Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Raging about Raffi and the 'Roids

Gatorchick comments here on Rafael Palmeiro testing positive for a banned substance, despite repeated denials in front of Congress and the public. Some commentators have argued that this could keep him out of the Hall of Fame. Some have accused him of being a liar and something approaching a fraud.
Well, I might be a minority in this view, but so what if he took performance enhancing drugs? It does not really bother me all that much, at least anymore than a player that scuffs or alters a ball or corks a bat (Bucky (*&^*^% Dent aside), or really any player that tries to seek an advantage to help him perform at a high level and help his team win. Nick Gillipsie reflects my own feelings, I think, over at Hit and Run:

Performance-enhancing drugs are simply one tool among many that top-level athletes use to maintain their edge. Yes, yes, if a given organization or sporting authority bans them, players should respect those rules. But I'm convinced that one of the main reasons drugs are banned is simply because they are "drugs" and we have a bizarre, fucked-up relation to drugs: We all practice better living through chemistry but we are quick to cordon off good drugs from bad.

And of course, there are other ways to improve the body beyond so-called 'natural' ability: Lasik surgery, weight training, and the always-popular Tommy John surgery, which somehow seems to make a pitcher better than he was before the procedure. Gillipsie comments:
Much of the anti-drug rhetoric in sports is that certain substances screw up the "natural" essence of the players and that they disrupt "the level playing field." If any of that is true, then why not ban weight training? Or off-season conditioning? Or players who fall outside of certain heights and weights that might give them "advantages"...Why are drugs seen as contaminating sports in a way that other interventions--all of which are precisely designed to give indivduals and teams an advantage in competition--are not? Especially since, in the end, it's far from clear that drugs, any more than hugs, "raw talent," or a winning attitude, make the player?

I would also like to point out that the Palmeiro suspension was for the use of a banned substance, not necessarily steroids. And note, too, that unlike other supected abusers, he does not have the prototypical 'look' or history; unlike Giambi, Bonds, Sosa, Canseco, McGwire (Nomar?), he has avoided the DL and did not suddenly pack on muscle.
Look, if a ballplayer wants to improve his game and help his team by taking something to enhance his performance, he should be able too; don't forget, there is a strong likelihood that pitchers have also juiced. I won't comment on that traitorous bum Roger 'I want to pitch closer to Texas so I'm going to Toronto and New York' Clemens. (Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)
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