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With only four games remaining on the San Francisco Giants schedule and their playoff hopes already eliminated, pitcher Jeremy Affeldt is announcing he’s retiring at the end of the season.
In a story he wrote for The Cauldron on Sports Illustrated, Affeldt takes a different approach in his announcement.
While he begins by marveling at his career achievements, which include three World Series and a 0.86 postseason ERA, he then moves on to five things he won’t miss about MLB.
While Affeldt goes into tell-all mode on all of them – Phillies fans treat opposing players in a “vile and borderline threatening manner,” the Wrigley Field player facilities are an “abomination,” etc. – perhaps his most enlightening passage is about drug testing.
Affeldt makes it clear that he’s never taken steroids, but he claims 40% of players were using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) when he entered the league in 2000. He says while the sports is considerably cleaner, steroid use will never go away completely.
Affeldt critiques MLB for letting the situation get so out of control that now any elite hitter or pitcher is suspected of using PEDs. He continues, claiming that this hurt his career earnings and reputation:
“Make no mistake: I don’t believe in using drugs to gain a competitive advantage, even though I know exactly why so many players did it. It was selfish of them, though, and unfair to those of us who weren’t doing it. By inflating (or, in the pitchers’ cases, deflating) their numbers, PED abusers were taking food off my table, rendering my accomplishments and statistical achievements less meaningful-and certainly less useful when negotiating my contracts.”
Additionally, he says the environment created around random drug testing leaves players with no dignity. Affeldt uses the example of playing in high-altitude in Denver, when players are often dehydrated.
“So when MLB’s testing officials show up at 11:30 p.m. after the Sunday night game has ended,” he begins, “it’s literally impossible to provide them with the mandated urine sample. When ya’ gotta go, ya’ gotta go, but when you can’t … you can’t.”
However, MLB claims that not taking the test is the same as failing the test, so players are left with no options but to wait out the process.
While steroids aren’t going away completely, if the league is getting cleaner as Affeldt says, perhaps his claim will soon be outdated. While baseball players don’t seem to be hurting for money – Affeldt has made over $40 million in his career, according to Spotrac – clean players should be rewarded for their play without the suspicion that they cheated to get there.