Monday, March 28, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin Roids!

Let’s discuss a topic that I’ve been reading about, talking about and honestly thinking about for months - Steroids in baseball. The questions and allegations have been everywhere for the last several years, and should’ve been asked as far back as the late 80s. First it was a federal investigation into BALCO and the leaked testimony of Jason Giambi and the alleged unknown use of steroids by superstars Gary Sheffield and Barry Bonds, arguably the greatest player ever. But it was a former AL MVP and the first 40-40 man that sparked an absolute media frenzy and then got the United States Congress involved…Jose Canseco and his book ‘Juiced’.

I have read his book and don’t suspect Canseco will win any writing awards for his book –however I think he’s telling the truth about most (if not all) of what he’s detailed in this book.Too many guys that he’s labeled as steroids users in his book seemed to explode in statistics and muscularity in the early-mid 1990s, having seasons that Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth would’ve been thrilled about…and seasons that probably made Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle want to jump through the ground to find out answers – but everyone turned the other way…especially Major League Baseball and the Players Association. Why would they do that? Didn’t they know that steroid abuse does terrible damage to a person if not taken correctly and moderated in dosage…Yes, they knew – but they also knew that the strike of 1994 and the cancellation of the World Series had fans more than peeved and they needed a jolt in more places than the buttocks to get the game going again. Home runs and home run races will do that for you.

Back to ‘Juiced’…Canseco claimed that he gave roids to several guys and said that he injected most of them in the beginning of their use to show them the correct methods.

Let’s take a look at several of these players…When Canseco was traded from Oakland to the Texas Rangers in late 1992 several All-Stars turned into potential Hall of Famers.

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez went from 8 HR & 37 RBI in 1992 up to 67 RBI and an increase of 13 points in his BA. And then – boom 16 HR in the strike-shortened season of 1994 in more then 100 less at bats and with probably 250 more at bats to come had the players not went on strike. His RBI, HR and BA all kept getting gradually better and better over the next several years and reached its peak in his AL MVP season of 1999 when he hit 35 HR 113 RBI and .332 while also stealing a career best 25 bases - he only has 97 stolen bases in his career…?

Rafael Palmeiro had seasons of 8, 8, 14, 26 and 22 before the 1993 season when he hit 37…then in a strike shortened season he hit 23 and then in 95 & 96 he hit 39 in each. Followed in 97 with 38 and then these:
98: 43
99: 47
00: 39
01: 47
02: 43
03: 38
04: 23
Pretty funny how when all the talk of roids came out his numbers fell back down…?

Mark McGwire. I think it’s safe to say that when Big Mac testified in front of the House Government Reform Committee a few weeks ago he didn’t want to give many details about his past. This has led many people to believe that he was trying to hide something but c’mon, you’d be foolish to say that you can’t see what steroids could have done for this guy. He was a good hitter with great power when he was a 23-year old rookie in 1987 but when you add 50 pounds of muscle look what happens…you have seasons of 52, 58, 70 and 65 HRs. And you also get injuries that lead to 9 HRs in two straight injury-riddled seasons of 1993 & 1994. Let’s remember that Big Mac had a full season in the early 90s where he hit .201…?

Jason Giambi. A doubles hitter when he came into MLB who turned into a hitting machine producing multiple 40+ HR seasons and having averages of .315, .333., .342 and .314 with RBI totals of 110, 123, 137, 120, 122 and 107…a far cry from the 79 and 81 he hit in his first two full seasons in the bigs huh? Sure I know, guys get better and better each season that they play – but do guys normally put on that much muscle…?

I won’t argue that the great players do in fact get better and better each year – but these guys had significant bursts in numbers, weight and muscles…and I find it hard not to believe. There are so many guys around the league that used steroids as an advantage – guys that we try not to believe, but we can’t be that ignorant. The crazy thing is that when Canseco and the late Ken Caminiti (NL MVP in 1996 and admitted steroid user) gave their estimates of how many major leaguers were using anabolic steroids, unfortunately I think they were right.

The reason I find this issue to be so troubling is that it’s something that teenagers have been turning to for a way to make it far in baseball and sports. Kid ‘A’ is a really good High School athlete, but has been told he probably can’t get a Division 1 scholarship. But if he does a few cycles of steroids and improves his batting average and his power then he might land at that Big East college. Or we have College Kid ‘B’ who’s been a role player for a Big Ten university his first two years when a spot opens up at third base. The coaches tell him that he’s got to work real hard this offseason to get the starting spot. Kid ‘B’ might just think that some steroids and lots of weight lifting might put him over the top all the while also jeopardizing his health.

I hope that Major League Baseball finally digs into the batters box to try to face this problem…to tell you the truth, I can’t wait to see how many swings it will take to hit it out of the ballpark. I’ll be watching from the Field Level.


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