Tag Archive | "Steroids"

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES:  Baltimore Orioles' owner Peter Angelos (2nd L) talks at a press conference with Chicago Cubs' CEO Andy MacPhail (L), Major League Baseball President Bob Dupuy (2nd R) and MLB chief negotiator Rob Manfred (R) 16 August 2002 at baseball headquarters in New York. The baseball players association set 30 August 2002 as a strike date if an agreement is not reached with the current contract.  AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

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Being Thrift with mounting debt and wringing the Belle with an insurance policy

Posted on 16 August 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 12 of my book “The Peter Principles,” which I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia the first time. I will be releasing the entire book for free online this summer – chapter by chapter. These are the true chronicles of the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. If you enjoy the journey, please share the links with a friend.)


12. Being Thrift with mounting debt and wringing the Belle with an insurance policy


I’ve been very productive in my life in baseball. I’m not going to be taken as some amateur or semi-pro trying to build a resume to get a job somewhere else, like a lot of my colleagues have done over the course of time. We really have had a plan of where we’re going, how we’re going to get there, what we’re going to do. And so far we’re very pleased with the progress that we’ve made with this team.”

Syd Thrift

April 2000



THE LOSS OF MIKE MUSSINA in November of 2000 came as a massive blow to the fans of the Orioles, whom by and large, were still loyal to the team and more so even to Cal Ripken who was clearly coming to the end of the line of what had been a legendary career.

The Orioles not only missed the playoffs the previous three seasons but really never spent a day anywhere near contention despite the many contentious vibes the team had been casting off in the shadow of an owner who had lost his way and was getting attacked on every front in the public eye.

Peter G. Angelos bought the Orioles in 1993 because he was nouveau riche and starved for attention and the power that came along with controlling a civic trust for the local sports community. He wanted to be important. He wanted to be famous. He wanted to be loved.

Now, he had the eyes of the metropolis on his every move and was wilting under the pressure of trying to follow through on his promises to make the team a winner every year. There was little doubt that Angelos wanted to win. He just had no idea how to do it and simply throwing money at players wasn’t the answer to chasing down George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees, who were the reigning champions and winners of four of the previous five World Series. And now, the damned Yankees took the only thing the franchise had left that was worthy of pillaging – ace pitcher Mike Mussina, who led the evening news in a pinstripe uniform and a dark NY hat because Angelos had essentially botched the negotiations and demeaned him publicly.

Angelos refused to pay Mussina the going rate.

It was never brought to light or reported – mainly because after being transparent regarding the finances of the Orioles in the early days of his ownership, Angelos went silent and became evasive – but the team began truly hemorrhaging money during this era of ineptitude on the field. Angelos admitted that the team wasn’t making money in 1996 and 1997, when wins on the field didn’t translate to profit for the club. The Orioles had the third highest payroll in Major League Baseball in 1997 and led the sport in 1998 and were still massive spenders vs. the marketplace in 1999 and 2000.

Angelos inherited a team with a $27 million payroll in 1993. By the turn of the century, the Orioles were spending $84 million per year despite seeing revenues dropping sharply over the previous three seasons when losing affected everything about the bottom line for the team. Fans who had tickets through corporations began not using them. Concession sales suffered. And attendance was falling because it had nowhere to go but down after the halcyon days of Camden Yards as the stadium approached the decade mark and many other cities had seen their own new stadia and downtown renaissance.

Angelos was quietly writing checks, privately, to fund the tens of million of dollars of losses of the Orioles. He acknowledged to other investors that it was his decision-making – and his alone – that had guided the team into a predicament where it wasn’t profitable and was bordering on dreadful on the field.

And as much as Mussina was one check that Angelos refused to write for $14 million per year, he had another similar check with three more years on the line and $39 million of team payroll still committed to Albert Belle, who struggled mightily during the summer

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MLB is Failing the PED Test

Posted on 23 July 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

In the wake of the Ryan Braun suspension by Major League Baseball the only thing that seems clear about the “post-steroid era” is that the shadows and lingering impacts of the “steroid era” are far from gone.

The debate and speculation raging around Chris Davis’ pursuit of the single season home run record, ranges from which record or whose record should be seen as the actual record to whether or not Davis himself is fueling his pursuit by natural means. The Hall of Fame is set to embark on a decade or more of pretending that the best baseball players we’ve seen over the last 25+ years never existed, while also trying to attract paying customers to the city of Cooperstown for their annual enshrinement ritual. And while many will suggest that MLB is sending a message through their pursuit of those associated with the Biogenesis clinic, they’re also acknowledging that the work of 1 investigative journalist looking into 1 Florida clinic has unearthed some 15 or more users of performance enhancers most of whom somehow evaded Major League Baseball’s own testing policies and procedures.

While we can applaud baseball’s efforts to punish those who cheat, regardless of how they were caught, we also have to concede that what we’re finding out about Biogenesis and its clients casts serious doubts about MLB’s ability to police itself through the testing policies that are in place and that failed to catch most of these guys. Applaud baseball for their willingness to acknowledge it, but save declarations of this as the “post steroid era”  until MLB starts catching more of its users on their own.

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Should Steroid users be allowed in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Posted on 06 November 2012 by BaltimoreSportsNut

This morning on “Morning Reaction” here at WNST, Luke and Drew were debating on the issue of steroid users and if they should be allowed in the Baseball Hall of Fame. This is a very good question, but one that does not have a sheer cut answer.

I say yes, because it was the era that they played in and the true definition of a Hall of Famer is a player who dominated during his era. Was Barry Bonds a dominant player during his era? YES! Roger Clemens? YES. Also, many of the players in this era, including the two aforementioned players, never tested positive for steroids although many people feel they used them. I am with Drew though, as he stated they should be allowed in but there has to be something on on their plaque that states that they tested positive or were found guilty of using. I say this because if you look back in the History of baseball, you could make an arguement for every era that there should be an asterisk.

When you look at baseball history, you could make an arguement during the era that guys who played before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier should have an asterisk or something on their plaque that states African American players were not permitted in baseball, thus “x-player” was not purely competing against the best baseball players. Also, beer used to be allowed in the dugouts! Why not mention something on plaques about that?

It is just too dificult to keep these guys in the steroid era out of the Hall of Fame when it was the era that they played in. During the “Raised Mound era” pitchers were dominant, but how many of those pitchers would have been as dominant with the lower mound? Shouldn’t pitchers from that era in the Hall of Fame have something listed on their plaque? Again, it is too tough to justify keeping the steroid era players out of the Hall of Fame.

What do you think?

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Money Talks Steroids Walk

Posted on 21 June 2012 by Tom Federline

The steroid saga in major league baseball continues. Another liar walks. This time, Roger “Mr. Misremembers”, Clemens is found not guilty of lying to Congress. Acquitted of all charges. This comes on the heels last year of Barry Bonds getting convicted on only 1 out of 4 counts of obstruction of justice. Juicer Bonds got what? Home detention? That makes the “Justice” Department 0 -2 on going after the “headliners”. Two big guns walk, the unfortunate ones who didn’t ante up the fees for bogus testing or big time lawyers, were suspended for a couple weeks and/or had to pay a fine. “Bad MLB player, you all were bad boys. Now the rest of the 75% of you ball players who are using better stop or we’ll sick the “Justice Department” on you.”  Don’t fret you juicers; for cheating during three decades of baseball, you are being rewarded by keeping all your records and millions. You also have earned the distinction of having contributed to the “Steroid Era” of baseball.

I am not an investigative reporter. I do not get paid to investigate. In fact I’m not getting paid one red cent for typing my thoughts in this blog. All you are getting is my perception of  certain topics, with hopefully some “reported” facts thrown in and a little common sense. All that time and money expended on two people who lied to the public, lied in a courtroom under oath, were directly accused by their peers, their doctors and trainers, showed physical evidence of body and performance enhancement………….. then bought their way out. “Lies, lies, lies – I ain’t such a fool” – (Rolling Stones). Great album, by the way.

Was the taxpayers money wasted? Was the Federal and state courts time wasted?  Were the verdicts worth the bang for the buck? I say – yes to all three. Lessons learned (or we were reminded) – You can lie, cheat and prosper …………as long as you have the cash. It was reported around 8 years of investigation and 30 million spent on Bonds trial and 5 years, 3 million on Clemens’. To bad I wasn’t granted the authority to make the ruling. Could have saved a ton of time and money. Give me one of the cheaters paychecks for a week (tax-free), then give local schools the projected amount that would have been wasted in the corrupt “Justice” system. Decision would have been made in less than one hour. Real simple – you cheated, you lied, you’re done. See you in fifteen years. Oh and your records are stricken from the books. How’s that juice feel now? Anyone else want to juice?


Always amazes me the power of money. Witnesses recount their original testimony. Time and memories are bought. Million dollar laboratories somehow become dysfunctional. Ok, it’s not the lab, the lab has annual certifications, It’s the lab tech and/or lab board members. Pharmaceutical companies double up by prospering on providing the PED and then providing the “maskers”. Shysters, I mean lawyers, get rich. And the baseball fan/general public accepts it because “everyone is doing it”, “the drug use can’t be that bad”, “don’t want to rock the boat” and the most important “who cares – when is the next game?”

Why lie? Clemens, Bonds, McGuire, Palmeiro, Petite, Rodriquez, Pujols, Teixeira, etc. (whoops slipped those last two in on ya). Why lie? You did it. Supposedly 75% of all of your peers were doing it. Nobody was stopping you.  You paid millions of dollars to shysters, I mean lawyers, to give poor advice. Then you paid them again to represent you. And who said jocks weren’t rocknuts? You put on a tainted show for 25 years. You made millions of dollars. You dug yourself in a hole – that now you may literally “lie” in sooner than anticipated. You may have damaged your body, no worries, wait until the effects of steroid claims start up in about 10-15 years. But hey, your living high on the hog now and your family is set. Game over.

Bud Selig tainted baseball for generations. Record books should be filled with asterisks. PED’s should be either out or in. Just stop the scamming.

Are finally attempting, to stop the lies and corruption? Whoa, better put that orange Kool-aid down. So what do we have now? 35% – avid juicers? Hey, that’s down from 75%. Thank you Jose Canseco, for blowing the lid on that one. Is there really “random” testing – during the year? I have read – they know when they are going to be tested. It “appears” steroid use has slightly diminished. I see less “Popeye arms”. Batting stats and HR’s are coming back to realistic numbers. And finally, the number of hazardous waste pick-ups has subsided at the ballparks.

May the Rocket, Barry, the Bash brothers, A-roid, etc. , NEVER make it into the Hall of Fame. Hall of Shame, yes. Hall of Fame – not worthy.



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Steroids Still Impacting Major League Baseball (Fans)

Posted on 14 May 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Whether or not the steroid era in Major League Baseball is over is certainly debatable. Even if it is however, the shadow of the “steroid era” still looms large over the game. Roger Clemens is back on trial and Barry Bonds soon will be again. The reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun is generally considered to have used PEDs and to have escaped punishment on nothing more than a technicality. And if the “steroid era” taught us anything at all, it was that the cheaters are always one step ahead of those trying to stop them.

We were all made to look like fools once before and as a result we seem reluctant to celebrate anyone’s assault on the MLB record books. Having to acknowledge that Jose Canseco, of all people, tried unsuccessfully to warn us of the depth of the impact of steroids on the game, it’s understandable that we’d rather not revisit that particular brand of humility ever again. But to what end?


The ascendance of Jose Bautista has been met with its fair share of skepticism and cynicism, and in a week in which Josh Hamilton should have been carving out his place not only in the annals of baseball history, but in the romantic parts of our baseball memory banks as well, we’re again compelled to pause and reserve our celebration until we can be sure it has been earned.


Type Hamilton’s name into your Twitter search and you’ll find as many empty steroid accusations as you will congratulatory praise. What has Hamilton done to merit such accusations? Nothing other than hit homeruns at a rate like we’ve never seen before.


It’s not just Hamilton stirring up memories of an era not so far from our memories to remove the stench. A quick glance at the HR stats this season suggests that quite a few players could be in for seasons of 50+ homeruns…and the weather hasn’t even begun to get warm just yet.


For nearly 30 years after Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris topped 50 in the magical 1961 season no one in the AL matched the feat, and only 2 players in the NL (Willie Mays in 1965 and George Foster in 1977) managed it. Then came Cecil Fielder and shortly thereafter a barrage of juice induced super sluggers made the accomplishment common place.


Recent events have suddenly made the feat rare again, but still not completely uncommon. Still, only 6 players have gone over 50 HR since 2002. This year however, all bets may be off.


The degree to which the record books were rewritten during the steroid era has been especially troubling, as many of those records had stood for decades before being obliterated by PED induced sluggers. It therefore stood to reason that no one would be able to write them out of the books without some other type of assistance or historic shift in the game. So as Hamilton unleashes his assault, of course we’re prone to question it. I’m sure I’m not the only one this year who’s looking at Albert Pujols forearms as he begins this season in a prolific funk, and wondering if they look smaller or frailer then before.


The funny thing about homeruns though, is that anyone in MLB is capable of hitting one, at any time. We don’t point glaring fingers when pitchers or light hitting utility men hit 3 or 4 per season, but when the guys who we expect to hit 30 or 40 suddenly find themselves raising their frequency and challenging 50 or more…eyebrows (and suspicions) go up.


At a time when we’d like to believe that we should be celebrating the potential to have Bonds’ single season HR record erased by a “clean” slugger, we find ourselves instead questioning just how clean he is.


Indeed the steroid era is still taking its toll on MLB and our infatuation with its record book…and that’s before we start really debating the merits of the era’s achievers for the Hall of Fame.


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Is Jim Thome an All-Time Great?

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Is Jim Thome an All-Time Great?

Posted on 16 August 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Congrats to Jim Thome on his historic achievement in reaching 600 career homeruns on Monday night. That said it sure seems like a milestone of this magnitude should have been met with a great deal more fanfare than it is seemingly getting. Maybe it’s evidence that baseball fans, largely joining the masses and embracing the football mentality may to some degree be abandoning the numbers that have defined baseball’s most historic achievements. As those numbers have been rendered all but meaningless in recent years.

Surely it’s a byproduct of the steroid era. Fans have been fooled far too often from Sosa and McGwire to Bonds and A-Rod to wholeheartedly buy into anyone’s entrance into the hallowed grounds occupied by the likes of Ruth and Mays and Aaron. While Thome and Ken Griffey Jr. both seem to have emerged from the steroid era with a plethora of homeruns and an unblemished reputation, given what we’ve seen in the recent annals of baseball, I doubt there are many who’d stake anything of considerable importance on being sure of their “cleanliness”.


Beyond that though, even if we are to concede that Thome’s achievements were “all-natural”, because of the backdrop of steroid induced sluggers that surrounded Thome’s career, his achievements while Hall of Fame caliber in their totality simply weren’t that remarkable through the prism of his contemporaries.


History will show that Thome’s numbers rank with the highest and most esteemed baseball achievers of all time yet in a 21 year career, he was named an All-Star just 5 times, finished in the top 5 in the MVP ballot just once, and was little more than an afterthought on most of the teams that he played for. How do we quantify someone as deserving of mentions amongst the greats of all time when he was never (even for a moment) seen as the best in the game or the best at his position or even the best on his own team?


Surely we should appreciate and celebrate the achievements of Thome as with or without the accompaniment of performance enhancers, the list of sluggers to hit 600 is a short one; shorter still when the court of public opinion excludes Bonds and Sosa and Rodriguez as we have seemingly done. Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Griffey, Thome.


Surely the reception has not been commensurate with the achievement. The steroid era is not yet done claiming victims. Our reluctance to celebrate Thome, and our outright failure to understand or appreciate his historic achievements as they were unfolding are both unfortunate byproducts of baseball’s last 20 years or so. It’s unfair to Thome, and equally unfair to the fans that missed out (so to speak).

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Could Post-Steroid Era Equal Yankees Demise?

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Could Post-Steroid Era Equal Yankees Demise?

Posted on 16 May 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

The Major League Baseball season has reached the quarter pole (more or less) and so far it’s been quite a ride and realization. The AL East, despite our sincerest beliefs to the contrary remains at this point very much up for grabs with only 3 games in the loss column separating first and last place. Orioles’ fans were expecting to be moderately encouraged and summarily frustrated with their team all at once and so far that’s been the case. Improved offense however hasn’t been the case for the O’s. It can be argued (and has) that statistically, this year’s team isn’t much better than last year’s version, if at all; and while the pitching has been encouraging, lights out hardly comes to mind when assessing the O’s, whose team ERA ranks 13th in the AL as of Sunday.

The fact that the Orioles remain competitive themselves is seemingly the byproduct of luck and timing (2 proven essentials in baseball success) more than any marked improvement from last year to this. While the expectation that the bats will eventually come around and bring with them even more chances at victories is feasible, recent history suggests that things could just as easily begin to unravel as the weather begins to warm.


Even without our modest hopes for a successful season, the respective struggles of the Red Sox and Yankees have added an extra layer of enjoyment to the season so far. Safe money might suggest that market corrections of sorts may be due for both of them soon too.


The Red Sox, despite their marked improvements from last year to this and the return of a healthy regime of incumbent stars have stumbled mightily out of the gates. While it’s conceivable that their sweep of the Yankees over the weekend and return to .500 could mark the worm turning for the Sox, there are still lots of questions and potential concerns surrounding a team that many had penciled in as the AL’s best to begin the year.


And while the Yankees have probably played above the expectations that followed their most disappointing off-season in recent memory, they too may have seen the worm begin to turn at the hands of the Red Sox last weekend. The Yankees have also, so far been the beneficiaries of an inordinate number of home games to begin the season.


After missing out on a few of their apparent earmarked bounties in free agency and while seeing the Red Sox make bold moves to improve themselves at the same time, the most disappointing part of the Yankees off-season might be the lingering contentiousness that they created in negotiations with Derek Jeter. Now that some of that contentiousness may have reached the locker of Jorge Posada too, it may begin to become a bigger distraction than the team would have invited.


The Orioles once went through a bit of this themselves. As much as we might point to the ambitious spending that followed the 1999 fire sale as the ultimate demise of competitive Orioles baseball, the devolution of the 1997 team into 1998 probably went much deeper than that. The “Ripken Rules” as they were described and his preferential treatment by the team had been earned no doubt, but surely there were times over the course of the Davey Johnson era where deference to aging superstars had to supersede the best interests of the team. Not just deference to Ripken as was much publicized, but to the wealth of stars past their primes on the O’s roster at that point. Maybe the Yankees too are now reaching that point.


While we all waited and hoped against hope that the Yankees and Sox might spend themselves under the table, perhaps it’ll be other market factors that could potentially contribute to their respective downfalls…or at least their returns to Earth.


Steroids and the steroid era certainly changed baseball, and they still arguably are changing baseball. If the dramatic effect that widespread steroid use had on the game has now been realized, then surely we are entering an era where the impact of their absence is beginning to be felt as well. How that shapes the next era in baseball is anyone’s guess, but whoever figures it out first, and positions themselves on the forefront of it will see the early benefits as a result.


While we can surely measure the impact of steroids and the lack thereof from game to game and intimate the return of pitching dominance to Major League Baseball, the more important impact of the absence of steroids in baseball from a team building standpoint is likely related to career longevity. Steroids not only enabled players to put up insane homerun numbers from year to year, but they also seemingly allowed them to do it at a much more advanced age than had been previously feasible. As a result the realization of value in free agent commodities went up and so did the standard length of free agent contracts.


If we go back to 1986 or so, after baseball got their billion dollar CBS contract and $3 million contracts became the gold standard, free agency in baseball was a risky proposition. Teams who endeavored into free agency thereafter, at higher and higher prices, did so at their own risk and more often than not seemed to come up short value wise. Before Randy Johnson with the Diamondbacks and Manny Ramirez with the Red Sox, the list of big named free agents who led their teams to the Promised Land was a short one. More often back then, successful teams were built through homegrown talent and astute trades, usually capitalizing on players trying to build their resumes for free agency.


After being controlled by their original teams for 6 seasons or more under baseball’s rules, free agents reaching the market at or near 30 years old likely won’t be seeing 6 and 7-year contracts once teams begin to realize the downside of these contracts and move forward more cautiously. Surely those players can no longer be expected to have primes that extend beyond the age of 35.


While the Yankees and Red Sox are unlikely to spend themselves under the table anytime soon, the compilation of aging players, and at times the deference to their years of service over their immediate impact on the team may lead the big spenders down an interesting path in the not too distant future. The Yankees may be halfway there already. While the values being realized between the contracts of both Jeter and Posada might be enough to sink most franchises, that’s probably not the biggest issue as the Yankees see it. The fact that both are feeling slighted by their treatment in this the twilights of their respective careers threatens to be a much bigger problem than simple economics for the Yankees.


Expect A-Rod to take them down a similar path before all is said and done, and Sabathia is poised to hold the team hostage for a contract that will pay him handsomely for far longer than he projects to be effective at season’s end.


Yeah…with or without genuine expectations for their own team this season, it’s sure shaping up to be an interesting season for Orioles fans anyway; and in some way, for the future of baseball.

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Thanking Barry Bonds

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Thanking Barry Bonds

Posted on 22 March 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Keeping in mind that perjury is and has to be seen as the cardinal sin of the American Justice system, it’s still tough not to feel – as US v. Bonds gets set to resume at long last – that this has become a witch hunt of epic proportions now hell bend on holding Barry Bonds or anyone accountable for crimes committed against the very spirit of Major League Baseball and therefore made an example of.

Regardless of the eventual outcome of this case and the price that Bonds is held to pay or not pay, the court of public opinion has spoken loudly and clearly as it relates to Bonds, Raphael Palmeiro and anyone else directly or indirectly tied to steroids. That makes the likelihood of seeing Bonds enshrined in Cooperstown hopeful at best as baseball fans now come to grips with an era in which MLB’s all-time leaders in both hits and homeruns (among countless other categories) are likely to remain on the outside looking in to baseball’s hallowed hall.


It’s not as if Bonds ever seemed to care much about the court of public opinion, if Charles Barkley made famous the phrase “I am not a role model”, it was Bonds who embodied that sentiment. So as Bonds remains baseball’s biggest asterisk in the (hopefully) post-steroid era, it’s not as if he set himself up well for forgiveness from the public who continually felt scorned by the aloof Bonds throughout his prolific career.


Casting Bonds as a figure indifferent to public opinion is probably far too easy though. Far too easy, especially considering that most seem to concede that through Bonds run of National League dominance and 5-tool MVP candidacy in what easily would have been the prime of a hall of fame – no, an all-time great – career he was likely steroid free. As most have operated on the assumption that Bonds spurned by the spotlight, as juiced up cartoon characters like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chased Lou Gehrig and greatness, felt compelled to turn to steroids only later in his career. Indeed the freakish changes to his body were all but a dead giveaway to the shortcuts that he had taken and presumably when, providing “evidence” of an almost clear line of demarcation between a pre-steroid and post-steroid Bonds.


To that end Bonds, like Jose Canseco before him might be due a debt of gratitude – if not respect – from the public at large for forcing us to face the realities of steroids and Major League Baseball. That’s because even as Canseco was spouting out name after name of player after player who he “knew” to be linked to steroids, and as players’ bodies and stat lines grew in epic proportions, fans and media were reluctant not only to lend credibility to Canseco’s claims but even to simply acknowledge that steroids and performance enhancers could help baseball players. That’s where Bonds comes in.


Having seen Bonds tear up the league throughout his career as a skinny yet strong 5-tooled MVP and then seeing the marked improvement to that already prolific skill set at a point in his career when Bonds’ numbers should have begun to decline left all of us no choice but to acknowledge that steroids had pervaded and absolutely changed the face of America’s great pastime. Without that acknowledgement, we could have never moved forward with attempts to ferret out performance enhancers from Major League Baseball. Without that acknowledgement, the historical significance of all that happened before and after MLB’s steroid era is diminished if not entirely obscured.


As Bonds prepares again to re-air the dirty laundry that will surely define a career deserving of a much higher esteem, we should thank him. Thanks him for forcing us to come to grips with the issue that was all but staring us in the face in the first place, the issue that compelled us as fans to demand more from our superstars, and as a result compelled those superstars to make science projects of their bodies and long term health prospects.


Forgiveness is another matter altogether, and although Bonds is clearly a long way from hoping to earn anything like it, we at least owe him a begrudging thanks. And perhaps a bit of empathy for a brilliant career forever tarnished by a desperate effort to hold on and to keep up. Lastly, I’ll offer my hope, a hope that steroids have not so damaged his and others bodies that the lives they’ve earned as a result won’t be cut short or irreparably damaged. Paying the price to the Hall of Fame committee or the US government or the court of public opinion is one thing, but only time will ultimately tell the real price that Bonds and others like them will pay for fame, for riches and for our entertainment and sadly the realities of life and death are far more unforgiving than any of the aforementioned.

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Here’s My Hall of Fame Suggestion: Take Steroid Era Out of Writers’ Hands

Posted on 07 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

What a wild week.

The Ravens are preparing for an AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Maryland football introduced former UConn coach Randy Edsall as Ralph Friedgen’s replacement after a very public flirtation with former Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach.

The Orioles (very unfortunately and tragically) saw pitcher Alfredo Simon turn himself into police as the main suspect in a Dominican Republic murder. This of course overshadowed their signing of reliever Kevin Gregg.

On top of that, we’re in the middle of BCS football games, the Washington Capitals won the NHL Winter Classic last Saturday night, and the Terps get their first crack at Duke this season Sunday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

In the sports media business, this is the type of week we love, as we spend much of the year looking for topics and storylines to write about and discuss.

Yet somehow this week, I’ve found myself captivated by the discussion surrounding the announcement of the 2011 induction class for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Much of my interest has to do with my personal affection for Roberto Alomar (the greatest Oriole I’ve been able to see play in my lifetime), but more of it has to do with my interest in the process itself.

(Photo courtesy: New York Times)

Former Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell was up for induction for the first time this year. As someone whose height of baseball fandom (I’ve never hidden from the fact that I’m no longer a “baseball guy” at this point in my life) coincided with the peak of Bagwell’s career, there was no doubt in my mind that Bagwell was deserving of induction to the Hall of Fame.

He didn’t have the “can’t miss” numbers (2,314 hits and 449 home runs); but he was clearly amongst the dominant players of his era at his position (four time All-Star, six times a Top 10 finisher in National League MVP voting).

I couldn’t imagine Jeff Bagwell NOT being considered a Hall of Famer.

Yet when Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) voters made their decision, only 41.7% of them agreed with me; more than 30% less than the 75% needed for election.

Jeff Bagwell never tested positive for steroids and no positive link exists whatsoever. Yet the biggest reason Bagwell wasn’t elected remained…steroids.

Here’s what BBWAA voter Dan Graziano (who now writes for Fanhouse) said in his column explaining his decision to NOT vote for Bagwell…

“No, I didn’t vote for Jeff Bagwell for the Hall of Fame. Yes, it’s for the reason everybody loves to hate. I don’t know for sure that Bagwell took steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs to help him attain his Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. I don’t have evidence, like we do against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. But I’m suspicious. And this year, that suspicion was enough to make me send back my ballot without the Bagwell box checked. I’d rather withhold the vote based on suspicion than vote the guy in only to find out later that he cheated and I shouldn’t have.

Graziano explained his decision in further detail Wednesday morning during an appearance with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST.

“I’ve decided not to vote for the steroid guys” said Graziano. “Bagwell we don’t know. He’s not in the Mitchell Report, he hasn’t tested positive like (former Texas Rangers & Orioles slugger Rafael) Palmeiro did. But there’s enough suspicion on my part that I’m holding back. The suspicion in my mind overcomes his credentials for me as someone who doesn’t want to put cheaters in.

“If it turns out that I’m wrong and he was innocent then he has my apology” Graziano added. “There are people (like SI writer) Joe Posnanski and other high profile people that have written about the Hall of Fame that will tell you ‘I’d rather put in 100 cheaters than risk keeping one innocent guy out.’ I feel exactly the opposite. I’d rather risk keeping an innocent guy or two out than put in a single cheater. And if I find out five years from now, 10 years from now that there’s a guy in there I voted for that I shouldn’t have, that would be my bigger regret.”

That tells me just about everything I needed to know about how voting is going to go in the steroid era.

The BBWAA is going to punt.

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Shawne Merriman

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Shawne “Lights Out” Merriman-in town for coat drive-hopes his career and Maryland can be turned back on

Posted on 06 January 2011 by Ryan Chell

Shawne Merriman

Former Maryland linebacker Shawne Meriman was present Tuesday night’s Terps basketball game, a 95-40 victory over Colgate, for his annual coat drive, but before that time he also spent a few minutes with Thyrl Nelson of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to reflect on his alma mater’s recent coaching change with the firing of Ralph Friedgen and the hiring of former UConn coach Randy Edsall.

“You know, I’m excited because it’s a step in the right direction,” Merriman said. “I went to a couple of good bowl games when I was in school and there is a lot of talent in the Maryland-D.C area. It’s really important that we embrace a coach who can keep that talent here. So hopefully, we made a step in the right direction.”

Shawne Merriman spent three seasons in College Park as hybrid defensive-end/linebacker in Ralph Friedgen’s defense. The Upper Marlboro native out of Frederick Douglas High School made an immediate impact with the Terps his freshman year in 2003, when he thrived as a situational pass rusher, earning five sacks-third best on the team.

His biggest year and what put Merriman on the map was his performance on the field in 2004, when he became a full-time starter for Maryland, earning 85 tackles and 8.5 sacks. That, along with his exceptional physical skills and his reputation as a “gym rat” earned him the 12th pick in the 2005 Draft by the San Diego Chargers.

Ultimately, he said that the University of Maryland was a big part of his success in eventually getting to the NFL, and while some may disagree with the departure of his former coach in Friedgen, Merriman said the true spirit of Maryland football will live on in Coach Edsall.

“Just from the teams I played with, there are seven or eight guys who are starting defense or offense on some team right now,” Merriman said. “It’s a bunch of talent that comes out of the school. It’s about time we got recognized for it, so as long as we keep the Terps pride, all will be good.”

Merriman’s success at the college level immediately picked right off at the NFL level for the Chargers, as Merriman earned the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2005 with ten sacks to his credit.

His next year became his ultimate performance of his playing ability, as he sacked the opposing quarterback 17 times while missing four games. He missed out on the Defensive Player of the Year Award to the Dolphins’ Jason Taylor and was behind Broncos CB Champ Bailey, but he did earned his first-ever Pro Bowl selection on top of being named an All-Pro for the only time in his career.

But it was in that same year in 2006 that Merriman tested positive for steroids, which ultimately led to a rule or principle known solely as “The Merriman Rule” where a player found to have used steroids during a season is not eligible for postseason awards or Pro Bowl status.

Those four games he missed that year? A suspension handed down by the NFL Office.

In 2007, he fought through numerous double-teams to register his third straight 10+ sack season, but that is where the Merriman-once known as “Lights Out“-began to flicker off.

He began to suffer greatly from injuries to his shoulder, knees, and feet and he missed significant time due to the injuries.

Over the last three seasons from 2008-2010, he has appeared in only 17 total games while registering only four total sacks.

And off the field trouble began to crop up yet again for Merriman, as a domestic abuse charge against his reality star friend, Tila Tequila, caught Merriman in another negative light.

It was all those things adding up: the steroid allegations, the lack of production on the field, not being ON the field, and the unwanted media attention that convinced the Chargers to wash their hands of him earlier this season, placing him on waivers.

At the time, talks of Merriman to the Ravens came swirling up. The Ravens at the time were in the need of help in the pass rushing department and many Ravens fans wanted to bring Merriman to home.

Too bad Buffalo swooped in, signing him to a two-year deal.

And while he didn’t suit up in a single game for the Bills, he does love the new start he is getting the AFC East with the Bills, and hopes that he can re-start the “Lights Out” routine with Buffalo by changing the lightbulb, so to speak.

“I’m happy with the team that claimed me, and I’m happy to be with the Buffalo Bills and go out there and do what I need to do and get us back to being a hell of a team like I know we can.”

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