MLB's history of substance abuse: Cocaine, steroids, and Adderall
College Contributor Network
Flashback to the late 1970's and '80's. Cocaine has gone mainstream, and people are off the rails. Some of these people just happen to be professional baseball players.
In the famous "Pittsburgh Seven" trials of 1985, multiple MLB players testified to cocaine and drug usage before a grand jury. Big time players such as Vida Blue, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, and Tim Raines were all supposedly connected. Raines even declared that he would sometimes slide into first base to make sure his vial of cocaine didn't break in his back pocket. Former 5-time All-Star and MVP Keith Hernandez even threw up the claim -– under oath -- that 40%, yes 40% of MLB players were using cocaine at the time. Whoa.
Now hop in the time travel machine and fast-forward to the late '90's and '00's, otherwise known as the Steroid Era. The advent of the internet and new media outlets help to capture and magnify one of the biggest scandals in all of sports history. Even more A-list superstars get linked to the substance, with the accused including the likes of Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez.
My whole article could potentially be a list of the players who were a part of the still-ongoing scandal. The severity of these, along with most scandals, is somewhat unclear. The steroid scandal may not have been as pronounced if 24/7 media wasn't there to cover it daily, for years on end.
I'm here to boost awareness for another potentially crippling MLB drug scandal. The drug in question was used in 2012 by one out of every 10 players, that's 105 in total. Adderall (sometimes called greenies) is a type of amphetamine usually given to those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Basically, the drug helps users to focus in at highly powerful levels -– so high that league executives put the drug on the banned performance-enhancing drug list (right next to cocaine and various brands of steroids).
In any game, players will always try to gain a slight advantage over their opponent in whatever way possible. It's just the nature of sport. If cocaine is banned, then steroids are on deck. Once steroids are locked down, other drugs are secretly used to get a leg up. In this case, Adderall is the next one up.
It makes sense. Baseball is a game that requires intense focus for just a short amount of time between long periods of rest. There were rumors that clubhouses had a bowl of greenies right by the door before games -– take a pill, grab the glove, and run out there. It can get pretty difficult to stay focused and energized for a 1:07 p.m. game the day after the 8:07 p.m. game ended after midnight the night before.
For example, Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz was one of eight players to get hit with a suspension in 2012. The guy was locked in the squat, day after day for 114 games -- it makes sense. Later, Ruiz got an exemption from the league to go ahead and use it.
About a month ago, Chris Davis of the Orioles was suspended 25 games for the drug. Baltimore couldn't use the 2013 home run king in the playoffs this season because of the punishment. Miguel Tejada was punished in 2013 for greenies, too. Boston starter Clay Buchholz said this year that he had been using the drug since 2011. I sense a brewing scandal.
It was hinted at, but some of these players, like Buchholz and Ruiz, have exemptions from the league to use Adderall. MLB has actually been increasing the number of exemptions handed out to players each year since 2007. If we're being honest, it's just as easy nowadays to get a doctor's prescription for Adderall, as it is to ask him to try on his stethoscope. Someone's ability to focus is pretty hard to quantify if you're testing him or her to see if they need the drug.
It'll be interesting to see how MLB deals with this issue in the upcoming years and how it compares to the other drug scandals with which they've previously dealt. Do league executives try to crack down on usage and exemptions at some point? Or do they roll the dice by going ahead and allowing it to be used with a prescription?
Just like the rise of ADHD diagnoses in children and young adults, the number of MLB players "needing" adderall can't be ignored.
Andrew Morris is a sophomore at Syracuse University. People refer to him in the third person and he has an everlasting love for Orange, Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, and Indianapolis Colts. Follow him on Twitter: @Andrewmo123