The Real Test Is Of The Union

In a second chance to make a first impression, MLB is set to implement blood testing for Human Growth Hormone in the minors later this year – according to sources quoted by the estimable Michael Schmidt of The New York Times.

Schmidt says MLB’s decision comes on the heels of the first positive test for HGH, that of a British Rugby player.
The science is still behind the curve on this, but even the possibility of a breakthrough makes it incumbent upon the Major League Baseball Players Association to act, and act quickly. Executive Director Don Fehr has long said that when a reliable test was available, the union would have to look at it. That the process is not perfected is no excuse; Fehr needs to sign on to some sort of exploratory testing program on the big league level, if not this season, then for 2011.
Mark McGwire and the friends were hardly the only ones to be damaged by the Steroid Era. The owners have, at best, looked like hypocritical enablers, and, at worst, like passive-aggressive pushers. The lethargic pace of steroid testing, and the nonsensical, train wreck that is welcoming McGwire back to uniform this spring, has given the union the opportunity to look like the guys who are truly interested in preserving the integrity of the game, even at the partial expense of membership.
Rightly or wrongly (wrongly, I think; the owners probably had more knowledge than union non-player leadership, at least early on) the MLBPA draws the bulk of the public’s blame for the steroid test foot-dragging through the ’90s and ’00s. This – and I write this as one who has supported the union’s moves, stances and purposes, almost uniformly, since the ’70s – is the players’ chance to erase much of the perception in the fans’ minds that they care only for their wallets, and not for the sport itself.
Just come out and say you’re for HGH testing, in the majors, as soon as it is practical. 
Do it now.


  1. njbaseball

    Great point. One thing — Don Fehr retired as executive director of the union. It’s now Michael Weiner’s ship.


    If ordinary people have to urinate in a jar to get hired as a grocery sacker earning minimum wage, it’s only fair that professional athletes with multi-million-dollar salaries get tested for PED’s.


    At the risk of lowering the rampant paranoia over this, it might be of interest to note that, if you actually do a little research, instead of reflexively flexing your collective knee joints, you might come across the fact that there have been eight major studies on the effects of HGH on athletic performance. Seven of them have found Zero correllation and the eighth found the correllation to be barely distinguishable. Don’t take my word for it.

    In other words, research to date has shown that HGH doesn’t do a damned thing for athletic performance. Making an issue over this is patently ridiculous on both sides) and is pure form over substance.

  4. wellsoliver

    The real question here is when are we as a baseball-consuming populace just going to admit the plain truth that HGH has incredibly therapeutic uses, and getting players back on the playing field quicker is a good thing, is indeed the whole point of sports medicine, and just allow the drug to be used and monitored by team physicians?

    Silly to just ban useful technology.


    Well EPO is a common blood booster that is given to cancer patients and helps them recover. However it is used by pro athletes as a performance enhancer and is a banned substance. So just because something causes a positive medical benefits doesn’t mean athletes should use it when it has the potential to enhance performance in a sporting environment.

    There are guys out there like David Wright who work hard and play clean…why can’t all of Baseball be like that? Is it really that much to ask? For me (and I know others feel the same), you want guys like Wright to success and you want to see them play because they respect the game, give it their all, and don’t need drugs to do so. Guys like Wright set a good example to the kids out there who idolize pro ball players. It sends a bad message to kids if baseball doesn’t stop the dopers.

    Since the Olympics are on, it is worth noting that the high use of PEDs in pro baseball in the US is why it has been removed from the summer games.

    I am very supportive of testing for PEDs. I think it needs to be expanded, not to the extreme of professional cycling but make it stricter and more thorough. Also increase the punishments. I love baseball and hate cheaters.


    This testing needs to be implemented for clean players more than anything. Considering the questions surrounding even Frank Thomas’ Hall of Fame candidacy, there lies doubt amongst all players from the 90’s-2000’s.
    As for HGH being useful, the health risks associated with it seem to mitigate benefits. Why should high school age prospects have to consider putting their health in jeopardy in order to succeed? When I was a freshman in high school, I weighed 120 pounds and got cut from the team the next year. Had steroid or HGH use been condoned by as large and reputable a group as MLB, maybe I would have been tempted. What baseball needs are undisputed talents whose numbers fans can trust again. The union needs to recognize that postponing testing will only continue to hurt their members’ reputations if not their wallets.


    It saddens me that this has been allowed to go on for so long. These PEDs are, in many cases, dangerous to the players. They look so attractive in the short term. I know that players are under pressure to produce. I know that professional baseball is a buisness. I just don’t see the use of these drugs creating profits. Not in the long run.

    I don’t want my team to win that way. It cheapens the accomplishment. I don’t care if, “all the kids are doing it,” I was taught as a kid that cheating is wrong. Remember, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. It’s how you play the game.”? I know, it’s about making money.

    We have been beating this dead horse for quite some time. We know they are dangerous. We know that it is cheating. It is also clear that it is going to continue to happen until the consequences of using PEDs outweigh benefits. I get career ending injuries, they happen. Players should not retire with broken bodies. It would be nice if the MLBPA stepped up. I hope they do.


    hello keith i know this might sound cliche’but i love you and i love your show. I am praying that you stay strong no matter what may come. You are an essential part of my weekly programming .At 7pm ct i sit and cross my fingers that it’s you saying””which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow””…if it’s not you my heart sinks a little,no offense to lawrence he is pretty good too but no one can take your place.

    Thank you for being there each night and when u aren’t i miss you.

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