Yankee Star Admits Steroid Use.
December 2, 2004 3:12 AM   Subscribe

Yankee Star Admits Steroid Use. Jason Giambi finally came clean. Will this lead to the confession of other baseball players? Barry Bonds - the heat is on. Or are you in "the clear"?
posted by cpchester (30 comments total)
bonds wont admit it. he has everything to lose.

giambi, however, is a yankee. and yankees dont matter.
posted by tsarfan at 3:45 AM on December 2, 2004

1992 Pittsburgh Pirates Roster Height 6-02 Weight 228

2002 San Francisco Giants Roster Height 6-02 Weight 228
posted by three blind mice at 3:46 AM on December 2, 2004

Wait, he "finally came clean," according to this story, when he admitting he used steroids an entire year ago?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:04 AM on December 2, 2004

since he was out for most of this season (with what some speculate were complications from his use) its doubtful that he used them this year.
posted by tsarfan at 4:12 AM on December 2, 2004

"...he had used syringes to inject human growth hormone into his stomach and testosterone into his buttocks..."

I'm just glad that I don't have to rub creams on my chest, or inject anything into my stomach and buttocks in order to get ahead where I work.
posted by tpl1212 at 4:58 AM on December 2, 2004

Admitting to using steroids, in many sports, would result in an athlete's performances being stricken from the records and the athlete stripped of any titles they had won.
posted by bap98189 at 6:07 AM on December 2, 2004

I'm a Sox fan, and I think that baseball (players' union) has been unforgivably slow to address the problem of steroid use... so why do I feel sorry for this guy?
posted by ibmcginty at 6:18 AM on December 2, 2004

Admitting to using steroids, in many sports, would result in an athlete's performances being stricken from the records and the athlete stripped of any titles they had won.

Admonished by a female clubhouse visitor who said: “Look at you with that gut and a cigarette in your hand…you call yourself an athlete?”, Kruk replied “Lady, I’m no athlete, I’m a baseball player.”
posted by three blind mice at 6:21 AM on December 2, 2004

I hope Lupica is all over this when he does he weekly column on Sunday. He's been pretty vociferous in his daily news columns regarding BALCO and how lame the MLB Drug Testing Policy is. The NY Daily News just went front page with this breaking news, so maybe something will come out of this after all. Of course, I fully expect MLB and most of the sports press to stick their heads in the sand.
posted by spicynuts at 6:51 AM on December 2, 2004

Oh, and by the way...remember when Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" came out and there was all that outrage and reform based on the revelations of 'greenie' and uppers use? Oh yeah, me neither.
posted by spicynuts at 6:53 AM on December 2, 2004

This should be no surprise to anybody. And to answer the question: No, Bonds will never come clean. As mentioned, he has too much to lose, and he's far too arrogant anyway.
posted by eas98 at 6:54 AM on December 2, 2004

So wait, because Giambi has admitted he used steroids that automatically means Bonds used them? That is some of the most pathetic logic I've seen in a long time.

Has he gotten bigger and stronger during his career? Sure, you swing a bat for 15 years and see what it does for your physique.

Maybe its me but I thought we were supposed to NOT editorialize on the front page.
posted by fenriq at 7:35 AM on December 2, 2004

fenriq, you are right that we shouldn't just assume that Bonds has used steroids just because Giambi has, but maybe you aren't aware of the background here-- Giambi's admission was before a grand jury a year ago in an investigation of Bonds' personal trainer.

And not every aging slugger develops quite the way that Bonds has, despite repeatedly swinging a bat.

You're right that we can't act as though the accusation against Bonds has been proven, but Giambi's testimony does bear on the Bonds situation.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:03 AM on December 2, 2004

Giambi didn't come clean, his supposedly sealed testimony to a federal grand jury was publicly (and I think, illegally) leaked. He's got a whole lot of egg on his face now considering how he has denied all season steroid usage.

I wonder if he'll come out with some teary-eyed apology. I doubt it.

As for Bonds's guilt, The Smoking Guns reports notes that BALCO pres James Valente "also told federal agents that Bonds received steroids, noting that the San Francisco Giant 'does not like how 'the clear' makes him feel.'"

Draw your own conclusions.
posted by xmutex at 8:06 AM on December 2, 2004

...so why do I feel sorry for this guy? - ibmcginty

I'll admit that I feel a bit sorry for Giambi...moreso if it is true all his health problems stem from his steroid use...and I feel more upset towards MLB for allowing and nurturing a culture where, in order to succeed (ie: homeruns, power, free-agent deals, money), in essence you have to juice yourself up to freakish, frankenstein-esque levels...

...of course, I don't feel THAT bad for him...in the end it was his own choice to jab his ass full of testosterone...in a vain attempt to be Barry Bonds.

I think it has to suck EXTRA to be Jeremy Giambi...i mean, you shoot yourself up with all sorts of eventually-debilitating substance, only to drop from the major leagues because you're such a terrible baseball player.
posted by tpl1212 at 8:18 AM on December 2, 2004

Bonds is certainly an interesting case if he did use steroids, because of how well he's done at his (baseball) elevated age, and especially how well his body has held up, especially when you consider Caminiti, McGwire, and others. This is, of course, not proof that he didn't use them; but if he did/does, it would make him somewhat of a medical miracle.
posted by ORthey at 8:18 AM on December 2, 2004

Told you so.
posted by McBain at 8:32 AM on December 2, 2004

After the Balco - Giambi rumors first started, I remember that Boston fans were chanting "BAAALCOH, BAAALCOH" whenever he went up to bat at Fenway.

I miss Boston...
posted by sophie at 8:50 AM on December 2, 2004

Heard an interesting bit about this on ESPN last night, some commentator noted that even if Giambi had shot up those designer Balco steroids at home plate in front of a packed house in Yankee Stadium in 2003, there would have been nothing MLB could have done to penalize him. As per the agreeement with the players union, testing for steroids in '03 was only being done on an anonymous basis to gauge the level of use in the majors, and there were no reprecussions for a positive result. Before that, there was no testing at all.

So why exactly is anyone surprised that players were using steroids throughout the '90s and early '00s? Giambi is the 3rd ex-MVP to admit to using steroids, after Jose Canseco and the late Ken Caminiti. Both Canseco and Caminiti claimed earlier this year that performance-enhancing drug use was rampant in MLB. Caminiti claimed over 50% of the players in the majors used steroids, while Canseco estimated the number at 85%.

Surely there must more, and Bonds is a prime suspect. But that's the game. It wasn't illegal, it wasn't being tested for, so where's the "cheating" here, really? If 85% of the drivers on a highway are doing 75mph in a 55mph zone, and there are no cops on the side of the road with radar guns, is it really breaking the law?
posted by thirdparty at 9:26 AM on December 2, 2004

To take the topic further afield...
While the circumstantial evidence weighs pretty heavily against Bonds at this point, it does bear pointing out that he has not suffered the physical flame-out that the pool of admitted steriods users have. Further, unless steriods really improve visual acuity and coordination instead of just facilitating strength, then how does one explain his incredible ability to avoid striking out. All the other 'roid-bound power hitters had no problem mashing when they made contact, but that was their limiting factor. Not so in Bond's case. Last year he struck out once every nine AB. Looking at Giambi's 2003 season (to discount his extremely poor 2004) he struck out once every 3.8 AB. Considering the fact that Bonds gets way fewer official ABs thanks to the intentional walks, he strikes out maybe once per series. Compare and contrast with Giambi in his Yankees prime where he averages a strikeout per game.

Also, he doesn't get many soft homeruns the way a true power hitter will when they muscle a poorly hit ball over the fence. Bonds almost always makes solid contact. One need not be Charles Atlas to hit the ball a long way when they get good wood on a 90+ mph fastball.

I'm not saying that Bonds is definitely clean. I am saying that his hitting development does not mirror that of known 'roiders. His power stroke developed over time as he transitioned from a line-drive/speed player to a masher. To be fair, I'm only stating things relatively when I say he was a line-drive hitter. He hit 25 HR his second season in the bigs. His weight never jumped, he has always been an excellent all-round player—especially if you adjust for age, and he has never exhibited the fragility of known 'roiders. He certainly isn't a fan-friendly player, and this works to his disadvantage.

You want to point at a recalcitrant 'roid hound, you should look at Sosa. There's a slugger who shows the typical sudden monster weight/strength gain and the corresponding effects of running your body in overdrive after a few years.

/me cannot believe he just defended Bonds publicly...
posted by Fezboy! at 10:27 AM on December 2, 2004

To clarify, in the original post, I was not accusing Bonds of being a steroid user. I think it is mere fact to say the heat is on him now, because of the pending BALCO investigation, and this admittance of guilt by Giambi. Saying Giambi "came clean" was a pun by the way. And "the clear" was another play on words regarding the name of one of the substances in question, which is nicknamed "the clear". Sorry for any confusion, and I did not intentionally editorialize on the front page.
posted by cpchester at 10:38 AM on December 2, 2004

There was an interesting article awhile back by SF Chronicle columnist Joan Ryan who played a little devil's advocate by suggesting that there are other perfectly legal (and common) practices that are just as bad as steroid use: "If safety were so much of a concern, wouldn’t we stop pumping football players full of cortisone and painkillers on the sidelines so they can play with broken arms and legs? Wouldn’t we stop putting guys on football fields at all, for that matter? I’m willing to bet more football players have been irreparably damaged by simply playing the game than have been damaged by using steroids."

She also addresses the integrity issue: "I wonder how we take into account other advancements in equipment, medical know-how, physical conditioning and game strategies that give today’s players advantages over their predecessors. Pitching, for instance, has become so specialized that closers rarely pitch more than an inning at a time, allowing them to rack up saves at rates unheard of in previous generations. Should there be asterisks by their records?"

I don't think she's willing to fully parallel steroid use with all this, but it does make some interesting food for thought.
posted by ORthey at 10:43 AM on December 2, 2004

ibmcginty, oh yes, I'm well versed in the case, BALCO is right over the hill from where I am now.

Besides, if everyone got better as they aged like Bonds has then his achievements wouldn't be as impressive as they are. He's a better hitter now than he was when he came into the league and there's no steroid out there that makes you able to more squarely hit a ball.

Saying that Bonds is guilty of steroid use because Giambi admitted it (as noted above, in a weasely sealed testimony sort of way and I'm sure he's now damned sorry he admitted anything to anyone) and that there was a case involving his trainer is pretty weak. Are you guilty of shoplifting because your friend got caught?

thirdparty, yes, its still breaking the law to speed if there are no cops to catch you but that's not really the point. The point is that there's been no proof, Bonds has been hounded for years on this and I barely rememeber anyone giving a damn about Big Mac (who came into the league scrawny and went out brawny) or Sammy (who's either juicing or had his head grafted onto the body of a gorilla).

People don't like Bonds so they continue to attack him with whatever they can. I like Bonds, I like his game, I like his character and I think he's been incredibly accomodating to asshole press people that keep pushing it even when the press conference is about something else entirely.

I'll repeat this again, saying Bonds is guilty because Giambi admitted it is completely untenable. Prove he did steroids, otherwise, quit making false allegations.

Giambi's was a top quality baseball player with superb eye hand coordination and a great swing. He juiced, he is now paying the price for it poor health. If Bonds was juicing, then why hasn't his body started to fail him yet?
posted by fenriq at 10:49 AM on December 2, 2004

Further, unless steriods really improve visual acuity and coordination instead of just facilitating strength, then how does one explain his incredible ability to avoid striking out.

I have no idea why people think that fast twitch muscle improvement doesn't help you hit better, beyond the distance of the ball.

Being able to swing the bat faster, means you have more time to choose whether or not to put the bat into the hitting zone. One of Bonds great strengths is how quickly he moves the bat into the zone, giving him more time to decide whether or not to swing. Its simply F=ma.
posted by McBain at 12:34 PM on December 2, 2004

True that, McBain, but neither m or a explain the coordination necessary to accurately strike the ball. All the bat-speed in the world won't help you make solid contact without the ability to accurately read pitches and the coordination to put the barrel of the bat on the ball. I cannot find any stats measuring bat speed through the zone or on average time it takes to recognize pitch VAPS, so take this for what it's worth, but I don't think the extra milliseconds Bonds' bat speed may afford him would provide any significant advantage in the time available for gaging the VAPS of a pitch.

If time alone were the deciding factor then you would expect him to fare worse against pitchers with a good fastball. The opposite is generally true. Eg: Taking the Cubs' 'fastest' and 'slowest' pitchers into account, Bonds hammers Wood and Farnsworth and does relatively worse against Maddux and Rusch. He pounds Penny but 'almost flails' against Ishii. Again, I'm not providing a rigorous stats analysis, but I think it's enough to say that decision time is not the overriding factor in the success of a hitter, which is pretty much the only advantage I can see from improved fast-twitch muscle.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:02 PM on December 2, 2004

Further, unless steroids really improve visual acuity and coordination instead of just facilitating strength, then how does one explain his incredible ability to avoid striking out.

I'll bite.
I believe the number of strikeouts for Mr. Bonds has gone down at a rate that seems consistent with his time in the league and this make sense as the more times he faces a particular situation, the better prepared he is mentally for what pitch he is about to face. You shouldn't discount mind games as far as what pitch is thrown when. Most players will not swing for an entire at bat because they are expecting a certain type of pitch. I think this in a way explains some streaks and slumps players have, as it is a mental thing. I also agree that it takes a great deal of skill to recognize the pitch and line up the bat with the ball. I think the evidence is that the stronger you are the more home runs you hit. You don't see many of the smaller skinnier players knocking the ball out near as much as the bigger guys. I would say that the Barry Bonds that hit 73 homers a few years back was much much stronger than the Barry Bonds who hit 25 (almost 1/3 of that) in his first year. I think his incredible ability to avoid strikeouts now is fear. The guy can break a game with a swing of his bat more than anybody else, so don't give him anything that he might be able to hit and make the rest of the team beat you. You know that strategy has been working well over the last few years. You can bet that if Sosa were healthy or McGuire was still in the league they might be getting the same treatment.
posted by Numenorian at 2:26 PM on December 2, 2004

Many performance-enhancing substances do improve one's eyesight, as seen in this fantastic Outside magazine article where the author goes on a regimen of banned performance-enhancing drugs for eight months.

It's fairly easy to see how this, combined with improved strength, quickness and reflexes might improve one's baseball skills.

Also, ever wonder where trainers get these drugs? From people who need them to stay alive -- AIDS patients. Tom Farrey's ESPN article is well worth reading, especially in light of World AIDS Day yesterday.
posted by jeffmshaw at 3:17 PM on December 2, 2004

Many posters are arguing there's no problem with steriods, but they're not addressing the real issues:

1) Baseball is a competition between athletes and teams, not between chemists. Performance-enhancing drugs threaten to reduce sports to an R&D contest (possibly exciting to the MeFi crowd*, but it ain't baseball).

2) Sports require a level playing field, to fairly test performance. Unless the drugs are available to all athletes, the field isn't level. Competitions involving more technology, like auto racing, place strict limits on the technology allowed -- baseball even does this regarding bats (wood only), gloves, etc.

3) Levelling the playing field by allowing performance enhancing drugs would give players a perverse incentive to risk their health. Probably a bad idea.

* OT: Why don't more tech geeks like auto racing, which does involve technology and R&D?
posted by guanxi at 4:54 PM on December 2, 2004

Further, unless steriods really improve visual acuity and coordination instead of just facilitating strength, then how does one explain his incredible ability to avoid striking out.

Because they know he'll jerk it out of the park if they give him anything to hit. Anyone can take bad pitches, and Bonds gets lots of them because he hit sso many home runs with his freakishly large muscles.
posted by chaz at 5:29 PM on December 2, 2004

Hello! Barry took the clear and the cream.
posted by xowie at 10:15 PM on December 2, 2004

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