So there's a steroid that makes an athlete stronger without inflating him like Bluto. Who knew? It's called Primobolan, and Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez has admitted using it in 2003 as a Texas Ranger. Given recent scandals, fans may soon need a chemistry degree to read the sports pages. Deca-Durabolin, stanozolol, human growth hormone, Depo-Testosterone, the cream, the clear you can't keep 'em straight without a program.
The news, first reported by Sports Illustrated, that perhaps the best player in the game used to juice was depressing but maybe not shocking. Baseball's drug problems are as durable as horsehide, and A-Rod's Primobolan boosters were arguably less dangerous than Mickey Mantle's experiences with booze and speed.
But there are other lessons to be learned from the fact that this epically gifted young player felt compelled to improve on nature. First, steroid use isn't just about individual choice. If Player A starts juicing and raises his home-run output by half, then Player B will conclude that he must shoot up to keep up. At the other end of the alphabet, though, Player Z is keeping up with Player Y, and both are in high school. If being Alex Rodriguez isn't enough, what is?
Second, baseball still has a lot of cleaning up to do. In his televised confession, Rodriguez cited the "loosey-goosey" attitude toward drugs earlier this decade. That's putting it mildly. The decision by management, coaches and the players' union to ignore the steroid problem was a beanball aimed straight at the sport's credibility. If we wanted a pharmacological freak show, we'd watch pro wrestling.
And third, never underestimate the shamelessness of the owners. Tom Hicks, A-Rod's employer in 2003, said he felt "betrayed and deceived." Like Claude Rains in Casablanca, the lords of baseball are shocked, shocked by the lucrative corruption right before their eyes. Where did they think all those crowd-pleasing homers were coming from?
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