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Baseball and Steroids- The Controversy
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By: bill bathe 
 
There has been a lot of controversy about steroids in baseball. Does it enhance performance and what are the side effects. Are records today the result of steroids. And are athletes harming themselves.

First of all, we need to understand what is a steroid. And why do players use it. Anabolic steroids are a synthetic version of the male hormone testosterone. Testosterone in it's normal state promotes and boosts muscle development and growth. When it is supplemented with steroids, you have an increase of muscle mass, reduction of body fat, and enhanced endurance. It is used by athletes to try to have the edge on the competition. It is believed that by using a steroid in baseball it will cause you to hit the ball further. And longer.

What are some of the side effects? They range from psychologically to physically. From a psychological standpoint, they can range from a feeling of well-being to depression. Mood swings. And even rage. Sometimes called 'roid rage'. Other adverse psychological effects can include intense aggression and violence.

From a physical standpoint, you can have all kinds of changes. You will have increased muscle mass and increased endurance, but the side effects can include a plethora of problems. The worst being liver damage, and cancer. You can have acne, excessive hair growth or loss. Testicular atrophy (shrinking), etc.

What is the reward vs. risk? The reward being a quick avenue for increased muscle mass, increased performance, and increased endurance. A feeling of invincibility. The risk is permanent physical morbidity and psychotic episodes that include aggression, violence, and rapid mood swings. Also feelings of depression and suicide. Is the reward worth it? Absolutely not! Yet it is abused by athletes today for the quick gain of fortune and fame. It is believed that by using a steroid in baseball it will lead you down the path of fortune and fame.

There has been a lot of controversy whether Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds or Gary Sheffield and others have used a steroid in baseball. There is the infamous BALCO incident where there are accusations that Barry's long time friend Greg Anderson was supplying Barry with an untrackable steroid, sometimes called "the cream" or "the clear". Which raised a lot of questions in the baseball world. Did they use a steroid in baseball and is there proof it enhanced their game? We can draw several conclusions from this.

First off, is there any proof that a steroid in baseball has enhanced the record book with unfair records. At this time, no. We have to remember a couple of things before trying to point fingers, etc. Barry Bonds went on to have an unbelievable season setting a single season record of home runs that will probably never be surpassed in my mind. This happened from a guy that usually averaged around 35 homers a season. Can you explain the sudden jump in home runs? Probably not. But you can make the assumption that he has matured to the top of his game and that he had a dream season.

Now, let's look at Roger Maris. When Roger went on to hit 61 home runs from a guy that usually never hit that many. Did everyone in the world suddenly start saying there must be a steroid in baseball that he is using? Or he must be doing something to enhance his game. No they did not. They assumed that he just had a magical season that only comes around ever so often. Can we draw the same conclusions about Barry, and about Mark? Yes, we can. Could it be that they had magical seasons? Absolutely.

Until the evidence comes out, we don't know what any athlete is doing. What I do know as a former major leaguer is how difficult it is to perform at such a high level day in and day out. In my mind, whether they are doing steroids or not, you still have to hit the ball over the fence. You still have to make solid contact consistently. You still have to have great fundamentals. I think what has happened on the baseball field has been remarkable and we are lucky to be able to witness such great athletes perform daily.

Steroids in my mind takes away from the game. Even though they provide a quick explosion of muscle mass and endurance, over the long run, they will harm you. They will cause psychotic events, and physical damage that will last a life time. The bottom line is simple. Play the game the way it is meant to be played. Play with honor and pride and dignity. And above all, leave steroids out of it.Using a steroid in baseball is simply not worth it.

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