Research Position – Marty Bell

Letting Baseball Evolve

The most prominent issues in professional baseball is anabolic steroid abuse. There are many critics who want steroids completely out of baseball for good. But, what they do not understand is that allowing steroids in baseball would result in a multitude of benefits for baseball as a sport and for each individual who plays the game. It will increase the popularity of Major League Baseball. The reasons for why steroids should be allowed in baseball far outweigh the reasons why they should not be. Allowing the use of anabolic steroids in baseball will make it a more flashy and interesting sport. There are numerous reasons why athletes take steroids. Along with these reasons comes all the effects of using anabolic steroids and arguments against these effects from critics.

“The never-ending expectations of audience and the desire to enjoy an invincible winning streak has allured many sportsmen to take steroids” (“Athletes Using Steroids”). The pressure put on athletes by their fans and managers causes them to seek any means to enhance their abilities. It is no different then the pressures that young students face everyday that cause them to stoop to cheating. Sometimes the pressure from their parents causes them to study, and when studying is not enough they resort to cheating to get the approval of their parents. This is similar to what is happening to many athletes. Professional athletes practice and practice, but sometimes they still can’t seem to achieve success the at such a high level so they resort to steroid abuse. These athletes believe they need the help of anabolic steroids in order to excel in their area of expertise. The steroids will allow these athletes to break through their plateau. Even those athletes who do reach the top of the game may have to resort to using steroids in order to stay in the spotlight.

If the pressure of advancing to the spotlight is not the cause of anabolic steroid abuse then it may just be simply that they work in making them a better athlete and in turn cause them to earn more money. “Teams reward players for performing well in the immediate past, ignoring other evidence of a player’s quality from his earlier performance” ( Jacobs). This means that by taking steroids and performing better before an athlete signs a new contract with a team will allow them to earn more money  no matter how they did before their recent success. Using steroids will cause an athlete to gain mass, strength, and speed faster than normal. With these increased attributes the athlete may  be able to make it to the top of their sport. This will earn them a larger salary in the future. Like Ralph Kiner said “Home run hitters drive Cadillac’s, and singles hitters drive Fords” (“Home run hitters”). Not all athletes play for their love of the game. Some play for money and prestige. The athletes that are the most successful generate the greatest incomes. For instance, Barry Bonds made millions and millions of dollars because of the popularity he gained by hitting so many home runs. He would have still been an extremely talented baseball player and maybe even one of the best without the strength he gained from steroids. But, he would have never beaten the home run record without the help of steroids, therefore he would have not made nearly as much money as he did. Meaning that the desire to excel is one of the main reasons for steroid abuse. Imagine someone having the opportunity to put their talents over the top and become one of the greatest athletes in the world. If this could be achieved by taking anabolic steroids there is not many athletes, who have worked hard their whole life to achieve this goal and be the best, that will say no to steroids. People doing whatever it takes to make money and be successful is not something new in our society. It is hard for some fans to grasp the fact that even some athletes that are supposed to be role models for children and teenagers all over the world are willing to do anything to enhance their performance.

It is no secret that an increase in the home run production in baseball will excite the fans increasingly. Anabolic steroids could make this happen if they became legal. Taking steroids will cause someone to gain more muscle mass when combined with a good work out routine. Alan M. Nathan has proven that a gain in muscle mass results in faster bat speed (2). A batter taking steroids has a faster bat speed that causes the batted ball speed to increase (Nathan 2). It is obvious that an increased batted ball speed will cause the ball to go farther off the bat. Which in turn means more home runs.  This increased home run production will allow fans to see more of what that want. Anyone who has watched sports center recently and seen all the home runs they should every day would know that home runs are the most popular aspect of baseball. If this is not enough to convince someone of the importance of home runs they could watch any recent home run derby and notice that the stands are nearly packed with fans wanting to only see home runs. This makes it nearly impossible to argue against the popularity of home runs in Major League Baseball.

A critic to allowing anabolic steroids in baseball may say that it won’t increase the number of home runs hit because it will allow pitchers to throw harder, making them harder to make hit. But, this is not the case for all pitchers. In order for a pitcher to be effective at such a high level they need more than just a lot of muscle. Even with steroids a pitcher needs high quality mechanics and pin point execution to throw the ball harder and accurate. This means that steroids will not necessarily make every pitcher more difficult to hit. These critics may only be right for the already top-notch pitchers that have great mechanics. For an average, run of the mill pitcher taking steroids and throwing a little harder will not solve their problems. Nobody is an amazing pitcher at that level by just throwing hard and wild. In order to be among the best a pitcher needs control and an arsenal of pitches they can throw well. It is even reasonable to say that pitchers on steroids could result in more home runs. The harder the ball comes in, the faster it goes out. The increased bat speed that steroids cause will allow hitters to capitalize on every mistake a pitcher makes. The quick bat speed will make up for the increased speed of the pitches. Although, it may be different for highly skilled pitcher on anabolic steroids.

With all the benefits anabolic steroids bring to the sluggers of baseball comes the benefits to the prized aces of baseball. A pitcher can gain from taking anabolic steroids. Upper tier pitchers have even more to gain than other pitchers because of the skills they already possess. Taking steroids will allow pitchers to throw harder than they could without steroid use. This increase in speed combined with what they already bring to the table will give some pitchers an edge over most batters. For instance, Cliff Lee on steroids could be virtually unhittable. With some pitchers being almost unhittable it would result in more no hitters or even some perfect games. These spectacular achievements would surely result in more excitement from the fans.

Increased speed in their pitches is not the only benefit a pitcher receives from taking anabolic steroids. Throwing a baseball is extremely straining and unnatural on a pitcher’s arm. Using steroids will enhance tissue repair so a pitcher will feel better the day after pitching and could result in less injuries (Olney). This would be a huge benefit to pitchers and could allow some of the best pitchers to be able to throw more often with the reduce soreness to their arms. Having the more prized pitchers throwing more often would benefit the club and the fans. Everyone wants to see their ace throw a good game and help their team win.

An argument from a critic of allowing anabolic steroid use in baseball is that home runs being hit more often will make them less exciting and rare. This is not true considering the fact that a home run hit in a close game is always thrilling. This is like saying that game winning goals in the NHL would be less exciting if there were more close games. No one complains about someone hitting too many home runs. More home runs will just result in more intense home run races that bring millions of fans to baseball. Anabolic steroids will make the chances of having another epic home run race like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire had more likely.

Anyone who says a home run race would be less exciting with hitters on steroids because it is like cheating is completely wrong. This argument would not be relevant if steroid use was legal in baseball because then it wouldn’t be cheating at all. Also, if the majority of baseball fans actually had a serious problem with steroids they would have all ready stopped being a fan since it has become apparent that many of baseball’s recent all-stars have used steroids. Critics may say that even if it was legal it is still cheating and would take fans away from the sport. But, is evening the playing field really cheating? According to Jose Canseco, up to 85% of MLB players currently playing today are using performance-enhancing drugs (Anderson). This is coming from someone who was in the locker rooms of major league baseball for many years. This shows that even though steroid use in baseball was illegal many players were willing to risk it to enhance their performance. This makes it necessary to allow everyone in the league to have the opportunity to enhance their performance the same way. If those who obey the rules had the chance to take steroids like most of the players already do it would allow the players with greater natural talent to shine and become the stars they should be (Anderson). There is an immense pressure to use performance enhancing drugs in baseball. Allowing anabolic steroids in the sport is actually the way to get rid of cheating and even the playing field for all of the athletes. Evening the playing field for all of the athletes in professional baseball will do nothing but benefit the sport as a whole and satisfy the players.

The tons of players that brought thousands of fans to baseball and have used steroids add to the proof that allowing steroid’s benefits baseball. Manny Ramirez, suspended for steroid use, brought tons of fans to baseball for years before he retired(“Linked to Steroids”) . Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, who both admitted to using steroids, brought interest to baseball and were many people’s favorite baseball players for a long time(“Linked to Steroids”). These are just a few examples of players who have used steroids and have added to the popularity of Major League Baseball. Critics may say that they brought fans  to baseball before it was known that they cheated by using steroids. This is not the case for many players. When Barry Bonds first got drafted he was skinny and stole bases. Later in his career Barry was significantly bigger and even his head seemed to grow. Anyone who had seen him early in his career would be able to tell that he took steroids. Regardless he still brought millions of fans to baseball because of his amazing accomplishments. This shows that many fans ignored the fact that he took steroids and watched him dominate the sport anyway. This is proof that either fans don’t care about steroids or they’re not devoted fans and just want to see something spectacular.

When not talking about the performance based effects of anabolic steroids the strongest argument against allowing them into Major League Baseball is that it is harmful to the athletes. This claim has virtually no evidence to support it. The possible effects of steroids are vast but nearly none of the serious effects are proven. Anabolic steroid use is associated with hypogonadism, testicular atrophy, baldness, acne, gynaecomastia (Payne, Kotwinski, Montgomery). Hypogonadism is when sex glands produce little or no hormones (“Hypogonadism”). Testicular atrophy is when a male’s testes shrink. Baldness and acne are common in many people and not serious at all.  Gynaecomastia is when a male’s breasts are enlarged (“Gynaecomastia”). None of these effects result in any serious health risk to the athletes. They are all minor effects and should not be enough to have steroid’s banned from the sport. “The potentially serious risks to health of androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS) use are still unresolved” (“Endocrine aspects”). This means no one really knows if steroids have serious long-term negative effects at all. That is more than you can say for other substances like alcohol and cigarettes that we know both have serious long-term negative effects. These are all things that no one is forced to take, but people take anyway for personal benefits. “The long-term consequences and disease risks of AAS to the sports competitor remain to be properly evaluated” (“Endocrine aspects”). Considering the fact that the negative effects of steroids are not even known you can not argue that steroids shouldn’t be allowed in baseball because of the possibility of them being harmful.

Having a ban on anabolic steroid use in baseball is hurting the sport’s popularity and potential. By lifting the ban it will bring countless additional hours of excitement to Major League Baseball. The use of anabolic steroids by the athletes will increase the number of home runs, no hitters, and possible perfect games. These are all incredible feats that fans want to see. For all the arguments critics make against anabolic steroid use there is a stronger argument for anabolic steroid use. Until there is substantial evidence that steroids are actually severely dangerous to someone’s health there is no reason for a ban. They should allow the player’s, who are all adults, to make their own decisions on whether or not to indulge in anabolic steroid use and let the sport evolve into something even greater than it all ready is today.

 Works Cited

Anderson, M. “Why the Use of Steroids Is Bad for Baseball.” Get Red Socks Tickets. Web.

Athletes Using Steroids.” E-Steroid. Web.

Endocrine Aspects of Anabolic Steroids.” Clinical Chemistry. Web.

Home Run Hitters Drive Cadillacs and Singles Hitters Drive Ford.” The Big Apple. Web.

Hypogonadism.” PubMed Health.U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Nov. 0000. Web.

Jacobs, Tom. “Baseball Whiffs When Setting Salaries.” Pacific Standard. Web.

List of Players Linked to Steroids & HGH.” Baseball’s Steroid Era. Web.

Nathan, Alan M. “The Possible Effect of Steroids on Home Run Production.” Webusers.University ofIllinois. Web.

Olney, Buster. “WHY PITCHERS USE.” ESPN The Magazine. Web.

Payne, J.R., P.J. Kotwinski, and H.E. Montgomery. “Cardiac Effects of Anabolic Steroids.” Heart and Education in Heart. Web.

What Is Gynaecomastia?” NHS. Web.

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