Thursday, August 11, 2005
I grew up playing baseball. Baseball and the guys playing in the majors was literally the only thing I cared about until I was about 15. In my day, my heroes were Pete Rose, George Brett, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson, etc. etc. I wanted to believe that these guys were stand-up guys because they were such good athletes. When Pete Rose got busted for gambling on sports, I felt like the kid who said "Say it isn't so Joe" to Shoeless Joe Jackson after the trial in the Black Sox Scandal after the 1918 World Series. For those of you who don't follow baseball, the Black Sox Scandal centered around 8 players on the White Sox who were accused of "throwing games" during the World Series with the Cincinnati Reds. While all 8 were acquitted, they were also banned for life by the Commissioner of Baseball, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis.
Now, one of the more recent "heroes" has endangered an almost guaranteed trip to Cooperstown because he was caught using steroids. The irony of course with this suspension is that Mr. Palmeiro defiantly denied using steroids to a congressional hearing last March. Rafael Palmeiro is a good baseball player. No, that's not right. He's a great baseball player. He's one of a handful of players that have hit over 500 home runs and had over 3000 hits. There is no doubting his ability to play. Rafael Palmeiro however, is also a liar. He lied about using steroids. When he failed the drug test that got him suspended on August 1st, he then incredulously said "I didn't knowingly use steroids". This weak defense is shameful.
Look, it's one thing to use performance enhancing drugs to stay level with the other guys who are doing the same. That's almost understandable. It's the guy's business afterall, and if he's going to compete to win, then it seems reasonable that he would behave like many other athletes do as well. But, for god's sake, if you get caught, don't try and weasel out of it. Be a stand-up guy. Raffy, you had a chance to do some good here. You could have said, "Yes, I did do steroids" during the congressional hearing and then if you truly believed it was bad for players to do and bad for kids to start to do, apologize and start working to rid the game of performance enhancing drugs. You blew it though. You defiantly and sanctimoniously wagged your finger and lied. You should be ashamed of yourself Rafael Palmeiro.
The use of steroids for enhancing performance is nothing new. Since the 1930's anabolic steroid use has been commonplace among sports where strength and speed are needed. Steroids aren't all bad, and they do have their place in healthcare. Steroids have been and are still used in many different treatments. AIDs and Cancer patients have benefited from their use. However, abuse of steriods can cause substantial side effects especially in kids. For a terrific description of steroids and their benefits and effects, go to this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anabolic_steroids.
Should steroids or any other performance enhance be used in professional sports? Most of us would say no. Certainly Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association could have stopped this stuff cold if they wanted to. All one has to do is look at the photographs on the rookie cards of some of the more well known ball players (I mean you Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds) to see that they used to be slender, graceful athletes and now they look bulked up and bloated. Weight training and calorie binging alone won't do that. About steroids, I really don't care, but I think if they are going to continue to use them, then the athletes need to come clean about this and just admit it. Palmeiro almost had his Hall of Fame ticket punched. The guy screwed up royally, and now the only way he gets to the Hall is if he buys a ticket. Say it isn't So, Raffy!
Tell Me What You Think,