Tagged: Game of Shadows

You can say I cheated; prop me up defeated

We all need to gain the upper hand.
An edge to do even better than we
can.
No one seemed to care when it brought back the fans.
It’s a broken
record, strike up the band for the broken man.

Until I read Game of Shadows, I guess I thought steroids were for the stereotypical sluggers, the home run kings, McGwire and Bonds and the like.  But the book was an eye-opener to me.  Not that the material on Bonds wasn’t astounding, laid out in damning detail, but the most amazing part to me was the description of an unnamed relief pitcher–a journeyman, you get the impression, one of those guys who pitches in wins and losses but who can pretty much count on going out there every few days on an irregular schedule and throwing a small sphere in a way that stresses bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons in ways that humans really weren’t designed for.  And you see how the illegal drug he’s tried is a miracle.  Not because it gave him more miles on his fastball; not because it made his changeup more deceptive or helped his breaking ball find the corner of the plate.

Because the morning after he pitched, he woke up… and he wasn’t in pain.

A crowd so loud and a
son so very proud.
The powers that be counting money, handing me a
crown.
Only now they decide that it’s time to take a stand.
It’s a
broken record, strike up the band for the broken man.

Game of Shadows was disheartening to me because its message was clear:  these drugs are all over the sport, and everyone knows it.  Now, that’s not the same as saying that everyone’s using them: of course that’s not true.  But it does mean, I think, that everyone knows someone who is; everyone’s competing with someone who is.  (And if I were a fan of track and field, or swimming, I’d feel even worse.)  You may suspect the player whose warning-track power suddenly seems to reach ten rows into the bleachers, or the guy racking up double-digit home run totals for the first time in his thirties–but it’s as likely to be the infielder whose body would break down by August without chemical help, the number five starter trying to avoid the DL or surgery.

The Mitchell Report, then, really didn’t say anything to me that I didn’t already figure was true.  Nor did Kirk Radomski’s Bases Loaded, which I just finished reading.  Radomski went into a little more detail about individual steroids, and about the availability of HGH.  When I mentioned to a friend that I’d read the book, I was surprised by her response:  she asked, “Do you find him credible?”  I guess it hadn’t even occurred to me not to.  Everything was so plausible.

You can say I
cheated; prop me up defeated.
Take a swing at me and the others too, if
you’ve got nothing better to do.

The 2003 testing, of course, was to be confidential; it was intended only to see if the percentage of positive tests was higher than the threshold necessary to take action.  But don’t forget, the testing available couldn’t even at the time identify THG; even now, let alone then, there is no permitted testing with a shot at identifying HGH. 

There’s a street not far away that’s
named after me.
But my present and future is a gated community.

It is unfair to me that Alex Rodriguez was named from that “confidential” report.  I’m not sure how I feel about the cries to release the other names.  But first and foremost, I ask you–what do they mean?  Do you think that was in any way an exhaustive list?  Do you not think that the number of players using HGH now dwarfs that list?

I don’t know if any of the fallout from this revelation will lead to change.  It seems a lot of folks are so invested in looking the other way, in keeping things as they are, that the powers that be may try to pretend that widespread PED use ended with the onset of testing.  But until testing catches up with the drugs, it’s going to be out there.

The only way there will be meaningful change, I believe, is if the players’ union allows blood testing–and the preservation of split samples.  Short of that, I think we’re all looking the other way.

Leave
your past behind if you really want to understand.
It’s a broken
record, strike up the band for the broken man.

(Lyrics from “Broken Man,” from the Baseball Project’s Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails)

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