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No greenies for you

Mike SteffanosThursday, February 9, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Yesterday I looked at a column by Mike McGann on Gotham Baseball's web site regarding MLB's new Amphetamine policy. I agreed with his conclusion about "greenies":

Put simply, I don't see greenies as performance enhancers (unlike Viagra, which remains legal for ballplayers to use, as Pfizer is really good at making campaign contributions) any more than the high-powered anti-inflammatory drugs used every day in locker rooms around the world. I see both as performance enablers.

I recommend reading the rest of his column.

Today, ESPN's Rob Neyer also comments on the Amphetamine issue. I don't agree with him, but since I actually care about looking at both sides of important issues, I read what Neyer had to say. Basically, it can be boiled down to this:

... But the players don't need to pop pills to put on a good show, any more than they need steroids to put on a good show. These are the greatest baseball players in the world. All they need to put on a good show is their desire and their talents.

It's a fairly common argument. Trust me, I'm not trying to be pro-drug here, and what Neyer and others are saying has some validity. But it is truly sanctimonious of a society that is addicted to many types of energy boosters to self-righteously deny them to baseball players.

Yes, they make a lot of money. Victor Zambrano is making more this year than I probably will in my lifetime. Yes, they fly chartered planes and stay in nice hotels and have all sorts of people to handle all of the details for them.

But, like it or not, the MLB season, with few days off from April - September, is a huge grind. Even traveling in style doesn't spare you from jet lag and the stress that travel places on your body. When Lisa and I go on vacation out of our home state, we're often out of it for a day or two after we get there. We may not travel in luxury, but we're not traveling by covered wagon, either. Traveling just plain beats on you -- now imagine constantly traveling for half the time for 6 months.

Yet for all of this, when we pay our way into a ballpark -- and that carries quite a hefty price tag these days -- we want to see the team's stars play, and not only that, we want them to play well.

Various forms of stimulants are what has in the past allowed us to mostly get our wish. Now we're going to ban them. If that floats your boat, more power to you. For me, I think it's a fairly safe bet that no one ever hit a baseball farther because he popped a pill to stay more awake. For the rest of you, just be fair and don't complain when you pay your way into a ballpark and your favorite player is getting the day off -- or looking a little out of it if he does.

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