It’s times like these where you can thank the the rampant party drug use of NBA players in the 70’s for giving David Stern the leverage to become emperor. Sure, there’s been a positive marijuana test here and there, but NBA players have stayed away from the hardcore performance enhancers out of fear of suspensions… hopefully. Because you never know. Let’s trust them for now.
Yesterday the names were unveiled, a bittersweet moment for me. It’s been obvious for a long time that Roger Clemens was dirty, but we have that whole innocent until proven guilty thing, so you couldn’t just come out and say it. Seven years ago, in a fit of drug induced rage which flowed from a needle that some guy stuck in his butt (ALLEGEDLY?), Roger attempted to murder the New York Mets franchise player. Twice in a six month period! When Mr. Piazza, whose name was nowhere to be found on the Mitchell list, chose not to charge the mound and fight (the time he was left conscious, not when that coward who couldn’t get him out threw at his head), many people lost respect for him, calling him soft. Well, now we know he was just being smart, choosing to carry himself like a member of the civilized world. Would you run up on a guy that’s on PCP? This is what it would be like to fight Roger Clemens.
Nice going everyone in the media that was down on your knees for him. I remember two years ago, during his second pathetic drug assisted comeback from retirement, ESPN aired a special hour long all-Roger Baseball Tonight pregame show, talking about his amazing legacy, how at his age he was doing the impossible, defying the odds, it was sickening. If you were in awe of Roger’s return to dominance in his later years, you only have yourself to blame. For those of us who knew enough to hate and question, yesterday was a nice validation.
On the other hand… Et Tu Paulie? Nooooooooooooo!!! Paul LoDuca was not only a user according to the report and to his mile long trail of sloppily written notes and checks, but he was a facilitator for some of the other obvious juicers. Eric Gagne, Todd Hundley (tear streams down my cheek), and Kevin Brown. My favorite thing about The Duke of Flushing was not his ability to play baseball, it was the random outbursts of insanely over the top anger at the strangest of times. Now it turns out, he used a performance enhancer to give himself the fire to be so… firey. I want an asterisk in front of every one of his ejections!
But what does this all mean for the NBA? I think one of the reasons so many people feel such outrage about baseball players juicing up is that we don’t expect them to. Weightlifters and wrestlers? We’re fine with that. Football players? If they play a position where the job description is to run through brick walls and shove each other all day, we don’t seem to mind. But we do seem to have a problem with athletes in so-called skill positions taking an enhancer, because their appeal is supposed to be their skills and talent, not their animal rage.
You always hear about how nuanced and difficult baseball is. The game is supposed to be made for players that can throw accurately and with high velocity, and hitters with phenomenal hand-eye coordination and fast moving arms. We still don’t know the full effects of what HGH can do. Does it improve vision? Does it get you so hopped up that everything appears to move slower, so a 95 MPH fastball looks like it’s 85? We may never know. To simply say it gives power hitters more power and power pitchers a stronger base to throw from, would be naive.
But for the NBA, this is a good day. It’s not their problem, and that’s nice for a change. On a hypocritical note, I was sick at home yesterday and I chose to forego my daily coffee, which is every bit the performance enhancer that HGH is. It gives me energy when I don’t have it, has damaging side effects that could cut my life short, and has been known to fuel an angry outburst or two. I slept for at least 15 hours yesterday. I need the stuff! I’m on it right now. Feels good.