Should MLB Allow PEDs?

Braun BALCO and Biogenesis have changed how players have tried to manipulate the game through the use of synthetic hormones to gain advantages over their counterparts; however, as more names come out in reports, including those of Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, and Ryan Braun, should Major League Baseball look into the actual advantages that come from the use of performance-enhancing drugs?

Bonds1As football overlooked head injuries for nearly 85 years of the NFL, baseball turned a blind eye to the testosterone-infused, giant-headed record breakers in Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, watching the revenue flow and the turnstiles rotate as attendance rebounded from the 1994 strike.

Once things retuned to normal, then, and only then, was it considered a crime in Major League Baseball to use steroids. After riding on the coat tails of their superstars, they then made them villains, not showing any support for the stars as they reached retirement and, now, eligibility for the Hall of Fame.

Certainly, possessing steroids without medical need or a prescription is a crime in the real world, so it shouldn’t have been overlooked, and the Mitchell Report changed the game and has made the attack of doping dopes in baseball a journalistic norm, as The Miami New Times joined The San Francisco Chronicle in the scooping business.

But…are performance-enhancing drugs bad for the game?

According to Livestrong.com, side effects from Human Growth Hormone (HGH)research states:

Several studies have tried to determine the efficacy of HGH and any potential side effects, with one of the most important being the 2002 JAMA study, conducted jointly by researchers from the National Institute on Aging and Johns Hopkins University over a period of 26 weeks. There were several common milder side effects from HGH supplements that included joint pain, swelling and carpal tunnel syndrome. The more serious side effects included an increase in glucose intolerance and diabetes among male subjects. None of the women developed those conditions, although they were more likely to suffer edema, a type of fluid retention that causes swelling. All side effects, even including diabetes, disappeared two to six weeks after treatment was discontinued.

As far as long-term effects of steroid use, Livestrong.com reports that growth inhibition, weight gain, behavioral changes, diabetes, liver and heart damage, and sexual and reproductive disorders.
williemaysObviously, HGH and steroids have extreme risk, but drugs have been a part of the game for decades to enhance player performance. Brett Bush wrote a great story, referencing Joe Posnanski and Jerry Crasnick, detailing amphetamine use by Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Jim Bunning, while also including Pete Rose in the discussion.
So, why would steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs be such a huge, damning character flaw today? Are they that much more potent than what previous generations used, or can Bud Selig and Major League Baseball not take the public being fully aware of the statistical-embellishments by “cheaters” to their precious record books?
In today’s day and age, Americans have a sense of entitlement, even in their entertainment, demanding the highest quality product. Could the best product be athletes who are genetically and chemically-enhanced?
For baseball, especially with the ever-growing popularity of football, could the increase in performance that could come along with “juicing” be what it takes to get back into the America’s pastime conversation?
If the players are willing to take the risks needed to chemically altar their bodies for the sake of entertainment and production, should the fans and Major League Baseball be the judges in their long-term health?
I say no. Let baseball go crazy. Let players cheat because that is what they have always done. Why should we judge character now when it was never the case before, even for the game’s squeeky-clean.
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