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The Happy Hypocrite Takes on Jason Grimsley
2006-06-09 22:01
by Scott Long

Thank You, Jason Grimsley. Hey, I know you aren't hearing much positive feedback lately, but I want to thank you for your contribution to sports. With so much public attention being focused on how power hitters are all juiced, the Juan Rincon's and Mike Morse's of the world were forgotten. Finally with it coming out that you used not only steroids, but human growth hormones as well, it's becoming more apparent that MLB players of all levels and positions were taking whatever they thought would make them better.

And why wouldn't they do this? I'm tired of so-called moralists acting outraged that players could do such a thing. Are you telling me that you wouldn't consider taking some substance if it potentially made you better? Especially if you were in a profession where 2.5 million dollars a year is the average salary. Especiallly if you knew that there would be no drug testing. Especially if you knew that many other workers in your field might possibly be getting an advantage over you.

Do you possibly believe that a pamphleteer like Jay Mariotti would not use some kind of magical elixir, if it promised to give him the talent to write like Jim Murray? I don't have any problem savoring the prose of Poe or Burroughs, even knowing they were junkies. I don't run from the room when I hear Nirvana or Alice in Chains rumbling through the speakers, just because their lead singers killed themselves using heroin.

Hey, but what about the kids, Scott? I would respond by saying that Jason Grimsley is a great example of perseverance. Here is a guy who might have 4 quality seasons over a 16 year period, but hung on any way he could. By doing this he provided a wonderful lifestyle for his family.

Growing up, I respected the Fellowship of Christian Athletes types like Roger Staubach and Kyle Rote, Jr, but my favorite players were O.J. Simpson, Walt Frazier, and Reggie Jackson. Guess what, athletes behave like most men would if they had money and power. Tell your kids that if they are looking for heroes they should start reading comic books.

Personally, I don't have a big problem with some of baseball's greatest records being broken by athletes who are under suspicion as cheaters. We will never know how many pitchers or batters were on performance enhancers and we have even less idea what these drugs did to aid them. Anyone who understands factors like park effects knows that there has never been a level playing field in the game. Hitters in certain decades (in the 1990's and 1930's) had big advantages, just like pitchers (in the 1960's) had the upper hand.

Players have always looked for an edge . Are you telling me that the Ty Cobb Tigers or the Gas House Gang Cardinals wouldn't have taken anything they thought that gave them a chance to perform better? I laugh thinking about what the cast of characters in Peter Golenbock's great book "The Bronx Zoo" would have done if there had been these type of supplements. The Steinbrenner Yankees of the 1970's seemed to be competing against each other as much as their opponents. The naked cake sitting alone would have been enhanced by the added athletic ability provided by juicing. Billy Martin, on a roid rage, would have been frightening, though.

Until there is effective drug testing that can guarantee that users are going to get caught, the game will have players who are willing to use any substance that might give them an edge. In the 60's and 70's players were popping greenies like 10 year-olds at a Skittles factory. In the 80's, the amphetamines of choice was cocaine. Each decade something else comes up that promises if not to make a player better, will at least make them better able to play through fatigue.

This is why it is so ridiculous to me that US senators feel like this is an issue important enough for them to involve themselves in. The next time you see John McCain shaking his head in sorrow at what has become of our national pastime, write him a letter and ask him this. Why isn't he focusing more on the NFL or NBA, where the player's bodies are by far more freakish and where steroids and HGH would have a greater impact considering these sports rely on natural athletic ability much more than a skill-based sport like baseball?

I, like most other baseball fans, will be curious to see who are the next big name players that are exposed as using performance enhancing drugs. Unlike the majority, I will not condemn them as evil doers. I realize they are doing what it takes to succeed in the ultra-competitive world of major league baseball. Now that there is drug testing, if a player tests positive I hope they throw the book at the offender, especially if it's a player on an opposing team.. As a fan, I hope none of the players on my favorite team gets busted, because at the end of the day, it's about my team winning. When it comes to sports, just call me the happy hypocrite.

Postnote: I have rarely mentioned the whole steroid discussion, as my writing partner at thejuiceblog, Will Carroll is the best writer on the planet when it comes to the subject. Please note that these are not the educated opinions of Will's, but the thoughts of a lot less informed person on the subject. I've decided to weigh in because of all the condemnation being thrown around. I haven't heard many express a view outside of "hang them in the townsquare!" So, let me repeat, Scott Long is the author of the above piece. Will Carroll will read this after many of you do, as we don't send stories we write to each other to get approval. (behind the scenes glimpse of life hear at thejuiceblog) Thanks, the management.

2006-06-10 02:45:59
1.   Chiron Brown
Brilliant. The real hypocrites are the fans whose wrath is not based on what Grimsley did, but on the fact that he committed the greatest sin possible in our culture; he got caught. If there are villians in this they are the ostriches that are Bud Selig, MLB and the Players Association. But Grimsley will probably take the fall and that shouldn't surprise anyone. It certainly won't surprise Jim Bouton.
2006-06-10 13:44:00
2.   Ravenscar
Scott -

I'm not sure I agree (And I mean that - I'm not sure I disagree either - I have no idea. It's like the death penalty for the angry liberal. All the right answers are wrong and everything's twisted regarding theory and practice.) but this was an exceptional read. Very well-said.

2006-06-13 12:53:17
3.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
Scott -

The analogy you make that makes me think most is the one to the impact of Performance Enhancing Drugs (metaphorically speaking) on artists (writers, musicians).

My usual retort to all this is about the illegality of the PEDs. "But it is illegal", I usually point out. It is generally a good thing to enforce laws, and especially good to do so when law infringement is seen by (or exposed to) a public spectacle.

However, I have no desire to have the recording industry start testing musicians before handing out recording contracts, and I see no reason to feel less amazement at the Dandy Warhols' Come Down just because I am pretty sure they were high when recording it, nor would I want them thrown in jail, assuming what they were high on was illegal.

Why do I feel different about baseball players and PEDs? Something to think about.

And I always appreciate when someone gives me something to think about. Thanks!

2006-06-13 14:16:07
4.   Rosbif22
Fantastic article. I admit that I personally cannot bring myself to care about PEDs, so it's nice to see somebody else who isn't all that bothered by it either, considering the ever-popular "hang them in the townsquare" sentiment that you [Scott] mention.

My favorite part of steriods discussion is the kids aspect. While I feel that even most parents are poor role models, I don't see how you could possibly expect an athlete to be a role model for your child. How is that in any way logical?

PS - 3 I may be wrong, but I thought that, even if the actual thing they got high on was legal, using it to get high is illegal (like spray paint, for example). But, I could be making this up too.

2006-06-13 21:32:40
5.   chris in illinois
Bravo Scott!! You basically encapsulated my thoughts on the subject. I think I'll print this out and carry it in my wallet for those special occasions that I find myself in front of a hysterical, Mariotti-fueled imbecile and simply hand them the piece of paper rather than wasting my breath trying to reason with them.

Ona slightly different note:

Even if guys like Bonds end up getting prosecuted for their non-prescription drug use, hopefully they have the wherewithal to have their lawyers get them a "Limbaugh" deal.

2006-06-14 09:02:15
6.   Schteeve
Steroids are illegal were illegal, and therefore I don't give a shit what MLBs policy on them is, people who sold, used and possessed them were breaking the law, and should be subject to the prescribed penalties under the law, if investigated, tried and found guilty.

HGH is less problematic to me. First, I don't know the legality of HGH. I'm assuming it's illegal to procure, use, possess or sell without a prescription, but if it is typically prescribed by doctors to help the body heal faster, I don't see how it's much different than aspirin.

To me, this isn't about unfair competitive advantage, as much as it's about breaking the law.

2006-06-14 11:34:39
7.   Rosbif22
Steroids aren't illegal if prescribed by a doctor.

Besides, does this mean that every high schooler out there that takes/possesses steroids should be put in jail as well? What's the point? Assuredly, if the law is our guide, then we should definitely go after these children as well.

2006-06-14 11:47:49
8.   Scott Long
Should every....
one who goes past the speed limit get a ticket who smokes pot be prosecuted

....employer who hires an illegal alien be prosecuted

Some laws are more questionable than any others. Not saying each of my examples are equal and I'm not even saying that they are bad laws. It's just a case where the whole steroid issue is not the cut and dry issue that talk radio has made it seem.

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