The belief that baseball clubhouses are plush kindergartens populated by overly stimulated, immature young men was enhanced last week by the revelation that 113 major- leaguers received a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 2014.
That astonishing figure not only helps explain the 1993 Phillies, it implies that the controversial mental disorder occurs twice as frequently in baseball as in the general population, where many medical experts believe its prevalence already is grossly exaggerated.
That, both statistically and logically, is hard to believe.
What the total more likely suggests is that, in a sport with a long history of amphetamine abuse, many players are having difficulty weaning themselves from the drug.
Baseball policy mandates that ballplayers with ADHD be granted waivers for Adderall, the amphetamine most commonly prescribed as a remedy. While it has cloaked the abuse in respectability, has it significantly reduced the number of abusers?
Amphetamines - or "greenies" - were once as ubiquitous in the sport as Louisville Sluggers. It's not hard to figure out why. The drug greatly enhances energy and focus, two prized baseball attributes. And in the big-money, highly competitive pro-sports world, once an edge is uncovered, it proliferates and seldom is willingly surrendered.
It doesn't require a leap of logic to assume that many of those 113 may be using ADHD as a shield for their drug use. Beyond that total, as indicated by the suspensions of Carlos Ruiz and Chris Davis, and 2014's eight positive Adderall tests, many without waivers seem willing to risk taking stimulants. Since the body can absorb them quickly, tests are less likely to detect them.
Baseball's newfound antidrug zealotry was supposed to have eliminated this abuse. The reason it hasn't is the ADHD loophole.
That disorder, first identified in the 1960s, can't be detected with objective physical tests. Players applying for ADHD waivers need only convince a baseball-approved physician or psychologist. That's why 113 of them, far more than anyone could reasonably expect, were found to have conditions serious enough to warrant drug intervention.
No one is sure when stimulants first showed up in clubhouses, but it was probably when World War II veterans began returning to the game.
Developed in the 19th century, amphetamines got their first successful commercial application in a nasal inhalant called Benzedrine, which was was patented in the 1930s by the Philadelphia pharmaceutical firm Smith, Kline & French. Researchers quickly recognized the drug's value as a stimulant, and by WWII it was being supplied routinely to American military personnel.
More than 500 major- leaguers served in that conflict. Some undoubtedly were introduced to amphetamines and touted the drug's benefits to postwar teammates. Still, it wasn't until 1970, when Jim Bouton's groundbreaking baseball journal, Ball Four, was published, that anyone linked the pills to America's pastime.
Baseball clubhouses, the pitcher informed a shocked nation, contained bowls of the green pills, and players consumed them like peanuts.
"Most players saw amphetamines as harmless," Bouton wrote. "But the professional athlete does a lot of things to his body that he doesn't think are harmful."
By the end of that decade, the game clearly had a stimulant problem, one its administrators were reluctant to address. Greenies, after all, were legal with a prescription, and baseball's rules included no specific prohibition.
A greenie-dispensing ring was uncovered in the Pittsburgh clubhouse. And one Pirate, John Milner, testified in 1979 that as a Met, he and teammates regularly used the liquid amphetamines Willie Mays kept in his locker.
In Philadelphia, several of the 1979 Phillies' best players - including Pete Rose, Greg Luzinski, and Larry Bowa - were linked to a starstruck Reading physician who reportedly dispensed pills regularly to his favorite team.
The news, for the most part, was met by remarkable indifference. For many in the 1970s, the stigma of drug abuse had not yet attached itself to amphetamines - or to sports. Throughout America, the pills were as commonplace as bad haircuts.
Women took them to lose weight, men to extend and augment their workdays. And on college campuses, they were viewed as vital study aids.
One night at the dawn of that decade, I took an amphetamine to cram for a Temple exam. In the frenetic hours that followed, I not only ingested a semester's worth of history, I wrote one English paper for myself and a second for a friend at Villanova, composed a short story about my imagined future as a Bulletin sportswriter, and knocked off a couple of letters.
Who then could blame a weary hitter for wanting a boost before facing Nolan Ryan in the getaway game on the last stop of a three-city September road trip?
Eventually, the war on drugs and baseball's existential battle with steroids led to more tests and less tolerance. Suddenly, players who had leaned on amphetamines throughout their minor- and major-league careers were expected to quit cold turkey.
It seemed like a reasonable response. But was it?
Sports don't exist in a vacuum. Why should athletes be held to different standards from everyone else? If there's a domestic-abuse problem in the NFL, for example, it's because there's a domestic-abuse problem in America.
And if a baseball player takes a pill to sharpen his focus, the act can't be separated from the rest of us taking pills to alter our moods, steady our blood pressure, lower our cholesterol, or raise our sexual appetites.
When the pharmaceutical industry, whose estimated revenue topped $1 trillion last year, creates, markets, and sells its products, it's not segregating ballplayers.
So what should baseball do?
Well, if the motivation is that stimulants are indeed performance-enhancing, then ban them all. If it's believed that those with legitimate - and serious - cases of ADHD are entitled to medical relief, then tighten the waiver guidelines that now, frankly, seem laughably lax.
The current policy not only hasn't prevented amphetamine abuse, it has created a generation of hypocrites. By acting more sensibly, baseball can diminish the former and eliminate the latter.