While it is essential for performance enhancing drugs to be removed from the game, people like Grimsley and Alex Sanchez may give us some insight concerning the effect these substances have on the game. I will admit that I have supported Barry Bonds throughout his career, but even I can't look past "reports" that he grew two hat sizes since the late 90's. Yet, I have always felt that performance enhancing drugs do far less for a player than popular opinion suggests.
Looking at Grimsley and Sanchez, both were mediocre players. Sanchez had an abundance of speed, which possibly may have been aided by steroids and Grimsley was a journeyman pitcher. While steroids didn't make either of these players great, people in the media still suggest that HGH has made Bonds the player that we know today i.e. great. There is of course the argument that steroids enhanced Grimsley and Sanchez's abilities so that they could even be mediocre. But, this begs the question, what did steroids do for Bonds?
From what I understand steroids allow players to sustain their levels of production. When we look back at Bonds' career, the year that will always be disputed is 2001, the 73 year. In '93, '96, and '97, Bonds hit 40 or more home runs and even stole 40 bases in '96. Steroids and human growth horomone decrease the repair time that the body needs and also amplify the results/benefits of exercising/weight training. Athletes can work out the same muscles in successive days, when ordinarily, they would have to have a day or two of rest in between. This shorter repair time allows athletes to perform at optimum levels and sustain those levels.
The story goes that Bonds started taking steroids after Mcgwire's run in '98. Could steroids make a 40 home run hitter a 73 home run hitter in 3 years? He hit 49, 73, 46, 45, and 45 from 2000-2004. Besides 2001 where Bonds went above and beyond any year ever imagined, the other years match up with his previous career years when he hit 40+. He also hit those home runs in fewer at-bats. I'm not a doctor, I'm not a baseball player, but the numbers seem to match up with what we hear concerning the effect steroids have on the body. They allowed Bonds to sustain and reproduce his career years. They didn't make him better in any single game I don't feel, but they seem to have improved his production over the course of the year since he was able to play at his best day in and day out.
I think there is also a reasonable compromise between the Pro-Barry and Anti-Barry supporters. Barry Bonds hit the home runs. He had the eye, the hand speed, the quickness, and the power before HGH. But, it seems HGH allowed him to do what he was previously capable of doing on a more consistent bases in his old age. You want 73 with an asterik? I can get on board with that, but honestly, I think Barry catches a lot more grief than he deserves. I know baseball is a sport about numbers, integrity, and tradition. Anyone who's read Shoeless Joe Jackson and watched Field of Dreams could tell you that. But, Barry has endured more criticism than Mcgwire, Palmeiro, the Black Sox, or anyone not named Jose Canseco for that matter (but he tried to catch a ball with his head). Does Barry deserve it? Did MLB need an independent investigation? Does Selig need to go out of his way and give Bonds the cold shoulder? I can't say that his actions warrant it. The drugs don't make you great, they allow you to be the best that you can be on a daily basis. Is it an advantage? Absolutely. Is it unfair? Absolutely. Does Congress, Baseball, and America in general need to bury Barry for it? With the other problems floating around, I think this issue receives far more attention and energy than it deserves. We should divert our resources to other issues.
Posted by Eddie at 6/8/2006 1:07:00 PM