The confluence of baseball’s PED scandal with its most fruitful home run years gave rise to an overly simplistic summary of the appeal of steroids to baseball players: Take drugs, get jacked, hit dingers. The faces most associated with PED investigations and suspensions largely matched that pattern – McGwire, Sosa, Canseco, Bonds, A-Rod, Giambi, et cetera.
But that wasn’t the whole picture. Plenty of baseballers found non-dinger reasons to use these drugs, from improving their recovery after injuries to gaining extra pitch velocity.
This is to say that – despite not needing to hit any taters – Batman’s gotta be juicing.
Consider the differences between Batman and your average major leaguer. The latter operates on a predetermined schedule, can be given rest days as needed, and has an entire training staff helping to keep his body in top form. The former has to answer a sky-beeper, can’t realistically plan any time off, and has only an overworked elderly butler to provide deep tissue massages. Baseball players have to throw, hit, and catch an object that weighs less than half a pound. Batman’s fighting a crocodile-human hybrid who’s as heavy as an upright piano.
On a bad night, a baseball player gets plunked with a couple of fastballs inside, or gets taken out by an aggressive slide, or takes part in a bench-clearing brawl where only a handful of punches land. Batman goes out into the world and his enemies try to shoot, stab, maim, crush, freeze, burn, drown, gas, and vehicularly manslaughter him. Dude’s Rasputin with fewer social skills.
Shit, one of Batman’s primary archvillains is basically Steroid Luchador!
Given all that, why wouldn’t Batman take PEDs? He needs the muscle mass to fight all manner of terrifying villains and their gaggles of henchmen, and he can’t afford to spend weeks recovering from injuries inflicted by the same.
And frankly, most of the downsides to steroid use don’t seem like they’d dissuade Batman. Sterility? Dude’s not really looking to have kids anyways. Increased aggression? Probably an asset for the kind of punching and bone-breaking he’s into. Body acne? The suit’s probably fucking his pores up as is!
This isn’t just some theory I made up, either. There’s an entire comic book arc where Batman uses unprescribed drugs to get shredded!
I refuse, however, to castigate Bruce Wayne for abusing PEDs. By refusing to use guns or kill his enemies (even though they’re constantly trying to murder him), Batman’s already playing this game with a sizable disadvantage. It seems only fair that he narrow that gap through pharmacology.
Imagine a designated hitter who announced that they’d no longer be using a bat at the plate and would instead just try to smack the ball with their hand. Would we criticize that player for taking a steroid or two, accusing them of gaining an unfair advantage?
Or would we say “Hey, buddy, you’re the one choosing to start the inning with two outs. Juice away!”