Matt Harvey testified in the case against Eric Kay around the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs. People were shocked by the testimony today and I, for the life of me, have no idea why.
When you think drugs in baseball, you may think the ’86 Mets or the steroid era. Both happened, both seem to be frowned upon by the league. But the league also seems to try to make them seem isolated, which is complete and utter bullshit.
Let’s take a look at some of the coverage of Harvey’s testimony we saw on Twitter today and some testimony from 37 years ago at the Pittsburgh drug trials of 1985.
Chicago Tribune 1985
That was just one of several revelations during the seventh day of Strong’s trial, in which major-league players Keith Hernandez, Lonnie Smith, Dale Berra, Enos Cabell, Jeff Leonard, Dave Parker and Milner have admitted long-term cocaine habits and implicated at least a dozen other present and former players in drug use.
During the Pittsburgh drug trials in the early 1980s, Raines testified that he kept a gram of coke in his uniform pocket, snorted during games, and made a point of sliding head-first so as not to break the vial.
Shortly after outing Willie Mays as a source for red juice, he talked about greenie usage to stay on the field:
”You`re not as quick as you thought you were. It affects your batting average and RBI production,” he said, also pointing out that after using cocaine it is almost impossible to sleep and wears a player out for the next day.
In that case, Milner explained: ”You pop a greenie.”
The point is that in the coming days, expect Matt Harvey to be demonized as some aberration in a pure game. But he’s not. And Major League Baseball is keeping up their façade of having a clean game. In 1987, Lonnie Smith got blowback from the league for questioning Peter Ueberroth’s statement that “baseball is free of drugs.” In hindsight, Ueberroth’s quote is obviously one of the most insane things anyone has ever said about baseball.
The MLB first needs to properly compensate players and get them back on the field. But once that happens they also need to support them the way all employers should. But since fixing the issue of players doing whatever they can to “stay on the field” would likely require less games or larger rosters to produce more rest for the players, I think we can assume they’ll clutch their fucking pearls and gasp like Matt Harvey called the Polaner All Fruit “jelly”. And they will continue to contend that Harvey is the outlier.
But at the very least, I hope the players do not believe that. And that if they see a teammate struggling with addiction or using to stay on the field, they’ll intervene before we see the next tragedy.