It’s complicated

In the American Spectator, Mark Corallo tries to get inside the mind of the steroid using ballplayer:

Or imagine you’re a rookie. You just arrived with the big club. And looking around the locker room, you can’t help but notice that 80% of the veterans are looking like something out of a superhero comic book. You heard the whispers when you were down on the farm. It was almost a joke. But now it’s just there in front of you. As you look at some of your new teammates, still pinching yourself to make sure it’s not a dream, you think, “If those three guys who are legitimate all-stars without the juice are juicing, then what the hell am I supposed to do?”

Suddenly, it’s not so cut and dried. Suddenly, the “cheaters” have a face, a real life and real responsibilities. They’re not all Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, but we the fans demanded that they try to be. That doesn’t excuse them one bit, but it does make us complicit.

Corallo runs us through the thought process of the hypothetical veteran and minor league user too. Maybe the examples are a bit too cliched — The 32 year-old veteran he sketches would likely have already made millions and thus the multiple appeals to his three year-old daughter ring a bit hollow — but his overarching point is a good one: these guys aren’t villains. They are the products of a complex system that is flawed on many levels, and though we’d like to think that they would have transcended that system and made better choices, it’s asking way too much to expect that most let alone all of them would have done so.

(thanks to B. Jones for the link)

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  1. David Burden said...

    I’ve got no huge issue with these guys having cheated.  I also wouldn’t have a problem with them being tossed from the game for cheating.

  2. Aaron Moreno said...

    Whispers down on the farm? Minor leagues aren’t in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa. Steroids are an issue in the minors as well as in the majors. Minor leaguers are unknowns who just get hammered when they get caught.

  3. Jesse Grobelny said...

    I always thought about PEDs from the financial standpoint.  Imagine a rookie coming up, making the minimum and, naturally, desiring to make millions per year.  The shelf life of some of these young ballplayers is not long at all and PEDs, while not guaranteeing that a ballplayer will be successful or a millionaire, probably seem like an avenue toward wealth.  Basically, I can imagine ballplayers doing anything necessary to be successful and rich.

  4. APBA Guy said...

    Plus, these guys who make it are not just talented, they are extremely competitive. We’ve all heard the John Smoltz stories, and while he may be the most extreme, all of these guys would go several extra miles to win.

  5. Jesse Grobelny said...

    Think of the thousands of Chad Mottola’s out there that may be thinking PEDs may take them past the Minor League/Major League threshold and into fame and fortune.  I don’t blame most of these guys for doing what they did because I can’t be sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing had I been in the same situation.

  6. pete said...

    “I were in their position, I wouldn’t have done steroids because I have integrity!”


    “If I were a freshman basketball star, I would stay in school because I value education!”

  7. David Burden said...

    We’re probably off topic here, but how can you equate leaving school for a job to taking steroids?  One is cheating, one is not.

  8. R Kilbride said...

    All of the “debate” surrounding PEDs and baseball strikes me as little more than fodder for columnists.  What goes on in the mind of a ballplayer?  C’mon!  We already know the answer.  Further, I’m not sure that the answer matters.

    At the end of the day, I don’t believe that the public really cares whether pro athletes use PEDs.  For some reason, the NFL seems to get a free pass on this issue.  I imagine that the NBA and NHL (among others) are more than happy to let MLB be the lightning rod.  I don’t see much written claiming problems in those leagues, even though the claimed benefits of PEDs would be applicable in those sports as well. 

    The public continues to attend games in droves (and at record prices), purchase merchandise in record volume and, in many cases, fund palatial arenas.  The volume of media devoted to sports has also gone through an exponential expansion (tho’ I suppose that is somewhat true generally).  If we (the public) were truly concerned, wouldn’t there be some evidence of our concern shown via decreasing levels of consumption?

    Personally, I don’t want PEDs used, particularly so in baseball.  Not because of the “cheating” issue, but because the game ceases to be perceived as a contest between individuals/teams, but a contest between chemists or pharmacists.

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