: winning. They're violating the rules to win. Gamblers are violating the rules in a worse way -- they may be throwing games. Fans are more than willing to watch a game where the players are cheating in various and sundry ways to win. Hell, we do now.

They will not watch a game if they harbor suspicions, or worse, knowledge, that some of the players are actively trying to lose the game. Moreover, it would cast into doubt all games. How would you know if any given game is for real or just a sham if MLB takes a light line on baseball gamblers? If the penalties aren't harsh, then it's inevitable that the occasional jerkass will throw some games and make a little side cash.

Steroids are a danger to the players' health, and so MLB is concerned, to a degree. Gambling is a danger to the health of MLB itself, and so they crack down on it very, very hard.

They will let you into the HOF if you're a drunk, a cheat, or even a violent lunatic. Because those are personal failings. But a gambler is failing the entire league. It is the unforgivable sin of professional sports.

Pete Rose bet on baseball. Pete Rose bet on his own team. Even he no longer denies this. That the HOF doesn't let him in is hardly a surprise, nor is it unjust. He knew what he was doing, and he knew the consequences. His punishment is fair.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:49 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


a PED doesn't make you talented where you weren't, it just makes you not break down over 162 games as much or as quickly.

Wow. That's complete crap. No, it doesn't make you more talented, but PEDs can turn 350-ft doubles into 450-ft home runs, thereby affecting the outcome of countless games and records.

This apologist shit has got to stop. PEDs are cheating. End of story.
posted by grubi at 5:50 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Civil_Disobedient: “Betting for your team should never, ever, not even on Planet Baseball in the constellation Pine Tar, be considered cheating. The notion is patently absurd. What could anyone be worried about? That the "cheater" will try harder?”

Gee, that must be why, less than a minute later, I commented again correcting myself.

“Drop the weasel words.”

Okay. Like I said, he broke the rules. He broke fundamental rules in a fundamental way. That means he doesn't get into the hall of fame - because people who break cardinal rules aren't set up as par exellence players of the game. Is that non-weasely enough for you?
posted by koeselitz at 5:58 AM on January 12, 2010


Betting for your team should never, ever, not even on Planet Baseball in the constellation Pine Tar, be considered cheating. The notion is patently absurd. What could anyone be worried about? That the "cheater" will try harder?

The baseball season is 162 games long. The cost to a team of losing any individual game is actually quite small, especially when compared with the NFL. A manager who is expecting a payday on a particular game could put his star players at risk for his personal gain.

Maybe he keeps his ace pitcher in the game for a couple extra batters. Maybe he tells his star slugger to play hurt. Maybe he keeps his younger players on the bench in a meaningless September game, hurting their development. Over a long season, these small things can add up and affect the careers of his players.

And, don't forget efforts to beat the spread after the game is already well in hand. Let's say the spread is your team +4. A manager with money on the line might bring in his star closer to end the game four ahead, making him unavailable for tomorrow.

The goal of a manager should not be just to win an individual game, but to win in a way that doesn't hurt their chances of winning tomorrow, next month, and in October.
posted by Jugwine at 6:15 AM on January 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


I think the nonsense about being upset about steroid use in sports is completely false. We all cheat. We all bend whatever rules we don't want in our lives to get what we want the fastest, or to get the most out of it.

Might as well just cop to it up front and go forward.

Like this:

Right now I'm blazing on Angel Soft and Prestone, and watching the little invaders hup-hup-hup-hup up my bicep veins while figuring out what to do with the parts of the house I didn't destroy. My lady is worried about these "rages", but rule number one, like I keep. telling. her., is that you never mess with the streak.

posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:41 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Statute of limitations on perjury?

When did he perjure himself? Despite the wording of the FPP, to my memory he never did, just refused to answer questions.
posted by inigo2 at 6:52 AM on January 12, 2010


Jose Canseco told the truth.
in the costas interview linked above he makes pretty clear canseco is full of it and that the famous scene canseco described didn't happen. I think we know about as much about this as we did before: two douchebags are trying to save their butts, at least one of them is not telling the truth, none can be relied upon to ever be fully truthful.
posted by krautland at 6:54 AM on January 12, 2010


Me/ Walls up to the podium... shuffles some papers. Then speaks into the mic:

NO SHIT SHERLOCK! Thank you all very much for your time.

Me/ exits stage left.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:55 AM on January 12, 2010


In other news, water discovered to be wet, sky admits to being blue, Hell reputed to be warm.

I'm shocked, shocked, to discover that a professional baseball player used performance-enhancing, carcinogenic, toxic drugs to set a record. Your baseball betting winnings, monsieur. Thank you very much.

I feel much better having gotten those out of the way.
posted by theora55 at 7:04 AM on January 12, 2010


We all cheat. We all bend whatever rules we don't want in our lives to get what we want the fastest, or to get the most out of it.

What the fuck did I do?

/McNulty
posted by bwg at 7:20 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can see making a case for Thome and Thomas but Griffey is more then likely clean.

This is my favorite part of the steroid hysteria. How on Earth can you tell who's taking steroids and who isn't? Some of them look more muscular than others? Some of them have a bigger head or something? Frank Thomas is on record as being very strongly against PEDs, but, then, he was a football player at Auburn and a big guy, and we all know what that probably means. Jim Thome never tested positive for anything, but, then, he hit all those homers, and we all know what that probably means. How can anyone say that Ken Griffey never did PEDs? He seems like a nice guy, and clearly nice guys wouldn't cheat?

It's all a prison of circular logic, blind accusations, and hysteria. Look at the list of people who've tested positive or admitted to use. I don't know that there's any way to distinguish those guys by either performance or appearance from any other baseball players.
posted by Copronymus at 7:33 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think betting on your own team should be allowed for players, provided they document bets and winnings. Obviously betting against your team is a different matter.
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:56 AM on January 12, 2010


but, then, he hit all those homers, and we all know what that probably means.

The blurb on ESPN I saw this morning made this point very well. John Kruck (of all people) was basically saying he was pissed off, because for the players who were clean, there will always be that question about years they did well. Its impossible to prove that you were clean, so there will always be a question about every player who had a good season during "that era". In the end, this is the most damaging part - that, for the guys who were clean, they'll never ever be able to escape the suspicion that they were not.
posted by anastasiav at 7:56 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


let's not forget why MLB turned a blind eye to PEDs for as long as it did - gates.

I went to see the TB Rays last year in their final homestand against the Yankees. As you may recall, A-Rod and Jeter jointly hit 16 million home runs and had 12,000 RBI in Game 3.

I'm sure it was neat, but Game 3 was on Sunday. I was in town on Saturday, for Game 2. A-Rod and Jeter were tired, and they sat that one out. Pettite, the biggest star on the field that day for the Yankees, started the game and had a lackluster performance. The game was pretty much a stinker, and the half-full stands at Tropicana were doing the wave before the fifth inning.

My point? 162 games is a long season, and then you add playoffs. Most people can't play at top performance every day without a little help. When you want to sell tickets, you want to be able to assure fans that the men they want to see will be on the field. How else do you sell out games in advance? When teams, leagues and networks sell game matchups as Star vs Star, you'd better be sure the stars are fit to play if you want to put cash in the till and asses in the seats.

PEDs were very good for baseball, for a very long time.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:11 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is that non-weasely enough for you?

You do realize I was quoting hincandenza, right?

How about now?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:24 AM on January 12, 2010


I'm not normally a "think of the children" over-reactionary, but I feel like people who are shrugging off the use of PEDs by athletes are over-looking the trickle down effect.

Maybe these millionaire athletes have access to doctors who can help them mitigate or avoid entirely the negative consequences of use, but kids in high school don't. A lot of young men and women are already taking huge risks with their bodies to try and be among the very few who get the huge contracts and endorsements as is, and I don't want to think about what would happen if we took a "you know what? fuck it" attitude toward PEDs. Probably lots of heart attacks and sharing of dirty needles at the very least.

Hell, I was offered steroids by a friend of mine in high school not to make me into a star athlete but to help me get this girl I had a crush on. I seriously considered it, but, nerd that I was (am), I did the research and decided it wasn't worth it for me.

So while I'm generally of the "it's your body, do with it what you want" mindset, I think there's a grave risk of harm to people who are not emotionally and cognitively equipped to consider the consequences if we take a lax attitude about PED use.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:37 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I CAN'T FOLLOW ANY OF THIS BECAUSE I AM STILL SO SHOCKED BY THIS SHOCKING NEWS.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:38 AM on January 12, 2010


Betting for your team should never, ever, not even on Planet Baseball in the constellation Pine Tar, be considered cheating. The notion is patently absurd. What could anyone be worried about? That the "cheater" will try harder?

Betting on your own team may not be cheating, but it is definitely NOT something that should be allowed in proffessional sports. Rules of this fasion are meant to protect the sport from situations where a compulsive gambler is in the pocket of a shady bookie. It may start by inoccently betting on your own team, but if your team sucks and you don't stop betting, suddenly you're in a situation where you can't afford to pay and it's either broken legs or throwing a game.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 8:42 AM on January 12, 2010


There's a whole lot of goddamned childish naivete in this here thread, like the lot of you just found out Santa Claus isn't real. News flash: cheating has been a part of sport since some cave guy outran another gave guy for the last hunk of meat. Steroids is a reflection of the technology of cheating evolving just as the technology of everything else is evolving. It's nothing new. It ought to be condemned and fought, but this righteous indignation is just ridiculous and laughable.

If we're going to talk "cheating" let's go ahead and slap an asterisk next to ole Henry Aaron's 715. They were all popping amphetamines in the 70s. And the 1980s? Shoot, who wasn't doing cocaine? Let's just strike that decade from the record book too.

Go back to the 1960s and tell old Sandy Koufax about the ways pitchers today can take tendons from here or there and have them put there or here- why, he could have continued his amazing career if he were willing to cheat like that! That ain't "natural".

The whole idea of "natural" in this day and age is a total farce. It's a fantasy.

Also: human growth hormone is medicine. That it is a banned substance is also ridiculous. I have a friend who was able to return to his job as a water because HGH helped him with a slipped disc. Why should athletes not be afforded the same right? Why is it bad that HGH can help them return quicker from injury? Isn't that the entire point of medicine?

The mind boggles.

Also, what's with baseball having this shit heaped upon them? It's a modern day problem: it's in football, basketball, and every other sport where someone is trying to out-compete someone else for a huge freaking paycheck. And it will always be there. Steroids will get better as technology continues to evolve, and when one day we have more efficient and easy methods of gene doping and genetic engineering, steroids will seem like a quaint little bit of nostalgia. But I am sure the legions of writers and fans will still be able to work up a nice healthy dose of self-righteous indignation over the whole damned affair- let there be no mistake about that.
posted by xmutex at 8:51 AM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


(of course, that's Henry Aaron's 755- I forgot my PEDs this morning)
posted by xmutex at 8:52 AM on January 12, 2010


Oh but please, revel in your own ignorance.

All comments should end with this wonderful line. Well done.
posted by rocket88 at 8:57 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who was able to return to his job as a water because HGH helped him with a slipped disc. Why should athletes not be afforded the same right?

Your friend Zan is part of a super-hero team where being off on bed-rest could mean the destruction of a city. McGuire hitting an extra homer is not a life-or-death matter.
posted by explosion at 9:06 AM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


If we're going to talk "cheating" let's go ahead and slap an asterisk next to ole Henry Aaron's 715. They were all popping amphetamines in the 70s. And the 1980s? Shoot, who wasn't doing cocaine? Let's just strike that decade from the record book too.

...

The whole idea of "natural" in this day and age is a total farce. It's a fantasy.


Can cocaine turn a double into a home run? Can amphetamines?

It's not about "natural" vs "artificial" as much as it is "cheating" versus "not cheating."
posted by grubi at 9:07 AM on January 12, 2010


heh. As usual, I was being oblivious. Sorry, C_D.
posted by koeselitz at 9:11 AM on January 12, 2010


Can cocaine turn a double into a home run? Can amphetamines?

What are you on about? Amphetamines can certainly turn 23 home runs in a season into 32, and can turn a career total from 500 to 755, without a doubt.
posted by xmutex at 9:14 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Amphetamines can certainly turn 23 home runs in a season into 32, and can turn a career total from 500 to 755, without a doubt.

And they can turn your kitchen tiles from dull to gleaming!
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:16 AM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


xmutex: There's a whole lot of goddamned childish naivete in this here thread, like the lot of you just found out Santa Claus isn't real. News flash: cheating has been a part of sport since some cave guy outran another gave guy for the last hunk of meat. Steroids is a reflection of the technology of cheating evolving just as the technology of everything else is evolving.

So what you're saying is, we just don't get it, do we?

I don't think anyone is SHOCKED, SHOCKED I TELL YOU that cheating is going on, or that pro sports is rife with it.

The real problem here is the same problem there's been for decades now, that there is too damn much money in the game, and money distorts priorities.
posted by JHarris at 9:40 AM on January 12, 2010


As a baseball fan beginning in the mid-80s, I firmly believe the 90s were way, way more exciting than the 00s or the 80s before them. PEDs were one of a few elements that contributed to this, as did better weighlifting, training, smaller stadiums, expansion (less pitching talent), and an emphasis on the home run as a winning tactic.

My frustration with the impact of PEDs is that it allowed an entire generation of stars to gain the longevity necessary to accumulate the career numbers needed for the Hall of Fame. Look at McGwire's career numbers; there seems a strong case to be made that he would have been out of baseball or struggling to play a full season before he hit his big years, 1996 on.
posted by RajahKing at 9:41 AM on January 12, 2010


10 years on, who cares?

Ill admit, I bought the "juiced baseball" story for a while. And I even believed Sosa may not be juicing. I mean, he did hit close to 50 home runs a season for pretty much all of his career. He was always a power guy and he went from 30-35 to 40 - 45 to 50+. Ill admit I was naieve, but what are you going to do? I was 14. But even I knew at 14 that a speed guy playing center field for Baltimore doesnt go from 14 home runs to 50 in a single season. Brady Anderson ruined it for everyone.
posted by subaruwrx at 9:41 AM on January 12, 2010


My frustration with the impact of PEDs is that it allowed an entire generation of stars to gain the longevity necessary to accumulate the career numbers needed for the Hall of Fame.

Then it follows that you must have a real problem with any medical advancement?
posted by xmutex at 9:46 AM on January 12, 2010


Sir, this is SCIENCE, not cheating!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 AM on January 12, 2010


At this point, I'm pretty sure that nearly all of the MLB players take or have taken steroids. When you pay people a bajillion dollars to play a game because bajillions of people will pay some small amount to watch them play, you have to maintain the edge of your players. That's called reality.

What irks me about the response of the players when they're caught. "So-and-so gave it to me, but I didn't know what it was." You ingested or injected something someone gave you without bothering to ask what it was? You're either a world-class retard or lyyyyying.
posted by Never teh Bride at 10:06 AM on January 12, 2010


My favorite comment on the whole mess came from current Uncanny X-Men writer Matt Fraction, on Twitter earlier:
"it is totally normal for a 35-year-old man to transform into a meat-rhombus."
It is if Rob Liefeld is drawing him.
posted by Freon at 10:17 AM on January 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, people in St. Louis have been expecting the announcement for some time now, since he was announced as the new hitting coach for the Cardinals. So, while I'm not surprised about his admission, I wonder if the St. Louis front office knew that he was doing this today. The guy does have a history of announcing things without telling his team.
posted by honeybee413 at 10:38 AM on January 12, 2010


Now that mathowie has admitted that he's juicing and feeling great, let's all have a round of the cream and the clear at the next meetup.

You didn't think he created the world's greatest community weblog without a little help from his friends, did you?
posted by lukemeister at 10:44 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Civil_Disobedient: “You do realize I was quoting hincandenza, right? How about now?”

Hey! Wait a minute!

I just apologized to you for this - but you were quoting me above! hincandenza never said "Because he cheated." - that was me!

What the hell? "How about now." Is it fair to be condescending to me and be wrong about it at the same time?
posted by koeselitz at 10:53 AM on January 12, 2010


They were doing nothing different than you taking your morning coffee, or your backache pills, to get a "little boost". But they were always trying to be better for themselves and their team, and PEDs are at best a wrinkle on the whole act of conditioning and working out. What they were doing was less cheating than stealing signs or storing the game balls in a cooler or having your groundskeeping crew mow the grass a certain way, in the scheme of things. There was a time when working out at all was seen as impure- but please, take a big bite of the monkey gland, it gives you a boost!
I can't believe this wasn't intentionally written as satire. hincandenza's comment is pure gold. I could quote the entire thing.
posted by 6550 at 10:53 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I even believed Sosa may not be juicing. I mean, he did hit close to 50 home runs a season for pretty much all of his career. He was always a power guy and he went from 30-35 to 40 - 45 to 50+.

I will note that the only evidence that Sosa took any PEDs is that he hit a bunch of home runs and that an anonymous source knew someone who claimed that his name was on a sealed list of positive tests from 2003. Oh, and some people think he's guilty because he didn't want to testify to Congress in English, which says about as much about the accusers as Sosa. He's never admitted to it and, until that list comes out with his name on it, what you have is basically witchhunt-quality evidence.
posted by Copronymus at 11:07 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


taking steroids wasn't against the rules of MLB until 2002, so McGwire wasn't cheating at all.


June 7, 1991 (.pdf)
To: All Major League Clubs
Re: Baseball's Drug Policy and Prevention Program

...
The possession, sale, or use of any illegal drug or controlled substance by Major League players and personnel is strictly prohibited. Major League players and personnel involved in the possession, sale, or use of any illegal drug or controlled substance are subject to discipline by the commissioner and risk permanent expulsion from the game....This prohibition applies to all illegal drugs, including steroids or prescription drugs for which the individual in possession of the drugs does not have a prescription.
...

Francis T. Vincent, Jr.
Commissioner
cc:
League Presidents
Player Relations Committee
Major League Baseball Players Association
posted by stargell at 11:08 AM on January 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Amphetamines can certainly turn 23 home runs in a season into 32, and can turn a career total from 500 to 755, without a doubt.

How? Amphetamines make your muscles stronger and move faster?
posted by grubi at 11:46 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ohhhhhh! He's pulled his arms off! That's gotta be disappointing for the big Russian.
posted by electroboy at 11:55 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Right now I'm blazing on Angel Soft and Prestone..."

TP and AF. Gotcha.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:00 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the all-time home run list looks like without steroids.

Barry Bonds never admitted to using steroids, as far as I know. He never failed a drug test. There is supposedly circumstantial evidence, but is it public? It seems people may be rushing to judgment here.

Quite simply, if Barry Bonds isn't in the Hall of Fame, then the Hall of Fame isn't the Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame is already stupid. Keeping Bonds out only makes it more irrelevant.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:14 PM on January 12, 2010


I hate so much what these guys did to baseball. I hope none of these guys get into the hall of fame. Part of the game is recovery, part o the game is having a solid team because its almost impossible to be Cal Ripken. Hank Aaron always says that the toughest thing for him was staying healthy. Cheaters and liars like Mark McGwire used steroids to get around that. The guy is a disgrace, I can only hope that the media is rough with him. They won't though they will applaud him for having the "decency" to admit he used steroids his entire career.
posted by LouieLoco at 12:17 PM on January 12, 2010


What irks me about the response of the players when they're caught. "So-and-so gave it to me, but I didn't know what it was." You ingested or injected something someone gave you without bothering to ask what it was? You're either a world-class retard or lyyyyying.

Jim Bouton said in Ball 4 that if you gave him something now that would take ten years off his life later but would let him pitch successfully for (I forget what interval but nothing a normal person would say was worth it), he would take it, without even thinking twice

so I think your argument is well-meaning but naive.
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:37 PM on January 12, 2010


Barry Bonds never admitted to using steroids, as far as I know.

"Bonds told a U.S. grand jury that he used undetectable steroids known as "the cream" and "the clear,"" which he received from personal trainer Greg Anderson during the 2003 season. According to Bonds, the trainer told him the substances were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a pain-relieving balm for the player's arthritis."

And now you know a little farther.

And regarding the "circumstantial" evidence:

"BALCO tracked Bonds' usage with doping calendars and folders -- detailing drugs, quantities, intervals and Bonds' testosterone levels -- that wound up in the hands of federal agents upon their Sept. 3, 2003 raid of the Burlingame, Calif., business.

Depending on the substance, Bonds used the drugs in virtually every conceivable form: injecting himself with a syringe or being injected by his trainer, Greg Anderson, swallowing pills, placing drops of liquid under his tongue, and, in the case of BALCO's notorious testosterone-based cream, applying it topically."
posted by stargell at 12:47 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Barry Bonds' doping calendars.
posted by stargell at 12:52 PM on January 12, 2010


I just apologized to you for this - but you were quoting me above! hincandenza never said "Because he cheated." - that was me!

No, the "weasel words" part you initially over-reacted to was from hincandenza ("Pete Rose bet on baseball, on his own team, and some allege against his own team.")

Is it fair to be condescending to me and be wrong about it at the same time?

I don't know. Is it?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:01 PM on January 12, 2010


By the way, I have to take issue with the original post crediting "an interview with ESPN" for breaking the news. In fact, McGwire released a statement to the Associated Press, then did a round of phone interviews and ultimately a sitdown with Bob Costas on MLB network.

This might seem trivial, but ESPN pats itself on the back and assumes credit for other people's reporting far too much already, and its cozy relationships with athletes cloud its reporting. In fact, it seems clear that McGwire's handlers chose Costas for their interview because of the backlash over Alex Rodriguez's post-revelation sitdown with Peter Gammons on ESPN, in which Gammons lobbed softballs at A-Rod, failed to press him on his assertions or to ask pertinent follow-up questions, and allowed him to go unchallenged as he disparaged Selena Roberts, the reporter who uncovered his positive test.
posted by stargell at 1:14 PM on January 12, 2010


I'm still waiting for my cites.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:16 PM on January 12, 2010


As a non-sports person I just don't get the aversion to doping as a moral issue.

I get that if it's against the rules, but some people do it anyway, that's cheating. No argument at all.

But why should it be against the rules?

For that matter, why are steroids for bodybuilding/whatever illegal in the first place? I can see the argument that they should be regulated, that people shouldn't get them without a doctor keeping an eye on things, but why make it illegal?

Some people, by accident of genetics, have bodies that produce more athletically beneficial hormones and whatnot than others. We recently saw a hooplah over a female runner who turned out to be intersexed and thus producing more testosterone than a standard model woman would, and many people denouncing her as some sort of cheater (along with some transpanic crap tossed in for good measure).

To me the whole moral panic over enhancing drugs, hormones, etc seems foolish. The accidents of genetics make some people "naturally" doped, why should they get to keep that advantage over those less genetically fortunate? Wouldn't it level the playing field if doping were permitted?
posted by sotonohito at 1:39 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


To me the whole moral panic over enhancing drugs, hormones, etc seems foolish. The accidents of genetics make some people "naturally" doped, why should they get to keep that advantage over those less genetically fortunate? Wouldn't it level the playing field if doping were permitted?

I'm with you.

While we're at it, how do y'all feel about somebody getting their eyes laser-corrected? how about laser-overcorrected, as Tiger Woods is said to have done?

laser vision correction is theoretically available to everybody, although some people (like me - large pupils, vast difference in vision between eyes, astigmatism) are not good candidates. it's risky, though - you could end up permanently over-(not usefully over, just over) corrected, undercorrected, stuck with dry-eye syndrome, persistent visual artifacts (stars, snowballs, blurriness). you could go blind. it could ruin your game, or your life.
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:50 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


P.o.B., not that I want to engage in that particular debate, but here's an overview from the Mayo Clinic, basically stating that long-term effects of steroid use at very high levels are unknown because no clinical studies have been done (and would be difficult to condone, for ethical reasons). The adverse short- and long-term effects of other PEDs, such as diuretics, stimulants and supplements like creatine, are better documented.

OTOH, the anecdotal evidence that steroids can lastingly screw with your body and your mind is fairly compelling (to me, at least). Consider Lyle Alzado and the unusual number of players from the Pittsburgh Steelers who have died young.
posted by stargell at 1:52 PM on January 12, 2010


OTOH, the anecdotal evidence that steroids can lastingly screw with your body and your mind is fairly compelling (to me, at least). Consider Lyle Alzado and the unusual number of players from the Pittsburgh Steelers who have died young.

Consider that the Steelers and Alzado also had multi-multiple brain injuries from repeated concussions and that Alzado was a confessed user/abuser of any substance he could get his hands on. Experiments can only have one variable, and so these examples do not qualify.
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:22 PM on January 12, 2010


But why should it be against the rules?

That seems dumb to me. Games are defined by their rules. Sure, some rules change through consensus over time and some people play games with their own house rules. But the rules are pretty much all that any game is by definition. Rules are the only thing that make sports like baseball anything other than a bunch of guys and gals standing around in an empty corn field doing random things in hopes of drawing a crowd.

If you don't play the game by the rules, you're not really playing the game. You're creating the false impression that you're playing a game, when in fact, you're playing a different game of your own invention. Instead of conforming your own conduct to the given rules of the game, you're forcing the other participants to play a different game without their consent. That makes you an asshole, whether you're motivated to cheat by fear of failure, the competitive pressures of the industry or if you're just some overzealous trans-humanist.

But then, I'm one of those embittered killjoys who often thinks the entire concept of professional game playing is back-asswards and a tragic waste of real, valuable resources that could be better put to more practical uses (how many chronically ill children's medical bills could be paid in full for even just half of what it costs to pay the typical major baseball team's starting lineup I wonder?), though obviously the market has spoken otherwise.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:29 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Um, to be fair stargell, those players were active, and likely doing steroids, in the 80's or earlier. One of the points made by PED defenders is that the ABC Afterschool Special type of "Inject horse testosterone into your eyeballs" scare is not necessarily the same as more modern chemicals. Not to say risk or safety aren't still an issue, but like a lot of medicine, we as a society have improved significantly.

Fun fact: Sandy Koufax was on steroids. They were doctor-proscribed, but were meant to help his recovery from the ailments he suffered that ultimately derailed his career. Those last few years of unbelievable success, the ones that put him in the Hall of Fame, were under the influence of prescription steroids.
posted by hincandenza at 2:29 PM on January 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


saulgoodman Of course, but rules do change. And that still doesn't explain the moral panic that seems to exist on the topic of people using chemicals produced by something other than their own body to enhance their body.

Baseball wouldn't stop being baseball if the rules were changed to allow doping. It isn't as if anyone were proposing adding a fifth base, or that the pitcher be allowed to throw three balls, or anything of that nature.

Just that people who aren't gifted, by nothing but genetic accident, lose their edge over those who weren't. How is that morally wrong? Or even wrong from a game standpoint?
posted by sotonohito at 2:43 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Consider that the Steelers and Alzado also had multi-multiple brain injuries from repeated concussions and that Alzado was a confessed user/abuser of any substance he could get his hands on. Experiments can only have one variable, and so these examples do not qualify.

Agreed, which is why I said "anecdotally." The Steelers stuff in particular is interesting—Steve Courson, Jim Haslett and others have claimed that those Super Bowl teams were where the steroid phenomenon really started in the NFL (their offensive linemen would regularly appear on the World's Strongest Man competitions). And then a bunch of them keel over from heart attacks, or get killed in a high-speed police chase, or swallow Drano. Who knows—maybe heavy doses of those old steroids compounded the effects of repeated concussion?
posted by stargell at 2:50 PM on January 12, 2010


Jim Bouton said in Ball 4 that if you gave him something now that would take ten years off his life later but would let him pitch successfully for (I forget what interval but nothing a normal person would say was worth it), he would take it, without even thinking twice

so I think your argument is well-meaning but naive.


Not really, as I would call that kind of thinking pretty stupid, so he'd fall into the "world-class retard" camp.
posted by Never teh Bride at 3:00 PM on January 12, 2010


The Slate writeup refers to Bob Costas as "the consummate baseball dork" and "the national pastime's Jiminy Cricket," so that was fun.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:37 PM on January 12, 2010


Listen, if you're using steroids to recover quicker than other guys you are competing against, that gives you a competitive advantage. If your competitor is not using steriods, he will not recover from injuries as quickly as you will. He will not be able to bat as often as you do. How is that not an advantage?

I dunno. Guys who are old enough to mess up their own lives can do whatever they want with their bodies. At least be honest about it.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 3:41 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't we all just admit that baseball sux and get on with it...
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:21 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't we all just admit that baseball sux and get on with it...

Oh man, you totally spelled "sucks" with an X. EDGY.
posted by inigo2 at 6:09 PM on January 12, 2010


I'm not trying to start any tilted kind of debate, but if the main thrust of an argument is "OMG TEH DRUGS ARE DANGEROUS!" then it shouldn't be hard to back this up with evidence.

The adverse short- and long-term effects of other PEDs, such as diuretics, stimulants and supplements like creatine, are better documented.

Granted there is going to be a spectrum of effects when we consider the range of PEDs but if you're talking specifics then we can clear a lot of bullshit out of here.
-Drastically reducing your body's water-weight with diuretics is a no-brainer-be-really-careful.
-Revving your heart into the redzone, again, moves into serious stupid territory.
-Tweaking the hormone levels in your body, people stand around shrugging and keep saying it's dangerous without evidence or even attempting looking it up.
-Creatine? Seriously?! If you think that's a dangerous supplement you need to do a bit more reading on the subject.

OTOH, the anecdotal evidence that steroids can lastingly screw with your body and your mind is fairly compelling (to me, at least). Consider Lyle Alzado and the unusual number of players from the Pittsburgh Steelers who have died young.

I'm not saying you can't find guys who have abused steroids and their bodies to the extent it seriously fucks them up, what I'm saying is that you need to parse between the effects of steroids and an unhealthy lifestyle. Yes, there is an difference. If I recall correctly Alzado was the only one who said he was dying because of steroids, his doctor flat out said it wasn't from the steroids.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:32 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you don't play the game by the rules, you're not really playing the game.

I used to play basketball with a guy that would call fouls on himself in pickup games("Oops, your ball, I hacked you on that one. Nope, sorry, take that one up top, I charged you.), but in refereed games he was a pretty dirty player. His rationale was that in a friendly game the object was to have fun and you had to self-police to avoid arguing over calls, whereas in an officiated games, it was the refs job to enforce the rules and a certain amount of rulebreaking was just good, aggressive play.
posted by electroboy at 7:36 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


P.o.B., this is why I said I didn't want to get into this debate about the effects of steroids. I don't know the medical science, and it appears no one else does either. Because you asked, I cited the Mayo Clinic web page, which admitted ignorance about anabolic steroids and brought up the potential risks of diuretics, creatine and the like. Take issue with them on the latter subject if you feel you must; I am making no argument one way or the other.

In any event, it's clear we now have a pretty sizable cohort of heavy steroid users who did not also knock themselves silly playing their sport. So if Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, Canseco and others from their generation start dropping dead of organ failure in their 50s, that would say something.

Oh, and Courson also blamed his heart condition on steroid use. He was killed by a falling tree, so who knows.
posted by stargell at 8:10 PM on January 12, 2010


I don't know the medical science, and it appears no one else does either.

Exactly (YT )
But for some reason that isn't stopping anybody from painting the picture in a very negative light, it also makes the whole "apologists" idea rather f*cking stupid. If I went into a legalization thread and started calling people marijuana apologists, it probably wouldn't go over so well.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:13 PM on January 12, 2010


Baseball is supposed to be slow, drawn out and at times well...its boring, i like it that way.
posted by proneSMK at 10:48 PM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not really, as I would call that kind of thinking pretty stupid, so he'd fall into the "world-class retard" camp.

Oh, right, except I failed to mention that in that instance (unlike most other instances) he claimed to be speaking for pretty much all pitchers and probably all baseball players with that sentiment.

now could your description be true for most/all baseball players? I wouldn't bet the farm against it, but that doesn't make it a the best argument for why using PEDs is unfair/cheating/bad for baseball.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:16 AM on January 13, 2010


I agree with proneSMK - I'd gladly take small ball than hyperbolic melodrama any day. Show me what you got, not what you took.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:40 AM on January 13, 2010


I'm still waiting for my cites.

Neuropsychiatric Effects of Anabolic Steroids in Normal Male Volunteers

Insulin resistance and diminished glucose tolerance in powerlifters ingesting anabolic steroids

The cardiac toxicity of anabolic steroids

Cardiovascult effects of androgenic-anabolic steroids.

Doping and effects of anabolic androgenic steroids on the heart: histological, ultrastructural, and echocardiographic assessment in strength athletes.

Anabolic steroid abuse causing recurrent hepatic adenomas and hemorrhage.
posted by electroboy at 9:31 AM on January 13, 2010


But for some reason that isn't stopping anybody from painting the picture in a very negative light, it also makes the whole "apologists" idea rather f*cking stupid. If I went into a legalization thread and started calling people marijuana apologists, it probably wouldn't go over so well.

That's just inane. If safe, medically supervised performance enhancement drug use was a sanctioned and recognized part of baseball that would be one thing. But it is not, at least not currently. The current situation is that some percentage of players are using drugs, probably a minority, and calling into question everything from the legitimacy of records to fairness in salaries and contracts. If these drug using players are better compensated than the rest of the players it amounts to a "fuck you" to all the players that, by following the rules, are not using drugs.

Maybe baseball and other professional sports should sanction and supervise drug use. Then every player and athlete would know the way to get ahead is through drugs. But until that day I think every fan and every clean athlete has a right to be upset about the actions of the Mark McGwires.
posted by 6550 at 10:33 AM on January 13, 2010


If safe, medically supervised performance enhancement drug use was a sanctioned and recognized part of baseball that would be one thing. But it is not, at least not currently.

they had their chance, when everybody was making money and looking the other way. but not now, and probably never again. that's part of the problem with the War On Drugs.
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:39 PM on January 13, 2010


Neuropsychiatric Effects of Anabolic Steroids in Normal Male Volunteers
Insulin resistance and diminished glucose tolerance in powerlifters ingesting anabolic steroids
The cardiac toxicity of anabolic steroids
Cardiovascult effects of androgenic-anabolic steroids.
Doping and effects of anabolic androgenic steroids on the heart: histological, ultrastructural, and echocardiographic assessment in strength athletes.
Anabolic steroid abuse causing recurrent hepatic adenomas and hemorrhage


I don't want to be that guy but if someone is just going to throw up some links without offering anything beyond that, it seems a bit disingenuous to me. Some of those links are complete shit. We're talking about if they're are dangerous, not if they have side effects. Everything has side effects. Too much water will kill you. Thousands of people every year go to the hospital from taking Aspirin. The question that everybody wants to dismiss is "are they are safe if administered correctly?" and just proclaim they're are EVIL!!!
Personally, I'm not specifically discussing moral implications as it relates to competing in sports, so the whole "apologist" word usage to me is BS. Take that as you want.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:12 PM on January 13, 2010


Baseball wouldn't stop being baseball if the rules were changed to allow doping.

But it would stop being the same game it was 20 years ago, which is why it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me to compare the accomplishments of players of the old game with players of the new game. The same for that matter applies to other technological innovations like the aluminum baseball bat, which is why even to this day:

Despite the popularity of the [aluminum] bats with the baseball players nationwide, Major League Baseball (for competitive and safety reasons) has never allowed anything other than wood bats to be used. [Cite]
posted by saulgoodman at 6:49 AM on January 14, 2010


saulgoodman I don't know anything about baseball save for the fact that it bores me to tears. I was completely unaware of the bit with wooden bats, as all the bats I've noticed in sporting goods stores are aluminum so I made the assumption that the pros used them. If I understand you properly, baseball has a large nostalgic component that is largely unrelated to what an outsider would see as the actual purpose and rules of the sport, and this nostalgic component results in some seeming incongruities, yes?

That still doesn't explain why people insist that doping in sports that don't have such a nostalgia component is somehow inherently immoral. Or do all sports have that nostalgic/conservative element?

Person A has a body that, by dint of nothing but genetic good fortune, produces more athletically beneficial hormones than person B. In effect person A is doping, they're just doing it "naturally". Why is removing that random genetic advantage and leveling the playing field by letting everyone dope viewed as horribly wrong in non-baseball sports (or even, other than the fact that you'd have to divide records into pre and post doping categories, baseball)?

I'm not a sports person, so I'm assuming that there's some deep philosophy of sports thing I'm missing here. Because to me, as a non-sports person, the whole moral panic over doping just seems very strange.
posted by sotonohito at 8:57 AM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obligatory The Onion: Mark McGwire Admits It Was Really Fucking Fun Hitting Baseballs So Far
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:19 AM on January 16, 2010


proneSMK: “Baseball is supposed to be slow, drawn out and at times well... its boring, i like it that way.”

I like that side of baseball, too. Unfortunately it seems, judging from baseball's even slower and more boring uncle, that you're not exempt from drugs scandals just because the game is slow and boring.
posted by koeselitz at 10:28 AM on January 16, 2010


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