July 19, 2011

Read this.

At the time it was published, this article was a revelation. Most people didn’t know that Lenny Dykstra was so brazen about making his 1993 season one for the ages, or that there was so much good information about his own timeline doing PEDS. We didn’t have documentation for Reggie’s steroid dealing roommate becoming Canseco and McGwire’s dealer, or the timeline. I had independently come to the conclusion that Barry Bonds started using in 1999 out of some sort of bitterness or competitiveness because players that he deemed inferior had passed him up by using steroids, but this article includes the “testimony” of someone that had come to the exact same conclusion, and had some material evidence to back up his opinions. We didn’t know that Wally Joyner, who would be one of the last people in the world that anyone would expect to be tempted, actually took PEDS for short time before tossing them away.

Do any of us really understand how hard it would be to say no in that climate? Some did, obviously, and from this article I would guess that the number was a lot higher than Canseco claimed. I’ve been on record as guessing that the vast majority of major league players did PEDS. After this, I would lower my guess to somewhere around half. I doubt that it was much less than half, though.

I also came to understand a lot more about baseball’s own problems trying to deal with the sudden scourge. I don’t find them blameless, but I do understand how it all got so out of control, and how it got so far before any steps were taken. We look back and wonder why it wasn’t nipped in the bud. The better question would probably be “what else could they have done, given the management/labor paradigm of the time?” Baseball was at the feet of the union, and since they couldn’t control it none of the individual teams could be reasonably expected to be the only ones that stuck their necks out.

As is the case with most epidemics, it takes time to identify that there is a problem, and then time to figure out what to do, then (in this case) time to prove that there is a problem and time to negotiate how to address the problem. Baseball first really heard of it around 1991, accepted that they need to at least acknowledge it in 1997 (they got distracted by the strike issues for a couple of years, which slowed down the progression), realized that they needed to take proactive steps in 2000, and then it took 3 years to sell it to the union through negotiations and proof that the problem was real. I come away feeling that the Selig-led hierarchy worked through the process in a fairly normal time frame, considering that they weren’t getting any help from the teams and certainly no help from the players or their union.

Who’s to blame? Pete Rose, Reggie Jackson and Miguel Tejada. (I’m just kidding)

Seriously, can’t it just be one of those things? Baseball is a game that produces unimaginable amounts of money, which all of the interested parties get an ample share of. When there is a shift in technology, a shift in equipment, or (in this case) a shift in available ways to beat the other guy, everyone always scrambles to get ahead of everyone else. The guys that stood still and said “this isn’t right” were so drowned out that it took over a decade to get even the smallest toe hold on the problem. It happens and, as I’ve said to the point of hyperventilating for years, it’s happened before. It’s going to happen again, too, sooner or later.

Oh, and just to put a bonnet on it, my three requested “stipulated” facts, with adjustments to reflect the provable portions:

– Reggie Jackson was living with Curtis Wenzlaff in 1987, while still an active player.

– Pete Rose had, as house mates, Tommy Gioiosa and Paul Janszen, both steroid dealers who worked out with Rose at various times from 1985 until the betting scandal erupted in 1989. Janszen was the star witness against Rose, and Gioiosa ran bets for Rose before introducing him to Janszen in late 1986. Janszen didn’t live with Rose while he was an active player, but Gioiosa did. Both lived with him while he was the manager of the Reds.

– Miguel Tejada gave Rafael Palmiero a B-12 shot shortly after Palmiero testified before congress. Palmiero tested positive for a steroid that was popular several years earlier, but was considered obsolete by 2005.

I don’t personally care who did what, other than from curiosity. I have no angst about it, or any anger towards the miscreants. My only interest in taking this much time researching and posting is towards the goal of getting the record straight, or as straight as it can be given the climate of denial around the issue.

Just for the record, I don’t believe that either Reggie Jackson or Pete Rose derived any benefit from taking steroids. I don’t believe that either one of them even took steroids, though I wouldn’t be shocked if it came out that they did. I do believe that Palmiero took steroids, and the only reason that I want the Tejada facts to be stipulated is because I believe that it’s possible that he was set up to take a fall.

I don’t have a clue why anyone felt that it was necessary for Palmiero to take a fall. I don’t know what lurks in the minds of people like that, so how in the hell can I explain their actions? Palmiero was later exposed in places where I feel comfortable in stipulating that he was a steroid user, so why should I care about that last positive test? For Raffy, I don’t care. He did steroids, so that last test doesn’t matter. He was set up in a clumsy, amateurish way. That bothers me. I mean, why? I find it fascinating; wondering why they would set up someone that was already going down?

Nixon fixed an election that he was going to win anyway. Maybe that was the thought process. We all watch so many scripted TV shows and movies that we forget that, in the real world, even supposedly educated and worldly people can act like complete morons once in awhile. In the end it doesn’t matter in the least whether Palmiero was set up, does it? Well, to Palmiero anyway. It might matter to us, though, if we can find out who did it. Maybe these people “raped a hooker”, but that doesn’t mean that a rape wasn’t committed.