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Am I The Only One Not On Steroids?
February 10, 2009 - John Whittaker
You had to know my next post would be about Alex Rodriguez -- who it would be really easy to rip seven ways from Sunday, by the way.
Seriously, I can come up with about 40 different A-Rod jokes right now. He's the sports equivalent of a priest and a rabbi. It's the comedy gift that keeps on giving. Give it to the Yankees - at least they've got this "We have a drug user on our team" thing down pat. It's nice to see something good is coming out of those post-season meetings in Tampa.
It used to be a joke, back in the 1980s and 1990s, when Steve Howe, Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry graced our roster. The Bronx became George's Home For Wayward Boys - a place where guys whose careers had been sniffed up their nose could have a second chance.
What, do we have cheap syringes in the Bronx? Good suppliers? The best Narcanon meetings on earth? Are the steroids cheaper in the Bronx, where you can go to any street corner and be taken care of?
Was Brian McNamee really that good a supplier, that we had to import users? Is the New York black market for substances that make you bigger and stronger and faster really thriving as much as it seems?
It's really ri-damned-diculous, when you think about it.
As a Yankees fan, meanwhile, I'm wondering why we have to deal with this every spring?
A few years ago, it was Giambi, whose federal BALCO testimony had been leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle. Then, it was Andy Pettitte last year, whose use was mentioned in the Mitchell Report and became a sticking point in the Congressional hearings over Roger Clemens. Now, it's A-Rod.
I mean, at least the Yankees (Roger Clemens notwithstanding) have handled these things the right way, with their guys admitting to their steroid use (in the vaguest terms possible), but it'd be great to enter spring training focusing on the team on the field, and not what the team on the field has been injecting into their butts.
Since that will never happen, here are my A-Rod-related thoughts.
1. What about the other 103 names? If you're going to leak the information on one of the 104 players who tested positive as part of a non-binding test that was supposed to remain secret, then you should sack up and name the other players, too. A-Rod was wrong. He shouldn't have taken the stuff. But, he wasn't the only one who did, and he's the only one taking any heat for it now. That absolutely isn't fair.
2. How dumb does A-Rod have to be? While nobody was supposed to know who passed and who flunked the test, they knew the test was coming. It wasn't a random test. It was a test to see if baseball had a problem (isn't that a 10 on the no-crap--o-meter). They only caught the 104 people dumb enough not to have cycled off their steroids before the test period. I think we should call A-Rod the Scarecrow from now on, because he apparently needs to visit the wizard to get a brain, too. I'm off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of GET OFF THE DRUGS WHEN A DRUG TEST IS COMING NEXT WEEK. I wonder if the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz could hit in the clutch? Would the wizard agree to pick up some of A-Rod's salary? Does he sell cojones, too? Hmmmm.
3. Does anyone really believe A-Rod doesn't know what he was taking? I can understand taking steroids. I don’t condone it, but I get why you might choose to o so. In the midst of the Bonds-McGwire-Sosa power explosion, if you want to be the best player in the game and justify the best contract in the game, you have to take what everyone else is taking. That's what got Bonds to start juicing. I don't buy, for one minute, that A-Rod doesn't know what he tested positive for. If your body is worth $252 million, you're not going to research the steroid that gives you the most bang for the least physical toll? Really? And, all he mentioned in his interview Monday with Peter Gammons was "GNC this" and "Over the counter at GNC that." Something tells me your good-old-GNC, which we have in the Chautauqua Mall, isn't selling ANABOLIC steroids over the counter to 15-year-olds. Sorry Alex, but you're not pulling that one over on the Whitless Wonder. What did you take, when did you start, what did they do to help? I think you owe us answers to those questions, my friend.
4. What's with the double standard? Rodney Harrison got suspended four games earlier this year for taking HGH, and there was none of this outrage. He is, unless I'm really off base, a future NFL Hall of Famer, but all we wondered was when he would be back, blowing up anyone who ran into the Patriots defensive secondary. Shawn Merriman, a defending NFL Defensive player of the year, also tested positive for HGH, and nothing happened to him other than a four-game suspension. He was on the AFC Pro Bowl team at the end of the year, and nobody's contesting his Hall of Fame candidacy. Heck, even Bruce Smith was suspended in 1988 for a recreational drug-related offense, and he's being inducted into the football Hall of Fame this year. But, McGwire, A-Rod, Bonds and Clemens are being vilified more than Ken Lay (remember that name? If not, isn't that a sad commentary on our national attention span?). Something doesn't add up. Maybe Babe Ruth shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame, either. I mean, he singlehandedly kept the hot dog and beer industries going in the 1920s, and he put a lot of girls through college, if you know what I mean. Ty Cobb was a racist and the dirtiest player in the game. Gaylord Perry and Whitey Ford threw illegal pitches. Should we kick them out, too?
5. Let's not be surprised anymore. At this point, would you be shocked to see Derek Jeter, David Eckstein, David Wright, Albert Pujols, Trevor Hoffman or any other player linked to a banned supplement or steroid? If you are, you shouldn't be. From about 1987 through 2003-04, a lot of players took steroids. Frank Thomas has jumped up and down about the need for testing and the fact he never took a steroid, but I wouldn't be shocked to see his name on a list. Ken Griffey sat with Barry Bonds and, when Bonds told him he was going to start using (according to Jeff Pearlman's book, Love Me, Hate Me), said no thanks, that stuff isn't for me. Somehow, I can see Griffey being linked to some supplement that is now banned. Let's get off our proverbial high horses. Players from this era should be in the Hall of Fame. Roger Clemens was striking out 'roided up hitters. Beefed up hitters were hitting off of juiced pitchers. It's all intertwined. Put them all in and quit whining. While we're at it, induct Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson, too - because keeping them out of the Hall of Fame really does a lot to curb sports gambling, which is one of the only growth industries in the United States right now. We had to know something was wrong when you could land an airplane on Mark McGwire's back, when you could show an IMAX movie on Barry Bonds head, and when Roger Clemens was roid raging on the field with Mike Piazza. We can't get all self-righteous now after pouring through the turnstiles of every park in the major leagues. Welcome to the aftermath of the steroid era - ain't it great!
And, yes, A-Rod is officially nominated for a Herbie Award.
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I wonder if this guy would have failed the 2003 baseball steroid tests? Can he hit in the clutch?