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Offline Pack93z  
#1 Posted : Tuesday, August 20, 2013 8:45:43 AM(UTC)
Pack93z

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An interesting piece from a ball player and some thoughts on his choice not to. Read the complete write up after the jump.

Source wrote:
I was at my heaviest (around 215 pounds) and strongest, but not my leanest, during my first two seasons with the Texas Rangers at ages 24-25. I remember the batting practice session in which I blasted a ball into the second deck in left field at the Ballpark in Arlington, and later in the same session hit a ball onto the grassy section in center well beyond the wall that I knew instantly would go out. My power was always to the pull side, and the significance of hitting a ball right of the “400” sign with the certainty that it would leave is not to be discounted. I never again in my career felt that powerful or even close.

In the offseason before 2002, when I was 26, I played a flag football tournament that I participated in annually. Granted, it was physical, but I was used to bouncing back the next day and hitting and throwing in preparation for the upcoming season. But this time, instead of my usual seamless physical recovery, I was extraordinarily stiff for several days.

This was the first sign that I was in physical decline. From that point on, my body cooperated less and less. When I got to camp in 2002, I noticed that the ball wasn’t exploding off my bat quite as much as it had been the previous year. In fact, in one spring training game in Port Charlotte, I hit a walk-off home run that I confidently anticipated would land in the water beyond the left-field fence and was shocked to see it narrowly sneak out of the park, crashing against the second wooden wall.

Frustration permeated my being to the point that I took hours of swings off a tee on the field at Charlotte County Stadium the following day, bloodying my hands in the process. My mechanics were not sound, but it didn’t make sense that even when squaring the baseball up, the velocity off the bat was noticeably diminished. In hindsight, I can forcefully squish the puzzle pieces together.

My body was producing less testosterone. I was very slowly and quite naturally shrinking. Every year after that, I carried less and less muscle mass while working just as hard in the weight room and continually improving my eating habits. Each year I came into camp a little lighter: 208, then 205, then 202. By my last year in Tampa I was having trouble maintaining 198. My body without weight training naturally carries a lean 175 or 180, as it did when I graduated from high school. So the progression was natural for a guy who wasn’t getting fatter.

I never again experienced the strength or productivity that I had at 24 and 25, but found subtle ways to make adjustments when appropriate and have success, albeit limited, throughout my career. I am grateful for the natural gifts I was given to do so.

Realizing that I’d begun to decline was my moment of truth, the perfect opportunity to step across the threshold from the red to the black (or vice-versa) depending on moral compass. I was about to lose my role as a major league starting outfielder and slide gracefully into my role player/“good teammate” archetype.

Fame and fortune were still mine for the taking if the devil on my shoulder had a loud enough voice. He did not. PEDs have been the topic of a plethora of philosophical conversations at home with my wife. She was the one person in my life with whom I could safely and whimsically fantasize about what might be if ever I were to open Pandora’s Box (600 plate appearances, 30 homers, millions of dollars?). Despite the potential fairytale, I never really got close to the decision to use PEDs.

I made the choice to play clean for a myriad of reasons. Most importantly, I have an obnoxiously loud conscience. I knew I wouldn’t be able to rest while cheating. When I do something, anything, of which I’m not proud (and I’ve displayed my fair share of selfish behavior), I experience guilt. I carry it around like a ton of bricks and was able to anticipate my inability to live with the decision to take the shortcut.

I was also able to predict future conversations with my more mature children. I figured that ultimately I would be in a position in which I’d be forced to impart one of two lessons: “don’t do it like dad” or “follow in my footsteps.” I chose the latter.

I can fully comprehend the spell cast on my peers. Fame, power, and the financial security of generations all contribute to an irresistible scent. It’s like the episode of Survivor in which the contestants have to give up the long-term advantage in a challenge for the instant gratification of a giant slice of chocolate cake and an ice-cold glass of milk while in a state of starvation and dehydration.
I think when there's enough will and aggression, there's no shortage of talent either.

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Offline Pack93z  
#2 Posted : Tuesday, August 20, 2013 8:48:57 AM(UTC)
Pack93z

Rank: Hall of Famer

PackersHome NFL Pick'em - Bronze: 2012

United States
Posts: 12,752
Joined: 3/16/2007(UTC)
Location: North Central Wisconsin

Applause Given: 381
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But this it the reason I posted it here moreso.. it bridges off a couple of conversations we had years ago with NSD and Zombie. One of few topics I agreed with them both on.. Big Grin

Confidence is one of the keys to life.

Quote:
Had I been unable to resist the temptation, I believe I would have maintained the strength that I had at my peak, or perhaps increased it. As I became better mechanically and through experience, that power would play up. The ripple effect of that would lead to confidence, which would in turn lead to improved performance. There is a school of thought that PEDs don’t help your eye-hand coordination; that they won’t make you a better player because you still have to hit the ball. That’s a debatable topic, but I reckon that bigger, stronger, faster, more powerful men will hit the ball harder and throw the ball faster. That’s nearly indisputable. In baseball, there isn’t a factor more responsible for success than confidence. I’ve never in my life had a player tell me different. If a man is stronger on the field and can recover more quickly, he’s inherently going to believe in his ability more. I submit that if anything, the value of PEDs to a player has been drastically underpublicized as opposed to overblown.
I think when there's enough will and aggression, there's no shortage of talent either.

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