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Metsie! Metsie! » Steroids

Inquiring Minds Don’t Want to Know: Or, Let’s Not Talk About Steroids and Then Lie Like Hell About It

Yeah, I know. But last night’s game was poo, and I don’t feel like talking about that.

So how about those roids, huh? How about that Barry Bonds jokester?

Most black people, according to a recent ESPN survey, are rooting for Bonds to break the home run record, whereas most whites are not? Do they not know the person who currently holds the record is African-American also? What do people who aren’t black or white think? How about mixed-race fans? Were none of them counted in ESPN’s survey?

More questions. If every single player in the league was found to be a user of performance-enhancing drugs, would they all be cheating, or would none of them be cheating? If a player’s use of PEDs actually results in career-ending injury, is that cheating, or is it reverse cheating? Should every player in the Hall of Fame who is ever found to have used nonprescribed amphetamines be tossed out on his ear? After all, it’s illegal to obtain controlled substances, which greenies are, without a prescription, so if Bonds and other players are ineligible because they broke the law, should their antecedents (going back to at least the 1950s, when amphetamines were thought to have first crept into the game) be delegitimized also?

And what happens if a player has a regulation-looking scrip for a drug like, say, Provigil, which is prescribed for narcolepsy and shift work but could easily have the effect on anyone of enhanced alertness? What about the guys who truly have attention deficit disorder and would crash their Escalades on their way to the ballpark if not for their morning 10 mg dosage of Adderall? It is, after all, an amphetamine, albeit a much lower dosage of same than three or four greenies washed down with coffee before a game. How do you distinguish the genuine medical users from the cheaters? Sham prescriptions are a cinch for celebrities to obtain; remember, Elvis had fistfuls of ‘em.

Is Tommy John surgery, which transplants a ligament elsewhere from the same body, not cheating, but using a prosthetic or donor ligament cheating?

I ask, I do not know.

The Bonds situation is rather intriguing. I lived in San Francisco from 1999 to 2001, and contrary to what most non-San Franciscans might imagine, the attitude of Giants fans towards Bonds (even before the BALCO stories broke) could best be described as grudgingly equivocal. “Yeah, he’s an asshole, but he’s a great player and he plays for my team, so what can I say?” (A’s fans, of course, have always loathed him, but they would do so even if he was the president of Habitat for Humanity and had personally nailed their own homes together.)

And now, do they really think Bonds took only flaxseed oil? No, I don’t think most of them do. I think it’s more to the point to state that they don’t really want to know if it wasn’t flaxseed oil, and that unless someone has not just a smoking gun but the hunk of flesh where the bullet went in, with detailed three-dimensional pictures of same, and insists on shoving said pictures in everyone’s faces, they’re perfectly happy to stay in the dark about it. And besides, they add, lots of other players not named Barry Bonds were playing better through chemistry and still are, so people are hypocrites if they complain.

Admit it, Mets fans, you’re not so very different. When the story broke about Kirk Radomski, the former Mets batboy who says he sold performance-enhancers to “dozens” of current and former Major Leaguers, and has paper checks from some of them to boot, did you really want to know how many of those guys were Mets? (Radomski says most of his PED business was conducted after leaving the ballclub.) Were you calculating in your mind how many Mets players you saw coming up from the minors stick-thin and then all of a sudden seemed to have gone all pneumatic, with home-run totals to match?

And if you did, did you chalk it up to the clubhouse buffets and those good weight rooms? Did you want to believe, oh, and how, that everyone was clean except for maybe a few dunderheads who were stupid enough to get caught, like Guillermo Mota, who you never really liked anyway because he threw at Mikey once? Or did you tell yourself that as long as nobody’s urine was turning up dirty, it was really none of your business, and besides, none of Our Guys would do that sort of thing anyway?

Me, I favor a law of full disclosure. That is, you must fully disclose any and all performance-enhancing substances you take, prescribed or not, and if you are ever caught in a lie you will be frogmarched out of the game and invited never to return. Let the fans decide what they will support and what they will not, and vote with their pocketbooks while armed with the entire truth So Help Me Swoboda. But since Nobody Listens to Andee (TM), this will never happen.

Instead, Bonds will have his record, people will chew their bangs about how illegitimate it all is, and we will never really know the entire truth about who took what and who did what and when, and who is still doing what even now, when nobody’s “supposed” to be doing anything now that we have all these tough new rules in place, which basically state that if you’re smart enough to know how to mask whatever you’re taking, then as far as anyone knows you’re the real deal, and nobody will ever question it. And when gene splicing comes in and makes all the bang-chewing stuff of today look like sandbox play, what with all those nine-feet-tall circus freaks with redwood-trunk arms running around the field, will we be prepared to ask ourselves the tough questions about why we’re really watching and what it all really means to us? Or will we still refuse to understand that we don’t understand, and that we don’t really want to?