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I was sitting in a waiting room yesterday, thumbing through web sites on my blackberry (tm) when I came across the headline "Mark McGwire admits steroid use." Not a shocker for anyone who doesn't live in a cave. Admitting he used, Mark McGwire said he didn't admit so at the time of the famous 2005 hearing (the same hearing where Palmeiro pointed his finger and said he never used steroids, only to test positive later)because he was declined immunity by Alberto Gonzales.

Now, I'm not in any way siding with McGwire on his very poor choice to use steroids and HGH while he was playing, including the year he broke Maris's homerun record. Despite his excuses that he was using them to recover from and prevent injury, and that "no needle or pill can give you the hand-eye coordination to hit a baseball", McGwire artificially and dishonestly added power to his swing, all the while illegitimately breaking batting records and undoubtedly helping some careers and hurting others who played/coached against him.

However, if we take McGwire at his shaky word that he would've admitted use had he had immunity (or no risk of jail/fines to begin with), we can directly correlate the misguided War on Drugs and the worst AG in history's decision against immunity with keeping baseball from moving beyond the steroid era until yesterday.

Mark McGwire was the biggest name on the 2005 panel that testified before Congress, and it wasn't close. Sammy Sosa was there, but he feigned ignorance of English, he wasn't the first breaker of Maris's record, and (rightly or wrongly) the majority of American baseball fans did not relate to him as they did McGwire.

Since 2005, Barry Bonds re-broke the homerun records both for single-season AND total homeruns in a career. Raphael Palmeiro tested positive for steroids, which was a huge PR disaster for baseball. Roger Clemens took the "No I didn't use it!" route, another tremendous black eye for the game and a now fallen hero, a route that I would argue HE NEVER TAKES if McGwire had fallen on his sword in 2005 (especially with his former best friend Andy Petite readily admitting that he dabbled). Disaster for baseball history, for little-leaguers, for people like me in their mid-20's who were stuck to the TV with their dads and grandpas while ESPN cut away to show each McGwire and Sosa at-bat, and for baby-boomers who feel lonely in a sports bar if they paid a lot more attention to baseball than the NFL when they were younger.

All the above, I would argue, happened because of the STUPID drug laws and STUPID, STUPID Gonzales figuring out how to read THOSE laws, of all the ones he couldn't seem to grasp or remember.

My personal take on drug legalization is NOT "all or nothing", as some commentors will undoubtedly support. I feel that drugs like Heroin, Cocaine and Meth are super-addictive, destructive to the body, and often lead to very destructive behavior that affects many others besides the user. HGH/Steroids, however, are in the "marijuana" category; only overuse will lead to personal harm and, excepting the occasional JUDO CHOP! that an over-hyped steroid user might lay down on an undeserving annoyance to him, does not likely lead to a negative affect on others.

Change the laws. Reason over emotion, life over death, baseball over embarrasment.

Originally posted to DonkSlayer on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 08:39 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, debedb

    Get better, Gabrielle! Third Way =) Donk is a poker term for someone who is really bad at "the game". Still, a poor choice in name I guess.

    by DonkSlayer on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 08:39:13 AM PST

  •  regardless of the legal status of those drugs... (0+ / 0-)

    MLB has to keep them out of the league.

    And none of those men should ever be in the Hall of Fame.

    Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains.

    by gooners on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 08:44:57 AM PST

    •  I don't know about that latter point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gooners

      If you read the Mitchell Report, you'd have seen that steroid use in baseball was hardly limited to McGwire and Clemens. Seemed like the entire Royals roster was on there. I came away from reading that thinking that non-steroid users were the exception rather than the rule, so unless you want to just put a big line through the last fifteen years or so of baseball, I can't justify keeping Clemens, particularly, out.

      But then, I never understood the rationale for keeping Pete Rose out of the Hall, and I think Shoeless Joe's exclusion is a travesty. Figured it was about what you did when you were playing baseball, not anything else, and what these guys did was amazing.

      •  this is why steroid use is so bad for sports... (0+ / 0-)

        non-steroid users were the exception rather than the rule

        the diary makes it seem like an individual choice that only hurts the individual, but it isn't. If everyone is using them that takes away that choice -- you have to use them or you can't compete.

        As to who will be kept out -- I'm glad I don't have to make that call. I do think the power hitters from that era who have admitted to use should be kept out. The revelation that it wasn't just the power hitters using throws a wrench in it all. We still have great pitchers from that era without Clemens -- like Johnson, Maddux, Pedro Martinez.

        Speaking of the Royals, has Saberhagen been implicated?

        Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains.

        by gooners on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 08:58:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I haven't heard his name mentioned... (0+ / 0-)

          ..and although I'm not obsessed with the topic, I do read and listen to a ton of sports commentary and news.

          •  Probably not. (0+ / 0-)

            I imagine if he had been a user, he'd have been a lot less skinny (dude looked like a stick figure throughout his career) and bounced back a lot better from the injuries that shortened his career.

            It's a shame. If he'd had a full career as the pitcher he was in his first six or seven years in the league he'd be mentioned on that list with Johnson and Maddux and Pedro.

        •  I think you misread my intent. (0+ / 0-)

          I specifically mentioned that the steroid use in baseball hurt others:

          "McGwire artificially and dishonestly added power to his swing, all the while illegitimately breaking batting records and undoubtedly helping some careers and hurting others who played/coached against him."

          My point was that the "War on Drugs" and Gonzo prevented the sport from recovering.

          "I'm too fiscally conservative for the Democrats and too socially liberal for the Republicans, like 75% of the American people." --Governor Angus King

          by DonkSlayer on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 09:16:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  why is congress (0+ / 0-)

      involved on what MLB does? Let them have a steroid league, a non-steroid league, a freaking mutant league, and see what people like to see, and let Congress stick to things like healthcare.

  •  one problem I have... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thomask

    ... with just legalizing this stuff and allowing it into the games is that it severely screws up the talent pool. When the 35 year old player who should be declining are so juiced up they are playing better than they were at 25, that keeps other promising 25 year old players out of the league.

    Even if its legal, it shouldn't be allowed in the games. And yes many legal drugs are not allowed in.

    •  Point well-taken.. (0+ / 0-)

      ..and agreed, that even legal drugs (typically prescribed, but sometimes avail OTC) are currently banned by many sports. I am NOT advocating allowing those drugs in play for sports, I'm advocating the prevention of legal exposure for users so they can come clean and help the sports move away from being so dirty.

  •  'Roids were legal when he did them. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, BPARTR, thomask

    If you keep McGwire out for using them, then you need to look at all of the guys who set records using "greenies" in the Sixties and Seventies, when speed was handed out in locker rooms like M&M's.  

    At the end of the day, he still had to make contact and drive the ball against some great pitchers.   Did some balls fly farther because he was on the juice?  Sure.   So what.  

    He should have just copped to the truth back then, and taken his lumps.  He didn't even really need immunity for what he did.  

    Strength of character does not consist solely of having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one's balance in spite of them - Clausewicz

    by SpamNunn on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 09:00:38 AM PST

  •  So, what's the story behind your handle? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    testvet6778

    It's kind of odd for a Democratic blog, imo.

    "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." John Lennon

    by trashablanca on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 09:48:12 AM PST

    •  Poker reference (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trashablanca

      "Donks" are a common name for poor poker players, although I think it's a great term to expand beyond the game. They are something like "fish", except they are just bad vs. a "fish" may just continue to call bets not realizing/caring that the chances of them hitting a draw or card they need are waaay too long for the money required to get to that card.

      "Slayer" is certainly metaphorical and in no way advocates killing anyone, any more than "OWNED" means someone is a slave.

      "I'm too fiscally conservative for the Democrats and too socially liberal for the Republicans, like 75% of the American people." --Governor Angus King

      by DonkSlayer on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 10:10:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  steroids (0+ / 0-)

    aren't all that safe from a medical point of view, especially if you consider that these athletes are made young, it forces use into younger kids who want to be competitive with greater potential for harmful side effects.

    If you could limit use to pro's willing to take risks for profits, don't care about records or who you force out because they won't risk their health, it might be an individual choice issue.  But it isn't.

    It also opens up all the other abuses, blood doping through drugs or transfusions, all of which have risks.  Do you draw the line at gene manipulation when and as it becomes more feasible?

    McGwire would have wanted more than immunity anyhow.  He wanted to avoid all the other consequences to major athletic figures who lose sponsorships, influence, further career advancement in sports related work, etc.  

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