JEFF PEARLMAN: OK, Dirk, I’m gonna start with an untraditional one. I covered baseball for Sports Illustrated from 1997-ish through the 2002 season. At the time, I knew little about PED. Now, I feel like I know a lot. That, combined with eyes and common sense, make me feel comfortable in saying that certain guys, undeniably, cheated. Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Bret Boone. In my opinion, it’s so insanely obvious, it’s a joke. And since baseball had no testing, well, there’s zero accountability. My question for you—am I wrong? Is it wrong to say, “It’s so obvious that guy used, I’m gonna write it”? Or, because the union avoided testing as long as humanly possible, is it fair to say, “Well, y’all didn’t test, so … hey …”
DIRK HAYHURST: I feel you on this one, Jeff. It’s hard to look at guys that have more in common with professional wrestlers than ballplayers and say to yourself, “This guy is just a natural specimen.” Bullcrap. There are so few bulbous, big-headed, mutants occurring naturally that I can’t, with a straight face, see one squeezed into a baseball uniform and say, “Oh, that’s just the way God made him.” Yeah, right, God and a couple of well-timed injections. And lets face it, that’s why this gladiator of the ballfield hasn’t blown up on the testing radar—timing. Timing, or the right cocktail super serum.
Either way, there is no accountability. There probably never will be. Not real, hold-your-feet-to-the-fire punishment. It’s not in our nature as a people to want accountability. Baseball is a microcosm of life. In real life, we cheat, we bend and break rules, we lie about our taxes, we fleece sick days, etc … we do shady things. Things that, if caught, could get us fired or brand us as criminals. If you get busted in baseball, you get branded as a cheater, and for fat million-dollar contract, you can call me a cheater all day long.
...The system is broken, but it’s a system we made. Getting caught, not getting caught—it doesn’t really matter when you think of it that way. The punishment is like getting bit on the hand by a toothless dog that can’t see or smell as well as it used to, but hey, at least you have the dog.