Manny Retirement Underscores Hypocrisy
NOTE: this is an article by Matt Himelfarb. It is entirely his opinion on the situation, and not necessarily one I (Joe Janish) agree with — but, it’s a free country and we like to share all viewpoints here for discussion and debate. That said, direct your comments to Matt.
As most you are probably aware, the baseball universe is awash with news that Manny Ramirez has opted to retire following a second positive performance-enhancing drug test instead of facing an 100 game suspension.The news marks and ignominious end to an otherwise illustrious career.
As a 16 year-old who grew up watching Manny dominate in Boston, and later during a short stint with the Dodgers, I am shocked, and deeply saddened by this tragic news.
Not because I care that Ramirez, ZOMG, might have used performance enhancers. Again, mind equals blown. Nope. The real tragedy is how MLB’s draconian drug policy, implemented under pressure from our wise overlords in Washington, has driven one of baseball’s most talented and entertaining individuals into early retirement. What? You were looking forward to watching Manny play the Red Sox and Yankees in the heat of the pennant race this summer? Think about the children!
I’m not going to list the litany of moral reasons why Ramirez shouldn’t have been penalized, and the hypocrisy on the part of those in favor. God knows we’ve beaten the issue to death. But let me put it this way. It’s days like these I would love to be in a minor league press box with a bunch of major league beat writers while someone is on a rehab assignment. I can picture it clearly. Like most mainstream pundits, the irony would be completely lost on them. Most of them would be busy eating food and drinking pop, well on their way to a diabetic coma in the future (if they hadn’t reached that stage yet), occasionally stopping to vituperate Manny, lamenting how his steroid use marks the end of civilization as we know it.
Take, for instance, Jeff Pearlman- who predicted that the Mets will finish in last place this season- and, in general, is a waste of his father’s semen. Pearlman, the great social critic of our time, believes Ramirez, like every other steroid user, should be deported to Guantanamo for his victimless crime, or something like that. Hey, at least he’s consistent.
Pearlman, among other liberal causes, is also a champion of marijuana legalization. You know what? I agree with him on that, which makes his hard-line stance on steroids all the more befuddling.
And yes, I know there’s a critical difference between the government legally criminalizing something, and a cartel like MLB, or any other private business or what not, having consequences in place for certain offenses.
But to me, it all comes back to the same principle about personal choice, and the sickening hypocrisy on the part of those such as Pearlman.
In fact, Bill Baer, who many of you know here, from Crashburn Alley, has captured the issue as well as I could ever hope to. Take the time to read his work, and not the mindless drivel from toolboxes such as Pearlman.
What I don’t get is why you think it’s OK for players to cheat – which is what you are insinuating by this post and your inference of “personal choice”. (Though I also don’t understand why you think it’s OK for baseball players to live by a separate set of laws — i.e., why you think it’s OK for MLBers to use illegal drugs w/o a prescription.)
For comparison, how would you feel if there was a pill — and an illegal one at that — that one could take that would significantly jack up one’s intelligence; i.e., make a “C” student into a “B+”, or a “B” student into an “A” / Honor Roll student? And what would be your reaction if people who you knew weren’t naturally smarter than you, made it into Ivy League schools as a result of taking these pills (while you were rejected from same)? And let’s just say that you didn’t want to take these magic pills because they could cause drastic side effects, such as depression, liver damage, baldness, gynocomastia, stunted growth, high blood pressure, sterility, prostate enlargement, kidney problems, and other health issues.
Again, I’m with you on the hypocrisy; the steroid / PEDs issue was one that MLB let go for far too long. But that doesn’t make PEDs use OK — at least, not in my book. I’m curious to hear why you think it is acceptable.
The problem with steroids is not the performance enhancing aspect. Weight training and medical advances have given advantages to each generation of ball players that the previous ones did not have. Furthermore, changes in the ballparks, changes in the rules of the game have altered the advantages/disadvantages to the point where on a pure basis, the records of each generation are just not comparable to the next. And recruiting over the generations has made this a more talented game, were we getting the best ball players in the country when we paid less than a living wage in the 19th century? How many Ted Williams’ chose to practice law instead of living in squalor as a ball player?
So why do we honor records from one era to another? Tradition and continuity are one factor. But the most important factor is that changes have been implemented league wide and thus every player is constrained by the same limitations save what mother nature endows them. New surgeries and treatments are available to ALL ball players and not a select few. New rule changes are implemented throughout the entire league and not for a select few players. Therefore there is an even playing field.
Even so, in the records book, we know that Chief Wilson’s 36 triples in 1912 is not that impressive when you realize that ballparks were much bigger in 1912 than they are now. But we don’t need an asterisk to tell us this, that’s what sportswriters and historians are for! The main point is that back then anyone who played in that ballpark had an equal chance depending on his natural talent and ability to get just as many triples as Chief Wilson. The walls weren’t moved back just for him.
I ask you this, where would Bond’s records be if everyone had a chance to do steroids? Maybe Joe Schmo (David Eckstein) could’ve hit 73 homeruns. We won’t know because Joe Schmo didn’t want to break the rules (or his moral integrity) and do something taboo, illegal, and possibly dangerous. That’s why these records are tainted, they were made by enhancements available only to these players and not the entire league.
For every Brady Anderson there are ten Alex Sanchezes, and that’s just in the Majors — players who already had what it takes to come close to that level.
I’m all for steroid legalization until it can be proven that they provide too much of an advantage. As of right now, most people just accept, without critical thinking, that steroids are a magic pill, and that’s just not the case at all.
You want to legalize steroids because there isn’t enough evidence that they can benefit performance? So the evidence that they can be harmful to the human body isn’t enough to keep them as a prescribed medication? Ask Jose Canseco what happens when a person self-medicates with steroids.
As for your Alex Sanchez example: did it ever occur to you that Sanchez made it as far as the big leagues BECAUSE he took steroids?
We really need more research to conclude that Barry Bonds would not have hit 73 homers as a 36-year-old without steroids? Seriously? You honestly need more data to be convinced that steroids were a significant reason homeruns and batting averages rose to record levels in the 1990s and 2000s? Do you also need more data to be convinced that steroids turned Marion Jones and Ben Johnson from good sprinters to world-class sprinters? Do you need more research to understand that Canseco would never have been even a minor league ballplayer if not for the help of steroids? Do you need more data to prove that steroids allowed Roger Clemens to go from washed-up to Cy Young in his mid- to late 30s?
Tell me this: what about the steroid research done by the Russians and East Germans? Based on the data they collected, they had scientists develop new anabolic steroids and put their Olympic athletes on them. Was there something flawed about their research?
Steroids and HGH can help humans become stronger and faster than they would be without them — and they can become stronger and faster more quickly than they would be without them. There is no debate on this subject. Additionally, HGH can in many cases improve eyesight. If steroids are not a “magic pill”, then what are they? Further, why do need more information to come to the conclusion that a baseball player would improve his performance if he was stronger, faster, and could see better? Is it not self-evident? How much of an increase in bat speed — for example — do you think one needs to go from a “AAAA” hitter to a MLB starter? How much more effective is a pitcher throwing at 93 MPH instead of 89 MPH? How much of an advantage is 20/15 vision over 20/20 to a person reacting to a 90-MPH fastball? Relatively speaking, these aren’t “significant” improvements, but they are enough to separate one ballplayer from another — for example, to turn Ken Caminiti from a replacement-level player to an MVP. Similarly, it can turn Barry Bonds from a 40-homer guy to a 73-homer monster. That’s not “too much of an advantage”? What is? So I don’t understand your argument, whatsoever, regarding the need for more “evidence”. The evidence played out on the field over the last two decades. Once in a while it’s OK to trust what your eyes see — not every single thing in life needs to be proven by mountains of research.
Stay for lowbrow, poorly veiled anti-Semitic digs at a sportswriter who has run afoul of the sabermetric fanboy community.
LAFF. I’m half-Jewish myself, as most people can gather from my last name.
Than again, Kenny, you appear incapable of making simple, critical distinctions regarding anything, so I’m hardly surprised by your BS response.
Or do you just half-loathe yourself? Given your amateur hour writing style and sheer stupidly, I think half-loathing is a ripoff.
I challenge you to find anything in this piece or in my past writing that suggests I went after Pearlman because of his religion or political beliefs.
I can’t prove a negative. Hate to piss on your parade buddy, but the burden of proof is on you.
For the record, any-time I see the “This post is by Matt Himmelfarb” disclaimer – I know to either:
– Skip the post completely; or
– Read it for purely comedic purposes (at least it wasn’t a ridiculous trade proposal, I guess).
“Waste of his father’s semen” — classy.
Truth be told, any-time I see the “This is an article by Matt Himmelfarb” disclaimer, I know to either:
a) skip the post entirely, or
b) read it for comedic purposes only (especially the “from another planet” trade proposals he likes to jot down).
“Waste of his father’s semen” – classy!
Stay in school, kiddo.