Will Sandy Alderson Answer the Steroid Question?

Ian O’Connor of ESPN-NY points out an intriguing chink in Sandy Alderson’s armor — and wonders if he’ll apologize for it:

… when he steps to the microphone as Omar Minaya’s replacement, Alderson should take the time of offer an apology. He should say he’s sorry for being an enabler at a time when baseball desperately needed a whistle-blower and a leader.

He should say he’s sorry for allowing the monstrous steroid culture to grow fangs on his watch.


As awesome as Alderson appears, no one is perfect — but it’s surprising that one of his glaring imperfections would be brought to the forefront so quickly. He hasn’t even officially taken over as Mets GM, and the skeletons in the closet are already rattling.

O’Connor details the A’s winning years, which were strongly supported by steroids — first by “Bash Brothers” Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, and later by Canseco’s return and players such as Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada.

The argument that every GM from back then is the same: a patent head-in-the-sand conviction that they didn’t know what was going on.

Also from O’Connor’s article:

Asked by phone Wednesday if it would’ve been hard for an executive to run those A’s teams without being aware that players were using steroids, Stejskal said, “Yeah, it would. I would find that difficult to believe, especially with someone as smart and street-wise as Sandy Alderson.”

That’s not to say that the hiring of Alderson will result in mass steroid use — the Mets have already done a fine job of infiltrating PEDs throughout their system. It’s simply a plea by O’Connor for an apology of some sort — which of course won’t happen. It’s also O’Connor pointing out that as perfect as Alderson appears, he ain’t. But it’s cool to know he’s “street-wise”, because that goes a long way in the big city.

(Compare this to five years ago, when Omar Minaya seemed to be the “perfect” choice because he had a great reputation as a “talent evaluator”. Ironically, that rep was also tied to steroids — his claim to fame was the “discovery” of Sammy Sosa as a scout and the signings of players such as Juan Gonzalez and Pudge Rodriguez while he was a scouting director. But I digress …)

To me, this news is somewhat comforting; with all the hype surrounding Alderson over the past few weeks, I was beginning to think that Sandy Alderson was superhuman. It was making me feel kind of … inferior … to the point where I was considering taking some kind of vitamin or supplement, just to feel as much a “man” as Sandy Alderson appears to be. Now that I know he probably puts his pants on one leg at a time, I can stop trolling the interwebs for artificial enhancements.

O’Connor closes with this, which is really the crux of the matter:

But Alderson has a hole in his game the size of Citi Field, as do scores of fellow executives and union leaders who once looked the other way. Alderson is likely to preach accountability with the sad sack Mets, and that’s fine.

He would make that pitch credible if he started with himself, and took a few minutes on introduction to apologize for an opportunity lost.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Joe D. October 28, 2010 at 12:14 am
    Damn Joe, Ian O’Connor stiffed me!

    Now I know how Willie Randolph felt!

    Just kidding of course but I actually was wondering the same thing over a week ago.


  2. Berbalerbs October 28, 2010 at 10:15 am
    You know whose name you could swap out with Sandy’s here with regards to looking the other way on steroids?


    This is several miles past ridiculous. There were roiders on every single team in baseball. The fact that Jose Canseco wrote a book and played for the A’s is about as important as my favorite color in this matter. (blue, if you were wondering.)

  3. Walnutz15 October 28, 2010 at 10:21 am
    Amen, Berb. You can include Minor League, Collegiate, and High School coaches along with the rest, as well.

    Who the hell cares?

    2 words for Ian O’Connor: Shut Up.

  4. Joe Janish October 28, 2010 at 11:09 am
    O’Connor’s point is that Alderson is likely to make accountability a priority, and if he does, he needs to first hold himself accountable.

    “Everybody did it” isn’t an excuse to shirk from responsibility.

    • Berbalerbs October 28, 2010 at 11:30 am
      I looked at Ian’s wiki page and it says he graduated college in the early 80’s, which means I’m guessing he was covering baseball for either the Bergen Record or ESPN during the Steroid Era.

      I’m curious: Where is Ian O’Connor’s steroid expose piece from ’94? I’m sure beat writers noticed players tripling in size just as much as everyone else did.

      My point is, if O’Connor is going to preach about other people being responsible, perhaps he should include sports journalists, whose job it is to keep the public informed of what’s going on in sports, and who did an equal amount of NOTHING to address the steroids issue. Ian is as guilty as any baseball front-office guy for not saying anything.

      Or is it ok because “every journalist was ignoring it” ?

      • Andy October 28, 2010 at 11:44 am
        Journalists have to fact-check their stories. Even if they strongly suspected something, if they were getting a cone of silence from all actual witnesses they couldn’t have gone public with anything.
        • Berbalerbs October 28, 2010 at 11:52 am
          Really? You’re saying journalists have never used circumstantial evidence to speculate about things in an article?

          Because O’Connor’s article is based on the assumption that Sandy knew exactly what was going on with regard to steroids when he was with the A’s, with no actual evidence.

          I agree that O’Connor couldn’t have written an article titled “Player X is definitely using steroids” back in the day, but you’re saying he couldn’t have written an opinion piece along the lines of “Bulking up Baseball: Does anyone else notice something fishy?”

        • Joe Janish October 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm
          I don’t know for sure how long Ian has been doing sportswriting, but he has been on the PEDs issue since before MLB did testing.

          Here’s an article of his from 2003:

        • Berbalerbs October 28, 2010 at 3:08 pm
          Fair enough. I still think it’s ludicrous to single out one person for an institution-wide problem, regardless of what their “mantra” is assumed to be.

          To me, this is like if he wrote a column specifically calling out the Mara family for not speaking up about football concussions earlier.

          I’m pretty sure Alderson’s job description as GM for the A’s didn’t include “eradicate performance enhancing drugs from baseball,” so the only way he was “accountable” for steroids is from a self-righteous moral crusader’s perspective.

  5. Andy October 28, 2010 at 11:11 am
    I think it would be consistent with Alderson’s elder statesman approach to come clean about the PED issue even if he was no worse than anyone else.

    Joe, did you mean “infiltrating PEDs throughout the system”? It sounds as if you’re saying the Mets are purposely trying to get various players in their systems to use PEDs. Did you mean “eradicating”?

    • Joe Janish October 28, 2010 at 1:41 pm
      I meant infiltrating. It was my snide way of pointing out that the Mets have had quite a few minor league players suspended for steroid use over the years.

      This post’s focus isn’t steroids, so I didn’t see the need to detail the issue any further.