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Steroids Schmeroids

May 30, 2006

It was always a guessing game as to who was on steroids when I was in college. The testing policy was just around the corner in those days, and IIRC it was nothing like the one in place today when it was implemented. I can remember the huge brows and bloated heads of those we suspected, and the girl friend punching rage of those who were easy guesses. I’m fairly sure that the guy ahead of me in my position was juiced. I sucked, so it didn’t really matter. But you know what? I don’t care.

I don’t care about players taking ‘roids. If they want to risk having testicles the size of chick peas when they get old, if they want to walk around looking like Lurch’s broke ass cousin, if the ladies wish to develop a jaw line like the dude who played the bounty hunter on the X-Files, that’s fine with me. A bout with cancer is apparently a decent trade for a shot at immortality (Lyle Alzado).

What I don’t get is all the hemming and hawing over Bonds (and lets not forget McGuire, if we believe everything we read then we should be all over him, too) by netnerds who have never played a down, taken a swing, shot on goal, thrown a body check, broken the tape. What possible concern is it of yours? Oh, he’s cheating! Christ, it isn’t like the Babe was a model citizen. It isn’t like there weren’t things like shine balls, bat tar, cocaine abuse, alcoholism, and all manner of ills during sports in the days before the miracles of modern science. Were major league ball integrated during the 30’s, we’d be talking about Josh Gibson, not Babe Ruth, anyway. I don’ t know if there’s enough steroids in the world to catch Gibson. Integrity of the game? HA! Double HA! Did ANYONE see Eight Men Out?

I saw an interesting interview with my grandad’s namesake, Willie Mays, a few weeks ago. Mays admitted that if ‘roids had been around in those days, he might have tried it. Mays, arguably the greatest, most gifted baseball player of all time, might have juiced. If someone so obviously better than 95% of the players in the game during his day thought he might need it, what about some hungry, ambitious kid looking one day to be a poster on some other kid’s wall?

Maybe Bonds, who was already heading for Hall of Fame numbers, didn’t need juice (if he in fact did take something illegal). Perhaps he did need it if he wanted to catch our attention and respect. Ever listen to talk sports radio call in shows? All these experts, all these second string high school quarterbacks coming in with their wisdom and knowledge about the game. If someone like Bonds (or let us say the dirty word, Pacman) doesn’t perform to our standards, they’re a pariah. We’re all over them. We sports fans don’t give a shit about good. Sometimes we don’t really care about great. Show us the best, break all the records, be a winner. Then we might care. Then Jim Rome might shut up about you for five minutes and start riding your jock.

What do we always hear? It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. You might think I’m going to say we don’t believe that, but we do – in context. It is how you play the game, meaning, if you play the game the way it is supposed to be played, you should win/excel.

If you played, you understand what I’m saying, even if like me you were terrible. If you didn’t play, you can continue to stand on the side throwing stones at that glass stadium your tax dollars built and support. Athletes (usually) want to be the best, and also, they want to be recognized as the best. It isn’t about egotism. Everyone has some of that, don’t kid yourself. It’s the one thing everyone has in common with Trump and Spielberg. Sometimes, being great just isn’t good enough.

So, athletes cheat, like high school kids on an algebra test. Wow. I’m saving my bitterness and complaints for Bush and Cheney and Rummy.  You?

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