Wednesday, February 11, 2009

By Request

Colts fan (don't hold it against her, guys) and fellow leatherhead Teresa put forth the following response to my reaction to the Alex Rodriguez steroids story -

What is so sad is these people don't need those drugs to be rock stars. They are amazing on their own. Is the pressure to do more and more? It is peer pressure?

I don't think there's any one answer as to why these different athletes feel it's necessary to juice. There might be one right answer for a given player, but there are a variety of reasons that these men inject, rub, and otherwise administer illegal and banned substances.

For some, I think it's about hanging around for a few more years - Rodney Harrison comes to mind. For others, bottom of the roster players, it's about hanging around, period.

For every player like Harrison or the bottom end player trying to extend their time in the pros, there are the guys like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez for whom being at the top of the game wasn't good enough. There's a special sort of narcissism that goes into that - one that I understand, but I just don't get. Okay, well, Clemens didn't sustain it over a long period of time like Bonds had done, not until he had been juicing.

Being at the top of their games wasn't good enough. They had to shatter records, and they will find ways, just like their apologists, to rationalize the use of the banned supplements - it doesn't affect the ability to pick up the ball in the strike zone (in spite of the fact that studies suggest that HGH can enhance eye-sight), it doesn't affect the inherent ability to turn on a 95 mile per hour fast ball (in spite of the fact that evidence has shown that steroids can impact and help build the fast twitch muscle that allows a hitter to turn on that ball), it doesn't help (then why do it, and why do these players almost always show a spike in their numbers in the years they admit to having started doping?).

When I was in high school, I knew of at least one player on the football team doing steroids. I didn't get it. For me, part of sport was pushing my body to the limit, see what I was truly capable of. I qualified for the New York State Meet in track and field, I've finished a marathon, I've played Australian football for ten seasons, played street hockey for eight. I've never missed a game due to injury (although I probably should have - I've been known to play games with an air-cast on my ankle for disconnected sucked), and never taken any sort of supplement to do so. It defeats the purpose, in my opinion.

In their heads, it appears to be a means to an end. Better stats, better contracts, better remembered when they're gone. It's not a short-cut, legality be damned.

But why is there a mentality that juicing isn't a short-cut? Because a person who takes steroids and doesn't put the physical labor into getting into better shape just gets fat. Best as I can figure is they believe that because they are still doing physical work that it's not a short cut.

My personal belief is that these guys, while they know it's against the rules, don't believe they're actually doing anything wrong. And I think that's really the bottom line.

Other thoughts -

Brett Favre claims that he's actually retired...again. I'll believe it sometime next fall if and when he's not under center taking snaps.

There has been a lot shaken-up in the NFL this off-season, and I will address that soon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Da Juice...again

To be perfectly honest, I, for one, am getting tired of writing about the crap-tastic world of juicing athletes, but given the news cycle regarding Alex Rodriguez, it looks like I kind of have to.

Am I surprised by the recent revelations? Not in the least. Is there anyone whose name would surprise me at this point? No.

Sure, there are players that I hope haven't been on anything, but I'm convinced at this point that well over half the players from the so-called steroid era were juicing in one way or another. Considering that the only source for the Mitchell Report was a clubhouse attendant from New york, and the preponderance of names contained in the report were East Coast guys, I have to wonder just how many names would have been in the report had they found the supplier in Atlanta? San Diego? Arlington? Chicago?

There is no schadenfreude in this. A-Rod is just the explanation point on what isn't really even the end of an era. There's a misconception that juicers are going to go away. A-Rod has any number of issues which are fair game, but for anyone who has defended Rodney Harrison, or Nick Kaczur, or any number of other NFL players, to attack Rodriguez on this is not just disingenuous, it's hypocritical.

The NFL makes the idea that the juicing era in baseball a lie. And let's call it what it is - the Juicing Era, not steroid.

The designer drug makers will always be a step ahead of those enforcing the league's rules. The sins are out of Pandora's Box, and there's not putting them back in.

Maybe there will be fewer juicing, but the era isn't over. It's just beginning, the tip of the iceberg, and more is bound to come out.