When Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees allegedly admitted taking steroids to a grand jury today, he lit the fuse that will rock the game of baseball to its foundations. By the time you read this article, we will know more of the details. Public disgust for baseball might then far exceed what I am expressing here. Sports fans or not, we should all be outraged.
The San Francisco Bay Chronicle reported that Giambi told grand jurors how he injected a growth hormone in his stomach, testosterone into his buttocks, rubbed an undetectable steroid knows as the cream on his body and placed drops of another, called the clear, under his tongue. And his case is just the tip of the iceberg.
A couple of years ago All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling said he stopped patting teammates on the butt after a good play because too many complained. According to Sports Illustrated, Schilling realized some backsides were tender because thats where they shoot the steroid needles.
Giambi, former win-ner of the American Leagues Most Valuable Player award, is said to have purchased his drugs illegally from Barry Bonds personal trainer. Yes, that Barry Bonds. The same drug connection also allegedly supplied Olympic gold medal winners Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones. Previously, all have denied ever using anabolic steroids.
Until a few years ago, Barry Bonds was pretty lean as elite baseball players go. Once a 185-pound leadoff batter, Bonds is now a 230-pound hulk. Do you think it is a coincidence that Bonds has had three of the best years consecutively in baseball history since he buffed up?
Barry Bonds is either a freak of nature or major-leagues worst cheat. 40 year-old baseball players like Bonds are usually has-beens - if they are playing at all. Not only did Bonds break the all-time homerun record for a season with 73 two years ago, he is hitting the ball farther now than anytime in his career.
If Bonds is busted, what will happen to his hitting records? Probably nothing. Baseball didnt even have rules against steroids until last year. Yet, if you thought the long baseball strike of ten years ago disabled baseball for a while, the stain from this scandal could squash the sport for a generation. The game many of us loved is now a sport of cheaters and druggies. Some current players estimate that 50% of all major leaguers use steroids. Others say the percentage is much higher.
It is high time for baseball to get out of the pharmacy business and hammer the drug users. The rules against drugs that are in place and the minimal drug testing done in the Major Leagues is not enough. Pete Rose was banned from baseball for gambling on baseball. Using performance-enhancing drugs is far, far worse than anything Rose ever violated in sports.
Why is steroid use so bad, you may be asking? First of all, those who take steroids are cheating. Most sports have rules against performance-enhancing drugs. Steroids provide an uneven playing field tipped against those players who are clean. Also, the most abused steroids are illegal inside and outside of baseball for over-the-counter use.
The physical side effects of steroid use are well known. They include heart attacks and liver damage, acne and baldness, breast development in men, and shrunken testicles. Football legend, Lyle Alzado, claimed steroid use is what caused his brain tumor that eventually killed him.
Maybe the most dangerous side effect of growth enhancement drugs is the one least understood - increased aggression and vio-lence. According to a 1998 article in Sports Illustrated, roid rage has contributed to the large number of bodybuilders jailed for killings compared with other athletes. The article was published after Bertil Fox, former Mr. Universe, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend and her mother on the island of St. Kitts.
Major League baseball players are mostly to blame for this scandal, but team owners and the sport itself have contributed. NBA basketball and NFL football have fairly rigorous drug testing and penalties to deter players from using them. Major League Baseball has not been inclined to punish players for steroids, though epidemic use in the league is an open secret.
The solution: two strikes and you are out. Independent testing must be done on a frequent basis. The first time a player is tested positive for outlawed drugs, he should be kicked out of baseball for a year. The second time... find another career, lowlife. You dont deserve to play Americas formerly great pastime again.
For me - I am boycotting baseball until further notice. No more TV games, no more reading of box scores, and absolutely no more attending games in stadiums littered with these criminals.
The thrill is gone, baby. Until baseball cleans up its act, I want nothing to do with it.