Letter to the editor: Are steroids ‘cheating’?

Cheating. Who isn’t against cheating? The ultra-rich Major League Baseball team owners are “shocked” by players purported cheating through the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and have decided to “clean up the game” for the benefit of the fans. Yes, it is all for the fans! Give us a break! We weren’t born yesterday! Money, not the fans, is what is most important to the greedy owners.

The billionaire team owners want us to believe that they are only taking the dramatic action of suspending players for the benefit of the fans. The owners cry crocodile tears about needing to level the playing field. These are the same owners that allow the bigger market teams to dominate the game by letting them buy up all the best veteran players. Where is the “level playing field” between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals?

If you want to talk about real, criminal actions you can look no further than the team owners’ blackmailing cities for their private profit. The threat to move their teams is criminally used to force municipalities to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build stadiums for the profit of these private individuals, rather than allow these cities to fund needed municipal services such as schools, hospitals, mass transit, etc.

The filthy-rich and arrogant team owners have been repeatedly defeated by a powerful player union (MLBPA) that was created as a result of and part of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. The issue of PEDs has come as a godsend to the owners, after repeated player strikes and owner lockouts, as the team owners’ first successful way of reining in the players’ bargaining ability.

The monetary value of baseball player contracts, in the union’s resultant powerful negotiating position, has skyrocketed over the decades. Prior to the creation of the player union, even star players often had to work second jobs in the off-season. That is no longer the case.  The size of the contracts for all the players, including the lowest paid, are pulled upwards by the huge contracts of the highest paid players. The union uses those top contracts as a wedge towards forcing all player contracts higher in monetary value.

To believe that the $100 million owed to suspended player and former “superstar” Alex Rodriguez (“A-Rod”) is not a factor in his suspension is to ignore reality. Has A-Rod used PEDs? Perhaps, although he has never failed a drug test. But he is near the end of his career, is 38 years old and is returning to the game after two hip operations and two prior knee operations. The big contract that the New York Yankees signed with A-Rod several years ago now looks like a financial “albatross” to the Yankee owners.

What are PEDs? Is there any scientific basis for terming steroids a “performance enhancing drug”? I am 69 years old. Last year I had a rotator cuff tear in my left shoulder, a common injury in baseball. My doctor, after examining me, injected steroids into my left shoulder to repair the injury.

Injection of steroids is a medical issue and should be done under a doctor’s supervision. If steroids are a PED, then what are the energy drinks that are advertised all over television? What is the team weight room? What are knee and elbow operations? What are the vitamins and carnitine pills and drinks that all athletes consume?

This is another phony “war on drugs.” Like marijuana, steroids are a necessary medical drug that should be available for use under a doctor’s supervision.

Team owners cheat all the time. They often move the outfield walls, in or out, prior to the start of a season, so as to give the home team an advantage. If their team is loaded with ground-ball pitchers, they will tell the groundskeepers to let the infield grass grow higher. If their team lacks speed, and the opponent is loaded with speedsters, they will often tell the groundskeepers to overwater the base paths, so as to slow the other team’s runners down.

Elaborate hand signals were developed in baseball in order to prevent opposing teams from stealing their signs. The 1951 New York Giants boasted of having a spy in the scoreboard in centerfield, relaying the opposition signs to the Giants hitters, in the historic playoff game that they won against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Players, decade after decade, acknowledged that using “greenies” (aka “speed”) was a common practice in baseball. And let us not forget that Babe Ruth, the greatest hitter in the history of baseball, bragged that he ate sheep’s testicles to give him strength. What’s in sheep’s testicles? Testosterone, a form of steroids.

There is no scientific evidence on the PED effects of steroids. Yeah, it is against the law, but so is marijuana, and how many hundreds of thousands of poor people have been jailed due to possession of marijuana?

A-Rod is being used by the corporate media as the whipping-boy in the team owners’ effort to rein in player contracts. A-Rod has been hit with a 211 game suspension. Shouldn’t he be allowed to use steroids to repair his body after two hip surgeries and two knee operations? Steroids are, after all, often the drug of choice of medical doctors in repairing a patient’s body from the type of injuries baseball players incur. Let’s stand strong in A-Rod’s defense. He is a terrific player who just wants to finish his career on the playing field. Let his performance on the field, not the witch-hunt, determine his future.