Posted on: August 3, 2009 4:24 pm

The Statement MLB's Steroid Users Should've Given

Alex Rodriguez sat at a table at the New York Yankees spring training facility in Tampa, Florida eight days after he admitted to three years of steroid use and delivered a statement regarding his usage.

Rodriguez appeared uninterested during the recital of the statement he had prepared. His body language showed that he felt annoyed that he had to be there and such an ordeal was even necessary.

Rodriguez is not the only one. The majority of Manny Ramirez’s comments addressing his positive test earlier this season came from the supposedly grounding statements “I didn’t kill nobody. I didn’t rape nobody.”

It is clear that baseball players, especially the ones whose names appear on the now infamous list of 104 who tested positive in 2003, are surprised at the severity in which the fans and media are addressing the issue.

Players who have tested positive revolve the majority of their comments concerning their use around apologies to their teammates and fans, calling their actions mistakes that they wish that they did not make.

In reality, we know that they are saying those things because the media relations department of each club has told them to be apologetic and denounce their actions. But, since are opinions of these players is already significantly lessened, why not have them speak the truth for once?

Below is a sample statement that players who have tested positive should adhere to. It applies to Rodriguez, Ramirez, David Ortiz, or any other of the 104 names on the “anonymous” list.

“First, I would like to thank the fans, my teammates and the organization for their patience through this time. As you all know, I tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug during the 2003 season.

“It is no longer a surprise that steroids have had an impact on the game of baseball. Earlier this decade, dozens of players were using steroids and other substances that are today banned. Before 2003, there was no penalty for using drugs that would affect your performance on the field.

“I was caught up in the PED movement. Players who I knew were not as good as I was were suddenly outperforming me, all the way to newer and bigger contracts. As I investigated and was given information about this issue, the following became clear to me:

“The growing number of players who have used PEDs were doing so without recourse and no penalties. Because their numbers and production was better, they were rewarded. As a human being, I have an obligation to provide for my family as best as I can, and steroids helped me level the playing field.

“I am not proud of my actions, but I cannot entirely regret them. Let me be clear: steroids are exceptionally dangerous when used long term. The consequences can cost you much more than your playing career. I direct my comments here especially toward the young fans of baseball: Steroids are banned in baseball for a reason. It was wrong then, and remains wrong now.

“That said, try to put yourself in my shoes. No one knows that you are using, and there are no repercussions if you test positive. Again, I am not proud of my actions, but whenever a loophole exists, people will always take advantage of it.

“Since testing has begun, I have not used PEDs of any kind, as shown by my lack of positive tests. Testing in baseball has leveled the playing field, which is all that I was striving for from the beginning.”

All baseball fans are still waiting for an honest approach.

Posted on: July 30, 2009 9:52 pm

Papi's Biggest Moment was his Worst

The baseball world was already aware that Manny Ramirez was at least at one point in his career using performance-enhancing drugs thanks to his positive test at the beginning of this season.

The breaking news today came from a New York Times report that announced that fellow longtime Boston Red Sox David Ortiz was, along with Ramirez, on the list of 103 players that had tested positive for a banned substance during the 2003 season.


You shouldn’t be.

First, take into account the mathematical odds. There are 30 major league teams, each with a 25-man roster. That is 750 players. If we throw in even another five players per team that average significant enough time to be on the roster, that would give us roughly 900 players who were in the majors in 2003.

That means that one out of every nine players is on that list of being caught using PEDs, or about three per team. Some teams, no doubt, will have significantly more players on that list because of the environment in each clubhouse and the notable players that have already been identified as users: Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, San Fransisco Giants, Houston Astros, etc.

Throw the Boston Red Sox into that distinguished mix.

Second, and this is in no way to be interpreted as racially prejudicial or demeaning, there is clearly a seperate PEDs ring in the Dominican Republic. By that I mean that it seems that in the DR, it is much easier for individuals to obtain PEDs of varying nature.

Believe him or not, if anything that Alex Rodriguez said in his press conference addressing his usage was true, it was that he was a young kid who was able to get drugs that he had no idea what they were, except that it would make you stronger.

We have seen a trend that many of the top-level players who are caught using PEDs have a Dominican connection: Sammy Sosa, Miguel Tejada, Ramirez and now Ortiz, just to name a few.

Thirdly, and perhaps most obviously, was that Ortiz was a castaway from the Minnesota Twins – a player deemed too big, too slow and too one dimensional to play in the majors. That expendable piece of the Twins organization went on to hit 41, 47, 54 (franchise record) for the Red Sox during the ’04-06 seasons.

At the time, we did see a large, very strong left-handed hitter that reminded us of Jim Thome every time the ball jumped off of Ortiz’s bat. He was 28 in 2004, the first year he hit 40+ home runs in a season, which is right in the middle of the prime of a hitter’s career.

While we thoroughly enjoyed Ortiz’s best years in Boston, and the two World Series titles that he and Ramirez helped the Sox win, this is by far the biggest moment of Ortiz’s career in Boston.

Bigger than walk-offs against the Angels and Yankees in the 2004 play off series; bigger than the Red Sox single season home run record; bigger than solidifying himself as one of the best clutch hitters and best designated hitters in the history of the game.

David Ortiz replaced Nomar Garciaparra as everyone’s favorite Red Sox player. He was always outgoing, gregarious and accepting of the media. Even through his recent struggles, Ortiz forced a smile on his face. No one outside of New York (and perhaps a few other teams still looking for ball that he has launched over their fences) had a bad thing to say about him.

Until now.

Posted on: June 24, 2009 6:48 pm

Should Suspended Players Be Allowed to Rehab?

Manny Ramirez is no stranger to controversy, and now is part of a new one that has gained popularity in recent days. Only this time, it is not his fault.

As everyone knows, Ramirez is currently serving a 50-game suspension for violating major league baseball's illegal substance policy. Ramirez's suspension will end on July 3rd, barring any rain-outs before then.

While the nature of Ramirez's absence from the Los Angeles Dodgers certainly has enough controversy alone, the situation has drawn the ire of baseball fans nationwide when it was announced that Ramirez would be sent this week to the Dodger's triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque.

Many fans and members of the media have voiced their opposition to this, saying that the Dodger's slugger was banned from baseball for 50 games. He was not injured, so why should he be given, in essence, a few rehab starts to get "baseball ready?"

As stated, this is not an issue that is Ramirez's fault, not is he receiving special treatment. Philadelphia Phillies' reliever J.C. Romero received a similar suspension during the off-season that forced him to sit out for the first 50 games of this season. Romero pitched for a few weeks in the Phillies minor league system sot that he could return on the 51st game of the season.

The Ramirez/Romero/et al. issue comes down to a logic problem. On the one hand, the new drug policy says that a major league player like Ramirez will be suspended for 50 games, and 50 games is what he will miss. Can major league baseball suspend players from the minor leagues as well?

If Ramirez's suspension from baseball also held him out from minor league action, then it would not have been a 50-game suspension. It would be a 50-games-plus-however-many-games-it
-takes-to-get-into-baseball-shape suspension.

With the current suspension, the Dodgers have been penalized and, by the suspension's end, will be at a disadvantage for 50 games (not that it mattered much to them in the standings). Likewise, Ramirez was penalized and will miss 50 games, not to mention 50 games' worth of salary.

It may seem like a loophole in MLB's policies, and it is just that. While the above arguments support Ramirez's and Romero's ability to go to the minors to get in some action before coming back, consider this argument:

If a player at the triple-A level of an organization violates the minor league baseball drug policy, they serve a 50-game suspension from baseball . They do not get to rehab at single-A or double-A before the 50 games is up.

Since it seems that players will continue to use illegal substances despite the chances of being caught, MLB must make a clearer stand on this issue. While it does not seem like suspended players like Ramirez should be allowed to go to the minors, what else is the purpose of the minor leagues to a major leaguer than to get back into major league shape?
Posted on: February 8, 2009 9:57 pm

Make Steroids Legal? Try it MLB

The dust still has not quite settled yet from the Alex Rodriguez fall out over his positive steroid tests in 2003. While baseball fans are deciding whether or not to be surprised by this, Major League Baseball once again has a very hot issue they wish they never had to handle.

Commissioner Bud Selig will not be able to suspend Rodriguez, but his is likely currently in deep debate with the MLB player's union to decide how to handle this issue, and what to do with the other 103 names who tested positive.

In the end, it is likely that most of the names that fans care about will be leaked, sooner rather than later. Selig and MLB will be forced once again to merely pick up the pieces, sweep up the dust, and try to move on as though nothing happened.

So, since we are crunching as close to rock-bottom as possible, why not try this out:

Lift the ban off performance-enhancing drugs.

Yes, that's right, I said it.

Legalize it.

Selig, despite what his $17.5 million salary might indicate, is not exempt from the economy's downturn. Fewer and fewer fans are purchasing seats, jerseys, and, incredible to fathom though it may be, beautifully hand-crafted Bobble-head dolls (gasp!).

In 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa almost literally held the defibrilaters to baseball and shocked new life into the game. New fans were introduced to the game, and old fans were brought back. It was a glorious time.

Until it became too good. With the "end" of the steroids era came a decrease in the number of 50+ home run seasons and 20 game winners. The fringe fans (we call them "Pink Hat Fans" in Boston) lost interest.

Baseball lost revenue.

So, Mr. Selig, why not lift the ban on PEDs? What do you have to loose? You will now have an easy way to dismiss why the best players under your reign as commissioner were all cheaters and give the fans what they want to see: longer home runs, faster pitches, and a widening of the gap that separates great players from mediocre players.

The players will bring in the guinea pigs, and you will bring in the money. After all, that's what professional sports is all about, right?

Posted on: February 7, 2009 1:36 pm

A-Rod Tested Positive for Steroids in 2003

Their names have been run through the mills countless times over the last five years in connection with the seemingly epidemic use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. We already know them:

Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. Jose Canseco. Mark McGwire.

And the list goes on.

Although his public appearance has been skewered since he began his tenure with the New York Yankees, who are hated by many merely on principle, Alex Rodriguez was once looked upon as the best all-around player of our generation. His ability to combine speed and power to become the youngest member of baseball's elite 40 home runs/40 steals group elevated his fame and promise to become the eventual home run champion.

Today, however, SI.com is reporting that in 2003, during his first MVP season, and last season with the Texas Rangers before being traded to the Yankees, Rodriguez tested positive for illegal substances twice.

Four different sources have independently reported the positive tests to SI, and the substances are reported to be testosterone and a designer anabolic steroid called Primobolan.

These tests were part of MLB's 2003 anonymous drug testing, which is a slight misnomer. The tests were anonymous only to the extent that the actual names of the players (of which there were 104 in 2003) were not released.

However, with the impeding trial against Bonds and BALCO, those lists and other related documents were unsealed to determine whether or not Bonds had perjured himself to federal investigators. Bonds is not being tried for steroid use, but only for lying. If admitted, this list will be used to help determine whether other players knew of Bonds alleged steroid use at that time.

With the opening of these documents comes the fallout for Rodriguez. While Canseco mentioned that the sequel of his first book Juiced would include a section detailing Rodriguez's steroid usage, many dismissed this claim.

Over his career, Rodriguez has been able to stand beside the fact that he has been remarkable consistent over his career, never achieving too far over or too far little of his career averages. With the fact that four sources have independently confirmed this news, it will be difficult for Rodriguez to side step the issue as when Canseco accused him.

Rodriguez will not be punished by MLB because of his positive test because there was no penalty for a positive test in 2003, as the tests were supposed to be anonymous. A suspension from MLB, however, is likely the least of Rodriguez's worries at this time.

Posted on: January 26, 2009 10:26 pm

Casey Retires Honorably Despite Likely Enhancemen

Three-time All-Star first baseman Sean Casey is expected to formally announce his retirement this week. He will begin work as television analyst for MLB Network sometime before Spring Training opens.

Casey played 12 seasons in the big leagues, and while beginning his career in Cleveland and finishing in Boston, he will be best remembered for his time with the Cincinnati Reds, where he earned his three All-Star appearances.

During his tenure with the Reds, he developed the nickname of "The Mayor" because of his habit of striking a conversation with everyone on and off the field. Casey was widely known as one of the most approachable and friendly athletes in the game.

Off the field, the list of charitable programs in which he is an active member is extensive. Big Brother, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and various Christian-based groups all benefit from Casey's time and star power.

Meanwhile, Casey was also a very good left-handed hitter, compiling a .302 lifetime career batting average, which up until his retirement, ranked him 16th on the active list of qualifying hitters.

He was, for 12 seasons, everything that a professional athlete should aspire to be.

But while baseball looses one of its best, it is likely that they also lost yet another player who used what are today banned substances to elevate the level of his play.

The current Major League Baseball drug policy that was enacted before the 2005 season by Commissioner Bud Selig following the BALCO scandal amended the previous policy to include a much stricter section for performance enhancing drugs. The testing and the punishments became much more rigorous.

Before the 2005 season, a player who tested positive for an illegal performance enhancing substance was given treatment, not suspended, and not even named. Previous to 2002, there was no testing for performance enhancing drugs.

Yes, Casey exhibits model professionalism. It was reported during his tenure with the Red Sox that he could walk from the parking lot to the clubhouse and remember the name of every attendant and employee that he saw on a regular basis.

In 2004, at the age 29, and in the very middle of a hitter's prime, Casey slugged 24 home runs and drove in 99 RBIs, tying a career high. But despite playing in 137, 112, 143 games over the 2005-2007 seasons, respectively, Casey only managed 21 home runs. Casey went homer-less in 69 games with the Red Sox in the 2008 season.

Coincidence? No. Casey was in the prime years of his career, when all good hitters experience a surge in their offensive statistics. Yet, while Casey's batting average (.312, .272, .296, .322) over the last four years of his career remained exactly around his career average of .302, his power numbers drastically declined. And since when has 33 been an age ripe enough to retire?

Maybe it is anomalous. Perhaps he is clean. The fact remains that even if fans have speculated whether or not Casey used PEDs, he was a stand-up character for his entire career. If Casey is ever mentioned in some former senator's report years from now, people will forever have a good memory of him because he was the exact opposite of those most hated by baseball fans (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, etc.)

Any ball club would welcome the Mayor. He was loved during his time in Boston. That he may have been involved with the steroid scandal says a great deal about the era that baseball has gone through.

Posted on: January 22, 2009 10:28 pm

Time to Give Up the Ghost, Big Mac

It could be worse for Mark McGwire.

He could be Barry Bonds.

Look up "scapegoat" in the dictionary and find a picture of Bonds.

Look up "Pete Rose" in the dictionary and find a picture of McGwire.

Mark McGwire revitalized America's National Pastime, picking it up in the 1998 season by smashing the home-run record when the bitter taste of the strike-shortened 1994 season still lingered about the sport. He became a household name in the late 90s. However, his sparkling public imagine was soon muddied when the accusations of steroid use began leaking out of St. Louis.

He was never convicted of any steroid use, likely because most of what he was alleged to have done was not in fact illegal in Major League Baseball at the time. Nor has he admitted to any steroid use, mostly because his public appearances have been few and far between.

So when McGwire appeared in front of the House Government Reform Committee on March 17, 2005, it was the first time many had seen him since his retirement following the 2001 season. It was here that McGwire cemented the skepticism that now surrounded his career with the following statements:

"My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family, and myself. I will say, however, that it remains a fact in this country that a man, any man, should be regarded as innocent unless proven guilty."

And let's not forget what was, at the time, the most famous one-liner of the conference (since surpassed by Rafael Palmiero's "I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period"): "I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to be positive about this subject." 

Though heavily criticized for these comments, which left few believe that he remained clean for his entire career, McGwire has since stuck to his guns (pun intended), never admitting to using any performance-enhancing substances. Because of what was permitted at the time, he may be able to skirt the issue forever, leaving his involvement up to speculation.

But, with the release of a book in which his brother essentially takes credit for permanently marring his career, it is time for McGwire to attempt to win his baseball career back. Unfortunately, he has gone the way of Pete Rose, who stubbornly refused to admit to betting on baseball until decades after his banishment from the sport.

With the wounds of McGwire's choices still being relatively fresh on baseball, he may be able to slowly garner some acceptance from baseball fans. While clearly one of the most high profiled athletes involved, McGwire is by no means alone.

Posted on: February 11, 2008 7:12 pm

Bonds Surge to 756

Easily the most popular subject in baseball to debate concerns Barry Bonds because of the ongoing nature of related stories and seemingly limitless possible outcomes of his impact on baseball. The Baseball Reporter by no means supports the use of steroids or any other performance enhancing substances. However, while the FBI, headed by Senator George Mitchell, have a frighting amount of evidence that they are waiting to unleash against Bonds, they also have an equally frighting mountain of evidence that supports a defense that many San Franciscans and New Yorkers alike have stood firm behind.

The number of players from the 1990s to early this decade who have used "banned" substances is much higher than fans are willing to accept. The estimates are overwhelming; nearly sixty percent of players from the mid to late 90s were using steroid and amphetamine-like products. Experts close to the investigation feel that when the steroid era peaked, the number of players is even higher. These truths that the sport of baseball must face are disturbing, but are not cause to lay blame on one individual.

It should be taken as fact that Barry Bonds used steroids to enhance his body, along with a few others: Gary Sheffield, Jason and Jeremy Giambi, Jason Grimsley and Ken Caminiti are the most notarized names of players who have admitted to using steroids. But, seeing how few have come forward, it would be an approximate estimate to say that for every player that has admitted to use steroids, there are 100 others who have not been as forthcoming.

The Baseball Reporter will not condone this site pointing fingers at players who have not tested, or testified, to have used performance enhancing drugs. It is easy to make assumptions, and however truthful or obvious they seem, it is disrespectful and, as professional athletes, they deserve media to hold their tongue.

Barry Bonds is constantly being raked through the media. Again, while the Baseball Reporter will not support tampering with any sport's integrity, Bonds has been made a scapegoat and is carrying an unnecessary burden on top of his own legal problems, not to mention trying to break probably the most famous baseball record of all time. It is the reason why he is the hero of San Francisco and the ultimate antagonist in every other baseball city. Giants fans are stuck with Bonds and his baggage, and they support him because he wears their uniform, or maybe because they are trying to stick it to the rest of baseball. Every other baseball city cannot imagine having one of their players so highly abused in the press and conform with the negative treatment of Bonds to show their dislike of cheaters and steroid users, but never one of their own.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com