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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Steroids And Fury

So now we hear that John McCain wants to institute mandatory steroid tests if baseball refuses to "do something" about it. I submit for the less-than-learned McCain the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Which means any such testing regimen would be a prima facie violation of said amendment. McCain, however, exhibits all the true tendencies of a man of his class and stature. He knows how to hold a press conference. He is infinitely pliable. He contains enormous seas of bluster, backed up with a shrewd capacity to keep himself inoffensive in the eyes of his colleagues and of the voters. That is to say, he has no intention of actually doing anything, but he needs a pig to roast in public. The experience with the Fiscal Year 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Bill is instructive. Certainly, he announced his indignation about the pork contained therein -- but after the pig had left the pen, that is, only after passing the federal budget did he raise his mighty objections. He is a man the lords of baseball -- and the union -- can deal with.

Men like Gammons, on the other hand, who roar and thunder about the game being tarnished because of steroids should know better. We do not erase the records of Hank Aaron because he played in an era of 162-game seasons, nor do we break out the sledgehammer at Cooperstown because Sandy Koufax had possibly the widest strike zone in history. David Pinto, who initially fell for this guff like a man pushed down a basement stairs, in his very next article concludes steroids wouldn't have affected performance that much. So why the paranoia? Why the public hyperventilation? Is it because obvious shams like DARE might get found out for what they are? Is it because William Sessions' comment that "winners don't use drugs" is so transparently wrong that it requires public and illegal beatdowns of anyone proving otherwise?

Near as I can tell, the objections to steroid use come down to these:

But enough. I've already issued my arguments against this madness; apparently, the side effects of warrantless blood tests for megabuck athletes doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone. When the feds come to do mandatory blood tests on your fifth grader, the thugs in charge have a ready-made excuse to trump your objections: Barry Bonds had to do it, too.

David guesses that it wouldn't have much effect, but he doesn't support that with anything resembling evidence. It clearly has some effect - how much is not known. In principle, steroids would have a substantial impact on bat speed, and therefore a substantial impact on power.

I’m sure that if you were to ask Ken Caminiti (you know, if years of steroid use hadn’t ripped-apart his cardiovascular system thus contributing to his untimely death) he would tell you that steroids are what won him the NL MVP in 1996. And I don't think it's a simple coincidence that the majority the premier power hitters of the past decade are known to have used or are the focus of well-placed suspicion. (Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Giambi, Sheffield, Canseco, etc.)

The most compelling argument against steroids is simple: you shouldn’t have to mortgage your personal heath to compete on a level playing field. Liver dysfunction, heart disease, and shrunken testicles should not be the price one should have to pay to be a star.
Get back to me when you have studies proving any of those assertions.
"One study". Wake me when correlation == causality. The government also tells us marijuana is a gateway drug, it's addictive, etc., when no such thing has ever been satisfactorily been shown. I'm doubly skeptical of any government studies showing any banned substance should be banned; they tend to be self-perpetuating.
If you're against random testing for steroids in baseball, then I assume you're also going to be against random testing for all the other pro leagues, as well as the Olympics?
Absolutely. Just how pure are we going to get, here, exactly?
The most compelling argument against steroids is simple: you shouldn’t have to mortgage your personal heath to compete on a level playing field.So you are planning to outlaw professional football?
"level" being the operative word. And I wasn't aware that getting tackled caused cancer...

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