Wednesday, September 3, 2014


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KEN CAMINITI was  the original poster boy for steroids. A lifetime .272 hitter who averaged 15 homers a year from 1987 to 2001, would hit 40  and average .326 and win the MVP in 1996, admittedly with the help of   steroids. Caminiti  came  out against steroids in a book, shortly before his drug-related death in 2004
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Despite No New PED Indictments from MLB Testing, No End in Sight for PED Use  

Can we not agree  that players are still using performance-enhancing drugs, especially after seeing 20 last year, not by conventional baseball tests but through a leak at the Biogenesis labs where a disgruntled worker turned in his boss who , in turn , basically , was bought  off by major-league baseball in exchange for naming names of about 20 MLB players to whom he had provided PEDs? Now, for over two decades, players have injected, swallowed, rubbed or otherwise ingested various PEDs  in an effort to help with nagging injuries, help late-career slumping or just gain that edge after seeing more and more other players get away with  it - and even be encouraged to use such by their teams in some cases.

With the obvious continuing problem - yes , it is a serious problem - of PED use in baseball,  we wonder why no names have come out of any players-not a single one-who have been caught through MLB testing using PEDs this year, 2014 - or even last year, for that matter. 


The  only possible answer is that MLB drug testing is still in adequate and has not kept up with, supposedly, undetectable PEDs. Sure, former commissioner Selig can tell us that baseball has the most stringent testing in all sports but when not a single player is caught through  said testing one has to wonder if the tests are really adequate.Sure, Selig has increased the penalties from 50 to 80 games for the first offense and increased the second and third , too what good are the new penalties if the testing is inadequate so that nobody is even indicted.

Mark McGwire and Jose Conseco were the 'Bash Brothers' in Oakland.  They were taking advantage of steroids as early as the late '80s, which helped propel the Oakland Athletics to a 1989 World Series victory.  Steroids were still young and new to baseball - and legal for a time (McGwire didn't even hide  his bottle of Androsteen  from his locker shelf)  - but it wasn't until after Caminiti that , first, Conseco , then McGwire admitted to their use. McGwire would break the single season  home run record with 70 in 1998 at St.Louis with his old Oakland manager Tony LaRussa. McGwire and Conseco were   inspiration for cross-town rival, San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds taking up the 'sport' when he came to the Giants in 1993, later becoming the Homerun King of All time with 762 homeruns, eclipsing that of Hank Aaron and prevously Babe Ruth  

If any players were caught this year or even last we don't know about it. A new provision in the testing agreement is that players may appeal with legitimate excuses for positive test results, which favors players and could be another reason we're not seeing any players caught of late. The last time We saw players indicted through MLB testing was 2012. Remember when Balco's victor Conte called Melky Cabrera 'dumb or dumber'  for letting himself get caught.

We've watched Conte and Biogenesis' Tony Bosch explain in front of national audiences how easy it is to beat the current MLB testing for synthetic testosterone , for example.  Simply by taking the drugs at the right times In the correct amounts - we won't get too technical here and go into the 4:1 ratio - should allow players to ' 'do their thing'.  In Cabrera's case he likely took either too much or at the wrong time, or both.

Meanwhile, we're still seeing inflated performance numbers, more this year among pitchers and low ERAs. In the past, pitchers have not come under scrutiny as much as hitters and can get away with more. we may not be seeing the big home run numbers for obvious reasons. Hitters can better camouflage their 'usage' hitting for average rather then sporting Brady Anderson -like home run totals

Barry Bonds, before and after coming to San Francisco from Pittsburg. Unlike with some of the players today who don't show outward signs of 'enhancement'  with newer 'designer' durgs, Bonds showed significant changes in body shape and size. Even after Caminiti and Conseco had 'come out' Bonds would continue to lead
the San Francisco Giants uneven playing field for 14 years through 2007 (when he still hit 28 homers at age 42) before  he was finally 'taken down' by a couple of brave SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE writers who dared speak out against the beloved Bonds - beloved at least in San Francisco. 

Today, VICTOR Conte continues to use the number '50% ' when describing possible drug usage in baseball and, really , there's no reason to doubt him. Nothing has changed as far as the testing methods by MLB. The only changes may be in the types of drugs players are now using, namely the "designer" PEDs such as synthetic testosterone, with which , according to Cone and others, MLB's testing has not kept a pace. And, no longer do we necessarily see obvious telltale signs of the previously bulked up players with the newer drugs.

Today, they may not be called steroids any longer but PEDs are probably as rampant in baseball as steroids ever were.  Baseball attendance continues to thrive with a new generation having grown up seeing their favorite players benefitting from the drugs - and only knowing the one way, but ,no doubt, knowing its wrong.
Now it's not just one or two players like McGwire and Sosa but dozens still playing the game. Instead of being out of baseball, indicted users like Cabrera and Cruz - to pick on only two of many- continue to play the game, likely still on something. Not only are they getting away with continued use but their new teams and fans love it.
Likely for this reason , Selig and MLB -seeing the turnstiles rolling with big numbers - simply paid lip service  to the PED issue, extending the penalties but not the problem of the weak drug testing. they're content with the numbers, the baseball union is happy and life goes on.

Teams, particularly the San Francisci Giants with 23 indicted players over the years , have now been thriving off PEDs - or whatever you want to call them now - for two decades and there's no indication things will change. it's getting to the point a team may not be able to acquire players WITHOUT some PED history.  The biggest culprits in all this were not the early users like Camaniti, Canseco and even McGwire - who even left his bottle of Androsteen on his locker shelf for anyone to see- but MLB, team owners and fans who , instead of coming out strongly and doing something about the problem in its infancy have let it get out of hand. who knows if and when the PED problem -yes, it is a big problem - will be corrected.

So, you say the baseball situation is symbolic or symptomatic of the rest od society. that may be true but if anything was pure and free of scandal it WAS baseball )aside from the 1919 black sox scandal) . You've heard 'America, baseball and apple pie.' that's what it WAS and what it should be, not just for us old-school fans who remember a time when we didn't have to try to figure out who was cheating and who was not. Kids and adults are missing perhaps the last pure sport and experience in America and it's a shame . Sure, the Giants and other teams may, purportedly, 'sell out' (double meaning here?) to folks as much or more interested in having an expensive picnic and other extraneous experiences  at the new stadia - no longer ball parks - than watching
A REAL ball game. And, that may be part of the problem too - owners so intent on filling seats they'll do about anything and much of the crowd ends up doing about anything EXCEPT getting involved in the game, whether it be taking selfies, texting,eating or drinking $10 hot dogs and beers.


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