Archive: January 9th, 2011

Mike Piazza and the Steroid Issue

If you missed it, loyal MetsToday commenter “Walnutz15” unearthed a New York Times article from 2002 that collected responses from New York baseball players regarding the then-recently published Sports Illustrated story focused on Ken Caminiti and steroids in MLB.

To refresh your memory (or add to it, depending on your age), SI published a controversial story about steroids in baseball (written by Tom Verducci), based primarily on conversations with Caminiti, Jose Canseco, and other admitted steroid users. If you haven’t read it, you should — and you should read it once a year, right around this time, while considering whether certain players from a certain era should or shouldn’t be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Why? Because it paints a very clear picture of what was happening in baseball (MLB, minors, college, and yes, high school) at that time. I can confidently support the article because I speak from personal experience; I played with and against young men who “juiced” — at the high school, college, semipro and pro levels — and I can tell you that at least a few of them went from marginal amateur prospects to #1 draft picks and/or MLB players as a direct result of taking steroids. No, I’m not naming names; but as an example, I watched one individual go from throwing 84 MPH as a high school senior to 97 MPH as a college junior — and not because he hit a natural growth spurt or learned better mechanics. So anyone who claims that steroids can’t artificially improve a baseball player’s skill set, probably has never stepped foot on a regulation baseball field and seen the effects first-hand (and that would account for about 90% of all beat writers/bloggers/broadcasters/pundits and 99% of all BBWAA HOF voters).

Now, back to the NY Times article, which is still compelling as we review it almost ten years later. Among the players quoted — who expressed their anger over Caminiti’s expose and steadfastly denied using steroids themselves — included (among others) Jason Giambi, Mo Vaughn, Mike Stanton, and Mike Piazza. Interesting group, eh?

Just for kicks, let’s look at a few of those quotes.