THE NEEDLE OF SUCCESS
Barry Bonds’ use of steroids should serve as a blueprint for greatness. Bonds practiced hard, played strong, and served as a role model to the children of the early 2000s. Yet, Bonds’ reward for being such a forceful presence in the league is the execution of his illustrious career. Cheating in the MLB is ever present, and Bond’s use of steroids is not that; in a game that doesn’t admonish cheating but embraces such behaviors, Bonds’ is a beacon of hope.
Major League Baseball has an abundance of banned substances that they shouldn’t deny. The MLB does not tolerate performance-enhancing drugs, but in all actuality, they have since the Steroid Era days that spanned from 1994 to 2004. Drugs of Abuse, Performance-Enhancing Substances, Stimulants, and Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) spearhead the massive list that confuses more players than helps. The prohibited substances list spans 175 different substances and unfairly confides steroids into the same categories as cocaine and methamphetamines.
Steroids and prohibited substances saved baseball. We remember the Great Home Run Chase of 1998, where Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire battled to break the record for most home runs hit in a single season. The record set by McGwire, who hit 70 home runs, was broken three years later by Barry Bonds, who mashed 73 baseballs out of the park. Many agree with authors Patrick Antinori and Rodney J. Blackman, who state, “it’s Great Home Run Chase, has been stamped as having saved baseball.” Yet, the authors point out that the journalists and owners who celebrated the historic accomplishments of the players during this era were the same people to unfairly admonish them for using steroids. “Contextualization of a Shifting Perspective Regarding the Steroid Era.” displays the unfounded hypocrisy of the MLB and journalist praising the enhanced popularity during the Steroid Era to stab those same players in the back ten years later for saving the game.
Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, and Rafael Palmeiro are three of many players who bore harsh criticism when the Mitchell Report was released in 2007, documenting the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. The Mitchell Report ended the steroid era and ushered in new waves of PED drug policies, but it never stopped anyone from taking steroids. New York Yankees President Randy Levine and author Warren Chu believe the year-round tests for a plethora of PEDs bring back the integrity of the game; baseball is a game of doing whatever it takes to gain the advantage over the other team.
In 2013 New York Yankees President Randy Levine was interviewed on Bloomberg’s ‘Taking Stock,’ where he whole-heartedly believed that Major League Baseball has the strictest drug testing policies in professional sports. Warren Chu states in his examination of the MLB’s current anti-doping policies, “MLB tests every player at least three times a year.” Further, each player must randomly drug test during Spring Training, the regular season, and the off-season. Chu later adds in his Columbia journal of law & the arts publication, “Each player will also be randomly selected once for a blood specimen collection during the season to test for hGH.
Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program also provide players with corresponding punishments if they’re guilty of violating the anti-doping policy. Chu’s article, WADA TIME TO CHOOSE A SIDE: REFORMING THE ANTI-DOPING POLICIES IN U.S. SPORTS LEAGUES WHILE PRESERVING PLAYERS’ RIGHTS TO COLLECTIVELY BARGAIN, clearly outlines the punishments as such. “For a first offense, an 80-game suspension; for a second offense, a 162-game/183-days-of pay suspension; and for a third offense, permanent suspension from Major League and Minor League Baseball, with a chance to apply for discretionary reinstatement after a minimum period of two years.” These strong punishments undoubtedly deter PED use in the MLB, but it doesn’t stop everyone from taking them.
The New York Times has produced many articles outlining PED use’s detriment on a player’s career. Within the past five years, there have been 24 suspensions given out due to PED use. As listed on ‘Baseball Almanac,’ these players include superstars Fernando Tatis Jr, Emmanuel Clase, and Robinson Cano. Tatis went from having the second-most jersey sales in the league to losing his Addidas sponsorship. Robinson Cano, when suspended 162 games, stated that he would never cheat the game that he loved. Even young stars like Emmanuel Clase, who was only 21 when he was suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, caused disappointment to his team and fanbase.
PED use has undoubtedly been a force that has caused indecisiveness in the baseball community at large. Everyday arguments arise over whether or not Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame or whether or not his single-season home run record should stand. Numerous players have found glory entering the Hall of Fame, even using drugs. Mike Schmidt entered the Hall of Fame in 1995, even though he admitted to using amphetamines to enhance his performance.
Amphetamines are another banned substance on the MLB list, but there are everyday subtleties that give players an advantage. Take Coors Field, for example; it is the mile-high city of Denver, and the high elevation allows players to hit the ball farther than in lower-elevation stadiums. Batters with pine tar have an advantage in bat grip over players who don’t, yet pine tar is allowed for use. Players cork bats, use pine tar, have pre-game rituals, hire nutrition coaches, and train with the best coaches in the world, all to gain an advantage over another play and team.
Lastly, these behaviors differ from PEDs, yet all supposedly end in the same outcome, an advantage for the player using them. It asks what benefits arise from using other means than natural skill and talent. It seems unfair that players are stripped of all accomplishments because of a lack of judgment while others revel in the glory of fame and fortune while still using advantages that others may not. We view players who bring our team success as heroes, even if they are cocaine addicts, but players who took that injection are now villains.
Performance-enhancing drug use by MLB players enhances their performance but doesn’t give their team an advantage of succeeding more than other organizations. Statistics such as Batting Average, Homeruns, and Slugging Percentage are phenomenal accreditations to a player’s performance. However, players enhanced output doesn’t exclusively correlate to their team’s success. Subjectively, success is in the eye of the beholder, or this case, by the ownership in which they will attempt to make their fans happy. However, objective success is about winning, making the playoffs, and ultimately winning the World Series.
It’s easy to see the enhanced performance of baseball players when analyzing The Natural, a comprehensive study done on PEDs and their effects on offensive production in baseball. Runs Created per 27 outs, Homeruns, and Stole Bases saw anywhere from 5-60% jumps due to anabolic steroid use, according to the authors Brian Schmotzer and co-authors Patrick D. Kilgo and Jeff Switchenko. At face value, we can see that most, but not all, performance-enhancing drugs will positively boost a player’s performance.
Human growth hormone is the rare banned performance-enhancing drug that doesn’t give baseball players a noticeable performance boost. The Natural examined the effects of HGH on Runs Created per 27 outs, and there was no evidence to show that human growth hormone was associated with increased performance. There were even some instances where human growth hormone hurt offensive performance.
One of the most significant accomplishments for personal success in the MLB is winning a yearly award. Whether it’s the Most Valuable Player, CY Young, or Silver Slugger, winning a prestigious award such as these cement a player into the history books forever. Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, and Jose Canseco have all received unfair ridicule for enhancing their performance. Barry Bonds won seven national league MVP awards, Alex Rodriguez won three MVP awards, and Jose Canseco won one MVP and four Silver Slugger awards. These three players had long, illustrious careers, but their success didn’t guarantee their team’s success.
In 2001, when Barry Bonds set the record for single-season home runs with 73, the San Fransico Giants didn’t even make the playoffs. In fact, during his tenure with the Giants from 1993 to 2007, they didn’t achieve the ultimate success of winning a World Series. Alex Rodriguez played an astounding 22 years in the MLB and only won one world series with the Yankees in 2009. Jose Canseco played 17 seasons, in which he won two world series. Between the 61 seasons combined between these three players, the collective could only bring three world series rings to their teams.
Correlation does not equal causation regarding PED use and a team’s success in baseball, let alone personal success. The Mitchell Report listed 89 people who used PEDs, but their use didn’t guarantee them a successful career. Jack Cust only sported a .242 career batting average and 105 home runs. Todd Pratt is another player whose steroids added little substance to his offensive numbers. A measly 49 home runs in 14 seasons is not a statistic that will have front offices jumping for a player to sign. Howie Clark sported an abysmal three home runs and 26 RBIs in his short six-year season. For those who saw a significant uptick in offensive performance, such as Barry Bonds, they’re the exception, not the rule.
A lot of the focus on steroid use revolves around batters and offensive performance. That is because the Mitchell Report named only two pitchers for using steroids to enhance their performance. Roger Clemens and Eric Gange are the only pitchers who have ever received notoriety for using performance-enhancing drugs. Both pitchers had illustrious careers. Clemens won seven Cy Young awards, given to the best pitcher in each league, during his 24-year career. While Eric Gange played Major League Baseball for ten seasons, won a CY Young award, and set a single-season save record in 2003 with 55.
However, these pitchers’ success and phenomenal performance did not guarantee that their team won a world series. Between the two players, they played in the MLB for 34 seasons and only won four World Series. That’s an 11% win rate for their teams while they played in Major League Baseball; when considering the effect, a player’s performance has on a team’s success, whether pitcher or batter, we can’t discount the fact that baseball is a team sport.
Simply stating that teams with players who use performance-enhancing drugs will have tremendous success undermines the actuality that baseball is a team sport. When we look at successful players who use PEDs, like Curt Schilling and Alex Rodriguez, we also have to examine the teammates that surround them. Curt Schilling won his titles with great players such as David Ortiz, Jon Lester, and Dustin Pedroia. Alex Rodriguez played with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, who have resided in the Baseball Hall of Fame for a few years.
Steroids need to be better managed, without a doubt, but it’s different from how we think. We all immediately want to demonize players and teams for using and having players using steroids. However, there’s no guarantee that steroid-using players will find individual or team success during their tenure in the league. For that reason, the policies that limit many players from using PEDs need major revamping. Players shouldn’t have to cower in fear for wanting to be the best version of themselves. Players should receive a safe and practical guide to do so if they so choose.
The outlook on steroid use is changing within the public, and Major League Baseball needs to follow suit. After many long years of being cast out, Curt Schilling and Barry Bonds are nominated to the Baseball Hall of Fame, serving as the changing tide on the viewpoint of steroid use in baseball. Players who used steroids and had successful careers despite their steroid use should be revered, as they are today. The fact that individual success isn’t guaranteed, and team success isn’t guaranteed is all the more reason to celebrate these players for their historical accomplishments.
The most significant accomplishment for any man who has devoted their whole life to baseball is induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. To receive a plaque in the hall, a player must receive 75% of votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. This percentage point has plagued players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens from receiving their legacy for many years. Their suspected use of PEDs has led writers to criticize PED usage and demonize the players who take them.
In 2008 NPR reported on a debate in New York City where the use of steroids was the focal point, and 63% of polled audience members believed steroid use shouldn’t be allowed in sports. George Michael, a proponent for banning steroids in professional sports, stated that in 2002 17% of baseball’s payroll was allocated to players who didn’t even play due to muscle tears, tendon ruptures, and various injuries. Michael’s Source, Dr. James Andrews, correlated the increased injury rate to the prominent use of steroids; however, Michael states that there was no definitive proof that the increased injury rate was due to anabolic steroid use. Steroid testing in the MLB didn’t start until 2003, making it impossible to correlate the increased injuries in 2002 to anabolic steroid use.
Michael finished his two-minute argument by stating that many professional wrestlers died before the age of 40 and 50 due to their anabolic steroid use during their wrestling career. Michael provides that 110 wrestlers died because of steroid abuse, in which drug abuse can lead to side effects such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Yet, Michael states that there’s no clinical proof that’s why his friends died. With that, his argument only focuses on the abuse of steroids and not on what would happen if the users’ properly cycled their steroids with professional guidance. Testosterone replacement therapy utilizes synthetic testosterone, an anabolic steroid, to improve a patient’s cardiovascular health and lean muscle mass and even increase the recovery rate for injuries, all while under the guidance of a professional clinician.
Dale Murphy continued the argument against steroid use in professional sports by analogizing the use of steroids in baseball to smoking in public and players gambling on games within the league. Murphy explains how cigarette smoking was a healthy hobby when he was growing up, and now it’s illegal to smoke in public. I appreciate;’s Murphy’s sentiment, but to blankly state that smoking in public is unlawful is false. Nicotine is a harmful drug, and it doesn’t belong in the same category as anabolic hormones, which are synthetic versions of what our body already produces.
Murphy’s ultimate argument was that Major League Baseball needs stricter testing mandates, and doing so, that will prevent players from using steroids. The contrary has happened; the MLB has the most stringent testing standard for steroids throughout all professional sports. Even with year-round tests, 26 players have served suspensions for steroids since 2017. Strict testing doesn’t stop players from using steroids but makes using steroids a dangerous grey area that could be much safer for the players.
The use of performance-enhancing drugs is not accidental; it is planned and deliberate with the sole objective of getting an unfair advantage. I don’t want my kids, or your kids, or anybody’s kids to have to turn themselves into chemical stockpiles just because there are cheaters out there who don’t care what they promised when they started to participate. I don’t want my kids in the hands of a coach who would encourage, condone or allow the use of drugs among his or her athletes.Whose quote?
Richard Pound, chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, whose quote above provides a profound argument, shares the sentiment of the anti-steroid panel. However, to state that using steroids breaks a promise not to cheat makes no sense. His opinion evokes an emotional toll where we are hard-pressed to imagine our children becoming “chemical stockpiles” who have no regard for the promise of the integrity of the sport. Yet, I’m left wondering the opposite; these players are doing everything they can to be the best player possible.
Being the best player they can be is the ultimate promise any professional baseball makes. MLB players have professional chefs to make healthy meals, strength coaches to improve their biomechanics, and high-tech tools such as compression boots and massage guns to improve recovery times. None of these tools receive the same profound regulations as steroids, but it is still the players’ choice to use these available tools, just as it should be for players to use steroids.
To quote Julian Savulescu, “As we’ve argued, performance enhancement is not against the spirit of sport; it’s been a part of sport through its whole history, and to be human is to be better, or at least to try to be better.” Players will always do whatever they can to improve their performance, and steroids must receive the same treatment as other performance-enhancing utilities. The notion that using steroids is cheating is a fallacy created by a population afraid to see the good proper steroid use can bring to players who choose to use the drug.
To combat steroid use in the MLB, we need to encourage and give players a safe outlet to use steroids if they choose to enhance their performance using synthetic drugs. It’s no secret that steroids improve performance for the user, but that shouldn’t be the focus; our focus needs to shift to utilizing professionals to help players properly cycle steroids to enhance their performance without the negatives steroid abuse can cause. TRT is a valuable anecdote that the MLB should use to reform its current drug policies to make a safer environment for the players of baseball. A litany of non-athletes uses TRT daily to help regulate their hormones and restore their bodies to enhanced homeostasis. Guidance by clinicians is key to helping the everyday person become their optimized self. TRT is the successful blueprint that can reshape steroid use within baseball and turn it from a drug of abuse to a drug that provides countless benefits.
6 Benefits of [TRT] Testosterone Replacement Therapy //. (n.d.). Spartan Medical Associates. https://www.spartanmedicalassociates.com/benefits-of-trt/
Alex Rodriguez Stats, Fantasy & News. (n.d.). MLB.com. https://www.mlb.com/player/alex-rodriguez-121347
Barry Bonds Stats, Fantasy & News. (2018). MLB.com. https://www.mlb.com/player/barry-bonds-111188
Baseball and Performance Enhancing Drugs. (2013). Bloomberg.
Bonds, Clemens on Contemporary Era HOF ballot. (2022, November 7). ESPN.com. https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34972498/barry-bonds-roger-clemens-contemporary-era-hof-ballot
Chu. (2021). WADA Time to Choose a Side: Reforming the Anti-Doping Policies in U.S. Sports Leagues While Preserving Players’ Rights to Collectively Bargain. The Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts, 44(2), 209–. https://doi.org/10.52214/jla.v44i2.7824
Eric Gagne Stats, Fantasy & News. (n.d.). MLB.com. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.mlb.com/player/eric-gagne-150378
“JDA | Mlbpa.” Mlbpa, http://www.mlbplayers.com/jda. Accessed 17 Oct. 2022.
Jose Canseco Stats, Fantasy & News. (n.d.). MLB.com. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.mlb.com/player/jose-canseco-111962
Mitchell, G. (2007). REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER OF BASEBALL OF AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO THE ILLEGAL USE OF STEROIDS AND OTHER PERFORMANCE ENHANCING SUBSTANCES BY PLAYERS IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL. https://files.mlb.com/mitchrpt.pdf
MLB.com. 2022. Clase suspended 80 games after positive test. [online] Available at: <https://www.mlb.com/news/emmanuel-clase-suspended-80-games> .
MLB Steroid Suspensions (2005-2022) | Baseball Almanac. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2022, from https://www.baseball-almanac.com/legendary/steroids_baseball.shtml
nytimes.com. (2022, October 6). Retrieved October 17, 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/06/sports/baseball/fernando-tatis-padres.html
nytimes.com. (2020, November 18). Retrieved October 17, 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/sports/baseball/robinson-cano-mets-suspended.html?action=click
Patrick Antinori, & Rodney J Blackman. (2017). Contextualization of a Shifting Perspective Regarding the Steroid Era. The Sport Journal.
Schmotzer, B., Kilgo, P. D., & Switchenko, J. (2009). ‘The natural’? the effect of steroids on offensive performance in baseball. Chance, 22(2), 21-32.
Should We Accept Steroid Use in Sports? (2008, January 23). NPR.org. https://www.npr.org/2008/01/23/18299098/should-we-accept-steroid-use-in-sports
I plan on making some revisions to the paper as a whole to make sure it seamlessly flows, as well as refining the individual papers as well. I just want to get a feel for how seemlessly you think the paper flows.
It seems to have some seams.
I’ll be back with recommendations.
Before this sentence, indecisiveness indicated a player weighing the advantages and potential penalties for PED use.
Following this sentence, it’s supposed to mean fans and sportswriters debating over whether players should be sanctioned or honored. THAT’s debate, not indecisiveness. Both sides have decided; they don’t agree.
The shift creates a bad transition.
An awkward pairing:
If you were transitioning from PEDs to uppers: good transition. But using amphetamines as a bridge to get from PEDs to altitude advantages: awkward.
Once you make that shift, we engage our reasoning to ask: which of these advantages can the player control?
Coors Field differs from PEDs as a player advantage in that the Rockies batters don’t have a choice.
Your “Performance-enhancing drug use . . . winning the World Series” paragraph would lead naturally into evidence that players with enhanced batting averages usually DON’T propel their teams to the Series. When it doesn’t we feel that evidence missing. Could it follow this paragraph?
I found it. It’s the Correlation paragraph. Moving it might create disjointedness elsewhere, but it would make a seamless transition if it followed the “Performance-enhancing” paragraph.
I could probably go on like this, but you could too, Gymrat, now that you see the complications.
If the moves aren’t obvious, you’ll need an outline for the 3000 words. Reduce each paragraph to one sentence: its main idea. Then arrange the sentences into their most logical order. Swap in the full paragraphs for the sentences, and you’ll have achieved organization. THEN smooth transitions between the paragraphs if they’re still needed.