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Friday, May 31, 2002
'Roids are all the rage

By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

I am shocked, shocked to find that baseball players are using steroids. The next thing you know, ballplayers will start chewing tobacco instead of bubblegum.

Ken Caminiti
Caminiti warned of steroid use after his career, yet little was done.
Ballplayers are using steroids? Who would have thunk it? Well, just about anyone who has watched ballplayers grow bigger and faster than salaries over the past decade. Is there anyone out there who was actually surprised by Ken Caminiti's revelation in Sports Illustrated this week?

That story got everyone all upset and demanding action, but I don't see why baseball is taking such criticism for not having a steroid policy. I mean, sure, baseball should ban steroids -- duh! -- but it's not as if that will get rid of them, any more than testing eliminates steroids from other sports. The NFL bans them, but only fans as naive as sportswriters can look at all those drooling 350-pound linemen and snarling 280-pound linebackers who keep getting arrested for assault and think, "Whew, thank God the league licked that nasty steroid problem.''

Of course, the players aren't exactly putting their best face forward, either. Hey, we don't have a problem. I just worked out really hard during the offseason. Besides, steroids don't help you hit a curveball.

Consider it a new take on the classic Abbott and Costello routine, only this time it's called "Who's On Steroids?''

REPORTER: Who's on steroids?

BARRY BONDS: Not me.

REPORTER: I'm asking you, what's the name of the players on steroids?

MARK McGWIRE: I just used Andro. And then I stopped.

Jose Canseco
Who's on steroids? We might have to wait for Jose Canseco's book to get the answer.
REPORTER: Players are bigger than ever. They're stronger than ever. And it isn't because they eat Wheaties. So tell me, who's on steroids?

SAMMY SOSA: Not me, I use Flintstone's vitamins.

REPORTER: Look, you say 85 percent of the league uses steroids. And that you're going to name names. So, one last time. Who's on steroids?

JOSE CANSECO: You'll have to read my book.

REPORTER: All right, I give up. (pause) But can you at least tell me who's gay?

MIKE PIAZZA: Not me.

***** ***** *****

Who's on steroids? Who knows? All we can be reasonably sure of is that old-timers didn't use steroids. And that baseball history would be much different if they had ...

August 21, 1951: Bill Veeck sends up pinch-hitter Eddie Gaedel, who is 3-foot-6 but weighs 210 pounds with nine percent body fat and 35-inch biceps. He homers into the upper deck.

Oct. 2, 1954: In Game 1 of the World Series, Willie Mays turns his back to the plate, races to the warning track and watches Vic Wertz's home run sail 40 rows into the center field bleachers.

Oct. 25, 1986: With Game 6 of the World Series tied in the bottom of the 10th and Ray Knight on third base, Mookie Wilson steps to the plate and slams a broken-bat liner 50 feet over first baseman Bill Buckner's head and into the right-field seats for a game-winning home run.

Actually, maybe this problem has been around for quite awhile. In fact, I'm not so sure we didn't already have an MVP admit to being on 'roids two decades ago. Or am I just remembering an old Weekend Update routine from "Saturday Night Live"?

CHEVY: And now with an editorial comments on a recent story is Weekend Update viewer, Miss Emily Litella.

GILDA: What's all this fuss about baseball players on 'roids? Since when is that news? Ballplayers have been on 'roids for years. Why, I remember that adorable George Brett when he was on 'roids. And it enhanced his performance. He almost hit .400 that year. And then the way he attacked the umpires over that pine tar incident? That had to be a case of 'roid rage. And I wouldn't be ...

George Brett
George Brett had a problem with hemorrhoids -- not steroids.
CHEVY: Miss Litella?

GILDA: Yes?

CHEVY: That was hemorrhoids George Brett suffered from. The controversy is over anabolic steroids. Not hemorrhoids. Steroids.

GILDA: Oh. Well that's very different.

CHEVY: Yes, it is.

GILDA: Never mind.

***** ***** *****

Who uses steroids and when did they begin using them? Fair or not, the focus is off football and the Olympics and squarely on baseball, which will have a hard time living this one down. Already, there are some updates to classic baseball films in the works ...

"Bull Durham"

ANNIE [CONFRONTING CRASH AT THE DOOR]: What do you believe in then?

Bull Durham
Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon star in "Bull Durham."
CRASH: Well, I believe in the anabolic steroid. Creatine. Androstenedione. The acne on a user's back. Hitting the hanging curveball into McCovey Cove on a steroid binge. High doses. Plenty of pills. That the steroid warnings of C. Everett Koop and the American Medical system are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald wouldn't have felt like such an outcast had he used steroids and made his high school team. I believe there ought to be a Constitution Amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter, but allowing steroids. I believe in soft-core pornography that overcomes lowered sexual drive and shrunken testicles, beginning your steroid cycle Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve. And I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, injections that last three weeks before you need a follow-up ... Goodnight.

ANNIE: Oh, my. Can I shoot you up?

***** ***** *****

"The Unnatural

[AFTER HITTING A LONG FOUL BALL IN THE BOTTOM OF THE NINTH INNING, ROY HOBBS RETURNS TO THE BATTER'S BOX AND DISCOVERS THAT HIS BAT, "WONDERBOY," HAS BEEN SHATTERED. WITH THE SOURCE OF HIS POWER GONE, HE TURNS TO BAT-BOY BOBBY SAVOY.]

ROY: Pick me out a good one, Bobby.

[SAVOY TROTS TO THE DUGOUT, WHERE HE REACHES TOWARD A ROW OF BATS. HE REACHES PAST IT AND GRABS THE BASSOON CASE ROY USES TO CARRY "WONDERBOY." HE OPENS THE CASE TO REVEAL A SET OF SYRINGES FILLED WITH STEROIDS. ONE IS LABELED "DIANABOL," ANOTHER "EQUIPOISE," ANOTHER "DECADURABOLIN" AND STILL ANOTHER, "WINSTROL DEPOT." FINALLY, HE SETTLES ON THE SYRINGE LABELED: "THE SAVOY SPECIAL."

The Natural
A magic bat isn't the only power source for Robert Redford in "The Unnatural."
[SAVOY RUNS BACK TO ROY AND HOLDS UP THE SYRINGE.]

SAVOY: Which cheek?

ROY: Better do both, Bobby. Pop is counting on me.

"The Bad News Bears Go To Mexico For Nutritional Supplements"

[AFTER THE TEAM'S FIRST HUMILIATING LOSS, BUTTERMARKER TRIES TO CONSOLE AHMAD, WHO IS SITTING IN A TREE IN HIS UNDERWEAR, HAVING DEEMED HIMSELF UNWORTHY OF A UNIFORM.]

BUTTERMAKER: Your brothers will understand.

AHMAD: No, they won't. My brothers never made errors like that. My brothers are all great athletes. When they were my age, they were the captains of all their teams and won championships. I'm not. I'm on a terrible team, and I'm terrible at baseball. That's why I'm quitting.

BUTTERMAKER: Thank God, Hank Aaron didn't feel that way.

AHMAD: What are you talking about?

BUTTERMAKER: C'mon, Ahmad. You know. I'm talking about the 42 errors. Hank Aaron made 42 errors his first year in sandlot. Damn near broke his little heart. But he didn't quit. And thank God for us he didn't.

AHMAD: Buttermaker, you're so full of ---

BUTTERMAKER: It's common knowledge, for crissake! Ask Ogilvie. I'm surprised you didn't know, being such a big fan of his.

This kind of ruins my plans, though. I figured that by the third or fourth game you would be switch-hitting. With your speed and hitting from the left side, those extra few steps would make you a tough out.

AHMAD: I am kind of fast, huh?

BUTTERMAKER: You're very fast. But you could be even faster with steroids. And you could hit home runs just like your brothers, too.

***** ***** *****

Can baseball get rid of steroids with a ban? It would help but hey, they're already illegal in the United States, so I doubt whether having Bud Selig ask players to stop using them, pretty please, is going to have a drastic effect.

So what will all this steroid controversy and the calls for testing lead to? Not much, I suspect. Baseball has a lot more pressing concerns at the moment and our attention span for even the most controversial topics is only for about one week. This will blow over and we'll go back to following the story that really matters most to us.

The home run race.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at cuffscaple@hotmail.com.