Thursday, June 8, 2006

How Many Federal Agents Does it Take...

PHOENIX - Pitcher Jason Grimsley was released by the Arizona Diamonbacks on Wednesday, a day after his home was searched by federal agents following his admission he used human growth hormone, steroids and amphetamines. The raid - and Grimsley's implication of other major league ballplayers - was the latest sign that widespread investigations into drug use by athletes are still active, even in the era of tougher testing. "Clearly," U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said, "we're not done."
For the record, Jason Grimsley pitched in 552 games and compiled a 42-58 record with a 4.77 earned run average. He pitched for the Phillies, Indians, Angels, Yankees, Royals, Orioles and Diamondbacks while allowing opponents to bat .265 against him. If that speaks for the success of HGH and amphetamines, then perhaps athletes need to look elsewhere for inspiration.
Meanwhile, the minimum salary for a major league player is $316,000 a year, so perhaps the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs could be justified by the salary? You tell me, if it was a choice between making $316,000 and working at Wal-Mart, would you take the drugs?
As we saw in 1998, baseball fans want home runs. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa gave them what they wanted - balls flying over their heads - and regardless of the methods used, fans were happy to see it. Now that we know what the methods were, we are outraged at the very thing we knew was going on at the time. You knew, didn't you? Meanwhile, pitchers were laughing up their sleeves at the swollen hitters who were implicated in steroid scandals.
If you or I were allowed to earn $316,000 a year pitching baseballs, we might be persuaded to take steroids too, if the alternative was to make $15,000 a year greeting customers at Wal-Mart. So, don't be too hasty to judge professional baseball players for doing what they needed to do in order to continue to earn a huge salary. The average salary for a major league baseball player is $2.6 million - and that buys a lot of HGH. It also encourages players to take it, since they would rather not give up that huge paycheck.
Jason Grimsley makes much more than the minimum, and he makes a lot more than the office worker who stops to get a cappuccino on his way to the cubicle. It's all about performance enhancement, and whether it's steroids or coffee, the drugs are used to enhance ones performance. If your morning caffeine break gets you through the day, think about Jason Grimsley and thank whatever God you pray to that you won't be going to jail for using performance enhancing drugs to make you work better and more efficiently.
Illegal or not, it's the availability that is the issue, not the legality. So, don't be too quick to judge Grimsley or his bretheren over doing what they needed to do to maintain an edge over their opponents. The system encourages the behvavior.

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