Posted By Jeff Fletcher on February 22, 2009 9:42 pm
I know, I know. No more steroids, please! I don’t like writing about steroids, but I felt compelled to point out an article that I discovered via Peter Gammons via John Perricone of Only Baseball Matters. It was written in Sports Illustrated almost 40 years ago and everyone should read it. It vividly described the use of performance enhancing drugs in all sports a generation ago.
I won’t get into all of it here, but the point is that athletes have been pushing the envelope since the beginning of time. There is nothing new about steroids. And the guys in the ’50s and ’60s were certainly also doing whatever they could to get an edge (an exerpt in the SI article describes Bob Gibson popping pills to allow him to pitch). They may have been doing even more back then when there were fewer teams and competition for jobs was more fierce.
I feel pretty confident that if you took 700 major leaguers out of 1952 and dropped them into 2002, the same percentage of them would have used steroids. Why wouldn’t they? Were they somehow more pure back then? They were still just a bunch of guys trying to get rich by hitting a baseball better than anyone else. Certainly everyone by now is familiar with Mike Schmidt’s quote: ”Let me go out on a limb and say that if I had played during that era I would have taken steroids… We all have these things we deal with in life, and I’m surely not going to sit here and say to you guys, ‘I wouldn’t have done that.’”
Athletes do what they have to do to get ahead. That’s in their DNA.
That’s why I have trouble getting all indignant when I hear that Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or Alex Rodriguez cheated. I just can’t get on board with the talk-show hosts and columnists who want to make a big stink or decry the state of sports or talk about how it was “in the good old days.”
Of course it’s wrong to use steroids. Of course it’s stupid.
But if a guy wants to risk his own health in an effort to make himself more money and entertain me, that’s his problem.