The big boys of baseball traveled up to the peak of Capitol
Hill last Thursday and slid down the other side looking like
befuddled, conflicted men.
Called to the nation’s Capitol for a day of sworn testimony
on the increasing problem of steroids in sports, specifically
Major League Baseball, a panel of subpoenaed sluggers testified
what they did and did not know. On the surface, what the five
in attendance (a sixth, White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas
appeared via video conference) knew did not appear to be much.
Here is what we did learn:
• Retired home run hero Mark McGwire may have hurt his
chances of getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame by repeatedly
invoking the Fifth Amendment when asked whether he used steroids
during his playing career. McGwire, who looked suspiciously
grandfatherly in a pair of bi-focals, essentially made a non-admission
admission of guilt by consistently refusing to talk about the
• Baltimore Orioles outfielder Sammy “whatever
he said” Sosa did not offer a great deal of perspective
during the proceedings other than testifying that he had never
used steroids. In the quote of the day, Sammy stated, "All
I can tell you is that I don't have much to tell you."
All I can say is, Sammy, I hope you are telling the truth. An
orange jumpsuit does not look nearly as good as your Oriole
• Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro also
testified that he had never used steroids. My intuition tells
me that he may have been one of the only people telling the
truth during the hearings. In addition, Palmeiro vowed that
he would do whatever was necessary to help clean up the game.
Of course, it is important to note that Rafi will likely retire
within the next one to two years.
• Despite contradicting some of the claims he made in
his new tell-all book “Juiced”, Jose Canseco, in
many ways, came across as being the most credible. He earnestly
pleaded with Congress to clean up the game, saying that was
the only way the youth of America would get the message.
• Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling played the role
of Sergeant Schultz (“I see nothing”) of Hogan’s
Heroes fame by stating he knew of less than ten players
in his 19 years of professional baseball who used steroids.
Come on Curt, the average fan can point out at least five in
a season just from observing excessive weight gain from muscle
mass and increased power production.
• Then of course, there was the “Lost Clause”.
Major League Baseball in its infinite wisdom, or lack thereof,
submitted a draft of its new drug policy to Congress before
the hearings. The new proposal calls for a player, who tests
positive for banned substances, to receive a 10-day suspension
or up to a $10,000 fine for the first offense. A 10,000 dollar
fine is akin to you or your next door neighbor being fined $100
bucks by the neighborhood association for mowing your lawn too
early in the morning. This is not a deterrent, it is a joke.
So, what does all of this mean? It is not everyday that superstar
baseball players shed their pinstripes for pinstripe suits.
Furthermore, it is not normal for highly paid athletes to sit
shoulder to shoulder, answering questions about the drug habits
of their peers. Was it nothing more than an opportunity for
our national lawmakers to throw baseball players across their
knee for a good spanking? Was it a publicity stunt designed
to scare Major League Commissioner Bud Selig and Player’s
Union Executive Donald Fehr from continuing to look the other
I would suggest a pinch and a dash of both.
If nothing else, last week’s hearings raised the level
of awareness regarding an increasingly disturbing problem. People
discovered that steroid use exists not just in Major League
Baseball, but trickles all the way down to youth sports. My
heart breaks for parents like Donald Hooten, Sr., who testified
on Capitol Hill last week, that his son’s suicide was
a direct result of using steroids. Sadly, there are many other
parents across this nation just like Mr. Hooten.
If you don’t believe that steroids are a problem at the
scholastic level please take note of these startling statistics.
According to the California Interscholastic Federation, 11 percent
of high school boys and 5 percent of high school girls have
taken performance-enhancing drugs.
At first glance, these statistics seem kind of ho-hum, yawn,
pass me the remote. However, when you consider that one in ten
high school boys and one in 20 girls find it necessary to break
the law to increase their athletic productivity, we have a problem.
The general consensus among high school athletes is that if
you want to play at the next level, you must become bigger and
stronger. And an easy, surefire way to do that is through the
use of performance enhancing supplements.
Translation: the pressure to perform creates the pressure to
cheat. News Flash -- this is not a problem solely relegated
to baseball. It is a problem in this country. People are promised
fast and easy results each and every day in a variety of different
arenas. Why sweat, slave, and persevere for something when you
can get the same result by popping a simple little pill, injecting
a miracle serum into your bloodstream, or pay someone else to
do the hard work for you.
“Nothing is wrong unless you get caught.”
“Everybody else is doing it.”
“It isn’t hurting anyone else but me.”
Do these quips sound familiar? Our Major League panel may not
have uttered these phrases specifically on Capitol Hill last
week but many of their baseball brethren likely have in their
steroid-use decision making process.
The rationale behind such phrases is to compromise the truth.
Popular standards of honesty often differ from what God’s
In Leviticus 19:11, Moses writes, “You shall not steal,
nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”
This is a simple verse but it is packed with undeniable truth.
God demands that we think truly, live truly, speak truly, and
that we avoid any appearance of dishonesty. These standards
are stated unequivocally in His word. God’s love for us
should motivate us to live a life of honesty. And it is only
through His love that makes true honesty possible. That is a
major component of our calling as Christians -- to live in obedience.
Unfortunately, many succumb to manipulation through the aforementioned
phrases above. It seems daunting, but we all must try to do
As for Major League Baseball and the future, Congress fired
a warning last week that if Bud Selig and sons do not clean
up their act, than lawmakers will. It is all very unfortunate,
considering the forthcoming season should have been one of the
most historic on record. San Francisco Giant slugger Barry Bonds
(another alleged steroid user) pursuit to eclipse Babe Ruth
on his way to Hank Aaron’s all time home run record has
now been reduced to a discussion on proper use of the asterisk.
I guess this season is a sad case of ‘wait ‘til
next year’. Play ball!
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.