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I am not voting for anyone who played the bulk of his career in the “steroids era.”
Nobody had more power to rid the game of PEDs than the best players, so even those who didn’t use – if there are any – are at least guilty of complicity.
So, in a few years will we be seeing hundreds of blank ballots?
Heh. Not the owners, not the commish, not the head of the union - nope it is Bonds and Clemens who had an obligation to do it, because fairness or something.
People, people, just because a stray voter or two may not be up to snuff is no reason for us not to fully respect the process and the consensus.
J.P.: You wrote what many consider to be the first groundbreaking PED story, your 2002 cover piece on Ken Caminiti and drugs in baseball. I’ve long wondered—how did you get Ken to talk about such a taboo subject? How did that unfold?
T.V.: I remember before the 2002 season we had an SI meeting, with writers and editors, to talk about story ideas for the upcoming season. I said, “Guys, the next big story is about steroids in baseball. I guarantee you it’s going to be written. And it better be written by us.” The issue became obvious to me in 2001—not just innuendo or rumor about a few renegade players—because clean players were coming up to me and saying, “It’s an unfair game. There are so many guys using steroids that now I am at a competitive disadvantage.” The excuse makers today don’t want to acknowledge what it was doing to the game. You either had to stick a needle loaded with illegal drugs in your butt—God knows where the drugs came from or what it would do to your testicles—or you were at an obvious competitive disadvantage when it came to your job and your earning potential.
SI encouraged me to begin reporting the story. I was making good progress, but nobody wanted to give their name. For instance, I spoke to a minor league player who defined for me the insidious nature of a game being turned over to drug cheats. He wasn’t a power hitter at all—in fact, he was a speedy outfielder. He told me he was totally against steroids—knew they were illegal and wrong. His wife was against them. But he compromised his own values because others were getting ahead of him. He juiced up and he immediately felt the difference. His bat was quicker. He got to pitches he otherwise wouldn’t get to. And if he started to wear down, if his bat started to slow, he went back on the juice.
It tells you something about how wrong steroids were that nobody then—and even to this day, so few players—would go on the record about their steroid use. Until Caminiti. A producer for CNN knew I was working on a steroids story. She had interviewed Caminiti for a totally unrelated subject and he had mentioned steroids rather casually in their conversation. She thought it was worth checking with him. I knew Caminiti from his playing days. He was a great guy and one of the most respected teammates I ever encountered. I called him up. He lived in the Houston area. I told him what I was working on and I would like to talk to him. He immediately invited me to his home.
I flew to Houston. We sat in his big garage on folding lawn chairs, surrounded by the cars he loved to customize. It was a long conversation. All afternoon. He never flinched. Ken had problems in his life with substance abuse, and it seemed like he was working his way through his problems with counseling and support groups. I imagine he was at a time in his life where honesty with himself was a priority. He told me he had nothing to hide. Not once, not even off the record, did he mention the name of any other player. His personal accountability was stark and courageous.
That night, accompanied by a friend of his, we went to dinner. It was nothing fancy. Just a diner where he could order “the usual” and they knew exactly what to bring. At one point he looked at me and said, “This is pretty big, huh?” I told him yes. He said, “I have nothing to hide.” [Emphasis added]
Integrity is part of the criteria.
Those who did not move to rid the game of PEDs have to get an F for integrity.
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