We're tired of hearing about athletes and 'roids


POSTED: Sunday, May 10, 2009

People keep asking and the answer is no.

No, I'm not surprised.

How can anyone be shocked or stunned ever again when it comes to steroids and such? I'm barely even disappointed ... except for feeling sorry for fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers and University of Hawaii women's volleyball.

For them, same-day revelations that Manny Ramirez and Kim Willoughby tested positive for banned substances has to feel like a punch to the gut. The names didn't surprise me, partly because Ramirez and Willoughby have well-documented incidents of physical surliness in their backgrounds.

I'm tired of this stuff, and bet you are.

Sometimes I find myself drifting toward the crowd that says, “;Hey, if they want to be the best they can be and trade their long-term health for it, that's their choice.”;

Two things always pull me back.

First, the athletes who played by the rules and continue to do so. Jose Canseco says the vast majority of major leaguers cheated during his playing days, including all of the great players. Although we question his assertions at our own risk now, I seriously doubt that everyone Canseco played with and against in all-star games was dirty.

I'm holding out hope on at least Ken Griffey Jr., and Tony Gwynn being clean among the superstars. Gwynn kept my interest when I saw few other reasons to even look at box scores. Griffey stoked it when he jump-started the game in the early 1990s.

Bodies by Burger King during the latter stages of their careers indicate negatory on 'roids for both.

But I won't be surprised by anyone, anything. Not anymore.

I also don't advocate baseball employing the drug standards of the WWE for the same reason I've grown to loathe the WWE: Lots of kids watch.

A generation of the biggest star entertainers and athletes have traded their integrity and long-term health prospects for instant success and career longevity. It's got to be tempting for adolescents with dreams in those fields to do the same.

It wasn't that long ago that Willoughby played for UH. Recent enough that many parents throughout this state have to explain to a young daughter that what their favorite player allegedly did is wrong, and why. Maybe it can be a teaching point for coaches, too. Maybe they can turn her testing positive into a positive.

I spent a good part of the past week at the state high school baseball tournament and wondered if any of the hundreds of players in it have used steroids — like Alex Rodriguez has been accused of as a high school player. I'm not naive enough to think the number is zero, or cynical enough to think it is huge.

There's a freshman pitcher at Punahou named Zach Muenster. I watched him baffle the top-ranked team in the state for four innings of goose eggs to win a tense game.

While shaking hands with him, I noticed how small he is. My educated guess is that the only enhancers this guy's on are red licorice and super-sized sodas.

So, no. I'm not surprised by anyone's name being in the same sentence as the words “;banned substances.”; But when a wiry little freshman like Muenster deals against the big boys, it gives me hope that the generation coming up will remember you don't have to be juiced up to be the best.


Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.