At first I was amused. To me, the baseball steroid scandal was just a part of the game. It would one day be a wart of a footnote in baseball history. We’d put some duct tape on it and continue to love the game. So I figured I would have some fun with it as I did by inventing the Steroid Name Game. Today, I’m taking it a step further. Borrowing from ESPN college basketball’s Joe Lunardi, I’m going to create my own niche in nerd sports journalism by being the resident genious for “Steroidology”.
The more the steroid story has progressed (or digressed) the more I (and everyone else but the media!) have been turned off. Take away Brett Farve and Michael Vick and the most annoying and over-covered sports stories of this decade are all steroid-related (Canseco, BALCO, Congress hearings, Bonds, McGwire/Sosa aftermath, Clemens and Mcnamee, A-Roid, Manny, Big Papi/Boli). I might as well follow the daily toils of Spencer and Heidi if I want to intentionally make my brain ache.
The thing that really gets me is the hypocrisy. Steroids permeated throughout the game for so long. Yet almost every player acts super self-righteous about how clean they are and that they’ll take any kind of drug test anytime. When a player gets caught he says he only did it once, puts his head between his legs, and then he apologizes for the mistake. It worked for Giambi and Pettite. The media feigns outrage on how they got bamboozled once again. The front office pretends like they had no idea. For goodness sake, as I right this there is still no way to test for the most prevelent steroid HGH! How can you not assume a large majority of players are still on the performance enhancer? The scandal runs deep.
You know what though. I can almost look past all this crap. My love of the game would make me a baseball apologist. I don’t really care that players “cheated” and don’t need to hear about every detail of who and how and why.
But I’ve finally reached my tipping point. LittyDingers is tapped out trying to make sense of how steroids has effected the game of baseball.
There is all this banter and buzz about the list. 104 players tested positive for Steroids in 2003. The test was supposed to be anonymous and the results destroyed. But they weren’t. Now a player is leaked every few months and it brings this crappy steroid saga back to the forefront all over again. I’m sick of it. Sure, I’m curious to see whose on the list. But does it even matter? To me everyone in Baseball is to blame.
I’ve decided t project my own list and I’m just going to assume it’s exactly correct. It will be similar to the dog and pony show that Lunardi does on ESPN complete with the pompousness and geeky inside jokes. I was explaining this to my friend Tanny but he didn’t share in my confidence that I could correctly pick all 104. Instead he just asked a bunch of questions?. I admitted I’d probably only get at least 97 and challenged him to match his list against mine and put up $10 per player. The offer is still out there for whoever is interested. The only other prognosticator that I fear is Jose Canseco as he’s been right almost every single time!
L-Hoops Steroid Projected Field of 104
Here is the criteria for being selected by the committee of me.
- Guilty. I’m listing all players who have already been implicated. If they’ve ever been named in Steriod reports and they played in 2003 they are on the list.
- Stats. Any player that had an unnatural and meteoric rise in Home Runs is suspicious. This includes players that started peaking after their normal prime (28-31) years or who magically reversed their production numbers after they peak. It also takes into account players who suddenly started hitting for power and who had just as sudden declines after MLB officially banned steroids in 2005.
- Nationality. If a large percentage of the players that have been caught so far are from Latin America than it’s a trend worth noting. It seems like you could walk into a bodega in Santo Domingo and order boli con arroz. This doesn’t excuse the Aaron Boone’s of the world but let’s let bygones be bygones (if anybody can explain to me what a bygone is I’ll buy you your next anabolic cycle).
- Team. Steroids is a locker room thing. You live and play with a teammate and he starts killing it. Natural curiosity will get the best of a player and it’s not far fetched that a closed door club house meetings turns into a bunch of dudes stabbing needles up each other arses.
Disclaimer: No actual primary source research has gone into this post or the formation of the list. I have mixe feelings that I may be smearing clean ball players (although I’m pretty sure I’ll go 104 for 104 in Steriodology). I blame the game. Being unfairly implicated on any level is a product of choosing a slimy profession (which baseball was in 2003). If I meet a politician I assume he’s corrupt. If I meet a pharmaceutical sales rep I assume he is a total bullshitter who is great at leaving long-winded voicemails and verbally fluffing doctors. Hence, if you were a power hitter in 2003 you no longer get the benefit of the doubt. Sorry dudes. In fact, I’m including three of my favorite players (Andy Pettite, Shawn Green and Ed Duque). There really is no favoritism here. So don’t think I put 9 Red Sox Players on the list just because I hate them.
Confirmed Players on the 2003 List (#1 Seeds)
Thanks to over ambitious reporters like Mark Fainaru-Wada, Selena Roberts, unknown sources and the union really screwing up we seem to get a name from the shadows every now and then. Below are the four players that have been confirmed to be on the 2003 list
Players Named in Mitchell Report who played in 2003 (Locks)
This ESPN.com list does a thorough job explaining the context of why they were included in the report.
5. Marvin Bernard
6. Bobby Estalella
7. Jason Giambi
8. Jeremy Giambi
9. Benito Santiago
10. Gary Sheffield
11. Randy Velarde
12. David Segui
13. Larry Bigbie
14. Jack Cust
15. Brian Roberts
16. Josias Manzanillo
17. Todd Hundley
18. Matt Franco
19. Rondell White
20. Roger Clemens
21. Andy Pettite
22. Jason Grimsley
23. Greg Zaun
24. Mo Vaugn
25. Denny Neagle
26. Ron Villone
27. Ryan Franklin
28. Todd Pratt
29. Kevin Young
30. Kent Mercker
31. Adam Piatt
32. Miguel Tejada
33. Jason Christenson
34. Mike Stanton
35. Stephen Randolph
36. Jerry Hairston Jr.
37. Paul LoDuca
38. Adam Riggs
39. Fernando Vina
40. Kevin Brown
41. Eric Gagne
42. Matt Herges
43. Garry Bennett
44. Jim Parque
45. Brendan Donnelly
46. Chad Allen
47. Howie Clark
48. Derrick Turnbow
49. Rafael Palmeiro
50. Rick Ankiel
51. David Bell
52. Paul Byrd
53. Jay Gibbons
54. Troy Glaus
55. Jose Gullien
56. Darren Holmes
57. Scott Schoenweis
58. Ismael Valdez
59. Matt Williams
60. Steve Woodard
Players that Have Been Suspended by Baseball (Received Automatic Bids)
Official testing and suspensions started in 2005. The players on this list were in the league in 2003.
61. Juan Rincon
62. Alex Sanchez
63. Rafael Bettencourt
64. Matt Lawton
65. Felix Heredia
66. Carlos Almanzar
67. Guillermo Mota
68. Neifi Perez
69. JC Romero
Guys Who Just Hit Too Many Home Runs
(Projected to be on the list based on their body of work)
70. Richie Sexson (45 Home Runs in 2003)
Sexson might be a natural giant standing 6′8″ but his numbers are just too inconsistent to be trusted. He twice hit 45 Home Runs in a season (including 2003) but had a precipitous drop in production in 2007 when he batted .205 in almost 500 plate appearances. Yuck. He was cut twice in 2008 despite having a 15.5M salary.
71. Carlos Delgado (42)
Forget the fact that Delgado has an impressive 473 career Home Runs. All you need to look at is a 2008 season in which he looked washed up and was about two more dreadful weeks from losing his job and being released but ended up with 38 Home Runs and was an MVP candidate.
72. Andrew Jones (36)
Jones had all the talent in the world as a young prospect and vividly remember the 2 Home Runs he hit as a teenager in game 1 of the World Series against the Yankees in 1996. A few things don’t add up. Jones smacked a combined 92 Home Runs in 2005 and 2006. In 2007 at the peak age of 30 he batted .222 and then last year he hit .158. My guess is that he weighs 75 lbs more than he did when he first entered the league.
73. Preston Wilson (35)
Wilson had his best year in 2003 when he drove in 141 runs. By the time he was 32 he was out of the league.
74. Brett Boone (35)
Boone never hit more than 24 Home Runs in a season going into 2002. Then at the age of 33 he had a power surge where he averaged 33 Home Runs over the next three years. In 2005, he quickly shriveled down to 7 diners in 360 plate appearances and batted .221. Canseco implied that Boone was a user in his book — so put him on the list!
75. Jeremy Burnitz
At the age of 27, Burnitz had more years of life under his belt than career Home Runs. He then went on a five year tear where he averaged close to 33 HR’s per year. Burntiz was a classic swing for the fences power hitter who struck out more than Evanter in his single days. Burnitz is on the bubble but he was around in the Rodomski clubhouse so he makes the list.
76. Reggie Sanders (29)
Sanders was a speed guy who didn’t start to hit for 30+ HR power until he was 33 in 2001. He also stayed in the league till he was 39 and had a better stolen base percentage after he was 34.
77. Dmitri Young (29)
He is a fat guy who was a gap hitter. In 2003 he had 29 HR’s but never hit more than 21 in any other season. Young also won Comeback Player of The Year (a dead giveaway) and bashed Bonds a bit too publicly.
78. Carl Everett (29)
Classic case of roid rage. Shady story about family abuse. He also thinks that “Gays being gay” is wrong. Everett also wondered once, “if everybody in the world goes on steroids, we’ll still lose more kids to a war than we will to steroids”.
79. Nomar Garciaparra (28)
Nomar burst into the league (and his chest burst onto the cover of Sports Illustrated) and led the AL in hitting in ‘99 and 2000. But his decline was as rapid as any player in history and 2003 (age 29) was really his last good season. Boston knew something was up when they traded him. Nomar is even angling because he knows he is on the list. He recently suggsted that many players asked to be put on the list.
81. Jay Payton (28)
Payton had his best season in 2003 when he hit 28 HR (it was in Colorado). He never hit more than 18 HR in any other season. His stats don’t stand out but it amazes me that he hung around in the big leagues for 11 years. The Randomski presence also plays a factor here.
82. Jose Valentin (26)
Utility player was 5′10″ and 175lbs. Doesn’t make sense that he averaged 27 HR a year from the age of 30-34 (2000-2004). Before that string he had only one season with more than 20 HR.
83. Luis Gonzalez (26)
If your looking for the template model of how Steroids are a performance enhancer look no further than this guy. At the age of 33 in 2001 he jacked 57 HR. That is more HR than Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehring, Hank Aaron or Willie Mays ever had in one season. Gonzalez had never hit more than 31 HR in a season before 2001. No juice and there is NO WAY his little jam shot gets out of the infield in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. Gonzalez acts outraged that their is steroid talk around his name. But really, Luis, we all know it’s roid rage!
84. Tony Batista (26)
Tony Batista averaged over 30 HR per year from 2000-2004. After that, from the age 30 on, he hit 7 career HR.
85. Morgan Ensberg (25)
He went from 10 HR in a full season in 2004 to 36 HR and 101 RBI in 2005. Houston got rid of him in 2007 and his career was basically halted at the age of 31. He played on the Yanks for a bit in 2008 and was worthless.
86. Raul Mondesi (24)
I could have sworn that Mondesi was on the Mitchell Report list but I guess not. Mondesi was a beast on the Dodgers - perhaps too big of a beast. He never hit more than 33 HR in a season and his power numbers kind of look Kosher. Yet, if you saw him play day to day on the Yanks you knew that something was up.
87. Brian Giles
Between 1999-2003, Giles average 37 HR. In the last five seasons, he’s never hit more than 15 HR. Instead he was sued for beating his girlfriend.
88. Marcus Giles
Standing all of 5′8″, Giles crushed 21 HR in 2003. Let’s just say this him and his bro were also butt buddies.
89. Shawn Green
This kills me since the jewish superstar was one of my favorite players as a teenager. But let’s be honest, Green had no business averaging 40 HR per year over a five year span between 1998 and 2002. Green power dramitcally dropped off in 2003 and he was out of he league by the age of 34. There’s always the chance that he DIDN’T do steroids and that’s why his production fell off. Are sterioids even kosher?
90. Jason Varitek
Varitek had really little power until 2003 when he knocked 25 round trippers at the age of 31. He’s a good catcher and consummate professional but no way he should ever have 25 jacks in a season. Rumors swirled that he would be named in the Mitchell report but he wasn’t.
91. Kevin Millar
Another Red Sox with 25 Home Runs in 2003. I guess Millar has some pop in his bat but he also was awful for large stretches of his career. But there just always appeared to be something shady about that guy.
92. Travis Hafner
Hafner is huge lugging around a 240 lb frame. He was just starting his career in 2003 but went on to hit 113 HR in the next three season. He hasn’t done much in the last two seasons and it appers like hi career has been derailed by injuries at the age of 30.
93. Edgardo Alfonso
Alfonso had a few great seasons with the Mets but never hit more than 17 HR after he was 27. He was already on the down slope of his career in 2003 and was basically done by 31. It seems like he was either never meant to put up 2 seasons of 25+ HR or he fell off way too quickly. Another guy who was Radomskied!
94. Phil Nevin (13)
Nevin was the overall #1 pick in 1992 but it really took him till the age of 27 in 1999 to break into the big leagues. He had a few monster years in 2000-01. But then injuries set in for the next few seasons. Nevin had another decent year in 2004 but was out of league after 2006. In the 2004 off-season he lost 30 lbs of muscle. I remember him pointing at the fences in disbelief after he hit a ball to the warning track in San Diego. He was basically saying “I can’t even hit it out and I’m cheating!”
95. Ryan Klesko (9)
Klesko was a typical power hitter on the Braves but then just seemed to lose it on the Padres in 2004 when he hit 9 HR at the age of 33. He had 1 HR at the break that season and it was just too fishy for something not to be up.
96. Shane Spencer (12)
Anybody who remembers Spencer’s remarkable performance during his September call up with the Yanks in 1998 knows this is a no brainer. The unheralded prospect hit 10 HR in his first 67 AB’s. He would hang around the league for 5-6 seasons although never hitting more than 12 HR. But let’s face it, he was not a major league talent.
97. Ruben Sierra (9)
Sierra was a all-star player in his prime in the mid 90’s but was basically toast by the age of 31 in 1997. He somehow surfaced again in the big leagues in 2001 at the age of 35 and would go on to play 5 more seasons including hitting 17 HR for the Yankees in 2004 at the age of 38. He either found of the fountain of youth in Mexico or…
98. Ellis Burks
Ellis Burks averaged 28 HR between the age of 34-37. It was the most powerful four year span of his career. In his so called prime with the Red Sox in the early 90’s, Burks never hit more than 21 HR’s.
99. Julio Franco
The oldest guy to hit a HR in the majors (48) had a perfectly sculpted body and looked more like a 25 year old guy when he was 45 than when he was 25.
100. Gabe Kapler
I love Kapler because we hail from the same tribe. But after hitting 49 HR in a three year span early in his career he never hit more than 6 HR in a season. Kapler is a muscle head who was often featured in body building magazines. Got to figure he was taking some kind of banned substance.
101. Oscar Villareal
In 2003, at the age of 21 he led the league by pitching in 86 games. It’s by far the best season he’ll ever have in the big leagues.
102. Kyle Farnswoth
Perhaps the worst human being to ever play the the game of baseball there is no doubt in my mind that Farnsworth was part of this mess. He threw 105 miles per hour but was still somehow ineffective.
103. Julian Tavarez
Tavarez went from awesome to crappy throughout his career. He had horrible facial acne and always seems to be raging on the mound.
104. Livan Hernandez/Orlando Hernandez
The half brothers shared more than just a father. Always a cloud of unexplainable mysteriousness surrounded their careers. Livan ate too much. El Duque disappeared for a few years before surfacing again. Bizarre injuries. Lot of scowls on the mound from Duque.
Too Close To Call
(Teetering on the Anabolic Bubble)
So there you have it. My greater point of this list is that it is representative of what the real list would look like. True, perhaps there is some oversized Dominican shortstop who genuinely started hitting for power at 36. Perhaps he really just decided to eat more spinach (comer mucho espinacas). I do apologize if I’m tarnishing his name. But I just don’t feel bad about it. If players were so worried about the game and the reputation of their good names they should have spoken up long ago. I’ve had enough agonizing over how steroids was ruining baseball. From now on, I’ll have fun with it and I hope you do the same,