Like Barry Bonds, Baseball Widow hasn't retired; she's just not playing.
Enjoy the archives. . .

Sunday, January 23, 2005

False Positives

Seriously, you'd think that Baseball Widow would tire of the Performance Enhancing Drugs conversation by now, but she's still not over it--probably because this seems to be one of those issues where people are most likely to spew mindless babble and least likely to engage in meaningful dialogue.

Baseball Widow has made her views regarding PEDs fairly well known, but she isn't afraid to admit that there are some aspects that still stump her. Yes, I fervently argue the difference between a violently-inclined drug dealer and a professional athlete who uses steroids. I think that one should be discouraged as a blight on society and one probably harms no one. Where would I draw the line 'twixt the two? I have no idea, but that just means that I'm going to think about and discuss the issue until my ideas are clearer. It is not a reason to belittle or ignore the intelligent thoughts of others.

Baseball Widow wants to make two points tonight about PEDs.

First, regarding the Dave Pinto discussion I referenced last week, I want to emphasize one more time how logically inaccurate it is to classify behavior as "good" or "bad" based solely upon that behavior's status as it pertains to the law. I can think of no better story to illustrate this than one I ran across elsewhere on the web.

. . .In 1932 if Jack and Jill were walking down a street in New York City, and if Jack was carrying a pint of whiskey in his back pocket and Jill was carrying some gold coins in her pocket, Jack would have been violation of the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. . . .However, Jill would have been carrying the currency of the land and would have been in no legal peril.

A scant two years later, Jack’s behavior would have been legal, as the 21st amendment of 1933 repealed the 18th. However, in 1933, during the height of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order forcing Americans to turn in their gold coins in exchange for paper money; the coins were melted down to form gold bars, which were then used to pay the national debt. . . .Hence, Jill would have been the criminal.

My second point, and one that I feel is more interesting, deals specifically with the processes through which baseball players are going to be tested for banned substances. Actually, I suppose it's more observation than point, and I again thank Dave Pinto for hosting a most stimulating discussion on the issue.

Let's assume for a moment that it is possible to suspend all of the thorny issues that surround the existence of PEDs in baseball. Let's assume that there are, in fact, a finite number of specifically identifiable substances that should be banned in all circumstances due to their documentable negative impact upon the game. Even if Baseball Widow were to buy into that line of reasoning, mandatory testing simply doesn't make sense at this point.

The currently available testing methods are woefully inadequate. Baseball Widow doesn't need to rehash the science here, but she does strongly encourage everyone who supports immediate mandatory year-round testing to educate him/herself upon the real science that underlies the tests that now exist.

False positives in the baseball world could ruin careers, but false positives in the legal arena have ruined lives. This is a transcript of an ABC news broadcast about junk science. It's basically just an amusing collection of common myths and mistakes in "science". This is a collection of much more sobering facts. Everyday, junk science is accepted as fact in the legal system. Sometimes the scientists themselves are wrong. Sometimes the science itself is faulty. On the diamond or in the courtroom, false positives are a dangerous thing.

Testing won't solve any problems related to PEDs in baseball, and, at this point, it will definitely create more.

1 comment:

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