Only Baseball Matters
…. Misplaced morality?

David Pinto links to an article about a Yankee pitching prospect tagged with a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test. He also notes, rightly, that far more pitchers have failed drug tests than hitters. In an piece last season, he seems to have an answer as to why pitchers might use steroids and similar PED’s. Here’s a quote from Tony LaRussa:

“I think at the heart of the issue is, everybody is always seeking a competitive edge,” said Tony La Russa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. “It just doesn’t mean pitchers or hitters. If that gives you an edge, then everybody is going to seek to do it. So it probably shouldn’t surprise anybody.”

Doesn’t that mean that McGwire or Bonds or Sosa or whoever else the sportswriters think did use PED’s deserve some kind of a pass, given that they were facing many pitchers who were also on the juice? Just wondering….

UPDATE: This NY Times piece confirms that it’s the pitchers, not the hitters:

…. With less than four months remaining in the calendar year, 34 players ó two in the major leagues and 32 in the minor leagues ó have tested positive. At this time last year, 86 players had failed tests, and by the time the year concluded, the number had reached 93, with 81 in the minor leagues and 12 in the majors.

While the number of positive tests has decreased, the statistics also show that two trends that emerged last year continue to hold form: many of those testing positive are from Latin America, or are pitchers, or are both. Of the 34 players who have tested positive this season, 22 are from Latin America, with 13 from Venezuela and 8 from the Dominican Republic. In addition, 24 of the 34 who failed tests are pitchers.

UPDATE: The Broken Cowboy adds his two cents to the disappointingly one-sided debate, and since I so frequently seem to be alone in my opinions about the issue, now you get to read Hank’s:

…. Why does the media and the public turn so quickly on these fallen athletes?

Itís simple — we turn away because we donít like what these men and women reveal about ourselves. We canít bring ourselves to admit that collectively we are the Frankenstein that has created the monster, so instead we grab a torch and join the mob, screaming indignantly all the way.

Really, how could we possibly expect that all these athletes would be clean? Iím not the first to imagine this scenario, but I think it helps to illuminate whatís going on. Letís say you take twenty of the best race car drivers in the world and set them up for a road rally. The pre-race instructions go like this: ďGentlemen (and Danica), youíre going to race from Los Angeles to San Francisco along Interstate 5. The federal speed limit on this stretch of highway is 75 mph, and even though we wonít monitor your speed and there will be no policemen along the way and all we really want is for you to get there as fast as possible, we hope that you donít exceed the posted speed limit. And by the way, those racers who get there the fastest will be richly compensated with higher salaries, more product endorsements, and greater fame.Ē

The shocker would be if any of the drivers drove below the speed limit. And while that seems extreme, we have essentially the same situation with professional sports. We ask our athletes to do whatever it takes to reach the top of their professions, beginning earlier and earlier all the time.

Our entire culture, and Iím not just talking about what goes on between the lines, revolves around the American Dream, an ideal which reminds us that in this land of opportunity, we have a responsibility to do whatever it takes to reach our goals. When this tenet bleeds into the athletic world, it might start to blur a bit, but the spirit remains the same.

Allow me to finish this thought:

To expect, to demand, anything other than a “do anything to win” approach from these athletes is absurd, and to be frank, patently unfair. The idea that there is a higher standard for Barry Bonds than there is for the President of the United States is, well …. I hardly need to finish that sentence, do I?

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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