Performance enhancers

cocaine

Following my Keith Hernandez post from yesterday evening, a few people pointed out my apparent hypocrisy. How, they asked, can someone rant against “cheaters” like Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, yet support the Hall of Fame candidacy of a cocaine user like Keith Hernandez?

Boy, do I loathe this argument.

Look, steroids and HGH make you a better baseball player. They are taken to improve performance, and there’s no reason to think they don’t work. They make you faster, stronger, quicker. They help you recover and work out for longer periods of time. That’s why, literally, they’re called performance enhancers.

Cocaine, on the other hand, ruins one’s abilities. Just look at all the abusers through the years, from Steve Howe to Dwight Gooden to Enos Cabell. There’s no performance enhancing that comes along with snorting coke. None. Zero.

Furthermore (and I know people hate hearing this), drug addiction is a disease. It might not begin as one, with that first hit, but it evolves into one. You can’t stop. You need help. You know you’re falling, but you continue down the hole. It’s a terrible, terrible place to be. Hell, just ask this guy.

So while I certainly don’t applaud Keith Hernandez’s usage of cocaine (aka “the devil in me”), I do applaud his ability to overcome. Meanwhile, I recognize that his drug usage wasn’t an intent to cheat the game.

No comparison.

8 thoughts on “Performance enhancers”

  1. You still make an idiotic and selective argument about which illicit drugs and performance enhancers you prefer. People do cocaine to get an edge – to stay up and alert. It is their intention to use it pay better. But is is not effective as other substances so the coke users get a pass. And those who chose an effective training method which makes them train harder and become better players get punished? Because they got better than the coke users? t is perfomance enhancing. Caffeine is a PED as are amphetamines and all the other substances used in baseball’s past. I am a doctor — both cocaine and steroids can ravage one’s health, and both can be somewhat benign in some cases. In fact cocaine can actually enhance direct performance more than steroids, which are essentially Training Enhancing Drugs (TEDs). I never could understood the logic that people could cheat on baseball by their actions in weight weight room. The bottom line is you are making moral judgments about athletes based on what they do on their own time. It seems small and you are lumping yourself in with all the other judgmental busybodies in baseball writer land who lord it over those in the arena (save the rational Rob Neyer). Your stance has to be either to admonish all the drug users regardless of the results, or you accept it and simply examine the actual ballplaying (which most of us prefer). Most fans don’t really care too much one way or the other about PEDs, TEDs, etc. At least football and basketball writers actually spend energy covering the games.

  2. I do not disagree with you. As far as performance enhancers are concerned, Steroids and HGH are in a league of their own.

    However, as someone that has tried coke a few days a few years ago, (A girl I dated was into it. Her love of the drug quickly helped me realize I was no fan of hers) I do question whether or not cocaine can be considered performing enhancing. I believe that it enhances certain peoples abilities significantly.

    From my limited experience, and boy is it limited, cocaine seemed to lift my spirits. It gave me energy I had never dreamed of. My focus was ridiculous and, well, that was that. For that 15-20 minutes per line, everything I looked at moved slowly and seemed far more important than the situation merited. Anything that happened was the only thing that was happening… and slowly.

    I have so many reasons as to why I hate this drug. I would glady go in to details, but this is a blog comment.

    To me, the drug enhanced myself in every which way (except feeling like dogshit the next day.) To the best of my memory, the abilities it would have helped me with baseball wise would be reaction speed, and just speed in general when it came to running. I guess it had a lot to do with the (dumb) ability to see things at slow motion as well.

    To me, cocaine is absolutely a performance enhancing drug. I really cannot compare it to steroids or HGH. I have never taken either, of course, and wouldnt know what those sorts of drugs do, other than what I read. And please, take what I say with a grain of salt, because its not like ive done coke and tried to play baseball professionally. I can imagine what it might feel like while playing baseball high on those sorts of drugs, and I can only think of exhilarating feelings.

    Steroids and HGH are what we should be hunting for. But even though its not as equal, cocaine use must be a barometer for players entering the Hall. As much I loved Keith’s mustache, his ability to play 1st base, and his general attitude, I could never vote for him. Just like I could never vote for my two childhood heroes, McGwire and Clemens. Cheaters are cheaters, no matter the drugs and the writers that react to each.

  3. Dubman makes arguments that drive me crazy and I think the reason is apparent near the end of the comment–he’s not a baseball fan.

    I’m not a hockey fan. Never watch a puck, an so whatever they do in that world is fine with me. I don’t give a shit, and I don’t need ESPN in my life enough to be annoyed when they turn their attentions toward it.

    So if you don’t like baseball, shut up. I mean, what do you care? But to talk about “busybody” baseball writers reveals that you have no understanding or love for a game that is synonymous with the great legends who have written about it, going back to the years when that was the only way you could find out what happened in a game, and why. I’ll take committed and serious baseball writers over Bud Selig any day. If anything, the “busybodies” haven’t been busy enough.

    Dubman’s arguments (if you can call them that) remind me of those despicable Senators who lauded Clemens as a hero while chastising a poor nameless sap for telling the truth.

    Lastly, people don’t do coke on the field until they’re addicts. They do it at parties. By the time they’re addicts, it’s not giving them any edge at all.

  4. I think we need to be cautious about saying that cocaine use (once you’re hooked) is a disease. I would classify it as an addiction. For the most part, you cannot have ultimate control over getting a disease (cancer, MS, parkinsons, etc). You can take preventative measures to prevent diseases, but there is no guarantee that at some point you’ll get diagnosed with something. Cocaine use, on the other hand, is started because of a choice to actually sniff/smoke it. Then, you may get hooked, and you become addicted. Even at the point of complete dependence on the drug, it isn’t a disease. Cocaine addiction is a consequence of a poor personal choice.

  5. Yes, I am baseball fan. I have followed the game religiously for over 35 years. I attend spring training and have attended over 500 games in person. I watch 140+ games per year. I tend to find baseball quite interesting, thank you. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

    My point, is I love the *game*. I will watch high school games and minor league games because the game fascinates me. The other PED stuff is just an abstraction — it is not baseball. Whatever substances that adults ingest, inhale or otherwise is none of my business. I don’t waste time and energy arguing the finer points f whether creatine is OK and if HGH is not.

    Couldn’t care less about what players do in private, I’d rather follow the actual game, the strategy, etc. In fact, I wold argue than those who dwell on the morality of given training methods are so bored by the actual game that they find this diversion of who is a cheater and who is no more interesting than a hit-and-run. The game you are playing is the real American past time — moral indignation pointed towards strangers.

    Finally, is important to remember that steriods actually reward those who are willing to put in more work and have a desire to be the best they can be. I know they can be dangerous, yes, but so can playing football. The argument that steroids are a shortcut could not be further from the truth. Also, a ballplayer will use whatever technology they can find to become better. I am sure that the players of the 60’s (Aaron, etc.) who regularly popped greenies (amphetamines) to help them perform better would have been using alternative training methods if they were offered. Like this generation, they simply took advantage of the most current technology and knowledge available to them to help their performance.

    On another point — and perhaps this is evident already — I believe that this obsession with what people use in their own time is just another silly manifestation of the regressive War on Drugs. I suppose that you could make a case that any number of substances are “performing-enhancing.” There is nothing hard-and-fast about is a PED and what is not. Cheating at baseball is getting 4 strikes at the plate instead of 3, paying umpires to throw games or using spitballs or corked bats — not using medical advances to train better. Just my opinion.

    The most mature approach would be to stop putting athletes private lives under microscopes and start covering the game more. Forget about PEDs because it is futile.

  6. I’m with Dubman on this one definitely…..I think people have this misconception that a given person could inject himself with steroids, sit on the couch, and become ripped in a matter of days……..it doesn’t quite work that way…..if I was feeling righteous, I could even make the argument that the coke abusing players of the 80’s were cheating the fans more than the steroid users of the 90’s….After all, one group was actively destroying their careers partying hard and doing lines, while the others were at least trying to get better any way possible…….And let’s not forget that not all players were made Hall-of-Famers or even All Stars with their steroid usage…..Jim Parque, anyone? Dubman is correct when he says that players have always and will always utilize the best technology available to them…….LASIK sugery is probably the ultimate performance enhancer for a hitter, as you have to see the ball long before you can hit it and drive it further out of the park…..they didnt have LASIK surgery back in the days of the Babe did they? And about the records, I could care less about the integrity of the records…baseball has had all kinds of eras, dead ball eras, elevated pitcher’s mound eras, steroid eras, post-steroid era..we can still judge who should be in the Hall of Fame can’t we? 500 homers was the benchmark before? make it 550 if you want……All I care about is who wins year in and year out….fans are too consumed with numbers to think straight….

  7. And to even it all out, I forgot to mention that we had steroid-using pitchers pitching to steroid sluggers……so you wanna take some of Barry’s homers away? Really??? Gimme a break people…..

  8. Kudos to Dubman! The issue is not cocaine/amphetamines vs. steroids/HGS per se, it is Pearlman’s (and other baseball writers) self-imposed moralism on the game.

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