Requisite Post about the Big News
Let's skip the flowers and candy and get straight to business, shall we?
Giambi admits steroid use. (I'm not putting a link here 'cause the news is everywhere.) Here's what Baseball Widow is thinking. . .
--Why'd he 'fess up? Don't get me wrong, doing the right thing under oath is admirable, but I'm certain he must have reasons deeper than that--deeper, perhaps than just criminal immunity. Maybe he knows something about his career that we don't.
--Speaking of career implications, what happens next? Well, assuming Giambi is planning on coming back to finish his contract, the legal issues are interesting. Although Baseball Widow doesn't normally recommend Jayson Stark articles, this one offers an attorney's perspective on the possibilities. Baseball Widow wonders to what extent clubs will want to cite steroid use as a reason for dumping bad contracts. It seems to Baseball Widow that the exact people who are likely to be underperforming on their long-term, big-money contracts are the most likely to be using Performance Enhancing Drugs. Hmmm. . .puts the call for stricter testing in a new light, doesn't it?
--Who, besides the media, really thinks this is a big deal? PTI is already framing the issue as, "Who did more harm to baseball, Giambi or Rose?" Give Baseball Widow a break. If Baseball Widow has to, she will post on why this is a stupid, stupid question. For now, she's going to wait and see if anyone says anything manifestly idiotic. Suffice it to say that PEDs might do lots of bad things, but they don't compromise the essential nature of a professional sports league in the same way. Furthermore, you can't pretend that Giambi's actions as an individual are tantamount to Rose's. Giambi is one of many who used, and the game has seen eras in which coach-provided "go pills" were tossed to players as easily as aspirin. PEDs just don't affect professional sports in the same way player/manager gambling can.
--Why do they use? Oh, come on. Baseball Widow has written about this a lot. Who wants to see a 400 foot homer if someone could hit a 500 footer? As a fan of baseball, don't underestimate the extent to which your contribution to the cult of celebrity affects what the players are willing to do to perform. Since we've seen what the juice can do, who wants to watch the juice-free league? Did you watch the college baseball world series?
--What qualifies as "Performance Enhancing"? In sports, there's no way to place every athlete's performance on an even playing field. If we asterisk Maris and Ichiro because they had more games, we really should asterisk Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth because they played segregated ball. If steroids enhance performance, then Giambi's accomplishments are "tainted," right? But, wait, Curt Schilling was a walking medical ward when he pitched in the Division Series! Don't think for a second that he wasn't on Performance Enhancing Drugs--he just didn't happen to take the ones that aren't allowed. In professional sports, where, for better or worse, the rules really do differ from those that apply to you and me, it's just too hard to draw a line between "okay" and "illegal" performance enhancers.