2002-06-01 / Sports

Steroid Scandal Is Another Major League Mess

By Elio Velez

By Elio Velez

The secret is out. Baseball players are juiced. But it really wasn’t that much of a secret. Jose Canseco said that there were 85 percent of players taking steroids or other forms of enhancement drugs. Now, it may be hard to believe him since that statement was a teasers for a tell all book that will be out in October. Okay, maybe it was hard to believe Canseco, but here comes former MVP Ken Caminiti, who says that at least 50 percent of players use steroids, to blow it wide open.

Caminiti was an MVP in 1996 when he carried the mediocre San Diego Padres to win National League Western Division. He was a tough third baseman who would go all out in a dive to stab a ball in the infield. Ken was lionized when facing the Mets that year in Mexico; he ate candy bars to regain his strength after he contracted the dreaded Montezuma’s Revenge. He hit two homeruns to lead the Padres to the win and became the top leader in the clubhouse. Guess what? He was using steroids that year.

Now that the secret is out, clubhouses across the major leagues are torn apart in the issue of who is clean or not. It took Canseco and Caminiti, two former players that are hated, disrespected and loathed throughout the game to reveal a secret that was getting hard to keep. When Caminiti admits candidly that he took steroids to stay competitive, he wasn’t the only one to do it.

Everyone will now start to question whether players looks buffed because of weights or because he took steroids. Are Piazza or Giambi naturally strong and lift weights to hone their bodies, or did they take cans of Creatine to become Tony Atlas? I had to worry about a strike this season and now I have to deviate more of my time to the off the field methods of training for baseball players. Ughh!

The real truth is that baseball has held this secret for years and the players and the owners should be held responsible for this development. The ESPN commercials a couple of years back echoed the home run frenzy that has taken over the game today. The major line in that commercial was chicks love the long ball. It draws the fans because it makes the game more competitive and exciting.

With the owners need to draw the fans; they remain blind to the fact that their employees may be destroying their present and future health to hit more home runs. Sure, more home runs and more RBI’s give the players extra millions, but they eventually end up with heart, liver, ligament and tendon problems. What a tradeoff huh? "Only in America," as Don King would say.

The steroid issue drives players nuts because most of them know that the problem exists and it is unfair. Yet, their union is hedging on addressing a cure to the problem. The players union says, "The association regards the issue as a serious and complicated one and will treat these discussions accordingly." The real statement that they make to the public is we are not going to test anyone because we are afraid of losing money.

Steroids are an illegal drug and banned throughout football and basketball. This is not foolproof and I have seen the movie "The Program" to know how players buck the system. Education and awareness must be the forefront of teaching the players today and the future of the use of steroids. If the players and the owners get together to implement a system of banning players for using steroids like the NFL does, you will see some players stay off the ‘roids mighty quick.

If even 10 percent of the players are found guilty, the playing field is somewhat leveled. Isn’t playing fair one of the ideals of playing baseball? I think so. Will it take the first ballplayer to drop dead from the use of steroids to wake up the game? That event cannot take place because that will be one of the death knells of this great game. A taboo subject has been opened to discussion and the game will be better for taking on the issue. Caminiti may have been the first to admit his wrongdoings but I don’t think he will be the last.

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