Making a deal with the Devil: Steroids ruins eyesight, perhaps permanently

[Note: cut this from steroid post as I thought I should make it a standalone post then I added more to the end]

Something very newsworthy on the steroid and another performance enhancing drug, High Growth Hormone. In a San Jose Mercury interview with an ophthalmologist from Stanford, he says that there is no evidence that steroids or human growth hormone improves eyesight; if anything, "steroids would tend to cause someone's eyesight to decrease if they are taken for a long period of time." According to the doctor, Dr. Blumenkranz, steroids have been linked to glaucoma and cataracts and, in susceptible people, the former could surface in six months, the latter in one or two years. And HGH "has been shown to hurt vision in some patients." The interview ended with "It's very unlikely that [a player] sees the ball better or can make contact better.

Linking the dots, if you'll recall, a baseball player famously retired after a career of superhuman feats when glaucoma suddenly took his sight: Kirby Puckett. Of course, his body is not a poster child for steroids but I do recall the shock of finding out that such a young person came down suddenly with glaucoma. Not that that couldn't happen, but in this environment of questioning athletes' performances, it would explain his sudden condition. And as we found out from his long-time mistress and his ex-wife, he was not the cuddly kind athlete that was projected and promoted as his image, he was something much less, much more human than could be imagined.

In any case, this is very interesting news because if shrunken scrotum and death is not enough to scare off athletes from high performance drugs, perhaps blindness or impaired vision will. Smaller balls you probably don't notice on a day to day basis and death, well, you're dead. But if you are blind or cannot see clearly for the rest of your life, which, with their wealth and physical conditioning, they should last at least another 50 years or so after their last pitch or at-bat, I would think that that could be the straw to break the camels back for young athletes tempted to use the drug.

With apologies to those without good sight (which I include myself among those, I'm like 20-600 or something), I don't see how they can handle life without sight. Their wealth could not replace that experience of seeing and doing things requiring sight. They would be helpless without assistance unless they can get over their ego and learn to do things unsighted.

I know that I would be totally lost without my glasses. That's why I don't complain about them like some other people do. I realize what the alternative is and appreciate what they do for me, particularly allowing me to read, which I greatly enjoy doing.

Not that I'm dissing blind people, if that's what anyone is thinking. I admire the will and discipline necessarily to overcome their disability. And I hope that I would answer the bell in such a courageous fashion if I were to ever become like that. Likewise, it is something I would not want nor wish it upon my enemies.


Weight Watchers in the Steroid era

After the Balco grand jury testimony last year, both Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds showed up visibly lighter than the previous season. Jason said that he didn't lose that much, he only trimmed a little while Barry said that he decided to lose weight and gain flexibility. Of course, we now know that both were under the influence in 2003 of steroids, Balco-style.

However, at that time, both were only rumored users, so I thought it would be interesting how each of them performed. Their performance on the field couldn't have been any different. Giambi showed all the signs of a user, with odd injuries and lessened performance while Bonds continued at the same pace he did previously with no change in performance, suggesting that he is truly doing it on his own and not with help.

Now a new season is upon us and like swallows of Capistrano, baseball returns to us, a sign of spring. And with it, the news of weight loss flutters in the news winds. Our new subject of observation, one Ivan Rodriguez, fingered in Jose Canseco's tome de tell-all, showed up at 193 pounds, 22 fewer than last year. Someone new to track.


Reporters lambaste Barry once again; but who watches the Watchmen?

The press has come out overwhelmingly against Bonds with their interpretation and "reporting" of the Barry Bonds news conference that welcomed Barry to Spring Training 2005. I've read the Chron's and Merc's versions and they don't vary much and neither does the commentary that criticizes his diatribe against the press.

When will the press, as Bonds says, deal with their own problems first? As I noted in another article, "Just Say No, Barry", the press has been unfair in their "objective" reporting of Barry in the past. Why don't any of them point out these untruths (or "lies" as Barry called them) and lambaste one of their own? Then there is SI's vendetta against Bonds since he rudely snubbed one of their star reporters. How objective are they, how can we view what they write as unbiased?

And isn't one of the major tenets of our American society "innocent until proven guilty"? Thus far, all we have proof of is that Bonds trusted his friend too much and apparently inadverdently took some of the designer drug. Every thing else has been hearsay and gossip.

Plus, aren't Grand Jury testimony suppose to be secret? How can anyone testify before one from now on and think, "what if this was leaked out?" Because it has happened before and could happen again if someone is overly zealous. No one talks about how that might affect our justice system or how detrimental it might be. I would be interested to see what the ramifications of this might be.

Some may say that this is too trusting or naive on my part but I'm a bit paranoid about being accused of something I didn't do and it got me thinking: what if Bonds IS innocent? What if he did trust his friend too much? What if the "mistress" is just some opportunist thinking she can make so easy money? The newspapers have been reporting all this as truths when nothing substantive has been shown yet. These are the lies that Bonds talked about. I even succumbed to it with my post below on the mistress, I just assumed the worse. That's what the reporters in general have been doing regarding Bonds for years now.

Personally, I don't know what to think other than to accept his word for now. However, if it turns out that Bonds is guilty, I think he should just retire then and there and call it a career. Any achievements he gets would be viewed with scorn and disgust. They would not be viewed as legitimate achievements. Not that I think it would ruin records, I just think, why bother, he's a bald-faced liar, he should leave the game for abusing the fan's trust. I could not stand Jeff Kent's lies and was happy he left, despite the hole he left in our lineup, and would feel the same about Bonds.

However, it would not bother me that he took steroids if he really did. I just think it is hilarious that some people talk about the purity of the game, its traditions, its career statistics. As I noted in a previous post, amphetamines are just as bad as steriods, perhaps worse because of its prevalence. All the complaints about career records not meaning anything if a player used steriods? Same thing with the amphetamines, it allows players to play at the end of the season at around their normal abilities when they should be so dog tired that they whiff at pitches they killed earlier in the season.

How is that different? Players compile better seasonal stats via this drug and that adds up during a long career. That makes the stats of players during the 50's to 70's just as tainted. Plus prior to the 50's, no African America or Asians for that matter, were allowed to play in the majors, boosting the hitting stats for the white players who played in that era. Again, stat inflation and career totals that are boosted artificially, though that was not totally their fault (though someone could have made a stand for non-white rights).

Plus there are known past cheaters. Should Gaylord Perry's wins be all counted as losses and his Cy Youngs be given to the second place guy? He admited to cheating, should he get an asterisk? How about all the pitchers caught with nail files and stuff on them? Should we change all their wins to losses and take back their awards? Or put asterisks on their records?

How about the "lively" ball that came in during the 1920's? Should we asterisk all stats that are affected now that these players can hit more homers and power? That's a form of "cheating" relative to the players prior to then. In addition, that was around the time when the MLB started replacing balls instead of keeping them in play until they were beaten to a pulp. Should stats after that be asterisked as well?

There are a multitude of reasons why one era of players do better or worse than another era. We cannot legislate equality with an asterisk. We cannot "Harrison Bergeron" everybody. What's done is done, we can't change any of that back.


How Sabean Uses the Draft to Build the Giants (Part 3 of a 3-part series).

The implications of the results I have found on drafting on the Giants draft strategy and on how Sabean builds the Giants. The article has been submitted to sfdugout.com and has been published there.

Parts 1 and 2 covered how successful Sabean has been in the draft relative to other teams who had to draft high because of their success and what the odds of drafting a useful, good, and star player is in the first 100 picks.


Thanks to Robb Nen

I wanted to post my thanks to Robb Nen for many years of excellent service on the news of his retirement. He gave us his all for all those years and, better yet, rubbed it into Beck's face when he tried to leverage the Giants for a big contract only to see Sabean outmanuever him by trading for Nen, leaving Beck forced to sign a much smaller contract with the Cubs. Sabean does not like to be played against another team, as Baker found out as well.

However, I still wish that he would have been more of a team player and renegotiated his $9M contract for 2004 into, say, a 3-year, $10M contract, maybe 3/3/3/1 with escalators based on games played plus saves attained. That would have saved us $6M in budget in 2004 and either allowed us to retain F-Rod for the whole season and/or allowed us to go out and sign someone like Urbina or Benitez. His big contact severely hurt our chances to win in the playoffs in 2003 and 2004.

I know, crying over spilled milk, but when we get Nada for $18M and waste two brilliant years from Bonds, I think we are allowed a bit of complaining.