JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

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.