The Usual Suspects: Steroids in the Post A-Rod Era

James HarperContributor IFebruary 13, 2009

As the fallout from the A-Rod scandal continues—it’s like 9/11 on MLB Network—speculation begins to fall on the other 103, those players in the Mitchell Report whose names weren’t revealed as yet. 

While it’s patently unfair to point fingers, downright un-American to cast unproven blame, it’s certainly an interesting parlor game to think about whom among the 750 guys who start on the field each April might be among those who will wear the scarlet letter.

If nothing else, it makes for good conversation.  As such, none of what follows should be taken as accusatory or even serious.  Let’s just suppose.

Alex Rodriguez played on the Texas Rangers from 2001 through 2003, when he went to the Yanks.   Looking at Rodriguez’s teammates on the Rangers, there seems to be a couple who are known users.  In that period of time some of his teammates were:

Ken Caminiti, self-avowed steroid user who died of a heat attacked caused by a drug overdose in 2004.  He was the first baseball player to publicly admit to steroid use.

Rafael Palmeiro, notorious finger-wagger, who vociferously claimed before Congress that he never used steroids.  He became something of a pariah when it came out later that he tested positive.

Juan Gonzalez, accused by Jose Canseco of steroid use in his book, Juiced, and named in the Mitchell Report in 2001.  There was also a finger pointing incident involving luggage and his trainer, Angel Presinal.

Is it possible to connect the dots between known steroid users and the MVP award (see Bonds circa 2001 through 2004)?  Again, the evidence is only circumstantial but Canseco, Caminiti, Gonzalez, and A-Rod all have the trophy on their mantle.

While guilty by association is fallacious logic, it’s not a huge stretch to think that opportunity and peer pressure could play a role in a Rangers squad that produces that yield.

So after we conclude that their may be another player may be among the 2001-2003 Texas team, who would stand out as possibility?  Well, we may want to examine a player whose number impress, who hits homers prodigiously, whose RBI put him in a class of few.

Mark Teixeira was a teammate with Alex Rodriguez on the Texas Rangers in 2003.  During his career, Teixeira averaged 177 hits, 36 home runs, and 121 RBI per season, prodigious numbers indeed.

Unfortunately, even though this circumstantial evidence lines up very nicely to damn him, the rest of his background points the other way.  Teixeira was always a big guy, clocking in at 218 as a high school senior at Mount St. Joseph’s in Anne Arundel, Maryland.  And he always clobbered the ball, hitting .518 with 10 homers during a 40-game schedule.  So although association and production weigh against him, history would tend to absolve him.

Maybe it’s unfair to look at extraordinary output only to suspect it.  Maybe it’s not right to question great talent, to cast doubt on fine ability.  But, like Watergate, that is what the Steroid Era has brought us to: every great feat is questionable; every record should go under the microscope.

While it may be a great barroom exercise that goes no place, speculating on players on the list of 104 runs into the brick wall of reality.  It requires looking at the whole picture before even beginning to suspect and requiring solid evidence before accusing.  That doesn’t mean we can’t say it; it just means we need to be careful before we mean it.

It was fun anyway.