February 17, 2003

Another heat-related sports fatality.:
You would think that teams would perform these training runs indoors in an air-conditioned track/area. While the temperature wasn't stifling (81F), the humidity was definitely high (71%). And why do overweight pitchers need to do these runs? They barely meander off the mound even to field a ground ball.

posted by grum@work to baseball at 10:50 AM - 21 comments

This sounds like a health-related problem that could have occurred during any physical activity, not a Corey Stringer situation where an athlete is pushing himself too far in the heat. Sad situation -- it reminds me of a coworker who died at age 27 on the basketball court from mitral valve prolapse, a condition that could have been treated if detected. Because he was a physically fit young guy (former college athlete), he was unlikely to have received a stress test of his heart that would've saved his life.

posted by rcade at 11:38 AM on February 17, 2003

Oh my god. Have to agree rcade, seems like there must be some sort of heart disease history or something. Just when this kid is getting his shot at the big time, how sad. Actually grum, pitchers are really the only players that really need to do running and leg training, seeing how a starting pitcher is going to push off with his legs to throw up to 200 times a game.

posted by vito90 at 12:05 PM on February 17, 2003

I agree with what you say vito90, but it's really not the same thing as a sustained run. I think throwing a pitch once every 45 seconds is not going to be as stressful on the system as having to run top speed for 15-30 seconds. It is probably a case of heart defect that killed him, but I wonder if it might not have been triggered if the run had been done indoors or at night. I guess what I'm ranting about is the need to push these players in the middle of the midday sun. Especially those that are obviously not in the best physical shape in the first place. The fact that he was first diagnosed with dehydration and exhaustion seems to suggest that he had a problem with the heat and exercise. I'm glad they have timed breaks and water stations, and that the Stringer tragedy woke everyone up about the problems.

posted by grum@work at 12:17 PM on February 17, 2003

About a year or two ago, my doctor discovered a weird tick in my heartbeat during a routine physical. He actually said it was a sign of mitral valve prolapse, and that I could have it. Later tests showed that I didn't, thankfully, and it was just a benign tick. I agree this sounds more like a health problem than anything about the training program. I think one of the main reasons they train in the heat is to help improve their endurance during the regular season. If you get used to running in the heat, then you get better at it... simple as that.

posted by swank6 at 11:06 PM on February 17, 2003

I saw Steve pitch last year in Rochester. He ended a long losing streak. Steve was a decent pitcher but never got run support.

posted by jasonspaceman at 06:52 AM on February 18, 2003

They are probing the possible link between his death and the diet drug ephedra. That freaks me out. I've taken Ripped Fuel, which contains ephedra as a weightlifting supplement before.

posted by vito90 at 08:42 AM on February 18, 2003

this ephedra stuff is nonsense. If it had anything to do with it, it's because he used it irresponsibly. Noone ever calls for prohibition when people die in DUI accidents, and likewise we shouldn't kill ephedra because some people do stupid things with it. Taking it as directed, as I'm sure you did, is fine.

posted by Bernreuther at 10:47 AM on February 18, 2003

Bernreuther - I am ALL for personal responsibility...but a bottle of Ripped Fuel recommends two tablets, three times a day. Anytime I took more than one tablet twice a day I would experience elevated body temperature and restlessness and rapid heartbeat. That shit IS dangerous, yo.

posted by vito90 at 10:58 AM on February 18, 2003

Hey vito, Beefcake!

posted by Samsonov14 at 04:15 PM on February 18, 2003

TV Guy - "Are you a 98 pound weakling?" Cartman - "Hey! I weigh 98 pounds!"

posted by vito90 at 04:26 PM on February 18, 2003

I took an ephedrine-containing supplement for a while. I had read that ephedrine was a natural energy source, and I was working crazy hours, so I bought a $15 bottle of these disgusting brown pills. One night at a party, my friends were all drugged up and I had to work in the morning, so I just took 4 ephedrines and a couple of NoDoz. I was extremely hot, my heartbeat was irregular, and I got more jittery than the fellows on ecstacy. I dumped out the bottle. That stuff is scary.

posted by t0mzilla at 11:58 PM on February 18, 2003

ripped fuel is no joke. that junk made my girl at the time make me stop taking it. it deletes your cool...and replaces it with meathead.

posted by garfield at 12:57 PM on February 19, 2003

Sadly, it sounds like the family is prepping themselves for a lawsuit against the Orioles/MLB: "If he did have [ephedrine], why was he allowed to take stuff like that?" said Pat Bechler, who added that her son had been asthmatic as a child but not overweight. "I don't understand it. The other sports banned all that crap. I don't understand why the major leagues don't. That's upsetting to me." (from here)

posted by grum@work at 02:14 PM on February 19, 2003

lawsuit against the Orioles/MLB: I wonder... Last year when Canseco and Caminiti came out with all the steroid talk and SI ran that huge expose on how rampant steroids were, and the climate at the time was one of major animosity between the Union and MLB, and the Union and the MLB kept throwing barbs back and forth about whose responsibility it was to test for drugs, ban drugs, etc. So if it turns out this poor kid was taking a dangerous substance with ephedrine, and the parents choose to sue, isn't the Union as likely a defendant as any if not more so?

posted by vito90 at 02:29 PM on February 19, 2003

i took trimspa for about a week. the combination of ephedra and caffeine did not mix well with my mitral valve prolapse. (then again, i can't even have a cup of coffee without feeling it) but my mom also has a problem with the stuff and she's in very good health (no heart or blood pressure problems). so i wouldn't be surprised if the ephedra was to blame, even if he didn't have a pre-existing condition. that stuff can be unpredictable.

posted by goddam at 03:08 PM on February 19, 2003

vito, I've got no experience with ripped fuel. My bad. I take Xenadrine as directed and get a mild increased heartbeat and energy boost. Sounds like perhaps the RF people need to rethink their labelling and instructions. It's not doing a damn thing about my body fat % though, so unless that changes, I'm not buying any more, but for different reasons... Ultimately, if this whole mess causes them to ban ephedra nationwide, I'll be upset, but doing something like forcing more warning labelling or something like seems perfectly within reason. They make drug companies waste 3/4 of their commercial airtime by citing the dangerous side effects, something of that nature ought to be sufficient. As for MLB banning it, they have every right to do whatever they want so I wouldn't get upset with that either. I think they need better evidence of the link with this death before they do though... seems like so far, they've just been playing with their jump to conclusions mat. As for a lawsuit, I'll just roll my eyes like other frivolous lawsuits out there... it is not anyone's fault but his own that he was taking a legal supplement irresponsibly (though Vito is right, if there is gonna be a suit, it's as much if not more on the Union than on MLB). And with the lax testing, there's still no way to say that a league-wide ban would have even stopped him.

posted by Bernreuther at 04:04 PM on February 19, 2003

I think they need better evidence of the link with this death before they do though... seems like so far, they've just been playing with their jump to conclusions mat.
They certainly didn't need a 'link with death' to ban another legal 'supplement': androstenedione. Ephedrine is banned by the NCAA, IOC and the NFL for a multitude of reasons and MLB should, and undoubtedly will, follow after the impending lawsuit.

posted by kloeprich at 06:40 PM on February 19, 2003

Here's a quote from Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles: "Major League Baseball is lobbying Congress to include these substances in the scheduled prohibited substances which cannot be obtained without a prescription from a medical doctor," Angelos said. "At the last collective bargaining process, (the owners') side insisted that these supplements be included. "The union rejected our position and would not agree to include (the substances) on the basis that if they are legal, then there should be no prohibition imposed by the clubs with respect to the players. After this terrible tragedy, I hope a reassessment by the union will come." source: http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/5218421.htm

posted by vito90 at 10:51 PM on February 19, 2003

vito90: Great pickup. Angelos (and other owners I'm sure) undoubtedly recognized this whole scenario as a legal time-bomb, so I'm sure the lobbying was more an excuplatory move than anything else. Angelos is probably just clearing the decks while he lines up his next class action suit. And what a great shot off the bow at the player's union. Also: here's a real good link on the drug itself.

posted by kloeprich at 12:28 AM on February 20, 2003

I think the quesiton is this: How much of this can be blamed on newer stimulant drugs, and how much falls at the feet of the user? Anyone who has read "Ball Four" or other books knows that past athletes have taken dtimulant drugs and have been in lesser shape, but I don't recall people dropping dead in the Sixties and Seventies. Are the drugs just that much stronger? Are the athletes taking that much more? Are the workouts that much harder?

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:32 AM on February 20, 2003

Jesus. I'm scared straight now. I'm done touching Ripped Fuel. Thanks kloeprich. wfrazerjr - Bouton has said in the past that he doesn't think "greenies" were a performance enhancing drug, but a hangover cure. But he also said if you could give something to a pitcher that would guarantee him twenty wins but take twenty years off his life then he would take it. I think ephedra is just flat-out more dangerous than supplements of the past. For one thing, unlike roids I doesn't appear to kill you over time. You can die from just one bad episode. And the effects of it are magnified with caffeine, and I'm sure lots of people take it with caffeinated soda or coffee (the supplement Ripped Fuel has caffeine in the pill).

posted by vito90 at 10:58 AM on February 20, 2003

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