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Sunday, February 22, 2009
Words from decades ago sum up PED problem

I don't pretend to know the truth, or what Angel Presinal did for Juan Gonzalez or anyone else. Or what the coaches at some of the nation's biggest high school football factories provide.

I do know that Christian Red's Sunday piece in the New York Daily News was not only far more significant than the Mitchell report, but is the beginning of what will be an unfurling of the Latin underground that Mitchell ignored and that has apparently plagued baseball for the past two decades, or more.

I do know why Robinson Cano and David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez have come to Presinal's defense.

Go to the Olympic Stadium in Santo Domingo most every morning during the winter and there are 50, sometimes 100 players working out. True to the heart of the Dominican players, those who are paid high salaries pay for the stadium and the expertise of Presinal so the young kids making minor league minimums or those looking for independent league invitations can get the same experience as the guys with the coin. Pedro Martinez once said, "The established Dominican players helped my generation -- it's up to us to do the same for the next generation."

Presinal kills them with sprints and shuttle runs and hurdles and 220-yard dashes. Martinez has always credited him with the greatest, most painful massages he's ever experienced. I don't know if Presinal got Gonzalez the steroids that were seized in Canada, but I have gone to the stadium with Pedro and Ramon Martinez and Juan Guzman and Stan Javier and more than 100 other players and believe that, at the worst, most of them were innocently training. Could Presinal have obtained illegal drugs for some of the rich clients? Of course. As the Daily News reported Sunday, if you have the money, you have the way.

We are blasted with the stun guns of moral outrage. Bud Selig claimed he knew nothing of the PED world until he read about Mark McGwire's andro in 1998; now he says he pushed the union for steroid testing in 1995. The incomplete Mitchell report never addressed where so many of the drugs came from, sticking with a couple of East Coast leaks and ignoring the underground steroids world of Latin America.

We now know that there are baseball players from the 1950s who had vision and other problems because of "red juice." We read "Ball Four."

John Perricone's superb "Only Baseball Matters" blog this week recalled a 40-year-old piece by Bill Gilbert in Sports Illustrated. Here is an excerpt from Perricone's blog:

At the least, Perricone should make us all think. Alex Rodriguez's admission doesn't bring baseball to an end; it should help those who love the sport edge closer to the truth, and allow players who want level playing fields to force the union into finally allowing one.

I don't know the whole truth, no one does. That list of the 103 other players who tested positive in 2003 is out there and could become public, and there will be more stories and revelations. But this is more complex than simple good and evil, just as there has been a lot of good in what Presinal has provided young athletes in a poor country.

Perricone criticized some writers who really care about baseball and their kids and what has become so ugly. But it's not just Barry Bonds, Bobby Estalella and Alex Rodriguez -- it's societal, and as Bill Gilbert pointed out in the first year of the Nixon presidency, has been for generations.