Saturday, June 15, 2013

4 comments Writer Who Covered MLB Since the Steroid Era Tells Us We Are All Suckers for Believing MLB Players Aren't Still Cheaters

Steve Wulf is getting all high and mighty today. He writes a column telling us we should not believe these MLB players who insist they are clean. He tells us to not be suckers and believe in these players. In Wulf's brief ESPN biography it states,

Around long enough to have written about athletes from Hank Aaron to Ben Zobrist and Super Bowls from VII to XLVI. 

You know what this means, right? Steve Wulf was around writing about baseball players during the Steroid Era. Did he ring the bell in the 1990's telling his fellow journalists (and himself) to not be suckers and that MLB players were on steroids? Of course not! Now he is all high and mighty and in the mood to lecture all of us about the integrity of the game of baseball. Steroids are a bane upon the very existence of sports and we are suckers to believe in these baseball players who claim they don't use steroids. It seems Wulf doesn't have the ability to discuss or chastise his fellow sportswriters for being close to the MLB players who used PED's during the Steroid Era, but that's to be expected. WE are the idiots for believing in these athletes and we need to care more about what the sports media didn't care about during the Steroid Era, which is keeping baseball clean. 

Before you wearily sigh over baseball's latest PED scandal, before you mutter, "Who cares anymore," before you punch a chad on the All-Star Game ballot for one of the names on the Biogenesis list, before you wonder how this might affect your fantasy team or your real team's performance,

If this sentence were analogous to an "Onion" article it would say, "New Orleans weatherman who reported Hurricane Katrina would be 'just a little wind' says the state of Oklahoma are suckers for not preventing more tornado damage."

listen up.

This is a written article, not a podcast. It is impossible to "listen up."

You must care. You need to stop enabling the cheaters the way we used to. You have to root, root, root just as hard for the game itself as you do for the players.

Says the guy who wrote about baseball players throughout the Steroid Era, an era of baseball when certain players were knocking the baseball out of the ballpark at an unbelievable pace, and he nor his fellow writers rooted for the game itself as hard as he rooted for the players. Now it's the fans' fault for enabling the cheaters. It's not the fault of those who interviewed these half-naked men on a daily basis and would have the ability to determine first-hand if a player looked overly-ripped and would have access to information on which players were possibly using PED's. Sure, the fans are the enablers, not the guys who wrote articles about the players from the Steroid Era. I'm not trying to build a strawman argument, but I hate a lot of the hypocrisy from veteran MLB writers who blame the fans for enabling the MLB players who used PED's.

A new generation of players is playing us for suckers, just as Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens did. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, A-Rod, shame on me. 

Actually, just shame on you for Bonds, Palmeiro, and Clemens playing the sports media for suckers. Certain writers love to tell us all about how they "watch the games" and they are "in the locker room" to see the intangibles a certain player has, but then when the topic of PED's comes up and what the sports media should have known and when, it's the fault of the fans for enabling the players. The sports media knew nothing! They had no idea! Perhaps if PED's were intangible like "hustle," "grit," and "playing the game the right way" certain members of the media would have called out players in the Steroid Era for using PED's. Unfortunately, there is a certain tangible aspect to the use of PED's which the sports media seemed incapable of understanding or reporting on.

Whether it be on the blogosphere, or in Twitterville, or over sports radio, the vox populi seems to want the latest revelations to go away.

I don't want the revelations to go away. I care, but I'm not going to get on my high horse and start preaching like I didn't know A-Rod used PED's. He's been busted once already. Ryan Braun was an appeal away from a PED suspension. I would guess it doesn't shock a lot of people when a player gets busted for using PED's. If Justin Upton got busted for using PED's I would simply be sad and then recognize a lot of MLB players cheat and that's why there is a drug policy.

Funny that some of the same people who criticized Major League Baseball 10 years ago for not doing anything about the steroid epidemic are now blasting the commissioner for trying to prevent a relapse. Has the blind eye we turned become a jaundiced one?

The commissioner is in a tough spot. He has presided over labor peace for a while now and for MLB to really go at Biogenesis and start getting some names he will have to do some semi-fuzzy legal maneuvering that will probably piss of the player's union. I'm not saying it isn't worth it, but this is the issue facing Bud Selig.

If so, we need to be reminded of all the reasons we got upset then,

After the fact you got upset of course. At the time, the sports media was fine naming Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire "Sportsmen of the Year" and just believing all of a sudden some players can easily break the 61 home run barrier. A midget second baseman like Marcus Giles is hitting opposite field home runs off Mike Hampton, how could that be wrong? We'll ask no questions and then base our evidence a decade later entirely on the presence of a player's bacne.

Integrity. The illegal use of PEDs strikes at the belief in the game. If you can't trust a player's numbers, you can't really trust the score.

No, I can pretty much trust the score of a game. It's the score caused by some players who may have used PED's, but I trust the score.

Does anybody have the nerve to ask this: Should the Yankees even count the past two of their 27 championships, the ones they won with Clemens (2000) and Alex Rodriguez (2009)?

Part of the reason few people ask that question is because it is a dumb question to ask. Most championship teams have one player or another who has been linked to PED's. So there would be a lot of vacated World Series happening if teams vacated them based on having a player linked to PED's...except for the St. Louis Cardinals of course. They are the only pure team in the history of MLB and their World Series titles just serve as a reminder of how great and clean that franchise always has been.

Competitive balance. The contraband pharma system will escalate if unchecked. If a player knows, or suspects, that the other guy playing above his head is taking something, wouldn't he be tempted to take the same something?

That's a great question. If a person knows that someone else got away with going 100 mph in a 35 mph speed limit zone, why wouldn't that other person drive 100 mph? Then everyone is driving 100 mph and that's just chaos. The reason a person doesn't drive 100 mph is because there are laws and punishments handed out to those who break the laws. Player A knows if Player B got away with it, then that doesn't mean Player A could also get away with it. There are penalties in the form of a 50 game suspension awaiting Player A if he gets caught. Making this 50 game suspension a 100 game suspension could be another reason not to use PED's. So the MLB drug policy is part of what prevents another player from being tempted to take PED's. Granted, this drug policy sometimes isn't enough motivation to overcome the urge to use PED's.

Health. Taking steroids or HGH or any other illegal substance is not a victimless crime.

It ruins the integrity of baseball! Let's all gnash our teeth and pretend cheating in baseball is a completely new thing.

Even if the players don't care about the side effects of their elixirs, baseball does have a responsibility to the young athletes who would emulate those regimens.

While I'm not sure a lot of people would like to see PED use prevalent in baseball, the whole "Think about the kids and how we can protect them from themselves" argument is probably the weakest argument Steve Wulf could make. Most professional athletes are adult and are fully aware of the consequences of their actions, even if they don't appropriately think about how their current actions can affect their future. This concerns just seems pretty far down the list to me.

Infestation. As with cockroaches, the pushers and suppliers are always there, and hard to get rid of. 

Actually if you hire a good exterminator, clean your house and try to keep as few cardboard boxes around as possible then it could be pretty easy to ensure you aren't infested with cockroaches. Oh, I'm sorry, are we not talking about real cockroaches, but this is a metaphor.

Tony Bosch, the man behind Biogenesis, first surfaced in 2009, when Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games for his use of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which was prescribed by Dr. Pedro Bosch, Tony's father. Now at least 20 players from at least 11 teams are implicated in the Biogenesis scandal.

So if the fans stop becoming suckers then the PED suppliers will just go away because we want them to? These suppliers are just going to leave and think, "The fans are really mad at us and despite the fact we clearly don't mind breaking the law and supplying athletes with PEDs, we certainly don't want the fans to be angry with us"?

No matter what happens, there will always be these type of people around professional sports. Steps can be taken to rid athletics from them, but even if the first PED suspension results in a lifetime ban, guys like Tony Bosch will around.


Why do all of these reasons that PED's matter sound like the title to a Linkin Park album? Infestation, Disillusionment, Competitive Balance...

The financial investment we put into being fans is nothing compared to the emotional investment.

Seriously? Come on. I don't like PED's being used by professional athletes, but that's why there is drug testing. I'm not going to get all high and mighty and feel like I'm the only sucker in the world who bought into an athlete who was a phony.

Remember that wonderful moment when Mark McGwire passed Roger Maris, hugged his own son and then met with the Maris family? Feels kind of cheesy now, doesn't it?

It was pretty cheesy moment at the time too.

I can't speak for everyone, but there is at the very least skepticism more than disillusionment. No matter what happens with PED's I am going to be somewhat skeptical about a certain player who puts up great numbers in a season. I will not allow it to affect my enjoyment of the game of baseball though. I just can't wait until the NBA and NFL start having their very own PED scandals. It's going to be great. Right now, Adderall is the drug of choice (supposedly) for these NFL players who violate the NFL's drug policy, but I have a hard time believing that's the only drug NFL players use.

Morals. It's just plain wrong. 

So basically Steve Wulf is saying, "Sure, plenty of Hall of Famers cheated in some fashion, but that was the past and we don't care as much about it now. Sure, I am calling fans today suckers for believing in the current players. Sure, you could say we as veteran baseball writers were suckers for allowing known cheats in the Hall of Fame. We aren't suckers though, because we don't want to think of ourselves as suckers. It's about the morals and while Gaylord Perry cheated and got into the Hall of Fame, you should not be a sucker and believe Mike Trout is putting up non-PED-aided numbers. We don't need fans becoming disillusioned, so just expect every player to be a cheater."

Yeah, Gaylord Perry threw a spitball, and Ty Cobb sharpened his spikes, and King Kelly used to take a shortcut from first to third.

But boys will be boys, won't they? This type of cheating was no big deal of course. PED's being used, we need to get super-serious about that type of cheating.

But the use of clearly prohibited banned substances is cheating of a much more profound nature.

Throwing a spitball is clearly prohibited, skipping from first to third is clearly prohibited and sharpening your spikes to intentionally hurt another player is at the very least being a terrible sport. So I'm not sure how the use of PED's is cheating of a more profound nature. I would think that cheating which helped a player (like Gaylord Perry) make it into the Hall of Fame would be pretty profound cheating. I guess not.

The decision encompasses at least five of the Seven Deadly Sins: pride, envy, greed, gluttony, sloth. (Lust and wrath may be in there, too.)

And we all know MLB and it's bylaws are ruled by the Seven Deadly Sins. If it's one of the Seven Deadly Sins then it is against MLB rules.

By the way, throwing a spitball encompasses these Seven Deadly Sins as well, but I guess that's just not enough of a profound crime regardless.

That's why the world finally turned its back on Lance Armstrong.

Well, that and the fact he continually insisted he was clean, built his image around how clean he was, and ruined the lives of those who dared to out him as a PED user. The world turned its back on Lance Armstrong because of the way he went about systematically destroying those who dared to tell the truth about him. His consistent hypocrisy is probably the biggest reason Lance Armstrong was turned on by the sports-viewing public.

That's why so many baseball Hall of Famers have threatened to boycott the annual festivities if Bonds or McGwire or Clemens is ever elected.

Because we wouldn't want the guys who popped "greenies" like they were candy to feel like their accomplishments were in any way diminished. We wouldn't Whitey Ford to have to share the Hall of Fame honor with a guy like Roger Clemens. The way Whitey Ford would scuff the ball with his wedding ring was just a part of his personality and his cheating wasn't nearly as profound as Roger Clemens using PED's when pitching to batters who used PED's.

That's why the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America will feel tortured for years about leaving the best players of a generation out of the Hall.

Oh, poor Hall of Fame voters! Their job is so hard, we must feel bad for them. Hall of Fame voters (and this goes for the NFL and MLB) aren't content to receive the high honor of being able to vote players into the Hall of Fame, they have to constantly bitch about how hard the job is. It's like a person who wins the Nobel Peace Prize bitching about what a pain it is to catch a flight to go pick up the award in person. Many of these Hall of Fame voters don't miss an opportunity to tell us just how difficult it is to vote for the Hall of Fame, when many people would be glad to take their spot.

And that's why MLB is trying to make sure it's not two generations.

I get why MLB is trying to rid itself of PED's in the sport of baseball. It makes sense, but I still find it hard to believe that Steve Wulf, a sportswriter during the Steroid Era, should tell us why PED punishment matters. It doesn't stick well with me. I understand why MLB wants PED's out of sports, but MLB has drug testing for a reason. The reason is because players are going to cheat and use PED's.

In a way, the Biogenesis scandal has come along at the right time.

NOW is the time to change! The chance to change the future is now. The Steroid Era was 15 years ago, but this right now is our chance to change the culture of baseball.

It has reminded us of the need for vigilance,

We are talking about baseball, not a terrorist threat against the United States. And if there was a time to be vigilant it was in the 1990's when all of these players up for Hall of Fame induction were putting up incredible numbers. Possibly if there was more vigilance among media members then Hall of Fame voters wouldn't have such a terribly difficult job voting in new members of the baseball Hall of Fame.

and reinforced the sanctity of the game.

Players have been cheating since the game of baseball was invented. Let's not be overdramatic.

Whatever the outcome, as long as baseball follows through with a serious effort to enforce the rules, people will know that the game has to be played on a level field.

Because cheating shames the game and ruins the integrity of sports...except for those players who cheated and are in the Hall of Fame. That wasn't really profound cheating. Let's not be disillusioned, but assume most players are using PED's. 


jacktotherack said...

I used to get all up-in-arms over PED's but I've gotten to the point where I just don't give a shit. I don't give a shit about the HOF, I REALLY don't give a shit about the sanctity of baseball's records, I just don't care anymore. They could be taking horse steroids for all I care. When it comes to baseball all I care is that the Cubs somehow, some way win a World Series before I'm dead.

jacktotherack said...

I felt compelled to type something else after reading that horrible piece of shit Jerry Green wrote. The main reason I no longer care about the steorids issue is due to this entire moronic notion that baseball is somehow more pure than other American sports. This idea that the good ol' days were so much better. It's so fucking nauseating to hear these fossils wax poetic about what a grand game baseball used to be and how this generation has ruined it.

It's almost gotten to the point where I want the bloated monsters of the Steroids Era to get in the HOF just to spite people like Green and Wulf. I want Bonds to get in and I wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire. I want Sosa to get in even though he seems like a gigantic piece of shit of a human being. That's the point I have gotten to.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever noticed how Andy Pettite seems to escape PED scarlet lettering? I actually just read this hilarious excerpt from Pettite's wikipedia page: "Pettitte verified McNamee's claim, admitting to using the HGH on two occasions in 2002, as it was meant to help heal an injury, and not to enhance his performance." Hey dipshits, healing an injury quicker IS enhancing your performance. If you come back two weeks sooner, you're going from zero performance to something. And yet sportswriters seem loathe to ever toss Pettite on the fire. He's too damn likeable, I guess, plus he's part of the "core four."

I happened to think of this when Wulf said the Yankees should sacrifice their 2000 and 2009 championships because Clemens and A-Rod were on those teams. Pettite was on a lot of championship teams as well, but Wulf doesn't mention him.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, I don't want to say I don't care, but MLB has a drug testing policy. They are doing what they can, so I just try to enjoy the games and not have my enjoyment affected by the use of PED's.

I feel very, very, very confident that MLB doesn't have a bigger PED issue than the NFL and the NBA. I don't know why I feel so confident, but I think in 20 years we will find that MLB was fairly pure (just like these writers like it) and the Steroid Era was a blip on the radar. Writers just like to be dramatic and think baseball is more pure than any other sport because it is "America's pasttime."

If Sosa and Bonds got in, that would be fun to see the reaction of sportswriters that's for sure. It isn't happening though. Not for another decade.

Anon, I think the fact Pettitte has a good public persona and never seemed like a PED user has helped him. He seems likeable and has shown himself to be a winner, so he gets off the hook a bit. Guys like Clemens, Bonds, and Sosa were somewhat grating in ways and Pettitte really isn't.

I thought that was interesting also, because couldn't that mean all of the Yankees titles could be removed since Pettitte was on all the teams? Since we are playing by the whole "You lose a title if you have a PED user on the team" game.