Posted by Chip Stevenson
I can't quite put my finger on why this makes me so angry. I don't think that it should irritate me so much, but it does and I can't help it. Maybe I'm just being too sensitive and making a big deal out of nothing, but I can't seem to get it out of my head: It pisses me off when I see Big Leaguers drinking Red Bull in the dugouts or bullpens.
I'm not even one of those holier than thou, every steroid user should be tarred and feathered kind of guy. I find myself somewhat sympathetic to PED users, probably because I can't deny that if I were in their position in the early 2000s, I might have used steroids, too. It's just that after all of the steroid allegations and the huge black eye that it has given baseball, I can't get over the fact that all kinds of players are openly downing Red Bull after Red Bull before they step on the field for everyone to see.
Yes, I know that Red Bull is perfectly legal. Hell, I plan on buying two cans tonight on my way home in preparation for a late night/early morning tomorrow. I understand that caffeine isn't as bad as steroids or HGH or any of the other drugs players were using that are more fit for horses than humans.
Yet, I see players drinking it before games and all I can think of is how they would do whatever it takes to get an edge and if that involves cheating, so be it. To me, it's at least a remnant of the Steroid Era, one that involves players searching far and wide for anything they could put into their bodies that might help them hit a ball farther or throw it faster. It's not that I think drinking Red Bull is cheating by itself. It's just that it's at least a reminder of the cheating era, of the era where players looked for any type of edge they could find and if that involved shooting an illegal substance into their butt cheeks, that was fine with them.
It's different from steroids since it is perfectly legal, but it drives the point home to me that the line between legal advantages and illegal advantages is a fuzzy one. On one level, you can't fault the players for pushing the boundaries. Fans want players to do whatever it takes to win and finding an edge is just an extension of that. On another level, however, how stupid do these players have to be? Steroid users have ruined the National Pastime for many casual fans and most other fans see the players' accomplishments skeptically now. But here they are, showing the world with no shame how they prepare for a game: they take batting practice, they throw a bullpen session, they warm up their arms, and they drink Red Bull.
I saw an interview yesterday with Dustin Pedroia where he joked around about his Red Bull intake. He said his doctor doesn't think drinking as many Red Bulls as he did before games last year, during his MVP year, is healthy. You know what else wasn't healthy that certain players took before their MVP years? Steroids. Pedroia, by the way, plans to cut back and drink only two Red Bulls before games this year.
Baseball needs to regain the fans' trust, and I don't think the players are doing their part. The perception of cheating is just as bad now as cheating itself, and I think Red Bull perpetuates the doubts that many people have about baseball. I'm not saying that Red Bull or other energy drinks should be banned or placed on the same level as steroids, but it still makes me cringe every time I see energy drink cans in the dugout. It reminds me too much of the era that came close to ruining the game that I love.
With that said, I certainly will enjoy the rush I get tomorrow morning after drinking one on five hours of sleep.