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"Steroids made me superhuman"

Mar 2, 2010, 10:20 AM EDT

USA Today collects some comments from five of the ten still-active Mitchell Report All-Stars.  The most interesting quote comes from Matt Herges, who is clearly not part of the “steroids just help me stay in the lineup” camp:

“I know what steroids did for me. It made me
superhuman,” Herges said. “It made me an android, basically. Your body
shuts down, and the stuff takes over. You had guys throwing harder than
95 mph when they had barely touched 90 mph their whole life. It wasn’t
just that but the strength, the confidence it did for you. “The confidence, the feel, the results, is mentally addictive. It’s habit-forming to say the least.”

People always point to the offensive explosion of the Steroid Era, but I’ve always wondered if it wasn’t the relief pitchers like Herges who benefited the most from PEDs. They’re the closest thing to sprinters in baseball, doing one thing — throwing fire — in shorter bursts than anyone else on the field, and I suspect they more than anyone else would benefit from added chemical strength.  Hitters still have to have good timing and a good eye. Starters need more stamina and a more nuanced mental approach given that they gotta face guys two or three times. With most relievers, gas makes the difference.

I won’t name the name because I’ve never seen him attached to steroids in print, but there was a Braves reliever who showed up one year in the bad old days throwing the ball approximately 249 miles per hour faster than he ever had earlier in his career. With each pitch I wondered whether his arm or the hitters’ bats would explode first. Turns out the arm did, but not after an uncharacteristically large number of strikeouts.  Maybe it was steroids, maybe it wasn’t, but he certainly demonstrated what added velocity can do for a guy who makes his living one inning at a time.

  1. peteinfla - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    Isn’t it refreshing to hear one of the atletes who actually used PEDs to actually say what we all have felt for years now? Instead of taking the “rehab” or “only tried it one time” approachs like most of the other guilty parties, Herges was honest and candid about how it helped him. He was a pretty mediocre pitcher for most of his career, but is obviously a stand up person. Good for him!

  2. bigcatasroma - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Rocker? If you don’t respond Craig, I figure it was him . . .
    I sometimes think you’re right on the reliever front, but other times I’m not sure; I used to think that the no-name relievers (like Gagne) who one year did nothing and the next year threw 98 mph and saved 50 games and looked like they belonged in the WWE were the ones who truly benefited (and they were able to vault from the league minimum to multi-million dollar deals). Steroids, however, as their function appears to me, is more to make you work out *longer* or *more frequently*, that they don’t have some inherent quality to make you stronger. They do help pitchers develop stamina to go 6, 7, 8 innings still pitching 95. According to this guy (I vaguely remember Herges), the confidence it could give to middling hitters to start popping 20 homers a season instead of 8 is the difference in several millions of dollars a year.

  3. Craig Calcaterra - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    No — not Rocker. For one thing I think he has been attached to steroids already (though I can’t recall where at the moment). For another, he always had serious gas, from the moment he came up. If it was natural or supplied by the juice I have no idea, but his velocity didn’t just appear one year.

  4. Joey B - Mar 2, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    Cool. Someone who finally admits that they help. It gets to the point where people are probably less concerned with the steroid use than they are about the insulting ‘I used a dangerous substance for 10 years, broke every record known to mankind, but they didn’t help me’.

  5. Cheap Seat Chronicles - Mar 2, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’re talking about Mark Wohlers. The dude had three monster seasons in the middle of an otherwise lackluster career.

  6. Craig Calcaterra - Mar 2, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    Not Wholers either. He had velocity from the beginning too. He developed some sort of Steve Blass thing and then blew out his elbow. Not the guy I’m thinking of.

  7. tjw - Mar 2, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    Was it Mike Bielecki? I don’t know about his velocity, but just looking at his stats, he averaged 5.5 K/9 until 1996 (when he turned 36). At age 36 he averaged 8.5 K/9 and at age 37 he averaged 9.5 K/9. After that year, he never pitched again.

  8. Jason B - Mar 2, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    Hey I bet it was ___(insert random Braves reliever here)___ ! Dude threw *HARD!* If you don’t respond using our super-secret response (you know the one), I’ll know I’ve got it pegged…

  9. Craig Calcaterra - Mar 2, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    [whistles innocently while looking up at the ceiling and twiddling his thumbs]

  10. Craig Calcaterra - Mar 2, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    But to be clear, since I know how people fly off the handle with this stuff, no, I have no evidence that Mike Bieklecki did steroids, to my knowledge he has never been linked to them, and I’m not accusing him now. I’m simply looking at him as a dude who increased his velocity in a major major way during his second stint in Atlanta, and that by doing so he became a radically different pitcher than he was before.
    Maybe it was all natural and that he simply let it loose more because he wasn’t starting anymore. I really don’t know. My point is that an increase in strength and/or velocity — be it by steroids or anything else — probably helps a reliever more than anyone.

  11. BaseballFan2 - Mar 2, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    I think you’re right in the sense that steriods help muscles recover quicker, and as a reliever, that is important – fewer tired arms and sore shoulders. I also agree that pitchers are often left out of this conversation, and they shouldn’t be. It doesn’t diminish the cheating going on by the hitters, but both are definitely guilty.
    One thing to think about though is that relievers – especially those who make their living one inning at a time as you say – do throw harder than starters. I think of Joba Chamberlain as a prime example of that. As a reliever mid to upper nineties, and as a starter just the low nineties. The mindset is to keep nothing in reserve if you’re out there for just one inning. So I think, as you say, you have to be careful in singling out a player because he threw harder as a reliever. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss PED use by pitchers though.

  12. Charles Gates - Mar 2, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    Using logic and inferred steroid-related impacts to rationally investigate more-than-normal swings statistics and performance…I like it, but it reminds me of Jerod Morris.
    I’m not saying stop doing what you’re doing, because I encourage it, but if the news crew shows up at your door asking for a quote, I hope they catch you on a day where your facial hair doesn’t resemble Jayson Werth.

  13. DanO - Mar 2, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    Can you still believe that MLB does not test for HGH? Based on this fact, I have to believe there is still PED usage amongst players.

  14. scatterbrian - Mar 2, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    1991: 173.6 IP, 75 Ks
    1996: 75.3 IP, 71 Ks

  15. onesweetworld - Mar 2, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    Why dont they just let players use PED’s? Im sorry but the most fun Ive ever had watching baseball was the HR chases and watching Barry Bonds hit in the late 90’s early 2000’s. People know the risks of using drugs and if they want to do that their bodies to make millions, go for it. Its all entertainment to me.

  16. Rays fan - Mar 2, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    Without bothering to go into the whole “not everyone has the money or access” argument since that can be applied to a lot of things that aren’t against the rules…
    1) They’re illegal to possess without a prescription.
    2) The biggest pressure for use isn’t on the star major leaguer, although that’s what gets the press due to the assault on the record books. The pressure is far greater on the bench rider trying anything to keep his job, on the minor leaguer hoping to get the call, on the college or high school kid hoping to be noticed by a scout and get drafted in the first place, and so on. The minimum wage in MLB equates to unimaginable wealth to most people.
    3) A lot of people are amazingly ignorant of the side effects of Tylenol, let alone steroids. Others are simply convinced that they’re somehow immune or see what happened to Lyle Alzado as an effect far into the future compared to their own age and thus don’t consider it relevant to their own situation.
    4) The more successful the drug abusers are, the more acceptable such self-destructive behavior seems to others, ratcheting the pressure I already discussed up even further.
    I could go on, but for brevity I’ll stop.

  17. BaseballFan2 - Mar 2, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    I’ll add on:
    The game is fun to watch without the monster homeruns. Watching a good pitcher throw a no-hitter is pretty exciting. I don’t believe we need artificially enhanced players to enjoy the nuances of the game. That’s just my opinion.
    Oh yeah, and like Rays fan said, it’s illegal. Maybe I’m nostalgic or old-fashioned, but I want kids to enjoy the game and I want to feel good about kids enjoying the game. I don’t want to have to defend it.

  18. onesweetworld - Mar 2, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    So no pitcher threw a no-hitter during the steroid era? I must of been watching another sport.

  19. BaseballFan2 - Mar 2, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    Of course they did – but you cited the home run chase as the “most fun” aspect of watching baseball. I’m just providing the counterpoint – that there is more to the game than that. If you see my earlier post on this thread, you’ll see that I do believe pitchers used steroids and other enhancers.
    My larger point was that I don’t want to see anyone use steroids. I didn’t think I had to state it that directly.

  20. Tony A - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:37 PM

    Rocker, jeez I haven’t heard that name in a while…I miss the Ku Klux Klozer, anyone know what he’s up to these days?

  21. DSFC - Mar 3, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    two points….
    1)I remember Bielecki coming in late in a game in the ’96 Series and blowing the Yankees away 1-2-3 with nothing but fastballs. As a Yankees fan, I didn’t watch the Braves much, and I remember being stunned – this wasn’t the guy I used to watch for the Cubs on WGN.
    2)Joba Chamberlain before he hurt his shoulder in 2008 was throwing mid-to-upper nineties, and last year, even when he returned to the bullpen late in the year he was topping out around 95-96, not 99-100. He never regained his arm strength after the injury.

  22. goin to eff u - Apr 8, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    this is wack, i like commenting on random topics

  23. Kin in tin WANG - Apr 8, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    this article has inspired me to use steroids and any other preformance enhancing drug i can get my hands on.. or maybe i’ll just drink until i drown in my emotions. either way i’ve been inspired

  24. FWUCK YARR - Apr 8, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    FWUCK YARR HOZE MOZE!

  25. pennis - Apr 8, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    q p
    W PENIS
    (b^.^)b

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