Baseball and Steroids…more and more big players implicated
Posted by dorian on July 31, 2009
“Every team going back 10-15 years needs an * if you want to consider giving it to anyone,” Curt Schilling said on his blog.
CHICAGO — The 2004 World Series championship ring has 45 diamonds weighing 1.89 carats, cast in 18-karat white gold. On its face is an Old English B, the logo of the Boston Red Sox. Johnny Damon does not wear his, yet it keeps losing its sheen.
David Ortiz was the most valuable player for the Red Sox in the 2004 American League Championship Series. Manny Ramirez was the M.V.P. of the World Series. Both on Thursday were revealed to have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, and guilt by association may stick to that merry band of self-described idiots.
“I’m sure that’s what people are saying,” Damon said. “When and if that list comes out, I’ll be able to determine what that championship means to me.”
Damon now bats behind Derek Jeter, a cornerstone of Yankees championship teams that also included players said to have used performance-enhancing drugs. If any fans naïvely believe their teams were pure while the Yankees were tainted, Thursday brought a new reality.
“I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the only organization that had somebody doing it, you know?” Jeter said. “What does that mean?”
Perhaps it means that if an asterisk sticks to one group of champions, it could also apply to all. And if every great team of an era has an asterisk, what is the point of the asterisk, anyway?
“This makes me laugh,” the former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling wrote on his blog, 38pitches.com. “I have already seen the bandwagon fans start the *04 and *07 threads and remarks, people with teams who are far deeper into this than most other teams — as if this makes it all O.K. Every team going back 10-15 years needs an * if you want to consider giving it to anyone.”
Schilling has spoken out against steroid use — though he famously went quiet before Congress in 2005 — and Damon insisted his name could not have been on the 2003 list. “It better not be on it, or there’s going to be lawsuits,” Damon said.
Damon mentioned himself, Schilling, Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez as other important contributors to the Red Sox then, but he seemed interested to know just how many of his teammates were doping. The more names, he suggested, the less weight the championship carries.
History may be kinder, and may side more with Schilling, who played in two other World Series, for the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies and the 2001 champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Both rosters were also dotted with steroid suspects.
Some have doubted the validity of the Yankees teams that included Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch and Jason Grimsley, who appeared in the 2007 report by George J. Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader, on steroids in baseball. The report named few players on the Red Sox, a team for which Mitchell is a minority owner, as is The New York Times.
But Mitchell’s report was not meant to be comprehensive, and he stated in it that players from all teams were found to have used drugs. Among his primary sources were Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee, both based in New York.
“Common sense tells us every team in baseball had steroid users during that era,” said Bob Costas, who was here to broadcast the Thursday night Yankees-White Sox game for MLB Network. “Those that appeared in the Mitchell report by and large came from teams and circumstances where Mitchell and his staff had sources, and they didn’t have equal sources in every big-league city.”
Costas continued: “Texas didn’t win anything during that period of time, and it’s pretty clear that Texas might have led the league in massive steroid use. So I don’t know how you evaluate or devalue championships during that period of time.”
The players on Thursday seemed weary of the issue, the way it continues to monopolize attention whenever a new name is revealed. Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, who won three championships as a catcher for the team, compared it to a Band-Aid slowly peeling off the skin.
“Names just keep coming out,” said the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira, who is active in the players association. “I agree with everyone else and say, ‘Get it all out.’ It’s ridiculous. Let everybody deal with the issue at the same time, because every two months things come out, and it’s not good for the game. It happened in 2003. Just get it all out.”
Teixeira was a rookie in 2003 and said he was proud to represent a new generation of players — including Matt Holliday and Chase Utley, he said — that plays the game with honor. Teixeira said he hoped to be a role model.
Yet few players have had a cuddlier image than Ortiz, whose endorsements include a children’s video game with his cartoon likeness on the box. Cookie Monster is listed among his nicknames at baseballreference.com. And now he has fallen, too.
“This era saddens me,” Girardi said. “It’s just a bad day.”