Derelict Junction

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

'Roid Rage (Steroids, not Hemorrhoids)

Okay, the steroid situation is almost impossible not to comment on, especially with Jose Canseco's book, Juice, coming out on Monday and his "60 Minutes" interview tonight. So here goes.

It's too bad that Jose is such an unscrupulous opportunist and a shameless ego maniac, because that gives all the steroid-deniers out there an easy way to dismiss his allegations. And it's also too bad he has no concept of subtlety because, from what I've read, while many of his stories are completely plausible, it also seems impossible that they're ALL true. He implicates so many people, he makes it seem like, if you played with him and weren't paying attention, he'd shoot you up with steroids too. It wouldn't surprise me if, as Andrew says, in his book he admits to injecting announcer Joe Garagiola at a press conference when he bent over to pick up a pen.

So where does that leave us? We have a book that seems to confirm pretty much what we all suspected about steroid use, but the alleged frequency seems almost impossible to be true. Does anyone really think that Roger Clemens took steroids? If he did, he should get his money back, 'cuz I've seen him plenty fat, but never beefed up. All this, written by an unapologetic self-promoter. It probably would have been better if Canseco didn't write anything at all, and steroid use continued until a more reputable source came forward.

One very disappointing reaction to Canseco's book has proved an earlier perception of mine quite wrong. When faced with die-hard Barry Bonds supporters, they would invariably bring up the inherent racism involved with criticizing Bonds, while Mark McGwire (another obvious, but white, juicer) was spared such scrutiny. I always denied this claim and said if McGwire was still playing he'd also have to answer such allegations. Just this week, though, after Canseco's book implicated McGwire, I was shocked to hear sportswriters not tear into him. Rather, I was disgusted to hear Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle, when asked about McGwire's steroid use say, "Well, look, a lot of players started taking steroids and it began in '88, '89... that's no secret." What a cop out! I understand not wanting to jump on the shaky Canseco bandwagon, but making excuses for anyone taking steroids is just as terrible for McGwire as it is for Bonds. At the very least, he could qualify any criticism by saying, "If these allegations prove to be true... (then, nail him to the cross)."

Finally, in the book there's a chapter titled "Giambi, the Most Obvious Juicer in the Game". According to Canseco, this observation is evidenced by his bloated physique. He writes, "There was no definition to (Giambi's) body at all. You could see the retention of liquids, especially in the neck and face; to those in the know, that was a sure sign of steroid use." Now, without going back on my earlier call to criticize steroid users, I almost feel bad for Giambi. -Not because he used steroids and seems to be the most egregious case. -Not because he testified to a grand jury that he took steroids and then denied it to the press. -Not because his team, the Yankees, are currently trying to find ways to void the remaining $82 million on his contract. But, he seems to suffer from a condition that most professional athletes have no concept of; he wants people to like him.

Unlike Bonds, unlike McGwire, unlike most players who couldn't care less about the consequences of their actions or how they're perceived by the public, Giambi obviously craves acceptance. Last week he called a press conference and profusely apologized to his team, the organization and the New York fans, but never mentioned for what. -Never mentioned steroids. So, why the press conference? Why apologize and then immediately turn evasive? If he still longs for people to like him, it stands to be a very tedious career for Giambi from here on out. If you crave approval and then have your actions sully your reputation, you can't expect people to go easy on you. All his career, Giambi has been in that "likable hero" roll. He may now have to learn to play the "defiant bad-guy". -Maybe Canseco can give him some pointers.

Still, he's an idiot for testifying to a grand jury that he took steroids and then denying it in television interviews immediately thereafter. What's worse, since he was told his testimony would be sealed, he obviously thought he'd get away with it (until his testimony was suspiciously leaked to the media).

I'd also like to point out teammate Gary Sheffield's testimony was just as incriminating, but no one in the Yankees organization is clamoring to void his multi-million dollar contract. Then again, he had a much better year than Giambi last season. Posted by Hello