David Segui Asserts Players, not just the Balls, are Juiced.

Former MLB Player claims that more than half of current players are using steroids, and the ball is only part of the problem.

I guess it was only a matter of time, right?  In the midst of the MLB All-Star break, anyone who’s been even half-way paying attention to the first half of this season has noticed the meteoric rise in home runs this season, and it’s clear that something is different this year.

While there has been much ado about the baseball itself, David Segui floated the theory to Bob Nightengale that the players were the ones being enhanced, rather than the ball.

“I would say 60% of the guys today, easily, are doing stuff…It reminds me of our era when everybody talked about the balls being juiced. The balls weren’t juiced, the players were juiced. Just like now” – David Segui to USA TODAY SPORTS

Segui, a former outfielder and first baseman who played for seven different teams from 1990 to 2004, admitted to using HGH that he received from a clubhouse attendant with the New York Mets, though he contested he had a prescription to use it.

After his retirement, he made headlines by being included in the infamous Mitchell Report as a known steroid user.  His claims are baseless, and he offered no evidence to back them up.  In a separate article, also with Nightengale, Segui made the case that steroids are treated differently than other drugs in regards to athletes:

“You can smoke weed, crack, or shoot heroin and we’ll protect that guy and his right to privacy… ’“but God forbid you take something to heal or benefit your body and become a better athlete or player. Then, they portray you as taking an evil substance.

First thing’s first.  MLB’s expansive drug testing program does, in fact, ban the use of recreational drugs (or as it’s termed, “Drugs of Abuse”) like Marijuana, Cocaine, and others.  Testing is with probable cause, rather than random testing, which is pretty standard for virtually any workplace in America, and hold on to your hats, but even being a professional ballplayer means you’re an employee, in a workplace.

In regards to the “evil substance” part of the comment, that’s kind of the consequence, isn’t it?  If I was an accountant and wanted to look like post-2003 Barry Bonds, that’s not going to affect how my debits and credits line up, so I wouldn’t expect to take too much heat for taking “The Clear” in the bathroom on my lunch break.

On the other hand, If I was a shortstop trying to get a raise, and got caught using HGH to get some more pop in my bat, there are mountains of precedent and evidence that this might not be ok to do, and yet I did it anyway, so the stigma is deserved.  

Segui continues on making the case that the ball is only a small part of the reason for the increase in home runs and that the players are not at fault for taking them, because if it’s a question of morality, then baseball has never had any, so why bother starting now?

… “when has morality been part of professional sports? When has morality been part of baseball? Find me the era…”

What he fails to acknowledge are the key contextual differences between the actual “steroid era”, and what’s going on today:

  1. There is clear, empirical evidence that the ball itself has been altered to have less drag, and travel farther.
  2. As the league gets younger, some of the biggest power hitters are just recently removed from the Minor Leagues, who’s testing program is not just tough, but not subject to collective bargaining, which means it can be changed unilaterally.
  3. These younger players grew up knowing only the fallout of the steroid era, so the negative stigma around it can be deterrent enough.
  4. The approach to hitting has changed entirely, thanks to the “three true outcomes” approach, commonly adopted among players today.

There are many factors, but these are just a few examples of key differences between when Segui was playing and today’s era.

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PED’s have been, and seemingly always will be, a murky issue for MLB, it’s players and fans.  It would be naive to think that NO ONE is using them anymore, but Segui’s assertions do nothing more than open up an old, unnecessary narrative that the game is somehow tainted by the very people who make it great.