PEDs are nothing new. In fact, they're really, really old.

Leave a comment

body builder.jpgIf you believe some of the looser talk this week, you’d think that Mark McGwire was Igor to Jose Canseco’s Dr. Steroidstein and that no one juiced before the A’s got good in the late 80s.  Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, as this handy-dandy PED timeline that ran in Sports Illustrated a couple of years ago makes clear.  The highlights:

  • In 1889, a 72 year-old French doctor injected himself with testicular fluid from dogs and guinea pigs and reports on his findings. Says it made him “feel years younger with renewed energy.”  Parisian medical writer Daniel Le Shaughnessy compares him to Napoleon III and calls his actions akin to the worst atrocities of the Franco-Prussian war.
  • A German scientist develops anabolic steroids in 1935. The guy later went on to win the Nobel Prize for his work in sex hormones (he got it in 1939; I don’t have time to go back and look, but I’m sure it was the biggest thing to happen in Germany that year). According to his Wikipedia page he joined the Nazi party in 1936, and according to the time line the Nazis and even Hitler himself did extensive experiments with the stuff.  OK, I maybe need to apologize to Dan Shaugnessy on that Neville Chamberlain thing the other day;
  • Sports Illustrated published a story in 1960 exposing the use of amphetamines, tranquilizers, cocaine and other drugs in elite sports. The writers of the article were apparently unaware that they are living in pure, golden age;
  • Another SI story in 1969 about the imminent epidemic of performance enhancing drugs in sports. Mark McGwire is 6 years old at the time; Jose Canseco was 5.  My God, they were precociously evil to have screwed with sports like that.

The other day I wondered might happen if one of Jose Canseco’s Hall of Fame teammates was discovered to have taken steroids.  Now I’m wondering what might happen if one of Duke Snider or Early Wynn’s teammates did.

(thanks to reader Rays’ Fan for the link in the comments)

Jake Arrieta almost quit baseball

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs scratches his beard as he walks back to the dugout at the end of sixth inning after giving up a three run home run to Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates (not pictured) at Wrigley Field on August 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Jon Durr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner and author of two no-hitters, considered quitting baseball a few years ago when he was bounced up and down between the major leagues and the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.

At the time, Arrieta was having trouble living up to his potential as one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. He started on Opening Day in 2012, but finished the season with a 6.20 ERA and was very quickly moved back to Norfolk after four mediocre starts to begin the 2013 season.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Arrieta was considering quitting baseball so that his family could have a regular life.

We were at a point where I had other things that I could segue into and establish a career elsewhere. Not that I wanted that to happen, but I didn’t want to continue to go through the things we were going through and moving from place to place in the minor leagues at 25, 26 years old.

Baseball is something that I’ve loved to do since I was a little kid, but it’s not everything. I had to reevaluate some things. I knew I could always pitch this way, but there were times where it seemed like maybe I wasn’t going to get to that point.

It’s just part of life that we had to deal with.

Mooney also points out that Arrieta had a business background having gone to Texas Christian University and would have done something in that field if he had hung up the spikes.

This has been brought up because Arrieta’s teammate Tommy La Stella considered quitting baseball as well recently, as the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A. Though La Stella received a lot of criticism, Arrieta can relate to La Stella. The right-hander said, “I know that there were things that he was going through and dealing with (that) we may not agree with and understand.”

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

Large Flag
Associated Press
9 Comments

There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.