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…. Knowledge is power

Anyone else find this story to be interesting?

…. a diagnostic imaging company called Universal Medical Systems, with assistance from scientists from The Center for Quantitative Imaging at Penn State, had examined the ball hit by Mark McGwire for his 70th home run in 1998 via a computerized tomography (CT) scan. The scans showed that the ball contained a synthetic rubber ring around the core (or “pill”) not covered by MLB specifications. At a time when McGwire’s Hall of Fame legacy is vigorously debated because he may or may not have used steroids, UMS is charging that the ball was juiced.

So, for all of you who have come to the conclusion that a) many, many players were using steroids during the late 1990′s, and b) a number of stars were as well, notably, McGwire, Bonds, Palmeiro and Sosa; I think the time has come to realize the error of your ways. Let’s recap:

Hysterical Media Fact: Historic levels of offense, in particular, home runs, could only be explained by the rampant, widespread use of PED’s throughout baseball.

Actual fact: Historic levels of offense have been shown to be affected by the change in the dimensions of modern ballparks, changes in the strength training regimens of most modern athletes, and now, what appear to be significant changes in equipment –harder bats with thinner handles, and the most recent revelation, juiced baseballs–. Virtually no one has been able to point to any statistical aspect of offense and coherently link it to steroids and/or PED’s.

Hysterical Media Fact: PED use in baseball was, and probably still is, widespread, (the term “epidemic” has been used unchallenged for 4 years now). Sportswriters today routinely question the validity of a players accomplishments; every time Jason Giambi hits a couple of home runs, Lupica wonders how we can be sure he’s not beating the tests. HGH, being undetectable in urine tests, is commonly cited as a possible candidate for the latest abuse; even though it is monstrously expensive and difficult to obtain.

Update: Right on cue, here’s Lupica today:

…. Clemens, of course, is not younger. He is a year older than Johnson, 44 going on 45, a marvel of fitness and who knows what else.

Beautiful. More integrity from one of the leading sportswriters in the country.

Actual fact: There were less than 150 positive results in the survey testing done originally, and but a couple of dozen since then, far less than 5% of all baseball players tested have failed, including any and all disputed, or accidental positives; in fact, since baseball began it’s punitive testing cycle, there have been only 16 positive tests at the major league level. But that doesn’t matter to these saviors of our children. No, it doesn’t matter that no one’s failing the tests, because the tests don’t work! Yeah, that’s the ticket. It’s up to Lupica and Verducci to tell us who’s cheating, because they can tell with their eyes!

Hysterical Media Fact: PED use and abuse, in particular, steroid use, is a major health risk, and can be linked to multiple issues, including cancer, heart disease, liver problems, and teen suicide.

Actual fact: Go read everything in my Steroids & Baseball section, and you’ll learn the truth. There is virtually no scientific basis for these claims, as can be attested by the lack thereof at the US governments own anti-drug website (NIDA). There have been but a handful of deaths or illnesses indirectly attributed to steroid abuse, even though, by now, there have been millions of athletes who have used them for going on 5 or 6 decades. There is no epidemic of liver problems among professional bodybuilders in their forties or fifties or sixties, nor is there a simliar issue of any kind with any of these other “side effects.” It is a known medical fact that far more people have serious medical issues due to the use of aspirin, pennicillin, or dozens of other “drugs” that have subjectively chosen as “safe.”

In short, virtually all of the “facts” being bandied about to denigrate and dishonor baseball players like McGwire and Bonds fall way short of a reasonable standard of truth. Circumstantially, sure, Bonds, McGwire and Sosa sure look like they powered up like “The Govenator” and his pals did back in the ’70′s. Is that enough for the abuse these players have taken? Is that enough for the endless parade of sanctimonious piety we are having shoved down our throats by media soap-boxers like Lupica and Verducci? Is that enough for Mark McGwire to lose his legacy, his honor, and his place in the sport he loved and gave so much to? Is it? His head is bigger? Really? That’s all you’ve got? A bunch of speculation, a bottle of andro, and his head is bigger?

That’s what you’ve got. His head is bigger, and Canseco said so in his book. Don’t tell me nobody can get that big just by lifting, because you are wrong; you have NO IDEA AT ALL what you are talking about, and neither does Lupica or Verducci or whichever sportswriter you want to quote at me. Just because they write about sports doesn’t mean they are CSI:Baseball.

Bonds was involved in BALCO, and he’s an asshole, so, sure, he’s gonna get a lot more shit. I’m not defending Bonds against the accusations. I’m defending his right to be treated with some decency, I’m defending him against the “I know he did it” crew. They don’t “know he did it,” in fact, and neither do you, me or anybody, (other than, apparently, Bonds and Greg Anderson). ;-D

I’ll say it again, since nobody else seems to want to remember: Victor Conte was offered about fifty different ways to get out from under his criminal indictment if he’d only give them Bonds. Conte lost everything, and he didn’t have to. He lost everything, and he still wouldn’t give them the one guy they wanted, Bonds. They wanted Bonds so bad, they’d of let Conte walk. Conte didn’t. He told them to kiss his ass, and get on with it. In the land of circumnstantial verdicts, don’t those circumstances mean anything to anybody? Or is it only the circumstances that support your already made-up mind that count?

For crying out loud, they’re still after Bonds, three years later. And after all this time, they still can’t get him. Maybe there’s nothing there. Ever think of that? Maybe McGwire said nothing because he knew no matter what he said, he wasn’t gonna win. Maybe that’s why he clammed up. Isn’t it just a tiny bit possible?

More evidence has been uncovered since the original hysteria, (you know, evidence, it’s sort of like facts), and the more we know, the less of a big deal steroids use in baseball seems to have been.

So, next time you hear someone say they know that Bonds, (and the rest of those rich, cheating, spoiled brat ballplayers) used steroids, remember, they don’t. We know the balls were harder, the bats were harder, the ballparks were smaller, and Bonds (among many) was clearly in the best shape of his life. We know that a tiny handful of baseball players have tested positive for PED’s, in four years it’s far less than 200 positives out of thousands of urine tests. That’s what we, the fans, and just about everyone else, knows.


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