Saturday, December 22, 2012

Right Wing Approach to PEDS

There is no question that Major League Baseball has had a significant run-in with steroids and human growth hormones over the last quarter century. The MLB has attempted to address what it has deemed a problem by banning steroids & HGH and by suspending players caught for taking the banned substances. While these two supplements have been winnowed out of baseball new performance enhancing drugs and substances have replaced them.*

Simply, the MLB has and likely always will have players willing to use PEDS. Under current policy, the MLB will continuously be trying to keep up with PEDS manufacturers on identifying, banning, and testing for different PEDS. This policy is reactionary leaving the MLB in the looping, aforementioned cycle for each new PEDS manufactured.

If the MLB sincerely wants to change the drug and substance abuse culture of baseball, then the MLB needs to institute more proactive, polarized policies and needs to cooperate with the Major League Baseball Players Association. I think there are two effective ways to diminish drug and substance abuse in the MLB.

One is a leftist, regulatory approach in which the MLB approves a list of select drugs and substances which have been deemed safe and beneficiary to players, forbids all other drugs and substances (known and unknown), and suspends (or bans) any players caught using unapproved drugs and substances. The effectiveness of this policy would be determined by the strictness of the suspensions; that is, if the MLB bans any player caught using an unapproved drug or substance, then players will become hesitant to use unapproved PEDS.

This policy does have flaws and is not innovative, so it will not be the focus of this article. To summarize a couple of flaws: first, the MLB will technically still be stuck in the same game of cat and mouse of trying to identify and test for PEDS despite the full commitment to removing PEDS (in comparison with the contemporary, half-hearted attempt); second, the fates of players' careers will lie in testing accuracy meaning some players may be unjustly punished for certain activities which yield false positives. An enhanced litigation and retesting systems will be need to quell this until testing technology is satisfactory enough to rule out extraneous variables.

Another is a rightist, non-interventionist approach which is just as drastic as the leftist approach but approaches eradicating PEDS from an entirely opposite angle in which the MLB eliminates all current bans (therefore, permitting all PEDS), halts PEDS testing, and refocuses efforts on studying PEDS in order to provide players with as much information on the PEDS as possible so that the players can, as rationally as possible, decide whether the benefits of taking certain  PEDS outweigh the consequences.

I think this policy would have some very interesting outcomes.

First, the MLB will be able to concentrate on providing correct and up-to-date information which will not only benefit the players but will also help the entire health community as the MLB will become a new private institution bolstering research.

Second, I think some players will embrace PEDS and be willing to use PEDS. These players will likely have shortened careers and even-more-so shortened lifespans. Players willing to take risks will be making examples of themselves.

Third, I think some players will condemn PEDS and will want to play apart from players who use PEDS. Two possible (and similar) results of this are that the clean players lead a witch-hunt in the MLBPA in which they ban players known to be taking PEDS or those not willing to prove their innocence or that the clean players form a new players' union in which PEDS are not permitted. The next step will be for the Clean Players' Union to contract with the MLB or another baseball league so that the league exclusive hires the clean players. Having PEDS reform rely on player allegations will make it more difficult for players to network with other players to find PEDS.

Fourth, fans will become polarized through this purification of the laws of baseball. Some fans will support the clean players who will likely play a more strategic variation of baseball. These will be the fans who can appreciate a single, a stolen base, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly to manufacture a run. Others will support the PEDS using players who will likely play a more hit-or-miss brand of baseball. These will be the fans who solely appreciate long home runs and radar gun lights. I think the former are more likely to spend a greater portion of their lives watching and engaging with baseball leading me to believe that they are more likely to be season ticket holders while the latter are likely to be fans who are less engaged with the sport on a daily basis leading them to be individuals who purchase single game tickets.

This third assessment is quite tenuous as I have not conducted any research nor have I come across any research which attempt to classify fans based on ticket purchase and game type preferences. If a fan's ticket purchasing tendencies are significant factor in determining which variations (PEDS using or PEDS free) of baseball are successful, then the league which is dependent on these fans will likely be more successful than the one relying on capricious fans because of the fixed stream of revenue.

Fifth, regardless of fans' preference for style of baseball, there will likely be a moral opposition to the players who embrace PEDS because of American values. Parents will likely shun PEDS using players, and companies will be hesitant to sign PEDS using players as spokesmen.

Before concluding, I would like to make a disclaimer. In no way am I advocating the usage of PEDS. I believe players should be able to voluntarily use PEDS with an understanding that information regarding the consequences of the PEDS may or may not be available and that the PEDS themselves may or may not be harmful. As of this writing, I do not recommend such a policy for the amateur or the collegiate levels.

*I have not included any up-to-date statistics which support or refute these claims. The best way would be to conduct anonymous player polls over current and retired players asking about steroid, HGH, and other PEDS usage. The second best way to test these claims would be to compare time-variable MLB citations for steroid & HGH with MLB citations with new PEDS.


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  2. Thanks for the post, unfortunately I really don`t get baseball, I understand some of the rules but I was never able to grasp the concept, probably it is too hard for me to understand, I don`t know. I love watching a game, I`ll read more.