If I were a professional athlete for a day

When it comes to steroids in baseball, I just want to know the facts, whatever they are.

From the celebrity lifestyle and swollen bank account to the thrill of victory and the love of the game, I wish I could spend one day as a professional athlete.

If I could be a professional athlete for a day, I would be a baseball player. Even more than just a baseball player, I would choose to be a middle relief pitcher. Relief pitchers live a fantasy camp every day, from the front-row seats the bullpen provides to the unlimited supply of sunflower seeds and, of course, the chance to actually step on the mound and pitch in front of a big-league crowd. But these are only the reasons that scratch the surface of why I want to be a professional baseball player for a day.

Above all, I want to spend a day in the majors to know the truth, the full truth only a ballplayer knows. Steroids have always been a controversial topic in sports, but this year has been gasoline on the fire that fuels the debate. Baseball came before the federal government to review its steroid policy and grill current and retired players on their possible steroid use, others’ use and the prevalence of performance-enhancing drugs in the game. The hearing lasted 11 hours, doing more harm than good for baseball, as players beat around the bush and gave inconclusive answers to the questions proposed by the panel. Overall, at the beginning of the season that marks the return of a baseball club to Washington, Major League Baseball, as an organization, left Washington that day with a very shady complexion.

The shadow cast by baseball over the sports world recently fell on the shoulders of the National Football League. Fortunately, the NFL’s trip to Washington on Wednesday was an open-and-shut discussion of the history, execution and amendments to the steroid-testing and enforcement policy currently in place by the NFL. The hearing had no cloud of withheld secrets hanging over it, and the panel had little more than praise for the NFL, possibly because the NFL hearing was half as long as the MLB hearing.

If I could be a ball player for a day, I hope I could go to sleep at the end of the day with confidence in the scarcity of steroids in baseball and the influence it has had during the years. I hope I could lay my head on the pillow knowing baseball is a predominantly clean sport and Alex Sanchez and those who were busted after him were only a few outliers.

And if I discovered steroids and baseball were as connected as peanut butter and jelly, I would still get a good night’s sleep knowing steroids are a part of baseball today. It is not to say I am content with steroids’ prevalence in baseball, it is rather the sense of closure I feel I would have. Either way, I just want to know the facts.

Sports are an interesting medium through which public opinion passes. The public does not like to be fooled, and when athletes and organizations lie to the people who buy tickets or tune in to watch them, the admiration turns to condemnation. Our inability to trust professional athletes opens our minds to a world of wonders.

I wonder what it would be like to be a professional baseball player for a day. Who would you be for a day? What questions are burning away at you? When you find out, let me know – I’ll be in the bullpen, loosening up my arm.

Mike Durkin welcomes comments at [email protected]