Is Cocaine really that much different than HGH?
The teaser released from Oil Can Boyd’s autobiography states that he used Cocaine many times (2/3 of games) during his baseball career. He even admits that he used cocaine in a manner that enhanced his performance on the field.
“Some of the best games I’ve ever, ever pitched in the major leagues, I stayed up all night; I’d say two-thirds of them. If I had went to bed, I would have won 150 ballgames in the time span that I played. I feel like my career was cut short for a lot of reasons, but I wasn’t doing anything that hundreds of ballplayers weren’t doing at the time, because that’s how I learned it.” – ESPN.COM
Anyone surprised? Of Course not. The 1986 Mets have proven that camaraderie and cocaine and greenies can win you a World Series Championship. So this brings us to the question, “why do we differentiate between performance enhancing drugs?” Babe Ruth ate hot dogs. Mantle drank beer. Dwight Gooden snorted Coke. Bonds did Steroids. One of those men has a severely tarnished legacy in the game. Spoiler alert: it’s Barry Bonds.
So why are we so much more harsh towards Barry Bonds? Dwight Gooden has readily admitted that he doesn’t remember throwing his no-hitter on May 14, 1996. Do we think Cocaine abuse played a role in his seemingly endless tank of energy on the mound? Of course. So why is it that Barry Bonds and Co. are vilified?
Steroids are a synthetic drug that is taken to gain an advantage over someone else. It’s usually not shared with friends (unless your Clemens and Pettite). It’s usually done in the shadows and in a shroud of shame and humility. But are they really worse than any other performance enhancing substance?
I argue that they should not be treated like villains. Baseball has had four major eras: Segregation (divided into 1. the dead ball era; and 2. the live ball era), 3. Integration; and, currently, 4. The Steroid era. It’s sad to admit that we are living in The Steroid Era, but it’s time to come to grips with it.
We will never be able to prove that even our biggest and most honest heroes playing in the 90’s and aught’s didn’t do steroids. In fact, we don’t know what will be classified as a steroid moving forward. The list of banned substances published by MLB keeps growing year by year. Therefore, we just have to accept that a lot of players used performance enhancing drugs, and even worse, used them to break records that stood for a long, long time.
People were angry with Hammerin’ Hank Aaron when he broke Babe Ruth’s record in a nearly empty stadium in Toronto. Why? I assume it’s because the old guard of baseball wanted to protect the record of the game’s greatest white player, Babe Ruth. People didn’t want Roger Maris to break the single season record in 1961. People didn’t even want Roger Maris to edge out his contemporary and teammate Mickey Mantle. Now we disparage, and by doing so refuse to legitamize, Barry Bonds’ home run record because he “cheated.” Did steroids hit all 762 home runs for Bonds? No. It was a combination of a nearly endless well of talent, a rigorous workout routine and some performance enhancing chemicals that were invented by an ex-jazz bassist. The point is, we need to get past the fact that we just hate seeing longstanding baseball records broken and some records are more than just records: they are our memories. And we don’t want to lose those memories.
It’s time to update our thinking and get with the times. Let all the steroid users in the hall of fame and admit that baseball has been inundated with chemical substances that alter the physical condition of the human body. Admitting it is the first step to beginning the healing process. Remember, at the turn of the century Baseball had a massive gambling problem. A few players paid dearly for their involvement in that gambling. But baseball admitted it, set harsh rules and moved on. It’s time to do the same with steroids so we can usher in a 5th exciting new era of America’s pastime.