Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 21, 2004
BASEBALL: Pump It Up!
John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters has been on a bit of a crusade to dial down the anti-steroids speculation and rhetoric around the game. He links here to this Reason Magazine article in which Dayn Perry argues that the adverse health risks of steroids haven't been scientifically proven, and here he makes an essentially libertarian argument against regulating steroids, at least until there's better science on the issue.
I've agreed before with the point Perricone makes repeatedly (see here and here for examples) that the media has been way too quick to point fingers at specific players (or, for that matter, quote generalized percentages of players) without any evidence. On the other hand, the lack of evidence is no excuse for giving up on the story; the answer is to keep digging.
I haven't really digested Perry's piece yet . . . I'm sympathetic to anti-junk-science arguments, but I'm not sure I buy the "there's nothing wrong with being on steroids" argument, which sometimes tends to sound a bit too much like the tobacco executives for even my right-wing tastes. But it's a perspective worth taking seriously.
I don't doubt that there's a lot of players out there who are clean, and that a lot of guys are bulking up with the help of supplements and the like that are perfectly legit but just way beyond what was available until recently. Still, I do wonder: I was a diligent 5-6-days-a-week weightlifter myself for about 4 years in college and law school, at an age when it's a lot easier to build muscle mass than it is in your thirties. I started out weighing around 120 (I'm just under 5'10"), which was way underweight and down from where I'd been when I started college, and got up to about 140 in a year or so, but never got past that; I came away with a real appreciation of how hard it is to keep bulking up (then again, as you can guess from the numbers, my frame isn't really designed for being Arnold Schwarzenegger).
Anyway, go follow the links; there's a lot to chew on there.