Former Big Leaguer Says Fear Driving MLB Drug Issues
> 1/16/2008 1:15:56 PM

On Tuesday, several high ranking officials testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in response to the MLB sponsored drug investigation that was conducted by former Senator George Mitchell. While this meeting was ostensibly to discuss the affects of and reasons for the use of steroids in baseball, as the New York Times reported today, the most interesting line of questioning came from Rep. John Tierney (D - MA). Mr. Tierney pressed Commissioner Bud Selig and MLP Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr on why, since amphetamines have become a banned substance, player exemptions for ADHD related stimulants have risen from 28 in 2006 to 103 during this past season. Mr. Tierny continued by pointing out that based on these most recent numbers, Major League Baseball players are being treated with medication for ADHD at roughly eight times the rate of the general public.

The Congressional hearings that Mitchell, Selig, and Fehr took part in yesterday are part of a wider inquiry into the health of baseball, and the sport's ability to keep itself clean. Judging from Representative Tierney's revelations, Major League Baseball is not doing a very good job. Amphetamines, commonly referred to in baseball circles as "greenies," have been a part of the game since before steroids, and many have argued that they have always been the dirtiest of baseball's dirty secrets. It would appear that many players, instead of giving up their greenie habit, have simply conspired with willing physicians (whether these were team doctors or not is unclear) to institutionalize their use of amphetamines in the form of ADHD medications.

For former major league center fielder Doug Glanville, who wrote an editorial piece for today's New York Times, the reason for all this drug use is clear: fear. As Glanville eloquently explains, baseball can be a cruel business where a player may make the All-Star game one year and find himself out of work the next due to eroding skills. Age and injury can greatly diminish a player's abilities, and when the going gets tough, players can either fight to keep their job the healthy way or the now-illegal way. Baseball careers can be woefully short, now so more than ever, but fear cannot excuse cheating. For his part, Glanville offers the advice once offered to him by this past season's NL MVP Jimmy Rollins. "Do it afraid," he said. And that sounds like nice advice, especially for confident, intelligent players like Glanville to take. Sadly, that axiom will not be heeded by all big leaguers, so MLB, perhaps with the help (or fear) of Congress at their back, will have to find away to navigate through this storm of drug allegations until the league arrives at a better place.

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