Regular readers of the blog know how I feel about the performance-enhancing drug issue, and I’m not going to get up on my soapbox again (for now, anyway). But I did want to point out how awesome Cincinnati Reds starter Bronson Arroyo is. Here are some great quotes from Bob Nightengale’s article for USA Today:
“I take 10 to 12 different things a day, and on the days I pitch, there’s four more things. There’s a caffeine drink I take from a company that (former teammate) Curt Schilling introduced me to in ’05. I take some Korean ginseng and a few other proteins out there that are not certified. But I haven’t failed any tests, so I figured I’m good.”
“I do what I want to do and say what I want to say,” says Arroyo, who will make $9.5 million this season as part of a contract scheduled to pay him more than $38 million from 2006 to 2011. “But society has made this such a tainted thing. The media has made it where people look at it in such a super-negative light. I’ve always been honest. I’m not going to stop now.”
“People can think what they want of me,” he says. “I don’t give a f—-.”
“I can see where guys like Hank Aaron and some of the old-timers have a beef with it,” Arroyo says. “But as far as looking at Manny Ramirez like he’s (serial killer) Ted Bundy, you’re out of your mind. At the end of the day, you think anybody really (cares) whether Manny Ramirez’s kidneys fail and he dies at 50?
“You were happy if the Red Sox won 95 games. You’d go home, have a cookout with your family. No big deal.”
“If Mark McGwire is hitting 60 homers, the only thing that matters is his performance,” Arroyo says. “People don’t own teams to lose money. If you ask any owner whether they would rather make $20 million and come in last place or lose $20 million and win a World Series, there’s only one guy who honestly would take that championship: George Steinbrenner (of the Yankees). Nobody else.”
“That stuff’s like bubblegum compared to steroids,” he says. “You’re playing (night games) in L.A., you fly across the country, and you’re pitching a day game at Wrigley (Field in Chicago). You telling me you don’t want something to wake you up? You have half this country, maybe more, that can’t function without a cup of coffee.
“You don’t want me to get Albert Pujols out? Give me a break. If you give me (the amphetamine) Adderall, and I strike out Pujols in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to want to take that Adderall the next time.”
If not for the home run record falling, first with McGwire and then with Bonds hitting 73 home runs in 2001, Arroyo says there would be no drug testing.
“It might be dangerous,” he says, “but so is drinking and driving. And how many of us do it at least once a year? Pretty much everybody.”
It’s also time, Arroyo says, to stop blaming baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, players union executive director Don Fehr or other officials.
“You think this country really cares about what ballplayers put in their bodies?” Arroyo asks. “If we really care, why are we pumping Coca-Cola in every kid’s mouth, and McDonald’s, and Burger King and KFC? That (stuff) is killing people.
Maybe there are players who are ashamed of playing in the steroid era, Arroyo says, but he is proud. He made it. He survived.
“I don’t regret a thing,” Arroyo says. “Neither should anyone else.”
All that quoting would make the AP’s head spin. At least it’s USA Today!
A lot of MLB execs are going to criticize Arroyo for his candor, and he’ll probably get punished in some way, shape, or form. And then you’ll have the sportswriters and a vocal subset of fans who lambast him for not being ashamed of what he’s put in his body. I, for one, applaud Arroyo for being honest and not being fooled into feeling embarrassed of wanting to succeed in a high-pressure sport.
The irritating factor with the PED issue, of course, is the hypocrisy. Arroyo aptly points out such hypocrisies with his examples citing coffee, alcohol, and fast food. If you don’t want performance-enhancing drugs in the sport, that’s fine, but be consistent: if steroids are banned because they’re unhealthy, then ban all unhealthy things like alcohol, chewing tobacco, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, et cetera; and if steroids are banned because they enhance performance, then ban all performance-enhancing substances (you know, the ones Arroyo brazenly takes because they’re not outlawed).
Knowing such change comes at a snail’s pace in baseball, I’m content having a new hero in Major League Baseball in Bronson Arroyo.
If we’re really interested in learning about what really happened in the Steroid Era, then we need to motivate other players to open up like Arroyo did without fear of being punished or becoming outcasts. Very few players are willing to gamble with their public persona and future earnings as Arroyo did, so we need to remove most of the risk.
That’s going to be hard to do. There are already man-hunting groups on Facebook dedicated to bringing down the fan who launched a cup of beer at Shane Victorino during last night’s game in Chicago. Baseball fans, and really Americans in general, are a vengeful bunch. We love justice. As such, we shouldn’t bicker when athletes are caught red-handed and still try to slither away, or retreat into a bubble instead of opening up about it — we don’t give them any reason to share.
Who knows, maybe Arroyo can be the crusder for drug-using athletes we thought former NBA player John Amaechi would be for the gay community. Arroyo can be at the front of a protest march of ‘roided-up athletes: “We’re here! We’re juiced up! Get used to it!”