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Canseco fuels ‘roid rage

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Jose Canseco opened a fat can of worms when he snitched out his ex teammates and buddies for using steroids.

Now, who knows when all the hullabaloo will die down. It may never.

Records are tainted and, because rumor and speculation are the closest things to evidence, we’ll never know which ones are.

But why are people acting surprised that major league ballplayers have been using steroids? It’s not surprising at all. It wasn’t even surprising a decade ago.

It’s been 17 years since the “Bash Brothers'” bodies began swelling like the Incredible Hulk’s – something Canseco brags about in his tell-all book, “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball got Big.”

“I was the Godfather of the steroid revolution,” he wrote.

Not only does Canseco boast about his cheating ways, he accuses others as well.

Each player named in his book, whether retired or playing, guilty or innocent, will forever be hounded by the media because of Canseco’s shameless finger pointing.

What they ought to do is team up, stalk Canseco outside a bar he’s drinking in, then pounce and beat him in retribution. (There are probably be better ways of handling the situation, but that’s one option).

Who’s to blame

Despite the rumors, and facts, of steroid use in baseball, the game itself should not have to pay the price. It’s still the greatest ever invented, and it’s not the game’s fault that Bud Selig, or any commissioner before him, opted not to enforce a steroid testing policy.

With no enforceable policy, it’s not the players’ fault for using steroids, either. Sure it’s cheating, and can cause bodily harm, but it’s the league’s responsibility to enforce the rules, which will inevitably be broken otherwise.

That’s been proven in nearly every professional sport.

Who’s to say that, given the opportunity, players 80 years ago wouldn’t have used performance enhancing drugs? The Great Bambino, Babe Ruth, may very well have taken steroids if provided the opportunity. But we’ll never know, nor will we with any other former players.

Baseball legends such as Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle supposedly used corked bats, but nobody discredits their accomplishments like they do when Sammy Sosa does the same.

And what about all the major league pitchers who illegally greased or scuffed the baseball in order to gain an edge over the batter? Nobody discredits the master of the greaseball, Gaylord Perry, or Don Sutton, who wrote a book chronicling his blatant doctoring of baseballs.

There’s a saying in baseball that goes: “It ain’t cheating if you don’t get caught.” Now players are getting caught. And Canseco is capitalizing.

In the long run, though, Canseco’s tattling may actually be a good thing – for Major League Baseball and for the health of its steroid-abusing players.

But that doesn’t excuse Canseco from being a rat.

Sincere warnings

The late Lyle Alzado, an NFL Hall of Fame defensive end remembered for his tenacious sacking of quarterbacks, admitted that he began using steroids in 1969.

Alzado in 1991 told Sports Illustrated that he introduced a number of his Raiders teammates to the drug in the 1980s. But he didn’t name each of them in an attempt to rekindle his notoriety. Instead, he tried to warn other athletes, and non-athletes, not to follow in his footsteps.

“It wasn’t worth it,” he said. “If you’re on steroids or human growth hormone, stop. I should have.”

Alzado died from brain lymphoma in 1992.

Robert Hazelton, a former heavyweight boxer whose legs were amputated because of gangrene caused by years of heavy steroid use, has dedicated his life to cautioning others. Hazelton says Canseco should be thanked for writing his book.

I disagree. Canseco shows no signs of remorse for using steroids, and provides no warning as to the possible dangers of the drug.

In a recent 60 Minutes interview he said: “I don’t recommend steroids for everyone. I don’t recommend human growth hormone for everyone. But for certain individuals, I truly believe it can make an average athlete into a super athlete.” Great. That’s just what aspiring young athletes need to hear.

Canseco claims he wrote the book because, “everyone needs to know the truth.”

The truth is, Canseco sought major profit and attention from the book, and he got it. He’ll continue to, as well, as he is already talking about starring in a movie about his life.

So nobody should thank Canseco for cashing in on a golden, yet scandalous, opportunity to get richer.

It’s great that Major League Baseball is finally cleansing itself of steroids, but Canseco doesn’t deserve any credit.

Sylas Wright is the sports editor at the Sierra Sun. Contact him at swright@sierrasun.com.


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