The clearest and easiest to understand explanation of the multi-pronged new labor agreement between MLB and the Players Association is found here at Baseball Nation.
I’m separating my take on the new deal into segments.
First the HGH test; below is the clip from the above-linked piece on HGH:
Testing for Human Growth Hormone
The players and owners agreed to limited blood testing for human growth hormone. During 2012 spring training, players will have blood drawn and will be monitored for their physical reaction to the blood test. The blood samples will be tested for HGH and will then be destroyed. (Recall, however, that when urine tests for steroids were first introduced, the urine samples were supposed to be destroyed. They were not, and the FBI then seized the urine samples during its investigation of BALCO Labs.)
Anyone who’s followed performance enhancers in bodybuilding and sports knows that the chemists are forever trying to come up with something new, undetectable and relatively safe.
Laymen and the self-righteous don’t want to hear that steroids and HGH are not dangerous if used in the proper dosages and administered by a qualified medical/sports supplement professional.
But that’s a different argument.
The average fan wants to know that the records they’re seeing set are “real” without any common denominator definition of what “real” is and no assigned blame to MLB’s overlords and team owners who cast a blind eye out of convenience to what they knew was going on; to what they tacitly encouraged.
Be that as it may, this will put forth the pretense of “cleanliness”.
Bear in mind that the players will find something else to give them a boost.
They always do.
Regarding said players, it will be an interesting case study in reactions and handling of pressure and scrutiny.
For those whose careers took wondrous and unexpected leaps from nothingness to stardom, an immediate suspicion will permeate the baseball world; if they get off to slow starts or have a noticeable body change early in 2012, the whispers will begin immediately.
Was Jose Bautista a late-bloomer?
Did John Axford‘s rising velocity result from a mechanical tweak?
Was Kevin Long’s alteration of Curtis Granderson‘s swing responsible for his burst of power?
Why was Jacoby Ellsbury suddenly able to hit home runs and stay healthy?
These are not accusations. They’re just questions. They’re going to be asked and it’s not unreasonable to ask them.
If there is a marked difference in the way a player looks or performs, first it will be whispered; then it will be said; then it will be accused.
And barring a series of leaks like the 2003 tests, we won’t know who passed and who failed. If the players are smart, they’ll make sure—under threat of legal action against MLB—that those samples are destroyed as they’re supposed to be.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the names won’t come out somehow.
This isn’t good for the game or bad for the game; it just is.