With Alex Rodriguez adding himself to the list this week, we can now respectably field a team of All-Stars that have either a) admitted to steroid use b) been named in a report (like the Mitchell Report) linking them to steroid use or c) been cited by Jose Canseco (the great and knowledgeable steroid zen master) as a steroid user. Unlike our usual Top 11, we’ll countdown by position, rather than number, in putting this list together. Eight (8) position players, one (1) starting pitcher, one (1) relief pitcher, and one (1) designated hitter. On to the list.
C – Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge is the Barry Bonds of catchers linked to steroids, having been rumored to be on the juice by a variety of reports, teammates, and even the Almighty Canseco. The walls surrounding the future Hall of Famer keep closing in, as a number of Rodriguez’s ex-teammates with Texas have already been accused of or admitted to using steroids (Canseco, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez). Honorable mention: Paul Lo Duca, Benito Santiago.
1B – Rafael Palmeiro. Whoops. Shouldn’t have waved that finger around so liberally, Raffy. Just months after appearing in front of a grand jury, angrily dismissing his relationship with steroids, Palmeiro failed one of Major League Baseball’s standard drug tests. In a panic, he placed the blame on teammate Miguel Tejada for…well, something, I guess. Ever since that flunking, Palmeiro hasn’t been seen or heard from. Honorable mention: Mark McGwire, Wally Joyner.
2B – Bret Boone. Come on. I mean, come on. We’ve gotten pretty good at reading the warning signs, and Boone IS the warning sign. Your undersized typical middle infielder for most of his career, Boone shows up to camp one year 20 pounds heavier, looking like the Incredible Hulk. That’s one. Then, as soon as baseball’s Great Witch Hunt for steroid users begins, Boone exhibits a significant decline in performance, triggering his departure from the Mariners and ultimately, his retirement. It doesn’t help that Canseco dropped his name once or twice, either. Honorable mention: Chuck Knoblauch, Fernando Vina.
3B – Alex Rodriguez. How does a lanky shortstop handle the transition to the power-oriented position of third base? With a syringe and illegal liquids, of course. A-Rod awkwardly fessed up to his ‘roid usage this week, making him the biggest superstar to admit performance-enhancing drug use during the fallout of the steroid era. I guess that answers the question of “How do you become one of the best baseball players of all-time?” Honorable mention: Ken Caminiti, Matt Williams.
SS – Miguel Tejada. Tejada’s admission of guilt was slightly overlooked this week by all the hubbub surrounding the A-Rod scandal. A rumored steroid user for years, Tejada plead guilty to lying in front of a federal jury about his drug use, meaning he could possibly face up to a year in prison when sentenced in the coming weeks. I guess if you’re going to come out, this is the week to do it. Honorable mention: Mike Morse.
OF – Barry Bonds. He’s the king. The king at being linked to steroids, and the king at dodging guilt. I don’t know how he does it, but he does. Technically he’s not a confirmed steroid user yet, but it’s only a matter of time. If Game of Shadows didn’t sway you, then just look at the physical signs: huge productivity jump after age 35, loss of hair, swelling of the skull, swelling of the body. Bonds is Custer, and this is his last stand. Honorable mention: Juan Gonzalez.
OF – Gary Sheffield. You may have forgotten that Sheff acknowledged using steroids a few years ago, but he did. The former Brewer/Padre/Marlin/Dodger/Brave/Yankee and current Tiger stated that he unknowingly used a steroid substance in 2002, and then was basically glossed over in the grand scheme of admitted users. He didn’t fully admit wrongdoing, blaming his ignorance on ingestion of the substance as the reason he was linked to ‘roids, which just goes to show that if you bend the truth, sometimes you get away with it. Honorable mention: David Justice.
OF – Jose Canseco. “Jose Canseco, Steroid User” comes with a caveat. Canseco may technically be a bad guy, but in reality he’s a superhero for everything he’s done in regards to enlightening us about drug use in baseball. Along with the late Ken Caminiti, who first opened our eyes to steroids at the start of the decade, Canseco published two books dropping names left and right of guys he knew were on the juice. We all laughed at him, but so far he’s been, for the most part, right on. He’s an oracle of wisdom, a fountain of knowledge, and it’s gotten to the point where the one guy we can trust through it all is…Jose Canseco? Wow. Honorable mention: Sammy Sosa.
DH – Jason Giambi. Jason Giambi should be the poster boy for “players appearing in front of a grand jury.” The Yankee slugger admitted to steroid use way back in 2003, when he was under oath; one of the few players to own up to his transgressions in a court of law. His subsequent apology to fans has served as a template for those after him, and Giambi’s steroid use has all but been forgiven. Honorable mention: David Segui, Jim Leyritz.
SP – Roger Clemens. If Ivan Rodriguez is the Barry Bonds of catchers, and Barry Bonds IS Barry Bonds, than Roger Clemens is arguably the white Bonds, ducking controversy and stupidly maintaining innocence through the fire. Clemens is DONE no matter what happens. No one believes he didn’t shoot up, and everything he’s done to fight the accusations has made him look like an idiot. It’s over for the Rocket and it’s only a matter of time before he officially comes crashing down. Honorable mention: Paul Byrd, Kevin Brown.
RP – John Rocker. The former Braves closer went from being your average-looking dude in the late ’90’s to more closely resembling Chris Jericho of wrestling fame by 2006. The last we saw of the admitted steroid user, he was appearing on Spike TV’s “Pros vs. Joes” with shoulder-length hair and about fifty extra pounds of muscle since his playing days. Now that he’s out of the game, he can take whatever he wants I suppose. Honorable mention: Eric Gagne, Ryan Franklin.