I sat around the last two nights watching Ken Burns sequel with my son and daughter and contemplating a career that just quite did not make it to the show. I watched highlights from players I had played against in the minors, have big time moments. Then spiral into illicit steroid and illegal drug use. I recall the players I played against such as Steve Howe, Ken Caminiti, Eric Show, and Rod Scurry who all suffered untimely deaths due to an inability to tame demons that would haunt them forever. I can tell you they were all extreme talented individuals. They were simply victims of poor choices.
My time was a unique time in that I bridged the Pittsburgh Drug trial era and saw the onset of the steroid era. I can remember the greenies guys took. Seeing guys shoot up roids. Playing against Canseco (Huntsville, also McGwire for a period as well) in the Texas League in the 80s and thinking where the heck did these creatures come from. I remember teammates drowning themselves in liquor which was the other demon for players back then. I spent my time chasing the girls and jogging 10 miles every night. As a fringe player the temptation was always there but I was the product of a rural/farm upbringing with strict parents and the temptations were far outweighted by a realization that doing it right and coming up short was more important than doing it wrong and succeeding. I was always taught to never put anything foreign in your body unless you were sick.
As I sat there I pondered "what if" I would have succombed to the illicit opportunities that surrounded me then. Would I have made the bigs? How would I look at my life now knowing I sold my soul then. Could I look my kids in the eye today with no reservations or regrets, damn straight I can.
Many of the bloggers on this site are younger people less than 30 years old with a lifetime of choices ahead of them. I can only offer the advice that if your heart tells you it is wrong, then it likely is. Always follow it and you will likely feel at personal peace. I sat here as a 50 something today knowing that I always let my abilites in my life drive my decisions and performance (whether in business or in baseball). Never take short cuts, always use executive function, and never give up on your own ability to make a difference.
Value your legacy, make sure you can talk to your kids about your formative years with no regrets and pride. Watching this program stirred some emotions in me that I had not felt in 25-30 years. It was a cleansing experience and one I thought I would share with all of you.