It was announced yesterday that former Florida Marlins (among other teams) first baseman Mike Jacobs, now with the Colorado Rockies’ Triple A affiliate, tested positive for human growth hormone (HGH). He was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball and then received his release from the Rockies.
Interviewed one week before the discovery of HGH in his system, Jacobs was unknowingly prophetic in expressing his wishes:
I’m trying to show baseball people that I don’t belong in Triple A. There are times when you think you’ve been forgotten. I want an opportunity to be remembered — if not with the Rockies, with another big-league team.
It’s hard to imagine this not being remembered, as Jacobs becomes the first North American athlete to test positive for HGH, which is notoriously difficult to detect.
In quite a different statement after his suspension and release from the Rockies’ organization, Jacobs was apologetic and hopeful.
A few weeks ago, in an attempt to overcome knee and back problems, I made the terrible decision to take HGH. I immediately stopped a couple of days after being tested. Taking it was one of the worst decisions I could have ever made, one for which I take full responsibility. I apologize to my family, friends, the Colorado Rockies organization, Major League Baseball and to the fans. After my suspension is completed, I hope I have the opportunity to continue my career in the game that I love so much.
Ask anyone why human growth hormones should be banned in baseball or other sports and you’re likely to hear how it offers an unfair advantage as a performance enhancer. The truth, however, is quite different. Most studies agree that HGH wouldn’t offer anyone an advantage on the field of play. This isn’t anything new to the scientific community. They’ve been claiming this for years. Daniel Engbar, writing for Slate in 2007, explains:
What’s the difference between steroids and HGH? For starters, we know that a baseball player can beef up on steroids and improve his athletic performance. But most clinical studies suggest that HGH won’t help an athlete at all. So far, no one has been able to connect the increase in lean body tissue caused by HGH with enhancement of athletic performance. Unlike steroids, growth hormone hasn’t been shown to increase weight-lifting ability; in the lab, it has a greater effect on muscle definition than muscle strength. And it doesn’t seem to help much with cardiovascular fitness, either.
I’m not a doctor or a lab rat (so please look it up for yourself if you have doubts or questions), but from what I’ve read human growth hormone repairs and regenerates human tissue. It’s created naturally in the body by your pituitary gland. Around the age of 30, the hormone’s production begins to decrease and as a result injuries take longer to heal. However, any claims that HGH use will have a positive effect on anything related to fitness are commercially driven, not scientific.
Unfortunately, in the race to appear clean and untainted by performance enhancers, Major League Baseball and other sports have banned its use without any cause other than optics. Sports economist J.C. Bradbury in an article for ESPN The Magazine explains the dangers of this:
Most athletes looking for an edge aren’t scrolling through databases of technical research. Pushers, web searches and the media are all they have to go on, and those sources mostly deliver the same faulty message: HGH builds muscle while increasing stamina. It’s magic! The ban serves not to deter athletes but to draw them to HGH. Prohibiting its use sends a powerful message that the stuff gives an unfair advantage. Why else would it be on the same ban list as a known performance-enhancer such as steroids?
It’s time to grow up on this issue and create more truthful dialogues about HGH use and its side effects in not just baseball but all sports. I don’t know the particulars of Jacobs’ case, so I can’t say whether he was in the right or wrong with his use of injections. However, I can say that an outright ban on HGH simply because of its association with steroids, is ignorant and unhelpful. Instead, players and the commissioner’s office need a better education on what HGH does and the side effects that it can incur.
And The Rest
I was quite honestly of the belief that I couldn’t love Brandon Morrow any more than I already did, and then this:
The MLBPA has filed a grievance against the Chicago Cubs on the behalf of Carlos Zambrano.
When Minnesota Twins Minor League outfielder Luke Hughes missed a flight and went to the wrong gate, it butterfly effected Joe Mauer into playing right field last night. No, seriously.
Greetings streaking Milwaukee Brewers, please meet Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw. Mr. Kershaw, these are the streaking Milwaukee Brewers that people have been talking about.
Speaking of which, nothing makes me more nervous than plays like this in baseball.
Jason Heyward vs. Jose “George” Costanza. It’s on.
John Mayberry Jr. vs. Raul Ibanez. It’s on, also.
Eat it, military industrial complex! Now, please stand for a rousing rendition of God Bless America.
Instead of America, Jose Tabata would like to honour Roberto Clemente.
One more reason not to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Los Angeles Angels need to start recruiting youth. You mean five designated hitters on one roster might be too much?
He’s coming. He’s coming. He’s coming. And he’s gonna play.
And finally, the vintage Aqua Velva showdown, compares the classic Pete Rose commercial to another one by Steve Garvey.