Like most everyone else, I got a flu shot last year. That’s all you hear these days. You gotta get the flu shot, you gotta get that shot. Well, I didn’t get the flu, I got pneumonia. And the only other time I got the flu shot, I got the flu anyway and it was one of the sickest I’ve ever been. I’m not saying don’t get the flu shot, but I’m never getting it again. Anyway, when I got pneumonia last December, the doctor mercifully gave me a steroid injection. WOW! In about 4 hours, I went from feeling 20% to feeling 75-80% of my non-pneumonia self. If I hadn’t gotten that shot, I would have most likely missed some work, had to bail on things I promised I’d do for people, put more workload on my family and STILL felt like garbage for another week at minimum. But I got it, felt better and got back in the game. I thought of all this as the news about the Biogenesis Clinic in Florida broke and the players linked to it. I’m not sure how much I really care about players using PEDs. When I thought about the issue on a macro level, I’m pretty sure I don’t.
First let me say that I’m not endorsing cheating. On a base level, I’d hate to know that I worked really hard and someone else cheated their way to the same result or better than I achieved. But I know that it happens more frequently than we’d like to acknowledge (I play golf…with men…so I see cheating all the time). Charles Barkley changed my view of athletes when he said “I am not a role model”. He’s right. We didn’t chastise Kurt Cobain for not being a better role model for our kids. We don’t criticize Alec Baldwin for being a jerk because he’s influencing a future generation of adults. Hell, we don’t even care when politicians, our “leaders”, get caught in scandal. So why do we care about people who participate in a glorified “Punt, Pass and Kick” competitions?
NBA players are notorious for smoking weed (for you older readers, weed is another term for marijuana cigarettes). Should any player found to have “burned tree” be thrown off their team for good? Should their achievements be wiped off the record books? Look at the NFL and players like Lawrence Taylor. He ADMITED to doing cocaine while he was a player…during the season (He’s also human trash IMO). The national sports writers refer to him as a tortured soul with demons he just couldn’t control. But they NEVER talk about keeping him out of the Hall of Fame. Or wiping clean the record books of his achievements. What if that coke helped him physically? Somehow helped him deal with pain, clear his mind or perform better? How is that any different than Jose Canseco getting shot in the rear end with an injection? Cocaine, Marijuana, Meth are all illegal just like PEDs. So where’s the outrage?
What about something like Calais? It’s a drug that helps erectile dysfunction (and evidently magically produces a waterfall and two bathtubs in your kitchen). But I wonder if it helps performance? I mean I KNOW it helps “performance”…well, not firsthand…I have this friend who….ANYWAY. I wonder if it would help an athlete on the field in any tangible way. What about 5-Hour Energy drink? I know it would help me sky dive or help me produce “My debut album”. But does it help players hit home runs, run faster or jump higher? Pre game meals? Some players will NOT switch what they eat before a game because they think it helps them perform better. Some wear the same shirt under their uniform. Players like Nomar Garciaparra do a silly pre-batter’s box ritual with their gloves, helmet, uniform, etc EVERY time before they step to the plate. Do we outlaw that? If it gives him an edge, why should we let him do it? I know. It’s a stretch from a chicken parm pre-game meal to a steroid injection, but it’s a way to illustrate, regardless how poorly, the question, “is all of this PED use really that bad?”
I think the reason people make such a big deal about abuses in Baseball but not other sports is because of the numbers. Not just numbers, but THE NUMBERS. 715, 2632, 56, .406, 1.12, 4256 and alike. If we’re not sure how true those numbers are, then how can we compare players? Eras? Teams? SABR nerds love the numbers. And if the numbers aren’t totally valid, the analysis of said numbers means less. Which means the foundation of their pastime religion is fundamentally flawed. That’s why they don’t believe in things like “being clutch” or “team chemistry”. They can’t be measured, so they can’t be true. Just like loving your mother. Since you can’t quantify how much you love your mom, you don’t really love her, right? How silly.
At the end of the day, cheating and/or trying to get and edge, stay healthy or keep the mind focused is something every person will do to make sure they can continue to do what they do. I guess cheating is like lying. There are different levels. And your outrage is based on where you draw the line. Sports, like most entertainment, are my getaway from reality. So I assume that things may not always be what they seem. I guess I’ve seen enough to know that everyone is imperfect. I’ve also seen enough to know I’m never getting the flu shot again.
For more of my shenanigans, follow me on Twitter at @YourDailyVinnie. Thanks!