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Easy to understand PED use, but to accept it?

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 29, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Francisco Cervelli

Alex Rodriguez and Francisco Cervelli are not the only baseball players I’ve ever known who have been suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. My real introduction to that world happened when I was covering the minor leagues, and it involved players hardly anyone would remember (or ever heard of in the first place). To be honest, I understood their decisions to use. Not that I agreed with it — and I never met a player who was proud of using — but there was logic involved.

Some players believed steroids were extremely widespread. Minor leaguers on the verge of the big leagues were being beaten out by guys who were using. There was some belief that steroids weren’t really a shortcut but simply helped a player workout more effectively; they didn’t instantly improve hand-eye coordination or pitching mechanics. I’ve known guys in Triple-A who spent their entire lives trying to become big leaguers, and for some of them, steroids seemed like a necessary final step toward getting there. It wasn’t really about money or records, it was about becoming a fourth outfielder or a long reliever or a September call-up.

Let there be no doubt, it was wrong — players who used were making a conscious decision to break the rules, which was continuing the ripple effect and impacting still other players who were trying to play the game clean — but I could understand the decision. I would never condone it, but I could understand it. As Geoffrey pointed out this morning, there are plenty of ways to justify the use of performance-enhancing drugs, which, I suppose, is a bit of a slippery slope.

I think the difficulty with Geoffrey’s “reasoned truth” defense might be this: At some point, PED use is not about achieving a dream. It’s about greed. Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds have become notorious in the PED era partially because they were such great players to begin with. Why would they have to cheat to become more than that? Why taint existing greatness in order to “achieve” something else? Their alleged decisions weren’t mistakes of desperation. They were mistakes of self-indulgence, and with their status and notoriety, those players had a impact well beyond that of a nameless minor leaguer trying to get a cup of coffee in the show.

Easy to understand the decision to use PEDs? Of course. We’ve seen the results, and we’ve recognized that baseball’s punishment isn’t severe enough to create a significant incentive to stay clean. As Geoffrey pointed out, Melky Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta can justify their decisions both financially and statistically. We can all understand the reason for using, even if we don’t think it was the right thing to do. And to some extent, we’ve seen that sort of justification take some players off the hook. When Andy Pettitte explained that he’d been trying to recover from an injury when he used PEDs, most people seemed to understand and forgive. It was possible for people to condemn the decision and still accept — even appreciate — the man. An honest discussion about when and why these drugs were used can certainly have a positive impact on public perception.

That said, for many, many, many players, there was no need for incentive. A lot of good people will make good choices no matter what, and certainly baseball includes a lot of good people who stayed clean because it was the right thing to do regardless of the potential reward. I certainly hope those guys are able to feel good about themselves regardless of where their careers ended. Trust me, they guys understood why other players were using PEDs, but they stayed on the high road anyway.

Associated Press photo

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107 Responses to “Easy to understand PED use, but to accept it?”

  1. MTU January 29th, 2014 at 11:59 am

    “•Also from Martino, the Yankees haven’t had any talk with Rodney since one “very preliminary” discussion back in November. While the team is aware of its bullpen holes, a Major League source tells Martino that they lack the payroll flexibility to address the ‘pen after signing Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees are hoping that Dellin Betances can serve as a power reliever, Martino adds.”

    Good luck w that one.

    ;)

  2. Howler January 29th, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    howler, those are legit points, let me ask you this, how do you as Tex truly find that out if you quit so easily.

    =================

    I guess it’s more a question of how you view yourself, your expectations and what you’re happy in achieving. Perhaps he’s satisfied with being the .240-.250 30hr 90-100 rbi guy. We as fans remember him as a younger player who saw his capabilities and want him to not rob himself as that. It’s those goals he’s pushing himself to get back to. Where we see him as being able to be much more than that.

  3. pat January 29th, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    “When Andy Pettitte explained that he’d been trying to recover from an injury when he used PEDs, most people seemed to understand and forgive.”

    and even accept that was the only reason and time that he used because they like Andy Pettitte. Would all players be afforded the same gratis, with the same reasoning? I don’t think so.

  4. joeman January 29th, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    This Yankee infield has way to many question marks. Without any further moves to the infield bull pen this team isn’t going to win 90 games

  5. Ys Guy January 29th, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Ys Guy January 29th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    one guy shows some amount of introspection and humanity, and people want to write him off.

    meanwhile people wonder if cc can learn to pitch with diminished stuff.

    wouldnt cc trying to change his pitching style to make up for what he’s lost be defeatest too?

    why dont people comment that cc doesnt have the drive any more?

    its ridiculous to me.

  6. Cashmoney January 29th, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    heading out, you all have a good one. Howler, point taken.

  7. Your Name Here January 29th, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Cano wasn’t a ranked prospect and wasn’t projected to do much. Then…… A rod teams up with him in 2005….. suddenly Cano is an Mvp candidate. Melky. Cervelli. Montero. The Arod effect.

  8. joeman January 29th, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Injuries and peds are bs

  9. Howler January 29th, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    have a good one…was fun.

  10. blake January 29th, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Nobody wants to claim interest in Drew…..Boras is playing hardball and they are all calling his bluff. When the price falls the interest will rise

  11. bigdan22 January 29th, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    I think the PED issue and sports is difficult and complex and will only get harder to resolve satisfactorily as technology improves and as anti-aging therapies get more accepted and become more widespread in our culture. James pointed this out years ago in his Hall of Fame analysis.

    I’m probably a little too simplistic here, but I’d love to see a protocol developed and approved by the various leagues that would allow the use of certain banned drugs under doctor supervision for injury recovery. If HGH allows a player to come back from a serious knee injury in less than a year and run for 2000 yards I’m really not sure what’s wrong with that or how that harms society.

  12. Howler January 29th, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    blake…I see only one solution…you should sign Drew…and donate his services to the Yankees…everyone wins.

  13. J. Alfred Prufrock January 29th, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Even a grade-45 defender back there with Sanchez’s potential offensive upside will be an MVP candidate, and if he continues to work at receiving and on his plate discipline he’ll be ready to take over and make a real impact for the Yankees by 2016.
    ///

    pk69, thanks for posting those reports from Law.

    Like I said yesterday [in response to a post suggesting we trade The Sanchize now that we have McCann], I would imagine Sanchez, after a full year of Trenton in 2014, and then AAA in 2015, could be ready to assume catching chores in the Bronx in 2016.

    If McCann’s shoulder hasn’t fallen off and he can still catch some, he could mentor Sanchez as the latter is eased into the starting job.

    Trading him is not an option from my POV; yeah he can look bad offspeed, like a ton of youngsters, but the power, the wicked line drive ability and general hard contact, the bat speed – and the ability to battle that some of us have noted in seeing him live (me, Yankeefem, Doreen) denotes special.

    stay warm, folks

  14. Howler January 29th, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    It’s how I viewed the McCann signing..someone to provide offense, catch for a couple years, spend a year splitting time and mentoring one of the young catchers, and then taking over 1b, DH duties.

  15. bigdan22 January 29th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    pkyankfan69 January 29th, 2014 at 10:57 am

    @AndrewMarchand: Yanks have 3 players in Keith Law’s top 100. Yankees: Gary Sanchez (68), Tyler Austin (85), Mason Williams (87)

    —–

    Thanks for posting the write-up. Some good stuff here.

    Once again, I think the most positive point here for Yankee fans is the continued reports of Sanchez’s improvement defensively. We’ve always known about his power (also like the talk of his contact abilities, an undervalued skill now), but if he’s being projected now as possibly an average defensive catcher, that greatly improves his chances of being an impact ML position player. Don’t think they ever said as much about Montero’s defense. But more importantly, it shows a strong work ethic and a commitment to succeed. You’d don’t become a ML catcher (or really any ML player) unless you have that type of commitment. In the past there were some attitude whispers about Sanchez. Looks like we can write that off to youth.

    Which brings me to Williams. Nothing in this write-up provides any optimism for me regarding his chances of contributing to the Yanks’ major league team. It mystifies me how someone at that age, with that much potential, could show up to training camp out of shape. Obvious lack of commitment. And also disappointing to hear about his mechanical issues. It’s not like he just showed up in GCL. Some reports on his hitting last year spoke of his change of approach and the adoption of a “slappy” style of hitting. I continue to see nothing in Williams that suggest he will ever help the Yanks.

    About Austin. It’s good to see some evaluators are still optimistic on his offensive skills. The problem of course is what I brought up months ago. Wrist injuries almost never seem to go away on their own. It was most disappointing to see him drop out of the AFL. You would have thought he would have been healed by then. I still believe there are better than even odds he has surgery this coming year. Then maybe we can look forward to some development next year. Hopefully I’m wrong because I think this guy can and will hit. Not enough of that around these days.

  16. blake January 29th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Howler says:
    January 29, 2014 at 12:14 pm
    blake…I see only one solution…you should sign Drew…and donate his services to the Yankees…everyone wins.

    I would

  17. bigdan22 January 29th, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    J. Alfred Prufrock January 29th, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    pk69, thanks for posting those reports from Law.

    Like I said yesterday [in response to a post suggesting we trade The Sanchize …

    ——

    Please refrain from using that moniker. New Yorkers already have one of those and look how that worked out :)

  18. Blojaldo January 29th, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I am all for freedom of speech and thought being revered and protected. Accordingly, what I am about to say is not to suggest one should not avail oneself of that right. However, to say one “understood their decisions to use”, that “there was logic involved” and to contend PED users decisions may have been “justified both financially and statistically,” is suggesting that those who cheated the game, their teammates and the fans may have had an acceptable and plausible rationale for doing so. Why? Because words like “understand, logic, justified” suggest just that, to many, despite stating almost as an aside it was wrong to do so. Are those reasonable concepts to embrace or do they and serve to dilute the seriousness of the offenses by elevating it to a debate where there are two acceptable positions? Should someone suggest that we understand why someone who needed money robbed a bank? That there was logic involved due to need and since most bank robbers don’t get caught that it might be justifiable both financially and statistically? I think there has to be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to cheating in sports and that should include a responsibility not suggest there are any mitigating factors for doing so or to “understand” those who did and why. Condemnation and punishment is what will stop their use.

  19. I am Brett Godner January 29th, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Howler January 29th, 2014 at 12:14 pm
    blake…I see only one solution…you should sign Drew…and donate his services to the Yankees…everyone wins.
    ————————————————————–

    I would be afraid that despite good intentions, in this scenario Drew would spend the season putting the lotion on his skin or else he gets the hose again.

  20. austinmac January 29th, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Blake,

    As my kids would say on days gone by, just use your credit card for Drew. Who needs money?

    I still would be shocked if the Yankees come up with money to sign him. We seem to be at our self determined spending limits. Foolish not to take care of large needs.

  21. Howler January 29th, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    he could spend the offseason as a dental asst.

  22. blake January 29th, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    “As my kids would say on days gone by, just use your credit card for Drew. Who needs money?”

    A check…..hell yea I can write ya a check….I thought you needed money

  23. austinmac January 29th, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    The Yankees don’t need Drew if Jeter can play regularly at SS, Johnson and Nunez hit and learn to play 3B, Tex is healthy and Johnson doesn’t need to play 1B AND Roberts can play 2B regularly.

    That is about as likely as any of us winning the lottery.

  24. Your Name Here January 29th, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Mark Teixeira told Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal that he expects to feel some tightness in his surgically-repaired wrist until at least June and possibly through the whole season.

    Teixeira hasn’t had any setbacks since surgery last July and has begun taking batting practice in recent weeks, but he still feels some tightness and doctors have told him that it will likely take a year for his wrist to feel back to normal. While the veteran first baseman vows to play through the expected tightness, it wouldn’t be surprising if his power suffered. His situation is yet another question mark in the Yankees’ infield.

    SOURCE: 

    WALL STREET JOURNAL

    ———–

    And so it begins…..

  25. pkyankfan69 January 29th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    If the Yanks went with their current 40 man guys and Tex gets hurt, who plays 1B?

    Johnson to 1B? Nuney to 3B?

    Barf.

  26. blake January 29th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Id take 120 games and an .800 ops from Tex right now and be tickled …..if that was an over/under Id take the under ok both though

  27. blake January 29th, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I guess Johnson….

  28. Tackelberry January 29th, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Russ Canzler!!!!!!!!!!

  29. austinmac January 29th, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Calling Lyle Overbay.

  30. blake January 29th, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    austinmac says:
    January 29, 2014 at 1:06 pm
    Calling Lyle Overbay.

    He gone….brewers I think

  31. JobaTipsHisCap January 29th, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    I’d take PED for long term rich contract.

  32. Howler January 29th, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Just like Bautista’s lost power.

  33. Poetkiosk January 29th, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    If Tex hasn’t had any expected setbacks and this is a normal recovery, then shouldn’t the Yankees FO have planned for this?

  34. Tackelberry January 29th, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Why is everyone panicking over Tex? Bautista’s wrist injury was worse than Tex’s and he came back fine. Lets wait til ST starts and see how he is before everyone goes into crisis mode.

  35. blake January 29th, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Poetkiosk says:
    January 29, 2014 at 1:14 pm
    If Tex hasn’t had any expected setbacks and this is a normal recovery, then shouldn’t the Yankees FO have planned for this?

    Sure but they had so many other holes to fill…..I’m no sure how much more money they can sink into 1B. It’s a fairly easy spot to fill if he goes down and they already are spending 23 million a year there. I think they bad to focus on other needs and just cross their fingers and hope Tex can play and doesn’t suck

  36. blake January 29th, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    @ChrisCotillo: Source: #Mariners agree to minor league deal with Scott Baker. Includes spring training invite.

  37. Poetkiosk January 29th, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    “… is suggesting that those who cheated the game, their teammates and the fans may have had an acceptable and plausible rationale for doing so.”

    The “game” knew PED use was happening and condoned and encouraged it for almost a decade, if not more. Teammates also know and partake in its use.

    The real harm is to the fans who thought they were getting a clean performance (for the most part).

  38. Hankflorida January 29th, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Just saw that Boesch signed a minor league contract with Los Angelos. Cashman thought Boesch at a much cheaper price could duplicate Granderson’s numbers when Swisher left based on their home run statistics with Detroit. At least Cashman was right as Boesch in 60 at bats upped his percentage of home runs playing in the Stadium similar to what Granderson did coming from Detroit. I like what Cashman did when he was thinking outside the box, but the injuries to Granderson and Text brought in Overbay and Welles which cut short the experiment with Boesch.

  39. Howler January 29th, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Your Name Here…you really shouldn’t mix quotes from an article and your own feelings and then attribute it to a source like the Wall Street Journal…if you were in the media…it would get you fired in an eye blink…

  40. BoJo January 29th, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Before I started using PEDs, I was a weak poster who would often just argue and be incoherent and cause trouble. My moniker as WCYF often turned people off immediately. But now, with PEDs, I am able to form complete sentences–some even with elements of wit and humor. Some people here even appreciate my posts! Yes, PEDs have really made my life better.

  41. Your Name Here January 29th, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Sorry…. those weren’t my opinions. I copied and pasted from rotoworld. I should have linked it.

  42. Poetkiosk January 29th, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Wow…just read the WSJ article. Talk about cherry picking quotes to create drama…

    Texiera also says he feels fine and doesn’t expect his performance to be effected

    “But he vowed that it can be managed and won’t prevent him from producing…”

    SOURCE: WSJ

    Hey I can do it!

  43. Your Name Here January 29th, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    http://www.rotoworld.com/headl.....-to-linger

  44. austinmac January 29th, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Bojo,

    Even with PEDs, you still can handle the hard arguments up and in. :)

  45. Doreen January 29th, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    wow, I was just checking out the writer’s Twitter lead on the side panel. Andy McCullough, who covered the Yankees for the Star Ledger, is leaving for Kansas City.

    We (NJ readers of the Star Ledger) keep losing beat writers. Marc Carig went from Yankees to Mets. Dan Castellano. You just about get used to a guy, and he’s gone. I miss Carig, but at least he’s still in the metro area. I like McCullough’s style. Wonder who his replacement is going to be….

  46. Blojaldo January 29th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Poetkiosk January 29th, 2014 at 1:17 pm
    “… is suggesting that those who cheated the game, their teammates and the fans may have had an acceptable and plausible rationale for doing so.”

    The “game” knew PED use was happening and condoned and encouraged it for almost a decade, if not more. Teammates also know and partake in its use. The real harm is to the fans who thought they were getting a clean performance (for the most part).
    ______________________

    No question that you are right about the fans suffering. But I think it’s wrong to say generically that teammates also knew and partook in its use. It’s not known how many that applies to and one shouldn’t paint everyone with such a broad brush. I don’t think one can assume that the vast majority of players cheated.

  47. pkyankfan69 January 29th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Law is doing an insider chat now… Someone asked

    “Seems a lot of outlets are high on Eric Jagielo, but not anxious to put him in any top 100 lists. Do you expect big things, or are you skeptical?”

    Law: Don’t see star upside there, just very good player/above avg regular.

  48. pat January 29th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    ChrisCotillo
    …… Baker will earn $1M guaranteed if he makes the ML roster, has chance to earn $3.25M in bonuses as well.

    ChrisCotillo
    As @DarrenWolfson said, Baker had offers from #Royals, #Indians and #Rangers before picking #Mariners. Chose SEA over #Indians at the end.

  49. pkyankfan69 January 29th, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Someone asked: Most likely to fall off the top 100 next year (for reasons other than MLB promotion)?

    Law: Mason Williams

    lol

  50. blake January 29th, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    “Law: Don’t see star upside there, just very good player/above avg regular.”

    Above average regulars are awesome. The yanks need cheap regulars whether they are stars or not

  51. Doreen January 29th, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    As for the topic of this post, I have wondered, if Alex had just come out and said that he simply could not rehab his hips without the added help, would it have made him at least a little more sympathetic?

    In his first go round, he used the loosey-goosey timeframe as his reason. But he did face the music, such as it was (not punishable because it involved a test that was supposed to be anonymous and kind of like a “free” strike) and people were more than willing to embrace the “new” ARod.

  52. pkyankfan69 January 29th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Someone asked:

    How much of the Yankees lack of depth in thier system (and your top 100) due to lack of high value picks being in the playoffs most years, poor drafting itself, lack of player development, or injuries?

    Law: Biggest issue this year was injuries. But of those, only Heathcott’s injuries worry me for his future, mostly because he seems to have Chris Snelling Disease.

  53. pat January 29th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    ” I don’t think one can assume that the vast majority of players cheated.”

    everything about the steroid era is one big assumption because MLB thought prosecution was more important than resolution.

  54. pkyankfan69 January 29th, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Question
    Why did Gary Sanchez drop so much? Your writeup on him seems so positive.

    Law Hasn’t performed up to his abilities. Should be making more progress than he did last year. Still very young and very talented, but, you know, let’s go already.

  55. BoJo January 29th, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Doreen January 29th, 2014 at 1:37 pm
    wow, I was just checking out the writer’s Twitter lead on the side panel. Andy McCullough, who covered the Yankees for the Star Ledger, is leaving for Kansas City.

    We (NJ readers of the Star Ledger) keep losing beat writers. Marc Carig went from Yankees to Mets. Dan Castellano. You just about get used to a guy, and he’s gone. I miss Carig, but at least he’s still in the metro area. I like McCullough’s style. Wonder who his replacement is going to be….
    ===
    The Star Ledger used to have a great writer covering the beat. Can’t recall his name, but I believe he had a brother on paper at same time. Maybe Moss Klein or something like that.

  56. luis January 29th, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    blake January 29th, 2014 at 1:16 pm
    Poetkiosk says:
    January 29, 2014 at 1:14 pm
    If Tex hasn’t had any expected setbacks and this is a normal recovery, then shouldn’t the Yankees FO have planned for this?

    Sure but they had so many other holes to fill…..I’m no sure how much more money they can sink into 1B. It’s a fairly easy spot to fill if he goes down and they already are spending 23 million a year there. I think they bad to focus on other needs and just cross their fingers and hope Tex can play and doesn’t suck

    ==================================

    Blake and Poet,

    Yes, on both takes… This is why Cano should have been at the top of the list along with Tanaka… We had plenty of OF depth, but not much on the IF… Again, if they chose the spending route, they should have put some money aside for him…Our infield would have looked a lot better, heck our whole team would have been top of the league, with very few flaws ( the BP mostly, which i think can be addressed internally )

  57. Giuseppe Franco January 29th, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    You’re never going to rid the sports world of PEDs so all the threats of punishment and condemnation isn’t going to deter everyone, especially when the media and sports fans alike simply don’t care when a future NFL Hall of Fame linebacker talks about his PED use the day of the Super Bowl and it hardly gets a headline.

    And since medical technology continues to advance, there will always be ways to pass a drug test undetected when you have the financial means as pro athletes do to purchase the best of the best.

  58. BoJo January 29th, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Gary Sanchez +PEDs = Mike Piazza?

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