Monday, February 16, 2009

No, spit balls are not the same as steroids

I have a quick note to steroid apologists...
Yes, I realize there is a tradition of cheating in baseball.

I know some well known cheats are in the Hall of Fame!

I lived in the Bay Area during the joyless Bonds home run chase and callers into KNBR would say "How is this different than Gaylord Perry and his spit ball?"

Now people are bringing that analogy back (and scuffed balls, corked bats and Mickey Mantle being drunk.)

OK, let me tell you the difference. Possession and use of these steroids are ILLEGAL!

Not in terms of the rules of baseball... in terms of the LAW!

Look, when Joe Niekro got caught with an emery board in his pocket during a game, he got ejected.

But if a cop caught him with an emery board, he can't even issue him a ticket.

If Gaylord Perry got caught throwing a spit ball, he'd get tossed.

But outside the ballpark he could lick a baseball in broad daylight and drool all over it and have it drip with saliva.
Would it be illegal?

It would be gross but within the boundaries of the law.

If I was caught purchasing or using one of these steroids in question... I could get arrested.

It's that crossing the boundaries of the laws of the United States of America that make it a little dicey.

As for Mickey's boozing, it would a stretch to claim alcohol was a performance ENHANCING drug.

One knucklehead called up XM Home Plate last night and said "What's the difference between steroids and getting a cortisone shot?" And later added "If your arm is tired, then you shouldn't be pitching."

Not only is that pretty tough (and I wouldn't want to be HIS son) but also fails to address one critical difference:

A cortisone shot is delivered by a doctor in a hospital... not in a bathroom stall by Alex Rodriguez's cousin.

See the difference?
It's subtle.


  1. You make some good points. Especially on the stupidity of comparing PED's to spitballs, etc. Spitballs are closer to stealing signs. Cortisone shots are closer to taking aspirin to dull pain. I wouldn't recommend cortisone shots long term, but it is ludicrous to compare them to PED's. The whole thing is convoluted. The arguments people make on both sides tend to go all over the map - from almost rational to incredibly ridiculous. Yes, A-Rod screwed up and made bad decisions. However, some of the journalists seem to be trying to out do each other in the level of condemnation of the guy. I'm waiting for the next column I read to recommend he be roasted over a live flame.

    I'm not excusing A-Rod for his failings. However, an issue reporters seem to be intentional ignoring is somebody broke a deal. The union agreed on behalf of these players to those tests with the understanding that it was being done anonymously to establish a baseline of usage and all results and samples would be destroyed. Someone needs to be digging into the leak.

    Personally, as a sports fan, I can't wait until someone else screws up so ESPN can talk about something else.

  2. Anonymous7:43 PM

    Could you PLEASE stop writing about steroids and get back to your all-time lists?? We all know your position on juicers becuase you post about it all the time. You happen to be wrong, but that is, of course allowed. Now get back to something where you hardly ever make a mistake!

  3. Anon,

    Instead of doing a drive-by shooting, how about explaining how you believe he is wrong on the subject. Just saying he is wrong says nothing.

    Right now, players are just reporting to spring training getting physicals and learning the names of their new teammates, so the A-Rod business is the main (heck, only) story for the time being.


    Having said all that, I'm anxiously awaiting your take on home grown and acquired Indians.

  4. Thanks for the help, Large Bill... as drive bys go that was a nice one in that he obviously reads my home grown/acquired.

    I am currently finishing up the Brewers, White Sox and Royals and they'll all be up this weekend.

    After that I have the Tigers, Indians and Braves which should all be done by the first week of March.

    Then all I'll need to do are the Phillies, Cubs, Rays and Cardinals (I promised someone I'd do St. Louis last)

    And I am toying with the idea of doing one bonus one... the best All Time Home Grown and Acquired for the city of Washington, combining the best Washington players from the Twins, Rangers and Nationals list

    But I promise, I'll ease up on the steroids.
    I'm tired of the story too

    I have one more steroids post then I'll let it go

  5. I actually didn't mean to "drive-by" and clicked the anonymous identifier by mistake. I've commented about steroids on here before as well. I think that every era has seen players try to gain a competitive advantage by some tactic or another ("greenies" come to mind, as does the spitball, as does cortisone for that matter, though not as much).

    Whether something is illegal or not does not change the fact that it causes a competetive advantage. The true measure of a player is how he produces against the competition of his day. . .since plenty of major leaguers (I suspect MOST) took steroids and gained that competitive advantage, then his greatness or lack thereof will be judged by that measure. Those that didn't take steroids are welcome to sing the praises of the clean life just as those who didn't throw spitballs or take speed are welcome to do.

    Did steroids create a competitive advantage in MLB? Honestly, who knows! Expansion, juiced balls (not an injection location), and bandbox stadiums contributed as much to the mid-90s rise in numbers as much as steroids if not more. Does it matter that steroids are "illegal"? In Denver,CO it is illegal to loan your vacuum cleaner to your next door neighbor. In MA, children may smoke but it is unlawful for them to buy cigarettes. My point? Some laws are stupid. Is the presence of steroids as a schedule III narcotic stupid? I honestly have no idea. But just becuase something is illegal, doesn't always mean it is wrong.

    MLB chose to ban the use of steroids in 2002. Judge harshly those that injested them past that date. But do not start to equate the rules with the law. When we do, sports fans are in trouble.

  6. MLB banned steroids in 1991
    Not an opinion, a fact.

    Just because they didn't test for them before that didn't mean they weren't banned.


  7. And BSU, I have said that if there was a steroid to make me move up in the TV world, I might take it... and I've said that we can't throw away all the great players in this era just because of 'roids.

    And you are right, there are many other "non steroid" factors for the boost in numbers.

    Take a look at when they went from the dirty dead ball to the clean live ball how offense skyrocketed in the 1920s and 1930s

    (I think expansion is overrated as a factor, but LargeBill and I already had that conversation.)

    Some laws may indeed be stupid.
    Banning steroids isn't one of them. Injecting hormones to change your body chemically without any knowledge of what it does long term.

    Yeah it's one thing for stupid adults to do it, but when kids start doing it, it becomes a scary proposition.

    Christ even I'm bored about this topic
    I'm going to finish my "Brewers Home Grown vs Acquired"

  8. Perhaps I got what I wanted after all. I love those lists!

    I suppose reasonable people can disagree on many things. A memo from Fay Vincent in 1991 with zero enforcement doesn't qualify as a policy to me. Anabolic steroids were explicitly banned in 2002 and HGH in 2005. Banned AND tested for. That is a policy.

    Andro is probably the most interesting example of a drug that was neither illegal nor banned when it was in use. It is the drug most responsible for the steroid era (though it technically isn't anabolic in nature). It wasn't illegal until 2005, but I suppose you could say that it was banned since 2002. Big Mac retired in 2001. That said, the whole illegal-banned argument loses steam. What contributed more to the so-called steroid era than andro?

    Ok, I'm done. Go Brew Crew!

  9. Some people, both athletes and non athletes, abuse of anabolic steroids in an attempt to improve their performance or their physical appearance....

  10. Anonymous12:15 PM

    counter sales. As time goes on it seems it might be considered as benign a performance enhancer as coffee, aspirin, red bull, chewing tobacco, and bubble gum.