The Week magazine offers up our first excerpt this week, cobbling together assorted passages from the Cheating section of The Baseball Codes in an extensive “Last Word” column.
The editors pegged the piece as a “fresh perspective” on the steroid era, framing The Baseball Codes’ wide-angle view on gaining an illicit advantage within the context of performance-enhancing drugs. A photo of Alex Rodriguez is used for illustration. We pointed out that he’s respected for his ability to decode the opposition’s signals from the basepaths; the editors added that he’s an admitted steroid user.
As a topic, we felt that PEDs were simply too massive a topic, and far too complex to adequately tackle within what would be a small section of the book. The Week brought it around, however, in a fashion that does the subject justice.
Major-league juicers of recent vintage are less a band of cheats than products of their era; they should be viewed no more or less critically than anyone else attempting to emulate a significant percentage of their colleagues in order to gain an illicit edge. The same could be said for spitballers in the 1950s, or the shockingly high percentage of players that benefited from amphetamine use from the 1960s through the ’80s.
This wasn’t the point in drafting the chapter, but it’s a fine one to make in retrospect, via a well-spun excerpt.