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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

S.I.: Posnanski: Time to forgive Mark McGwire

Reason/Voice/Poz.

Within seconds of the interview ending, I began to hear analysts tearing up McGwire. Then I read some columnists’ thoughts—they mostly ripped into the man, too. And the more I read, the more I heard, the more I realized that most people did not see this thing the way I saw it. Apparently, McGwire was not contrite enough. He was not believable enough. He was not specific enough. He would not admit that steroids made him the great home run hitter he became. He did not tell the whole truth. He did not sound sincere enough. And on. And on. And on.

Wow. I have spent the last few hours trying to replay this in my head. Why didn’t I see what so many other people apparently did see? The big thing seems to be McGwire’s refusal to accept that steroids made him a better hitter. This apparently trampled many people’s sensibilities. But, the thing is, I didn’t need him to admit that, and, to be honest, I didn’t want for him to admit it.* We all have our opinions about steroids and what they do. That is his opinion. I didn’t need him saying something he did not believe… isn’t that the very definition of “insincere?”

...When Mark McGwire finished with his day of apologies, I forgave him. It doesn’t mean I look at his 70 home run season the way I did in 1998. It doesn’t mean that I respect the choices he made. It doesn’t even mean that I agree with his self-scouting report. No. I just mean that if there was any anger or resentment toward him for cheating, it is gone now. He admitted and he apologized. Now, he wants to coach baseball. He wants to speak out against steroids. He wants people to remember that he was a damned good hitter who worked hard at the game. I wish him well and hope all those things for him.

As for so many others—many of them friends of mine—who do not feel like he met the forgiveness bar and felt like this whole apology thing was a sham, well, as I’ve said, I have been wrong plenty before. One friend emailed me with this line: “Why SHOULD I forgive him?” It’s just my opinion: But I think the answer is in the question.

Repoz Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:03 PM | 482 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fantasy baseball, media, steroids

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   401. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 15, 2010 at 12:10 AM (#3437926)
So if steroids resulted in no physical change to the body, you would be ok with baseball players taking them?

Not exactly. I wouldn't be thrilled with a futuristic pill a guy could pop with two outs, bases loaded, down a run in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 that makes him impervious to nerves, either. Anything that fundamentally alters the agon between humans and human limits is what I don't like and, IMHO, what cuts so deeply about steroids.

That isn't a moral judgment; I concur with DMN's earlier observation that "robot baseball" (**) isn't immoral, though I'd add the word "inherently" before finally signing off. It is, however, a profound and relevant difference between taking a file or a wad of Vaseline to the ball, and steroids.

(**) Or, if you will, Saturday Night Live's "All Drug Olympics."
   402. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 01:24 AM (#3437975)
Here's a Tom Verducci SI story from March of 1998. I'm not trying to make a point here; just found it interesting.

[Edited to note Verducci since I initially credited the story to Gammons.]

Quoting now:

"Mark is one of those players who is so special, you cannot put limits on what he can do," says Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "He might hit 40, 50 or 60 this year. He might hit 70."

McGwire came up just short of the record last year despite hitting only three home runs while in a 33-day fog.

...

"I've always appreciated how difficult it is," McGwire says of hitting 61, "and now I know how possible it is. I hit 58 and had a terrible July. But it would have to be almost a perfect season for it to happen."

...

For instance, the gym he frequents is a busy but ordinary family fitness center tucked in a strip mall near a sushi joint and a dry cleaner. Mothers in spandex lug their toddlers to the baby-sitting room, and off-duty policemen and firemen want to know the secret for developing forearms like his. "Genetics," he tells them. "You should see my father."

...

No matter where you sit or stand in Mark McGwire's house, it is impossible not to have within sight a framed picture of his son. On the last day of the 1987 season, needing one home run for 50, McGwire excused himself to be by his wife's side when Matthew was born.

...

In '91 McGwire hit 22 home runs, drove in 75 runs—and didn't ask for a raise. That year he also hit .201, quit lifting weights out of sheer laziness, suffered through a miserable live-in relationship and finally telephoned the A's employee-assistance department and said, "I want to get some help." He found a therapist, learned to like himself, rededicated himself to year-round iron pumping and showed up at camp the next season with 20 pounds of new muscle.

Though McGwire did smash 42 home runs in that comeback year, it was also the first of five consecutive seasons in which he could not stay off the disabled list. He missed 40% of his team's games during that stretch; his enormously muscled body seemed to be too big for the rigors of playing baseball. A rib-cage strain, a torn left heel muscle, a sore lower back, a left heel stress fracture, a torn right heel muscle...hose seemed to many observers to be the natural consequences of a body made unnaturally large. Many, including opposing players, believe he uses steroids. He denies the charge. Vehemently.

"Never," says McGwire, though he admits he'll "take anything that's legal," meaning dietary supplements. "It sort of boggles my mind when you hear people trying to discredit someone who's had success. Because a guy enjoys lifting weights and taking care of himself, why do they think that guy is doing something illegal? Why not say, 'This guy works really, really hard at what he does, and he's dedicated to being the best he can be.' I sure hope that's the way people look at me."


...


The last time McGwire's body gave out, two years ago, it nearly prompted him to leave the game. After his third foot injury McGwire felt he'd rather quit than go through another rehab. Friends and family talked him out of it.
   403. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 01:35 AM (#3437978)
Gammons SI column on Canseco, October 1989:

"I always hear that I'm a 'physical specimen' and a 'superman,' " Canseco says. "I weigh 225 or 230; so does [A's first baseman] Mark McGwire. I don't have Bo Jackson's ability. I did what I did last year, and what did I hear? 'He's just scratching the surface. He can do a lot more.' Can I? I don't know. I want to do more, but I'm afraid that no matter what I do, it won't be enough and people will say, "Jose Canseco could do more if he used his full ability.' When I retire, some people will say, 'He should have done more.'

...

"We can point to some immaturity and some irresponsibility when we start talking about Jose's so-called problems," says A's manager Tony La Russa. "But we're not talking about serious problems, not like so many in sports or society. When we talk about Jose Canseco, we're talking about a person who is completely clean. He doesn't drink. He doesn't smoke. He doesn't do drugs. You never have to worry about his being out of shape. And he's intelligent, which is why he will learn from all of this."

...

Rumors last fall that Canseco had used steroids stemmed from the fact that this 165-pound weakling became a 230-pound hunk. There was a report that Ozzie was 30 pounds lighter than his twin; in fact, Ozzie is only five pounds lighter than his younger (by four minutes) and one-inch-taller brother. "The steroid thing is a bunch of bull," says Karl Kuehl, Oakland director of player development. "Right after Jose signed, he sprouted up to 6'3". Then, in the Instructional League in 1983, he was introduced to rigorous weight training." Canseco's medical records show that he never gained more than 15 pounds in an off-season. "Anyone who knows Jose knows that he won't put anything into his body he doesn't think is right," says Kuehl. "He's very opinionated on the subject of any kind of abuse."
   404. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 01:42 AM (#3437985)
Jack McCallum SI column from August of 1998.

Allow me to present evidence that Jeff Bagwell used PEDs. Yes, it's just andro, but usage of andro was enough to indict McGwire:

Finally, it's not as if McGwire is alone. He says at least nine or ten St. Louis Cardinals teammates use andro (as it's known to muscleheads), and Houston Astros star Jeff Bagwell told The Houston Chronicle, two weeks before the McGwire storm erupted, that he had taken it.
   405. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 01:48 AM (#3437988)
Gerry Callahan, SI note, January 1999.

Has Bill Conlin recently made a big stink about andro?

One of the six holdouts who kept Ryan from notching another perfecto was Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin, a Hall of Fame voter since 1975. Conlin considers the alltime strikeout king Hallworthy but didn't think he deserved the highest vote percentage ever—an honor Ryan would have received had he gotten Conlin's vote. "People say he must have denied me an interview or something, but that's not it," says Conlin. "I have nothing bad to say about the man—except that he was only 32 games over .500 and wasn't in the top 100 in career earned run average. I am astounded so few people left him off their ballots."

Conlin, who often votes for first-time candidates, believes Cooperstown will welcome its first unanimous choice early in me next century. "I think Mark McGwire will be the first," he says. "By then, most of the old farts who keep reminding us that Ruth and Cobb weren't unanimous will be gone."
   406. Steve Treder Posted: January 15, 2010 at 01:55 AM (#3437999)
I love the smell of cognitive dissonance in the morning. It smells like ... victory!
   407. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:27 AM (#3438015)
cold, hard facts have made it clear that you can't have a 100 meter dash, or 100 meter butterfly, or hammer throw whose results have integrity if half the field is juiced and half the field isn't, the Olympics have wisely decided not to allow juicers in their events. By the same measure, if baseball results lose integrity if half the players are juiced and half aren't, baseball could bar steroids for reasons having nothing to do with "moralizing indignance." It's really that simple, and it continues to surprise that such an obvious fact continues to get deconstructed and politicized beyond all reason.

You hit it right there, SBB. It really is that simple. Whatever "moralizing" there is in this statement is implicit in the description, and needs no redundant piling on. You can see McGwire as a villain, or you can see him as a man who just lost his sense of proportion and became (within a sporting context) a tragic figure, but either way, the problem he and his fellow juicers created couldn't possibly have remained unaddressed if baseball wanted to be taken seriously as a sport. Once the bubble had been burst and the illusions had been stripped away, there was no going back.

---------------------------------

Conlin, who often votes for first-time candidates, believes Cooperstown will welcome its first unanimous choice early in me next century. "I think Mark McGwire will be the first," he says. "By then, most of the old farts who keep reminding us that Ruth and Cobb weren't unanimous will be gone."


Yeah, if only McGwire had been legit, he might well have gotten that 100% vote. And if worms ate birds, we'd be ruled by insects.

Interesting set of articles, Ray. Kind of reminds you of all the accolades for John Edwards and his marriage back when he was the Golden Boy of the early 2004 primaries. Live and learn.
   408. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:32 AM (#3438018)
I found it interesting that McGwire notes, in the 1998 interview, the line between legality and illegality. That seems to have been at the fore of his mind.
   409. Chris Dial Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:38 AM (#3438021)
I wouldn't be thrilled with a futuristic pill a guy could pop with two outs, bases loaded, down a run in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 that makes him impervious to nerves, either.
A futuristic pill? Something to help someone concentrate under extreme pressures? If only... then perhaps we could give something to pilots during wars...

That's gotta be a goddamned joke.
   410. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:48 AM (#3438027)
The Blowhard Curt Schilling, June of 2002:

Arizona Diamondbacks righthander Curt Schilling thinks twice before giving a teammate the traditional slap on the butt for a job well-done. "I'll pat guys on the ass, and they'll look at me and go, 'Don't hit me there, man. It hurts,' " Schilling says. "That's because that's where they shoot the steroid needles."

...

Schilling says that muscle-building drugs have transformed baseball into something of a freak show. "You sit there and look at some of these players and you know what's going on," he says. "Guys out there look like Mr. Potato Head, with a head and arms and six or seven body parts that just don't look right. They don't fit. I'm not sure how [steroid use] snuck in so quickly, but it's become a prominent thing very quietly. It's widely known in the game.

"We're playing in an environment in the last decade that's been tailored to produce offensive numbers anyway, with the smaller ballparks, the smaller strike zone and so forth," Schilling continues. "When you add in steroids and strength training, you're seeing records not just being broken but completely shattered.

"I know guys who use and don't admit it because they think it means they don't work hard. And I know plenty of guys now are mixing steroids with human growth hormone. Those guys are pretty obvious."
   411. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 15, 2010 at 03:01 AM (#3438034)
I wouldn't be thrilled with a futuristic pill a guy could pop with two outs, bases loaded, down a run in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 that makes him impervious to nerves, either.


A futuristic pill? Something to help someone concentrate under extreme pressures? If only... then perhaps we could give something to pilots during wars...

That's gotta be a goddamned joke.


Yeah, but if McCovey had had one of those babies in 1962, he might have hit that motherfucker three feet higher.
   412. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 03:03 AM (#3438035)
Ray, I want to respond to your earlier post, but since we're posting interesting previous articles, here's the original story about McGwire using Andro:

"Everything I've done is natural. Everybody that I know in the game of baseball uses the same stuff I use," said McGwire, who also takes the popular muscle-builder Creatine, an amino acid powder.

However, many other players insist they do not take Androstenedione (pronounced Andro-steen'-die-own), although the use of other supplements is common.

Sammy Sosa, close to McGwire in the homer chase, uses Creatine after games to keep up his weight and strength. For energy before games he takes the Chinese herb ginseng.

But Sosa said he doesn't use Androstenedione or any other testosterone booster. Nor does Boston slugger Mo Vaughn.

"Anything illegal is definitely wrong," Vaughn said. "But if you get something over the counter and legal, guys in that power-hitter position are going to use them. Strength is the key to maintaining and gaining endurance for 162 games. The pitchers keep getting bigger and stronger."

Andres Galarraga, Atlanta's top home run hitter, said he would be "scared" to take a drug like Androstenedione.

"I do my weight [lifting] and take my vitamins. That's it," he said. "You have to be careful what you take. It could cause secondary problems with your body."
   413. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 03:31 AM (#3438045)
And here is the original story about Ken Caminiti's admissions of steroid use. There's a lot of stuff in the article worth reading, but here are a few of Caminiti's quotes:

"It's no secret what's going on in baseball. At least half the guys are using steroids. They talk about it. They joke about it with each other. The guys who want to protect themselves or their image by lying have that right. Me? I'm at the point in my career where I've done just about every bad thing you can do. I try to walk with my head up. I don't have to hold my tongue. I don't want to hurt teammates or friends. But I've got nothing to hide.

...

"I played for a month and a half in pure pain." Finally, he says, he decided to do something "to get me through the season." Caminiti had heard of players taking steroids to help them through injuries. He knew where to go.

"When you play in San Diego, it's easy to just drive into Mexico," he says.


Anabolic steroids are readily available in parts of Latin America as an over-the-counter item at farmacias that, in Mexican border towns such as Tijuana, cater to an American trade (box, page 46). Caminiti says he purchased a steroid labeled testosterona "to get me through the second half of the season." Then 33, he was playing in his 10th big league season. Never had he hit more than 26 home runs. He exceeded that in the second half alone, belting 28 homers after the All-Star break. He finished the year with 40 home runs, 130 RBIs (his previous best was 94) and a .326 batting average (24 points better than his previous high). He won the MVP award unanimously.

"There is a mental edge that comes with the injections, and it's definitely something that gets you more intense," Caminiti says. "The thing is, I didn't do it to make me a better player. I did it because my body broke down.

"At first I felt like a cheater. But I looked around, and everybody was doing it. Now it's not as black market as when I started. Back then you had to go and find it in Mexico or someplace. Now, it's everywhere. It's very easy to get."

   414. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 03:42 AM (#3438050)
When I said earlier that the McGwire of 1994 would be shocked that he would have to confess to this on national tv in 2010, I didn't realize he said this the other day:

"You don't know that you'll ever have to talk about the skeleton in your closet on a national level," he said.
   415. Gaelan Posted: January 15, 2010 at 03:50 AM (#3438058)
What I think underlies the difference between the reactions to steroids and other activities is some inchoate sense that steroids, unlike the other things, are somehow "unnatural", and as a result of said unnaturalness qualitatively more objectionable.


This is precisely my objection to steroids and I have said precisely this many times. Now it wasn't inchoate but rather explicit and I'll let others judge whether it was/is coherent.

Robot baseball is not immoral in the cosmic sense. However to all those human beings who are not (yet) robots and who assign meaning to human competition it is immoral because it violates the fundamental rules of human agonism. Now it is of course true that it is difficult/impossible to define precisely the line between natural and unnatural. The answer to this conundrum is that there is no line. Once you grant that there is an empirical/objective line you have granted the fundamental premise of the technological paradigm (that creates steroids) and hence you have undermined the ground by which steroids might be condemned. However under those circumstances the apparant cognitive dissonance or contradiction is not the result of any argument on the side of the anti-PED side but exists solely in the minds of those whose standards of what counts and does not count as a good reason only admits to a certain kind of evidence. Thus the claim of contradiction is tautological.
   416. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 03:51 AM (#3438061)
Dave, from your link in #413, I found this snippet interesting:

Creatine, which the 34-year-old McGwire believes helps him recover faster from daily weightlifting, is purported to increase muscle energy and mass. Long-term effects of the powder are unknown. It has been known to lead to muscle tears and cramps due to dehydration.

"I've been using Creatine for about four years," said the 6-foot-5, 245-pound McGwire, who played for the U.S. baseball team at the 1984 Olympics. "It's a good thing. It helps strength. It helps recovery.

"I think Creatine is getting a bad rap now because people abuse it," he said. "That's the problem. It says to take one to two scoops a day. People started taking 15 or 20. If you abuse anything you're going to hurt yourself. If you just use common sense, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. It's a form of eating red meat."

Chicago Cubs trainer David Tumbas said he doesn't recommend Creatine but doesn't tell players not to take it. He asked the players in spring training if they were using it or similar supplements, and about 10 said they were. He added, though, that he believes no one on the Cubs is taking Androstenedione.

"Our belief is still rest, nutrition, plenty of hydration and exercise are all you need," Tumbas said.


Note, above, that McGwire says he has been taking creatine for about four years. The article was written in August of 1998. That timeline matches up fairly well with his statement from a few days ago that began taking steroids in earnest after the 1993 season:

"I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989-1990 offseason and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again," McGwire said in his statement. "I used them on occasion throughout the '90s, including during the 1998 season."

"But, starting '93 to '94, I thought it might help me, you know, where I'd get my body feeling normal, where I wasn't a walking MASH unit," he said.


The creatine snippet seems to give credence to his statement that he picked up steroids for real starting in 1993/1994. It seems that everything starts happening at once -- the weightlifting, the creatine, the steroids.

Also, note above: he didn't have to admit to creatine. He doesn't seem shy about admitting what's legal (and not admitting what's not). The andro bit was particularly silly because AFAICT it was sold in every health store at the time.
   417. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:15 AM (#3438081)
Andy, this SI headline is for you:

The pill, capsule, vial and needle have become fixtures of the locker room as athletes increasingly turn to drugs in the hope of improving performances. This trend — one that poses a major threat to U.S. sport even though the Establishment either ignores or hushes up the issue—is explored here in Part I of a series


Can you guess the year of this piece?

1969.

And it's not just non-baseball sports:

"A few pills—I take all kinds—and the pain's gone," says Dennis McLain of the Detroit Tigers. McLain also takes shots, or at least took a shot of cortisone and Xylocaine (anti-inflammant and painkiller) in his throwing shoulder prior to the sixth game of the 1968 World Series—the only game he won in three tries. In the same Series, which at times seemed to be a matchup between Detroit and St. Louis druggists, Cardinal Bob Gibson was gobbling muscle-relaxing pills, trying chemically to keep his arm loose. The Tigers' Series hero, Mickey Lolich, was on antibiotics.

?"We occasionally use Dexamyl and Dexedrine [amphetamines].... We also use barbiturates, Seconal, Tuinal, Nembutal.... We also use some anti-depressants, Triavil, Tofranil, Valium.... But I don't think the use of drugs is as prevalent in the Midwest as it is on the East and West coasts," said Dr. I. C. Middleman, who, until his death last September, was team surgeon for the St. Louis baseball Cardinals


Weightlifters and amphetamines:

Amphetamines were among the drugs banned for use by athletes in the 1968 Olympic Games, and for which post-event testing was conducted. A U.S. weight lifter, who admitted most of his colleagues took a few amphetamines before competing in order to get that extra little lift, was asked how the Olympic ban affected performance "What ban?" he asked blandly "Everyone used a new one from West Germany. They couldn't pick it up in the test they were using. When they get a test for that one, we'll find something else. It's like cops and robbers."
   418. RJ in TO Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:17 AM (#3438084)
?"We occasionally use Dexamyl and Dexedrine [amphetamines].... We also use barbiturates, Seconal, Tuinal, Nembutal.... We also use some anti-depressants, Triavil, Tofranil, Valium.... But I don't think the use of drugs is as prevalent in the Midwest as it is on the East and West coasts," said Dr. I. C. Middleman, who, until his death last September, was team surgeon for the St. Louis baseball Cardinals


That's just about the most made up name I've ever seen. I almost expect the next quote to be from Heywood Jablome.
   419. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:24 AM (#3438089)
Part II of the 1969 article:

Something Extra On The Ball
Be it pick-me-ups or let-me-downs, build-me-ups or lie-me-downs, they can all be found in medicine's little black bag for sportsmen. it is into this bag?and into the dangerous world of drugs?that athletes plunge when they search for... SOMETHING EXTRA ON THE BALL
   420. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:30 AM (#3438094)
Oops:

Warren Giles, president of the National Baseball League, says that there is nothing in the rules about prohibition of drug use. "Nothing has ever come to my attention that would require a special ruling. It never has come up, and I don't think it ever will." (He would do well to check the locker rooms of a few of his teams before a game and watch who swallows what.)

"The American League has no rules regarding pep pills, painkillers, etc. Baseball players don't use those types of things," says the league's executive assistant, Bob Holbrook.
   421. Srul Itza Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:36 AM (#3438099)
if worms ate birds, we'd be ruled by insects.


How exactly does that logically work? Why would avian-consuming worms equate to rule by insects?
   422. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:37 AM (#3438100)
It's clear from the way the players have acted that they viewed what they were doing as "cheating".

And I don't think that's clear. Not discussing something is not the same as thinking it's cheating, when there are good reasons not to discuss something, the potential illegality (in the U.S., after 1990, depending on the substance) being one of them.

How can you claim they were worried about the illegality, but at the same time that they didn't think it was cheating? If they were worried about the illegality, then they knew it was something they weren't permitted to do.

Furthermore, these guys didn't just "not discuss" it; they actively denied it, lied about it, and concealed it--not just from the public but as McGwire said, from his teammates, coaches, friends and family. When McGwire was asked about his Andro use in 1998, he claimed

"Everything I've done is natural. Everybody that I know in the game of baseball uses the same stuff I use," said McGwire, who also takes the popular muscle-builder Creatine, an amino acid powder.


The part about everyone else doing it is ambiguous, but "everything I've done is natural" is a pretty clear statement.

You're applying a 2010 mindset to the 1990s culture. By and large, nobody cared about the issue in the 1990s. Not the media. Not the players. Not the owners. Not the fans. It wasn't a Big Scandal when McGwire was doing it. This is retroactive outrage.

...

People are outraged NOW, but back then when these players were doing it it was virtually a non-issue.


It was a non-issue in part because most people didn't know about it. Perhaps we all should have watched baseball with a more critical eye in the 90s, but many of us didn't. And we had no evidence to the contrary, other than body type and record-setting performance (both of which we've been repeatedly told aren't evidence of anything). It's funny that some of the same people who told us not to accuse McGwire without hard proof (a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with) are telling us we're inconsistent for holding it against him now that he's admitted it.

I suspect in the Mark McGwire in 1994 would be completely and utterly shocked if you went back in time and told him that 15 years later he was going to be strung up as a cheater and find himself on national tv trying to justify his actions to an outraged subset of the population.

I'm confident that he would be; just as I'm confident Mike Scott would be shocked if people suddenly became outraged about his scuffing the ball and tried to take away his Cy Young Award. That doesn't mean Mike Scott didn't know he was cheating.

I'll also bet McGwire didn't expect Jose Canseco to rat him out, someone like Barry Bonds to break his record, or Ken Caminiti to admit to juicing. If you had told him all that would happen, he might have had different expectations.

"You don't know that you'll ever have to talk about the skeleton in your closet on a national level," he said.

Not that it matters, but that statement reads to me like someone who didn't expect to get caught, not someone who didn't think he was doing anything wrong.
   423. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:42 AM (#3438101)
July 21, 1980:

UPPERS IN BASEBALL: A DOWNER FOR THE NATIONAL PASTIME

Authorities in Pennsylvania confirmed last week that they were investigating the possibility that amphetamines had been illegally prescribed for members of the Philadelphia Phillies and their Eastern League farm team, the Reading Phillies.

...

Published reports said that others involved in the investigation included Pete Rose, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa, Larry Christenson and Randy Lerch, all members of the Phillies, and Bowa's wife, Sheena. However, Berks County District Attorney George Yatron subsequently said that Bowa and Schmidt weren't involved in the case, "even innocently." Rose asserted he had never met Mazza and said, "I think they got the wrong guy when they mentioned my name." Christenson and Lerch also denied any wrongdoing and Luzinski declined comment. Carlton was characteristically silent and Phillie broadcaster Tim McCarver chose not to discuss the matter in his story on the pitcher in this magazine (page 22).

...

Nevertheless, it is an open secret that amphetamines, commonly known as "greenies" or "uppers," are in wide use among ballplayers and other athletes. In his autobiography, Catch You Later, the Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Bench said that in his early years in the majors players used Daprisals and other amphetamines

...

Another athlete who has discussed the use of amphetamines is Bench's former Cincinnati teammate Rose. In an interview with Rose published in Playboy last September, there was this exchange:

Q. Have you taken greenies?

A. Well, I might have taken a greenie last week. I mean, if you want to call it a greenie. I mean, if a doctor gives me a prescription of 30 diet pills, because I want to curb my appetite, so I can lose five pounds before I go to spring training, I mean, is that bad...?

Q. But would you use them for anything other than dieting?

A. There might be some day when you played a doubleheader the night before and you go to the ball park for a Sunday game and you just want to take a diet pill, just to mentally think you are up....

Q. Does that help your game?

A. It won't help the game, but it will help you mentally. When you help yourself mentally, it might help your game.

Q. You keep saying you might take a greenie. Would you? Have you?

A. Yeah, I'd do it. I've done it.

Unfortunately, teams don't always do all they can to curb excessive drug use. Bench wrote that in earlier days the Reds' trainers were well supplied with amphetamines and that "nobody thought twice about passing them out."
   424. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:43 AM (#3438102)
Caminiti's statements are the most interesting to me--he was very open about his use after he retired, he didn't really have a good reason to lie (since he had no shot at the HOF anyway), and he wasn't trying to sell a book or get back at anyone. I find it pretty hard to believe his statement that more than half of players were using, but it's also something that he could be telling the truth about and still get wrong.

I find his statement that he initially felt like he was cheating, but that feeling went away as he saw more and more guys doing it, to be interesting. I suspect this is how a lot of roiders (not to mention other criminals) feel--guilty at first, but eventually you get used to it/justify it.
   425. Srul Itza Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:43 AM (#3438103)
Now it is of course true that it is difficult/impossible to define precisely the line between natural and unnatural.


Eleanor: You unnatural animal.

Richard: Unnatural, mummy? You tell me, what's nature's way? If poison mushrooms grow and babies come with crooked backs, if goiters thrive and dogs go mad... and wives kill husbands, what's unnatural? Come, here stands your lamb. Come cover him in kisses. He's all yours.
   426. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:43 AM (#3438104)
I'll re-read that 1969 article, Ray, and it's great that you're posting all this stuff. I bought and sold several complete runs of SI (and SPORT) when I had my shop, but I only had enough room to keep the first 2 1/2 years, and that SI Vault is just below TCM and the NY Times archives as my favorite mainstream websites.

And speaking of the SI Vault, here's a completely unrelated 1955 article by Robert Creamer that's stuck with me ever since I first read it. It's a take on Willie Mays that seems totally out of whack with his "Say-Hey" image:

It Was Only An Incident, But It Should Be A Warning To Willie Mays: He Can Make Or Break Himself As A Big Star
   427. Srul Itza Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:48 AM (#3438109)
We occasionally use Dexamyl and Dexedrine [amphetamines].... We also use barbiturates, Seconal, Tuinal, Nembutal.... We also use some anti-depressants, Triavil, Tofranil, Valium...




Allan Sherman's Pills (to the tune of "smiles"):

There are pills that make you happy.
There are pills that make you blue.
There are pills to kill your streptococci.
There are pills to cure your cockeye too.

There are folks whose pills have made them healthy.
There are folks whose pills have cured their chills.
But the folks whose pills have made them wealthy
Are the folks who make all those pills.

(There are) Dexedrine and Miltown, to pick you up and let you down.

(happy) Or if you're sufferin', swallow a Bufferin.

(pills) Vitamin C's a pill for folks who shiver.
(sad) And there's a pill for Carter's little liver.

(pills) And if you're sleeping in the hospital, because you're ill,

(pills) Betcha the nurse will wake you up to take a sleeping pill.

There are pills for young folks and for old folks,
Each disease has got its remedy.
But no pill can cure the common cold, folks,
So if you sneeze, please don't sneeze on me.
Achoo!
Gesundheit.
   428. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 04:49 AM (#3438110)
How can you claim they were worried about the illegality, but at the same time that they didn't think it was cheating? If they were worried about the illegality, then they knew it was something they weren't permitted to do.


I don't see those two as being connected. They "weren't permitted" to use steroids by law (well, depending on the circumstances), not by baseball. They're just separate issues.
   429. Chris Dial Posted: January 15, 2010 at 05:17 AM (#3438131)
They "weren't permitted" to use steroids by law (well, depending on the circumstances), not by baseball. They're just separate issues.
Just like amphetamines, and everyone denies using them, despite reporters saying they were widely used.
   430. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 05:37 AM (#3438136)
July 16, 1984:

In Fenway Park last Friday, the Olympians walloped a Boston park league team 17-2. Clark smashed three taters, and gargantuan first baseman Mark McGwire of USC bounced a shot off the concrete wall above the centerfield fence. "That's a major league dinger," the Angels' Reggie Jackson, who was waiting to play the Red Sox, told McGwire when he entered the dugout. "But you need to work on that trot. Take more time getting out of the box."

...

The largest player is the 6'5", 220-pound McGwire, whom Minnesota scouting director George Brophy compares to Dave Kingman. McGwire, 20, hit 31 homers for USC this season and was Oakland's No. 1 draft pick.

...

"I don't see how we can miss getting the gold," says McGwire. "The only team that could have competed with us was the Cubans. It's too bad they're boycotting. The teams we're playing just can't compete with our power."
   431. Gaelan Posted: January 15, 2010 at 05:41 AM (#3438138)
I thought Srul had me on ignore. In any event I love that movie.
   432. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 05:42 AM (#3438140)
I don't see those two as being connected. They "weren't permitted" to use steroids by law (well, depending on the circumstances), not by baseball. They're just separate issues.

Why don't you see them as connected? The players appear to have. McGwire said he would take "anything that's legal" rather than saying "anything that isn't prohibited by MLB". Vaughn said that "anything illegal is definitely wrong."

As I said earlier, a lot of yours and David's arguments are intellectually interesting, but not particularly relevant, since the players who were actually caught aren't making them in their defense.
   433. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 15, 2010 at 05:42 AM (#3438141)
if worms ate birds, we'd be ruled by insects.

How exactly does that logically work? Why would avian-consuming worms equate to rule by insects?


Well, I suppose that if we had enough chocolate to cover them, we could eat all those insects ourselves.

But on a more straightforward note, here's merely the first mention of the great Chinese sparrow massacre of the late 50's that I could find:

As soon as I read today’s environmental headline, that nearly a third of America’s 800 bird species are in danger, I thought of the great sparrow massacre in China.

On May 18, 1958, the Chinese dictator, Mao, erroneously convinced that sparrows were eating large portions of China’s grain crop, ordered: “The whole people, including 5 year old children, be mobilized” to eliminate the sparrows. A former Chinese elementary school student, quoted in Judith Shapiro’s memorable book “Mao’s War Against Nature,” describes the slaughter. “The whole school went to kill sparrows. We climbed ladders to knock down their nests, and beat gongs in the evenings when they were coming home to roost.”

This coordinated effort, by millions of Chinese children and adults, killing sparrows, beating gongs at a specific designated hour all over the countryside, day after day, to exhaust the birds, basically wiped out the sparrow population. The next year locusts and other pests that were the primary food sources for sparrows, devoured the grain crop. The sparrows had been their predators. Without the sparrows, the pests took over. A famine ensued. Millions of Chinese died. The next year Mao was informed that the campaign against the sparrows backfired. He issued a new order: “Forget it.”
   434. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 05:43 AM (#3438142)
July 13, 1987:

And in 1987 the beat goes on. Because of another fuzzy-cheeked Oakland youngster, Mark McGwire, we are looking up Roger Maris's 1961 home run pace.

...

In his sophomore and junior years at Southern Cal, McGwire averaged .319 and .387 and launched 19 and 32 homers, respectively. The school record for a season had been 17 and the career record, 32. He made the Pan Am and Olympic teams and was the 10th pick in the draft. Pro ball proved a little more difficult. Over two full seasons in A, AA and AAA, he hit .298 and averaged 24 homers and 109 RBIs.

...

McGwire doesn't concern himself too much with numbers now. "One great thing about being an everyday ballplayer is you don't make a season in a week, or a season in a month; you make a season in a season," McGwire says. Veterans who have seen McGwire hit liken his tight swing to Greg Luzinski's, his all-fields strength to Dale Murphy's and his high-arching shots to Harmon Killebrew's. A devoted weightlifter, McGwire may be just beginning to tap his power. "Once he learns the strike zone better," Watson says, "the numbers may be astronomical."
   435. Chris Dial Posted: January 15, 2010 at 06:07 AM (#3438147)
Why don't you see them as connected? The players appear to have. McGwire said he would take "anything that's legal" rather than saying "anything that isn't prohibited by MLB". Vaughn said that "anything illegal is definitely wrong."

As I said earlier, a lot of yours and David's arguments are intellectually interesting, but not particularly relevant, since the players who were actually caught aren't making them in their defense.
Dave,
how are you differentiating them from amphetamine usage?
   436. Steve Treder Posted: January 15, 2010 at 06:51 AM (#3438157)
And speaking of the SI Vault, here's a completely unrelated 1955 article by Robert Creamer that's stuck with me ever since I first read it. It's a take on Willie Mays that seems totally out of whack with his "Say-Hey" image:

I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Robert Creamer at the NINE conference year before last. A very smart and interesting fellow to talk with.
   437. Steve Treder Posted: January 15, 2010 at 06:57 AM (#3438159)
It was a non-issue in part because most people didn't know about it.

Mmm-hmm. Don't recall the 1988 ALCS, do we?
   438. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2010 at 07:02 AM (#3438160)
contrary to the Ichiro threads, I have to say I love, absolutely love Rays posts on this thread. absolutely phenomenal posting. (although andys post in 434 is also pretty awesome)
   439. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 07:32 AM (#3438169)
how are you differentiating them from amphetamine usage?

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. I think they were both cheating, although to the extent that teams themselves were supplying players with either one I think that complicates matters.

Mmm-hmm. Don't recall the 1988 ALCS, do we?

I was 9 years old, and not a fan of either team involved, so no I don't remember much from them besides Dave Stewart's stare. Why?
   440. Gonfalon B. Posted: January 15, 2010 at 08:33 AM (#3438180)
I was 9 years old, and not a fan of either team involved, so no I don't remember much from them besides Dave Stewart's stare. Why?

The fans at Fenway Park were chanting "STEROIDS, STEROIDS" at Jose Canseco when he came to bat. Canseco had to do an on-air interview as part of NBC's playoff coverage-- I don't know whether it was during the ALCS or the WS-- in which he denied that he'd ever used steroids.

Years later, we were repeatedly told by the press that no one could possibly have suspected what was happening. The first suspicions came around 2000 or so.
   441. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 09:09 AM (#3438183)
Gonfalon, I assume this is what you're talking about:

October, 1988 — Washington Post baseball writer Thomas Boswell claims Jose Canseco is “the most conspicuous example of a player who has made himself great with steroids.” Canseco, coming off the first 40 home run-40 steal season in baseball history, denies using steroids before Game 1 of the ALCS at Fenway Park. The Athletics slugger wins the MVP award.


Years later, we were repeatedly told by the press that no one could possibly have suspected what was happening. The first suspicions came around 2000 or so.

I honestly don't remember being told by the press that no one could possibly have suspected what was happening at the time. I'm certainly not making that claim. But we didn't know to the extent we know now. And there were a number of guys around here (I know, I was one of them) saying you shouldn't accuse McGwire or Bonds because there was no real proof.

The tipping point was, ironically, probably when Bonds was chasing McGwire's record. Not sure why--people didn't like Bonds, Bonds was putting up numbers that were silly in a way that even McGwire's hadn't been, his body had changed more than McGwire's, and/or a combination of the above.
   442. CFiJ Posted: January 15, 2010 at 11:04 AM (#3438189)
The tipping point was, ironically, probably when Bonds was chasing McGwire's record.
In a sense. In Bonds broke the record in 2001. In June of 2002, Sports Illustrated did cover article on steroids in baseball, the centerpiece of which was Ken Caminiti's unremorseful admission of taking steroids. In August of 2002, the BALCO investigation started, and by all accounts Novitzky targeted Bonds. That's pretty much when it blew up. MLB and the MLBPA agreed to the survey in 2003. Caminiti died in 2004. The San Francisco Chronicle outed Giambi in December 2004, leading to his apology in March 2005. "Juiced" was published in February 2005 after getting media play all off-season. Days after Giambi's apology, Congress held its hearings.
   443. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 15, 2010 at 01:12 PM (#3438193)
In a sense. In Bonds broke the record in 2001. In June of 2002, Sports Illustrated did cover article on steroids in baseball, the centerpiece of which was Ken Caminiti's unremorseful admission of taking steroids. In August of 2002, the BALCO investigation started, and by all accounts Novitzky targeted Bonds. That's pretty much when it blew up. MLB and the MLBPA agreed to the survey in 2003. Caminiti died in 2004. The San Francisco Chronicle outed Giambi in December 2004, leading to his apology in March 2005. "Juiced" was published in February 2005 after getting media play all off-season. Days after Giambi's apology, Congress held its hearings.

Thanks for putting all that in some sort of chronological order, CFiJ. And that's pretty much what I was thinking of when I wrote that it was a "combination" of events that caused this sea change in baseball's attitude towards steroids. It didn't just happen overnight or on account of any one thing.
   444. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 15, 2010 at 01:28 PM (#3438198)
Just like amphetamines, and everyone denies using them, despite reporters saying they were widely used.

I don't understand or am misreading this statement. Rose told the Playboy reporter he used greenies. The SI reporter cited Bench saying trainers didn't "think twice" about "passing out" greenies.

Great stuff, Ray.
   445. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 15, 2010 at 01:41 PM (#3438200)
Amphetamines in the "greenie era" were like spitballs in this one respect: Every once in a while there would be a mild stink, and after about a week everyone returned to their usual completely indifferent norm. There was never any systematic followup of enforcement, because in spite of the overwhelming knowledge of widespread and open use (those bowls of greenies weren't hidden in players-only bathroom stalls; and Gaylord Perry's reputation likely extended all the way to Japan), NOBODY CARED.

Now whether people "should have" cared is another story, but it's just that---another story.
   446. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: January 15, 2010 at 01:43 PM (#3438201)
Who ever denied there was amphetamine use? Bouton exposed it, Bill Lee mentioned it in his book (I think, along with his other drug use).
   447. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:00 PM (#3438203)
Amphetamines in the "greenie era" were like spitballs in this one respect: Every once in a while there would be a mild stink, and after about a week everyone returned to their usual completely indifferent norm. There was never any systematic followup of enforcement, because in spite of the overwhelming knowledge of widespread and open use (those bowls of greenies weren't hidden in players-only bathroom stalls; and Gaylord Perry's reputation likely extended all the way to Japan), NOBODY CARED.

Pete Rose publicly admitted greenie use at a time when a criminal investigation by his hometown DA into baseball greenie use involving Rose himself was either (i) underway; or (ii) pending. We can't tell for sure, since the Playboy interview was probably done in the summer of 1979 and the Philly DA investigation not reported in SI until July 1980.
   448. CFiJ Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:10 PM (#3438206)
Thanks for putting all that in some sort of chronological order, CFiJ. And that's pretty much what I was thinking of when I wrote that it was a "combination" of events that caused this sea change in baseball's attitude towards steroids. It didn't just happen overnight or on account of any one thing.
Interestingly, before doing the date-checking for that post, I had thought that "Game of Shadows" had been a major fuel to the steroid fire. But it turns out that excerpts from the book weren't even published until March of 2006. By that time, the testing and penalty program that stands today had already been in place over a year. Really, Fainaru-Wada and Williams were a couple of johnny-come-lately's, and all they really did was officially slap the steroid label on Bonds, leading to his perjury indictment in 2007 (conspicuously on the heels of his breaking of Aaron's record).

Also, I forgot the initial involvement of Congress. Obviously spurred by the Sports Illustrated article (published June 2, 2002), Senators Dorgan and McCain summon Messrs Selig and Fehr to a meeting of the Senate Commerce Committee (WTF?) on June 18, and tell them if they don't institute a program, Congress will legislate one.
   449. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:16 PM (#3438207)
Here's the Canseco steroids stuff in the ALCS. From a story October 17, 1988:

To almost no one's surprise, the first run of the American League Championship Series, in the fourth inning of the opener, came on a homer by the Oakland A's Jose Canseco—it landed atop the Green Monster in Fenway Park. As he strutted out to rightfield for the bottom of the inning, Hollywood Jose was greeted with a variation on the DAA-ryl! DAA-ryl! chant Boston Red Sox fans used to jeer New York Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry in the 1986 World Series, and which surfaced again last week during the National League playoffs in Los Angeles. "STEH-roids! STEH-roids!" rose the chorus, playing off an unsubstantiated charge that Canseco used steroids to go from a 165-pound high school weakling to the 230-pound hunk of today who will soon star—shirtless—in an advertisement for American Express. "STEH-roids! STEH-roids!" the Fenway fans repeated. Canseco stopped when he reached his position, looked around, smiled and began flexing his right biceps.

"They were having fun, and so was I," said Canseco. "This is too big a show to get uptight. Anyway, it's a compliment." The next night, Canseco was greeted with the chant, "Just Say No! Just Say No!" and he tipped his hat to the fans for what he termed "their originality."
   450. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:19 PM (#3438208)
Interestingly, before doing the date-checking for that post,


Huh? We don't fact-check here.
   451. CFiJ Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:23 PM (#3438210)
Interestingly, greeny stories, like steroid stories, follow a general pattern. For steroids it's: "I tried them because I needed to get over an injury." With greenies it's, "I tried them the one time, didn't like it, and never tried them again." Mays, Aaron, Bouton, it's always "I 'experimented' with greenies." McGwire, Caminiti, Pettite, it's always "I was injured, so..."
   452. CFiJ Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:24 PM (#3438211)
Huh? We don't fact-check here.

Well, that explains the political threads...
   453. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:26 PM (#3438213)
Interestingly, greeny stories, like steroid stories, follow a general pattern. For steroids it's: "I tried them because I needed to get over an injury." With greenies it's, "I tried them the one time, didn't like it, and never tried them again." Mays, Aaron, Bouton, it's always "I 'experimented' with greenies." McGwire, Caminiti, Pettite, it's always "I was injured, so..."

I don't read the Rose greenie interview in Playboy that way. He says he "might" have taken a greenie the week before, and admits greenie use without qualification as to frequency or current use.
   454. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:26 PM (#3438214)
how are you differentiating them from amphetamine usage?

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. I think they were both cheating, although to the extent that teams themselves were supplying players with either one I think that complicates matters.
So if teams were providing steroids (and really, trainers were - like the Mets trainer), then it's "ok"? My point is cheating wrt using chemicals to get on the field (and according to the users, they are claiming they were using them for restorative purposes - even if you disagree, that is their belief) has been going on pervasively for 50 years. McGwire is no more guilty of cheating than Mickey Mantle.
   455. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:28 PM (#3438216)
I don't understand or am misreading this statement. Rose told the Playboy reporter he used greenies. The SI reporter cited Bench saying trainers didn't "think twice" about "passing out" greenies.
Right. Ask an active player if he took amphetamines (or one that still has a link to the game). Look at the ADHD exemptions being handed out.
   456. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:29 PM (#3438217)
Now whether people "should have" cared is another story, but it's just that---another story.
Ignorance of the effects is no excuse.
   457. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:31 PM (#3438218)
Who ever denied there was amphetamine use?
Tony Gwynn. Ask a handful of Red Sox players. they'll say they never did. Ask Curt Schilling. Lots of players say "Everybody is doing it....except me."
   458. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:32 PM (#3438220)
My point is cheating wrt using chemicals to get on the field (and according to the users, they are claiming they were using them for restorative purposes - even if you disagree, that is their belief)

Well ... kind of. McGwire in 413 and 417 says that creatine "helps strength."
   459. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:39 PM (#3438229)
Ignorance of the effects is no excuse.

Where's the "ignorance"? Rose says greenies "might help your game."
   460. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:40 PM (#3438230)
Where's the "ignorance"?
Do you think using greenies by Mantle (et al) was cheating? Do you think they were PEDs before 2001? Do you think they are the equivalent of "a few cups of coffee" like a prominent poster has claimed many, many times?
   461. AuntBea Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:45 PM (#3438234)
even if you disagree, that is their belief

That's what they say is their belief. There is plenty of incentive for them to publicly minimize everything about their usage. How often, how much, how many kinds, how many years, what they believed were the effects. Most every player so far (with a very few notable exceptions) has admitted to pretty much the minimum they could get away with, and no more.
   462. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:49 PM (#3438239)
Do you think using greenies by Mantle (et al) was cheating?

"Cheating" isn't the construct by which I judge these things. There are gradations of "cheating" and the purpose of intellect is to distinguish that which is distinguishable, which is why the English language has different words to describe a bird and an airplane. Greenie use was cheating writ (very) small.

Do you think they were PEDs before 2001?

Yes. Mid-80s in football, at least as early as 1988 as to baseball (Canseco). Once weight training became accepted (and as late as 1984, Sparky Anderson frowed upon it), drugs to enhance the efficacy of weight training became tempting and as time passed, their use became very widespread.

Do you think they are the equivalent of "a few cups of coffee" like a prominent poster has claimed many, many times?

Physiologically, probably not. Intellectually, in this context, the difference isn't material.
   463. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 15, 2010 at 02:50 PM (#3438240)
Agreed, AuntBea.

PS: your pickles suck.
   464. Chip Posted: January 15, 2010 at 03:33 PM (#3438270)
Do you think they were PEDs before 2001?

Yes. Mid-80s in football, at least as early as 1988 as to baseball (Canseco). Once weight training became accepted (and as late as 1984, Sparky Anderson frowed upon it), drugs to enhance the efficacy of weight training became tempting and as time passed, their use became very widespread.


The question is about amphetamines.
   465. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 15, 2010 at 03:55 PM (#3438290)
Greenie use was cheating writ (very) small.
Why do you say this?
Do you think they are the equivalent of "a few cups of coffee" like a prominent poster has claimed many, many times?

Physiologically, probably not.
This is what I mean by ignorance. "Probably not"? That's absurd. Amphetamines are a controlled drug substance. They are serious, and have been demonstrated through large scale clinical trials to enhance the aspects they are indicated for (focus, rejuvenation). The military uses them for this purpose. *Probably* is the problem here.
   466. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 15, 2010 at 06:41 PM (#3438494)
This is what I mean by ignorance. "Probably not"? That's absurd.

If you already knew the answer, why'd you ask the question?

The question is about amphetamines.

It was? How so?
   467. HGM Posted: January 15, 2010 at 07:11 PM (#3438515)
It was? How so?

Here's what Dial said:
Do you think using greenies by Mantle (et al) was cheating? Do you think they were PEDs before 2001?
   468. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 15, 2010 at 07:57 PM (#3438559)
Here's what Dial said:

Do you think using greenies by Mantle (et al) was cheating? Do you think they were PEDs before 2001?


Right, I know. How is the question "Do you think they (sic) were PEDs before 2001" "about" amphetamines? If the antecedent for "they" is "greenies," what does 2001 have to do with anything?
   469. Chip Posted: January 15, 2010 at 08:14 PM (#3438577)
Right, I know. How is the question "Do you think they (sic) were PEDs before 2001" "about" amphetamines? If the antecedent for "they" is "greenies," what does 2001 have to do with anything?


I assumed 2001 was a reference to the chronology CFiJ laid out earlier in this thread, in describing how the worm turned on attitudes toward PED use after the turn of the millenium, but Chris can explain if he meant something different.

It was also quite obvious that Chris' question #2 in this post was about greenies, given that question #1 (regarding Mantle) and question #3 ("Do you think they are the equivalent of "a few cups of coffee" like a prominent poster has claimed many, many times?") were.
   470. Ron Johnson Posted: January 15, 2010 at 08:52 PM (#3438612)
and as late as 1984, Sparky Anderson frowed upon it


"He's not a baseball player, he's a body builder. It wasn't my idea. I thought he was big enough before." -- Russ Nixon on Ron Gant (1990 Spring Training)
   471. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 09:22 PM (#3438650)
"He's not a baseball player, he's a body builder. It wasn't my idea. I thought he was big enough before." -- Russ Nixon on Ron Gant (1990 Spring Training)


Even assuming steroids significantly impact baseball performance, this quote basically shows that it was far from a given that that would be the case. People look at the issue now as "Oh, McGwire knew steroids would increase his performance." But that was not the conventional wisdom as late as 1990, which was that getting bigger would lead to more injuries. In that sense, the players of the late '80s and early '90s who were using them were going against the mindset.
   472. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 15, 2010 at 09:30 PM (#3438656)
I assumed 2001 was a reference to the chronology CFiJ laid out earlier in this thread, in describing how the worm turned on attitudes toward PED use after the turn of the millenium, but Chris can explain if he meant something different.
This is correct.
   473. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 15, 2010 at 09:59 PM (#3438677)
the perception was that baseball was now a freak show.

To the extent that this is the case, I'd say it stands in fascinating juxtaposition to the media's and the public's perception of the NFL -- which is a far more spectacular freak show than baseball ever approached, and has been for a very long time. The notion that the NFL is anything close to "clean" WRT steroids is something that I don't believe anyone takes seriously, yet neither the media, the public, Congress, or anyone else appears to give the slightest sh!t.

I know, I know all the sociological explanations of why this is, that we view football players as sub-human gladiators, or even robots, while clinging to the fantasy that baseball players are real, normal people. I understand all that. Still, the glaring inconsistency -- one might even say hypocrisy -- of our handling of the same issue in these two side-by-side sports is, to say the least, noteworthy.
Like many, I've also noted that nobody cares about steroids in football, and like you, I've posited the explanation that people don't care about football players. The thing is, that's belied by the recent hysteria over concussions in the NFL. Suddenly, Congress, the players, and the sports media are upset about health risks faced by football players.
   474. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 15, 2010 at 10:08 PM (#3438686)
Like many, I've also noted that nobody cares about steroids in football, and like you, I've posited the explanation that people don't care about football players. The thing is, that's belied by the recent hysteria over concussions in the NFL. Suddenly, Congress, the players, and the sports media are upset about health risks faced by football players.

But isn't that likely to reflect the fact that the direct causes of concussions (head butting) make for much better (and easier to understand) highlight reels than the slow effects of steroid abuse?
   475. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 15, 2010 at 10:18 PM (#3438701)
But isn't that likely to reflect the fact that the direct causes of concussions (head butting) make for much better (and easier to understand) highlight reels than the slow effects of steroid abuse?


There's been some fairly high-profile attention (*) to chronic health problems of retired NFL players over the last few years. One problem I sense with respect to linking these sorts of things directly to steroids is that there seems to be a perception among fans that chronic injuries and shortened lifespans are somewhat inevitable given the high-contact nature of the sport. So, there's little or no sense that steroids may be one of the reasons for this. (**)


(*) I live in Chicago, where this issue has gotten quite a bit of attention. But one of the main spokespeople for retired NFL players on this issue is Mike Ditka, who is still a demi-god here in Chicago, so I don't know if the attention here is greater than nationally because of that.

(**) I don't know enough about steroids to know the extent to which they may be a cause of the sorts of long-term health issues that former NFL players face. My sense is that most people assume, in this case, however, that they're NOT a major contributing factor.
   476. Ron Johnson Posted: January 15, 2010 at 10:27 PM (#3438712)
#476, CBC did a pretty interesting piece on head injuries not too far back.

Quoting from the intro.

But after the glory is gone, little is reported about the physical toll the game takes. the fifth estate investigates why professional football players have a life expectancy that is at least 20 years less than that of the general population. (Worth noting that the presenter is a former player and in interviews promoting the piece discusses his own history with concussions)

Head Games
   477. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 16, 2010 at 12:11 AM (#3438789)
Like many, I've also noted that nobody cares about steroids in football, and like you, I've posited the explanation that people don't care about football players. The thing is, that's belied by the recent hysteria over concussions in the NFL. Suddenly, Congress, the players, and the sports media are upset about health risks faced by football players.


I don't think they're "upset about health risks faced by football players" as they are that nobody is taking care of the former players. (And by "nobody" I mostly mean that the union is blamed first and I suppose the league second.)

Basically, the media thinks (I'm not saying they're wrong) that the former players paved the way for the current players to get the money and medical benefits, etc., and yet the former players are left out in the cold and dealing with huge health issues. I think that's a fairly accurate point of view, but the problem is that there is no "solution" to the problem other than having the current players/league contribute money out of the goodness of their hearts. Which sometimes doesn't adequately address a problem, though it's not anybody's fault.

Incidentally, from most of the stories I've seen on this, despite all the hoopla over the health risks of steroids -- and despite our knowledge that many football players in the '70s were popping steroids like they were going out of style -- the health issues of the former players largely seem to be head injuries and bone/joint injuries. As opposed to medical conditions typically associated with steroids.

Other than Ph.D Lyle Alzado, of course :P
   478. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 16, 2010 at 12:26 AM (#3438804)
Like many, I've also noted that nobody cares about steroids in football, and like you, I've posited the explanation that people don't care about football players.


A big part of it is the numbers, too. No one cared about steroids in baseball until important records started falling.

There's much less opportunity for people to break significant records in football, but if someone rushed for 3,000 yards or caught nine TD passes in a game, football fans might start getting upset about steroids.
   479. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 16, 2010 at 01:10 AM (#3438814)
A big part of it is the numbers, too. No one cared about steroids in baseball until important records started falling.


The Canseco 1988 ALCS stuff seems to illustrate that to the extent the Fenway fans cared about the issue, they were mostly just having fun with the guy. He was assumed to be on steroids and yet nobody was treating him as the scourge of the earth. No tearful press conferences were demanded of him. Rick Reilly wasn't standing at his locker demanding that he take a urine test.
   480. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 16, 2010 at 02:16 AM (#3438853)
Story about Jay McGwire, January 2009.

Areas of consistency with Mark McGwire's story:

* MM used both steroids and hgh.

* MM began using in 1994. This doesn't square with MM's admission of using briefly in 1989, but it does if Jay didn't know about that.

* MM used "in low dosages."

* He used steroids to help with joint recovery and "survival."

A new book proposal, submitted by the admittedly estranged brother of Mark McGwire, claims the former major league slugger used both steroids and human growth hormone during his career.

In the proposal, first reported Wednesday on Deadspin.com, Jay McGwire alleges that Mark used Deca-Durabolin and that he introduced Mark to performance-enhancing drugs in 1994.

Jay McGwire writes in his proposal that his brother "began to use, but in low dosages so he wouldn't lift his way out of baseball. Deca-Durabolin helped with his joint problems and recovery, while growth hormone helped his strength, making him leaner in the process. I became the first person to inject him, like most first-timers he couldn't plunge in the needle himself. Later a girlfriend injected him."

Jose Canseco, in a book he wrote in 2005, claims he and McGwire, former Oakland A's teammates, used performance-enhancing drugs as far back as 1988. Jay McGwire disputes that in the book proposal.

"Mark is a man I think most would like to forgive because his reason wasn't nefarious -- it was for survival," he wrote, according to the proposal.
   481. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 16, 2010 at 06:00 AM (#3438955)
May 20, 1985:

But some of the speculation about the Pittsburgh investigation is overblown. Most of the players who testified in Pittsburgh have admitted using cocaine, and it's always possible that some will be indicted. But the targets of the investigation were suppliers, not users, and many of the players who testified were granted immunity from prosecution in return for their cooperation.


Ah, the good old days, when prosecutors targeted dealers and not users, and players were given immunity.

Those who appeared before the grand jury include present and former Pirates as well as players on other teams, mostly in the National League. Among them are the Pirates' Rod Scurry, Montreal's Tim Raines, San Francisco's Jeff Leonard and St. Louis's Lonnie Smith, all of whom have gone through drug rehabilitation programs. SI has information that Houston's Enos Cabell and former Pirates Dave Parker, now with Cincinnati, and Lee Lacy, now with Baltimore, testified before the grand jury and that all have used cocaine. Pirates Lee Mazzilli and Al Holland and former Pirate Dale Berra, now with the Yankees, also appeared before the grand jury, but it is not known whether they told of having used cocaine. The New York Mets' Keith Hernandez also testified. His agent, Jack Childers, said in a telephone interview, "You're talking about ancient history as far as he's involved—way, way in the past." A few minutes after hanging up, Childers called back and said he had played a tape of the interview to Hernandez. He said Hernandez had become upset and denied "any involvement in cocaine, ever."


Tee hee on that denial. Let's fast forward four months to September 16, 1985:

The Mets' Keith Hernandez took the stand in the case of the United States of America v. Strong last week and admitted he had used cocaine. It was a hot, humid Friday morning in Pittsburgh, and Hernandez looked uncomfortable as he told of waking up with a nosebleed, his body shaking. "It's the devil on this earth," said Hernandez of cocaine.

...

With each new witness, the roster of players who admitted using or were alleged to have used cocaine grew: Hernandez, Joaquin Andujar, Lonnie Smith, Enos Cabell, Dave Parker, Jeff Leonard, Lary Sorensen, Al Holland, Dickie Noles, Gary Matthews, Dick Davis, J.R. Richard, Bernie Carbo, Dale Berra, Rod Scurry, John Milner....

...

What has emerged from the Pittsburgh trial is a pattern of what Smith called "sleazeball" behavior. He himself once snorted a quarter-ounce of coke in one night and was too strung out to play the next day. Others did play under the influence of drugs. Players bought cocaine in hotel rooms, in elevators, in saloons, in a bathroom at Three Rivers Stadium. Some used their friends; Hernandez admits he sent Smith to buy his cocaine in 1982 because, "I didn't want to take any chances."

Hernandez testified earlier in secret grand jury hearings that he thought 40% of the players in the majors were using cocaine in 1980.

Can a player deeply involved in cocaine take himself off the drug? Not easily. Hernandez said it took him 2? years and that he did it only after he was shaken by the sight of Smith so "overloaded" that he was unable to play. Smith voluntarily entered a rehabilitation center in 1983.
   482. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 16, 2010 at 06:06 AM (#3438957)
September 23, 1985:

You'll recall that Keith Hernandez of the Mets threatened to sue [Ken] Moffett [Fomer executive director of the MLBPA] after Moffett implied in 1984 that Hernandez, had been linked to cocaine when he was with the St. Louis Cardinals. Moffett told McDonough it had cost him "between $6,500 and $10,000 to get a lawyer to settle" the suit out of court.

"They made a fool out of me in front of everyone in baseball by making me apologize publicly," Moffett said. "That's what Hernandez wanted to settle the suit."

Hernandez denied then—and was still denying four months ago—"any involvement with cocaine, ever." After he admitted in Pittsburgh on Sept. 6 that he had indeed used cocaine over four seasons (1980-83), his agent, Jack Childers, phoned Moffett and "apologized all over the place," the former MLBPA head told McDonough. "He said he was sick over what happened. Childers said he never knew anything about it until Keith was on the stand."
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