Monday, March 22, 2010

Performance Enhancers In Baseball

Baseball in its history has had its fair share of cheaters. Whether that meant stealing signs, spitting on baseballs or enhancing ones physical ability to play the game. I am going to look at the last part, which has been labelled in the main stream media (MSM) as PED (Performance Enhancing Drugs).

There are some performance enhancers that are drugs (HGH, Steroids) and other performance enhancers that are not (equipment, weight training, surgeries). Technically, these are all "performance enhancers", but to give equal weight to someone who wears contact lenses to someone who takes Anabolic Steroids is misguided and dull-witted on so many levels.

I like to think of the different types of performance enhancers being laid out on a spectrum with the left side housing things like LASIK, contact lenses, cleats, eating right, arm surgeries, legal advances in equipment... with the right side littered with things like HGH, Anabolic Steroids and other muscle mass building drugs and supplements (legal and illegal). The legal muscle mass building stuff would be somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

There is a good fundamental reason why LASIK (IS NOT EQUAL TO) PED and it stems from having a fair and safe playing field (competition wise). Steroids are against the rules of baseball (atleast they are now). There is a good reason for this. Steroids can be dangerous to your body. Every player would pretty much be forced to take steroids in order to have a successful major league career if they were legal. Now LASIK is legal and for good reason. LASIK (contact lenses, eye glasses) pose very little health risk to players and is easily and safely available to all players. There is a fair and safe playing field as far as vision enhancement goes. Not so for steroids and many of the PEDs that are illegal in baseball.

I am not here to draw a line in the sand and label every single item that should be considered legal and illegal for baseball players, as I am not a chemist or doping expert. But by using common sense, it is easy to know where on this spectrum to place most of the common enhancers that come up for debate and lumping the items on the far left side of the spectrum in with the items on the far right side of the spectrum is rather ridiculous. Some of the items near the middle or right leaning side of the spectrum should be open for debate - but that's it.


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