Steroids: Baseball’s Black Mark

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Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) or steroids have been a scourge in sports for nearly seventy years. In some sports, they can skew the results, for instance, weight lifting (to date there have been 176 doping cases), athletics (to date there have been over 900 cases of doping), the list of sports where doping or steroid abuse has taken place is long. Unfortunately, this problem has also infected America’s national pastime, Baseball.

Over the last century or more baseball has been affected by many scandals, gambling, game fixing, cheating (Houston Astros 2016-18), greed (1994 players strike), racism (the owners no-blacks gentleman’s agreement),  slavery (Major Leagues reserve clause). The most recent scandal to hit baseball is the issue of steroids.

Like any other sport, the players all want to be the best at what they do, most train hard to improve their skills, but some prefer the easy way, PEDs. The first time this problem occurred the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) refused to do allow any testing on players because they said it was their job to protect players.

The Canseco Books

Jose Canseco and the Mitchell Investigation into Steroids in Baseball

Major League Baseball came under more scrutiny when retired player Jose Canseco had his book “Juiced” publish, which listed many players that took or are taking PEDs, Raphael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, to name a few. His second book “Vindicated”, added more fuel to the fire by name more players, including Alex Rodriguez. Even though a drug policy had been in effect in Major League Baseball since the beginning of 2004, this recent revelation eventually led to an independent investigation by George Mitchell in 2006 into the steroid abuse in Baseball, the “Mitchell Report” was finally completed at the end of 2007.

Most of the players subpoenaed denied taking steroids, but investigations and the evidence found proved that they had. A list of the more prominent players found to have taken steroids can be found at the end of this article. Most of the players subpoenaed denied taking steroids, but investigations and the evidence found proved that they had. A list of the more prominent players found to have taken steroids can be found at the end of this article.

Many players found to have taken steroids where suspended, only one life ban has been given, this was later reversed and the player reinstated, from 10 games to a full season (Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano).

Steroids and the Damage they do

This article is not here to point fingers, there have been too many of those already, it is to discuss whether or not steroids can improve the statistics of a player, turning an average player into a superstar. We all know that steroid taking increases muscle mass, improves stamina, but I can also harm the body, roid rage, kidney issues, stress on the bodies muscular-skeletal system. At the end of the day the negatives outweigh the positives, the damage done to the body may be irreversible. (Information on steroid use in sports can be found here)

Giving Testimony

Can Steroids Improve your Stats?

The question is “can taking performance-enhancing drugs actually improve all your stats?”. We have seen that it can improve your Home-Run stats (McGwire, Conseco), which could, in turn, improve your RBI stats. But what about players/pitchers other stats, like stolen bases, doubles or triples, fielding stats and with pitchers can it really affect their pitching speed, the number of strikeouts they get during a game, their longevity in a game can they pitch for 8 innings or 9 instead of their usual 6.

This question will never be answered to the satisfaction of everyone, because, let’s face it, does anyone really care? If you take steroids you’re a cheat, plain and simple, that is what the bulk of sports fans will say.

Some players may take PEDs because their game stats have dropped for several reasons, most of the time probably due to age or physical deterioration (wear and tear). They do this because they don’t want to retire while their career is on a low note, they want to go out on a high.

Currently, as of writing this, America has more problems than steroid abuse in baseball. However, now that a more aggressive stance has been taken by MLB, although that stance should be more severe, it may affect the number of players who do venture down the path of steroids and push towards more socially acceptable ways of improving the skills that let them play the game we fans love so much.

Players Suspended for Steroid Abuse:

(Not an exhaustive list)

  • Rafael Palmeiro
  • Matt Lawton
  • Mike Cameron
  • Jose Guillen
  • Manny Ramirez
  • Marlon Byrd
  • Bartolo Colon
  • Nelson Cruz
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Starling Marte
  • Jorge Polanco
  • Robinson Cano

Players Named in the Mitchell Report:

(Not an exhaustive list)

  • Barry Bonds
  • Jason Giambi
  • Jeremy Giambi
  • Gary Sheffield
  • Kevin Brown
  • Roger Clemens
  • Lenny Dykstra
  • Eric Gagne
  • Chuck Knoblauch
  • Andy Pettite
  • Brian Roberts
  • Miguel Tejada
  • Jose Canseco
  • Troy Glaus
  • Matt Williams

No accusation of guilt is implied against the names in these lists.

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