14 December 2007

The Mighty Casey Has Shot Up

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
But when the report confirmed the rumors, fans let out a groan
Casey, mighty Casey is ingesting human growth hormone.

[with apologies to Ernest Thayer]

To no one's surprise the new Mitchell report on baseball revealed that players are using steroids and human growth hormone as a way to improve performance. Personally, I'm not entirely sure that this is such a big deal, but I'm no expert.

I'm sure that I've attended more than one concert in which the performers have used drugs. I still enjoyed the music. It was entertaining, just like a ball game. Further, every generation of players has looked for an edge, has included cheaters.

But the biggest reason that this might not be such a big deal? I'm convinced that in 50 years, everyone will be using some kind of performance enhancing drug. Who would not take a drug to enhance memory (one I'd take in my old age if it were available and if my mind had begun to fade), and a drug to make the muscles remain flexible and strong? Athletes are probably going to become the early adopters of what will become wide spread - the use of drugs to arrest the effects of aging and to enhance general performance.

Pete Rose got 4,000 hits. It is a very big deal when a player gets 3,000 hits and Rose got more than 4,000. His was an amazing career. But Pete can't be in the Hall of Fame because he bet on the game. (Fiercely competitive, Pete only bet on his team to win - but he bet.) In 2000, the Sycuan Indian Casino became the official sponsor of the San Diego Padres - incorporating their name into the Padres uniforms and marketing. Pete Rose is barred from the Hall of Fame because of his association with gambling. The San Diego Padres now proudly advertise their association with gambling. What seemed renegade in one period becomes the norm in another. This may well be the case with players and drugs.

And finally, it is only a game. But Americans seem to take nothing more seriously.


Debo Blue said...

I personally don't think this doping business will mean too much of anything because like you said, many of today's current radio hits depict drug use in some form or the other.

And besides, we like people who party like Rock Stars, right?

cce said...

I'm torn about this one. I think it's a sad, sad state of affairs when a person feels he or she must dope to stay competitive. Incredible talent and determination not being enough in and of themselves. And while NPR, like all other news organizations, did 24 hour coverage of the Mitchell report, I did hear a very sad interview with a father whose son killed himself after spiraling into a steroid induced depression. I suppose I think of pro players as freaks (like celebrities, nothing they do can surprise me), but when high school students are compelled to dope in order to make the team, I think there's a huge problem - a dangerous trickle down effect.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

You make some excellent points, Ron. There is a question of justice in all of this. My prime concern is the kids who would decide to take the steroid route, which is not only dangerous to their growth and health, but can also be deadly.

Ron Davison said...

Thanks for stopping by R World.

cce & Saint Nick,
I sort of agree. This drug use makes it difficult for players to excel and stay healthy. But I guess I'm stupidly optimistic (cynical?) about the progress of drugs and such and suspect that in less than 50 years, these side effects will be eliminated. At that point, it'll be a less a question of risk return than what we mean by potential.

David said...

The Mitchell Report has its flaws and so does baseball's management of this "crisis" and I find your reasoning sensible here. We love to see the long ball don't we and during those recording breaking home run frenzy days of McGwire and Bonds fans paid little attention to how they were doing it. As you point out in your illustration with Pete Rose there are lots of contradictions when it comes to sports morality. Thank God Tiger Woods isn't a question mark. A gent in England said of drug testing for golf, "just test Tiger, then if he's clean, it doesn't matter about the rest." I think when we herald that Tim Tebow at 12 years old could throw a football 80 yards from down on one knee, we're telling kids you need to find a way to do that. So why not performance enhancing drugs with no side effects?

Damon said...

i've not noticed sycuan on the padre uniforms...