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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Guest Post: Continuing the Steroid Debate by Russ

This guest post is in response to the February 27, 2009 "Friday Detour: The Other Side of the Steroid Issue"

While it warms my heart to find someone out there who feels a twinge of sympathy for "steroid era" pitchers I can't help but think that it's misdirected empathy. When MLB first started testing for PEDs most of the players who were caught were pitchers, relief pitchers specifically. In fact, half of the MLB players who have been suspended have been pitchers. Steroids and other PEDs seem to be the perfect drug for relief pitchers because they all faster recuperation. Relief pitchers need to be able to throw hard in back-to-back games and if they can't it's back down to the minors. It wouldn't surprise me if A-Rod, Bonds, and Palmiero were simply following the lead of the pitchers on their teams. There are reports of pitchers trying steroids back in the 1960's and 1970's from ex-pitching coach and former MLB Pitcher Tom House who claimed, "We were doing steroids they wouldn't give to horses. That was the '60s, when nobody knew."

When 104 players tested positive for PEDs in 2003 you can bet that the majority of them weren't superstars. The majority of those players were most likely marginally talented guys who would hover between the majors and minors for a few years before moving on to their next career as used car salesmen. Most of the players caught needed steroids to stay in the Bigs. When they were caught they disappeared which is why no one remembers the names of Juan Salas and Ryan Franklin. I don't think anyone doubts that without steroids A-Rod and Bonds are Major League talents. Hell, they might be Major League talents without 3 toes, they are that good. But these other guys aren't. They are minor league nobodies who cheated and in doing so stole jobs from guys who were clean.

And those are the people I feel sorry for. The guys who rode around on buses for years sleeping in crappy hotels and making next to nothing because they had the integrity to attempt making the Majors without the benefit of PEDs. There are probably a couple of hundred minor leaguers who didn't make it to The Show because they stayed clean. These are players you will never hear of and know nothing about. Hard-working players who might have become hustling fan favorites are instead stuck in anonymity. When a juiced up Jay Gibbons is hitting 20+ homers and stays on the roster it takes the spot of some AAA player who stayed clean. Not to mention that Mr. Gibbons earned over $15 million during his career. These nameless, faceless players are the one's I feel bad for. The one's who were screwed over in this whole mess and who will never ever get anything resembling justice. And so, when we start to feel bad for millionaires because their career stats don't measure up to their historical peers we need to reevaluate our own empathy.

Do you have other opinions on the steroid topic? Feel free to comment below.

Dan Russell is a freelance writer and sports enthusiast based in Chicago, IL. This is his second contribution to the Who's In First Blog. If you would like to get in touch with Russ, feel free to Contact Us and we will pass along the information.

Keep sporting!
- Who's In First


Anonymous said...

Good column and good point. While superstars did benefit from steroids, it was the marginal players who earned their keep by injecting themselves.

Who's In First said...

Thanks for the post Russ. Good points throughout.