Lately, there has been a LOT of talk about the use of steroids. As yall know REAL well. Before 2003, it was NOT against the MLB rules to use steroids, although it was certainly against the LAW unless prescibed by a doctor.
There is no chemical I know of that will turn a person who can’t play baseball into a person who can. The real question is, is there anything that can make a baseball player a better baseball player?
What makes a good ballplayer?
FIRST, you have to be able to look at the baseball coming toward you, know what KIND of pitch it is, how fast it is, and if it will be a strike or ball. That takes judgement, experience and plain ol talent. Oh yes. And eyesight. What can “enhance your performance?” Well, experience, videos, scouting and eye surgery (lasik.) And of course, stimulants like speed or tobacco to improve concentration.
SECOND, you have to be able to swing the bat and hit the pitch. Duh. So what can “enhance your performance?” Well, practice, of course, duh. Videos of opposing pitchers, so you can study him and look for certain motions, kinds of pitches. You can train to strengthen your wrists to improve bat speed, exercise to strengthen your back, shoulder and leg muscles to help with speed of reacting and strength of hitting…
THIRD, in this modern game, you are paid for home runs, not quantity of hits, so you need to hit more homeruns to get more money (you disbelieve me, look at all the people who think Ichiro can’t be considered a top ballplayer, even if he hits over .350, steals 30 bases, almost never GIDP and has an OBP of over .400 – great for a leadoff hitter… but still barely spit-worthy.) To hit HR, you have to have strike zone judgement, a good swing, AND be strong enough to hit a line drive over 325 feet. If you ain’t strong enough to hit a ball hard enough to go out, forget the big paycheck, even if you hit .400, field like Ozzie and steal like Rickey. Perfecting strike zone judgement? Well, you can get eye surgery, watch videos, take drugs or tobacco to improve concentration and that’s about it. Getting stronger? Well, here’s the BIG problem. Roids DO make you stronger whether you exercise or not. So if you exercise AND do roids, you will certainly be stronger than if you don’t….
2) catching the ball – well, you have to have a good instinct for where the ball will go off the bat and react quickly. Instinct is purely talent (you know, the word Barry used that got him in so much trouble…) Quick reaction? Well, roids DO make you faster – check out the track stars… and let’s not forget stimulants, which allow you to have more energy and concentrate better.
3) throwing – well, you have to be strong enough to throw the ball to the place you want it to go, so again, roids do make you stronger, and you have to be accurate – I guess greenies to the rescue again. Also, remember to hit the cutoff man (yes Evelyn, I’m talkin to you) and greenies again for concentration. Note – roids did NOT help Giambis or Canseco with throwing…..
4) running – speed and timing. Speed sure nuff can be helped by roids (what happened to the Giambis) as well as stimulants. Timing, good baserunning techniques, well, that’s practice and more practice – greenies to give energy, and oh yeah, talent.
Let’s think of all the things ballplayers have always done to “enhance performance”:
-take tobacco (and later, speed) to improve concentration
-spitballs, scuffballs, stealing signs like the 51 Giants, etc etc etc etc…..
-take cocaine to improve “confidence” – not sure how well that works….
Now, let’s think of all the things ballplayers do to enhance performance that wasn’t available to ballplayers before like 25 – 30 years ago:
-exercising instead of working at other jobs in the offseason
-hire cooks and nutritionists to eat healthy food
-get operations to enhance vision
-lift weights to get stronger
-hire private coaches to help with various parts of their game
-use lighter, harder bats
-take vitamins, herbs, “supplements” found legally in any health food store
-massage, psychotherapy, hypnosis, accupuncture, chiropractice and other legal alternative medicines
- get operations on bones, tendons and joints
Please note that you very seldom hear complaints about any of these things having effects on the breaking of “sacred” records…
Roids – well, they do make you stronger – bigger muscles, and I guess, heal faster from injuries and workouts.
Do they help increase bat speed?
Do they help you get from home to first faster?
Do they improve strike zone judgement?
Do they help improve instincts about catching the ball?
Do they help you throw the ball harder and more accurately, say, from right field to third?
Do they help with baserunning instincts? Or even make basestealing easier because you’re faster?
Do they have any effect on BABIP?
Do they give you the strength to hit a ball the extra 10 – 20 feet you need to turn a line drive into a homerun?
Answer, good questions and I’m glad you asked. I think that everyone believes the last one is true – so for a suspected player, you should see a decrease in linedrive outs, singles and doubles that translates into an increease in home runs. I guess.
But what really interests me the very most is that all the people who are upset about “cheating” are ONLY upset about roids (and HGH.)
Un – ethical
Un – moral (moral??????)
Un – something else that means breaking “unwritten” rules or using unfair advantages.
Why is there nothing wrong with anything else?
Answer, because, in my opinion, there is this THING about large size = better. Read about how pitchers are hyped because of their size. If roids affected something besides the HR record, say, baserunning judgement, you think we’d be hearing a thing?
I haven’t heard how Tony Gwynn should get * besides his records or be banned from the Hall or be called a cheater because he used video to study pitchers and everyone else didn’t – unfair advantage?
It sure as heck ain’t a question of legal – I don’t hear 2 words about greenies, although it is known that these illegal chemicals most certainly DO increase concentration and stamina. And the more of that you have, the better you play.
But you know, this weekend, we had a lot of people over for our weekly BBQ and a bunch of kids of all ages were playing hide-n-go seek in the backyard. Now, that isn’t a “level playing field” because a 9 year old kid is faster and smarter than a 5 year old. But I watched these kids make up rules as they went along, and change the rules when there were too many complaints about the 6 year old “cheating” and it made me think about baseball. Naturally. Because I won’t agree that you can “cheat” if there is no rule against something.
BUT, if too many people who are playing a game want a new rule because they don’t like what happens when there is no rule against it, well, time to make a new rule. Because there is no such thing as a game without rules.
So if people think that roids should be banned, whether or not they really do have a positive effect on the player’s performance, fine. But let’s not call previous roid use “cheating…” And if a baseball players is supposed to be the best he CAN be, let’s not say one specific thing he does is cheating and the others aren’t unless IT’S AGAINST THE RULES….