Archive for January, 2013

…. Keep it continuous

So the latest PED bombshell implicates Alex Rodriguez, among others, and once again exposes the absolute absurdity of attempting to regulate the actions of adults in a free society:

…. The name that really made Garcia's jaw drop was hometown hero Alex Rodriguez.

Born and raised in Miami and starring on the diamond since he was 18 years old, A-Rod admitted in 2009 that he had used steroids, claiming in an ESPN

interview that his doping was limited to a three-year window — 2001 through 2003 — while he played under a record contract for the Texas Rangers. Ever since then, A-Rod claimed, he'd been playing clean. He'd never failed an MLB drug test since penalties were put into place.

Yet there was his name, over and over again, logged as either “Alex Rodriguez,” “Alex Rod,” or his nickname at the clinic, “Cacique,” a pre-Columbian Caribbean chief. Rodriguez's name appears 16 times throughout the records New Times reviewed.

Take, for instance, one patient list from Bosch's 2009 personal notebook. It charts more than 50 clients and notes whether they received their drugs by delivery or in the office, how much they paid, and what they were taking.

There, at number seven on the list, is Alex Rodriguez. He paid $3,500, Bosch notes. Below that, he writes, “1.5/1.5 HGH (sports perf.) creams test., glut., MIC, supplement, sports perf. Diet.” HGH, of course, is banned in baseball, as are testosterone creams.

That's not the only damning evidence against A-Rod, though. Another

document from the files, a loose sheet with a header from the 19th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging and Aesthetic Medicine, lays out a full regimen under the name Cacique: “Test. cream… troches prior to workout… and GHRP… IGF-1… pink cream.”

IGF-1 is a banned substance in baseball that stimulates insulin production and muscle growth. Elsewhere in his notebook, Bosch spells out that his “troches,” a type of drug lozenge, include 15 percent testosterone; pink cream, he writes, is a complex formula that also includes testosterone. GHRP is a substance that releases growth hormones.

There's more evidence. On a 2009 client list, near A-Rod's name, is that of Yuri Sucart, who paid Bosch $500 for a weeklong supply of HGH. Sucart is famous to anyone who has followed baseball's steroid scandal. Soon after A-Rod's admission, the slugger admitted that Sucart — his cousin and close friend — was the mule who provided the superstar his drugs. In 2009, the same year this notebook was written, Sucart (who lives in South Miami and didn't respond to a message left at his home) was banned from all Yankees facilities.

The mentions of Rodriguez begin in 2009 and continue all the way through last season. Take a page in another notebook, which is labeled “2012″ and looks to have been written last spring. Under the heading “A-Rod/Cacique,” Bosch writes, “He is paid through April 30th. He will owe May 1 $4,000… I need to see him between April 13-19, deliver troches, pink cream, and… May meds. Has three weeks of Sub-Q (as of April).”

I'd suggest that A-Rod is well on his way to being suspended, as this evidence is fairly detailed and quite damning. Of course, he's already expected to miss the first half of the season after his hip surgery, so maybe Brian Cashman already knew something was up when he suggested that A-Rod might miss the whole season….

Hat Tip to Baseball Musings.

UPDATE: Verducci waited all of two seconds to of another sportswriter:

…. Rodriguez's career never has been in more doubt than it is today. His health and reputation are in tatters. He turns 38 in July. The incentives the Yankees included in his contract for “milestone” home runs now stand as even more awkward reminders that his achievements are fraudulent.

What will become of him? The Yankees would wish he never puts on their uniform again, writing him and his contract off to the insurance companies or, if they have the stomach for it, to try to invalidate the agreement because of his use of PEDs, the way they once threatened to do with Jason Giambi. Rodriguez must give a full accounting of himself and this report to Selig and, quickly, to baseball fans. You can see Oprah, Katie Couric and Dr. Phil already lined up at his doorstep for the next sports confessional.

There you go. Thanks to Verducci, A-Rod knows what to do next. Run to Tom Verducci, and tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to him and Lupica, so he and Mike can protect all the baseball fans who are “hurt” by these allegations. Thanks, Tom.


…. Opposition

I've been waiting to write something about the Lance Armstrong situation. I'm not sure why, really, but it finally dawned on me while reading this excellent article by Molly Ball, in the Atlantic Monthly. In the piece, Ball interviews her father, an amateur cyclist when he was younger, as they are watching the Armstrong/Oprah interview. Here are some of the exchanges:

…. But back to the question about drugs—you've sort of led me to believe you didn't entirely disapprove of them.

Had I had Lance Armstrong's body, and had I had the possibilities he had—that is to say, if I were able to somehow magically find myself in the pro peloton—I have no confidence that I would have refused the blandishments to which he eventually succumbed. Besides, as you know, you're talking to a father who's a vitamin freak.

Right, you believe in better living through chemistry.

Keep in mind that our lives are fundamentally different in part because of the understanding of the human body that modern science has made available to us. A good deal of the technology that's outlawed in sport and the subject of great scorn is the same technology that allows us to save AIDS patients from wasting, that allows us to bring many, many disabilities and disease states back from the brink to something like full functioning. I myself have been taking supplemental testosterone for medical reasons for 15 years, with no ill effects. These things are powerful weapons that mankind has developed for good.

…. You said to me once, and I've never forgotten it, “The perfection of the human form is a worthy goal, and if a few teenage boys' reproductive systems have to be sacrificed to that end, so be it.”

[laughing] I said that?

We were talking about steroids, I think. So were you just being outrageous, or is there a part of you that feels that way?

There's a

part of me that feels that way. Not perhaps with that particular example, but in the larger sense. Had somebody, at one moment in my life, offered me some sort of a Faustian choice—would you like to win the Tour de France or would you like, I don't know, to prove great [mathematical] theorems—I wouldn't have hesitated. I would have chosen to win the Tour. I cared so much about it. Maybe it would have been a foolish mistake, but there's no doubt I would have chosen it.

All in all, a reasoned, thoughtful take on a conflicted and difficult situation. Well worth the read. And then, there is Lupica:

…. It was new and noteworthy only because one of the great phonies and great frauds in the history of sports was finally saying this himself, not saying he was clean when he wasn’t, not attacking the real truth tellers, not suing anybody who tried to cross him, not calling his accusers crazy and calling them whores.

“The story was perfect for so long,” Armstrong said to Oprah Winfrey, who had chances all night long to come after him hard and didn’t, just seemed happy to have him sitting there and answering her questions. “The mythic perfect story and it wasn’t true.”

Later on, maybe half an hour in, Armstrong stated the obvious, to go along with the obvious admissions about his drug taking.

“I’m not the most believable guy in the world right now,” he said, and somehow, in this distracted way, acted as if he saw that as being some sort of temporary thing, instead of a lifetime sentence, along with the real lifetime sentence that will come in the aftermath of these admissions, the one where nobody thinks that guy is fascinating or important ever again.

See, for Mike Lupica, athletes are heroes (like Stan Musial, who Lupica could hardly write more glowingly about if he had cured cancer), or they are liars and cheats. Athletes who are coached, prodded, pushed and manipulated into giving everything they have, over and over, from high school and even earlier, these athletes have to remember to never, ever do anything that might not be deemed acceptable by Lupica and Verducci and the rest of these children savers.

Here's what Professor Ball has to say about the culture of drug use in cycling, amateur cycling, back in the '70's:

…. one day there would be some racer that you knew or had raced with or had trained with and you would drop him off the back—he couldn't get out of his own way. And two days later you couldn't hold his wheel—this was just not the same rider, not the same human being. And this was just at the lowest level of amateur riding.

So under those circumstances you're very soon forced to deal with that. You're not going to be competitive with that if all you've got are the legs God gave you. I have no confidence that I would not have started taking that stuff in that situation, no confidence.

At the professional levels of sport, the pressure to win at all costs, is immeasurable. Watching the NFL's Championship Sunday, I was struck by how casually the media covered the injuries some of the football players were either playing through, or were going through right in front of us. Ray Lewis, another athlete who is being painted as a “leader” a “man's man” an “inspiration to all” was shown on TV about as much as Tom Brady, maybe even more. Everyone knows about the unfortunate circumstance's that led to Lewis being charged in a double homicide. That's been swept away as his inspiring comeback from a devastating injury has found him leading his team to the Super Bowl.

What medical miracles have made this happen? What drugs were legally prescribed by his doctors that enabled him to recover from a torn muscle in such rapid fashion?

I have worked in construction for almost 35 years. I live in constant pain. I've already had surgery on my right elbow,

I am going to have surgery on my left in a couple of months. I am getting HGH injections in my right shoulder, the left is next. I have just begun a topical cream regimen of steroids, oral DHEA, and a variety of supplements and vitamins, all in an effort to keep working. To provide for my family. In a way, I have done whatever it takes, I have lived a “win at all costs” life. There were times where I knew I was damaging my body in unfixable ways, all the days that I took pain killers, the multiple times I asked my doctors to give me corti-steroidal injections so I could finish the job. I'll be paying the price for those choices for the rest of my life. I knew it at the time, and I know it now.

Were I a football player, baseball player, or a professional cyclist, my “job” would require me to win. To keep my “job” I would have to produce, I would have to be at least as good as the worst player in my field. And I can guarantee you that I would have been availing myself of every medical advance known at the time. It is absurd to me to suggest that I would have had to consider whether somebody else approved of my life-altering decisions.

Who is Mike Lupica to tell me that I cannot avail myself of the same medical and scientific advances in physical health that some carpenter in California can?

Why have we decided that allowing athletes to get the most out of their bodies is wrong, while every other person in the country is allowed –allowed?– encouraged daily to do so?

We are living in a world of amazing advances in health, breakthroughs are being made all the time, all designed to make your life better. Longer lasting youthful bodies, better sex, better strength, stronger muscles, bones, eyesight….

For everyone but our athletes. Athletes have to do it with what they were born with, that's that. Well, not really. If they do it in a way that Mike Lupica approves of, then it's all OK. Curt Schilling can lead the Red Sox to a World Series title on the strength of painkilling injections, but A-Rod can't get muscle strengthening steroid injections, because that's different. Mariano Rivera can have his ACL rebuilt with a ligament from a cadaver so that he can pitch again, but Mark McGwire can't use steroids to help his muscles and ligaments and tendons repair themselves and grow stronger so that he can hit again, because that's different.

And don't talk to me about getting stronger or bigger from a needle. Not a single athlete indicted by these crusaders as a cheat got result one without a level of hard work, dedication and sacrifice that you or I would find unimaginable. So fine, Lance wasn't only on his bike. But you can bet your ass he was on his bike.

Slippery slope? It's a cliff. The position is untenable. Fifty years from now, we're going to laugh at Mike Lupica's assertions that these athletes should be vilified. Science will eventually win out, and athletes will avail themselves of all the benefits of modern medicine, their careers will be lengthened, the record books will be rewritten.

Because realize this; what Lupica and the rest of the children savers are saying is that these athletes only get to be as great as their natural state will allow. That is his message, distilled down to it's essence. Be only as great as you are with what God gave you. If that means you are finished at 29 or 30 years old (like Sandy Koufax or Dale Murphy) because your body cannot handle the rigors of your sport any longer, so be it. If you are unable to stay on the field due to brittle ligaments and tendons (like Mark McGwire), too bad. If you can't recover from injuries fast enough, or completely enough, if you can no longer sustain the strength, flexibility and energy needed to be the best, and your career looks like it's coming to an end (like, say, Roger Clemens or Andy Pettitte), tough shit. Go retire.

Lupica and his friends say so.


…. Talk talk

Well, the Hall of Fame vote has come and gone, and the child-savers have made their point:

Bill Madden:

…. By mimicking Congress on the deficit debate and kicking the steroid needles down the road for another year, the Baseball Writers Association of America made a powerful statement Wednesday that it does take the integrity/sportsmanship clause in the Hall of Fame ballot seriously and that the writers plan to look long and hard at all the proven and suspected cheats before awarding them a plaque in Cooperstown.

Only someone blinded by power and self-aggrandizing moralizing could fail to see the irony of being proud to mimic Congress, at a time when our government has an all-time low approval rating. Oh, and of course, Madden voted for Jack Morris, perhaps the most poorly qualified candidate of the last ten years. His argument for Morris is as flawed as his arguments against Bonds and Clemens, or, for that matter, Piazza.

…. Voting for a known steroid user is endorsing steroid use. (um…. no it isn't) Having spent too much of the past two decades or so covering baseball on the subject of steroids — what they do, how the game was subverted by them, and how those who stayed away from them were disadvantaged — I cannot endorse it.

Based on past statements, such a dismissal is also obvious to many former players, including Hank Aaron, who has said no steroid users should go into the Hall (“The game has no place for cheaters”), Andre Dawson (“Individuals have chosen the wrong road, and they're choosing that as their legacy”), Goose Gossage (“Cheaters should absolutely not be in the Hall of Fame”), Todd Zeile (“Why doesn't anybody see that it's cheating and it's wrong?”), David Wells (“To me, if you've cheated as a player, that's as bad as being a scab”) and Dale Murphy (“Everyone understood that it was against the law . . . It was also against the spirit of the game. That's why everybody did it in secret. I have a hard time endorsing that, because there were a lot of guys who decided, 'I'm not going to do that.'”)

Where are all the former players arguing for known steroid users to be in the Hall? Anybody?

The former players who are speaking out against steroid users are conveniently ignoring the fact that they all used amphetamines throughout their careers, as did virtually every player who played baseball up until the

credit score range

steroid hysteria led to the new drug testing system. The ones who won't come out and support the alleged steroid users are afraid they'll have to be asked about their own use of illegal drugs to gain an advantage. Verducci comes across as especially hypocritical when he characterizes “greenies” as diet pills. Right.

Also in his completely bullshit op-ed piece is his admission that he has decided that he knows who has used PED's and who didn't. It's always exciting when you get to write about what people have done in their lives while ignoring facts, or their lack. More tragically, know-nothing, soap box pontificators like Verducci get to decide whether a player who has worked his ass off for thirty years gets to be acknowledged for their sacrifice and career accomplishments.

But, that's what happens when people with literally NO TRAINING WHATSOEVER in the use and results of performance enhancing drugs are given the power to decide who warrants inclusion and who is shut out.

The good news is that it is all but certain the Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, Palmeiro and the dozens of other superstars of the last 15 years will eventually gain entry to the Hall of Fame. And then, the old-timers –who were as guilty as sin of using the steroids of their era– can puff their chests out and whine about how these guys are the bad guys. Not them. Oh no, they

care about the children.


All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
None of the opinions expressed should be construed as being endorsed by the
San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball, or any other organization mentioned herein.

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