MLB teams struggle to keep their players on the field. Perhaps it’s time to re-consider the controlled use of steroids to avoid and quickly heal injuries.
Major League Baseball (MLB) athletes are, of course, not immune from injuries. Injuries are, after all, part of the game. But the game is harmed when fans arrive at the ballpark only to find understudies in the lineup and their team competing at less than full strength.
If the 2020 season began today, the entire starting outfield of the New York Yankees would not be playing. Salaries totaling $50 million between Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge would be sitting idle.
Around the league, injured and unavailable would include Cole Hamels (out indefinitely), Chris Sale (Mid-April), James Paxton (Mid-May), Andrew McCutchen (May), Rich Hill (June), Luis Severino (out for the season), and the list goes on.
That Was Then, This Is Now
In the world you and I live in, I venture to say there is no one reading this who has never been prescribed treatment that utilizes a steroid to combat the ailment, especially anything having to do with muscle injuries or discomfort.
MLB – and we all know why (thank you, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemens) – says no to steroids- even in the face of science and notices such as this one:
Date: May 16, 2017
Source: Northwestern UniversitySummary:
In a surprising finding, weekly doses of glucocorticoid steroids, such as prednisone, help speed recovery in muscle injuries, reports a new study.
The weekly steroids also repaired muscles damaged by muscular dystrophy. When given daily over long periods, prednisone can cause muscle wasting. (Science Daily)
Other researchers are administering HGH to patients just before and after ACL surgery, to see if it can stave off muscle loss to give athletes a complete recovery.
MLB: Once Bitten, Twice Shy
MLB fans are well aware of what is now labeled as The Steroid Era in baseball. Irreparable harm was inflicted by a minority of players who saw fit to self-medicate their bodies to gain an advantage on the playing field.
MLB’s belated reaction to the epidemic was to establish a list of substances, ban their use, and establish guidelines suspending players who were found to have violated the process.
Once bitten, twice shy, MLB went the route of banning anything and everything.
In today’s world, we’ll probably see MLB’s reaction to the electronic stealing of signs drama in the same way – and ALL use of electronic devices will be prohibited.
MLB Should Open Its Drugstore
First, can everyone agree there is a place for the use of steroids in modern medicine? And further, that the moderate and controlled application of steroids by certified medical personnel can prevent some baseball-related injuries while accelerating the healing of others?
Once over that hurdle, it would seem that MLB, together with the Player’s Association, and a team of medical professionals should be able to identify a list of controlled substances that can be made available to injured players.
This responsibility cannot go to individual teams and their doctors, it must be handled from MLB Headquarters.
Otherwise, baseball runs the risk of a rogue team running wild as in the recent example of the Houston Astros.
Take It Slow But Keep It Steady
As with anything and especially in medicine, nothing happens overnight. Approve two steroids, and then another two before ten more are approved.
There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, either. The Surgeon General’s office and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have a wealth of study and information to aid the team put together at MLB.
Steroids are not to be seen as a panacea. Risks associated with their use like those uncovered in this study by the Mayo Clinic must be weighed in as well as the benefits.
This idea represents a broad undertaking by baseball. Nothing ventured is nothing gained, and the whole matter can be called off at any time.
But I think of it this way: if the Commissioner can spend countless dollars and untold energy to trim a minute and a half off the time it takes to play a game, then surely finding ways of keeping star players on the field merits the same attention.