Bonds testimony
December 3, 2004 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Bonds said he unknowingly used steroids Following up on yesterday's article on Giambi's grand jury testimony, the SF Chronicle reports that Bonds admitted using steroids, but didn't know what they were at the time. Gary Sheffield said something very similar in October, and was not penalized by baseball, nor by public opinion. Meanwhile, the Yankees are reportedly trying to void Giambi's contract. What will the fallout be from the Bonds story?
posted by ibmcginty (50 comments total)

 
This is the most fantastic sports story of the last decade. I can't wait to see ths all develop. Notice how it wasn't leaked till AFTER the World Series?

Anyway, regarding Giambi's contract. I don't see how they can legally void his contract unless it specifically states in that contract that it can be broken due to the use of steroids. I think, but I'm not certain, that I read that at the time of his admitted steroid use (2001 - 2003...he was injured, not playing, and clearly not on steroids for 2004) he was not breaking any MLB rules. How can they legally void a contract for something that was not against policy?
posted by spicynuts at 7:40 AM on December 3, 2004


The genie is out of this bottle for good, steroids in sports are here to stay. Either it doesn't bother you that most/all of the best athletes are juiced, or it does and you follow golf, curling or crokinole instead.

I'm leaning towards crokinole.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:43 AM on December 3, 2004


Just a little bit of (obvious) additional stuff here on how these cases are all different:

1) Sheffield admitted it to a magazine on purpose, rather than having year-old testimony leaked to the press. I think that helps him in the court of public opinion.

2) As far as the Yanks' reactions, Giambi was hurt/terrible last year while Sheffield was maybe the most feared AL slugger. So of course they're going to try to get out of their colossal contract with Giambi if they can.

3) This has been hanging over Bonds' head for a long time... and Giambi and Sheffield haven't won 7 MVPs, and aren't about to break Aaron's record. The controversy over Bonds will be longer and louder.
posted by ibmcginty at 7:48 AM on December 3, 2004


haha.
Bonds testified that he had received and used clear and cream substances from his personal strength trainer, Greg Anderson, during the 2003 baseball season but was told they were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis, according to a transcript of his testimony reviewed by The Chronicle.
"Well. garwsh, this flaxseed oil seems to make my muscles fill out and repair themselves more quickly after I work out. And this rubbing balm takes all the pain away, and somehow, despite being a full grown man, I keep getting bigger and stronger every week."

What a crock. I'm sorry, but there is NO WAY one can be a world-class athlete and not notice how you are being fed steroids. Men, real, un-medicated full-grown men, do not keep "filling out" ad infinitum. There is a natural wall to strength training...which is why so many turn to super-natural substances to compete at a higher level.
posted by wah at 7:57 AM on December 3, 2004


What will the fallout be from the Bonds story?

They will all be kicked out of baseball and stripped of their records, and their teams will forfeit all victories earned while they were on the roster.

Yeah, right.
posted by rushmc at 8:04 AM on December 3, 2004


I was intrigued by a recent USA Today article comparing random drug testing among different kinds of athletic endeavors. Olympic figure skaters undergo more tests in a two or three month period than Barry Bonds has had his entire career.
Olympics v. MLB
As I don't give a rip about major US team sports, I've been inclined to cynically dismiss the whole scandal. But there's still a small part of me that remembers my youthful interest in baseball, and resents the idea of the classic records being broken by these drugged-up monsters. The home-run race of a few years ago was a farce too.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:04 AM on December 3, 2004


What will the fallout be from the Bonds story?

Initially, public indignation and fluffy news coverage. Then it will peter out except for a few articles in sports magazines and discussions on ESPN. Then people will focus on the next controversy.

And MLB will make some cosmetic changes and give Bonds a fine that he can pay with the money currently in his wallet.

Also, it is Barry Bonds, so expect him to make some ludicrous suggestion of being singled out for the color of his skin. Then expect drive time radio hosts who regularly play "comedy" bits with white people vocally impersonating black athletes' dialect to suddenly become champions of racial justice in order to get another week out of the story.

As for the fallout in this thread, expect someone who hated high school to call everyone who enjoys sports stupid or deluded.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:17 AM on December 3, 2004


Am I allowed to call someone who says, "expect someone who hated high school to call everyone who enjoys sports stupid or deluded." stupid or deluded?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:27 AM on December 3, 2004


I don't think this story will blow up and go far enough. From what I've heard everyone is on HGH and every other low grade suppliment to make themselves heal as quickly as an 18 year old, and almost everyone is taking steroids. This definitely goes for the NFL too, and I wouldn't doubt it if most NBA stars were using stuff aside from steroids.

There is very little testing in american sports.
posted by mathowie at 8:27 AM on December 3, 2004


disclaimer: I love sports, was actually very good at sports in high-school, I still play soccer and basketball with friends on weekends if I can, I watch a lot of American sports on TV and I often go to Fenway whenever I am in Boston during the season. no sports hater here

having said that: the "miracle flaxseed oil" thing is funny, in a sad way. I take flaxseed oil too, and I do work out, but unbelievably enough I'm not getting Bonds' results.
I am baffled.

seriously, I can't believe people are surprised: American basketball/baseball/football players are ridiculously huge, nobody who has ever entered a gym can seriously claim guys can get that big without steroids. Giambi, Bonds, back when they were younger weren't the human rhinos they are now. no bull necks, no huge biceps. then they... bloomed. how strange.

the solution? enforce serious testing: random testing after every game, 2 or 3 players for each team, use harsher CIO guidelines, test players also for speed and other crap as well, not just steroids. MLB penalties right now are a joke. counseling? r fucking otfl
1-year suspensions for first offenders are a serious way to attack the problem. it is already the law in many European countries for soccer. it is a start at least. not perfect but a start.

either that or, just forget about it, repeal testing, and grant all MLB/NBA/NFL immunity from prosecution for steroids use. and enjoy the game. right now, America has an half-assed way to deal with doping in pro sports
posted by matteo at 8:29 AM on December 3, 2004


How in the world could you not know. This is just another example of the love/hate relationship a lot of people have with sports. They love watching a good game and want to cheer on their "heroes". They also hate the fact that it is a multibillion dollar business. Players lose because they are so driven by the need to compete and the money, that they will sacrifice their future health to get the extra edge. We should face the facts here. The owners don't give a rip about what the players do to themselves, so long as they bring in the money. The players see that the performance of these juiced players will lead to fat contracts, so they step in. The players union doesn't appear to care about the health of it members, just that they bring in more money and have bigger contracts. Former players have died because of these drugs, yet the players union does nothing.
posted by Numenorian at 8:30 AM on December 3, 2004


Mayor Curley, actually Sheffield's a lot more likely to play the race card in all of this, I've seen him play it more times than not.

As for Bonds' legacy? Steroids didn't seem to hurt Mark McGwire's legacy at all. Should it damage his reputation more because people don't like Bonds as much? Should likability be a factor at all?

I'm a baseball fan, I don't like that 'roids are a part of the game but until Bud Selig grows a spine and steps up or steps down, the game is going to be dictated by asshats like Steinbrenner who don't care what their players do so long as they keep winning.

Would it bother me to know that Bonds knowingly "cheated"? Yeah but not enough to ignore the sport or discredit his accomplishments. I don't hear anyway trying to take away Ken Caminiti's MVP even though he openly admitted to steroid use.

Besides, if he was a major user then his body will start to fail him soon enough and all the naysayers can cheer his demise.
posted by fenriq at 8:31 AM on December 3, 2004


What will the fallout be from the Bonds story?

He will become Governor of California.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:37 AM on December 3, 2004


I must confess that I have taken the cream and the clear so that I can up my code output from 500 lines a day to roughly 15,000. Because of this I have received lucrative freelance contracts and wicked carpal tunnel syndrome.

I just had to come out with this; I couldn't live with the lies any longer.

I hope you all can still see me as a human being, who needs compassion.
posted by xmutex at 8:39 AM on December 3, 2004


Huh, so he is an anomaly in that he's not fragile like the other meatheads. Consider my Bonds defense in yesterday's thread revoked.

Why do my favorite sports keep getting harder and hard to like?
posted by Fezboy! at 8:46 AM on December 3, 2004


Hey we can still love Ichiro.
posted by xmutex at 8:48 AM on December 3, 2004


I hate hate hate baseball and Bonds seems to be one of the biggest jerks in the game. So I love this story.

Sadly a couple sports that I do like have been hit with doping scandals.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 8:48 AM on December 3, 2004


The thing that really irks me about this steroid issue are all the commentators who keep saying things like "steroids weren't illegal at the time he was taking them" when they really mean "baseball hadn't banned steroids at the time he was taking them." Steroids are a Schedule III narcotic and are illegal. I just don't know why baseball (and the other sports) need separate rules from the rules the rest of society must follow.
posted by HiddenInput at 8:48 AM on December 3, 2004


I prefer to lurk but some of these comments are really WAY off. Clue: Collective Bargaining!

Selig (owner's shill), MLB, and owners can't do anything because they screwed players for decades and then Miller and the players figured out a way to legally screw them right back. Now, owners and MLB have no power. Players' Union has to agree to fines, suspensions, etc. That's right, Bonds would have to essentially vote on his own punishment. The only way around this is if players void their contracts (maybe Giambi did?), brake the law, or if Congress takes some action against the current collective bargaining agreement.
posted by a_day_late at 8:53 AM on December 3, 2004


Testing will never solve the problem. The problem is that sports have been consumed by the entertainment industry. Kids think they must pay money, join a league, have a coach, and learn all the rules to play a game, and the goal is to be like that guy on TV. Let’s see a MeFi FPP about kid sports. Kid stories, with kid rules—like that fantastic FPP on risky behaviours. No coach. No grandstand. No bureaucracy. No marketing. That makes all the difference.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:54 AM on December 3, 2004


a_day_late: Err, if Bonds did steroids, he broke the law. They are against the laws of the United States, which I hope still supersedes that of MLB.

But I'm not so sure any more.
posted by xmutex at 8:56 AM on December 3, 2004


Tim Kurkjian certainly made an ass out of himself on ESPN by saying something like "now, let's not compare Pete Rose and Barry Bonds. A LOT of people have used steroids, but very few have actually gambled on the game." Sure, Tim. Throwing some money down is far worse than using steroids. ESPN's credibility is not doing so well these days.
posted by ORthey at 8:59 AM on December 3, 2004


A LOT of people have used steroids, but very few have actually gambled on the game.

Calling Michael Jordan. Is there a Michael Jordan in the house?

Riight, he wanted to play baseball for a year...riiight.
posted by wah at 9:06 AM on December 3, 2004


This really pisses me off. More then I thought it would.

Aaron, Ruth, Jackson, Williams, Maris, Mantle... none of those guys took steroids. 40-50% of today's players don't juice up, including some of the big stars.

So why can't they all be off it? If the fans make enough of a stink, maybe we can actually change something. Someone register "2005fanboycott.com", set up a "fans union" and let's try to change something. Anyone with me?

Orthey, I also saw that and couldn't believe it! When Kurkjian first said, you can't compare, I was thinking yeah, you can't because as an athlete, Rose set the all time hit record just by hitting, not by juicing... and then he goes and says that the steroids are not as bad. WTF?
posted by chaz at 9:13 AM on December 3, 2004


bonds is a tool
posted by clubmedia at 9:19 AM on December 3, 2004


xmutex: Err, if Bonds did steroids, he broke the law. They are against the laws of the United States, which I hope still supersedes that of MLB.

I don't know if the substances he used were illegal at the time used them (insert allegedly's where appropriate). I guess it's up to the DA to figure that out and give it a go. I think we would have to be convicted for MLB to take action and by that time, he might be in jail, retired, or whatever.

disclaimer: I am not an attorney, nor do I play one in real life
posted by a_day_late at 9:24 AM on December 3, 2004


we would have to be convicted = he would have to be convicted
posted by a_day_late at 9:27 AM on December 3, 2004


The primary emotion I'm feeling is downright sadness. I'm not really mad - just sort of depressed, in a baseball sort of way. This is a sport I feel very connected with - it's one of the few sports in the world that you can make a part of your daily life because your team plays almost every single day, and partly because of that, during the baseball season, it has become almost as fundamental to me as going to work and eating dinner. I hate things like this that tarnish the game - steroids, strikes, all these things that reaffirm what I wish weren't true: that professional sports are filled with cheaters and spoiled brats. I'm still going to love the A's and the game, but not without a certain amount of head-shaking.

Dammit, guys.
posted by ORthey at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2004


Am I allowed to call someone who says, "expect someone who hated high school to call everyone who enjoys sports stupid or deluded." stupid or deluded?

Ha! Someone's irritated that they're a cliche. Here's a tip, though-- if someone anticipates predictable behavior, and you have said behavior in mind, you're cooler for just walking away rather than admitting that you were going to try to be superior. And NEVER try to salvage hurt feelings with a weak response-- no one knew that you were so predictable and lame until you pointed it out. Don't call attention to your insecurities when no one can see them.

And whomever gave you a hard time in high school was right to do it. Are you from New England? I hope it was me.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:43 AM on December 3, 2004


chaz-- you might be right that a boycott is called for, but I am a Red Sox fan, and I live in DC (which is supposed to have the Expos for the 05 season), so I'm not boycotting anything anytime soon. I accepted long ago that sportsfandom is irrational, but I couldn't abandon it if I tried, and I don't want to. ORthey, I'm with you.

Also, I don't know how much power MLB has to suspend Bonds, even if he broke the law. In baseball more than any other sport, the players' union has more power than the ownership, and they've effectively fought serious penalties. A conviction may not affect Bonds' contractual relationship with the Giants and MLB.
posted by ibmcginty at 9:58 AM on December 3, 2004


"Why do my favorite sports keep getting harder and hard to like?"

Because they're full of unlikeable people followed slavishly by all kinds of dickheads like Mayor Curley?

Nah, it's gotta be something else...
posted by Irontom at 10:03 AM on December 3, 2004


Damn. I hated high school, and I love baseball. What does that make me?

And, oh, am I sick about this story. I'm a huge Giants fan, and a huge Barry Bonds fan, and it's hard to reconcile my love of this game, my team, and its superstar with that fact that this game is full of cheaters and my favorite player is Exhibit A.

(Though I hope the people who revile the current batch of cheaters have greater contempt for the long list of white superstars of the earlier eras who were active, vocal rascists.)
posted by owenville at 10:06 AM on December 3, 2004


There is so much hypocrisy running through all of this.

Any one of us can go to a doctor, get diagnosed with some problem that requires a regimen of hgh and anabolics and be legally treated under a doctors care. As long as we treat the aging process as a disease to be cured and drugs as a cure to all of life's problems, then there will be doctors and drug companies lining up to serve the demand. Not happy all the time, have an anti-depressant, don't like getting old? Hormone therapy.

Why should athletes be held to any different standard than the rest of society?
posted by clubfoote at 10:33 AM on December 3, 2004


Dude, owenville, I love Ty Cobb. I'd go to bat for Ty Cobb. Well, rather, I'd slide into third with my spikes up in the air and run into the stands and pummel a guy who doesn't have any hands for Ty Cobb.

Back off.
posted by xmutex at 10:51 AM on December 3, 2004


First of all, it could not be more irrelevant to just about anything that Bonds broke the law by taking steroids at some point. Want to prosecute people who admit they have smoked marijuana at some point in their lives? Want to prosecute people who admit to drinking alcohol before it was legal?

If you are not prosecuting Bonds, then are you talking about MLB punishing him for admitting to a prior activity that is illegal? That makes just as little sense. Ought I go fire my secretary right now because she told me that she keyed her boyfriend's car a few years ago?

Ever take a look at Michael Jordan at the age of 22 versus the age of 35? Or the body of almost any other NBA player? Think they are all achieveing those bodies without some illegal substances? It is done by enormous amounts of people in every sport. Athletes are going to do whatever they are allowed to do. Millions of dollars are at stake. The responsibility falls to the leagues. Baseball has been way too slow in dealing with this. Basketball will not even mention it until it somehow becomes public. Then they will feign shock at the whole thing and deal with it, too.
posted by flarbuse at 11:15 AM on December 3, 2004


Aaron, Ruth, Jackson, Williams, Maris, Mantle... none of those guys took steroids. 40-50% of today's players don't juice up, including some of the big stars.

It may be the case that these guys didn't take steroids, but I guarantee you they took greenies and uppers. I obviously can't offer any solid proof but anyone who's read any of the expose books by ex players who don't think they are jesus should know that speed pills are as common as chewing tobacco in the majors. Noone ever talks about THAT publicily though. It's like the 'other' dirty little secret.
posted by spicynuts at 11:36 AM on December 3, 2004


Bonds ought to have an asterisk by his name is the record books.

*Didn't earn it.
posted by DonnieSticks at 11:38 AM on December 3, 2004


If the MLB really wanted to make a serious statement against steroid use, Giambi and Bonds would be banned from baseball, and out of Hall of Fame contention. Very simple.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:51 AM on December 3, 2004


Why would you ban someone who used a substance that had not been banned by baseball? And why ban those two and not the fifty or so percent of the players in the league who have used them?

If they want to get serious, then they will institute clear rules with harsh penalties and be consistent in their rigorous enforcement of such rules. They have yet to do any such thing.
posted by flarbuse at 12:10 PM on December 3, 2004


People who talk about "MLB handing down clear and obvious discipline quickly" don't understand how MLB works to begin with. Bud Selig, the commissioner, has virtually no ability to hand down punishment. Anything he does can only be considered symbolic. The problem is the player's union, which is wholly separate from the governing body of MLB. The union has to approve all forms of discipline from fines to suspensions to bans, etc.

That means that the players would vote on it, and that means that Bonds would have to essentially vote on his own punishment.

Not likely from a chump who "thinks" he took flaxseed oil.
posted by xmutex at 12:18 PM on December 3, 2004


Why would you ban someone who used a substance that had not been banned by baseball? And why ban those two and not the fifty or so percent of the players in the league who have used them?

I don't buy this argument. It's against the laws of the country to take or distribute steroids. MLB shouldn't need a unique policy seperate from this condemning their usage. Does MLB need secondary regulation for every possible crime?
posted by xmutex at 12:20 PM on December 3, 2004


I don't buy this argument. It's against the laws of the country to take or distribute steroids.

That may be true, xmutex, but how long did it take MLB to ban Darryll Strawberry for numerous cocaine charges? Oh, yeah, that's right, they NEVER did. Doesn't he work for the Yankees now??

If they are not going to ban people for CONVICTIONS of cocaine use, why should they ban someone who has not been convicted of anything and has admitted to using a substance that was not banned by the MLB?

Not that I agree with that conclusion, I think the should be banned, but you know, if you were to want the MLB to be consistent and all.
posted by spicynuts at 12:30 PM on December 3, 2004


I'd bet a baseball player could eat babies in the dugout, and since there's no specific law in MLB against it, not have to worry as long as they hit 50 homers or batted over .300. As much as a vocal minority would like to think otherwise, pro sports is not real life and attempts to hold these people to the same standards as the rest of us will fail miserably.
posted by tommasz at 12:48 PM on December 3, 2004


Also, don't miss the SportsFilter threads talking about this.

(Though I hope the people who revile the current batch of cheaters have greater contempt for the long list of white superstars of the earlier eras who were active, vocal rascists.)

Where did that come from? We're talkin' 'bout drugs here.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:50 PM on December 3, 2004


chaz, do you have some specific proof that those guys didn't take steroids are are you assuming that they didn't? And what about other substances like the greenies and uppers mentioned?

tommasz, for an example, see the recent Kobe trial and Ron Atrest's greatest hits (banning him for life would have been a good start to his punishment, jail time would help too).
posted by fenriq at 2:53 PM on December 3, 2004


Performance-enhancing drugs, be they legal or illegal, are an inescapable part of modern sports--from baseball, to cycling to soccer--and there's no way to compare the modern athlete to previous ones. When you talk about Mantle, or Ruth, or Cobb , not only did they not have advances such as Human Growth Hormone, or Clomid, or "the cream" and "the clear;" they didn't have any of the niceties of modern sports medicine.

Fuck Creatine, when Cy Young began playing Aspirin had not been invented.

Anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, rubber soles, massage therapists, lycra, Ben-Gay, radar guns, videotape, whirlpools, ace bandages... all of these things give modern players immense advantages over their forebears. We're never going to recreate the conditions of the past.

We somewhat arbitrarily decide to make this or that drug legal or illegal. Today Androstenedione is legal, tomorrow it might not be. This is almost always done due to health risks associated with a particular product. But, virtually every drug has health risks. Why can't players be allowed to decide (on their own, or with a physician's guidance) whether or not these drugs are worth the risk? I mean, come on, isn't cycling in the Tour De France a health risk anyway? Isn't stepping onto the field opposite the Pack's defensive line a little dangerous? Would you let somebody throw a ball at you at 96 MPH? Professional sports are inherently risky and unhealthy. Players at that level are constantly tearing down their bodies and frequently retire because they have effectively worn them out.

Why shouldn't players (and any adult) be able to take responsibility for those risks him or herself? If you're an adult and want to compete on that level, if you want to devote all of your time, your energy, your focus to becoming a professional athlete--even risking your health to do so--shouldn't you be able to, assuming that you're making an informed choice?

Because it's cheating!
Well... Yes... There is that. But 1) Baseball is a game where cheating has always been a wink-wink, nudge-nudge kind of affair. And 2) when everyone else is doing it, and doing it can be the difference between the major and minor leagues, or between making 2 million or 10 million, being rich or having "fuck you" money, it would be awfully tempting to cheat.

But why don't we bring it out of the closet? Or at least start rationally talking about it, and abandon this fixation with what people did 50 or 100 years ago, unless we're willing too force all our athletes to follow a strict 19th century training regemins:
After having gone on in this regular course for three or four weeks, the pedestrian must take a four-mile sweat, which is produced by running four miles, in flannel, at the top of his speed. Immediately on returning, a hot liquor is prescribed, in order to promote the perspiration, of which he must drink one English pint. It is terming the sweating liquor, and is composed of the following ingredients, viz. one ounce of caraway seed; half an ounce of coriander-seed; one ounce of root liquorice; and half an ounce of sugar candy; mixed with two bottles of cider, and boiled down to one half. He is then put to bed in his flannels, and being covered with six or eight pairs of blankets, and a feather-bed, must remain in this state from twenty-five to thirty minutes, when he is taken out and rubbed perfectly dry. Being then well wrapt in his great coat, he walks out gently for two miles, and returns to breakfast, which, on such occasions, should consist of a roasted fowl. He afterwards proceeds in his usual exercise. These sweats are continued weekly, till within a few days of the performance of the match, or, in other words, he must undergo three or four of these operations.
Nonetheless, I'm very, very disapointed in Barry.
posted by emptyage at 3:38 PM on December 3, 2004


emptyage - you're right, the cheating issue is thick and tricky (thicky?). As I mentioned yesterday in the Giambi thread, what about common practices like shooting up someone's just-twisted ankle and throwing him back in there? Or wrapping up a lineman's broken hand and telling him to block? Those can certainly not be considered safe.

Mind you, I think steroids should be dealt with much more severely. They're a blight on sports. But I feel that if we finally look at steroids in depth and with some honesty, than we probably should look at other things that threaten the integrity of sports.
posted by ORthey at 4:03 PM on December 3, 2004


This is the most fantastic sports story of the last decade.

Please. It's not fantastic, and it's not the sports story of the last decade.

It's just sad.
posted by justgary at 4:04 PM on December 3, 2004


"I'm...a huge Barry Bonds fan..."

Yes, but how did you feel about him when he was normal-sized?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:29 PM on December 3, 2004


I don't think this story will blow up and go far enough. From what I've heard everyone is on HGH and every other low grade suppliment to make themselves heal as quickly as an 18 year old, and almost everyone is taking steroids. This definitely goes for the NFL too, and I wouldn't doubt it if most NBA stars were using stuff aside from steroids.

There is very little testing in american sports.
posted by mathowie at 8:27 AM PST on December 3


Ummm, have to disagree here.

NFL
NBA
NBA/NFL/Minor League

This is not to say they don't use other supplements and aids that aren't "steroids" that help their performance. Baseball has definitely had a larger doping problem than other sports though, but I imagine the Barry Bonds story will change a lot of things.
posted by rooftop secrets at 7:55 PM on December 3, 2004


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