By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

(Rotten) apples and oranges

Shouldn’t we make a moral distinction between Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, who’ve been accused of taking steroids in order to throw harder and hit the ball farther, and Andy Pettitte and Mo Vaughn, who alleged took human growth hormone so they’d be able to bounce back from injuries more quickly? It seems to me that the former compromised the integrity of the game, whereas the latter was merely dangerous and stupid.

Here’s a PDF of the Mitchell report. Search for Pettitte’s and Vaughn’s names and you’ll see what I mean.

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Roger Clemens


Speedy recovery, Mr. Speaker


  1. mike_b1


  2. Anonymous

    well, wbz reported on the air on its noon newscast today – before the report was issued – that jason varitek’s name was leaked as one of the names on the report, according to an nbc news station. that was totally false, and an unwarranted punch in the face from wbz to ‘tek and his fans. ‘bz has some explaining to do, and varitek should be calling his lawyer.

  3. Steve

    Bouncing back from injuries (and playing at a high level in your late 30s – early 40s) is a big part of accumulating Hall-of-Fame type stats and large contracts.That’s a lot of what Bonds (and McGwire) gained from steroids – not just the power, but the durability. McGwire always had a great HR per PA number – among the best of all time. But he just didn’t stay healthy enough to accumulate the playing time to hit Ruthian marks.Clemens looked like he was on the downslope of a very good career ended prematurely by nagging injuries. Then suddenly he blossomed into a Ryan-like “old age” and 300+ wins. If he did it while juicing, aren’t his marks as tainted as Bonds’s? Isn’t that what we mean by “the integrity of the game” – the assurance that the performance we’re seeing isn’t against the rules?

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 8:32: I was watching Fox Sports Net or whatever they call it these days, and the boyos were talking about that earlier report, and repeated the fact that it named Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon, among others. And then they proceeded to wonder whether that earlier report might actually be the more accurate and complete one. Unbelievable! And, look, I just repeated the garbage, too. But strictly for research purposes.

  5. Anonymous

    I don’t think you can draw a distinction, Dan. The whole point of performance-enhancing drugs is that they allow your body to recover faster — from both regular workouts and injury. And the main goal for both groups is ultimately the same: to maximize performance.

  6. Mr Punch

    I think there is a distinction, but it’s tricky. There are very strict rules against “doping” in the Olympics, say; but playing 162 games a season is very different from running 100 meters every four years. The issue in baseball is not peak performance but long-term strength. And the fact is that baseball players are allowed to do things that sprinters aren’t — for instance, they can take antihistamines.Suppose that a player has a physical condition that can be treated, legally, under legitimate medical supervision, by building up muscle mass. Do we say he he can’t play because he may derive peripheral physical benefits? Well, there’s actually a Supreme Court ruling, in the Casey Martin case, that suggests we can’t.

  7. Steve

    Charlie Pierce’s take (on Altercation):”You cannot make a morally coherent argument that there are no ethical problems with taking a drug — painkillers, corticosteroids etc. — to make a performance possible, but that there are ethical problems with taking a drug to make your performance better.”Unfortunately, he makes no real argument to support this point, but it’s in the middle of a very entertaining rant.

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