A Single Needle; Single Handily Changing the Game Essay
A Single Needle; Single Handily Changing the Game
America’s Pastime has been the true root of sports in the United States of America. Baseball blew up in the late 19th century towards the end of the American Civil War. Before there were TV’s, internet, or DVD’s, baseball is what kids did for fun. It became the thing to do if you were a white male going into the 20th century, and that was just the beginning of a long bittersweet road of the game of baseball. Up until the 1990’s many greats had walked in between the lines showing off their pure god given talent, then an era came along that makes every baseball fan cringe, the “Steroids Era.” Steroids started to spread throughout the league like wildfire, and sadly no one was doing anything about it.
The only thing administration, owners, authorities, and fans had were suspicion no one knew for sure if these record breaking seasons were real or all just a fluke. The greats like Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, and Ted Williams all have been being surpassed in the record books by Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGuire, and plenty more players due to the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs. The use of illegal Steroids in baseball has single handily degraded and disgraced the great game that once was proud to be known as America’s Pastime.
The man who started it all and really brought Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) to the baseball scene in the late 1980’s was Oakland Athletics outfielder, Jose Canseco. Once Canseco starting showing his teammates how influential these drugs were to their performance through his own personal achievements it wasn’t long before a large amount of players were using PEDs. Canseco states in his book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big that, “About 85% of Major Leaguers have used it” (Canseco). The MLB rarely, if at all tested for steroids during this time of the “Steroids Era” and if they did there was no penalty for testing positive. At the time it was virtually a win win for the players, they could juice up, exceed the stats they could only dream about, and never get in trouble during the process. Performance Enhancing Drugs became an epidemic in the world of baseball, but not only was it enhancing players performance, it was enhancing every aspect of revenue a ball club could ever imagine. The Record books were once again open and ready for business.
Athletes such as Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Mark McGuire, and so forth were smashing homeruns and going up on the charts little by little for the all time homerun record holder, Hank Aaron. This excitement on the field attracted more fans through these steroid years than baseball had ever seen, and when there are fans there is money, and when there is money there is no concern. The Major League of Baseball had been oblivious to the illegal use of Steroids over the years. Until 2002 there were no penalties for testing positive for PEDs. The new rules stated, “A first time offense would only result in treatment for the player” (Baseball-Almanac). Not one player was sentenced to any suspensions for this crime, until the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) steroid scandal came to light, and brought out many of the All-Stars of the MLB to the top of the list. Victor Cante the founder of BALCO was a god to the sports world. He was the guy that not only supplied athletes with their steroids, but also had ways to cheat the tests so they could come up clean.
Testing companies such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the U.S Anti Doping-Agency (USADA) are always trying to improve the efficiency of the tests to make cheating near impossible if not totally full proof, but as those agencies are working to stop the cheaters workers at BALCO labs are finding ways once again come up with a new way to slide by the new and improved tests on the market (Quinn). So in 2005 The MLB created a new testing policy that was accepted by the players and owners that said, “The first positive test will result in a suspension of up to ten days. The second positive test will result in a suspension of thirty days. The third positive test will result in a suspension of sixty days. The fourth positive test will result in a suspension of one full year.
Finally, the fifth positive test will result in a penalty at the discretion of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Players will be tested at least once per year, with a chance that several players can be tested numerous times per year” (Baseball-Almanac). That wasn’t the last adjustment Bud Selig, the Commissioner of the Major League of Baseball, was going to make to the steroid testing policy. On December 13, 2007, Greg Mitchell, an investigator who was appointed by Bud Selig in 2006 to investigate the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in the MLB, presented a 409 page report to Selig showing his investigation and revealing 89 alleged players who used steroids during their career (Healey).
Once Bud Selig had been shown the report, his 3rd written drug testing policy came in to play which was known as the “Three strikes and you’re out approach” (Verhaeghe). This final policy stated that, “The first positive test would result in a fifty game suspension. The second positive test would result in a one-hundred game suspension. Finally, the third positive test would result in a lifetime suspension from Major League Baseball” (Baseball Almanac). Bud Selig and the rest of the administration inside of the Major League of Baseball had finally seen the light, and properly taken action on how to cut down the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs throughout the MLB.
Once the “Mitchell Report” was released many super stars and role models for fans all around the world were printed in black under the category of the illegal use of steroids throughout their career. The most popular player named in the Mitchell Report due to his court and trial issues would have to be 7 time Cy Young winner, Roger Clemens. Once he saw that his name had been brought to light in the report he went to Capitol Hill to clear his name off the list that he felt he didn’t need to be on. Little did he know that when made the statement,
“I appreciate the opportunity to tell this Committee and the public-under oath-what I have been saying all along: I have never used steroids, human growth hormone [HGH], or any other type of illegal performance enhancing drugs. I think these types of drugs should play no role in athletics at any level, and I fully support Senator Mitchell’s conclusions that steroids have no place in baseball. However, I take great issue with the report’s allegation that I used these substances. Let me be clear again: I did not.” (Healey)
That he was entering a world of charges when committing perjury in a court of law. Many of the players claimed their innocence like Clemens did, but in the end they all served the types of charges.
The original group of all time Baseball greats like Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Cy young, etc. set a high standard for the Players after them to strive for and gave them something to achieve. Never in their minds would they of thought that the game of baseball would have turned out the way it is today. These modern day All-stars who cheated and used Performance Enhancing Drugs for a shortcut just to go ahead of someone’s hard work and love for the game as well to achieve their personal and selfish desires should be punished and have their awards and accolades stripped from them and taken out of the record books as if they were never there to begin with.
The use of Performance Enhancing Drugs has put a permanent stain on the name of Baseball and what it is truly about. Bud Selig and the Major league of Baseball has come a long way regarding minimizing the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs by enforcing harsher penalties and consequences for testing Positive for steroids. As the years have gone by thanks to the leagues stricter policies on testing positive for PEDs the amount of players getting suspended for steroid use has decreased on a year to year basis. The Major League of Baseball will never be able to completely take Performance Enhancing Drugs out of the game, but with the right consequences, and appropriate policies they will be able continue to keep the use of Steroids at a very low rate and never re-enter the once dreaded time known as the “Steroids Era” ever again.
Healey, Daniel. “FALL OF THE ROCKET: STEROIDS IN BASEBALL AND THE
CASE AGAINEST ROGER CLEMENS.” Marquette Sports Law Review 19.1 (September 2008): SPORTDiscus. Web. 8 November 2011.
Roger “The Rocket” Clemens is known to be one of the best of all-time to step on the rubber in the game of Major League Baseball. The Seven-time Cy Young winner was ultimately unstoppable in the last half of his career. He was just another great phenom in the baseball world until December 13, 2007 when the “Mitchell Report” was released, revealing a 409-page report that was sent to the commissioner of baseball (Bud Selig) that investigated the illegal use of steroids and Performance Enhancing Drugs used by players in Major League Baseball. There were over 80 players put on this report, but the one who stood out the most was Roger Clemens himself. On February 13th 2008 he went to Capitol Hill to argue the allegations against him saying,
“I appreciate the opportunity to tell this Committee and the public-under oath-what I have been saying all along: I have never used steroids, human growth hormone [HGH], or any other type of illegal performance enhancing drugs. I think these types of drugs should play no role in athletics at any level, and I fully support Senator Mitchell’s conclusions that
Steroids have no place in baseball. However, I take great issue with the report’s allegation that I used these substances. Let me be clear again: I did not.”
Once Clemens had stated that it put a rather large target on his back not only by investigators but also the judicial system. They were trying to get him to admit using illegal steroids, but now as well they were going after him on counts of perjury. After 2 years of gathering enough evidence and testimonies on August 19, 2010 a Federal Grand Jury Indicted Roger Clemens on six counts, one count of obstruction of congress, three counts of false statements, and two counts of perjury. On July 13, 2011 Clemens’ first trial began, but on the second day the judge ruled a mistrial due to prosecutorial misconduct. For now Roger Clemens is a free man, but legal sources say that he will be retried.
I will be using the “Mitchell Report” and the Roger Clemens trial to portray that not only is the use of steroids extremely risky and unhealthy but also that it’s against the law and you will get caught one way or another. 1991 to 2002 was known as the “Steroid Era” in professional baseball. Over those years particularly in 1995 after the cancellation of the 1994 playoffs and World Series the statistics of a majority of the players skyrocketed, which in retrospect played a huge role in filling the empty seats back up after the 1994 strike. I’ll be explaining that up until to this point in time the MLB did not have strict regulations on testing for the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)
Kuenster, John. “Major League Player Records Dishonored by Steroid Users.” Baseball
Digest. 62.2 (March 2008): SPORTDiscus. Web. 8 November 2011.
John Kuenster touches on a very valuable subject when it comes to records, and honors given in the MLB. Back in early in mid 1900’s the greats of the game like, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, and Ernie Banks. They all set legitimate records that should never be shadowed by the players who eventually broke them. These few players all had something in common. That was hard work and love for the game. They didn’t use PEDs to up there stats or to get to a higher number in a certain category. These historic greats earned their records off pure talent that was god given and worked hard to mature.
The greats of our time such as, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, or Mark McGwire also hold records like men mentioned earlier. The only difference between the past greats and the current greats is that these new all-stars were accused of using Steroids to achieve their records. Not only are the players the ones to blame for the whole “Steroid Era.” Stricter steps should have been taken from the get go through the league to enforce steroid testing to ensure the safety and fair play in professional play of baseball before the use of steroids spread like wildfire through the MLB. Will records and awards be stripped from players who’ve been tested positive for performing enhancing drugs? We don’t know for now, but who knows what the future holds.
This article about dishonoring the awards given to players who have achieved them unfairly will allow me to voice my opinion on the topic of record breakers involving steroids. I personally am against the use of steroids solely because all it does it degrade the great game of baseball. Even though these cheaters didn’t use PEDs their whole career and achieved some of their record off pure talent doesn’t change the fact they broke the rules that is stated in the contract that’s signed by every professional player. It’s not fair that history’s greatest baseball players prior to the steroid era should be passed up in the record books by players that made themselves better by an illegal drug. Not only is it a disgrace to the violators name, but more importantly it’s a disgrace to the game of baseball.
Rutecki, Jared. “A Study of Media Impact on Public Opinion Regarding Performance
Enhancement in Major League Baseball.” Open Sports Sciences Journal 3 (2010): SPORTSDiscus. Web. 8 November 2011.
A chart in the article, A study of Media Impact on Public Opinion Regarding Performance Enhancement in Major League Baseball shows the percent of the coverage on specific sports and PEDs through 1968 to 2006 in Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, and Time. Baseball ranks number one in all 3 magazines with 43 percent, 39 percent, and 39 percent. Coming in second was football with a significant lower percent of 19, 14, and 15. Over the year’s magazine articles about PEDs have increased by a huge amount due to the popularity in steroid use among professional athletes.
With the widespread use of steroids in sports particularly baseball, it’s apparent that the talk of it in magazines and media in general has shot up too. When something isn’t a public issue the media obviously isn’t interested in it which is why steroids in the earlier years weren’t written and talked about much. When the “Steroid Era” came into play that’s when the number of articles in magazines skyrocketed year by year and it all of sudden became a huge topic in our society. I will also be touching on the fact that even when people knew that steroids were an issue media didn’t start writing about it like crazy until the 104 MLB players tested positive for PEDs in 2003. From that year on the number of articles per year were above 49. The media writes what sells and in this day and age information and insider news about the world of baseball and steroids will always sell.
Solberg, Joe. “Performance-Enhancing Drug Use in Baseball: The Impact of Culture.”
Ethics and Behavior 21 (April 2011): 91-102. Philosopher’s Index. Web. 8 November 2011.
Joe Solberg explains that once the steroid era of baseball blew up and became steady that it wasn’t out of the norm anymore, it became part of the culture. Once everyone was doing it the person below them had to use PEDs in order to get to the next level. The use of Steroids is a ladder that started in the pro’s and worked its way down to the minors.
Major League Contracts are more than less based off offensive performance rather than defensive performance. To be more specific on offensive performance homeruns are what really can land you a big money contract. Over the years the biggest category that PEDs have helped is homeruns. Of course players want a lot of money, and in order to get that money is to hit homeruns, and in order to increase the amount of homeruns is to take performance enhancing drugs. Players will do what they have to do in order to make the money that they are satisfied with, and as a result for most players it is to partake in using steroids to increase their status as an all-star.
The information I gathered in this article will help me explain the player’s motives for wanting to use PEDs. It’s not only used just to break records and be known as an all-star even though that is a plus that comes with it, but it’s the fact that if the person above you is using these substances then in order for you to excel above him and potentially take his spot you almost feel obligated to take PEDs as well. It was once a bad thing to be associated with the group known to take steroids back when it was a rare thing to do. Now days it’s such a common thing to partake in its part of the culture, it’s fairly normal in the MLB now to use PEDs.
Sommers, Paul. “The Changing Hitting Performance Profile in Major League Baseball,
1966-2006.” Journal of Sports Economics 9.4 (August 2008) SPORTSDiscus. Web. 8 November 2011.
Paul Sommers showed charts over the decades of average years played by an average starter in the pros. It went from 5.2 years in the 60’s to 6 in a half years in 2006. That shows that the use of steroids in the MLB increased a player’s career by almost 2 years. He also explains that the use of PEDs in baseball lets you peak at a higher level of skill. A persons overall skill level will increase by a big number while using steroids. Someone hitting .267 without the use of steroids could jump anywhere from a .324 to .378 average depending on the person. With all the statistics shown throughout the article it’s proven that Performance enhancing drugs increase a player’s batting average, peak, years played, MPH, and overall skill level.
Before the 1960’s after a player’s peak their batting average tended to decline steadily due to falling off from their prime, but after the 1960’s a large amount of players started to excel past their peak year and raise their batting averages past their prime which was unusual. As we know now the reason for that was the use of PEDs.
After 2004 the statistics seemed to start trending again like the 1960’s due to the random and mandatory drug tests which disabled the players to partake in using Anabolic Steroids of HGH. I will be using this information to show how all PEDs have been proven in many to not only better athletes, but make them more durable and tack on extra years of successful productivity past their prime. PEDs aren’t physically making them younger, but they sure are making them produce younger aged stats in a past prime aged body.
Stone, Brad. “Another Poison Pill” Newsweek 146.7 (August 15 2005): Academic
Search Complete. Web. 8 November 2011.
The MLB is by far the top sport when it comes to the abuse of Performance Enhancing Drugs, but yet it holds the weakest punishment in the sports world for testing positive. Rafael Palmeiro in 2008 tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs in early August of 2008 just months after he testified before a U.S congressional committee stating that he had never used PEDs in his life. Not only did he test positive for steroids, he failed the test after lying under oath in a court of law, and all he was punished with through the MLB was a 10-day suspension and a $164,000 fine. Due to the particular steroid Palmeiro took, Stanozonol, which travels through your digestive system within 2 weeks, makes it hard for the court to prove that Palmeiro was lying when he testified.
Baseball wants to stop the abuse of Steroids, but at the same time it seems like all these players that test positive these substances just get slaps on the wrist and are told not to do it again. If you want a problem to come to a halt you have to go the extra distance in order to get the results you’re looking for. PEDs have been persistent in the MLB for decades now; telling a player to stop will ultimately not stop them. There needs to be an ultimatum put into action to make the abusers consider that these PEDs aren’t worth the loss of their career.
Every other sport that has extremely harsh penalties if tested positive for PEDs don’t have a very high percent of positive tests because the players don’t want to take the risk to put their career on the line. In the MLBs case they aren’t putting a severe enough consequence for the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs. My main point I’ll be using from this article is that if you want the use of PEDs to lower then you have to put consequences that the players don’t want to deal with out there in order to produce more negative resulting drug tests.
Quinn, Tom “BASEBALL’S STEROID ERA.” Men’s Fitness 23.
(August 2007): SPORTSDiscus. Web. 8 November 2011
Throughout the history of baseball testing for either steroids or street drugs really hasn’t been a big part of the games policy. Player’s played the game and what they did off the field was their own business. Once the early 80’s hit, and PEDs came on the scene the use of them among players got out of hand. It became an almost regular regime for a majority of the MLB. Tests were eventually being given, but that didn’t stop the players. When there’s motive to do illegal substances there’s always the backup plan to keep these athletes out of trouble.
There were plenty of ways to come up clean on a test, and when the testers would find a way to stop it, Victor Cante and his crew at BALCO labs would just simply find another way to cheat. Even when the few unlucky players’ get caught all they have to do is admit it and simply explain they were told it was something else. For Example, Barry Bonds, when he spoke in front of the BALCO grand jury he came clean about all the PEDs he had taken, but the catch was he stated that he was oblivious to what he was actually using. People of this stature will make their illegal decisions, but don’t think they don’t have all the answers for when the going gets tough.
I’ll be using Quinn’s article “BASEBALL STEROIDS ERA” to inform how little baseball can really do to not only catch these users, but to actually put a stop to the Performance Enhancing Drugs. If not cheating tests to save their own ass’ these professional athletes will just find a perfect window of time to where they know they won’t be tested in the offseason to fit in a couple cycles here and there to maintain the gains through using PEDs.
Testing companies such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the U.S Anti Doping-Agency (USADA) will never stop trying to improve the efficiency of the tests to make cheating near impossible if not totally full proof, but as those agencies are working to stop the cheaters don’t think the cheaters at BALCO labs aren’t finding ways to break through and find loop holes in their tests.
Verhaeghe, Dan. “Bud Selig Lays Down the Hammer on Performance Enhancing Drugs”. Bleacher Report. (January 2008): Web. 30 November 2011
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 13 August 2017
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