T Nation

Steroids and Baseball


#1

[center][b]In Total One Hundred Percent, Complete Defense of Steroid Use in Baseball[/b]

by Robert Wallach[/center]

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig8/wallach2.html

It's World Series time, and as usual the wimps that run baseball are afraid to stand up to the government that is harassing baseball's steroid-using ballplayers. For now the wimps are just hinting, but it appears in the cold dead of winter, the wimps are going to come out and deal with government pressure on steroid use by suspending and possibly banning some baseball players. Well, I'm not waiting for the World Series to be over, I want to discuss the use of steroids in baseball, right now, during the glories of the World Series, because I believe steroid use in baseball is a great thing.

Now, I am not what you would call an early adopter of new medicines, medical techniques, or other health-related products. I have needed corrective lenses for my near-sightedness for the last 20 years, but it is only in the last five years that I have tossed my eyeglasses in exchange for contact lenses. It is not that I didn't want contacts from the start. I did. But, I didn't want to take any chance that on a long-term basis people who wore contacts would start going blind, or develop some sort of exotic eye diseases.

Since contacts had been around for awhile before it became obvious I was nearsighted, I decided that a wait of another decade and a half would prove to be a good real-time study for me of how contacts really worked. Voilà, I am happy to report that after detecting no major outbreaks of new eye diseases or eye blindness by contact wearers, based on my decade and a half long, worldwide study (My "lab work" in these studies consisted of reading newspapers for any reported increase in problems), I now wear contacts.

My current worldwide study is with regard to cell phones and their impact on the brain. I use my cell phone sparingly. If someone calls me at home or at the office on my cell, I call them back on my landline. I plan this study of mine to last another 15 years. If people don't start developing increased brain tumors, or start experiencing a major slowdown in their thought process, after 15 years, I plan to crank up my cell phone use big time.

So now as far as baseball players who use steroids, I don't know whether to call these guys nuts or heroes. As you might guess, I sure wouldn't be taking this stuff, now. But, I sure am glad they are. You see by the "tests" baseball players have done so far, it is obvious steroids do result in muscle growth, and maybe even better reflexes. But, it is too early to tell, as far as I'm concerned, about long-term consequences. So I'm thinking, you know when I hit my mid-70's, steroids might not be bad stuff to have around. I hear so often, of the elderly slipping and falling, coming out of the bathtub or on a slippery sidewalk. Then, I think of the many times I have slipped and how my reflexes have prevented me from falling. I'm thinking, a little extra muscle strength in old age, isn't such a bad idea. So steroids might be a good long-term study, maybe not my usual worldwide study, of say 20 years, but maybe a study of top conditioned athletes, with the best medical care and supervision over a 25-year period.

Over that period, it should be pretty easy to determine whether parts of your body fall off because of steroid use, whether steroid users require more liver transplants than the norm, whether there is such a thing as roid rage, or whether male steroid users turn into women. I will, of course, conduct my usual "lab work" and scour the papers, now on the internet, for any noticeable problems these athletes experience over the next 25 years.

So not only do I cheer Barry Bonds for smacking a towering shot out of a stadium, when he rounds the bases, I make a mental note: "This stuff really works." And then I think to myself, "I sure hope this noble experiment Barry Bonds is running for me works out." Suddenly old age seems a bit less foreboding.

So I think to myself again, these ballplayers are taking this stuff of their own free will. They even sneak to take the stuff, when it is banned. It is a huge experiment on the pluses and minuses of steroids. And many, many elements of society and the government want to harass these guys, shame them and possibly throw them in jail. ARE MOST PEOPLE NUTS?

Ayn Rand was right when she wrote:

"Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light. He was considered an evildoer who had dealt with a demon mankind dreaded. But thereafter men had fire to keep them warm, to cook their food, to light their caves. He had left them a gift they had not conceived and he had lifted darkness off the earth. Centuries later, the first man invented the wheel. He was probably torn on the rack he had taught his brothers to build. He was considered a transgressor who ventured into forbidden territory. But thereafter, men could travel past any horizon. He had left them a gift they had not conceived and he had opened the roads of the world."

We now have individuals, baseball players and other athletes, who are willing to become human guinea pigs. At the same time, secretly, the minds of some great scientists work on various hormone products to literally improve the human body, and we consider all these people evildoers. Barry Bonds and other steroid-using athletes are heroes, as are the scientists who work to develop these concoctions.

Instead of banning these athletes from the game, we should be grateful. And we should not only be grateful, but in every baseball program, not only should a ballplayer's height and weight and whether he bats from the left side or the right side be listed, but also what kind of hormones he is on, if any. This way doctors can test and observe him out in the open and announcers can discuss such things as Player X uses hormone Z which seems to give him additional quickness, while Player Y uses hormone Z2 which seems to give him a power swing up the middle. No one wants to have liver problems, roid rage and other problems supposedly associated with steroid use; by allowing full disclosure, we can get more chemists, doctors and biologists working on this thing to eliminate potential negative side effects. Let's open all this up so that we can understand whether hormone treatments have the potential to make old age a much more beautiful thing.

Now, of course, after saying all this, I am sure there will be a few baseball fans that will argue that steroids are unnatural and not part of the way Abner Doubleday designed the game? Are they kidding? Since when was baseball a fixed-in-stone sport? Do we even know how many baseball players wear "vision enhancing" contact lenses? Mickey Mantle was known for taking many, many drinks following a game. Should he have been banned for taking an aspirin the next day before the game? And what's with batting helmets? When Abner Doubleday invented the game there were no helmets. Should we make players step up to the plate without a helmet and take a beaning to the head "like a man," as in Abner Doubleday's time? And what's this about catcher's wearing cup protectors?

If Abner Doubleday originalists are serious about going back to the way baseball was originally played, I'd like to see them call for the immediate banning of cup protectors. In truth, baseball originalists only hate changes that have occurred since the day of their birth, everything before is okay. Time stops for them, not when they die, but when they are born.

For the courageous, time begins when they are born and it is a wild journey of untold adventure and hopefully progress. Progress is not for the men sitting in rocking chairs, scorning change, it is for the driven, who, if they are truly great, driven and daring, will often be scorned.

These are the men, though, that we want at the plate when our team is down by three runs in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. We know their daring, drive and greatness can do what few can do. And, likewise, in life, as in baseball, when the time is getting late and our bodies are wearing thin, we should know that it is the driven, the daring who push on in the face of scorn that could ultimately make life better for us and all generations to come.

Thank you steroid-using baseball players and other steroid-using athletes. I salute you.

October 2