My Dad and I were talking about this very topic last night. Baseball is more concerned with Barry Bonds breaking Aaron’s home run record than the major problems facing players (Hancock) and their managers (LaRussa).
Today, Murray Chass looks at the blind eye baseball has turned on alcohol abuse:
Alcohol last week killed one more major league baseball player than steroids ever have.
I repeat: Alcohol last week killed one more baseball player than steroids ever have.
Yet Major League Baseball and George J. Mitchell and Congress and the steroids zealots are in a tizzy over the use of performance-enhancing substances in baseball. At least Mitchell is being paid to care about them, but he is in such a frenzy to get to the core of steroid use that he wants to run roughshod over federal and state laws barring an employer’s release of an employee’s medical records.
Major League Baseball has made television commercials warning against the dangers of steroids, and dangerous though they may be for possible future ill effects, no baseball player is known to have died from using them. Ken Caminiti admitted using steroids, but he died at the age of 41 from a drug overdose that included cocaine but not steroids.
Baseball, however, doesn’t issue alcohol warnings. Baseball and beer have long been a revenue team, especially in St. Louis, where the Busch family’s influence is still large.
Putting steroids in perspective, since the Balco investigation began four years ago, 1.6 million people have died from smoking-related causes (400,000 a year, the United States surgeon general says) and about 150,000 (nearly half in traffic accidents) have died from alcohol-related causes.
How comforting it is to know that some people care more about baseball’s career home run record than the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings.