SPANISH HARLEM – With Lenny Dykstra in the media lately because of a new book that I already forgot the name of, I started thinking about steroids again. Okay- so what, I became interested only after hearing about possible drug binges with Charlie Sheen and Robert DeNiro, but that’s beside the point. After listening to Dykstra’s crazy stories of his time in baseball, it got me thinking about one of the most – if not the top – taboos in sports… steroids.
Look, the media likes taboo. Taboo makes people click, it brings everyone to a common enemy.
I have always wanted to write about steroids because it became an issue in the one sport that is near and dear to my heart; Baseball. I wanted to know why. I wanted to know how. I especially wanted to know for how long. Was I crazy for wanting to know these things to the point of obsession? After all, I felt irrational.
Like the rest of you, I had heard bad things, so I thought bad things. I had heard about people far and wide, from the most memorable legends to the simplest Average Joe. And I hated it… Every damn bit of it. I said to myself, “Why is Baseball the fall guy for this?” It had to be in other sports too… Baseball people couldn’t be the only ones this smart.
As my knowledge grew (and I can tell you, it’s still not much), I knew there wasn’t just one sport to blame. In every sport for trophies rings and cups, athletes will do what they always have to do to win. The feeling of winning can become extreme; it’s like a drug that loves you back. Now, imagine being at the highest of levels, what would you do. I asked myself that question many times and every time, I would give myself a different answer, I was torn.
It didn’t matter… for personal gain or for the good of the team, it was best to win. Lenny Dykstra went from being a fringe baseball player to a multiple All-Star… and we’re clearly still taking about him today. So was it worth it? I really couldn’t tell you.
Take Barry Bonds for example – a naturally great player – who became legendary, even though we all knew he had a certain “je ne c’est quoi” that made him amazing.
We saw players go from hitting 15 homeruns to hitting 50. People said the balls were juiced, funny now when you think of it, they were right but it wasn’t the baseballs that were juiced.
Many turned a blind eye because the game was exciting again, chicks love the long ball and they were plenty.
Today I’m asking…Steroids, should we really care? Any drug can be harmful when used in excess, yet they can also save lives. I know sometimes we have to save people from themselves, especially the children that are looking for an edge when their bodies are still developing, but can there be a common ground for the mature athlete. Can we find a way to mesh science, medicine and sports?
We all know that people, thoughts and knowledge can change. What was once taboo, can become the norm. With injuries so prevalent in baseball today, maybe steroids can help players stay on the field longer, maybe it can help athletes maintain strength and endurance when necessary.
What have we learned about Steroids since that time? How do we use steroids to a healthy advantage in the future? I’m not preaching the lore of steroids, I’m just saying I’m not ready to preach against it.