When Andy Pettite turned in yet another dominant postseason start last week, many sportswriters praised his determination and consistency and leadership. One word I didn’t see in any of their reports was “PEDs”. (I guess that’s more of an acronym than a word, really, but bear with me.)
After all, he was named in the Mitchell Report, and subsequently admitted taking something or other. Most players who’ve been caught red-handed like he was have been raked over the coals in the press–including his ex-teammate/probable connection Roger Clemens. And yet Pettite’s use barely gets mentioned, if ever.
Personally, I don’t care about steroids, HGH, horse tranquilizers, or anything else of that ilk. My feelings have evolved on the subject, and I feel that so many people were using them, rooting out “cheats” is pointless. Especially since MLB’s PED policy was such a joke for so long, you can’t even say players were “getting away with it”, because It was a “crime” nobody was being punished for.
I also think that PEDs can’t make you a major league baseball player. They can only make a major league baseball player perform at his best–and isn’t that what we all want as fans? Performance enhancement has been going on in the major leagues since day one. Players in the 1960s and 1970s took amphetamines to deal with the brutal traveling schedule and day games after night games. The league itself “juiced” the ball at various times to drive up home run numbers, and therefore interest in the game. (MLB has never admitted to doing this, but the anomalous spikes in longball numbers in pre-steroid times have virtually no other explanation.) Not to mention how many players’ performances were enhanced because they never had to compete against black people.
Considering how much we enhance our bodies with pills, medications, surgery, all for non-life-threatening conditions (i.e., boner medicine, Botox), I think it’s hypocritical to hold athletes to higher standards of physical purity. I also think that, in a few short decades (or even sooner), the banning of PEDs will seem as silly as Prohibition does to us now.
That’s just one man’s opinion, of course. If you think PEDs = cheating, no ifs, ands, or buts, I recognize that as a legitimate argument. What I don’t like is the idea that some “cheating” is okay and some isn’t. Usually, that means the cheating is excusable if the cheater plays for your team.
When I pointed out the inconvenient fact that Pettite kind of totally did PEDs on the Twitter and the Facebook, I was accused by Yankee partisans of just being a bitter Mets fan. (Hey, I may be bitter and a Mets fan but…what was the third thing you said?) I have a feeling their reaction would have been different if I’d made comments about Manny Ramirez.
I didn’t understand the cherry picking; either it’s wrong or it’s not, right? But as it turns out, there are different levels of PED use. The members of the sports media are well trained in psychological diagnosis, and have compiled a matrix for identifying who fits into which categories, including recommended treatment. No really, they have!
Criteria: Took PEDs to hit more home runs and therefore rob us all of our childlike innocence; may also be referred to as History’s Greatest Monsters; PED use a sign of enormous, sociopathic character flaws since none of us would ever have done the same thing in their shoes
Examples: Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa
Treatment: Constant hounding, to remind them of the torments of hell that surely await them
Criteria: Took PEDs to make them pitch better; since pitches aren’t home runs, we don’t really know
how to feel about this, but the tabloidish nature of their downfall makes for
Examples: Roger Clemens
Treatment: Snarky comments as needed, i.e., Congressional hearings, accusations of statutory rape
Criteria: Perform at such a high level that they surely must be on PEDs; though there is absolutely no evidence, solid or circumstantial, to support such an accusation, we feel they should confess their horrible crimes while they still have a chance to save their immortal souls
Examples: Jose Bautista
Treatment: Fleeting but pointed and irrevocable
Criteria: Admitted PED user and former Category VI member whose personal and spiritual deficiencies have been completely conquered by winning a championship
Examples: Alex Rodriguez
Treatment: Only if you want to look bitter
Criteria: Definitely took PEDs but only to recover from injury and help their team win; even though that’s essentially why anyone takes PEDs, a Category III “offender” is such a nice guy that he surely can’t be in the same class as Category VI scum
Examples: Andy Pettite
Treatmant: Ignore and it will go away
Criteria: Men who take PEDs to attain the unnatural combination of speed and bulk needed to play modern football
Examples: No idea; we don’t bother to ask any NFL players if they take PEDs
Treatment: None needed