11 October 2004

MVP Trophy Not So Valuable If You're Dead

It's often said that most players, when given the choice of a longer, undistinguished career or a shorter, more glorious one helped by steroid use, would choose the latter, even if they knew it would be followed by some health issues. I wonder if they'd make the same choice if they knew they wouldn't live to see their 50th birthday?

The tragic and premature deaths of people like Caminiti and Lyle Alzado ought to provide a harbinger to the MLB players' union. Donald Fehr and the MLBPA are so busy protecting their own asses (and pocketbooks) under the guise of "defending the players' right to privacy" that they refuse to see steroids for what they are: a quick-fix that creates more problems than it solves, and a potential killer. If a link can be found between Caminiti's steroid use and his heart attack at age 41, Fehr and the MLBPA lawyers ought to be tried as an accomplice to negligent manslaughter.

Please note that I think Ken Caminiti, like anyone else, is ultimately responsible for his own actions, but the Union should be protecting the players, even if it means protecting them from themselves, in whatever way they can.

Caminiti chose to use steroids, knowing the potential dangers associated with them, and he had substance abuse problems that exceeded the arena of performance-enhancing drugs, cocaine and alcohol, at least. But you can be sure that the steroids didn't help things, and you can also be sure that Caminiti would have traded in that one, great season of an otherwise undistinguished career for a few more years of life.

In a heartbeat.

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