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When it Hits the Fan
by Phil B.
Previous Columns

My Take on Steroids - 06/03/2002

Baseball players should be randomly tested for steroids, period. Don't think I just subscribe to the simplistic argument that "The innocent have nothing to hide, and the others are cheaters anyway." There are other obvious compelling reasons that make it necessary. But will it ever happen?

First a confession. I consider myself a social liberal, though some of my friends will think otherwise. Let's face it, employee drug testing is an infringement of personal rights. There is a place for it in society, but I think it should be reserved for jobs where the health of people other than the drug taker is at stake (i.e. pilots, surgeons, etc.) I don't really care if the toll booth collector got stoned last Thursday night. Sure, steroids users are harming themselves, but using that argument, we'll need to outlaw Twinkies too. Oh oh, I'm approaching a huge political can of worms here... have to stop or Nancy Reagan will come harass me! Back to baseball.

When this controversy broke, my first reaction was: "You mean people actually thought there were no steroids in the game?" I think it's unfair to single out specific players without proof, but I've seen players break into the majors as skinny rookies and go on to resemble the incredible hulk. Others spend 10 years without any power and all of a sudden hit 45 home runs one year. I thought it was so obvious that everybody took it for granted.

But now there is urgency because steroids use seems to be growing. As power numbers rise unreasonably from year to year and this new attention is devoted to the issue, the integrity of the game is questioned. Imagine what you would think of the Olympics if there was no drug testing. That could be baseball in five or ten years. I don't want to hear the snickers behind me at the ballpark every time a player cranks a deep home run.

Now let's assume you agree with me, which despite my incredible persuasive powers is probably an incorrect assumption for about 50% of you. How does Major League Baseball make this happen?

For now, it won't happen. The players' union is against it because they feel it's an infringement of players' privacy. And the owners are so short sighted, they will not give issues related to the long term integrity of the game or the players' health a high priority. They are too busy trying to slow the increase in player salaries.

Unfortunately, I think it will take a tragedy. When a prominent and beloved player suffers a fate similar to Lyle Alzado, which is inevitable, public pressure will mount. Newspapers will publish scathing editorials. Television advertisers will complain. The union will be forced to accept testing.

Players, Owners: Please prove me wrong and avert a tragedy. Institute random steroids testing now!

by Phil B.

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