In The Untouchables, Sean Connery and Kevin Costner are going to recruit Andy Garcia from the police academy, amidst a sea of blatant, poorly acted police corruption. Why?
“If you don’t want a rotten apple, don’t pick from the barrel, pick from the tree,” Connery points out. Costner’s character, a mindless whiner, is convinced, based on Connery’s outlook, that they are doing the right thing. But he’s kind of a tool in that movie and probably would have followed Connery into Nazi Germany to retrieve his diary if he’d asked.
Anyways, after a 90-second interview with Garcia, they decide he’s the cadet for their squad, and instantly recruit him, just after Connery says a few racist things and Garcia points a gun in his face in a room full of police officers.
It’s not a great movie.
By putting human growth hormone testing on minor league players, Bed Selig is openly admitting that not only is our barrel poisoned, but our trees aren’t faring much better.
The main appeal of starting in the minors is that MLB can barge in and start demanding people’s urine. This is because minor leaguers aren’t in the Player’s Association (those not included on their ML affiliate’s 40-man roster, that is) and are there not involved in the collective bargaining procedures that protect MLB players from such authoritative policing. Some day, though, this first step is indicative that players even at the Major League level will be punished for cheating. And it only took… far too long.
This is the first American professional sporting league to institute this kind of testing for illegal substances. This is a big deal. Unless, of course, it’s just a bunch of crap, as BALCO founder and frequent squinter Victor Conte says it is.
“A baseball player could possibly inject HGH as soon as leaving a ballpark and test negative from a blood sample collected ‘post-game’ the following day.” –Victor Conte
Since HGH has overtaken steroids as the #1 illegal performance enhancer of your favorite stars, it seems pretty evident that the process of testing may not be a practicality at all. At one point, steroids were number one, so yes, players halted using them in favor of a substance that wasn’t yet in the spotlight. Now, HGH is being monitored officially, and a generation of non-roster players are going to be cleansed in what kind of feels like a league-wide baptismal cleansing.
Obviously, this will end with dopers finding new ways to get doped. It’s what they do. Maybe they’ll burn a few guilty parties at the outset, but nobody’s going to stop using HGH just because they’re not allowed to or are now being tested for it. They don’t have to beat doping. They just have to beat the test that proves they are.
And, as Conte points out, they won’t even have to try that hard.
Players contest that the tests aren’t necessarily a flawless method to determine usage. This is their main complaint against the idea of being tested; another being that a lot of them are probably just doing exactly what they shouldn’t be doing and don’t want people to find out.
“When a test is available that is scientifically validated and can be administered safely and without interfering with the players’ ability to compete, it will be considered.” –MLBPA union executive director Michael Weiner
All right, so yeah, nothing’s probably worse than discovering you tested positive for a career-derailing substance when you were actually unaware/have never touched the stuff. So accuracy of testing is important, and as usual, in what can be considered a big deal, everybody’s got a good point to hide behind. But the truth is, with every passing day that Bud Selig sat on the performance enhancement issue, the more it seemed likely to be swept under the rug. Something was going to be done. This is it.
Braves catcher David Ross said some things to make you go “Hrrmm.”
“We want a clean game. But it’s not accurate. This is probably just a media ploy in some people’s opinion to make things look good…It’s the way they go about it and if it’s accurate (then OK). If it’s just an eyewash thing to say ‘We test for HGH,’ then our union is not about eyewash.”
This is an issue that poisons baseball by its very nature, ruins images of kids dreaming to get to the big leagues, and spits in the face of America’s past time. It had broken hearts, tainted records, and disappointed millions of passionate fans around the world.
Are you trying to tell me that the MLB brass, the guys who schedule thousands of games all over an entire country, years in advance, who have all that complex busywork of the business side of baseball down cold, can’t organize a testing policy that is 100% truthful? Eliminating player’s doubts about the results is all it would take to make this a unanimous good thing. What is the hold up?
“All of us who have helped develop a test wouldn’t put it in place if it wasn’t forensically sound and reliable.” –Travis Tygart, chief executive, United States Anti-Doping Agency, February 2010
The testers say the test is solid. The players are all for it, but only if it is solid. What this needs is a player to agree that the tests are solid. And who, having just been charged with HGH use, would want to admit that?
Meet Terry Newton, former rugby player for Britain’s Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. Newton, despite playing a different sport in another country, has everything to do with minor league HGH testing, because he is the dope fiend who set the whole thing in motion.
This past February, Newton tested positive for HGH use, and instead of backpedaling behind a lawyer, or asking fans to ignore it while he went on to “break” the single season home run record, admitted to doing it and was suspended from the game for two years. This event was all MLB needed to say that their tests are A-OK. In this case, the test was accurate, and the guilty party removed from play.
There is no solution that is going to end with everyone smiling, because this is an ugly issue. If MLB thinks the test has proven its merit, and is storming the minors–its usual testing ground for a new “something”–then they’re just going to have to go ahead and roll with it. Players have dug themselves a hole in the revelation of illegal substance usage in baseball, and if they truly desire the “clean game” they say they do, then they may have to just suck it up and adhere to the tests. This is the test we have. It has been developed by scientists who know what they are doing. If you don’t trust that, then chances are, you’ve got something to hide.
None of us can probably fathom the pressures of a minor league player, who may find themselves dominating with nowhere to go, guys with talent that goes on for galaxies never seeing the light of day, working other jobs in the offseason, moving to where the game is. The temptation to get a one up on the competition is inevitable.
But the purity of the game is long gone now, thanks to whatever started it. We should be able to pick from the tree without worrying about getting poisoned.
Oh yeah, Sean Connery gets machine gunned to death eventually by the people corrupting the police. But we can stop drawing parallels now.