While everyone focuses attention on steroids and baseball since the Mitchell report and Roger Clemens’ press conference, they’re missing the more widespread drug problem in baseball: amphetamines. Remember how Jim Bouton wrote in “Ball Four” that amphetamines were rampant in clubhouses–set out in bowls like M & M’s? That was in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
Check out this modern dodge. Since MLB banned amphetamines and started testing in 2006, 103 players have applied for medical exemptions for legal usage. They claim they suffer from attention deficit disorder. As blogger Jon Taplin notes: “The mind boggles at the sight of some $2 million a year center fielder staring aimlessly at the Goodyear blimp above while the ball sails over his head. ‘Coach I need that Adderal to concentrate on the game.’ ”
The NYT quotes Dr. Gary I. Wadler, an internist and antidoping expert, “stimulants help a person concentrate — that is their medical link to attention deficit disorder — but also mask pain and increase energy and reaction time.” This is a legitimate union issue. Can players make it through a 162 game schedule without resorting to amphetamines to deal with pain and fatigue?