Juicing Manny Wood 05/08/2009Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: Hall of Fame, hcg, manny ramirez, mark mcgwire, mlb, ped, roger clements, sammy sosa, steroids, suspension
Here we go again. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games yesterday by Major League Baseball for violating the PED drug policy. Word is that in spring training, a urine sample showed elevated
testosterone levels. Subsequent investigation unearthed ‘paperwork’ in Manny’s name for HCG, a female fertility drug. Apparantly the body may stop producing testosterone at the end of a steroid cycle and one of the uses of this class of drugs in males is to help mitigate such side effects. Manny issued a statement that he had recently gotten a prescription from a physician for a medication, not a steroid, that later turned out to be a substance banned by the anti-drug policy. Now, perhaps this is just a case of Manny being Manny. Perhaps he and his wife are just trying to get pregnant and Manny, never one to read all the fine print, thought he needed to take the HCG. Or perhaps he is being disingenuous.
The larger question is why is this such a big story? Here is a news flash. We are in the steroid era in baseball. Remember that anonymous sample that MLB did in 2002 to see if it needed a anti PED policy? That sampling had 104 positive test subjects. The only name we know for sure that was in that group was A-Rod. Was Manny on that list? There has to be somewhere between 90 and 100 or so players we do not know about. How many of them are still playing? And that sample was just the tip of the iceberg. Since baseball adopted it’s anti drug policy, over 200 players have been found in violation. Over half have been pitchers. Most have been minor leaguers. The real reason this is a story is that Manny is the first big name player caught since the ban went into effect. Even the A-Rod test was from years ago. It just came to light recently. But the Manny situation and the 200 other suspensions show that PED’s are still a problem. As they are in football, cycling, olympic events, and any other sporting endeavor. They also show that the baseball testing can work.
The Hall of Fame issue is also again being debated. Should ‘cheaters’ be allowed into the hall? Lets face it, at this time if you hit 30 home runs in a season, or throw a 95 mph fastball, or rehab from an injury, there will be questions about your juice usage. If PED usage is rampant, and you are denied hall membership because you were caught, is it fair to admit someone else who juiced simply because that player was not caught? Now, I am not saying every player uses PEDs. I am simply asking that since we know usage is, or has been, wide spread, is automatic disqualification for HOF membership because of a positive test fair? Many HOF voters currently say yes. The good news for Manny, and A-Rod and all the others known and yet to be found is that question will not come to a head for another 15 to 20 years. And the passage of time may help. (A player becomes eligible for the hall 5 years after he retires, and remains eligible for 15 years after that point. Admission after the 15 year period can only be granted by the veterans committee.)
Lets put this into perspective. Yes, PEDs give an unfair advantage. Yes PEDs represent a danger, especially to high
school age kids who see the millions of dollars that some pro athletes have made at least in part with the help of PEDs and are tempted to use these substances themselves, risking health issues. But let us also remember that baseball has benefited from these substances. It was the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa that helped bring fans back after the last work stoppage. Attendance increases continued with the assault on the home run record by Barry Bonds. And by Roger Clements 7 Cy Young awards. Alleged juicers all. Baseball cashed in on all of them. Baseball is alive and well, due in no small part, to the juice. Baseball will, in the end, recognize those who otherwise belong with hall membership. It will take a while, but it will happen.