From Joe Sheehan’s Newsletter (subscription only, but well worth it: Joe Sheehan), Joe’s thoughts on the new program from Major League Baseball imposing HGH testing on minor-league players:
The testing program for human growth hormone is a wildly inefficient search for nothing. HGH, whatever benefits it may have medically, does nothing to help baseball players who take it be better than the ones who don’t. Moreover, the devised test, the availability of which is the reason for the implementation of the plan, is approximately as reliable as just looking at the blood and guessing whether there’s bad stuff in it.
The thing is, this program isn’t about HGH. It’s about power. MLB has the power to force minor leaguers to do this, so they’re doing it. They get the press release and the press conference and the news cycle, and they can say they beat the NFL, which lacking minor leaguers can’t force them to give up blood so it can be searched for a substance that’s as powerful as a decent meal at a mid-level steakhouse. MLB gets to bask in the glow of positive press from the usual reactionaries who have never gotten past the idea that athletes should be serfs kept under a thumb, rather than supremely talented individuals treated as the best in their profession. …
I ask, though, that if we’re really OK with a private industry taking blood samples from thousands of people for no reason other than the public relations benefit – neither HGH nor the test itself are effective enough to worry about – is there a line where you would begin to object? Because MLB’s unilateral decision to take the blood of its employees is premised on the flimsiest of reasons. If you allow this decision to stand, aren’t you essentially setting the bar for blood testing so low as to allow it by any entity, on any one, at any time?