Thursday, December 13, 2007

1983: Steroids vs Numb Noses

The Mitchell Report on drug use in Major League Baseball is out. It speaks of the epidemic of steroid use that has plagued baseball, in particular in the last 10 to 15 years. It names some well-known names.

An ESPN report that ran just prior to former U.S. Senator George Mitchell's 45-minute presentation said steroids use in sports became news following the 1988 Olympics. It supported the notion that professional sports executives knew little or nothing before that time.

Well, I don’t remember sports history quite that way. For instance, I remember seeing a friend of mine in the late-’60s who was given steroids at a university in Texas where he played football. When he came back to Richmond after his first season he looked like a cartoon character, he was so beefed up. He quit football after that season.

In August of 1983 I drew the topical cartoon above. It was based on what I saw as a widespread understanding that pro athletes were taking all sorts of drugs, including steroids and cocaine -- thus the mocking logos on the helmets, Steroids vs. Numb Noses.

So, it says here that fat cat owners and greedy executives and cheating pro players have known about the use of drugs, including steroids, for a long time. Moreover, the practice of using drugs to enhance performance goes back much further than the 1990s, the period of time the Mitchell Report seems to identify as the Steroid Era of baseball.

After the smoke clears, the difference from some ballplayers who've used performance-enhancing drugs and others, may turn out to be whether the athlete has protested too much. Not unlike politicians who fall from grace, perhaps the lies to cover up the original transgression can turn out to be the biggest problem.

For those players, or former players, who will now step out and vehemently deny what Mitchell's report says about them, well, how many of them will enjoy the bright light scrutiny of their pasts such provocative denials will invite?

Roger Clemens has already issued a strong denial of what Mitchell put on the table that concerns him. ESPN is in ecstasy! The network's talking heads are busy as I type, taking the named names' side, chattering about how flimsy the published evidence is. But does The Rocket really want to go into court to protect his name?

Does Clemens want to be put under oath, to deny all the allegations in the report? How many of these named-names will really want to sue Commissioner Bud Selig and Mitchell for $100 zillion in damages, and then have to testify in a civil court?

It may be that's part of what the wily Mitchell had in mind by naming names. Maybe Mitchell, the former prosecutor and judge, is calling them out. And, who says Mitchell has shown anybody all the evidence/testimony he has in hand?

So, don't be surprised if most of the blustery denials of today eventually fade into the mists and are never pursued in a court of law, where perjury is an issue.

With this story there's so much denial going on it's damn hard to know who to believe. But there's a big difference in boosting one's spin to ESPN and lying to a judge.

1 comment:

Billy said...

Most ballplayers today are taking homeopathic hgh oral spray because it's safe, undetectable, and legal for over the counter sales. As time goes on it seems it might be considered as benign a performance enhancer as coffee, aspirin, red bull, chewing tobacco, and bubble gum.