After Manny Ramirez received a 50 game suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs and the talk of the "steroid era" and "cleaning up baseball" have all been the topic during games and news, it's time to fill you in on some of the tell tale signs that a player is juicing (either using illegal steroids or some other performance enhancing drug). I wanted to get perspectives from other people and find information from sources other than my own opinions and started with visiting Curt Schilling's blog, 38Pitches. Curt wrote a great article (and hilarious at that) that I absolutely agreed with what he had to say about players using performance enhancing drugs:
Because if you honestly think that in the last 10 years one team for even one season had NO PLAYERS using Steroids or HGH you’re kidding yourself. As horrifying and pathetic as it sounds, players cheated their way to a level playing field of a different sort. Please save the, “Oh but this guy only did it for one year,” and, “No one knows how long he was doing it.” Save that.
For the past 19 years or so I’ve had suspicions, some stronger than others, but to sit here today and say I played on even one team that was totally clean would be denying reality I think. I’ve never personally seen a player inject, ingest, swallow HGH, or steroids but like every other player I played with that had his eyes open I saw the huge weight gains in one winter, I saw the hat size increase, I saw the acne in places a camel would be embarrassed to have it. I watched the player hit 20 more homers in one year than they ever had, then revert back, I saw the pitcher throwing 87-90 come to spring training throwing 95-97, I saw all of that. None of those are ‘no brainers’ — none — but they were hints, and when you get enough hints you can see the answer clearly if you are looking.
Curt Schilling brings up the truth behind the Steroid Era in baseball as opposed to the days when players were in denial about the whole situation. Schilling also goes on to explain how steroids are only a problem for the youth of America if the parents of those youth allow it to be. For those youngsters who are fans of Manny Ramirez, just because he recently had tested positive for a performance enhancing drug does not mean those same kids are going to grow up using PED's to make their high school baseball team.
What Are Steroids
Many people will have their opinions on how you can spot players that are using performance enhancing drugs and/or steroids, but what are steroids and what are their purpose, for this I went to wikipedia where it was defined as: substances used by athletes to improve their performances in the sports in which they engage.
The Partnership for a Drug Free America defined anabolic steroids as:
a group of powerful compounds closely related to the male sex hormone testosterone. Body builders, long-distance runners, cyclists and various other athletes who claim that steroids give them a competitive advantage and/or improve their physical appearance use these drugs illegally.
What Can Steroids Do to My Body
Steroids have been said to do many things for your body both good and bad. You could be that guy on the beach, selling tickets to the gun show or you could be that guy in the hospital getting all of your muscles re-attachedfrom the tears. The Partnership also gave a list of short term and long term effects of steroids:
Minor Side Effects
excess hair growth
deepening of the voice
Major Side Effects
increased risk of cancer
increased risk of heart and liver disease
reduction in HDL-C (“good cholesterol”)
high blood pressure
changes in blood coagulation
increased risk of atherosclerosis
swelling of the soft tissues of the extremities (edema)
obstructive sleep apnea
Side Effects Specific to Men
testicular atrophy or the shrinking of the testicles
reduced sperm count
development of breasts
impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility
Side Effects Specific to Adolescents
accelerated puberty changes
abnormal sexual development
excessive body and facial hair
Who Has Used Steroids
Many players in professional sports have either been caught by testing positive or admitted to using steroids or performance enhancing drugs. Big name players such as Bonds, Clemens, Giambi, Palmeiro, Petite, Manny, A-Rod and so on and so forth have all been victim to being found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs. Who hasn't been found guilty that has still gotten away with cheating? Other than the research done, my own personal opinion on how to spot steroid users is based solely on four categories.
- Weight - If a player comes back from the off-season weighing twenty-thirty or possibly even more pounds heavier than he did last October, there should be some concerns
- Head size/shape - The customary shape of the head of a steroid user seems to be more square or blocky around the jaw line. If a player starts to resemble SpongeBob all of a sudden, there's probably a reason for it.
- Statistics - When a player hits double his previous season home run total and has already been in the league for over five years he didn't develop talent in a matter of three months of off-season training. It's also imperative to compare stolen base totals in this because performance enhancing drugs make you faster as well as stronger.
- Obviousness - Everyone has their personal opinions on a player as to whether or not he is using PED's. Most of the time, assume that if you feel he is, he most likely is.
The Steroid Eraof baseball still exists as we speak. It was just during the time of McGwire, Sosa and Bonds. Players are being outed regularly now and there are still 102 other names that have yet to be released from the most recent talked about list. Unless MLB officials tighten up drug testing, things will continue to be the way they are. It's a shame that players have gone from playing for the glory to cheating to be the best and win without pride. The days of the sacrifice bunt, double steal and stolen base have slowly been returning this season and hopefully performance enhancing drugs will be eliminated from the game and the old style of baseball will return.
Thanks to Bearman2007 for the comic strip picture.