Last night I sat through a full nine innings of Single-A minor league baseball. Once the sugar high of Cracker Jacks and funnel cake wears off, it can get pretty old, if you plan on actually watching the game. There’s missed balls, botched plays, and everything else that reminds you why they call it the minor league instead of, say, the majors. But on a positive note, three hours and four pretzels later, I can definitively say that not everyone in professional baseball takes drugs. That’s probably news after this week, when major league baseball suspended Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun for the rest of the year without pay for his involvement with the Miami clinic Biogenesis, who apparently gave him enough supply to fill a Duane Reade. And I’m talking about one of the big ones down in the city, where they sell groceries and lawn furniture.
If 40 is the new 30, then American sprinter Tyson Gay has a long decade ahead of him. Because at 30, he’s suddenly looking quite old, especially compared to the emergent track stars Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake of Jamaica, who at 26 and 23 make Gay look like at parent at a Taylor Swift show. Gay has certainly aged years in the past several days, when it was revealed that he tested positive for a banned performance enhancing substance. That has forced him to withdraw from next month’s world championships in Moscow, where he would have but faint hopes of topping a field that has since passed him by.
A few years ago, the athletic shoe company Adidas had this ad slogan that went, “Impossible is nothing.” It always seemed to be worn by people who I doubt adhered to that ethic, but certainly held their favorite athletes to that standard. More to the point, the slogan itself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. For example, I have stared at a 10 foot basketball hoop since I was about five, all with the hope that I might someday grab it on the way down from a windmill dunk. That never happened. The closest I ever got was when we played on seven foot rims at the elementary school.
In the wake of Lance Armstrong’s mea culpa that he took performance enhancing drugs – and the recent Baseball Hall of Fame vote (where NOBODY got in) – we ask you: Does it matter to you if athletes use performance enhancing drugs?
The interview won’t air until tomorrow, but the story that Lance will admit to Oprah of using performance enhancing drugs makes us all ask the same question. Does Oprah still have a network?
That’s really the only revelation likely to come from the dialogue, since only the most ardent disbelievers still imagined Lance rode clean all these years. He’ll tell the public limited facts about the process, although allegedly he won’t admit to being the so called “ring leader” of the sophisticated drug program. He’ll simply admit to being just another guy in the peloton who doped to stay relevant, just like everyone else on the road. He’s part of the gang, just no Al Capone. Given Armstrong’s actions over the years, it’s hard to image this to be true. But truth seekers will have to settle for this for the time being.
Major League Baseball has enacted new anti-doping policies that are being described as unprecedented in American professional sports. Yesterday, Major League Baseball and its Players Union said that starting next year they will be fighting the use of human growth hormone and testosterone - two allegedly popular banned substances.
NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman has been covering this story. Tom, good morning.
Late last month, renowned cyclist and cancer activist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from competitive sport. Mr. Armstrong has repeatedly denied the allegations, and has only tested positive once for a banned substance -- cortisone -- for which he provided a prescription. The prohibited steroid was in a doctor-provided cream used by many riders to treat saddle sores.