Whose To Blame?
Now in no way am I saying steroids (for the purposes of this article when I say steroids, I’m also including amphetamines, growth hormone, horse tranquilizers, cocaine, whatever else floats your boat) are a good thing, or that it’s right to use them. What I am saying is that if there’s anyone to blame for steroid abuse it’s upper-managements’, coaches’, owners’, or, most applicably, the commissioners’. While players were/are the ones choosing to do it, they really aren’t left with much of a choice.
Just like in High School when you were offered your first beer, or when things got weird at college with a couple crack whores, it’s hard to say, “no.” For instance, let’s pretend you are a good, not great AA minor league baseball player. You play 2B, make $800/month, and you compete against someone else who is equally as good as you. One day, you notice how much stronger your fellow second basemen has become. He’s hitting twice as many balls out during batting practice, and, consequently, earns the starting job over you. You have two choices: do what he’s doing and play, or don’t do it and don’t play. But there’s more riding on the line than just playing time. If you play well enough, maybe you graduate to the major league’s where a first year salary starts around $335,000. That’s not a lot of money by MLB standards, but in the real world, that’s a ton. From rags to riches all at the expense of…poor health, cheating America’s most legendary past time.
Hell, let me put it to you this way. If there was a drug that took ten years off ones life, but made one exceptionally intelligent, allowing them to excel at a phenomenal rate at their job, I believe it would be in heavy demand. Instead of landing a $100,000 job at age 32, you’re doing it at 27. How many people would do you know who would turn this down? There was a study done about my generation (the twenty-something generation), and while we’re known for being hard workers, we’re not known for saving. Where as my parents generation were known for grinding it out until you can retire, my generation says, I got a check for $600 this week, I’m going to spend every penny right now, on this bottle of Crystal so I can sit in the VIP section of a “hot” bar (Not that I personally do this). It’s the work hard, party hard, live for the moment crop, and why should baseball players be any different?
It’s my belief that it’s not so much the A-Rod’s, or the Pujol’s who roid, but guys like Grimsley who are struggling to stay at the big league level and succeed financially. And I’m saying this in no way to be a dick, but most of the guys playing ball at this level are not blowing up the SAT’s. Sure, there are the Eric Bruntlett’s and Greg Maddux’s, but for every one of them, there are a hundred more Manny Ramirez’s. Basically, these guys have to earn their money now because the future isn’t burning exceptionally bright. It also doesn’t seem like anyone has told these guys not to do it. Isn’t that why players hire agents, and managers—to guide them and tell them what is right, or wrong, what they should or shouldn’t do? These guys are young, and I don’t believe they know many of the repercussions associated with steroid use. All they see is bling, and I don’t blame them.
In 1998, I was fifteen, took one look at Mark McGuire and thought there was something strangely familiar about him-oh yeah, he looked just like Mariusz Pudzianowski of World’s Strongest Man fame. Yet, MLB executives seemed not to care. This was the year that finally brought MLB back into the Lime Light, back from the 1994 strike doldrums. Revenue was shooting up (ha…haha), fans were going crazy, who didn’t like seeing baseball when it wasn’t anything like regular baseball? When there’s money to be made, sacrifices have to be made as well. Sacrifices, like pretending that Glen Allen Hill and Bret Boone are actually good at baseball. Maybe it’s all just my little conspiracy theory, but how could coaches, owners, managers and the commissioner not know what’s going on? It’s impossible, they must have known, turned a blind eye and were counting on it not to get out of their hands and into the media’s. The Diamondbacks lost seven straight since Grimsley got caught: who is shitting their pants waiting for the Feds to knock on their door? Everybody—except the people in charge. It can’t possibly be their fault, right? Just because they weren’t the ones injecting, doesn’t mean they weren’t the ones supporting.