Elmhurst Pub Roundtable

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Another sad day for baseball...

It's sad when a sport can reduce you to this state, when a game becomes such an important portion to who you are and what you love. This steroid scandal has bothered me for a while. We were in high school when McGwire and Sosa put on the home run chase in 1998, where baseball mattered again and it was what you woke up to ask about each morning. Everyone wanted to know who homered, how many did they hit, how far did the ball travel. I was knieve enough to think then that it wasn't artificial. This when a player on my own high school team was using steroids to get himself a division one scholarship (this came out after I graduated). With all of this, I didn't want to believe up until BALCO became a name that I let myself know that steroids were a part of a game I cared about so much. Now I won't rehash all of that, but I will talk about the news today.

The news regarding Jason Grimsley serves as a serious reminder that performance enhancing drugs are such a serious problem in today's game. Grimsley admitted to federal investigators that he used HGH and then asked for his release from the Diamondbacks. ESPN details it, but the fact is if anyone is in position to name names, it's Grimsley. He started in the 80's and has played on 7 big league teams with names such as Sosa, Palmeiro, Dykstra, Bonds, and Belle. Even more so, as a pitcher, he knows more about what they have done than any other person in baseball at this point. Grimsley was cited by Latino players, as well as other players on the California teams who could get the drugs easy over the border. He also detailed how amphetamines were doled out and how many players he felt were using. Grimsley was never a name mentioned in BALCO, interestingly enough. Think he won't tell stories to buy some favorable treatment? Ask yourself if you would.

It's just hard to swallow. It's no doubt going to get worse as the weeks go on. Who knows where things will go from here. There's no test for HGH, there's no way the players association will allow blood testing, which is the only way HGH will eventually be allowed to be tested for. The players right now have a free pass to use it. How do you track it? How does the sport move forward? Why did Grimsley talk now?

I'll put Buster Olney's blog in the comments. His points on this subject are always worth noting. Baseball still says they didn't have enough information in the 80's and 90's. Something tells me that Grimsley will shed some light on that subject too.


Blogger cwhager527 said...

HGH issue suddenly eruptsposted: Wednesday, June 7, 2006 | Feedback

The powers that be in baseball claim ignorance about steroid use in the 1990s. We didn't have enough information, they say. Red flags didn't go up until the summer of 1998, they say. The media didn't do any stories, they say (as if that is a litmus test on whether they should do their jobs). We didn't knowingly turn a blind eye to the problem, they say.
They cannot say that now, as another performance-enhancer scandal breaks. Check out the stunning details contained within the affidavit on the Arizona Republic Web site: According to court documents, Jason Grimsley acknowledged using human growth hormone after feds anticipated a delivery of the stuff to his home and confiscated two kits. The IRS agent who prepared the affidavit also quotes Grimsley as saying he thought "boatloads" of players were getting HGH from the same source he was using, and Grimsley allegedly named names of players within the game; those names are blacked out in the public version of the affidavit.

Court documents do not equal a conviction, but the information within the affidavit is going to frighten folks within the game. Just like we knew that the details within the Ken Starr investigation on Monica Lewinsky would leak, you can bet that the blacked-out names in this affidavit will get out, and remember -- Grimsley played with the Phillies, the Indians, the Royals, the Angels, the Yankees, the Orioles, all over the map.

According to the documents, Grimsley told investigators he has used human growth hormone exclusively of late. Something like this was inevitable, because the current science of testing and the framework of baseball's drug-testing program effectively funnel all would-be cheaters toward the ramification-free option of HGH.

Human growth hormone is on baseball's banned substance list, and at the same time, there is no reliable test to detect HGH. But there are means of deterrence, and baseball has not taken those steps. It's as if the Players Association and Major League Baseball told everybody not to speed down the HGH highway and then failed to deploy any radar guns to catch the would-be cheaters.

Labs are still attempting to develop a reliable test for human growth hormone; in late February, some experts said they expected to have that test in place by late summer. But, as one baseball executive noted, "We've been hearing that for years."

What the Players Association and Major League Baseball could do is to draw blood samples and urine samples from players and store them indefinitely, and tell the players: Look, we don't have a test for HGH yet, but when we do, whether it's in six months or six years, we are going to test your blood and your urine, and you will be held accountable for what we find.

But there are no blood tests of any kind within Major League Baseball's testing. The samples are not stored indefinitely; they are eventually discarded. This could be a strong deterrent, the big stick to hold over the head of the would-be cheaters. And baseball is not using it.

In fairness, Major League Baseball has been the driving force behind the current testing system; Bud Selig deserves credit for pushing the union this far. It's time for the player representatives to instruct union Don Fehr and Gene Orza to step up and do what they failed to do in the '90s and earlier in this decade: Adopt all possible means to protect the interests of the players who don't want to take performance-enhancing drugs.

In the '90s, players who didn't want to take steroids were compelled to consider the use of the drugs because they believed -- rightly -- that players they were competing against for jobs were using steroids. Some clean players who wanted to stay clean became dirty.

We have stepped back in time now. Same situation, different drugs. Unless the union leadership finally becomes vigilant in its effort to clean up the sport, clean players again will be forced to consider taking performance-enhancing drugs. Players, executives and scouts strongly believe there are those using human growth hormone in baseball, and now we have the first tip of the HGH iceberg. It's time for the commissioner to scream for an immediate adjustment to the testing system -- to include blood tests and sample storage -- and for the Players Association to serve the silent majority within the union and embrace the necessary changes.

The powers that be have learned that their failures of the '90s have led to the diminishment of the accomplishments of an entire generation. A dark cloud will forever hang over the legacy of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and other stars. The commissioner and the union must do everything possible to eliminate the shrouds of doubt that will hover over the next generation.

This time around, they have full knowledge. This time around, the media has sounded the alarm. This time, they know what the problem is and how they can attempt to solve it.

The fallout from the BALCO case forced the union leadership to take its steroid problem more seriously. Let's see if the Grimsley case forces the union to address the HGH problem in the same way.

10:12 PM  

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