Friday, December 03, 2004

Roids should only be the stuff that Preparation H cures

Ok, now the guano is hitting the proverbial spinning thing, and we are seeing the sports world react to steroids is various ways. But, the one thing that no one is talking about is - how does this affect the owners?

Come now, you are probably thinking, who really cares about the owners? I mean if they cared about drugs they wouldn't keep hiring Darryl Strawberry or Steve Howe. I would like to say that steroids are far worse than any other recreational drugs - especially for the owners - here's why.

1) The players are fabricating their talents.

Just like Tim Johnson telling tall inspirational tales about Vietnam or George O'Leary fudging his resume, players who take steroids are misrepresenting themselves. They are saying that they are strong, healthy, great players and the moment there is a drug testing policy, negative press or a criminal investigation, their abilities change. They are no longer the player that an owner paid to serve his team. They change from 50 HR guys back into 15 HR spray hitters, if they are lucky enough not to still send fly balls into the air to only fall short at the warning track.

Just like Johnson and O'Leary, they should be subject to immediate dismissal and in addition a complete voiding of their contract. The steroided ones have created a false resume - statistics that are not built on the reality of their talents, but on the artificial base of chemistry. I am sure any kind of action like that will probably get players attention a lot quicker than asterisks.

2) There seems to be an abrupt drop off immediately when a player stops taking steroids

Jose Canseco was great. Ken Caminiti was great. Jason Giambi was great. All three admitted to taking steroids. All three plunged off the face of the earth, when most careers seem to be extended in this day and age. Canseco had his last good year at the age of 34. Caminiti's last full good year was at the age of 35. Giambi was only 33 this year as he dropped to all time lows and spent a good deal of the season on the DL. All of the sudden injuries come to the forefront, and the gladiator is only able to limp into position or the batter's box. Power numbers drop precipitously.

So, if you're an owner and you just gave these guys a long term contract based on false information, why should you honor it? You may get one or two good years, but after that, their statistics are barely worth league average. The MVPs would be lucky to win a player of the week award.

3) Early death.

This has less to do with owners and more to do with being a human being. As much as we love to watch players achieve magic on the field by hitting bombs to the upper deck, we certainly don't want to see them end up dead before they are 50. Caminiti died when he was 41. I have no clue if steroids played a part, but they certainly couldn't help. Watching the deaths roll up in professional wrestling makes me think that it won't be long and we will be seeing the same thing happen with MLB stars. We won't be able to see another scene like Ted Williams at the All-Star Game speaking the gospel of hitting. The owners will see the ratings for their summer classic drop.

As dangerous as drunk driving and recreation drug use are, we have societal punishments and well defined laws that spell out fines and jail time. The leagues have created policies for these problems as well. (Some would argue they aren't tough enough, but they are at least in place.) For steroids we don't have that. BALCO was investigated for tax fraud. I haven't heard about Canseco serving time for steroid use. I could be wrong, but I think it is up to MLB to create a punishment to fit the crime. So, owners, if you are listening, I doubt the player's union will let you void any contracts any time soon. Caveat Emptor! The best way for you to avoid these problems is to put a very stringent steroid policy in place. At least a year suspension without pay for the first offense. Get involved with the IOC testing group - they seem to be at the forefront for investigating new designer drugs. Keep up with the technology so that there won't be as long of a learning curve and the possibility for that first punishment will be a greater risk for a player. That will stop the use and maybe save a couple lives.


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