Don’t know about anyone else, but I’m a bit tired of the steroid “scandal.” I don’t know who this is scandalous for….it’s not like I’ve ever talked to anyone who’s surprised..or that professional atheletes with millions of personal dollars at stake would consume a performance enhancement drug.

Oh, wait…did I say millions of personal dollars? Many players have always taken some sort of concoction to keep the edge….they’ve always been well paid (millions or not) and they’re superstars…

I was reading a Bill James book on Sunday when I came across a quote of his…this is paraphrasing, but he was discussing some other baseball “scandal” when he mentioned “Watergate,” the political scandal of the early 70’s. As he said, things become scandals when we raise the bar on ethics….a lot of things are “okay” until they are exposed for the “bad” they do…then we change the rules, and someone is more or less caught in the scandal.

Society is better off as a whole; in the meantime, it’s a shame to demonize those who were doing accepted practices of the time and then told it was wrong.

7 Responses

  1. Nate

    in the meantime, it’s a shame to demonize those who were doing accepted practices of the time and then told it was wrong.

    Umm… who exactly thought it was accepted practice at the time? It was certainly suspected practice, in that there were plenty of rumors about Bonds, McGwire, Giambi, etc. And I don’t imagine that many of us would have been suprised to find out that some of these guys were taking steroids. But I don’t see how that makes the practice ‘accepted’. I’m not suprised that some people rob banks either, but that doesn’t mean that I accept it. It’s my impression that most people strongly disapproved of players taking steroids — then and now. Presumably, this is one of the reasons why players were so careful to hide their use of steroids — and so vehement in denying it.

    More generally, I’m a bit alarmed when people take this issue so lightly. Athletes who take steroids don’t just hurt themselves. They put enormous pressure on other players to do the same to keep up. That’s not right.

    I’ve been a fan of Bonds for years, and I’ve been cheering for him to break the HR record. But if it turns out that he was taking steroids, I think his accomplishments are greatly cheapened, and I would even question whether he belongs in the hall of fame. It will be a great shame if the amazing accomplishments of the past decade end up being tainted by this scandal, but I think it would be a mistake not to confront this issue.

  2. Steve

    The reason people take it lightly is because they aren’t surprised…and would probably have done the same if it was accepted practice and they would make millions from it.

    Frankly, I don’t think it was nearly as undercover and indiscreet as you may think. Canseco’s book says he bragged to teammates about it and it was discussed on the basepaths.

    Bouton’s book BALL FOUR discusses
    “greenies” at length; no doubt there were concoctions way back when, whether sold by the local medicine man or “team doctor” (kind of like cocaine in early coca-cola?)

    It doesn’t make any of those things right, but it’s foolish to think baseball wasn’t aware. They were more concerned with keeping Pete Rose out of baseball.

  3. Nate

    Steve, maybe we’re in agreement now. I never meant to deny that use of steroids was a poorly kept secret all along. I just didn’t like the suggestion in your original post that if we suspected all along then it’s somehow wrong for us to morally judge them now. I don’t think that follows at all, but maybe that’s not what you meant to say.

  4. Chris

    I think that steroids is/was a problem, and should have been addressed. I don’t think that the sky is falling.

    More, I find the media’s self-righteous moaning and hand-wringing vastly more sickening that either Bonds’ silly denials or Canseco’s selling out. Every beat writer and columnist who stepped in a locker room should’ve had a very good idea who was using, or at gotten the impression that a lot of guys were. Yet I never remember reading a single article exposing “the problem,” or even a column saying “we tried to investigate but were stonewalled.” Now they’re all “shocked, shocked that there’s gambling going on in this casino.”

  5. Steve

    Personal responsibility is what’s missing in most of society these days; however, I think baseball itself is as wrong as the players for turning a blind eye (accepting, hoping it will go away, or whatever) for all this time.

    It’s not like these are unknown players; they are some of the biggest names in the game.

    Meanwhile, they’ve been cracking down on minor leaguers for quite some time.

    It’s probably more a “tribute” to the MLB players’ union (the strongest union in America) that nothing’s been done to MLB players.

    I think baseball needs to implode and re-organize itself anyway, as it more or less a couple times in the now too-distant past.

    I think this “scandal” is a perfect example of what Bill James meant…it’s okay until the day we’re caught, and then we’ll catch up with contemporary ethics and build a higher bar to surpass.

  6. Chris

    One more thing… A good friend of mine was playing in the Sally League in the mid-90s. I went down to watch and game, and we went out for a beer after. He told me only two things about “life in professional baseball” on that night in 1996. Both turned out be prophetic:

    1. A LOT of Latin players were lying about their ages. This was something he observed from close contact, and it was proven true after 2001. AND

    2. A LOT of guys, at the minor and major league level, were using steroids. I remember being shocked by this at first – but thinking back on it it a few times (when one of my buddy’s late-round teammates suddenly rocketed to the majors, and the covers of fitness magazines; when Sosa and McGwire went berserk in ’98; when Bonds’ head swelled up; and again this winter).

    This was something I learned after spending literally 15 minutes in the team hotel room of a non-prospect, on the low-A team of a terrible organization. Every reporter and front office employee had to have heard the same things.

  7. Steve


    Thanks for bring up one of my favorite all-time movies (Casablanca…other is Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to go along with the Bond movies) “shocked there is gambling in this casino.”

    What a great movie with such memorable lines; I don’t know that Bugs Bunny would still be a star today without the Casablanca quotes…

    Speaking of Bugs…who can forget the immortal cartoon where he singlehandedly defeats a team of bruisers with his fabulous slo-0-o-w pitch and the umpires count as the hitters were swinging “1-2-3 strikes, yer out; 1-2-3 strikes, yer out…”

    Bugs Bunny had his own cartoon exhibit at the Louisville Slugger Museum this past year…

    Come to think of it…those bruisers were awfuly bulked up, and I think representing hitters from the 50’s>>…what are the chances?