Where Is the Outrage?

For all the flap about steroids that has surrounded baseball for the past few years, I have been surprised few people are complaining about the blatant use of performance-enhancers used in the post-season this year. While we’ve heard a lot about Kenny Rogers’s smudge, the response has been “oh well, that’s part of baseball.” His teammate, Todd Jones, actually defended Rogers by stating he has cheated with pine tar in the past. Of course, it’s not cheating because it’s “accepted”—everybody’s doin’ it. The thing is we have better evidence that Kenny Rogers used pine tar than we do for most of the players the media condemns for using steroids, and there’s no doubt about what the rules say. Rogers should have been tossed and suspended (this is coming from a guy who is rooting hard for Detroit).

Then we have the Scott Rolen “controversy”—not his feud with TLR, but his getting a cortisone shot in his shoulder so that he could play. Cortisone is a steroid, but the kind that is accepted. Why is it accepted? It just is. There is no doubt that it is a PED and that it has potential negative side effects in the long run.

What’s the difference between these actions and using PEDs like HGH or anabolic steroids? “We” have just decided that “we” don’t like it. Pine tar and cortisone get to sit with the cool kids, the others are called out for ridicule.

11 Responses “Where Is the Outrage?”

  1. Ron24 says:

    The difference with cortisone shots is they are used to treat a specific injury rather than to increase performance generally.

  2. ChuckO says:

    Here’s my take for what it’s worth. In the first place, cortisone can be legally prescribed for use in cases like Rolen’s. However, though I am not a medical professional, it is my understanding that it is illegal for a doctor to prescribe steroids for performance enhancement, just as it would be illegal for him or her to prescribe morphine for recreational use. What I don’t understand is why no studies are being done to see if carefully considered doses of steroids can in fact enhance performance. If it can, then I don’t see why athletes shouldn’t use them, but under a doctor’s care.

    As for the pine tar on Rogers’ hand, pitchers have been loading balls for decades and there was even a time when it was legal. When something has been going on for that long with the history that it has, people are not likely to become outraged at its occurrence.

  3. Cliff Harpe says:

    First, I don’t agree with the evidence. If you put dirt on your hand and then pick up the legally permitted resin bag and squeeze it, it will make a very similar smudge. The umpire actually looked at it. Why would he say it didn’t look like pine tar?

    Second, what Rolen injested (almost certainly with a Dr.’s prescription) was cortico-steroids NOT anabolic steroids. I have taken cortico steroids five to seven times for allergic symptoms (rashes and sinus problems). Additionally, I went on them for an autoimmune inflammatory process over an extended period. Every doctor who prescribed cortico steroids warned of long term problems. Yes, cortico steroids very quickly reduce pain from inflammation. They also give a “hyped up” state”. However, they do not increase muscle mass. Further, there are almost no known medical uses for anabolic steroids.

    Third, if it was pine tar and LaRussa didn’t object, what business is it of ours to deal with it? Consumers of anabolic steroids don’t have an ability to be “caught” at game time unless they are tested at game time. If the catcher sets his mitt outside the strike zone and the umpire calls a strike did the catcher cheat? If he knows the umpire will call the srike if the “target” doesn’t move, then he is turning what is, by the rules, a ball, into a strike.

    Fourth, I have high school and midle school children involved in athletics. MAYBE they would be at risk playing baseball if some other kid uses a foreign substance and that causes the ball to hit them. That is, however, unlikely. They can easily be run over by an oversized steroid laced goon. They also cannot be hurt by using pine tar to be competitive with any other “tar babies”. They could and would have serious health problems if they began to try to compete with the roiders by trying the same stuff.

    The worlds you describe are vastly different from each other.

  4. Jason says:

    Cortisone is also something that can’t be taken long term. Cortisone suppresses the immune system. Basically, it’s given short term as it works really well at getting rid of aches and pains. As a kid playing baseball, I was always having problems with my throwing arm elbow and I remember once getting a shot of cortisone in it from a doctor and that stuff worked like magic to make the pain go away. Basically, cortisone is making Rolen able to play through the pain, but I am unconvinced it’s a “performance enhancer” in any other sense.

  5. JC says:

    I’m having trouble seeing a “vast” difference, especially when it comes to making moral judgments. You are just stating that the actual objects of abuse are different, which is obvious.

    Pine tar is illegal. People speed, which is illegal, and they are punished when they are caught doing it. Rogers should have been busted by the umpires when he was caught, and La Rusa should have made sure they did. That was poor managing on his part from a guy who loves to whine.

    Why does it matter that cortisone is allowed? That’s my point. (BTW, I understand the different types of steroids, it’s irrelevant to the point.) Before cortisone shots, you toughed it out or you took time off. I’m sure players wish cortisone shots were illegal so they could sit on the bench an collect a check rather than have to get a painful injection and suffer the consequences. I know of a player at a D-III school (no scholarships) who refused to take one because of the complications.

    Framing pitches is not illegal, pine tar is.

  6. Brandon Musler says:

    Lost in this discussion are two things:

    1) Rogers went on to pitch 7 more innings of dominating baseball. Isn’t that “statistically significant?”

    2) TLR wasn’t able to detect ANABOLIC steroid (and/or HGH) use in his clubhouse for a decade, but he can smell pinetar at 50 paces.

    Please. They got beat. Cheating had nothing to do with it.

  7. Andrew says:

    JC, I think it’s more of the difference between cigarettes and marijuana. I think that steroid use would not be a problem if SI and Congress had not made it such a big deal. It is MLB’s best interest for their star players to perform well, health risks be damned.

    I think Kenny Rogers cheated and I really don’t have a problem with it although I completely understand your dismay at why there is not a public outcry. Maybe Carpenter had something up his sleeve (or hat or glove) and thats why LaRussa wasn’t up in arms about the incident?

  8. Mike says:

    No… the difference in my eyes is that in 5 years, everyone is going to forget Kenny Rogers. He’s a mediocre pitcher who’s not going to make the hall of fame and isn’t going to break any records. If his scoreless inning streak gets near 59, maybe people would start to get ticked. Same with Rolen… he’s a nobody in the scheme of things. And using enhancers to get back to where you were is probably much more acceptable to people than using enhancers to get beyond where you’d otherwise be. Strange as it may sound, I have far less of an issue with someone like Pedro taking steroids so he can do his thing every 5 days, as opposed to someone like Bonds or McGwire taking steroids so he could do something he’d never been able to do before.

    In my eyes, it’s basically a matter of history. People got pissed at Bonds because they were/are afraid of him breaking records. I think people aren’t quite as pissed at McGwire because we were sort of young and naive to the whole thing. Hearing that McGwire was on steroids is like finding out there’s no Santa Claus… he was so good to you for the last few years, you’d just rather believe in him.

    In my opinion, these reasons don’t excuse the cheating. I fully believe that Kenny Rogers knowingly cheated, just as I fully believe McGwire did and Bonds did and Clemens did/does as well. I’m still just as outraged about Rogers as Bonds or everyone else. Just trying to provide a possible explanation.

  9. tangotiger says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the pitcher has a choice between a rosin bag or a pine tar rag in the near-future.

    This is as much cheating or “law breaking” as the third base coach being half-way down the line, instead of being in his box, or me spitting on the sidewalk. You get a slap at the wrist at most, which is what happened to Kenny.

  10. danny says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head. It is all about where the line is drawn. Cigarettes and Booze are accepted, even though they do as much or more long term damage than other drugs.

    Same thing in sports. You can add uppers into the discussion too, if you like.


  11. Derek says:

    I don’t get what all the crap about the supposed pine tar is all about. All this case shows is that there are a lot of complainers out there. Did any of you people who condemed Kenny Rodgers watch him pitch the rest of that game after the smudge mark was washed off, the man dominated out there pure plain and simple. The guy is a pro he has one of the few perfect games in the history of the game under his belt and it makes sense that he gets better as he gtes older because he never ever threw fast ball after fast ball he is a thinking mans pitcher he uses his brain not his strength, not to mention the fact that for one of the first times in his carrer he is part of a team that respects him and wants him around, now he lives in a place where they don’t try to drum up some stupid excuse to get rid of a person that the mass media might deem a jerk, Kenny Rogers was the best pitcher in the playoffs this year period. Nobody could have done what he did to that yankee lineup the way he did. It honestly makes me sick when i hear so many people out there razing him because they are obviously annoyed that a pitcher could dominate a whole team like it was nothing, the man was in the zone.