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What teammates think of PED users in their own clubhouse

Apr 4, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

ryan braun getty Getty Images

Dirk Hayhurst writes about Ryan Braun and the reception he might expect as he makes his way around the bigs in this first post-suspension season:

First basemen will slap tags on him harder, and catchers will—especially now that the home plate collision rules are in their favor—look to put a shin guard down in that ankle-breaking angle. He might even get beaned a time or two.

Yet, as indignant as players proclaim to be and regardless of how much “baseball justice” they dispense, they all understand why Braun did it.

Because baseball pays guys who can hit like Braun upward of $300 million.

Because fans will make a conscious effort to forget the bad you did as long as you produce.

Because players care more about winning than they do about cheating. Even teammates who have been lied to. Especially teammates.

Hayhurst talks about the PED-users he played with in the minors and the truth is that, even if a guy is a cheater, teammates will let it go as long as he’s helping them win.

Which is the same reason Braun got all of those cheers in Milwaukee the other day. The fans feel exactly the same way.

  1. djandujar - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    As a longtime true baseball fan I can honestly say that I really never cared about the PED thing anyway. I don’t believe the players hold any moral or ethical responsibility about the issue. I don’t care if people consider it cheating. I would say that I PREFER a type of game that is speed & defense oriented, but I’ll take power hitting and pitching too.
    I just love the game. I hate the money, I hate the corporate BS, I hate the patriotic crap about it and I can’t stand all the high moralizing about a game. If MLB completely disappeared I would still enjoy life. But I do consider myself a true fan.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Apr 4, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      I care about PED use in that it incentivises players to jeopardize their long term health to keep up the joneses in pursuit of a roster spot or a dollar.

      • flatsorter - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        If players were concerned about their long term health, they would quit the sport. Ask Tony Conigliaro. Oh wait, you can’t. He’s dead.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Apr 6, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        Baseball players live, on average, five years longer than the typical American male. Mostly because of the money they make.

  2. tfbuckfutter - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    This is exactly why the new punishments, including playoff suspensions, is so important.

    You need the punished player to be stigmatized amongst his teammates and hometown fans. Opposing players and fans already hate the player whether he is caught cheating or not. But once the punishment really negatively affects the season’s outcome, then players are less likely to cheat because they risk being blamed and ostracized for a playoff loss by their teammates and the fans who may hold a grudge and no longer buy their merchandise.

    • paperlions - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      Why do you need that? All they are doing is trying to cheat at baseball (and likely not succeeding). Why is such stigmatization necessary or desirable?

      There are dozens of players/coaches/managers/owners that have been caught endangering the lives of people by driving drunk (the reigning 2-time MVP actually threatened the lives of everyone in a bar and was completely plastered when the cops finally found him on the side of the road with a bottle in his hand), there are coaches/players that beat their wives/GFs (HOFer Bobby Cox, previously mentioned beloved 2-time MVP). These are far worse people than someone that uses PEDs….but you don’t want them stigmatized, just PED users?

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 4, 2014 at 12:18 PM

        The risk of being ostracized by teammates and hometown fans is needed to keep them from TRYING to cheat. Previous punishments didn’t do that. The teammates and fans got all the benefit of the player skirting the rules, and then after a slap on the wrist, he’s right back in there. Now the threat of ruining the team’s season by not being available for the playoffs should act as more of a deterrent.

        And what the hell does the second paragraph have to do with anything? By appreciating the potential benefits of the new rule that is somehow condoning other bad behavior? I have no problem whatsoever punishing anyone for the behavior you mentioned. But again, I don’t know what the hell that has to do with anything.

        “Oh, PED users should be punished? I guess that means you condone murder.” That makes absolutely no sense as a point in this discussion.

      • paperlions - Apr 4, 2014 at 1:06 PM

        The whole point is what they are doing is pretty much inconsequential to anything. You want people to be ostracized for the MLB equivalent of speeding or small-scale cheating on their taxes. The penalty should match the crime, and the fact of the matter is that the crime isn’t a big deal.

      • grumpyoleman - Apr 4, 2014 at 1:15 PM

        A better analogy is someone doing something at work that puts the company in some sort of jeopardy.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 4, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        It’s not inconsequential.

        Everyone knows steroids and HGH benefit athletic performance.

        You are mostly a lone voice in your repeated denial of this.

        If you don’t believe that additional speed and strength are beneficial to athletes, and you don’t believe PEDs increase muscle mass as well as speed and aid in recovery to workout more frequently and more intensely which allows adding even more speed and strength than we really have nothing else to discuss.

        I do suggest you take a physics class and learn what happens when a baseball is struck by a bat moving faster with a denser human being behind it.

      • paperlions - Apr 4, 2014 at 1:31 PM

        Uh huh.

        First, NO ONE that knows what they are talking about says that HGH improves athletic performance. It does not. I am not the only one saying it. Every researcher says it, every doctor says it….because it is true. In normal healthy adults, it doesn’t speed recovery from injuries or workouts and it doesn’t help add strength or lean muscle mass. It does nothing beneficial.

        Second, there is a huge difference between steroids making a person stronger and that strength translating to a tangible benefit in baseball performance. Many people have looked for the signal of steroid in baseball performance and can’t find one. Do you really think everyone started using steroids at the same time, since in 1993 the HR rate in baseball increased by 50% over night? Why do you think the HR rate did not decrease when PED testing began?

        You are making a bunch of assumptions and begging the question (arguing from those assumptions as if they were true when no evidence suggest that they are).

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 4, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        I’m going to assume you haven’t spent a lot of time in a gym in your life.

        There are tangible benefits. But like I said, I think we have nothing further to discuss.

        You clearly know better than the athletes and trainers who continue to use these drugs that offer them no benefit.

        Barry Bonds just suddenly became a much much better baseball player in his late 30s. Yup, it’s all a big conspiracy.

      • paperlions - Apr 4, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        People think there are tangible benefits to praying, to those silly neclaces, and to many other things. Gym rats will swear by a lot of things that every study does nothing for them. Creatine does nothing, after the 1998 McGwire deal, there were a lot of studies on the effects of creatine and andro…they do essentially nothing in terms of workout benefits. If you want to believe stories instead of facts. Feel free to do so….and if you think HGH does anything at all for an otherwise healthy person….well, you are correct, there is nothing left to discuss….because that is categorically false. The only real effect most of these things have is the placebo effect, which is actually a real effect.

      • paperlions - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:08 PM

        To be clear, I am not saying at all that steroids or amphetamines don’t have huge effects…of course they do…but it is not clear how well those effects translate into hitting the ball harder or farther. Amphetamines likely have much greater benefits throughout the season that steroids….if for no other reason, it is hard for players to work out as necessary during the season.

      • tysonpunchinguterus - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        “First, NO ONE that knows what they are talking about says that HGH improves athletic performance. It does not. I am not the only one saying it. Every researcher says it, every doctor says it….because it is true. In normal healthy adults, it doesn’t speed recovery from injuries or workouts and it doesn’t help add strength or lean muscle mass. It does nothing beneficial.”

        Which is why the researches at BALCO gave athletes HGH, right? And I believe A-Rod found himself a doctor who plead guilty to smuggling HGH into the country. So not EVERY researcher or doctor agrees with you.

      • paperlions - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        Doctors are not researchers. They are like mechanics for human health. They are not scientist, they don’t create new knowledge, they are in the business of making money. Health care is an industry, it has little to do with health, itself. Doctors only know what they are told or read, and how informed doctors are varies greatly….and finding a doctor that will do something unethical because he is paid a lot of money is evidence of nothing.

        Feel free to wander into any natural supplements store and be amazed at how wonderful your life could be if you just spend a lot of money there….the effects that are claimed are almost entirely BS. Just because someone will scam you (like all of the people that still act like HGH can reverse the aging process), doesn’t mean the effects are real….most are scam artists….like that Boesch wacko.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        Again, now we are into the question of physics.

        A denser individual swinging a bat will result in the ball being hit farther because there is less give behind the bat.

        As long as flexibility and speed aren’t compromised by additional muscle, additional muscle directly correlates to a ball being struck harder.

        Steroids = Additional muscle = Denser matter

        And again, you may not THINK that steroids aid in recovery from working out but they do. That’s one of the big reasons they help people gain mass because there is less downtime between workouts.

        I have a sister who is a personal trainer who has run multiple body-building boyfriends through my life, my wife’s brother is a body builder who used to deal steroid, and her father also dabbled in them. I’m not a researcher but I’m also not unfamiliar with the effects.

      • tved12 - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        Dude, if they can help you to work out more often by reducing recovery time then they can have a benefit. You keep bringing up this point, “there is a huge difference between steroids making a person stronger and that strength translating to a tangible benefit in baseball performance.” It’s not like these guys are blindly working out, they have a regimen that helps them with their “baseball” muscles. Think about it, do NFL players and MLB players do the same workouts? No they don’t.

        It’s not to say the drug is the only reason they’re good, I don’t think anybody is arguing that. It’s that a great player like Bonds (pre-PED’s) becomes the greatest of all time.

      • paperlions - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:48 PM

        Fine, let’s assume that steroids make guys stronger and better at baseball. Let’s talk about the effects on the field. Where are they? Find me some. The data is simply not consistent at all with an effect of steroids on power production in baseball…this has been studied extensively. HR (and power in general) increased by 50% almost overnight in the 1993 season when a new ball was introduced. Power numbers were essentially flat for the next 15 years (including 5 years of steroid testing), and started to slowly decrease a few years ago.

        Did everyone start taking steroids over night with huge benefits? We know steroid use in MLB has been common since the 1960s, where are the effects from that time period? How come most of the guys that have been busted sucked at baseball and didn’t evince any kind of effect before and after they were caught nor did they display any odd temporal patterns indicative PED effects. Why were most of the guys associated with Biogenesis no better during the time they were getting drugs than before or after that time?

        There is a lot of information about use, and there is no pattern suggesting a tangible baseball benefit associated with steroids use. If anything, the recent decline in offense if more likely to be associated with amphetamine testing (although any quack will give these guys a prescription for speed for their alleged ADHD).

      • grumpyoleman - Apr 4, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        Apparently there are a lot of flawed studies out there since I’m sure any professional baseball player would not willing take one of these tests while on the juice. Who were the participants? Probably a bunch of guys who in their age 11 season were moved from the infield to the outfield because they sucked at anything dealing with being athletics.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 4, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        I don’t know. The effects of steroids on hitting is counteracted by the effects of steroids on pitching, perhaps?

        Individual performances go up, but overall performances remain average because the performance gap between those benefiting greatly is averaged out by those not benefiting at all.

        Plus many other factors like the watering down of the talent pool and the changes made to the ball….

        The problem isn’t that they are changing the game overall. The problem is they are increasing individual performance unjustly.

      • tysonpunchinguterus - Apr 4, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        “First, NO ONE that knows what they are talking about says that HGH improves athletic performance. It does not. I am not the only one saying it. Every researcher says it, every doctor says it….because it is true. In normal healthy adults, it doesn’t speed recovery from injuries or workouts and it doesn’t help add strength or lean muscle mass. It does nothing beneficial.”

        AND

        “Doctors are not researchers. They are like mechanics for human health. They are not scientist, they don’t create new knowledge, they are in the business of making money. Health care is an industry, it has little to do with health, itself. Doctors only know what they are told or read, and how informed doctors are varies greatly….and finding a doctor that will do something unethical because he is paid a lot of money is evidence of nothing.”

        So do you trust doctors or not? In one post, you falsely claim that EVERY doctor agrees that HGH has no benefit to athletes. When I give 1 example of a doctor who disagrees with you, suddenly doctors are not to be trusted and only know what they read. Do you think doctors are getting their medical information from websites or from medical journals that explain not just the information but how the authors obtained the information and reached their conclusions?

        Back in 2010, a double-blind study was done that showed HGH improved performance in sprint events (running and swimming). It also noted that the doses used in the study were lower than the dosage used by some athletes. They did not find an increase in muscle mass in their study, but they did acknowledge that the effect on performance could be even greater when used in higher doses and when used in combination with testosterone.

        http://www.garvan.org.au/news-events/news/first-scientific-study-showing-effects-of-growth-hormone-on-athletes

        Also, the studies of HGH on athletes all share the same characteristic with the study mentioned above: they are limited to doses lower than those used by athletes. There is also the fact that the studies do not involve stacking to use HGH with other drugs. This quote from another article outlines this along with other effects of HGH:

        The attraction of GH abuse may be due to several reasons (Rennie, 2003; Rigamonti et al., 2005; Saugy et al., 2006; Gibney et al., 2007). First, GH is lipolytic although this benefit may not always be evident in well-trained athletes with low body fat (Deyssig et al., 1993). Second, GH has known effects on collagen and bone turnover and it has been suggested that its supraphysiological administration may strengthen connective tissue thereby paralleling increase in strength brought about by exercise (or other measures such as anabolic steroids), thus decreasing risk of injury to these tissues. Third, GH has anectodal side effects such as improving skin tone, eyesight and recovery time from injury, all of which may be considered beneficial to the athlete undergoing strenuous training. Fourth, athletes often take performance-enhancing substances in combination, a practice known as stacking. Appropriate, placebo controlled trials using GH in combination with other substances are few. Fifth, at the higher doses reportedly used by athletes, GH may be more effective than at the doses approved for research studies, which are limited due to complications associated with GH administration. The fluid retention which occurs with GH is usually well tolerated and most subjects are happy to remain on GH. Athralgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, oedema and atrial fibrillation are reported in studies using GH administration sometimes leading subjects to withdraw.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2439518/

      • tysonpunchinguterus - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:25 PM

        “Why were most of the guys associated with Biogenesis no better during the time they were getting drugs than before or after that time?”

        That statement is full of assumptions:

        A-Rod had injuries and we also know he has used other banned substances in the past, so in his case you’d be comparing a healthy cheater with an older, injured cheater. We don’t know when Braun started using and we haven’t seen him play much after the Biogenesis story broke, so we don’t know if/when he has ever been a clean player. We have literally no idea when any of the players involved started or stopped using PEDs unless we get confessions from the players involved and even then, A-Rod and Braun show that we can’t automatically trust the player to be 100% honest about this stuff. How do we know that they weren’t getting stuff from a different source before being told about Bosch’s clinic? If a player had a good season in 2013 without Bosch, does that automatically mean the player was clean or could he have had another supplier? And what about the players who were worse after the story broke? Jesus Montero?

    • raysfan1 - Apr 4, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      More effective than increased punishments is making it more likely the player gets caught. (I’ve said on previous posts that I don’t have an issue with the new discipline schedule, so I don’t want to debate that. My statement here is that the part of the JDA changes I am happiest with is 1st) testing for synthetic testosterone and 2nd) upping the testing frequency.)

      • paperlions - Apr 4, 2014 at 1:31 PM

        Exactly. In every context, the way to prevent anyone from breaking laws, codes, rules is to increase the likelihood that they are caught.

  3. stoutfiles - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    “teammates will let it go as long as he’s helping them win”

    I suppose, but if you’re the platoon guy that would have a full-time OF job if not for a cheater, or if you’re a guy that got low-balled on his contract because of how much the Brewers payroll is dedicated to a cheater, then yeah, you have the right to be angry.

  4. largebill - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    “First basemen will slap tags on him harder, and catchers will—especially now that the home plate collision rules are in their favor—look to put a shin guard down in that ankle-breaking angle. He might even get beaned a time or two.”

    Could be wrong, but I think this author is assuming other players are as concerned about PED’s as he is. Catchers setting up for a throw to tag out a running coming from 3B are not thinking about whether the guy trying to score ever used PED’s.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 4, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      Everyone on the Red Sox seems to love it when Dempster threw at A-Rod last year.

    • raysfan1 - Apr 4, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      The author did not say the reactions described would be universal, just that they would happen. Bear in mind he was a minor league player himself (and briefly in the majors).

  5. historiophiliac - Apr 4, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    Not to be picky, I didn’t think Braun’s contract was anywhere close to $300 million. Did I miss something? Or, does he really mean: baseball will pay someone who hits like Miggy $300 million — and he’s tossing Braun in the same class for effect?

    • raysfan1 - Apr 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      It’s for effect.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 4, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        Thank you.

  6. sixchr - Apr 4, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    The problem isn’t the PEDs. For a guy like Braun, the problem is he’s a lying fraud and he tried to take people down with him. He deliberately ruined a guy’s livelihood and was perfectly fine doing so because he thought he wouldn’t get caught. That’s why I’ll be booing his ass off the field tomorrow night at Fenway,

    • florida76 - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      Agreed, and the fact Braun’s suspension helped ruin the 2013 Brewer season, makes the standing ovation in Milwaukee so embarrassing for that franchise. What Braun did clearly REDUCED winning for Milwaukee.

  7. gbart22 - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    First basemen will slap tags on him harder, and catchers will—especially now that the home plate collision rules are in their favor—look to put a shin guard down in that ankle-breaking angle. He might even get beaned a time or two.

    If that is true baseball needs to do come down on players who do such things. That’s utterly ridiculous. I can’t stand old time baseball code nonsense. It’s a my d*ck is bigger than yours macho type behavior which is childish. Act like adults

  8. mikhelb - Apr 4, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    I wonder why Hayhurst writes about minor leaguers using PEDs but doesnt want to risk naming MLB players he KNOWS “roided”, or is it because that “protection” PED users get from their peers remains intact even when everybody is retired? (minor league guys are fair game, they never achieved nothing in MLB and if they did, they are named only as ‘somebody famous who i was told by somebody else but i cant assure they used”).

  9. mikhelb - Apr 4, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    Then again, when somebody was a witness to players using he should either say everything or dont say a single thing. And it should be them and not journalists sensationalizing a story looking to make more $ by placing the blame in a “he said-he said” game.

  10. campcouch - Apr 5, 2014 at 3:10 AM

    Users get paid,set the market for their position and in turn the non-users get a hefty raise. Players understand this. They may not agree with him,but if his actions help them win and also increases their value by default,they’ll let it slide.

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