Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hobson’s Choice

Jebus help me. Here’s Jeff Passan wailing and gnashing his teeth:

Performance-enhancing drugs aren't going away.

When Major League Baseball tries to say its steroid testing is working, it seems to forget that there still is no test to determine hGH use.

Its testing is working, yes.

Its testing just isn't good enough.

Nor is the NFL's nor the NBA's nor any other professional sport's. The doctors, much as they try, have not been able to keep up. Athletes are in the same place they were during the go-go '90s: If careful enough, they can get away with just about anything.


Baseball fans have long embraced their game with the knowledge that players have used, do use and will continue to use. Many don't care. The game's greatness usurps all of the damage the players perpetuate through their own selfishness.

For others, however, this comes down to a moral issue: As a fan, can I accept this?

This question is slowly dissolving into an ultimatum: Accept it or don't. Because the more time wears on, the more obvious it becomes that performance-enhancing drugs are the party crasher that refuses to leave.

Sure, you can hold out for the players' unions in every league to subject their constituencies to blood tests that can be stored and re-tested later when doctors find effective tests. That won't happen. If baseball's most hallowed record, Henry Aaron's 755 home runs, is about to be broken by a man in Bonds who allegedly admitted to using two types of designer steroids and that doesn't force the union into action, nothing will.

So we're stuck with a nasty reality. Either we admit every player – even our favorites – might be using performance-enhancing drugs, or we simply deny that reality and live in a cocoon where sports are good and righteous and fair.

Loving sports should come naturally and last unconditionally.

Now, it just isn't that easy.
Three reactions to this:

1. Perhaps I’m misreading Passan’s intent, but what I get from his piece (and please do read the whole thing) is that there’s so much stuff out there that can’t be tested for we have to assume that everyone’s doping or we’re living in a magical fantasy land full of fairies and ponies and free ice cream for everyone. Does that mean that we approach steroids along the same lines of “When did you stop beating your wife?”

2. Admitting that “even our favorite” players might be doping? Spare me. The baseball punditocracy has its pets, and even the most jaded member of the BBWAA, the one who sees a syringe lurking behind every clubhouse towel, would be hard-pressed to admit that the possibility exists. Just as they “know” that guy is definitely on the juice, they “know” their boy is pure. It’s just human nature.

3. Sports (especially Major League Baseball) have never been good, righteous, or fair. Start at Cap Anson and work your way through baseball history, and you’ll find plenty of reasons to not love MLB unconditionally. The Steroids Era is just the latest reason. We’ll see if MLB deserves to survive this time.

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