With the votes for the MLB Hall of Fame having been cast, and results upcoming, I’d like to take a moment to look at an annual tradition. Every year since Jose Conseco famously “named names” and pointed the finger at Major League Baseball and some of its now infamous steroid users and abusers, a ritual takes place on every sports talk show, website and newspaper column. The annual Debating of the ‘Roids.
On it’s surface we can all decry the “cheaters” in baseball as being uncouth and immoral in general – for, after all, who likes a cheater? None of us like to be taken advantage of and enjoy operating under the illusion that all is fair. Ron Paul even mentioned in his farewell speech that he would enjoy America far more if we allowed people to thrive on their natural talents instead of providing them with government boosts to even the playing field.
However, the argument against steroid users in baseball is utterly ridiculous and here is why:
- Steroids only became illegal in 1990 through the Controlled Substances Act in the Anabolic Steroid Control Act. That means that an entire generation of players that are now becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame used them before they were outlawed legally in the U.S or by MLB. And the NDEA, FDA, AMA and NIDA all OPPOSED adding them to the list of banned substances. Naturally though, Congress being Congress decided that they knew what was best for everyone and banned it anyway. Baseball banned steroids in 1991, but didn’t really enforce this until 2004. Why? Well…
- Many banned substances can actually prolong a career and reduce injury. The baseball season is a very long season by any sport’s standard. Players get tired, hurt, etc., and there are millions tied up in these players who, unlike the NFL, have guaranteed contracts. So if a player goes belly-up, you still have to pay out the millions for a guy who is now on the DL for 8 months. The NFL knows this as well, and while it has a shorter season, it is more grueling and punishing. And, more importantly, doesn’t have guaranteed contracts. This is why the NFL – which started penalizing steroid use in 1989 and penalizes HGH use as well – is in a long fight with its union about HGH testing procedures and has a steroid testing procedure widely rumored to give players plenty of heads up to cycle off the juice. They know players have to stay healthy to get paid, and looking the other way with steroids and HGH is one way to keep them on the field. Steroids and HGH allow players to fatigue slower and heal faster.
- Other substances that were Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) were constantly used in other eras as well before being banned by baseball or cited as illegal. For starters, how about Babe Ruth in the 1920s?
“Ruth also was a habitual user of a banned substance that was deemed unambiguously illegal by the federal government–a drug Ruth believed enhanced his performance: alcohol. Ruth was a star during the roaring prohibition 1920s, and as teammate Joe Dugan said, “Babe would go day and night, broads and booze.”
“But Ruth didn’t just stop at the watering hole to find an edge. According to The Baseball Hall of Shame’s Warped Record Book, by Bruce Nash, Allan Zullo and Bob Smith, the Bambino fell ill one year attempting to inject himself with extract from a sheep’s testes.” (reference)
Guess you can get rid of the romanticized era around “The Babe.”
Even then, professional athletes were already prone to substance abuse just like their counterparts today.
How about everyone’s favorite feel-good Yankee and alkie, Mickey Mantle? Well, considering that amphetamines were rampant in the 50s and 60s (now banned in baseball) since the end of World War II, where soldiers would use them to stay awake on watch, isn’t it very possible Mickey was popping? In fact, several sources cite it as fact that he was, in addition to doing steroids. In “Cooperstown Confidential,” we even have this excerpt:
In 1961, during his home run race with Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle developed a sudden abscess that kept him on the bench. It came from an infected needle used by Max Jacobson, a quack who injected Mantle with a home-brew containing steroids and speed.
Yet we idolize him and everyone around that time (Hank Aaron and Willie Mays were also admitted users of amphetamines) as “pure.”
All of these baseball writers are hypocrites – they idolize and romanticize the former greats of a bygone era when the game was pristine…but you know what? It never was. And it never will be.
Of course, the government witch hunt, led by George Mitchell of the infamous “Mitchell Report,” which cost MLB $20 Million and took up the precious time of many a Senator, is even more ridiculous. Even though Baseball is “America’s Game,” it is a privately owned and operated corporation, and in no way under government jurisdiction technically. However, MLB does have a special monopoly exemption from Uncle Sam, and many stadiums use tax dollars – so they do have something to lose by fighting back. Regardless, the fact that we had a special commission take time away from settling important matters of state to look into what juiced up megaskull did or did not inject into his body is so far beyond any theoretically legitimate scope of government that it’s insulting to even contemplate. It is also a massive invasion of personal privacy and liberty to put people on trial who used legal substances to get an edge in their chosen business, and didn’t break any laws doing it. The government overstepped its bounds, sticking its nose into private business matters for no reason anyone can discern. It even sanctioned an FBI raid on a player’s home.
Is Baseball “Too Big To Fail?” I should think not. Was this why they stepped in? Because the steroid scandal would bring about the end of “America’s Game?” Utter nonsense.
To continue a point from above – really the government, especially under Obama’s reign, should advocate that all players use steroids. What better way to push forward the socialist agenda than to assure that natural athletic skills mean nothing since everyone can augment them with PEDs? They do it in every other aspect of our lives – taxes, the economy, gasoline…why not sports?
The Baseball Writers Association should vote in these steroid users just as players before them were voted in. The idiotic notion that there was EVER a romanticized, PED-free era of baseball needs to stay in the fairytale realm of Cinderella and Snow White. Let Disney make baseball movies that tell the tales of perfect players who played the game as it was supposed to be played, were country strong and never even looked at a PED. The rest of us should look at PEDs and the players that use them in reality: a fact and facet of the game that will never go away.