Grrr! Steroid Nation

So Rafael Palmeiro (search) is on steroids after all.

Should that surprise you? It seems like everybody who wags his finger in denial in and around Washington sooner or later gets caught in a lie. Now Raffy is suspended for 10 games, and he'll lose $160,000 of his $3 million annual salary.

But the fact that the "coulda-been" Hall of Fame baseball player took steroids shouldn't surprise any of us.

After all, don't we live in a steroid nation? Think about it.

An SUV is a station wagon on steroids. A Hummer is an SUV on steroids. A mountain bike is a bicycle on steroids. PlayStation 2 is Atari on steroids. Cable TV is like your aerial antenna on steroids. DSL is your dial-up modem ... on steroids.

We can go on and on. The truth of the matter — and this is not an excuse for steroid-using professionals — is we're all looking for anything that can increase performance, no matter what.

Your favorite Web site is probably cached on a content distribution network, like Akamai or Limelight. That means they're paying premium rates for bandwidth so that when you go to your favorite Internet page, you don't have to wait more than a few milliseconds for the page to load.

It's the Internet on steroids.

Men used to get their hair cut at barbershops. That wasn't good enough, so beauty salons now cater to men, charging tens of dollars more for a bad buzz cut. It's like your barber on steroids.

Malls are shopping centers ... on steroids.

Twenty four-hour news channels are the evening news on steroids. Internet news sites are like newspapers on steroids.

For years, car manufacturers have looked for ways to increase performance, whether it's speed, acceleration, rack-and-pinion steering, better shocks, you name it. That wasn't enough, so after-market companies catering to performance-happy drivers sprang up everywhere. So we have after-market rims, after-market tires, after-market air intakes, spoilers, fins, super-chargers, you name it.

It's your car on steroids.

We will pay for performance. We pay extra for Amtrak's Acela service, because it's faster. For years, wealthy businessmen and women took the Concorde across the Atlantic, because it was faster.

Performance is king.

Steroids, both metaphorically and realistically, are a multibillion-dollar industry.

We want faster horses. We want faster boats. We want bigger muscles. We want leaner, faster bodies and we want them now, without the work. Without the sacrifice. Give me a pill to make me live longer and I'll take it. Give me a pill to make me run faster and I'll take it. Give me a pill to make my body more desirable to me — whether that means taller, shorter, thinner, fatter — and I'll take it.

Not only are we taking it but one way or the other, we're buying it.


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Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for, and covers entertainment and features on the Sunday program "FOX Magazine." He also writes the weekly Grrr! Column and hosts "The Real Deal" video segments on