February 19, 2009

Steroids, Baseball, and Related Nonsense...

So with all this talk about steroids in baseball, I got to thinking. Which, of course, is never a good sign. Especially not at 9:30 in the morning when I started writing this post. But bear with me on this one.

I don't know about y'all, but baseball is kind of a circus show for me at this point. I'm not gonna lie, I watched the playoffs and the World Series last season, but not in the same way as I did years ago. To me, for the last four or five years, while baseball has dicked around with who did steroids, who's lying, how widespread steroid use was, and how much the circumference of Barry Bonds' head increased between 1998 and 2003, I've gotten increasingly jaded to the point where I'm kind of waiting for them to actually do something before I start to care again. Plus, the Red Sox won two World Series' in that time, which didn't help.

Without getting too far into it, baseball really needs to focus on a solution. I understand that there's no reliable test for HGH except for a blood test, but at least act like you give a shit.

Has baseball started testing the players more often since this embarrassing fiasco erupted? I don't know the answer, but I'm guessing if at all, only slightly. Well, maybe they should change that. As it stands now, apparently MLB tests every player once, randomly, either during spring training or during the regular season. Additionally, it reserves the right to randomly test any player at any time thereafter, at its discretion.

Is that really good enough?

And also, if I'm not mistaken, they impose the same penalty for testing positive for any banned substance. So the Phillies' JC Romero, who will be subject to a 50 game suspension this upcoming season for testing positive to something you can buy at GNC, is getting the same suspension as any player who tested positive for an actual steroid would get. To me, that's horseshit. And only 50 games for steroids? Come on. A full season is more like it. Deterrence, people. Jesus.

So, in essence, I've temporarily written off baseball because after all the dudes who've been accused or implicated as steroid users, how can you trust that anyone is drug free anymore? And if you can't trust that anyone is drug free, how can you enjoy the successes of your favorite teams and players thinking they may be "cheating?" Maybe it's just me, but I doubt I'm in the minority here.

The point is that if you're always questioning the validity and even the competitive balance of a sport, how can you enjoy watching its games? Is it real? Should I get excited that my favorite player hits a clutch grand slam or just sit back and cynically say, "Whatever, he's probably juicing anyhow."

How does this translate in football? I can't really make an apples to apples comparison, but I can discuss it with respect to the overall issue of "cheating."

In case it wasn't implicit in the last couple of paragraphs - in football, the chorus of crybabies has gotten louder and louder over the past few years. "Oh, the refs screwed this up, the refs screwed that up. The NFL hates the Seahawks." Hardly. Get real.

The NFL shows no favoritism. You see what you want to see.

The refs don't give teams games. They may blow calls, but that's just human nature. We are flawed by design. ALL of us. And if you think you could do a better job, I suggest you submit your application to the league today. Instead of complaining, do something about it if it bothers you so much. Of course, I'm exaggerating. But I'm sure you catch my drift.

The only thing I find unfair about the NFL right now is the fact that Roger Goodell has unilateral power to fine/sanction anyone he wants and his decisions are unappealable. Stalin would be proud, Rog.

Of course, that isn't all his fault. The agreement that says his decisions are unappealable came about before he was even Commish. But since he's come in disciplining dudes like he's a High School Principal, I think it bears mentioning.

Anyways, I'm just a football blogger/humorist. But from my perspective, I can't really take baseball seriously again until the Commissioner's office starts to take it seriously.

Instead of issuing vehement denials of culpability, why not apologize and reassure the public that the league is taking measures to improve it's testing and discipline with respect to steroids? From a PR perspective, one from which I happen to have a unique vantage point having spent three years of my relatively short professional career in PR, the best thing I can think of is for them to stop talking about the past. Move on. It's over. You can't change anything. Let the baseball writers boycott voting for certain players. Whatever. That's another problem I won't even get in to. But just show us you care instead of throwing your hands up and saying "don't look at us, we didn't know about any of this. This isn't our fault."

As for steroids in football, well, I hope that the NFL is taking notes here. I understand that it's a different game, with different considerations. But if your testing policies aren't up to snuff, come CBA re-negotiation time, you oughta think about fixing that, thus avoiding the ridiculousness that baseball is currently dealing with. The Player's Association, as all players associations do, will vehemently oppose any change that doesn't involve eliminating testing. But after this giant morass of so-called deception in baseball, it certainly seems like it'd behoove you to address the issue before it even becomes a problem.

Besides, screw Shawn Merriman and Rodney Harrison.

Epilogue = Don't mind me, for some reason I only got half a warm shower this morning. The rest was colder than a Siberian winter.

Anyone else have an opinion on this? Too serious a topic for OFTOT? Is anyone still reading?

PS - Go vote for me. And get Tec's back while you're at it. Word.

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Get Fresh Designs said...

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it.

PEDs or not, you still need talent. If I started taking them, I highly doubt an MLB or NFL team is going to sign me.

I have to say it's laughable when you here that some career single A guy was taking roids, and he stayed in single A.

The PEDs help keep certain people around a little longer, which the fans/organizations/themselves want.

Not saying it's right, but we need to get past this.

Cotter said...

Right, you certainly need talent. But there's an issue when players who are already uber-talented are taking steroids and other players who are talented in their own right are not. Obviously it gives them an unfair advantage. Plus, if talented players see other talented players doing it, it may motivate them to follow suit (see: Barry Bonds as he relates to McGwire).

TheStarterWife said it the other day on Twitter (and I'm paraphrasing) - you're (MLB) either committed or you're not. You either enforce your rules more stringently, at least until this business subsides, or you might as well just say screw it and legalize them (which would obviously be stupid).

I don't really need to see someone hit 80 home runs in a season to enjoy the game of baseball. I'm sure the game would be just fine if they eliminated steroids (and any other PEDs).

Like Nike said in the 90's - Just Do It.

Vern said...

I agree with Cotter on the talent thing. Steroids will make everybody better. That's simple.

And there is always a place for this. I have a friend who is planning on doing a baseball PEDs type post and I am ready to bring my A game in the rebuttal. This stuff is going on everywhere and baseball is getting the brunt of the blame, unfairly in my opinion.

And, steroids are not as bad as people think they are.

Pat said...

Romero's failed test was for a GNC product that simulated the effect of andro, which is a prohormone. Their suspensions for stimulants are much less strict (I believe it's a league warning for one failed test, 25 games for a second, fifty for a third). And their suspension policy of 50 games for the first failed test is actually stricter than the NFL's 4 game suspension, in terms of percentage of the season.

I'm not suggesting baseball doesn't have a steroid problem, but it gets a ton of crap while people turn a blind eye to the NFL. They've been testing longer in the NFL, so more players have access to undetectable substances. Even when football players do fail tests, people shrug and those players still almost win DPOY awards (Shawne Merriman).

Baseball's steroid problem isn't worse than any other sport, but it's held to a ridiculous double standard that's ruining its image.

Cotter said...

Gotcha, I was not privy to the reasoning behind Romero's suspension beyond that he was told it was ok with respect to league policy and yet was suspended when he tested positive for it.

I didn't see anything about lesser sentences for positive test results. I saw that the suspension for a "1st conviction for use of prohibited substances" was 15-30 days, but I only saw 50 games for a positive test result. I guess the "conviction" is a positive test result (for anything besides a "steroid")?

It is kind of funny, though, how a 2nd positive result gets you a 100 game suspension and then the 3rd you're banned. So you go from not even being suspended for ONE full season for a 2nd positive steroid test result, to being banned from the game for a 3rd. Not sure I agree with that either.

In any case, I wasn't saying that the NFL didn't enjoy a double standard. In fact, I completely agree with you on that. They've been lucky enough to not have to deal with the same unfortunate situation that baseball has. Which maybe IS bullshit, but it IS what it IS.

And yeah, I think the 4 game NFL suspension is a joke. Not much of a lesson if you ask me. I'd say 16 games, honestly. Full season in either sport. I just happen to think 50 games isn't enough.

What I WAS saying, however, was that baseball has a problem, warranted or not, that they have to deal with. Maybe baseball is being treated unfairly, but the perception is a reality for them now.

So my point was, I feel like they need to accept it and then sit down and figure out how to restore the game's image. To me, it doesn't seem like much has been done to that end.

But, again, I am just speaking from a personal perspective here.