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|Jason Giambi will have to answer a lot of questions in Oakland this weekend.|
|That once-sweet swing has looked sad so far this season.|
"But that year, I witnessed what was almost the definitive case study in the difference between the careful, controlled use of steroids I've always advocated and sheer recklessness. Giambi had the most obvious steroid physique I've ever seen. He was so bloated, it was unbelievable. There was almost no definition to his body at all. You could see the retention of liquids to those in the know, that was a sure sign of steroid overload, plus drinking a lot and having a bad diet." Canseco said that he, McGwire and Giambi sometimes would hit the bathroom stalls before games to "shoot up." He writes: "I would inject myself, and Giambi and McGwire would be one stall over, injecting each other." Giambi was a prime candidate for steroid overdosing. He didn't believe in or trust his ability, and he was willing to try anything to succeed. The more steroids he took, the better he got. Once McGwire and Canseco were gone, the A's became Giambi's team. "G-Man" ran the frat house of a clubhouse. Giambi was beloved by fans and reporters. Here was a sweetheart of a Harley-riding lug who always had time to sign autographs and fill reporters' notebooks with fun-loving quotes. He was a bigger and bigger fish in a small-market pond. As Giambi grew, so did his home run totals: from 27 in 1998 to 33 in '99 to 43 in 2000, when he was the AL MVP. That season, he also had 137 RBI and batted .333 with an on-base percentage of .476. Rarely has a big-league star found himself in a better comfort zone than Giambi's. His brother, Jeremy, was even a teammate. No one really expected the low-budget A's to win big. Rarely was Giambi criticized in the media. Oakland's Coliseum, which often had 30,000 or 40,000 empty seats for baseball games, was a long way and three time zones from the House that Ruth Built. But in 2000 and '01, the A's lost deciding Game 5s in the first round to the Yankees, and Giambi began to think about his father and his "destiny." Giambi's father idolized Mickey Mantle and had always dreamed of having a son play in pinstripes. The A's risked wrecking their salary structure with a $91 million offer to keep him in Oakland, but privately, general manager Billy Beane said all along, "Jason wants to be a Yankee." Steinbrenner had become so fascinated with Giambi's plate discipline that, during the A's 2001 Game 5 loss at Yankee Stadium, he was seen emulating Giambi's swing. Surely his lieutenants mentioned the steroid whispers about Giambi. Yet the Yankees brass probably had the same shrugging attitude most baseball executives had four years ago: What slugger isn't juicing? See no evil.
|Giambi's best days are clearly behind him. Might as well go back to where it all started.|