Tagged: PEDs

Less Miserables

Like pretty much everyone else in the baseball world I watched the Andy Pettitte confessional, and was somewhat disappointed he didn’t answer the most pressing question, was there any possibility he “misremembered” Clemens admission of having used performance enhancing substances. Pettitte’s performance seemed sincere, but what does he have to fear on that account? If he tells the truth, nothing. Not that I doubt Pettitte; I happen to believe him. But his refusal to answer that question is aggravating.

Of course it is possible he “misremembered” or even misconstrued Clemens’ remarks. We’ve all done that, especially regarding events that happened several years ago. So why didn’t he just say: “Of course it is possible”? That isn’t an assertion that he did, or even likely, just stating the obvious. Instead we’re back to hiding behind lawyers.

Pettitte’s testimony wasn’t nearly as damning as it has been portrayed. The fact that, by that very testimony, Clemens denied telling Pettitte years later that Andy had misunderstood actually affirms Clemens case now. Don’t get me wrong, I think Clemens is guilty as sin. But I also believe there has been less than responsible logic attempting to prove what ultimately is probably unprovable. We all want to know. But unless Roger gets religion and decides to do a Pettitte, we are never really going to know.

Personally I’m sick and tired of these miserable wretches cluttering my thoughts. I could use with less miserables, and more baseball.

Clemens Report

What a train wreck.

It was painfully obvious a Congressional hearing was not the forum to resolve the truth. It was not a courtroom. The obvious advocacy, especially for Clemens, by various members of Congress was as unseemly as Clemens politicking with them last week. The demonstration of a photo of Clemens at various stages of his career with the same size body was especially egregious, although nothing matched the congressman who wanted to know what uniform Clemens would be wearing in the HOF. I know it is called Human Growth Hormone, lady, but read up on the subject you are questioning about. Athletes use it mostly to recover and endure a long season, not “grow” muscle. That same idiot then lauded Clemens—shall I say it—Herculean workouts. Just for the uninitiated, it is the workout that develops the muscle, not the substance. The substance simply allows for more intense workouts, meaning—you guessed it—more muscle. Again, these people should educate themselves.

Clemens proclaimed he is guilty of nothing except being too nice. Well isn’t that sweet. To paraphrase Barack Obama, I’ll bet his greatest fault is helping little old ladies across the street. Time after time, Clemens interjected his pedigree. One would have thought he was talking to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. Of course that was what it was all about: a PR campaign.

Ironically Waxman, who I suspect recognized this was going to be a complete waste of taxpayer money, was ready to pull the plug on the hearing. Clemens insisted on it. This was his soapbox, his chance to salvage his reputation, to change public opinion.

He failed. Miserably. And he may very well have bought a Go to Jail card in the process. I think the Greeks called it hubris. The closing scene, with Clemens getting gaveled by a Congressional Chairman after being interrupted by a protesting Rocket during the hearing’s closing statement, may very well be the final image of this whole sordid mess. Who does Roger think he is?

As bad as Clemens came off, I thought McNamee looked slightly worse. Not because I think he is lying. In fact, I think he is telling the truth. But let’s face it, he did sell people who treated him pretty well down the river, with the excuse he was only doing what they wanted him to do. I kept thinking of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. He may not be a “drug dealer”, as some congressmen insisted, but he’s not much better.

And speaking of congressmen, I thought they came across worst of all. Did you notice how easily they fell for the Canseco party canard? They must have spent half an hour on that red herring. Worse, the hearing devolved into a political version of The Jerry Springer Show. At the end of the day, what was determined about The Mitchell Report? That was the purpose, wasn’t it?

The fact that no determination could be made may be a godsend. Here and there I heard doubts about the Mitchell Report and the master it was intended to serve. Those who railed against McNamee must, by inference, discredit the Mitchell Report. And once The Mitchell Report falls, then we are back to square one, for the Mitchell Report was supposed to answer questions about the abuse of PEDs in baseball. Now there are more questions than there were before, not only about the past, but about the future.

Sooner or later these congressional clowns are going to wake up to the obvious question: how could baseball possibly have a handle on the PED problem without a test for HGH? HGH dominates the conversation, not steroids. And, more importantly, could baseball possibly be trusted to police itself when it is demonstrable that it refuses to do so.

Ugh. I need a shower.

Blue Dress Redux

I’m not quite sure what to make of the newest chapters in the Roger Clemens saga. This thing has gotten so crazy I’m to the point I’m beginning to empathize with those nuts that follow the wild escapades of Britney Spears.

Am I supposed to believe that a man innocently kept bio-waste? Was he planning on blackmailing Clemens? Or was he, as he says, keeping it just in case. Just in case what? In either case it diminishes the argument that McNamee was just a fool who simply told the truth when caught in a legal trap.

This reminds me of the question why Monica Lewinsky kept that stained dress. The scene is eerily reminiscent of that period while we waited for test results that would unmask the perjurer. Clemens knows whether McNamee has the goods. What must be going through his mind now if—and I stress if—he is guilty?

For McNamee is either one of the most insane men in history, or history itself is insane. He is now proclaiming that he not only injected Clemens with PEDs, he injected Clemens’ wife with HGH. This is not unbelievable, mind you. The Fountain of Youth from a syringe is not limited to males, and it is not inconceivable that if her husband were abusing she would get into the act, anymore than it is inconceivable that the most powerful man would risk his reputation and his country’s security pleasuring himself on an intern in his “employ”.

Wonder if Debbie Clemens looks good in blue…

Cheating As American As Apple Pie

In honor of this weekend’s Super Bowl, thought I would remind that cheating isn’t peculiar to baseball.  Indeed, it seems to be an integral part of the American character:

Football changed from something like soccer or rugby to something like the contemporary American game.  What can these changes tell us about Americans and American sport?  Among other things, Oriard [Michael Oriard, Reading Football] argues that referees were needed because Americans had a different attitude toward rules than did our British ancestors.  British amateur athletes operated on a code of honor associated with the peculiarities of their elitist social class, a code that was as old as the games they layed.  Adherence among upper-class British boys to the code of honor was enforced by the captains of each team, and in so doing, both the social nature of the contest and the social status of the players were supported.

Americans, in contrast, had no such social understanding–Americans argue to this day that we are of the “middle class” and so have no code of honor to break.  This difference in culture is reflected in our games, and Oriard argues that Americans wish to exploit the rules of the contest as much as they wish to adhere to them.

Mechikoff and Estes, A History and Philosophy of Sport and Physical Education 

This perspective is important when judging the “steroid era”.  To paraphrase Forrest Gump: cheating is as cheating does.  Before we can begin to evaluate the use of performance enhancing substances, we must first examine the longer standing issue of cheating in American sports.

In case you haven’t heard, Arlen Specter is calling for congressional investigation into cheating by the New England Patriots after the NFL inappropriately destroyed evidence regarding illicit taping.  You remember Specter, don’t you?  He’s the one who came up with the “magic bullet” theory in the Kennedy assassination.  Maybe the Pats can make the defense that the camera angle was deflected off someone’s sunglasses reflecting the other team off of a skybox window.  Or maybe we can take a serious look at cheating in football, in business, indeed in America.

Say it Ain’t So, Rambo, Say it Ain’t So


Stallone said there’s no magic potion to build the physique that has helped carry him to great wealth and fame. “If that were the case, everyone would be a superhuman being,” he said.

“You have to put in years and years and years of hard labor to stay in shape,” Stallone went on. “The most important thing about HGH — and I think more people should be aware of this — is it really takes off the wear and tear that your body takes. The power to recuperate is very, very limited. So all it does is expedite.”

Stallone discusses HGH, ‘Rambo IV’ – Today Entertainment – MSNBC.com

Stallone?  HGH? Who would have thunk?

As I’ve said previously baseball is merely reflecting a much more complicated issue present in society.  So should actors, who, after all, are as much role models as athletes, be tested?  What about rappers, who have also been reported to be dipping into the fountain of youth?  Who else?  Who can say? 

And who can say whether these substances are good or bad?  Are they any worse than the genetically/chemically altered foods we ingest?  Are there definitive long term studies?  Are the risks worth the rewards?

What if HGH actually could, as Stallone and Canseco suggest, improve the lives of the aging?  What if third elbows don’t grow out of your head?  What if an unbiased study revealed the long term detrimental effects were relative inconsequential?  What would that mean for professional athletics?

So many questions, so few answers.  This issue defies simplistic responses.  Unfortunately, simplistic responses are more “commercially viable”–and are what are being peddled by our leaders.

Welcome to the HGH Era

Congress let the despoilers of our beloved game off light. Very few of the really tough questions anyone who actually follows baseball knows should have been asked were asked. Of course, most of us know how to pronounce Selig and Palmiero. If only Selig’s approach to performance enhancing substances had been as brilliant as his selection of George Mitchell to head the investigation. Not that he actually produced much of consequence, but once I saw the Congressmen fawn on the former Senator, and the latter’s smoother than smooth performance, I understood perfectly Mitchell’s role. He got Congress off baseball’s back.

That may or may not be a good thing. Congress probably has better things to do than meddle in Selig’s sewer. After Selig and Fehr’s curtsy before Congress, I’m curious as to the point of next month’s Clemens extravaganza.

One thing is clear, though: these clowns are still way behind the curve. Letting baseball slide with a piddly three million dollar contribution to find a—catch this: “commercially viable”—test for HGH was flabbergasting. Steroids were becoming passé even when I was bodybuilding two decades ago. Anyone who could find it and had the bucks preferred HGH. Now, as Fehr pointed out, you can find it a million places on Google, and for millionaire athletes the price is quite “commercially viable”. Even the Mitchell Report talks more about HGH than steroids.

So tell me how, again, has implementing a testing program for steroids ameliorated the performance enhancing substance problem in baseball?

Two Dues

In his comments on my previous post, Michael at Baseball as I See It raises a couple of interesting points. Both deserve much deeper treatment than I am going to provide here, but I wanted to lay them out on the table, as they really cut to the heart of the matter.

First, he notes that by comparison baseball now has the most stringent testing of any of the professional sports. The important implication of this statement is that all sports have a problem with performance enhancing substances, something which is aggravatingly ignored by our ignorant Congress. Taken further, we as a society have a major drug problem on our hands—and no, I’m not talking about recreational use. That, as well, is just a small part of a much bigger picture. Our sports are merely reflecting our society.

Second, Michael makes a distinction between amateur and professional athletics. He is quite right in doing so, but therein lies the problem: the distinction doesn’t play out nearly as cleanly in reality as it does in our minds. In fact, more than anything else the current debate reflects precisely that confusion.

As I noted, both of these issues require far more attention than I am providing in this post. Indeed they are both issues I plan to pursue this season, particularly the latter. Stay tuned.

Enablers Guarding the Drugstore


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Major League Baseball and the World-Anti- Doping Agency exchanged barbs Wednesday, with baseball being accused of resisting former senator George Mitchell’s recommendation of transferring its drug-testing program to an independent organization.

WADA President John Fahey said in a statement MLB and the players union are “essentially thumbing their nose” at fans for their refusal to give control over the testing of performance-enhancing drugs to an independent body.

MLB, WADA trade harsh words over drug testing – USATODAY.com

So…baseball has really reformed itself?  And the Commish is following all of the Mitchell recommendations, too?  Ask yourself this: why won’t baseball give up control over testing to an independent body–and no, using an independent lab is NOT the same thing when the powers that be that got us into this mess still have the power to do with the results what they will.  If memory serves, Palmiero’s positive test was buried until after the got his 3000th hit, a question from the Congressional committee.

And speaking of Congress–are they taking notice?

Otherwise it was all just a show, while the foxes still guard the henhouse.

Oneses and Twoses


BALTIMORE (AP) — Breaking his silence on the inclusion of his name in the Mitchell Report, Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts admitted that he used steroids once in 2003.

Brian Roberts acknowledges single use of steroids in 2003 – USATODAY.com

Brian Roberts became the poster child for the contention the Mitchell Report flung wild, unfounded accusations at possibly innocent players.  Roberts frank admission therefore lends at least perceptual credibility to the findings (Roger the Dodger, you are sinking here, man).

However, is this what is being reported as a pervasive drug culture in baseball?  Guys using once (Roberts) or twice (Pettitte)?  I am much more concerned with systematic use.  Unfortunately the Mitchell Report provides no real information on how pervasive systematic use was during the steroid era.  This may end up being the greatest indictment of the Mitchell Report, that it obfuscated the real problem with a sprinkling of oneses and twoses.  That, of course, is precisely the kind of soft landing MLB is hoping for.

— Michael Norton