Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Steroid Use In Major League Baseball: Beating a Dead Horse

Just when you think you are in the clear and out of the woods, Major League Baseball and the steroid issue drags you back in.  With the trial of Barry Bonds now under way and the trial of Rodger Clemens on the horizon, the talk of the town has reverted to steroids once again.  Bonds and Clemens are not on trial for using steroids, which is illegal; they are on trial for presumably lying about using them to a grand jury.  All of these issues stem from one of the biggest steroid abusers in baseball history, Jose Canseco and his book “Juiced”.  Conseco admittedly used steroids for years and as a result even his book has words that are swollen to large print.  A man that has been dubbed the “bad boy of baseball” named his fellow players and let the cat officially out of the bag that MLB players were using steroids. 

Major League Baseball, the players and the fans all knew there were players using the juice.  The bottom line is, Major League Baseball didn’t really care or enforce a comprehensive drug testing policy because they needed the excitement of the home runs to get the fans back in the seats.  The players used them to achieve astronomical stats and in turn receive astronomical paychecks.  The fans didn’t question or force the issue because they wanted to see baseballs launched out of ballparks as much as possible. It is more exciting to go to a baseball game that ends 7-6 with five home runs, than it is to attend a pitchers duel with a 2-1 outcome.   

The stuff hit the fan when the Mitchell Commission report was released in 2007.  On the list are the names of 88 total players and how the commission claims they are linked to steroids or PEDs (performance enhancing drugs).  On this list are not only the names of Barry Bond’s and Rodger Clemens, but also some notable others: Gary Sheffield, Lenny Dykstra, Andy Pettitte, Mo Vaughn, Miguel Tehada, Eric Gagne, Rafael Palmeiro, Ken Caminiti, Troy Glaus, David Justice and the man that brought it to the forefront Jose Canseco.  Out of the 88 players named, two are facing perjury charges and a few will act as witnesses in those cases. 

Barry Bond’s is now on trail and is charged with four counts of making false statements to a federal grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice.  Bond’s was originally charged with 11 felony counts, but prosecutors reduced those charges to five shortly before the trial began.  When federal prosecutors reduce charges that usually means they will nail the defendant on the remaining ones.  The federal government has had witnesses such as Bond’s former mistress and the Giambi brothers, Jason and Jeremy.  The government’s key witness, Barry Bond’s former trainer Greg Anderson, now sits in a jail cell where he has sat for over a year for being in contempt for refusing to testify against Bond’s.  The idea of serving jail time to keep testimony out of a case, or essentially serving time for Barry Bond’s is just insane.  I don’t know how much money Mr. Anderson is being paid in off shore accounts by Bond’s but I don’t think any amount of money would persuade me to go to jail for someone else for any length of time.

The trial for Rodger Clemens has not got under way, but is set to do so on April 5th.  Clemens has cried innocent since day one and kept up the same by entering a “not guilty” plea in court.  Clemens is accused of lying to a grand jury as well in regards to his steroid use.  Clemens does not have the luxury of a personal trainer that will rot in a jail cell for him; maybe he did not offer enough money.  Clemens trainer, Brian McNamee, has done the opposite of Greg Anderson and has thrown Clemens under the bus by claiming Clemens used steroids while playing for the Blue Jays and Yankees.  Let’s just hope Clemens does not “miss-remember” his trial date.

All of this investigation into the use of steroids in baseball has costs the tax payers a pretty penny or two.  To build the case against Barry Bond’s the government has spent an estimated $6 million dollars alone.  In my eyes I think it is crazy for any tax payer money to go towards investing steroid use in any major professional sport.  The sport itself is charged with policing its drug policies and testing.  The fact that Major League Baseball had a lackadaisical testing policy is not the government’s issue.  Once the steroid abuse came into the light Major League Baseball should have acted swiftly and put a strict testing policy in place and increased suspensions and fines of players that tested positive. 

Some will shout from the mountains “What do I tell my kid who held Bond’s as a role model”?!  As Charles Barkley put it “I am not a role model”.  Yes kids will look up to professional athletes but as a parent, you should be their role model.  Professional athletes commit a number of non-role model acts i.e., “making it rain” in a Vegas strip club, dog fighting, committing vehicular homicide etc…There are a number of things one could look at and say, yeah that’s worse then making ones testicales shrink in the name of improving athletic performance.  The fact that steroid use in baseball almost a decade ago is still being investigated today shows how misplaced today’s values are. 

Everyone turned a blind eye to what is now known as the “steroid era” in baseball until it became fashionable to throw stones in glass houses.  The government has spent millions of dollars for what?  They revealed what baseball, fans of baseball and non-fans already knew a number of players used steroids.  What great out-come has come from spending all of this money?  A list was created and now the hall of fame voters do not have to waste their time in considering these players?  It seems as though in the end this will all be a great waste of time and money.  Records have not been stricken or changed and they won’t.  You can’t change the past; you can only learn from it and move forward.  When you open up a government witch hunt into anything it will equal the ripping open of Pandora’s Box.  Just like one lie leads to another which leads to another, government interventions lead to another which leads to another.  Police Major League Baseballs new and improved drug policy, do not dig up and press the past for issues that are now over and done. 

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