What to do about HGH? How about legalizing it?

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HGH.jpgEconomist (and Braves fan) J.C. Bradbury thinks the best way to deal with the scourge of HGH is to simply allow anyone who wants to use it to do so.

It’s an Insider article so many of you can’t see it, but Bradbury’s upshot is that (a) there is almost a total lack of evidence that HGH actually enhances performance on its own; (b) there is no way to distinguish any benefits it may itself confer upon an athlete from those confered by any steroids with which it is commonly mixed; (c) since blood tests for HGH are unreliable and invasive, and since we can already detect the steroid mixers with urine tests, why bother?; and (d) if you legalize HGH it will send the message to players that it really doesn’t do anything for them, and they will thus be more inclined to steer clear of it and, consequently, its negative side effects.

I’m a big fan of legalization of all manner of things that currently aren’t, and I agree with Bradbury that prohibition may have a glamorizing effect on what would otherwise be a drug that athletes bypass. But I also worry that these are ballplayers we’re talking about, and that they may not respond to prohibition/legalization incentives the way most people do. Ballplayers don’t change their underwear if they go on a hitting streak. They fear stepping on chalk lines. Might they not simply go crazy on HGH if it were legalized the same way Wade Boggs went crazy on pre-game chicken dinners?

Still, Bradbury’s is an idea worth thinking about.  If married with a strong, consistent message that (a) HGH is not an effective PED; and (b) it can be bad for you in high dosages, such a plan could work.  I just worry that too much time and energy has been invested in making it out to be a wonder drug and cure-all by everyone that truthful messages about its risks and efficacy would fall on deaf ears.

Bogaerts reportedly heading to the Padres for 11 years, $280 million

xander bogaerts
Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres and Xander Bogaerts agreed to a blockbuster 11-year, $280 million contract, adding the All-Star slugger to an already deep lineup.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the contract to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

The Padres already had Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, but he missed the entire season because of injuries and an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

San Diego also met with Aaron Judge and Trea Turner before the big stars opted for different teams. The Padres reached the NL Championship Series this year before losing to the Phillies.

“From our standpoint, you want to explore and make sure we’re looking at every possible opportunity to get better,” general manager A.J. Preller said before the Bogaerts deal surfaced. “We’ve got a real desire to win and do it for a long time.”

The 30-year-old Bogaerts was one of the headliners in a stellar group of free-agent shortstops that also included Turner, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson.

Bogaerts, who’s from Aruba, terminated his $120 million, six-year contract with Boston after the season. The four-time All-Star forfeited salaries of $20 million for each of the next three years after hitting .307 with 15 homers and 73 RBIs in 150 games.

Bogaerts is a .292 hitter with 156 homers and 683 RBIs in 10 big league seasons – all with Boston. He helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 and 2018.

Bogaerts becomes the latest veteran hitter to depart Boston after the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2020. Rafael Devers has one more year of arbitration eligibility before he can hit the market.

Bogaerts had his best big league season in 2019, batting .309 with a career-best 33 homers and 117 RBIs. He had 23 homers and 103 RBIs in 2018.

In 44 postseason games, Bogaerts is a .231 hitter with five homers and 16 RBIs.