Are we still in the Steroid Era?
It’s a popular question these days, brought to light once again by Monday’s announcement from Mark McGwire confirming what baseball fans already believed. For most baseball fans, it wasn’t if McGwire used steroids, but only whether or not he’d "come clean."
Steroids in baseball is a polarizing topic. That’s not because some think it’s OK, but rather many fans are just tired of hearing about it or being reminded of it.
But there’s plenty of interest. My last two appearances on the "Sports Talk" radio show – weekdays from 1-2 p.m. on 970-AM WDAY – are proof of that. We’ve never gotten as many calls on our relatively new show as we did Tuesday, at least not while I’ve been on the air.
I don’t think baseball has completely emerged from the Steroid Era, but I think, at the very least, steroid use isn’t as rampant as it was. Funny how drug testing has a tendency to do that. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig only has himself to blame for some of the problems of the past couple decade. Why else is he so adamant in saying the Steroid Era is over?
Take a look at the MVP winners from 1996-2005:
1996, 1998: Juan Gonzalez – He was mentioned in Jose Canseco’s book "Juiced." He was also named in the Mitchell Report following a 2001 incident, but denies ever using steroids.
1997: Ken Griffey Jr.
1999: Ivan Rodriguez – He was also mentioned in "Juiced." Once, when asked whether he was among those who failed the 2003 random tests that was to remain anonymous, he said, "Only God knows." Not exactly a strong denial. I recall him showing up for spring training in either 2003 or 2004 having lost like 20 or 30 pounds. Let’s be clear: Has never tested positive steroids as far as anyone knows.
2000: Jason Giambi – Admitted to using steroids. Mentioned in the Mitchell Report.
2001: Ichiro Suzuki
2002: Miguel Tejada – Named in the Mitchell Report. Pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about performance-enhancing drug use and received a one-year probation.
2003, 2005: Alex Rodriguez – Admitted to having used steroids from 2001-03.
2004: Vladimir Guerrero
1996: Ken Caminiti – Admitted to using steroids. Died from a drug overdose in 2004 at the age of 41.
1997: Larry Walker
1998: Sammy Sosa – The New York Times reported that he failed a drug test in 2003.
1999: Chipper Jones
2000: Jeff Kent
2001-04: Barry Bonds – Reportedly admitted to using "the cream" and "the clear" during a grand jury testimony in 2003. Reportedly failed a drug test in November of 2000 according to indictment papers.
2005: Albert Pujols
There you have it. Of the 20 MVPs won during that 10-year span, 12 of them were won by players who either admitted to using steroids, failed drug tests, or appeared in the Mitchell Report, and that’s not including Pudge Rodriguez.
So while I believe the Steroid Era is over, baseball is hardly out of "the clear" just yet.
TWINS INTERESTED IN DOUG DAVIS
There was a report Wednesday night that the Twins are among four teams interested in left-handed starting pitcher Doug Davis, who is a free agent.
The Twins reportedly offered free-agent pitcher Jarrod Washburn a contract in the past couple of weeks, so they may not be done adding to this team just yet.
Davis represents another pitcher, like Washburn, who is a veteran, yet not much better than the options the Twins already have. And Davis, unlike Washburn, has put up his largely mediocre numbers in the National League.
Davis has kept his ERA in the 4s the last few years and has been pretty durable outside of missing time when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2008. But his WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) has been at least 1.50 the last four years, meaning he puts A LOT of baserunners on. And a trip to the American League, where he’d deal with the designated hitter rather than a pitcher batting, would not help matters.