One Down, 103 to Go: The Boston Steroid Story Left Untold
I put ‘victim’ in quotes because any professional athlete who knowingly takes illegal substances to artificially impact his or her performance is not truly a victim.
Regardless, it appears that a soon-to-be released book about A-Rod is being constructed by SI’s Selena Roberts. In many ways, she benefited the most by ensuring that he was left holding the smoking gun. Her selfish agenda gave her the incentive to leak A-Rod’s name and his alone.
The Alex Rodriguez saga has inspired me to take a peak into the mystery surrounding what players’ positive steroid test results from 2003 are being left undiscovered.
It was intriguing to focus on The Boston Red Sox, a team that has been left out of the discussion while their biggest rivals are constantly targeted.
These are some of the key people surrounding Boston’s untold steroid story:
1. Senator George Mitchell:
Hired by Major League Baseball to unearth the magnitude of the steroid issue across the league, Mitchell was also a current Director for the Boston Red Sox.
Five prominent Yankees were ironically released in The Mitchell Report, including Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi and Chuck Knoblauch.
The only prominent Red Sox named were former players Mo Vaughn and Clemens, conveniently only linked to performance enhancers following their departures from Boston.
Whether or not his investigation was biased can be left to a future spirited debate. One statement that Mitchell did say, however, seemed to be slightly damaging to the Red Sox.
While discussing an acquisition of Brendan Donnelly, Red Sox personnel were concerned with his rumored steroid use. Not for the fact that he was an abuser of performance enhancers, but instead because he “could be a breakdown candidate.”
The Red Sox decided to sign Donnelly as a result of determining that his velocity did not change dramatically over the years. So long as performance did not suffer, they did not concern themselves with what he ingested.
Though on a much smaller scale, this discussion is important to analyze Boston’s mindset regarding steroid users. If they were willing to take risks on middle relievers past their prime, why not turn their heads for a superstar slugger?
2. Nomar Garciaparra:
When analyzing the stats, Garciaparra is an ideal candidate for steroid abuse. After bursting onto the scene as a rookie in 1996, he enjoyed four of the best seasons that his position had ever seen.
After injuries decimated his 2001 season, Nomar responded strongly in 2002 and 2003. He played 156 games in each season, the most games played of any point of his career. It was thirteen more games played than any year since his rookie year in 1997.
Two of the most publicized benefits from the use of steroids and HGH are healing rapidly from injuries and the energy to recover faster from day to day.
These factors would have enabled Garciaparra to rebound from debilitating injuries, as well as to cope with the daily grind of a Major League season like he did in 2002 and 2003. The experimental tests in question were administered in 2003.
Finally, it is important to remember his 2001 Sports Illustrated cover photo (above). Taken following arguably his best season in which he had 75 extra base hits and hit a robust .372, Garciaparra looks more like an NFL linebacker than a shortstop.
3. Dustin Pedroia
I am completely and entirely just kidding. The current AL MVP and most likeable player in Major League Baseball, Pedroia forever exonerated himself from any steroid speculation after this dance performance:
Pedroia displays more rolls than a bakery, and his undefined body is more than enough evidence that he swallows more donuts than anabolic steroids.
4. David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz
David Ortiz was signed by the Red Sox in January 2003, after he was released by the Minnesota Twins. This was ‘coincidentally’ both the year of the tests and Big Papi’s miraculous breakout season.
Ortiz could not beat out Jeremy Giambi for the first base job to open the season, yet he suddenly acquired consistent light-tower power that landed him fifth in the MVP race at the end of the season.
Big Papi was playing in his seventh AL season, which seems deep into a career to have such a rapid turnaround. Ortiz had a career high of 20 home runs upon arriving in Boston, and was more than doubling that total by his second year there.
In 2005 and 2006 in particular, Ortiz averaged more home runs per year than he had in his final three Twins seasons combined.
Coupled with a very drastic increase in power numbers starting in 2003, Ortiz began to experience injury problems at a young age.
In the summer of 2006 at only 30 years old, Ortiz suffered from an irregular heartbeat. It is well documented that heart conditions can commonly result from the use of steroids.
Ortiz next was forced to play all of 2007 with a knee injury, and missed a large portion of 2008 while battling a painful wrist injury. Steroid users are more susceptible to injuries of joints and tendons, and Ortiz’s injury history is textbook.
There are many more examples of Red Sox suspects, stemming from outbursts of anger from Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez. It was interesting to witness a seemingly ‘fun-loving’ man suddenly snap and throw a traveling secretary to the ground.
Jonathan Papelbon is also very muscular and well-built for a closer, and has the tendency to become enraged on the mound. This same ‘mound rage’ was the trademark of Roger Clemens, and later pointed to as hindsight evidence to his use of steroids.
The fact is that there are at least 103 more names being hidden from the public eye. The odds suggest that every team has at least one more steroid user for MLB to uncover.
It only seemed fair to analyze the Boston Red Sox, a team that has floated far under the radar due to the New York Yankees’ selfish hogging of the negative spotlight.