"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 5 October 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Enhanced Performance


[one of my nicer readers inquired about p.c., my old roomates 
cat and if i had ever replaced him.
well kevin, if it weren't for rockstar, my boyfriend, i would have a new cat.  

If you believe everything you

read, this has been "a season to

remember." For months, we've

been treated to a constant

countdown, culminating in Mark

McGwire's underwhelming 62nd

homer in St. Louis a few weeks ago.

On that occasion, most major

dailies were kind enough to give

us a keepsake special section,

including the date, time,

temperature, length, and

location of the historic shot.

Sadly, the dew point, moon

phase, fishing tables, and

cryptoquip answers weren't

included. Still, it's history,

and it'll look great framed at

the bottom of the canary cage.

Put it this way: Who on earth

cares how many times a man in

pajamas is able to swat a stone

over a fence with a stick, given

500 opportunities?


Cal Ripken is certainly not the

first pajama-man in history to

get cheers for not playing. He's

just the most notable. Three

weeks ago, Ripken ended his

record-setting streak for most

consecutive games played,

choosing to ride the pines for

game 2,633 against the Yankees.

The crowd in Baltimore went

bananas. Of course, there's no

scientific way to distinguish

between cheers for him, and

cheers against him. But one

thing is clear: The cool,

calculating Ripken didn't take a

break until the Orioles were

mathematically eliminated from

playoff contention. Given the

way he's been playing this year,

it sure looks like he was

waiting until the damage was

irreversible. Which is what some

Orioles fans have been grumbling

about since game 2,131. Maybe if

the Iron Man tried something a

little stronger than milk, he

would have thrived while he



[but alas, he's allergic and it was 
just too sad to see him wake up at my house weezing.
i still miss p.c., more so as the weather cools down.  some days
 i'll still come home and expect to find him curled up on, or in my bed.

In spite of what the sports

pages say, it wasn't a good year

for baseball. It was a good year

for baseball on drugs. Although

this year's Yankees are reputed

to be one of the best teams in

history, and the Cubs may

actually have the opportunity to

break hearts again after years

of happy mediocrity, all of that

has been eclipsed by the pursuit

of a trivial record, undertaken

by two otherwise forgettable

players. But even with the

pressroom full of patsies, it

was only a matter of time before

this great American story was

sullied by controversy.

Something stinky was bound to

turn up in the locker room. When

the AP's Steve Wilstein

discovered that McGwire was

using androstenedione, an

over-the-counter approximation

of anabolic steroids, he

provided a useful answer for

people wondering why McGwire had

bulked up like a Russian

shotputter this year. Even

though the substance is banned

in almost every sport except

baseball, Wilstein was chased

out of the locker room as a hack

and a muckraker.


Which is as it should be.

Performance enhancers? We're big

proponents. God knows we

wouldn't be able to haul our

sorry asses through another

mind-numbing day without the

body mass and the confidence we

get from a cupboardful

of dangerous and expensive

stimulants. But the ambivalence

of the athletic community is

something to behold. Whether or

not drugs ought to be allowed in

sports seems like pretty much a

yes-or-no question. But every

time it gets asked, things go

seriously fubar.


[i lust after cats i see in others windows and feverishly try
toi make friends with friendy felines on the streets.

Still, the fates seem to be

aligning themselves for a press

conference. Florence Griffith

Joyner's untimely and

unexplained death two weeks ago

has put sportswriters in a very

uncomfortable position: Everyone

is demanding to know how a

world-class sprinter can

suddenly drop dead at the age of

39, ten years after a dramatic

change in body type and a sudden

problem with five o'clock

shadow. And while it's true that

you can't prove a negative, "she

never tested positive" seems a

pathetic eulogy.


Days after FloJo bought the big

Human Growth Hormone in the sky,

Ben Johnson lost his own appeal

for reinstatement to the

International Amateur Athletics

Federation. Not exactly the

sharpest tool in the shed,

Johnson has been claiming for a

decade that someone spiked his

urine in the Seoul Olympics -

while at the same time admitting

that his trainers provided him

with massive amounts of funny

stuff that made him run like a

Twilight Zone stopwatch. FloJo,

on the other hand, passed the

same piss tests at the same

time, and her absurd world

records stand. Her title as the

world's fastest woman endures -

an unacknowledged monument to

the power of pharmaceuticals,

and the commercial value of not

getting caught.


[rockstar says i have

The real lesson in this sad

morality play? No price is too

high to pay, for the sake of

wearing goofy clothes and

showing off. Of course, most of

us are satisfied with Halloween.

But world-class athletes

generally have just one shot at

usefulness in this life, and

that's making shoe endorsements.

Knowing this hard truth, then,

they ought to drop, pop, drink,

and shoot as much as their

bodies will tolerate. The

alternative is to finish second

and live forever, selling



There's no better model of the

new pharmacological ethic than

pro baseball, where players have

long appreciated the competitive

edge they get from tobacco,

alcohol, and acid. In the

national pastime, today's next

generation of performance

enhancers will be simply a

high-octane extension of

All-American staples like hot

dogs and apple pie. With our

ballplayers massively dosed on

hormones, muscle-builders,

Gatorade, and smart drugs,

"Batter up" seems an

understatement. It's batter way


courtesy of E. L. Skinner

[Purchase the Suck Book here]