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Melky Cabrera, Your Steroids Are Everyone's Problem

The Giants' All-Star outfielder was suspended for testosterone use, and this fan just isn't taking it anymore.

Melky Cabrera, San Francisco Giant and All-Star Game MVP, tested positive for testosterone use and was suspended without pay for 50 games on Wednesday. To put it plainly, I'm angry.

I used to be a steroid apologist. As a Giants fan, it was hard not to be. Despite a stockpile of evidence taller than AT&T Park's Coke bottle to the contrary, I maintained that it was entirely possible that Barry Bonds never used performance enhancing drugs. 

Even now, it's hard to admit that he maybe...probably...definitely did it. 

Every time another name came out associated with steroids, especially big-timers (Clemens, A-Rod, Sosa, etc.), I felt vindicated. Watching well over 100 Giants games year after year, and hearing the boos for Bonds in all opposing stadiums grew tiresome. It became en vogue to boo Barry away from San Francisco, as he was the sole contemporary face of cheating in baseball. 

Little did most bandwagoning, ignorant, some would argue racist fans of other teams know that an estimated majority of their players were also on the juice. 

I never held steroid use against a baseball player. Formal, clear-cut drug policies were not laid out by the MLB until 2006. I don't believe use before that year to be grounds for rejection from the Hall of Fame, or public ridicule in general. But my stance is not a popular one.

The bottom line is that steroid use was the culture of competition in baseball from the late 1980s until 2005. If you weren't doing steroids, you weren't competing. The trend said more about players' collective priority balance of money (steroids=production=contract) over health (steroids=addiction, liver tumors, high blood pressure, aggression, etc.) than it did about willingness to cheat. 

Players of the Steroid Era shouldn't be blacklisted or asterisked. Let's not forget multiple generations of baseball players that actively banned Black players from joining their ranks. None of them are barred from the Hall of Fame for that veritable decision to pad their stats.

But this is no longer the Steroid Era. Offensive numbers are down across all of baseball as a direct result of stringent drug testing that has all but eradicated steroid use from the game. There is no grey area anymore. If you are using performance enhancing drugs, you are cheating. 

Melky knew better and did it anyway. Two years ago, with the Atlanta Braves, he hit an unimpressive .255 with four home runs and 42 RBI. Through 113 games this season (on testosterone), he swung a near league-leading .346 with 11 home runs and 60 RBI. Maybe it should have been obvious.

Now Cabrera leaves the Giants tied for first in the NL West with an upward-trending Dodgers team. He won't be eligible to hit the diamond again until the National League Championship Series, if the Giants manage to get that far. 

He'll suffer in that he'll repel serious contract offers in free agency come October. He was said to be demanding close to $15 million per season before Wednesday's announcement. But the collateral damage goes further than his bank account. The Giants are left scrambling to fill the gap left by a legitimate NL MVP candidate, and fans are stuck trying to come up with justifiable talking points to support the argument that San Francisco isn't a steroids mecca. 

A modest prediction: Years from now, legend will have it that a clandestine BALCO lab was camouflaged in left field at AT&T Park. 

You still see Barry Bonds jerseys at every Giants home game, and he hasn't played in five years. That's because he was a Hall of Fame caliber, shining example of perfection of the culture of his era. Rest assured you wont be seeing Melky's 53 scattered around McCovey Cove now or ever. 

What do you think of Cabrera's suspension? Are you upset? Did you see it coming? Tell us in the comments!

Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) August 16, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Steroids should be allowed.
CJ August 16, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Banning PED"s(Performance Enhancing Drugs) is a slippery slope just the same as banning recreational drugs. I do not endorse using either. But........... However, preventing their use is a very expensive and nebulous process that alienates some, adds layers of cost to everything. In my life , never really achieves success as any reasonable person would describe it. So do we just legalize it all? I regretably have to admit we should. As an athlete in my youth (70/80's) I was advised by several well known pro football players (all pros) to take steroids to achieve my goals in the sport. I decided not to use PED's. Injuries ended my playing days prematurely. My friends who did, bulked up massively and had nice careers in College and some had shots at the Pros. They were all good people and are healthy happy today. Some still use. If I had the opportunity and forsight to envision a Pro career and the results that proper and monitored use of steroids would have given me a life of much greater wealth and lifestyle I would have used for sure. Anybody who proclaims otherwise is probably not being honest with themselves.
SevenMary7 August 16, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Really? You would inject yourself with chemicals for a "life of much greater wealth and lifestyle?
Chris Nicholson August 16, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Who wouldn't? I mean we should do the research and promote an honest understanding of the risks. I've never taken PEDs (if you could see me, that would be clear), but I assume that the objective risks for moderate use are quite low. Every day, pro football players knowingly choose (although some are now saying they didn't know) to engage in activity that puts them at increased risk of serious long term physical and mental damage. Should we ban that? There are two issues: (i) the need to keep competitive sports "fair" and not allow anyone to get an unfair advantage and (ii) the sense that drugs/PEDs are categorically "wrong" and should be banned for paternalistic reasons. I am sympathetic to the former but not the latter.
MYRNA lARSEN August 16, 2012 at 04:34 PM
After recently watching many olympic events I realized that many athletes are very young. I particularly recall a 15 year old swimmer. If I was a parent of one of these youngster, I wouldn't want them to take steroids nor would I want them to have to compete against people who are. I vote for keeping sports as clean as possible, even if it is an uphill battle.
Randy Rosso August 16, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Pretty basic article. No new information here. Just an assumption that testosterone injections increase batting average. There's no proof that PED's increase bat speed, hand/eye coordination, etc.
CJ August 16, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I think Barry Bonds is clearly the poster child that PED's enhance and lengthen the career of athletes. HGH increases eyesite performance to much younger levels. Clearly PED's improve hitting as they do fielding. Hollywood stars all use PED's to achieve the bodies and subsequent paydays that go along with the adulation of the masses. Every sport known to man has been affected by PED's. Future tech (some say it is happening now) will make PED's obsolete. DNA alterations with a simple injection or other delivery method will alter your entire body composition to whatever goal you have in mind. At that point the whole subject will be an entirely different discussion.
CJ August 16, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Well SM7... I clearly didn't do it. I know several very close friends and some relatives who did and do to this day with no ill effects. The mantra the media feeds us has some very large missing pieces that they do not want to discuss in regards to this issue.
Randy Rosso August 16, 2012 at 06:51 PM
I only agree with your first two lines--that PED's mask injuries and lengthen careers. Rest of it is unproven.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) August 16, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Many of these folks face that choice or a life of poverty with little future. If they want to take the risk of steroids, it should be allowed.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) August 16, 2012 at 06:55 PM
I am talking about professional sports involving adults. There aren't any 15 year olds in the NFL, for example.
Mark Roberts August 16, 2012 at 08:03 PM
As a long-time Giants season ticketholder, I'm really disappointed but more in Melky than in the team or the MLB system. I don't know how much "worse" Melky would have performed this year without the supplementary testosterone -- neither he nor anyone else will ever know. Sure, as a fan I enjoyed his performance this year just as I enjoyed Barry Bonds' performances over many seasons -- also in left field (hmmm). He cheated the system, himself, his teammates, Giants management and, of course, the fans who pay dearly to see the Giants play in person. I would have thought that Giants players would have learned from Bonds' example but maybe not. I still think the rest of them -- and most MLB players -- play clean. Yes, I'm disappointed but I'm not (too) disillusioned.
Tim Davis August 17, 2012 at 03:07 PM
No needles or juice for me thanks. It blows me away that people would actually consider doing it. Personal choice I guess. But professional sports appears to be so riddled by cheaters I can't understand why anyone pays to watch them.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) August 17, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Not much different than the parents seeking Ritalin and Adderall so that their high schoolers can stay awake and study or write term papers.
Amanda August 17, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Great point, SportsFan. I assume that the majority MLB and NFL players use/have used steroids. When I was in college, you had to "play the game" to play the game...and we were only Div. 1A. Luckily, my [now] husband chose not to use steroids.
Chris Nicholson August 17, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Reminds me of a story from a friend whose son had recently been put on ADHD meds. He asked the doctor whether it was safe/advisable for his son to take the meds on game days. The doctor paused and said "it is a performance enhancing drug; it will make him better at EVERYTHING that requires sustained concentration." Kinda spooky. I undertand that it is now pretty common at elite colleges for non-ADHD kids to "borrow" meds from friends during pre-exam cramming sessions. At some level, it sounds horrible-- but if the risks were very low and the benefits very clear, I'd find it hard to condemn the practice.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) August 17, 2012 at 04:35 PM
@Chris - Taking someone else's prescription medication is a crime. I would be very hesitant about handing over prescription medicine to a friend. If the friend, God forbid, dies, his parents will be on the war path. You've exposed yourself to potential criminal and civil liability. Not worth it. Now, if the medication is obtained legally - even from a pill mill doctor - that's another story and you may well have a point.
Chris Nicholson August 17, 2012 at 05:14 PM
@SportsFan: I was commenting normatively, not giving legal advice. Of course we should all obey the law, but we don't have to celebrate dumb paternalistic laws. I think it is essentially morally equivalent to (i) break a law by putting something in your body that can only harm only you and (ii) use sketchy loopholes in clear contravention of legislative intent so you have a colorable claim that the same action does NOT violate the same dumb law. Obviously, "moral equivalence" is not a legal defense, so you advice is best pragmatic advice.... Do you have the contact info for any ADHD pill mill docs? It costs a ton to procure a proper Rx....
Lissa Sorensen August 18, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Given some of the stories I've read on the Patch as well as heard in passing conversation it is plain to me that a lot of people here have no problem with using drugs or alcohol even if that usage leads to excess and personal troubles. I don't know that parents are asking for drugs for their kids so they can study, thats the first I've heard of that, but judging from some of the comments here I don't think people have the problem with that as much as I do. I can't understand why anyone would do it, but if it leads to fame or wealth or better grades some people seem willing to. I think that says a lot about us.
Kin Robles August 20, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Dad to his son: "Sure son. Let's head over to see Dr. Conte and get you a little shot of juice before Fall Ball starts. You'll rip those 680 pitchers and no one will know the difference. It's all about winning and getting you that fat signing bonus for you out of high school." Son to Dad: "Gee thanks, Dad. What a great 11th birthday present! I'm glad that so many people I look up to think it's okay for athletes to get a little help. I read some guy says a little PED doesn't really hurt anyone. Plus, it makes my Pony League games more exciting!" Ban these bums. First offense: done for 162 games. 2nd offense: DONE forever.

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