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  • Game of Shadows

    I read Game of Shadows last night.


    Probably the wrong forum. But I'm curious. Anyone else read it yet? Impressions?

    Best,

    Scott

  • #2
    Yeah, it should probably be in Art and Literature. Oh, and I can't wait to read it. I'll wait in line for it at the library.
    GOT ALBERT?
    St. Louis Cardinals BBFTG Website
    http://www.freewebs.com/bbftg6/

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm in the process of reading it now.

      I find it fascinating how the culture developed. The part about the Greeks eating sheep testicles in the 700's for testosterone showed me that the mindset of a competitive athlete is to do anything they could to gain the advantage.

      The modern era of enhancements being driven by the Russians and East Germans in Olympic competiton puts things in perspective. I guess it was only a matter of time before it found its way into other sports. Maybe the Russians and East Germans just had more institutional programs where in the US it was more underground.

      After reading how prevelent it was for so long, it has sort of changed my opinion on Bonds, McGuire, Giambi, etc. That's what top leve athletes did to remain competitive. I'm not saying its right but everyone lknew what was going on and looked the other way from MLB, union, and fans. The fans bought the tickets, drove up TV ratings and worshipped the home run hitters knowing deep down they were juicing. We didn't care until someone "exposed" it.

      Now MLB has banned "greenies" or speed. Wait until mid-August when all the averages go down the tubes. I think a lot of athletes are going to develop a hay fever allergy and the sales of Sudafed will skyrocket. Jim Bouton was talking about "greenies" in Ball Four a few decades ago. If you didn't take them your teamates thought you weren't doing everything you could to help the team.

      I'm not saying its the right thing to do but fans want to see super human athletes compete.

      There were articles in the weekend papers saying how the MLB system still won't catch someone taking Human Growth Hormones. So the system is still flawed.

      Olympians are still finding ways to beat the system.

      I hate to say it and I'm not condoning it but I think performance enhancements are a way of life now.

      I do think Bonds is a hypocrite for trying to sue the authors by saying they shouldn't profit from illegal activity (using secret grand jury testimony). He's made $millions from it. He should just be quiet and go count his money.

      The records should now have pre and post "juiced" sections.

      Comment


      • #4
        Zee:

        Some good points.

        The prevalence of use issue is a thorny one.

        WITHOUT question, amphetemines have been a staple of BB for years. People who decry the modern athlete for tainting the record books when heros of the last generation were "clean" don't have it right. They weren't clean. Speed use was near universal.

        Also without question, steroids help enhance performance more than speed does.

        BUT, both are illegal in society and "cheating," (both because of the illegality and the performance enhancement.)

        Period. There are no shades of gray when it comes to whether or not it is cheating. If it is against the law and enhances performance, it is cheating whether or not BB "tests" for it.


        And the whole subject of performance enhancement is fascinating. As Howard Bryant indicated in Juiced, GATORADE is a performance enhancer. It artifically replaces electroytes - an advantage previous athletes didn't have. BUT, it is legal, and anyway doesn't offend sensibilities (and it shouldn't).


        I certainly hope by this point that folks don't still have their head in the sand about just how prevalent was the use of anabolics in the past decade of BB. It certainly was NOT limited to the dozen or so MLB players who have been identified. I thinkm the most amazing "stat" of all was that 8% of MLB players tested positive in the season of anonymous testing. Which was a ONE-TIME pre-announced test. For only a very few select steroids (none of the designer ones) which were also pre-identified. Testing positive under these circumstances is about like getting caught for cheating on a Chemistry test when the teacher is sitting 3 feet away and staring at you. After telling you he was going to do just that. 8%.

        And I SERIOUSLY doubt the problem is even close to under control today. If folks think THG was the only designer (and therefor undetectable through testing) steroid out there, they again have their head in the saind. Plus the amazing masking agents.


        And it is going to get worse, becasue in the next couple of decades, gene splicing and genetic engineering are going to open up some REALLY scary possibilities.


        It is hard not to be a little sympathetic to athletes facing tough choices in a pervasive culture. If the playing field is NOT level, and your livelihood is at stake, what do you do? I mean, come on - Randy Velarde? A 40 YO light-hitting second baseman? What are the pressures to stay competitive? What are the pressures in the Minors to "make it?"

        To me, this is the most insidious thing. NO 22 YO kid should be faced with a choice like that. But they are, even today. That ANY of them make the choice we all HOPE we ourselves would make is remarkable.


        You are right about the effect of banning amphetemines. It will be noticeable in the "dog days," if not before. Abnd you are right about HGH not being tested for - it requires a blood test, and none is yet allowed under the CBA. Although HGH is not as effective operating on it's own - it works "best" when used as part of a steroid cocktail - it is still a huge performance enhancer. And certainly, it's still being used.


        The comment about fans wanting to see super-human athletes compete is perhaps your most insightful. If fans REALLY cared about this problem - and hence acted predictably in response to it - the problem would largely cease. In reality, no matter what we collectively "say," the prevalent feeling is "what do I care if some guy risks his life on drugs? I want to see a ball fly into the Bay."

        Living in the Bay Area, I can tell you that the rest of the country would be absolutely STUNNED by the reaction in this area to Bonds. Anyone criticizing him on radio talk shows is slammed. People scream about the "presumption of innocence," and how Barry never did anything siince he hasn't been proven guilty. Which is certainly true - and a crucial principle - in terms of criminal proceedings. But I'm not referencing folks wanting to protect the Bill of Rights, here. There is a SIZABLE percentage of the local population that thinks Barry did nothing wrong, and that this whole drug thing is a conspiracy. Or so they say daily on talk radio. The NEED to believe in sports "heros" is unbelievable.

        Seriously, you wouldn't believe the general reaction here. Way different than what I would imagine in the rest of the country. Mainly, I suppose, because WE get to see the balls fly into the Bay, and the Giants haven't won since 1954 (now second only to the Cubs for futility). But the reaction is astonishing.


        Finally, evidence that we don't care is clearly presented in the penalty phase of the Balco scandal. NO athletes indicted (some suspended in track, none in football or baseball). Victor Conte scheduled to 4 months in prison, 4 months of house arrest. Greg Anderson to 3 months / 3 months. The other two indicted Balco executives did not serve time.


        Basically, I think the obvious reaction to the whole deal - after 18 months of hysteria and nightly news - was, "who cares?"

        Regards,

        Scott

        Comment


        • #5
          I think most people would say they are against steroid use but still want to see some one hit a towering HR at a game or a bone crushing hit during a football game. So the "who cares" attitude doesn't stun me.

          It bothers me because Roger Maris was my favorite player when I was growing up. Just a die hard Yankee fan.

          I give Giambi credit for at least telling the truth in the grand jury. I thought he could have turned it into a positive and be very clear publicly that he did steroids and talk to young kids on the dangers of it. He would have been a hero rather than the poster boy for steroid use. All anyone has to do is proclaim "yes I did steroids and it was a stupid thing to do. I risked cancer, tumors and a shorter life span for a few dollars. don't be stupid like me."

          I remember reading in the paper a couple of years ago when baseball first began talking about doing steroid testing. There was a comment from an anonymous player from a west coast team that said the hitters weren't worried but most of the pitching staff was. It gets lost in the HR derbies but how many pitchers are throwing 95 mph now. I know better work out routines are more common but come on.

          Comment


          • #6
            Pitchers got a skate this time. They were lucky.

            So, you're pretty sure Maris didn't use Greenies? My recollection was that Bouton said their use was pretty universal in the Yankees clubhouse.

            Best,

            Scott

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by CoachZee
              All anyone has to do is proclaim "yes I did steroids and it was a stupid thing to do. I risked cancer, tumors and a shorter life span for a few dollars. don't be stupid like me."

              Someone's been brainwashed by anti-steroid propoganda h

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by MrUniverse09
                Someone's been brainwashed by anti-steroid propoganda h
                Why don't you explain your position re: performance enhancing drugs?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Scott, I also live in the Bay Area and don't listen to much sports radio here, so I'll take your word for what's said there. But I don't think the "get-a-life" types who make those calls are particularly representative of local fans' opinions. Maybe I'm projecting, but I think everyone here had long given up hope that he was clean; it was only a question of how much did he take and how much did he know. My local "focus group" is other little league coaches and we're all just kind of resigned. Certainly, we don't hold Barry out as a role model for our kids for much of anything.

                  But, you're right to the extent that no one here is outraged; being the Bay Area, it's sort of like how we feel about proof that the Bush Administration is lying about something -- "okay, so what else is new?" Okay, he cheated in the past, so what can you do? He's presumably clean now and we'd like to see the Giants do well, so we'll cheer for him as we would any current player. But, there certainly won't be much of a frenzy when he approaches Ruth and Aaron's milestones, that's for sure.
                  Testing positive under these circumstances is about like getting caught for cheating on a Chemistry test when the teacher is sitting 3 feet away and staring at you. After telling you he was going to do just that. 8%.
                  As for that 8% figure, I think your analogy is off a bit. Sure they knew the test was coming, but they also knew that there would be no individual repercussions for testing positive, right? So, the only stigma attached to being "caught" was that all of baseball would be tainted just a teensy it more but the individual player wouldn't be named, balanced against the individual's desire to squeeze those extra few home runs out that could be the difference between being a journeyman, and a $4 million per year player. Hmmmm, tough call.
                  sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Ursa Major:

                    I live in Central Contra Costa, w/ a slightly different political demographic (than where you live). Bush is not as popular as he was, though, that's for sure.

                    The reaction on both KNBR channels has been mind boggling. Hope you're right that it is not representative. However, I predict a massive Standing O for Bonds at the home opener - which is significantly different than the reaction he'll get on the road.


                    I hear your point on the 8%. Although there WERE collective repercussions - if the test was over 5%, it triggered mandatory individual testing the following year. Which happened. Saying that permeated the consciousness of the group in question may admittedly be giving more credence than the evidence suggests, however.

                    That said, I don't think any BB player alive truly believed in the anonymity of the test - look at what happened w/ Lance Armstrong, 7 years after the fact. While Armstrong's problem occurred after this test was administered, the fear such a thing COULD happen is always present, I would think. And the relationship between pro ballplayers and the Commissioner's Office is not one built on trust. Beyond that, congress came VERY close to subpoenaing these records.

                    Anonymity HAS been protected though - so far - so maybe I'm wrong.


                    This may interest you. In early 2001, I flew cross-country with a staff attorney for MLB. 6 hour conversation, on a number of subjects. One of the most interesting seat companions I have ever had, over a livetime of heavy flying. This individual told me that MLB's estimate of steroid use was close to 50%. And indicated that pitchers were involved, too (first I'd ever heard that).

                    I can vouch for the accuracy of the conversation. Obviously not for the veracity of the information. All evidence after the fact would lead me to believe that number was pretty close, though.


                    I also don't think that baseball is even close to "clean" today. There are designer steroids available right now that are not tested for. The pharmacists are still WAY ahead of the testers. For that matter, Conte would not have been caught if he wasn't constantly bragging about his famous clients and available products on the internet forum equivalent of this site (for sports training).

                    Best regards,

                    Scott

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Where to go from here

                      I think you're right that fans have become a bit jaded to the drum beat of athletes testing positive for PED's. Even if all such activity ceased today, we will always look at the HR records set in the past 15 years or so as having asterisks.

                      The problem for the future, it seems to me, is defining what is an acceptable level of "juicing", to broaden that term to include all PED's. Rule making has no hope of keeping up with new developments in drug technologies. And, it isn't exactly science fiction to foresee the day when the body's function can be enhanced with "bionic" parts. How will the rules deal with that?

                      I, like I suspect most of you, would like to see the achievements of athletes as being performed by human beings who have done the most with their natural talents and genetics, not with what technology can provide.

                      As I have suggested on this forum before, a reasonable approach to rule making in this area might be to list the substances that are permissible and assume any other PED is illegal. Then test regularly.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The problem - at least today - is that you can't test for a steroid unless you know about the steroid. That is not the way the technology works. And the pharmacists work real hard to come up with previously unknown - but still highly effective - steroids. With slightly different molecules than anything previously known.

                        Like Balco's THG.

                        In an effort to combat this, the testers use tests that measure the level of testosterone against other hormones, and looks for a ratio (I think it is 6 to 1 in the test they use). So the steroid users get around this by simply ingesting the other hormones as well - to keep the ratio up. This was a big part of the Balco steroid "cocktail."

                        I may have some detail wrong on the above - I'm painfully far from expert on this subject. But the gist of it is right.


                        I don't know the answer, either.


                        Best regards,

                        Scott
                        Last edited by ssarge; 03-28-2006, 12:26 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ursa Major:

                          I live in Central Contra Costa, w/ a slightly different political demographic (than where you live). Bush is not as popular as he was, though, that's for sure.

                          The reaction on both KNBR channels has been mind boggling. Hope you're right that it is not representative. However, I predict a massive Standing O for Bonds at the home opener - which is significantly different than the reaction he'll get on the road.


                          I hear your point on the 8%. Although there WERE collective repercussions - if the test was over 5%, it triggered mandatory individual testing the following year. Which happened. Saying that permeated the consciousness of the group in question may admittedly be giving more credence than the evidence suggests, however.

                          That said, I don't think any BB player alive truly believed in the anonymity of the test - look at what happened w/ Lance Armstrong, 7 years after the fact. While Armstrong's problem occurred after this test was administered, the fear such a thing COULD happen is always present, I would think. And the relationship between pro ballplayers and the Commissioner's Office is not one built on trust. Beyond that, congress came VERY close to subpoenaing these records.

                          Anonymity HAS been protected though - so far - so maybe I'm wrong.


                          This may interest you. In early 2001, I flew cross-country with a staff attorney for MLB. 6 hour conversation, on a number of subjects. One of the most interesting seat companions I have ever had, over a livetime of heavy flying. This individual told me that MLB's estimate of steroid use was close to 50%. And indicated that pitchers were involved, too (first I'd ever heard that).

                          I can vouch for the accuracy of the conversation. Obviously not for the veracity of the information. All evidence after the fact would lead me to believe that number was pretty close, though.


                          I also don't think that baseball is even close to "clean" today. There are designer steroids available right now that are not tested for. The pharmacists are still WAY ahead of the testers. For that matter, Conte would not have been caught if he wasn't constantly bragging about his famous clients and available products on the internet forum equivalent of this site (for sports training).

                          Best regards,

                          Scott

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bbjunkie
                            I think you're right that fans have become a bit jaded to the drum beat of athletes testing positive for PED's. Even if all such activity ceased today, we will always look at the HR records set in the past 15 years or so as having asterisks.
                            I have a hard time with asterisks, or any mention of the term "cheating." It wasn't cheating! Everyone was playing by the same rules. You could choose to juice or not, but you either hit the ball or didn't. If you could hit without them, great. But who, in recent memory, of all these hitters from the past 10-15 years, who among them wasn't juicing, or did a cycle or two to get them over the hump? There's a TON of money at the end of that rainbow, a little boost I can forgive.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by bbjunkie
                              Why don't you explain your position re: performance enhancing drugs?

                              Regarding performance enhancing drugs in general? I think what every major study out there says: Responsible use by adult males is safe and beneficial. You aren't risking cancer or tumors injecting testosterone any more than you are talking on your cellphone.

                              Now steroid abuse is damaging but so is alcoholism or being addicted to painkillers. It's up to the person to decide whether or not they will use or abuse.

                              As for shortening life-span: That's just wrong. Older patients on HRT (hormone replacement therapy AKA testosterone and HGH use) live longer and BETTER lives than those that just allow their hormones to natually dip.


                              As for performance enhancers in sports: Either you have it or you don't. I don't blame anyone in the 90s for taking steroids to level the playing field. It wasn't against the rules and for people to judge them as some sort of cheaters that ruined the game is absurd. To be honest, they saved the game in '98. If you're going to separate the game into the roid era and clean era, you should probably separate it into the "strength training/nutrition era" and whatever was before that. Stuff changes.

                              Now however, it is against the rules and anyone caught doing them until the rule changes should be kicked out of the game.

                              Comment

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