Saturday, May 09, 2009

No Excuse for Cheating

Manny Ramirez was recently suspended for 50 games for getting caught using steroids, adding him to the list of players suspected of using or getting caught using these drugs. I have thought about this topic for a while, and have heard various viewpoints on it. Many think that steroids will not help you become a better baseball player. Many people think they help you hit home runs. Here is my take on it.

Steroids will not make you a better baseball player. I should qualify that statement. Steroids will not make you a better hitter. If you are already really good at hitting the ball, however, they will help you get more hits, and a higher percentage of those will be home runs. Let us look at this logically. A player that routinely hits line drives and fly balls will hit many of those for home runs. Take away the performance enhancing drugs and twenty feet off the flight of the ball, and instead of going over the outfield fence the ball goes into the outfielder's glove, or at best between or in front of the outfielder for a base hit.

Now consider even with the steroids that the player is simply good at hitting the ball in the gap. A faster, stronger runner will more likely be able to run out a base hit and turn it into extra bases or stolen bases. Consider the four players who have hit 40 home runs and had 40 stolen bases in the same season. The first was in 1988 and following: Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano. Soriano is the only one on the list not suspected of using steroids.

So while baseball is still just entertainment (some people would argue otherwise), there is no logic in thinking that steroids do not help baseball players, or for that matter baseball teams, achieve higher performance in the sport. When one player does better, the whole team does better. This is one reason why you do not see much effort on the part of the owners to do anything about this epidemic.

Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa — don't cry for any of these guys. In fact you should be glad something is being done for the sake of the kids that look up to these players or aspire to be one of them. As for Manny, I only wish he were still playing for the Red Sox so that I could enjoy his suspension even more.