Am I Changing?

Now that pitchers and catchers have begun reporting to Spring Training I was really hoping that the focus could get back between the foul lines. It has been a long off season filled with headlines surrounding the pharmaceutical side of baseball. Beginning with the Mitchell Report and continuing through the Brian McNamee / Roger Clemens war and now culminating with yet another round of Congressional hearings this has been a very dark time for baseball. And while Bud Selig and Donald Fehr proclaim that baseball is taking working measures to clean up the game; every day brings about more accusations and innuendo. Now it seems like no matter where you go, if you are identified as a baseball fan you are immediately questioned of how you feel about the usage of steroids and what it has done to the game.

At first I thought this was an easy question to answer but lately I have begun to wonder whether my thought process has wavered. Initially when the story of steroid and performance enhancing substances begin to proliferate in the media I was outraged. Those who had taken these substances were cheating the game and any accomplishments they made should be stricken from the record books. There was just no room in baseball for someone who disregards the rules of baseball.

As time has gone on I have begun to listen a little more closely when players have discussed their possible usage of enhancers. While there are undoubtedly those players who took these substances to gain an advantage; that is not the story usually recounted. For every storyline about how Barry Bonds purportedly took substances to gain an advantage in his chase of Hank Aaron there are ten times the number of stories such as Andy Pettitte’s tale of taking Human Growth Hormone for recovery. I am beginning to understand that these players were not necessarily trying to enhance their God-given abilities as much as they were trying to stave off or recover from injury to return to the field. These are men who are paid a substantial amount of money to be on the field and try to win games for their team. They are not trying to throw or hit beyond their capabilities as much as they are trying to get back to the level they were playing at before they were hurt. I began to wonder, how different is that really from us in our jobs? If you are being paid well for the work you do, you want to show your management that the money they are paying you is worth every penny. I think human nature leads each of us to try and do the very best job we can possibly do. If you have a deadline due at work and you find yourself unable to perform your job duties because you are sick, how many of us would not think twice about getting a prescribed medication to restore our health. The difference of course is that most of us do not resort to using a substance banned at our workplace. Even so, you could probably make an argument that when you take a prescribed medication you really are taking a health enhancer. Whether it be overcoming a cold, aches and pains or some other malady our goal is to return to work as quickly as possible to pull our weight and make the organization successful. Now here we have athletes many of whom have broken down over the course of 162 game season that are doing something similar, they are trying to restore themselves to health to assist the team in meeting their goals of reaching the post season. At work we would be acknowledged by our peers or our managers while baseball players are instead shunned and ostracized. It seems contradictory to common sense. Maybe instead of trying to find better drug tests to catch these dedicated employees baseball should instead find a way of reducing the stress, wear and tear that these players endure over 162-game season. One approach could be to reduce the number of games played in a season. As a baseball fan I would be hard pressed to recommend that, I already struggle with the off-season as it is without making it longer. Another approach could be to increase the roster size. By providing players with additional days off through the use of more players they could be spared some of the wear and tear they are currently experiencing. There are a lot of options and I would think that someone much smarter than myself could come up with an answer beyond the obvious “we’re going to test you more often” as the deterrent.

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