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PEDs are OK. Plato and Kant said so.

Jun 24, 2013, 1:04 PM EDT

Plato

This story in The Atlantic may be the biggest, juiciest bit of Craig-bait ever composed. I want to take this story out for long walks and tell it all of my deepest secrets and have it love me for me. I want to make a serious commitment to this story and show it I’m not like all those other bloggers who will link them and forget them. It’s serious between this story and me.

Actually, I’m linking it because it will enrage most of you people and if you haven’t guessed it in the past four years, enraging most of you people gives me endless satisfaction.

The upshot: a philosophy professor citing Plato, Kant and others to counter the usual anti-PED arguments. Which, given the usual tenor of PED debates, will convince you anti-PED folk out there about as much as a Nikolai Volkoff soliloquy about why Hulk Hogan sucks would have convinced wrestling fans circa 1985. I mean, if you’re the sort of person who calls Alex Rodriguez “A-Roid,” I don’t feel like Immanuel Kant and Plato and references to the Socratic dialogue Euthyphro are really going to have a lot of persuasive power for you.

Actual honesty now: I agree with reason number 7 listed for why PEDs are bad: the arms race they create. As in, how Player X using PEDs may coerce Player Y into using them. At that point someone is being pressured into taking risks they may not have otherwise taken and I feel like that reason in and of itself is enough to justify the ban of PEDs. At least PEDs which present health risks. If there is some imaginary PED which, one day, is confirmed to be harmless, it changes things.

Anyway: I expect most of you to rail against this as stupid and to repat your “cheating is wrong” mantra. But it would be really great if you actually dug into the reasons why it’s wrong and admit that not all of the arguments tossed out by strongly anti-PED people hold logical water.

  1. cur68 - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    My German friend, Ursula, used to refer to Immanuel Kant as “That Fucking Kant!” in her cute german barmaid accent (she has a PhD, so just ’cause she looked like she should be hoisting six beer steins and lead a rousing course of “Trink, Trink, Brüderlein, Trink” it didn’t mean she was a cupcake . . . even though she looked like one). If you’ve ever heard a German say “Kant” you’ll get the significance of her signature phrase.

    • Old Gator - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      Ursula is responding to Kant’s prose itself, which has been unfavorably compared to cold molasses trying to run uphill. Plato, I like. He was even readable in second-year Greek.

    • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      So did you get anywhere with that?

      (BTW, was I right about the Ruth/Bonds post or WHAT?)

      • heyblueyoustink - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:35 PM

        I just got done scanning that one, holy cannoli there’s entirely too many too serious people in this world.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        Yeah, there are certain posts I just know I don’t want to participate in the conversation…unless, of course, I’m craving being told to go eff myself that day…which does happen occasionally.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        Here here. It’s like a bag of feral cats around here sometimes

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:05 PM

        Rowr! he he

      • cur68 - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:48 PM

        I swear, we give feral cats a bad name. At least when you let them out of the sack they piss off and leave each other alone. Some of these trolls just follow you around like the smell on your shoes after you stepped in the feral cat’s business.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:08 PM

        Word. It makes me dislike the people I disagree with more and embarrassed by those I do agree with. Sometimes, you just have to say “Have a nice day” so you can keep your sanity. Which reminds me…

        JOBU BLESS AMERICAAAAAA/LAND THAT I LUUUUURV/STAND BESIDE HER AND GUIDE HER THROUGH THE NIGHT WITH A LIGHT SO SHE DON’T BUMP HER HEAAAAAD

      • cur68 - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:11 PM

        I can hum that tune.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        Can’t you go with a happy face? That one looks like the Jays got swept by the Feesh…after a 3 hour rain delay…at home…in extra innings…and the concessions stopped selling blubber in the 7th…walking uphill both ways.

      • cur68 - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:34 PM

        That’s my Angry Weasel Face. I like that one. Grrrrr…..

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:36 PM

        Chicks don’t dig it.

      • cur68 - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:40 PM

        grrrrrr!

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        I’m not scared, you know.

      • cur68 - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:45 PM

        You should be. And angry weasel is not to be trifled with. Ever had one run up your trouser leg? It aint pretty.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:53 PM

        No, but my ex got a mouse up his pants once. It was funny after the fact — and also b/c none of my bits were in jeopardy.

      • cur68 - Jun 24, 2013 at 6:08 PM

        Right. Well a weasel is basically a mouse on PEDS with a bad attitude. The Barry Bonds of the rodent world, in other words.

        Grrrrrr!

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 6:10 PM

        Have it your way, weasel.

      • cur68 - Jun 24, 2013 at 6:44 PM

        Fine. I’m changing it. But not because of peer pressure. It was that “Chicks Don’t Dig It” thing. I’m very shallow that way.

      • cur68 - Jun 24, 2013 at 7:11 PM

        There. Now you have my “Smarmy Git” pose. Look at that mug. Couldn’t ya just mash a cake into his face?

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 7:12 PM

        Well, helloooooo.

      • cur68 - Jun 24, 2013 at 7:17 PM

        huh. Figures. Women always like the smarmy git.

        /Angry Weasel Glare

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 7:19 PM

        lol

        I don’t really count, so don’t mind me. I’m just glad you got a shirt on finally.

      • indaburg - Jun 25, 2013 at 5:53 AM

        ‘philiac, I just have to say thank you. That new picture. Oh, myyyyyyy.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 25, 2013 at 7:51 AM

        Yea, I did something useful yesterday then.

      • indaburg - Jun 25, 2013 at 8:10 AM

        You did dog’s work. Bless you.

  2. sdelmonte - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    This might be the best thing I ever read about PED use. I don’t entirely agree with the conclusion, but this is an article written by a man who has given this way more thought than most. Almost makes me wish I took philosophy in college.

    Links to The New Republic and The Atlantic on the same day. Where’s the New York Review of Books.

  3. jm91rs - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    “Actually, I’m linking it because it will enrage most of you people and if you haven’t guessed it in the past four years, enraging most of you people gives me endless satisfaction.”

    I appreciate that you admit this. I had always hoped that you weren’t actually as stubborn as you come off here.

    • gostlcards5 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      Being that reading people is one of my strong points, and as a casual reader and sometimes responder to articles on HBT, I had figured this out about Craig quite some time ago. Yet, I appreciate it as well.

  4. 161andriver - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    I guess I am of the belief that we don’t to get as deep as Plato or Kant. Should PED’s be against the rules? Yes. Should there be punishments? Yes. But I think we can stop there. The moral high grounding that goes on is ridiculous. Using steroids or HGH doesn’t make someone a scumbag or a piece of garbage worthy of our scorn. It makes them someone who was caught trying to be better at their job, albeit illegally. I swear none of you ever played Battleship as a kid. That game was designed for cheating.

    “B15?”
    “Uhhhhhh…nope”

    • jgillmeister - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:03 PM

      PEDs are illegal substances under the laws of the US and all 50 states. For that reason alone, all of us should be anti-PEDs. It’s wrong to try to diminish it by reducing it to an argument about cheating. We really should be talking about the illegality. MLB ( and the other leagues) are within their employer rights to punish their employees for participating in illegal activities, just like I would be punished if I got high while at work.

      • 161andriver - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        So the reigning AL MVP was suspended how many games for his DUI?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:35 PM

        For that reason alone, all of us should be anti-PEDs. It’s wrong to try to diminish it by reducing it to an argument about cheating.

        So you are in favor of removing Mays and Aaron from the HoF because they broke federal laws as well. And pretty much everyone from 1970 onward he played baseball shouldn’t be allowed in the HoF until they cleaned up amphetamines, right?

      • canislupislupis - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:45 PM

        Laws are not infallible.

      • paperlions - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:05 PM

        It is well worth noting AGAIN, that steroids legislation was passed in 1991 as a political PR stunt and AGAINST the advice of the American Medical Association. Leaning on what is and is not legal is the acme of intellectual laziness.

        I suppose the fact that owning slaves was legal meant that owning people was okay for the simple reason that it was legal? No. I see. You may want to consider your position (notice that there is no “re” on that).

  5. Old Gator - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    We actually don’t need Plato or Kant on baseball. It’s bad enough that we had to suffer through Theodor Adorno on jazz. Anyway, we already have Giamatti in prose and Rizzuto in poetry. That’s enough.

    • Old Gator - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      I was just about to apply the categorical imperative to PED use: I use PEDs to be better at baseball, so I am giving you some of my stash so that you too can be better at baseball.

      But then I stopped myself.

    • gloccamorra - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      What about the pure baseball philosophers, Yogi Berra and Slats Grobnik? I’ve never read anything by Joe Schlabotnik, but I hear he’s good too.

      • Old Gator - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:49 PM

        I left out Berra and Stengel, not to mention Bill Lee. For that, I deserve to be drummed out of academia. But why bother? I would probably have left out Gene Krupa and Ginger Baker as well.

      • raysfan1 - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:40 PM

        Charlie Brown’s favorite aspect of Schlsbotnik’s game was his ability to make spectacular plays out of routine fly balls.

      • raysfan1 - Jun 24, 2013 at 8:33 PM

        Okay, I mistyped Schlabotnik’s name, but does nobody read Peanuts any more?
        He batted a robust .143 in the green grass league and once was able to throw out a runner who had fallen down between 1st and 2nd.

  6. ivanoiurares40 - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Reblogged this on TheSlashDash.

  7. sfm073 - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    I’m one of the few that don’t care about PED use, but the linked story didn’t really do much for me.

    • gloccamorra - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Maybe you’d have liked it better if they did it like a Dave Letterman top ten list? They should have numbered them like a countdown to #1, and instead of stopping at #7, they could have included the true #1 answer: Other than building muscle and the effect of channeling ‘roid rage into being more aggressive, steroids don’t actually do anything to improve physical performance.

  8. charlutes - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    I miss the Ruth vs Bonds story.

  9. chip56 - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    The question is not about whether or not PEDs are good or bad. It’s not about whether they actually increase performance or not. Not about whether they are harmful or not. It’s not even about whether they constitute cheating or not. It’s about honoring your contract.

    If you collectively bargain to ban something from the game and then use it anyway you should be punished. If you don’t want to ban that thing from the game, don’t frigging sign the CBA!

    I think the rule forbidding teams to spend whatever they want on International Free Agents and Draft Picks is dumb, but it’s a rule that was collectively bargained and agreed to and so all teams should adhere to it.

    I’m sure there are owners who would like to forget the CBA and delete contracts. They can’t do that because the CBA guarantees players receive their whole salaries.

    When you sign a contract, as the players and owners did, you can’t then decide which parts of the contract you’re going to follow.

    • apmn - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:09 PM

      So now you are saying that breaking a contract is inherently immoral? Sorry, that is philosophically unsound.

      /sarcasm

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      If you collectively bargain to ban something from the game and then use it anyway you should be punished. If you don’t want to ban that thing from the game, don’t frigging sign the CBA!

      I completely agree. So now we shouldn’t stop worrying about Bonds/McGwire/Giambi/Pettitte/Clemens/Arod/etc who didn’t break the rules, right? Because ‘roids and other PEDs weren’t against the CBA.

      • chip56 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:44 PM

        Where has the league punished, or attempted to punish, any of those players for what they did prior to PEDs being collectively bargained out of baseball?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        Who said anything about the league? I said we, as in the fans. Or the media who are doing their best to keep those deserving players out of the HoF. Or pretty much half the comments in the Bonds/Ruth thread…

      • chip56 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        Fans and writers are not subject to the CBA. I personally could care less who uses what since I assume everyone uses something. But I respect the rights of others to disagree with that point of view.

        I also respect the notion that if writers don’t want to elect someone to the Hall of Fame because they think that a player used steroids, that’s their right as well.

        I was one of the people who made a comment in the Ruth/Bonds thread. I think Barry would have suffered in Ruth’s era from the lack of all medical sciences that are available to players today (both legal and banned) just as I think Ruth would have benefited from them.

  10. chip56 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    In fact, if you want to be equitable about it – if a player violates the CBA by using a banned substance then the team should be able to violate it by non-guaranteeing the contract of one player on the team.

    Think Barry Zito would have beaten the snot out of Melky if his use of HGH (or whatever he used) cost Zito the last guaranteed year of his contract?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:04 PM

      That’s not equitable considering that the CBA also specifies that the Joint Drug Agreement sets forth all PED discipline and that does not include contract non-guarantees, voidings, etc.

      Not trying to be contrary, but you are the one who wants to go strictly by the CBA.

      • chip56 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:20 PM

        True enough. Well then I guess the point is still that if players want ownership to follow the CBA then players should follow it as well. Don’t ya think?

  11. apmn - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    There will always be someone who will claim that any given rule or law is based on arbitrary morals. Leopold and Loeb justified murder based on the philosophical arguments of Nietsche. For the Nazis, it was genocide. Philosophy is just as corruptible as religion when people want to use it for their own agendas (and I say this as a religious person myself, so don’t accuse me of bashing either).

    At some point, there needs to be a line drawn where we say “yeah, maybe it does seem arbitrarily placed to you. Now STFU.” Many people believe that line should be drawn at PEDs in baseball.

    • chip56 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      I don’t like that the speed limit in NY State is 55 mph. I’m a good driver and know that I can be safe driving at 75 or 80…cop pulls me over doing 80 though what I think means diddly poo.

      Players and ownership agreed that certain substances are not permitted for use by baseball players. If the players don’t like that rule, that their rank and file agreed to, they should seek employment elsewhere.

    • paperlions - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      Okay. Which performance enhancers belong on each side of the line and why?

      Amphetamines?
      Anabolic steroids?
      Corticosteroids?
      Anti-inflammatory drugs?
      Pain killers?
      Lasic surgery?
      Eye glasses?
      Tommy John Surgery?
      Coffee?

      As soon as you can provide a logical argument for where that line is, I’m all ears.

  12. blacksables - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    I thought Emmanuel Kant was a right piss-ant?

    So why do we care about his opinion?

    • umrguy42 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      And Plato, they say, could stick it away, half a crate of whisky every day.

      • stex52 - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        Aristotle, Aristotle, he was a bugger for the bottle………..

      • blacksables - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:11 AM

        Geez, I get the thumbs down for me, because people think they can judge me just by the way I arrange free electrons on a computer screen.

        But all the thumbs down for classic Monthy Python?

        I’ve finally figured out what is wrong with the commenters on this site. There is no hope. The apocalypse is upon on us. No need to save the women and children first. We’re all doomed. Doomed, I say.

      • umrguy42 - Jun 25, 2013 at 8:52 AM

        Beats me, man. I even thumbs-uped you this round for the Python…

  13. Stiller43 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    “The question is not about whether or not PEDs are good or bad. It’s not about whether they actually increase performance or not.”

    If PEDs dont E your P, dont they cease being PEDs and are just Ds?

    • gostlcards5 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:46 PM

      They’d be D’s that mess with your P and give you ED….? :D

  14. gostlcards5 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    “…will convince you anti-PED folk out there about as much as a Nikolai Volkoff soliloquy about why Hulk Hogan sucks would have convinced wrestling fans…”

    This was well done, Craig. Personally, as someone who was 12 years old in 1985 and reveled in Hogan’s heyday, I probably would have used the Iron Sheik as the example instead, but both are funny. My argument would be … how often do you get to listen to someone who speaks broken English while referring to himself as Sheikie?

    • jwbiii - Jun 24, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      Iron Sheik: Not doing so well, sorry to say.

      http://sports.yahoo.com/news/iron-sheik–the-man-behind-the-mask-224707360.html

  15. jayscarpa - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    Plato could really pick it at 3B

    • gloccamorra - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:41 PM

      I thought he was a catcher.

      • trollingforjustice - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:42 PM

        Plato played shortstop for the ATHENS CYCLOPS team

  16. yahmule - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    “Actual honesty now: I agree with reason number 7 listed for why PEDs are bad: the arms race they create. As in, how Player X using PEDs may coerce Player Y into using them. At that point someone is being pressured into taking risks they may not have otherwise taken and I feel like that reason in and of itself is enough to justify the ban of PEDs. At least PEDs which present health risks. If there is some imaginary PED which, one day, is confirmed to be harmless, it changes things.”

    —————————————

    This has always been my biggest complaint against PEDs. We’re talking about people who have gotten where they are partly by treating their bodies the right way. Putting pressure on someone like that just to stay even with the competition is grossly unfair.

  17. nobody78 - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Plato would never, ever, EVER have said that Euthyphro’s claim about the gods was “shallow.”

  18. valarmorghuliss - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    Plato also thought bathing with lil boys was acceptable. He’s the original tickle monster without the beard (wife)

  19. cowboysoldiertx - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    I’ve always said “YAY PEDS!” and “fuck you assholes on here (except for OG)”. I personally believe in roids!

  20. louhudson23 - Jun 25, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    I don’t care about philosophers.I don’t care about illegality.I don’t care about morality.I don’t care about long(or short) term health effects. I care about the distortion of the game of baseball wrought by steroids.The “screw defense,what the hell is a cutoff man,no need to steal a base,pitchers as sacrificial lambs,watch the freaks hit the ball a mile,second baseman one handed swings,shred the record book” effect on the game of baseball….Spit balls,greenies etc. did not shrink testicles,grow heads and turn the game into HR Derby by making warning track power a HoF credential…..How and why they did what they did,or whether they should have logically did what they did is secondary to the fact that they did what they did…..whatever the role that tight balls,small parks,shitty strike zones or lack of oversight and misguided leadership,or knee jerk ,short attention span fans played,the clear(pardon the pun,Barry) common denominator was the use of Anabolic Steroids…..The game was not real.The achievements were not real. The freaks playing the game were not real. The rich,white dumbass owners (and their special Baseball Network,Inter-league Play,ExpandoMatic Playoffs buffoon of a Commissioner)that pass for royalty in our culture were the only true thing about it all ….and they screwed up just like they screwed our environment,our economy and our culture……….

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