Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No Excuses

"I did it to recover faster from an injury, not to gain a competitive advantage on the field."

That is the popular excuse being presented by athletes caught using HGH and other performance enhancing substances. "I only used it to recover from (insert injury du jour here)."

This is the excuse that San Diego defensive end Louis Castillo first made popular before the 2005 NFL draft. It is the excuse that Patriots safety Rodney Harrison used (in spite of the fact that records show he initially purchased it during a time that he had no reported injury - no one followed up on that and he offered no additional excuse) when caught, it is the excuse that Andy Pettitte is hiding behind and it is the excuse that former second baseman Fernando Vina.

It is the excuse that any number of athletes I expect will use in the future.

It is a complete crock.

For anyone who thinks it isn't, I put to you the following question - if star player from Team A and star player from Team B suffer identical injuries, and Player A goes through proper (ie: legal and legitimate) physical therapy and rehab to get back on the field and it takes that player five weeks to get back, but Player B uses HGH and is back in three and half weeks, then how is that NOT a competitive advantage?

This smacks of the same argument put forth by Bonds supporters of, "it doesn't help him hit the ball," but, in light of recent studies - they're wrong. There was a recent report stating that HGH appears to improve eyesight. Improved eyesight will help a batter see the ball. The hormone helps muscles rebound faster from workouts - which means that in that tenth straight game, when non-users are fatigued, the user is fresher and more apt to be able to turn on a ball. It helps them get stronger, resulting in balls hit farther, faster.

Make no mistake. None of this is just about "recovering faster." It's all about getting on the field and an unfair competitive advantage.

Just once, I would like to hear one of these athletes say, "I cheated, I was caught and I'm sorry. I have disgraced myself, my team, and my sport. I knew at the time I was doing something wrong, but I want so bad to be the best on the field that it drove me to do something stupid and unforgivable in the context of the sport in which I compete. I wish I could promise that I would not make the same choice had I a chance to do it all over again, but, given my competitive nature, I don't think I can make that promise. I'm sorry."

We'll never hear it. But it really would be nice to hear one of these athletes completely own up to their mistake rather than try to find a way to excuse it that they believe will be palatable to the general public.

Unfortunately, there are many in the general public that are part of the problem - also making excuses for why, when their sports heroes are caught red-handed, we should take their less-than-heartfelt apology at face value. I'd like to thank Lisa at A Red Sox State of Maine for providing a link to the following from the New York Sun -

Corrupt in conception, inept in execution, this is in general a vile report. What decency there is in it comes from, of all people, Andy Pettitte. The ostentatiously religious Pettitte, who deserves and will receive a rousing ovation the next time he takes the mound at Yankee Stadium, will be scorned by many as a hypocrite, but according to the second-hand accounting of this report, he decided to use HGH because he thought it would "speed his recovery and help his team." And what could be nobler than that?
This reporter's defense of Pettitte is that he's "ostentatiously religious." First, I have to question whether or not this reporter knows what the word ostentatious means, or if he's just using big words to try to make people think he's intelligent. Because he comes off as an idiot. Were I Pettitte and truly religious, I would be offended by someone who described me as ostentatiously so.

For people wondering - it means rich and showy: marked by a vulgar display of wealth and success designed to impress people. So this dude is saying that Pettitte is showing religion only to impress people.

But I digress.

His argument (I will leave the whole "noble" thing to Lisa who handled that quite well) is that we should give Pettitte the benefit of the doubt because he's religious and, in essence, religious people would never do bad things. To that I give two names that are just the tip of the iceberg: John J. Geoghan and Ronald H. Paquin.

For those of you unfamiliar with those names, they are both priests - a profession that most would agree has some fairly religious people. These two were part of the Catholic Church's long running conspiracy to conceal child molesters within its clergy. Geoghan died in jail after convicted, Paquin plead guilty to the crime, claiming that he himself was a victim at the hands of a member of the clergy while a boy in Salem.

By reporter Tim Marchman's reasoning, this couldn't be true because these men are religious.

What an idiot.

On a lighter note (pardon the pun) - down to 184 this morning, a total loss of 4.5 pounds.

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