Not surprisingly, the most intelligent voice I’ve heard on the issue of steroids belongs to pitching guru Tom House.
Indeed, he’s the only one I’ve encountered who not only makes sense, but alos ahs first-hand experience, having taking steroids for a period of time during his playing days.
His motivation — which probably makes him the anti-Jose Conseco — has nothing at all to do with self-promotion. Nor has he sunk to the level of naming names.
Tom’s reasons for speaking up are the same as why he recently addressed the California legislature — and is currently producing a video on the subject: he cares about the greater good.
So let’s examine some of the points he’s raised.
In defense of baseball — or at least the powers-that-be within the game — Tom is the first person to point out that there is nothing disingenuous about the assertion that no one saw steroids coming. His reasoning has to do with frame of reference, in that up through the 70’s, weightlifting was discouraged… to the point where few teams even had weight rooms. And when at last lifting began to be accepted, the feeling remained that pitchers needed suppleness rather than bulk.
So Tom, in the hope of improving his fastball, became what we would now call a “closet” lifter — going to a private gym, where he became aware of the steroid culture. And when he began to experiment with substances including steroids, DMSO, and cortisone, his fear of exposure owed not to the supplements, which in those days were not illegal, but rather to weightlifting itself, which was frowned on by his team, the Braves.
Thus began a two-year stint of secrecy, which made him twenty-five pounds heavier, but with no gain in velocity.
Further, because steroids build muscle at the expense of connective tissue and joints, his experimentation left him with two bum knees.
Yet that costly wrong turn had one important benefit, in that it led Tom to the discovery of what he terms Functional Strength.
That concept, together with what he’s gleaned from his studies of kinesiology and mechanics, has made
Tom House a visionary regarding both pitching and baseball itself.
As someone who works with players of all ages — from Mark Prior to kids with dreams — Tom House has a credo makes perfect sense. “The only even playing field,” he states, “is a legal playing field.”
Hopefully, many will listen.