PED’s And The Miami Connection
Recently, I read the comments section of a piece by Wendy Thurm (I think) about Biogenesis and the possible fall out. In it, the comment had something to do with the whole list being Hispanic Major Leaguers and Ryan Braun. Of course the commenter probably didn’t realize;
A. Many Hispanics (baseball players included) live in Miami.
B. Ryan Braun went to “The U.”
For the record, if one doesn’t know “A”, then he/she lives under a rock. Not knowing “B” is a forgivable offense if it wasn’t for GOOGLE!
I know the now suspended outfielder lives in California (hat tip Google), but Miami isn’t exactly Siberia. Once a person lives and plays in Miami, it definitely becomes an itch in need of scratching every once in awhile.
But that’s not the point of this piece. Miami being a seedy place is. I know it looks luxurious on shows like “Burn Notice”, but the underbelly is often closer than one thinks.
While playing college baseball in Miami, I had teammates who used steroids in the off-season. Maybe I was naive at the time, but I looked at them as being dumb instead of gaining a real competitive advantage. For some guys, it worked. For others, the added weight through the shoulders really tightened their swings up. Bulk without agility is pretty useless in baseball.
While I was down there, we intermingled with the University of Miami crowd as well. Rumors always surfaced about which players were juicing. It was an accepted practice for the most part. It wasn’t like that at the University of Kentucky. It wasn’t like that in Tennessee. But Miami? Anything went.
This wasn’t the fault of coaches, universities, or anything else for that matter. Most of the shortcuts taken were done during the off-season, or holiday break when players were off campus. At the time, there was some magic liquid which flushed out the system in just a few days so players didn’t get caught. This was nearly 15 years ago, so methods are even more advanced now.
I’m sure it’s no different with the current MLB scandal. A school, team, league, etc. can’t possibly watch every player at all times. In essence, cheaters gonna cheat!
When my college career was over and I couldn’t sleep on my right arm because of the constant pain, a former teammate approached me about a plan to rehab and turn professional the following spring. After resting my arm, go on a cycle or two of Winstrol (a steroid) to lean up, add muscle and get down to a playing weight of 185 pounds. Would it have worked? Probably, even if it only added up to an Independent League contract.
When there were no more games left to play, the idea was tempting. I didn’t do it, but can imagine a player who has more to lose doing anything to remain in the game. In some ways, it’s difficult to blame them. For me, the “Steroid Era” is more about the up-and-down guy who played it clean and lost a chance at financial stability and a pension because the next guy cheated.
It’s great for Matt Kemp to come out and say Braun should lose his MVP, but these are mega-millionaires who are arguing over hardware. I wonder how many used car dealers exist who came so close to a better life through baseball, but fell a bit short?
2 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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