Those Raving, Chattery, Jittery Ballplayers

Remember that famous episode of "Family Ties," when Alex P. Keaton, way behind on his studying for his midterms, has to take speed to stay awake and ends up getting addicted? (Our favorite part is when he paints the hallway at 3:30 in the morning and installs an underground sprinkler system.) We're reminded of that every time we read about the "amphetamines problem" in Major League Baseball; we think it's funny to imagine, say, David Eckstein all jittery and hopping around, sliding across the field in a desk chair and offering to clean things.

The Boston Globe tackles the issue in Sunday's paper, and even though they confuse Baseball Prospectus' Will Carroll with his father at one point, they've got some good stuff. Essentially, players are freaked out that their pep pills might be banned by the new drug rules. Most notably, Red Sox cro-mag Johnny Damon, comparing steroids to uppers:

"[Steroids are] a performance-enhancing drug, the other is a ... way guys get ready to play over 162 games. That gets to be tough. We'll see what kind of penalties they want. I think it would be real tough if they threw 25 games or 75 games or a commissioner's decision [at amphetamine users]. We need to see what guys can possibly take. There are days I can't get going when I have to drink two, three cups of coffee to get jittery. We're probably going to see a lot of lethargic guys out there."

We've always heard that almost everybody in baseball took speed to keep going, but we've never heard it said so explicitly, and on the record, before. We're going to start thinking of chewing tobacco to baseball players the way that, say, baby pacifiers for ecstacy-addled ravers. They're not addicted to chaw; they just need something to do with their teeth.

A Pill More Bitter Than Steroids [Boston Globe]