It is particularly difficult to watch a presidential debate or State of the Union and hear the party line as a response for each question. It becomes a predictable exercise where each answer is as rehearsed and choreographed as a pop music performance at the Grammys. When reporters engaged Carlos Ruiz in questions about his 25-game suspension for Adderall use, Ruiz stuck to the talking points, the party line: he was very sorry that he disappointed everyone, he’s putting it behind him.
Chooch had a very unique opportunity on his hands: he could have been a trailblazer, he could have been the first person taking a PED to describe the advantages of taking them, detailing why he took them, stating what aspects of his game they improved. He could have had the mia culpa of all mia culpas, describing when and why he started, why he continued to do so even after he was busted once and told he would be tested eight times a year.
Chooch didn’t give any of those details.
Now, why he didn’t is explainable and possibly even understandable. First off, English is not Chooch’s first language. While he may be competent and confident speaking English, he may have easily misspoke, creating more headaches. Second, it is entirely possible Chooch does have a very real condition that he wishes not to disclosure that the Adderall helps maintain. When asked if he would pursue joining the 1 in 10 MLB players who are medically cleared to take Adderall, a list that includes Cliff Lee and former Phil Shane Victorino, he said that would be between him and his doctor. That’s OK, too.
Chooch’s responses, though, were well-formulated and thought out, but were all just different words to say the same thing. I don’t fault Chooch for doing this but it leaves answers to very interesting questions on the table. For instance, if Chooch was able to or choose to give an answer as to why he took Adderall, even after he knew he would be tested eight times a year for it, we would have perhaps gotten a window into why MLB players choose to use this drug recreationally or without MLB clearance or why MLB players use it at such a higher clip than regular Americans.
The answer to that question to some may be clear. For instance, a study by Kristin Jenkins of Bryn Mawr College states the following about Adderall: “a person with a perfectly normal, functioning frontal cortex and dopamine levels will experience a heightened sense of motivation, focus, and concentration.” If it helps “unclear the mental brush” as one of Jenkins’ interviewees says, it would likely help job performance when your job includes focusing on a small object for three hours at a time.
As of 2010, Americans, who make up 4% of the world’s population, consumed 88% of the world’s Adderall, Ritalin, and other like drugs. The MLB rate is about 1-3% higher than the rate prescribed to children in the US and the percentage is quite a bit higher than the composite US population by most estimates. Chooch had an opportunity to give us a small window into why a player would choose this route. He choose to remain private about it and for me that’s OK. I was just selfishly wishing we would have gotten some more information.