29 May 2008
Were Steroids Good for Baseball?
Posted by Jon Shepherd
As we wait for the next scouting report for the draft (I think it is Smoak or Posey next), I figured I would muse about PEDs. I haven't done this for a while. Anyway, Shysterball pointed me to this post over at the Sports Economist.
Basically, the response to steroid use was different than it was in football. An idea as to why this was so is that the negatives and positives are different for each sport. In baseball, the negative (i.e. health issues) is personalized. An individual taking PEDs could really only hurt themselves. There may be some overlap in beanings and the occasional splintered bat toss, but really the health issues were assumed solely by the individual who took them. In football, added onto those personal risks are also risks posed to other people playing. Bigger and stronger football players may not only put themselves at risk, but they can also impart a lot of hurt on others. Potential psychological issues associated with steroid use would also have more opportunity in football to cause danger to others.
It could be suggested that the benefits of steroids differ between the two sports. The bigger and faster developments of football players are somewhat offset as offense and defense equal each other out. In baseball, steroids may not be as helpful for pitchers as they are for hitters. At the very least, the perception is there that hitters benefit greatly from steroids. This perception can cause addition distress as baseball is arguably more of a game of numbers. A homerun is simple and it is elegant. Counting those home runs is something that we all have done since we were kids. The act is thrilling and it is one of the most impressive feats of individualism in baseball, which itself is a patchwork game of individualism. That thrill might also be why we ignored the presence of steroids for so long (i.e., Lenny Dykstra back in the early 90s and Jose Canseco). In a sport where guys piss on their hands to get an advantage, if a good player is doing something . . . others will start doing it too. Sometimes what they do actually do affect the play on the field.
Then again, sometimes it does not.