Minor leaguers to be tested for HGH


Via The NY Times, Major League Baseball plans to start testing minor league players for human growth hormone later this year, which is the first step towards testing for HGH in the big leagues. Because most minor leaguers are not members of the MLBPA, the league is able to institute the blood testing without having to collectively bargain. It’s only a matter of time before they start invading privacy and poking guys in the show with needles.

Frankly, I have no interest in the whole steroid thing, and for what it’s worth, Will Carroll, in an interview with Maury Brown, doesn’t see much HGH use in baseball players. I just don’t care anymore. And besides, I liked it better when players did things like this.

Categories : Asides, Minors, STEROIDS!


  1. Moshe Mandel says:

    I want the game to be clean, but blood testing is straddling that privacy line. I’m not so sure I love that, particularly when most minor leaguers aren’t exactly getting any of the benefits that would make you say that it might make sense for them to relinquish some of that privacy.

  2. JGS says:

    What was the estimate on how far that Hill shot went?

  3. Manimal says:

    HGH should be allowed… its too expensive and difficult to regulate and monitor its usage in players. All it does is speed up the healing process and add some muscle mass…

  4. Steve H says:

    I have zero problem with them getting tested. It’s their choice to play baseball as their job, and their employers have determined that to stay in good standing they want to test for HGH. If they don’t like it, they can go work elsewhere, right? Isn’t that the same option the rest of us have if our work implements a new policy? Either go along with it, or find a new job.

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      No. They act in concert, as an industry, to require it. It violates the spirit and purpose of antitrust law. It only happened because of the archaic and outdated antitrust exemption that is only upheld because the Court is uncomfortable with overturning settled law, and no one in Congress is motivated to rectify a situation that only affects minor league players.

      • Steve H says:

        I’m just saying, regardless of how it came to be, that I don’t have a problem with the testing itself, and I think it should get to the majors sooner rather than later. Not that I really care about PED’s, but the less questions that need to be asked, the more I can just watch baseball without hearing about PED’s.

        • Moshe Mandel says:

          I think you would have a problem if it was unilaterally instituted across your industry, such that you could not find another job in the industry without relinquishing your right to privacy. Now, I would have no problem of submitting to a drug test from my future employers, but I would understand if people would. There is an inherent right to privacy that is being relinquished by the players without their consent.

    • mustang says:

      Totally agree.

  5. Hughesus Christo says:


    This is how they cleaned up the ‘roids (we think).

  6. I have seen 0 evidence that HGH is in any way beneficial to Baseball players. None.

    • Agreed.

      The media haven’t spent much time making a distinction between HGH and steroids. An AP story, titled “After BALCO, Another Steroid Scandal,” glosses over any differences between the two, drawing a straight line from the BALCO investigation to the busts in Florida. But Jerry Hairston isn’t Barry Bonds. Sure, both of these guys probably took banned substances in an effort to boost their stats, and both were involved in major drug busts involving large numbers of Major League players. But it’s just plain wrong to put growth hormone in the same category as anabolic steroids. In the sports version of the war on drugs, Bonds was shooting heroin while Hairston was smoking marijuana.

      What’s the difference between steroids and HGH? For starters, we know that a baseball player can beef up on steroids and improve his athletic performance. But most clinical studies suggest that HGH won’t help an athlete at all. The other key difference is that while steroids cause a bevy of nasty side effects—testicular shrinkage, an increased risk of stroke—taking HGH doesn’t seem to be that bad for you.


      Still, a recent review in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that better studies have produced similar results: At the very least, treatment with HGH does seem to reduce body fat and increase muscle mass. Growth hormone may not lengthen your lifespan, but it can certainly improve your looks. (While HGH isn’t as bad for you as anabolic steroids, it does have some minor side effects. Click here for more information.)

      That doesn’t mean very much for athletes: A chiseled physique won’t help you hit a baseball or throw a punch. So far, no one has been able to connect the increase in lean body tissue caused by HGH with enhancement of athletic performance. Unlike steroids, growth hormone hasn’t been shown to increase weight-lifting ability; in the lab, it has a greater effect on muscle definition than muscle strength. And it doesn’t seem to help much with cardiovascular fitness, either.

      So, why do so many athletes take HGH? One possibility is that the drug really does enhance performance but that the effect is too subtle to measure in a controlled setting. An elite athlete might be able to detect very slight improvements in strength and agility that would be invisible to lab scientists or statistical tests. At the highest levels of sport, a tiny edge can make a big difference. Athletes might also derive some added benefit by mixing HGH with other drugs—anti-aging doctors often prescribe growth hormone in combination with testosterone.

      It’s also possible that baseball players aren’t using HGH to beef up at all. Almost everyone who gets caught red-handed claims they were using the drug to recover from an injury. This might be more than a ploy to win sympathy: Some doctors believe that growth hormone can speed up tissue repair. There isn’t much clinical work to support this idea, however. One study even found that HGH actually shortened the lifespan of patients in an intensive-care unit.

      The most likely reason that athletes use HGH, though, is superstition. A ballplayer might shoot up with HGH for the same reason we take vitamin C when we have a cold: There’s no good reason to think it does anything, but we’re willing to give it a try. The fact that the major sports leagues have banned growth hormone only encourages the idea that the drug has tangible benefits. Why would they ban something unless it worked?


      • pete says:

        “One study even found that HGH actually shortened the lifespan of patients in an intensive-care unit”

        was anyone else struck by that? I mean I guess I always knew that a lot of medicinal studies go like that, but it still seems like kind of a cavalier way of talking about a “study” which actually facilitated human death (not saying there was anything wrong with the study or anything – just that it seems like a very heavy subject and in that article it’s tossed off as essentially nothing more than parenthetical evidence).

        • Basically, the sum of all these HgH studies say this:

          If you have an illness/imbalance that means your body produces less HgH than you should have, HgH supplemental therapy will help restore you to normal.

          If your body is healthy and you have enough normal HgH production naturally, adding HgH to your body doesn’t really help it do anything better/faster/stronger. You gain no real benefit. You do strain your normal hormonal balance, however, resulting in several negative side effects.

          No reward, lots of risk.

          • pete says:

            huh. I hadn’t realized there were such negative side effects to abusing HGH, but i guess it makes sense. I always knew that the biggest benefits of it were in correcting problems resulting from lack of HGH, though, which most people who ascend to the top level of a professional fucking sport probably don’t have.

  7. Michael Kay says:

    In other news, The Boston Red Sox are proud to announce that all of their farm system clubs will move to stadium sized carriers over international waters.

    • DP says:

      Why would they need to do that? If history has taught us anything, it’s that the Boston Red Sox have never had a single employee who has EVER used drugs- performance enhancing, illegal, legal- NONE.

      • The Red Sox couldn’t even afford PEDs (if they wanted them, which they don’t) because they’re regrettably stricken with the misfortune of being stuck in a tiny, dirt-poor bottom-5 media market, endlessly chasing ends with insufficient means and trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents like a humble street urchin.

        Oh, cruel world! Oh, inexorable fate! Is there no fair providence to be found in our wretched lives? Are we condemned to suffer in penuriousness, shamefully waiting at the feet of the wicked master for his discarded scraps? Shall our dreams be forever deferred? Break us free from our chains, Oh Adam Smith’s hand!

        John Henry

  8. Thirty5Thirty6 says:

    Fisted on the roof.

  9. pete says:

    IMO, players should be allowed to take whatever they want to. Teams should be the ones that regulate it, because player performance and image are in their interests, and they are the employers of the players. HGH is, from everything i’ve heard and read, an incredible innovation in medicinal science, and ballplayers shouldn’t be denied the right to use it if the rest of America isn’t.

    But I don’t see baseball the way a lot of people do, I think. It seems like everybody is obsessed with restoring and/or upholding the “sanctity” of the game, which I care nothing for. I have no doubt in my mind that no amount of record-breaking will throw any of the game’s storied history into the shadows of antiquity. Babe Ruth will always be a household name. So will Gehrig, Mays, Robinson, Mantle, DiMaggio, Williams, et all. But people who believe that having a rich history gives the game or its past any kind of sanctity are kidding themselves. The game didn’t break the color barrier until 1949, and african american players weren’t particularly prevalent until the late ’50s, and latin americans and asians came even later, but nobody’s complaining about Ruth having an unfair advantage. Should we put a big asterix over that era of baseball? What about the pre-DH era for pitchers? Or AL vs. NL? Or park factors?

    Should players now be discredited because their generation has afforded them video-analysis technology that no generation before them had access to? What about all of the innovations in biomechanics that have led to a much better understanding of health? What about the hugely improved fitness equipment and knowledge? All of these things represent advantages that today’s generation has over the last. Comparing numbers between generations is always going to be a faulty process. In the end, though, truly great players will always stand out. Nothing anybody does can actually “destroy history”, as the great Jason Stark (ed. note: fuck jason stark) put it. Because in the end, steroids or not, Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest to ever play the name. Same with Barry Bonds. Same with Roger Clemens. And if everyone in baseball suddenly started taking HGH, two things would happen: the league would get healthier, and the league MIGHT get better. But if the whole league gets better and healthier, isn’t that a good thing?

      • pete says:

        I’ve been meaning to talk to him about that. He should probably lay low for a little while

      • pete says:

        but really, I used to have an English teacher who always preached during the term-end madness that your grades can be nothing more than evidence of who you already are – they don’t change who you are (or something like that). I think the same line of thinking applies here. If an athlete who took steroids was an asshole, he wasn’t an asshole because he took steroids (well actually, steroids can turn people into assholes, but he wasn’t an asshole because he DECIDED to take steroids). He was an asshole because he was an asshole. Ty Cobb didn’t suddenly become an asshole when he stabbed a guy. Barry Bonds didn’t suddenly become a dick when he took steroids. Clemens didn’t suddenly become a prick when he took HGH. They were always assholes. Choosing to take steroids has nothing to do with that. But what unites these guys is that, despite their obvious flaws as people, they were all, undeniably, really fucking awesome at baseball.

        • And furthermore: People who are really good at something also have a high probability of being assholes. Not just in baseball, but in all of life. Like titans of industry, intellectual geniuses, etc.

          Because they’re better at “it” than you are, and part of what got them there is their alpha-male/alpha-female personality type. Being driven to be great and being driven to be nice are not often corresponding qualities. Focusing your energies on being even better at what you’re already great at often comes at the expense of learning social niceties. People who are great are often great from a young age and thus are preemptively isolated/outcasted/differentiated from common societal bonds and structural arrangements.

          (This probably explains why I’m such an insufferable asshole: I’m awesome.)

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      HGH in conjunction with steroids has a much larger effect. We have no evidence that a lot of players are still taking HGH. The fact that rugby has been using this test for a while and this is their first positive suggests that players are not using it that frequently.

  10. I don’t care enough nor do I have the time to do any research into this right now, but a quick thought on this question of whether HGH is a performance enhancer or not… If it’s not, why do these guys acquire HGH in the first place (keep in mind that they’re not getting it from their family doctors or from team-related doctors or anything, they’re going out and specifically seeking this stuff out in private), use it in contravention of the rules, and continue using it, if it does nothing for them? Like… Why would a baseball player be using HGH, with the belief that it enhances their performance, if it doesn’t enhance their performance? These guys aren’t just using this stuff once and then abandoning it because it does nothing for them, they’re using it because they hear from others that it enhances performance and then they continue using it because it actually does enhance their performance.

    I don’t buy the argument that HGH isn’t a performance enhancer. Argue about whether it’s healthy or not and whether it should be allowed or not all you want, if you have some sort of base of knowledge about the issue (which, it seems, very few of us do)… But I think we should stop with the ‘HGH isn’t a PED stuff.’ Of course it is.

    (Just btw, I have to run and won’t be able to respond to any responses to this comment for a while.)

    • JGS says:

      placebo effect. The league banned it, therefore it must do something

      • Eh, I think that’s unlikely. If my profession banned the use of blue pens, I don’t think my colleagues would start buying blue pens under cover of darkness and using them at home so as to not get caught using them in the office because they would suddenly think that blue pens make them better at their job. I think it’s highly unlikely that the spread of HGH in sports was caused by the prohibition of the use of HGH.

        Also… Baseball players were using HGH before MLB banned it. So, that kinda kills your argument.

    • Read the last three paragraphs I excerpted above.


      Ballplayers do dumb shit because they think they’re smarter than they are.

      See also: Jorge Posada’s hand-pissing regimen.

      • Those paragraphs you referred to are inconclusive, and I find them unpersuasive of your point.

        From those paragraphs:

        “An elite athlete might be able to detect very slight improvements in strength and agility that would be invisible to lab scientists or statistical tests. At the highest levels of sport, a tiny edge can make a big difference. Athletes might also derive some added benefit by mixing HGH with other drugs—anti-aging doctors often prescribe growth hormone in combination with testosterone.”

        From elsewhere in the linked article:

        “Clinical researchers have been a bit less sanguine. You don’t need a Ph.D. to find serious flaws in the Rudman study—no one in the control group received a placebo, for example. Still, a recent review in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that better studies have produced similar results: At the very least, treatment with HGH does seem to reduce body fat and increase muscle mass.”

        That article is written by someone who doesn’t believe HGH improves athletic performance. I’m pretty sure someone could use the same sources as that author used and write an article arguing that HGH does improve athletic performance. I’ll give it a very quick shot: Studies show that use of HGH helps reduce body fat and increase muscle mass, helping an athlete get into better shape and, thus, perform better. I find that article you cited to be extremely unpersuasive.

        I don’t think PEDs have to turn people into supermen in order to be performance enhancers. Again… We can discuss whether something like HGH should be illegal or prohibited in sports, I think that’s a perfectly valid conversation… But I disagree that these things don’t improve athletic performance. Anything that improves the physique makes a person a better athlete, thus enhancing their performance.

  11. Hughesus Christo says:

    To the Roidists/HGHers:

    What you MUST understand is that MLB’s decisions in this area don’t simply apply to their league and employees. Allowance of illegal PED use has a domino effect down into the minors and subsequently into colleges and high schools. If I’m a high school player with a reasonable shot at a pro career and KNOW that everyone in Barrying it up, what am I supposed to do? You’re essentially forcing any prospective athlete to start trying to acquire these substances at younger and younger ages. I could make arguments about any number of other issues in this area, but the impact on amateurs and children is despicable and absolutely cannot be glazed over while you post videos of Juiceallen Hill hitting the ball 3000 feet.

    I’m super cereal right now.

    • pete says:

      that part i get. i had no idea that HGH was as dangerous as it is if misused.

    • While that’s true (that we don’t want people/kids taking steroids or HgH because of the negative health consequences), lots of things have negative health consequences.

      Banging nasty, STD-infected skanks has deleterious health effects. If baseball is banning HgH, should they also ban dirty road groupies? After all, neither of them help you be a better baseball player, any positive you get from them is probably nothing more than a placebo effect, but they both are serious health hazards.

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      I strongly disagree. MLB has no responsibility, in my mind, to legislate its players based on what amateurs might glean from player’s actions. Quite frankly, that is the province of parents.

      • Hughesus Christo says:

        When you turn HGH and steroids into a requirement for employment you go beyond “let the parents handle it.”

        • Moshe Mandel says:

          I think you are strongly overstating your case here. It’s not a requirement for employment, it is a moral choice that some players made and some didnt.

          • Hughesus Christo says:

            I couldn’t disagree more. The “moral choice” doesn’t come into play here. Quite simply, the vast majority of your competitors in a multi-million dollar field will on steroids. You would be foolish to abstain.

            • Moshe Mandel says:

              Really? I dont want to go into “if everybody jumped off a bridge,” but there is still a moral choice to cheating, even if lots of your competitors are doing it. I simply see no reason that MLB should make rules for their players to prevent kids from making certain choices. It is not their place, and isnt something they should be taking into account when trying to promulgate rules for the sport.

              • Hughesus Christo says:

                MLB doesn’t operate under a veil of ignorance, sorry. That doesn’t fly.

                • Moshe Mandel says:

                  What does that mean? If Congress wants to legislate it, that is one thing. Where exactly is MLB’s responsibility in this? Because they set a bad example? That’s like suggesting investment banks should work their people for less hours because they are teaching young people who aspire to those positions that the only way to get into the industry is to get little sleep and have absolutely no personal life.

                • Hughesus Christo says:

                  No, it’s more like how a lot of investment bankers go to Harvard, so kids who want to be investments bankers try really hard to get into Harvard… except instead of homework and extracurriculars, you use boli and HGH.

                • Moshe Mandel says:

                  Huh? You avoided my point. Those high powered finance jobs create certain workplace environments that encourage certain negative lifestyle choices. Do you think they should change their practices because they are teaching aspiring bankers that to get by, you need to adopt those lifestyle choices?

                • Moshe – I disagree with you on this point:

                  “I simply see no reason that MLB should make rules for their players to prevent kids from making certain choices. It is not their place, and isnt something they should be taking into account when trying to promulgate rules for the sport.”

                  I don’t think MLB is somehow morally required to ban PEDs in order to set an example for younger athletes. I do, however, think that banning PEDs in order to, in part, set an example for younger athletes, is a perfectly valid motivation. Why shouldn’t MLB aspire to set a good example and do the right thing? I think setting a good example and doing the right thing is something MLB should consider regarding every decision they make.

                • Hughesus Christo says:

                  I’m not addressing the “lifestyle choices” thing because it is beside the point. You aren’t/wouldn’t be required to be a womanizer, murderer, or whatever to be in the majors. You WOULD be required to start tracking down and consuming illegal and potential harmful (deadly) drugs to have a chance to make the majors.

                • Moshe Mandel says:

                  It is in no way beside the point. The lifestyle choices I referred to, high stress, little sleep, and very limited social life, can greatly injure quality of life and lead to health issues.

                  Mondesi, while I understand that MLB should aspire to set a good example, I think that is a consideration that is quite far down the totem pole. I dont see at something they need to do when there are various other issues regarding their own members and employees at stake, as well as their bottom line. It’s like a law firm- they should all do pro bono and it should be encouraged, but it is not the main focus of the firm.

                • I want to add to my comment above

                  Making rules with an eye on aspiring to set a good example and do the right thing is ” not [MLB's] place, and isnt something they should be taking into account?” Why not and since when? That’s an overly simple way of looking at this issue.

                  I really don’t like the ‘let’s choose another example and make it fit in this conversation’ game, but I’m going to give it a shot here… When Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson, would it have been not his place and not something he should have taken into account if he considered not only the effect Robinson would have on the performance of the Dodgers but also the social effects of racially integrating MLB?

                  When dealing with PEDs and other issues that affect kids or society as a whole, of course MLB should be considering the example it sets and whether its doing the right thing regarding those issues.

                • “I dont see at something they need to do when there are various other issues regarding their own members and employees at stake, as well as their bottom line. It’s like a law firm- they should all do pro bono and it should be encouraged, but it is not the main focus of the firm.”

                  Ok. To me, that sentiment is a far cry from “it’s not their place to consider the social effects of their policies, and they shouldn’t take those effects into account.”

                  And re the law firm analogy… Is it not one of the main focuses of a law firm to uphold the ethical standards of the profession? This idea that the bottom line is the absolute only thing MLB (or a law firm, per your example) should be concerned with is overly simplified.

                • Moshe Mandel says:

                  But that’s a different argument- yes, I agree MLB should be concerned about the integrity of the profession, and have never said otherwise. Of course they need to discern the right thing to do morally. I simply dont think they should be making decisions based upon what amateurs might do to get to into the sport. I think that their moral choice relates to their members and the sport in of itself. If they start making decisions based on how amateurs might react, that is a slippery slope. That is where I said that it is not their place.

                • But law firms are not concerned with upholding ethical standards and rules just to protect the integrity of the profession. It may be a lesser concern, but part of the motivation to do those things is to present the public with a profession that lives up to those standards and can be trusted to act according to a certain code (whether it does or not is besides the point). I don’t see how that’s much different than thinking that MLB should be considering social effects when it considers how to conduct itself.

                  I’ll also note that I never said MLB should make decisions based solely on how amateurs might react. Someone else might have, but that’s not what I took issue with in this conversation. I took issue with saying those concerns have no place in the conversation and, further, that MLB would actually be wrong to consider those things.

                • Moshe Mandel says:

                  Fair enough. I’ll concede to it being a factor in the discussion. I think we simply disagree on how big a factor.

                • Agreed. (And just to clarify, I don’t agree with everything Hughesus Christo was saying here. I think my views on this stuff are pretty far removed from his.)

  12. [...] in February, and a positive test will results in a 50-game suspension. Minor leaguers have been getting tested for HGH for two seasons [...]

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