Postgame Spread
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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Roids    

Still not feelin' the hate.  I'd like to add the following false assumptions to my list of beefs:

  1. We should punish these players retroactively for steroid habits they began in the 80s and 90s.

  2. Great idea.  Hey, maybe the government can raise our taxes retroactively and put everyone in jail for tax evasion.  It wasn't illegal!  You can stop it all now, but holding the players accountable in the 90s for steroid use that was not against the rules is idiotic.  Jayson Stark, who normally does not impress me, is actually the voice of reason in the wake of the positive test.  Kudos to Stark for resisting the urge to point a finger at Palmeiro without implicating the sport at the same time.  His response is the first I've seen that is on-target and bluster-free.  He alone has been wise enough to see (and brave enough to SAY) that the steroid issue isn't a yes/no proposition.  It's a complex case in which the entire sport is guilty.

  3. Chemical enhancers are okay, but steroids aren't.

  4. No, no, no, no, no.  That line is greyer than Bob Uecker's pubic hair.  You're telling me it's OK to cheat with performance enhancers... but not these performance enhancers over here?!?  And we're supposed to look at the roid-heads as cheaters, while everyone else gets off scot free?  It's still cheating whether or not it's got steroids in it.  How is this a clear-cut morality case?  If we're fighting against cheating, the target needs to be ALL performance enhancers.  Then the grey area disappears... if you can't get it at Whole Foods, don't eat it, and if it comes in a syringe, don't shoot it.  Given that there have been controversies in the past over androstenedione, wouldn't you think that baseball would come out against more than just steroids if they were serious about curbing the problem?

    (In defense of baseball, I'm guessing the reason they targeted steroids and not all agents has to do with testing accuracy.  Fair enough... to be honest I much prefer a broke-ass steroids-only system to the World Anti-Doping Agency's system, where you're stripped of your championships for taking NyQuil sixteen months before running the 200m hurdles.  Baseball (and the other sports) would be wise to obey whoever is blackmailing them with WADA-involvement threats, because the day WADA gets involved in American professional sports will be the end of American professional sports.  Pro wrestling will look like a paragon of virtue by comparison.

  5. Raffy testing positive is somehow a "stupid" act on his part, one that could have been easily avoided.

  6. Didn't all the controversy start because young kids were getting addicted to steroids?  Hey moron, steroids are addictive!  You don't just up and stop doing drugs because somebody told you to.  Hence, a guy tries to juke the test instead of stopping with the drugs.  If the "War On Drugs" has taken 20+ years and accomplished nothing, how is three months of media attention going to be any more effective?  So maybe... bear with me, now... we should treat him like someone who has a drug problem!  Whoa, back up the crazy train, right?  But honestly, would we see the same kind of finger-wagging, God-you're-so-stupid reaction if he'd been caught with cocaine?  We might think of him as a druggy from that point on, but how many people would've gotten up on their high horse and shouted "How could he have been so dumb?  He knew there would be testing!!!"  IT'S DRUGS, DUMBASS!!!

    To some extent, the public humiliation is a good thing.  Yes, you need to face the music when you err.  But the judgmental tone of the humiliation sets a shameful example to a generation of young kids.  If you want to maintain the high ground when dealing with, say, a drug addict, shouldn't you show some compassion?  Say, who was that guy who went around having compassion for people regardless of their sins?  Nailed to a cross and died?  Jesus H. Christ, I wish I could remember the guy's name.  It'll come to me later.  Anyway, let's assume (if you haven't already) that Raffy is guilty.  Given how obvious he made himself during the Congressional hearings, how involved he's been in anti-steroid groups since those same hearings, how he came out of the Congress fiasco smelling like roses... and still tested positive... shouldn't that tell us something about how difficult it will be to clean the rest of the game up?  Passing judgments won't solve this problem; showing steroid users a way out will do much more.

I think the smart play for Raffy, apart from coming clean about every last aspect of the testing process and his own defense, is to shut it down for the season and check into rehab, regardless of whether he has a problem.  At this point, and it saddens me to acknowledge this, it doesn't really matter whether he's guilty or innocent, because America (a.k.a. Moronistan) has made up its collective mind.  He hasn't got much of a shot at protecting his legacy unless he demands forgiveness and proves his ability all over again, with what limited time he has left.  He needs to make a grand public display of his intent to get clean, relax in the rehab clinic for a few months, get clean, and concentrate on 2006.  Next season, he comes back for a few months as a mid-season replacement, returning just long enough to show he can hit without the 'roids (which he can) and then call it quits.  Or, alternately, he can go down in history as a goat (again, regardless of actual innocence or guilt).  His choice.  Given that the birth of his power output coincided with Canseco's arrival in Texas, he's not gonna have many defenders.  And if the recent outpouring of bile is any indication, sportswriters aren't going to give him much of a break when it comes to Cooperstown.

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