Posted on: July 13, 2010 11:56 pm

Remembering Steinbrenner from the Heartland

Finding a unique view of George Steinbrenner on the day of his death is like trying to squeeze a 13" ball through a 10" hoop.  You can try but it tends to be an exercise in frustration.  Well, I'm a bit on the stubborn side so the attempt is going to be made here.  Kansas City's involvement with George and the Yankees goes back a long way.  Back to 1975 when it was apparent that both teams were very close to challenging for their divisions in the AL.  As a Royals fan you could see George was going to do all he could to get NY back to a champion.  As both teams battled each other through 4 ALCS, we in the Midwest viewed George as a fun to dislike villian, but a worthy opponent though a bit eccentric in his ways.  The Bronx Zoo was entertaining to view yet frustrating to play.  It was so sweet to finally get the monkey off our backs in 1980 and after our ALCS win, see George fire Dick Howser who we picked up the next year.

The 80's were good to the Yankees in the wins department, yet no playoffs came after the 1981 WS loss to the Dodgers.  George was a madman.  He was always trying to get back to the Series but something would always go wrong in the end, or the Tigers, Orioles, Red Sox, or Blue Jays would be too much in a given year for the Yanks.  Then George got his second suspension of his career over the Dave Winfield incident (the first was over illegal campaign contributions to the '72 Nixon/Agnew ticket).  Stepping away was the best thing to happen to NY.  His front offices were able to draft well, make good trades, and sign free agents that made sense.  Under Bob Watson the Yanks finally made it back to the postseason and won four WS in 6 years.  As George takes over more control of the the team, they go through a drought of sorts (for them anyway) and the WS Championship eludes them until hank takes over the team and allows Brian Cashman to show why he's a very good GM w/o tons of interferrence from ownership.

After the strike of 1994, George did a great job of maximizing his revenues under the new agreement.  Until that point, even teams like the Royals could match pace with the Yankees in players salaries.  George's tremedous business accumen allowed NY to outspend smaller markets by a wide margin.  He was only doing what seemed best for his team.  Unfortunately for many smaller markets, ownership chose to play the poor us game rather than adapt and respond to the challenge.  Was this selfish on George's part and maybe not the best thing overall for baseball, probably.  I never looked at Steinbrenner with the same fun villian view after that.  However, he did what he needed to do for his team and that had to be respected.  I wish he would have offered the limited revenue sharing option a bit earlier or offered up some other concessions in other areas in the owners control to help ease the transition to the big money era in baseball.  Hindsight is 20/20 though, and what happened is past now.

In the end, George was well, George.  His lazer focus was wanting his team to be the best in baseball and through good or bad you knew his decisions were based on achieving that.  We didn't always like the results out here in the Midwest.  It was more fun when we were equals and George failed to realize that the whole sport would have been better off with his team having more than just Boston as a big rival.  The big picture was never George's strength.  Making the Yankees #1 any way possible was where Geprge's heart was and the NY fans will always be grateful for that.  In the Heartland, we'll always see GS with respect but much differently.
Posted on: January 25, 2010 5:17 am

Is It Time To Allow Some HGH Usage In Sports?

This morning, my mind began to wonder about the topic for the next edition of the Moo Report.  the old brain had been tossing around a few ideas whrn an article in the Kansas City Star on Sunday morning (24th) by Sam Melling struck me as one heck of an interesting subject.  First, here is the link to read the whole and lenghty article.


Lets start with an excerpt from the article.  David Segui is a Kansas city native who played baseball for seven major league teams such as the Orioles, Mets, Expos, and Mariners.  Here is his story today.

The 43-year-old man says he feels 25. This is no small thing. David Segui was a major-league baseball player at 25, and a good one, making more than $40 million in what would become a 15-year career. So 25 was pretty good.

There’s another reason this is no small thing. It’s what he went through between 25 and 43. Too much of his 30s were miserable, with knees that felt full of rust and knives when he walked. Stairs were impossible. If he dropped something, it stayed dropped. Bending down took too much effort.

Ten years ago, when the pain was the worst, doctors found no cartilage in his knees. Just bone on bone, they told him, and those knees needed to be replaced.

“That didn’t sound too fun,” says Segui, who starred at Bishop Ward. “I thought, ‘How about I get on drugs?’ ”

So he did, adding human growth hormone to the steroids he had taken on and off from 1994 to the end of his career in 2004. He still injects HGH every day by prescription — one of baseball’s first admitted performance- enhancing drug users continuing through retirement — and there’s obvious pride when he says his doctor calls him “my healthiest patient.”

Segui is a marvel of modern science, with workouts that last up to four hours a day, all fueled by a synthetic drug banned by all major sports leagues. There are sprints and core work at his home in Johnson County, weights at the gym, and he laughs at how — before the drugs — he couldn’t walk to the kitchen without pain.

He is also, perhaps, the future of how the rest of us view what are now illegal and labeled “performance-enhancing drugs.” If they work this well, and can be used legally with a prescription, experts say it’s a matter of time before our attitudes about them shift.

This begs the question, is there a legitimate use for HGH and other synthetic hormone treatments if administered by a doctor?  What would constitute proper usage?

I’ve heard the point made,” says Andrzej Bartke, one of the world’s leading experts on HGH, “that now you take urine samples to make sure you haven’t taken drugs, where in 20 years you might take urine samples to make sure you took your drugs. This idea is approaching. Attitudes are changing.”

• • •

Bartke is famous in certain circles for using growth hormone to keep a mouse alive for 1,819 days — nearly five years, and five times longer than the expected life span. He won 20,000 British pounds (about $32,000) for the project.

The implications for humans are obvious: a sort of fountain of youth that’s already attracted thousands.

“It definitely works, there’s no question about it,” Bartke says. “You will get stronger, your muscles will get stronger. That’s why the athletes take it.”

But Bartke is always careful to stress that the long-term effects of growth hormone are mostly unknown, and that it should be used only in rare circumstances and with a legitimate doctor’s guidance.

Growth hormone is the most likely to become socially acceptable. Science still needs more testing before it can go mainstream. But if that happens and you start to see your grandmother become less frail with a certain treatment, it becomes harder to make the case that it’s dangerous to a linebacker.

Are scientific advancements always bad when it comes to treatments that can help an athlete perform better?  If a player's body lacked certain hormones, doctors could with treatment, raise their levels to the normal range.  Would this be an acceptable use of HGH or testosterone?

Our bodies naturally produce human growth hormone. It is an essential substance for our muscles, bones and tissue to grow and strengthen. Over time — and particularly after 40 years — our bodies produce less growth hormone.

This is a part of the aging process and why we get weaker and slower, with less energy. Synthetic growth hormone was developed to treat certain diseases in children, but is often prescribed to adults whose bodies aren’t producing enough of the hormone naturally.

HGH was added to the NFL’s banned list in 1991, and to baseball’s in 2005. But there is no reliable test for the drug, which has been shown to increase muscle and cut fat. It’s become popular among older people looking to slow the aging process.

Among them is Ed Lothamer, a 68-year-old former Chiefs lineman who lives in southern Johnson County. He takes HGH and testosterone. Despite his age and a list of injuries from an eight-year pro career, he works eight-hour days and maintains regular workouts while many of his former teammates ache and limp their way through retirement.

“I’m telling you: I wake up every day and I feel good,” Lothamer says. “I do believe it does absolutely work. I want to keep going in life, and I feel good. I don’t know if it’s a panacea, but I think it’s something that makes me feel better.”

If a doctor can prescribe HGH for those of us away from the sports fields and arenas, why can't medically supervised treatments be used on current players if their situation warrants?

Fans of 50 Cent, Timbaland, Wyclef Jean and Mary J. Blige didn’t seem to care when those entertainers turned up in a steroids and HGH investigation last year.

“We’ve accepted it among other entertainers,” says Charles Yesalis, a Penn State professor with 25 years researching drugs and testing. “Why not accept it among sports entertainers?”

Well, maybe we have. Most experts and industry insiders say performance enhancers are just as prevalent in the NFL, but the public and media seem less interested in the details.

Major-league baseball has been rocked by drug scandal after drug scandal but — even with lots of steroids backlash — spent much of the last decade setting yearly records for revenue.

Dan Lebowitz is a former bodybuilder now in charge of Northeastern University’s Study for Sport in Society. He saw the influence of drugs on his old sport decades ago and knew it was just a matter of time before they took over “major” sports like football and baseball.

The reception has him convinced that we’re moving toward acceptance.

“Football, in many respects, is already the expression of how we accept PEDs,” he says. “It’s the way our entire culture thinks about everything. The anatomy of the woman, anatomy of the man, everything: Our culture is geared toward bigger, stronger, faster. More is always better.”

Would sports be better served by leagalizing certain PEDs and placing the use of those under league supervision?  League doctors would see what was ones were needed and prescribe a safe program od usage.  Is that possible or too complicated in todays sports.  Also, if the general population begins accepting it for their own use, can acceptance of athletes usage be far behind?

Segui hasn’t talked like this in years. Not to a reporter, anyway. He was among the first pro ballplayers to admit that he had used performance-enhancing drugs three years ago. His original motivation was a statement he saw from former teammate Jason Grimsley about a conversation they had regarding HGH.

Segui’s name had been redacted, but he felt sure it would get out eventually and become tangled with worse scandals. He went public and quickly grew tired of people he thought were unwilling to listen with an open mind.

But now he likes hearing what these doctors are saying about attitudes changing. Segui thinks of himself as walking, sprinting, weightlifting proof that drugs currently banned by major sports leagues can be beneficial with no negative side effects.

Steroids should always be banned, Segui says, because athletes could never be trusted to take them responsibly. But he sees growth hormone differently, because it’s something our bodies produce naturally.

He says his levels were abnormally low, which was causing the problems with his knees. Daily injections of HGH — insurance picks up most of the cost, so Segui pays about $180 for a box that lasts 15 days — merely put him back to normal range where he can enjoy a better quality of life.

Simple stuff, right?

“In 20 years,” he says, “it won’t be any big deal. You’ll think of it like vitamins.”

After reading the whole article, here is my view of the topic.  I do not believe that all PED usage is bad.  If your HGH levels are below average, doctors could bring your levels up to normal.  If the acceptable range is 5 to 13 and you're a 3.6, leagues should allow their athletes to be treated with the sport's approval and supervision.  Levels could be raised to mid levels, say a 10 max in this instance.  Same with testosterone as well.  Same with creatine and other natural substances in our systems.  Again, these are medically supervised regimens, not purchasing pills from someone a teammate knows or getting a shot in the butt by a trainer.  I am still against use of PEDs that have long term negative side effects, even with a doctor's okay. 

The final question is can it all be stopped?  Usage is on the rise in amateur sports as well.

One of the evolving issues with HGH and other drugs is what constitutes cheating.

There was a time — we’re talking hundreds of years ago — when mere training and practice were considered unseemly in amateur sports. Viewpoints have been changing ever since.

Proponents of HGH often compare its use with Lasik eye surgery, in that each corrects deficiencies that some of our bodies have. Competing with naturally decreased levels of growth hormone is a disadvantage, just like bad eyesight. So why can’t doctors help treat both?

Gary Wadler is the chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited-list subcommittee. He says the three most important criteria used for prohibiting a drug are performance enhancement, risk to health and violating the spirit of sport.

If a drug fills two of those, it could be banned — but not necessarily.

“These regulations are based on science, not on whims,” Wadler says. “The laws are quite clear.”

The question then becomes whether over time science can reduce the health risks, and whether the public will begin to see it less as a violation of spirit and more as physical improvement — like taking supplements.

Aways seems to be more questions than answers to the mix of modern medicine and sports.  Part of me wants sports to bs "pure".  Players giving their all and using nothing more than their natural talents.  The other part understands that better training methods and nutrition has enhanced the abilities of today's participants.  If a PED was safe, administered by medical personnel with leage supervision and was not abused to the detriment of the sport and society plus blood levels of the hormones were kept within recommended medical levels, I see little wrong in it's usage. 

Your turn now.  Do I have a valid agrument?  Am I missing something here?  Is my position flawed?  Heck, the Mrs. says I'm wrong all the time.  Thanks fro reading this and I would love to see what everyone thinks.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com