'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
BASEBALL, STEROIDS, AND POLITICAL GRANDSTANDING
Let me see if I’ve got this straight …
Fact #1: By virtue of its new steroid testing policy and the recent congressional hearings, Major League Baseball is sending a clear message that it will not tolerate the use of any performance-enhancing drugs.
Fact #2: To prove how serious it is about Fact #1, Major League Baseball will no longer accept millions of dollars in TV advertising from the makers of Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, drugs which are designed to, um, enhance performance.
Fact #3: Fact #2 is a lie.
Fact #4: A ballplayer who hits .270 with 12 home runs can earn close to $1 million per year.
Fact #5: A ballplayer who hits .270 with 50 home runs can earn close to $20 million per year, and might get into the Hall of Fame someday.
Fact #6: The use of illegal steroids can greatly increase the size and strength of a ballplayer, but the side effects include a damaged liver and shrunken testicles.
Fact #7: Since American society overwhelmingly rejects the concepts of “instant gratification” and “win at any cost,” no ballplayer will be tempted to quadruple his home run output via steroids because he understands that an extra $19 million per year and a chance for baseball immortality is simply not worth the potential health risks.
Fact #8: Fact #7 is a lie.
OK, so the lords of Major League Baseball have finally pulled their heads out of the sand—or more accurately, out of their overflowing cash registers—and noticed that during the past decade dozens of ballplayers have arrived at Spring Training with an extra 50 pounds of muscle on their bodies and an extra 100 feet of distance on their fly balls. Well, maybe it was the result of an off-season regimen of milk shakes and weight lifting. Uh huh. And maybe I’ll be named the next Pope.
Is steroid usage bad? Of course it is. Just ask former football star Lyle Alzado or former baseball star Ken Caminiti. Oh wait, you can’t ask them because they are currently dead.
Should Major League Baseball have a strict steroid testing policy and severe penalties for players caught cheating? Of course it should, since far too many athletes are focused on short-term fame and fortune and can’t even comprehend the possibility that in a decade or two their livers might be shriveled pieces of plywood and their gonads might be a pair of sterile BBs.
What it quite annoying, however, is the fact that the lords of baseball—the owners, the players’ union, and Mr. Gonads himself, Commissioner Bud Selig—agreed finally to address the steroid issue only after politicians in Washington got involved. Being scolded about the problem of “instant gratification” and “win at any cost” by members of Congress is like being scolded about a lack of modesty and chastity by Paris Hilton.
When you think of self-discipline and delayed gratification, who immediately comes to mind, Ted Kennedy? Yeah right. These are the folks who don’t hesitate to institute new spending programs to buy a few votes today, but who give no thought about how to pay the bills tomorrow when their bureaucratic boondoggles grow out of control.
It’s been less than six months since the last general election, and though I’m sure you’ve tried to erase the whole distasteful event from your memory, it’s hard to forget just how ruthless, dishonest, and “win at any cost” most politicians are these days. (I really shouldn’t say most politicians. I should instead say ALL politicians, because any candidate nowadays who isn’t obsessed with winning at all costs is going to get trounced in the election.)
Well, maybe I’m being too cynical. Maybe the lords of baseball and the politicians in Washington only want to do what’s best for the national pastime and the ballplayers. Uh huh. Come and visit me after I’ve been installed at the Vatican.
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