Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Pitchers With Juiced Arms Are Guilty Too

My beef this week is with the small amount of attention pitchers from the steroid era get compared to hitters from the steroid era.

When we think steroids, we automatically get this picture in our mind of a behemoth sized hitter smacking 500-foot homers.

But hitters were not the only players taking steroids in baseball.

any pitchers were using them too, one of them being former Dodgers’ closer Eric Gagne.

Gagne holds the record for most consecutive converted save chances, with 84, and was one of the most dominant closers from 2002 to 2004.

His name was one of the 89 players and 32 pitchers in the Mitchell Report in 2007, inextricably linking him with the steroid era. After that, Gagne, once one of baseball’s most dominant closers, fell off the face of the earth.

But when Gagne retired this past Tuesday, where were the torches and pitchforks that we always bring out whenever a juicer retires?

aybe it’s just the disenchantment we have with steroids these days because of the long period of time where it was impossible to watch ESPN without hearing the word “steroid” every 10 seconds.

Even if this is the reason that Gagne’s retirement wasn’t noticed in the sports world, there is still the fact that pitchers are not as linked to steroids as hitters are.

The most likely reason is that the effects that steroids have on a hitter are more visible than their effects on a pitcher.

Hitters use steroids to put some “oomph” into their swing, and it’s easy to notice when guys start knocking balls out of the park on an irregularly high basis.

Pitchers however, don’t use the stuff to get more powerful; they use it to more efficiently reload the weapons that are their pitching arms. Through the use of susbstances like HGH, pitchers can recover more quickly through tissue repair, which especially helps with a pitcher’s shoulder and elbow. This helps a pitcher feel rejuvenated, and prevents the usual wear and tear a pitcher’s arm goes through after each outing. Each and every time they pitch they are just as good, if not better than they were their last outing.

any also believe that steroids have a mental effect on users. A pitcher who feels stronger as a result of the steroids is going to have more confidence in his pitches.

So although the effect is not as visible, it was certainly giving pitchers as much of an advantage over their opponents as hitters had. Pitchers were cheating the game and its fans as much as hitters were during the steroid era.

It’s obvious to see the attractiveness that steroids had for a guy like Gagne. He was originally a starter, but wasn’t getting anywhere, especially with the Tommy John surgery he underwent when he was only 21. Finally, in 2002, he got the chance to reinvent himself as a closer. So, why not try something new like steroids to not only make himself more effective but also prevent the arm injuries he was used to?

Gagne jumped at the opportunity, and it paid off. For three years, from 2002 to 2004, he was untouchable, as dominant as any pitcher has ever been.

In 2004, I went to a Dodgers’ game toward the end of Gagne’s consecutive saves streak. I was 12, and was hoping I would be lucky enough to get to see Gagne, whose crazy glasses and exciting demeanor were all the talk in baseball. Well, in a close game against the crosstown rival Giants, Gagne came out to save the game, with the Dodgers up 5-4. The place was electric. Gagne came trotting out to the mound with “Welcome to the Jungle” blaring, and the words “Game Over” flashing on the screen. He got three straight strikeouts and his 83rd consecutive save in one of the best sports moments of my life.

And now I see it was all a fluke, just like McGwire’s and Sosa’s magical summer of 1998, and just like Bonds’ 73 homers in 2001. And isn’t that why we’re mad at these players? Because they gave us so much excitement and joy and even saved the game of baseball, and now we find out they were cheating the game and fooling us the entire time. Why then, do we crucify hitters like Bonds and McGwire, but give pitchers like Gagne, Andy Pettite and even Roger Clemens, a free pass?

I’m not saying we should be angry at Gagne forever. Even I learned to forgive and forget. But if you’re going to be mad at hitters like Bonds and McGwire for providing such excitement with their monster home runs, then be mad at guys like Gagne who did the exact same thing with their pitching. Don’t let Eric Gagne be the forgotten face of steroids.”

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