Players should police themselves

December 14, 2007 |

A few years ago, Jim Palmer unwittingly indicted Brady Anderson for taking steroids. It was in the middle of a mundane Oriole broadcast, and Jim, probably in some “stream-of-consciousness” effect, claimed that the blip in Brady’s home run production in 1996 had to be the result of steroid use. After all, he had 16 homers in ’95 and 18 in ’97. What else could account for the 50 dingers he hit in 1996.

Brady Anderson was the first name I looked for after the Mitchell Report was made public. According to The Sun there are “at least 18 current or former Orioles” mentioned in the report. (I guess the report didn’t have the time or inclination to check if there were more than 18.)

Ok. Brady wasn’t on the list. That doesn’t mean he didn’t take steroids. Maybe he paid cash. Maybe he avoided the three main sources Mitchell used to make his report. Howie Clark, on the other hand, must have used his credit card, come in contact with Mets batboy Kirk Radomski, or maybe conducted business with the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO).

The report admits that “Other investigations will no doubt turn up more names and fill in more details”. So the bottom line is; Maybe Brady’s homers were ‘roid aided or maybe they weren’t.

What I can draw from this is that performance enhancing drugs are mere “fine-tuners’. An athlete must have the God-given, extraordinary skills to participate in the major leagues. Even with these skills, the Howie Clarks of the bigs can’t compete with the Brady Andersons. Clark could tell you, steroids won’t help. After all, he has a total of 25 major league homers. If steroids made that much of a difference, Clark would have more than the two homers he hit last year for Toronto.

Here’s the sad fact: Peer pressure resulted in the proliferation of performance enhancing drugs. The guys that were borderline took it, so the guys that were good took it to keep their place. In turn, the guys that were great, took it. The bottom line? Brady is better than Clark. Bonds is better than Justice. Clemens is better than Grimsley.

Steroids don’t matter; At least as far as who is better than whom.

Then, why should we care. If they’re all souped up, the playing field is level. Go ahead Barry, hit another into McCovey Cove.

Well, here’s why we should care. Those high school studs know going in that they need to “roid-up” in order to compete. Either take a chance at competing at the highest level and pollute your body with chemicals that will have far-reaching consequences, or drive a truck.

That’s a tough choice for an 18-year-old kid. Take the junk and have what is perceived as a really good shot at making millions of dollars playing ball, taking your choice of girls after the game, and having everyone wear your jersey. So what if my heart explodes at 50. That’s a long way off.

This is not good thinking. Who’s to blame? The owners, the men who pay the boys to hit baseballs harder, higher and farther. Yes. That’s one group. But the other, is the players association.

I believe that there is a majority of athletes who want to compete, but don’t want to jeopardize their long-term health. These athletes are card-carrying, dues-paying members of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Why aren’t they demanding that Donald Fehr institute steps that will admittedly give up some employee privileges in return for ensuring that all athletes are playing on a healthy playing field?

Just a thought …

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