Lasik vs PEDs

Steen with an interesting question:

Matty offers the low-five:

SSI finds the question commendable.  I totally agree that the torch-and-pitchfork media lynchings on steroids is hypocritical and unfair.  The level of ostracism that McGwire and Sosa have received is laughably out of proportion.  I don't know what repressed angst the crusaders have lurking, but it isn't about steroids per se, I know that.

...............

Dr. D does quibble with the word "arbitrary", mayhaps...

Ultimately, the FDA and similar federal agencies decide whether Lasik vs. roids vs marijuana are okay or not.

Not sure how it could be otherwise, in a democracy -

Certainly human oversight committees are subject to error. But the alternatives to U.S.-style republics, those pile up the negatives associated rather quickly :- )

The FDA's decisions are certainly subject to debate, but don't know if I'd use the term "arbitrary." Fortunately, where we live, the government is subject to checks and balances.

....................

As respects MLB's own decisions on what is okay or not within the realm of "legal," that's a tougher question, granted. Right now MLB is *not* under fire for being too INtolerant of substances. Rather, they're being told, tighten it up or we'll tighten it up for you.

....................

Bill James, as so often, waded into the steroids brawl with a shocking argument that steroids are (or will be) actually good for you -- that they slow down aging, and that in fighting them, MLB is putting itself in a position it cannot possibly win, long-term.  50 years from now, saith the Founding Father, we'll look back on this argument like the 1950's argument that a freshman football player ought to be thrown out of school for drinking coffee.

Perhaps true in the most abstract sense, but have you ever googled "dangers of steroids"?  Read an article or two and it's a cup of cold water in the face.

This may not apply to the supplements that Steen was referring to, but health problems associated with steroids ... Addiction, aggression, high blood pressure and stroke, heart attack, prostrate enlargement, liver toxicity, enlargement of the heart, etc etc. 

In this case it seems there is a reason that the doctors want many PED's to be dispensed by prescription only.

.....................

James' reply, we're sure, would be that the day will come when anti-aging drugs and PED's will have health benefits that outweigh the risks. 

I don't doubt that this is true, but also don't doubt that there are substantial reasons that many PED's are controlled substances. 

Lasik, like weightlifting and wheatgrass, comes with few dangers associated and so it's fine for athletes to better themselves with these.  What I'm wondering is why some hitter doesn't fit himself with 3x mag hi-contrast goggles and revolutionize hitting :- )

Or not,

Jemanji

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Might be because is never more than an equalizer. Theoretically most baseball players, like most human being's eyesight is 20/20, which is generally the target for Lasik if I'm not mistaken. It's not significantly different from a player getting a torn ligament repaired, or bone spurs removed, or having knee surgery or any other kind of procedure to repair something that players can probably play through. It is used to get them back to normal. Unlike PEDs or steroids that can give an already gifted player further advantage in physical strength or recovery times, Lasik cannot be used to give a person that already has 20/20 vision 20/10 or 20/5, or if it can, then that is the case in which it should be disallowed.

1

Johnson just had his eyes corrected to 20/10 with LASIK...they do as much good as they can possibly do...they don't stop at 20/20

2

The results of Lasik are kind of random, they do what they can, but websites I'm reading say to expect 20/40 vision, as good as 20/25 or 20/20. I think the 20/10 thing is a lucky fluke

3

That doesn't mean they aren't TRYING to get you more than 20/20 if they can. Players and their medical advisers will do anything...ANYTHING to get an edge and maximize their potential earnings. PEDs are just the latest in a long line of such treatments as amphetamines (taken by most of the players currently in the HOF), nutritional supplements, luxuries like personal masseurs and trainers (and you can't call THAT an equalizer...only the richest athletes can afford such things)...the list is much longer than this...just naming the things that come to mind.

4

To say no to Lasik for Rob Johnson (assuming his vision prior was something worse than 20/40) would be the same as saying Adrian Beltre can't have his bone spurs removed, and Ken Griffey Jr. can't have his knees arthroscopically repaired. It's not the same as PEDs because a player that already has 20/20 vision cannot expect to benefit from it. And I would disagree about most players being able to afford personal masseurs and trainers, certainly those that are under team control would have trouble affording them, though masseurs and trainers would not be out of their reach as league minimum salary is $350,000, I can't imagine that a personal trainer, unless you were adhering firmly to them training only you, would not cost more than 20 or 30,000 dollars a year. So out of reach for most minor leaguers certainly, but not for major league athletes. And just so that no one continues to make the mistake, PEDs are not A drug, it is a catch all term for Performance Enhancing Drugs that include amphetamines and steroids, this includes legal baseball drugs such as cortisone. I'm not trying to shove that in your face, as obviously I made the same mistake, that's just for the sake of neither of us continuing to make the error.

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The point I was making re: amphetamines was not that they were different re: PED labeling than steroids...I know they're included...the point was that we all love Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench and Mike Schmidt unconditionally even though you had BETTER BELIEVE they were taking PEDs (greenies) to enhance their game. Sosa and McGwire were no different. Their drugs just worked a little better.

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"It is important that anyone considering LASIK have realistic expectations. LASIK allows people to perform most of their everyday tasks without corrective lenses. However, people looking for perfect vision without glasses or contacts run the risk of being disappointed. More than 90 percent of people who have LASIK achieve somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40 vision without glasses or contact lenses. If sharp, detailed 20/20 vision is essential for your job or leisure activities, consider whether 20/40 vision would be good enough for you.

You should be comfortable with the possibility that you may need a second surgery called a retreatment or that you might need to wear glasses for certain activities, such as reading or driving at night."

8

.. that Steen and SABRMatt make, that if you can have eyesight augmented by medical technology, why not strength, durability, or anything else...

It's a whale of a point they make...

9

I think it has to revolve around the idea of a return to normal by general human standards. For the most part, a professional athlete devotes his or her life to being more physically capable than normal human beings, certainly there's natural talent to compliment that, but for most there still has to be a dedication to pushing that talent as far as it will go. A person can train to improve their muscles and reflexes, but eyesight is almost entirely out of their hands. Really, all you can do is try not to damage it and some people will still have it fade rapidly or never have it to begin with. Lasik is a surgery to repair damage, and I suppose that's what it comes down to, surgery is completely legal in baseball, I cannot think of a surgery that would be against the rules. What is illegal is the use of certain drugs, I think the better argument would be against the use of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs like cortisone. I agree, that eventually baseball has to bend one way or the other, outlawing all drugs, and then potentially all surgeries in an effort to keep hundred year old records pure, or we can accept that humanity, and the game of baseball itself, is evolving and allow at least the drugs that are considered legal by federal standards. Of course that kind of attitude should extend to other things such as instant replay, robot umpires, a DH in the National League and a restructuring of the divisions to allow for greater competition.

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Steen's picture

Steen

Its widely hypothized if tested the top level athletes in strength/speed sports would show to as having their mysostatin gene inhibited. The gene puts a limiter on the amount of skeletal muscle the body will carry. (Google "Belgian Blue" is you'd like to see it in action)
My point being that *we* are not equal, not even at the highest levels, there is a definite genetic caste system. Obviously some people have the work ethic and luck to overcome this inequity but that doesnt mean we should ignore the playing field. I think what this really comes back to is that some of us need desparately to believe that we all are created equally. Those people can call me when an NFL team starts a white guy at RB, or a dude from sweden wins the gold in the 100 meter dash. (Heck, call me if he reaches the final heat.)

11

If the only cards you're dealt are those that enable you to stay up later than anybody else, you gotta pwn the 4 a.m. internet crowd. Take the good with the bad, bro :- )

If Ken Griffey Jr. or Erik Bedard ever dare to come on here and try to out-type me after 2 a.m., I personally guarantee I will remove their will to compete.

12

Great thread.

In response to the "dangers of steroids" note --- steroids are ROUTINELY used in various medical treatments. In some cases, they are prescribed long-term. The point here is that "when used properly" many of the worst dangers of steroids cited are either removed or severely limited.

One of the problems with the steroid issue of today is that it is too often takes on a nearly religious zealotry. Yes - ABUSING steroids is extremely dangerous. Same with alcohol. Same with aspirin. (dozens die of aspirin overdoses per year -- nobody has EVER died of a marijuana OD).

But, obviously, the worst-case scenario of aspirin use isn't the final arbiter of whether it is a legal drug or not.

A HUGE problem in America is that many of these drug laws are NOT being created as a response to medical experts - but are being written in response to any number of lobbies. (go back in history, and you'll see that the anti-pot laws were largely a result of a major push by ROPE manufacturers - whose goal was to destroy the Hemp competition on the market -- and they were successful by creating a drastically overstated fear of the substance. Prohibition can have legitimate concerns - but we've seen the cure can often be worse than the disease).

My view? I think any substance that "can be" used safely -- but which is dangerous when abused -- is ideal for being a perscription substance. And, I'd have no problem with every MLB player lining up to get their perscriptions as long as the substances were tightly monitored and regulated by the league.

Oh, you'll still have a few who might decide if a little is good, more is better, and cheat anyway. You do what you can to police that. But, you completely do away with the dangers of unknown suppliers. You remove the self-medicating problems. The question of "who is on, who is not" could be completely public. (No requirement to use them - so players could CHOOSE to pass).

In that scenario, I think you'd see steroids become a staple of injury recovery - but likely be less widely used (and mis-used) than they were in the 90's and 2000s.

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