DFA: A BLOG ABOUT LIFE ON THE BASEBALL MARGINS: December 20, 2007
DFA, Part 4: Juicemen
I’m probably the only ballplayer in the world who wishes he was in the Mitchell Report. Hell, I’d settle for a footnote.
Don’t be shocked. It’s simple: If I was on the list, it would mean I was in the Show – where I hear that the drug testing is so weak, it’s multiple choice. Unlike the minors, which in addition to all its other drawbacks, has way more stringent drug tests but far weaker juice. I’m talkin’ stuff that’s half-Chinese lead-based testosterone and half motor oil. Stuff the local musclehead deals out of the trunk of his Chevy truck and that’s as likely to kill you as pump you up.
Which is a big reason I never juiced. Oh, I’ve been tempted, and a lot of my teammates through the years have done it. Take Winston Scott, a Jamaican dude who was once in the A’s organization and used to squawk to whoever would listen about how in spring training “Canseco and Big Mac would take me in the stall and shoot me right in the cheeks, mahn. Right in the goddamned cheeks.”
Unfortunately, “Cheeks,” as Scott became known, didn’t know that to benefit from steroids you had to actually work out and not spend all your free time chasing tail and eating at Pasta-Man Vibration, a Jamaican-Italian fast food takeout joint in Ft. Wayne that served truly disgusting stuff like linguini with jerk sauce.
Cheeks ended up fat and blown up. Like the BALCO float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. He lost a step or three and his bat speed slowed down to where you didn’t need slow-mo replay to see it in slow-mo, and last I heard was playing in a beer league in and trying to convince the owners of Pasta-Man Vibration to turn it into a franchise.
The second reason why I never juiced is that I’m a terrible liar and/or cheater. From the time I was a kid, you could read my face like a large-print book. I went to Catholic schools and so grew up feeling guilty until proven innocent. Hell, put me in a room with some Feds long enough, and I might confess to boarding a plane with a bomb hidden in my cleats.
So I knew that if I took Winstrol or Deca or HgH or any of the new designer ‘roids and somebody asked me about them – even if they came up in conversation with people around me – I’d feel so guilty, well, they could convict me on bad vibes alone.
Third reason why I didn’t juice: I wanted to know that if ever made it to the Show, it was due to my own natural abilities and not the result of some geek playing Igor in the back of his garage with a home-made chemistry set. Same reason why I didn’t hustle. If there was one sage bit of advice my dad gave me, it was to “be yourself.” Even if yourself happened to be a squatty-looking, mediocre-ly talented, under-ambitious dude who might never make the major leagues and instead end up selling aluminum siding.
And a lot of guys I played with weren’t savvy about how to juice – how much or what to take, and how to beat the tests – and so risked liver damage, heart problems, testicles the size of a gnat’s and, oh, yeah, getting busted.
Not to say I can blame them or that I wasn’t tempted. Twenty pounds of muscle from “hitting the iron last winter” could turn warning track power into big flies, and turn $1,500 a month (what a first-year AA player gets) into a big-league job and money that grows itself. That’s if you believe all the hype. Far as I know, nobody’s even proven that ‘roids help you hit a baseball. They might help you to recover from an injury or a week of Jason Giambi-like partying (at least, that’s what Canseco says in his book).
It’s not like I never considered roiding out, especially one night when my roomie on the Quad City River Bandits, Yoyo Garcia Marquez, left some syringes and vials out on the top of the dresser we shared. I started thinking about how I could pull an Incredible Hulk and mesmerize chicks with my muscle-popping physique, so that for once they would hit on me instead of me spending all night trying to work up the nerve to ask one out and then being crushed like a fly because, like a jungle animal, the chick could smell my fear. And if I made the Show, how I’d walk into a bar in our home town and by the time the bartender had mixed me my first Cosmo, they’d be draped all over me like kudzu.
But those fantasies made me kind of ashamed of myself. They reminded me of how needy I was for a woman and how the want women stirred up inside me churned my guts and how I resented and fought it and how clichéd and 15-year-old the fantasy scenes were, like a before-and-after ad for beer-after shave-Viagra-you name it. (I know I am violating the macho code of ballplayers – of guys in general – who aren’t supposed to admit to or even feel the power women have over them and the fear they drill into them. And boy wouldn’t it rock your world – way more than catching him with a needle in his butt – if you saw, like I did, an All-Star slugger at his locker bawling like a colicky baby because one of his road trip babes dumped him for a pro football player.
Sorry if I’m boring you Blog Monster readers who want me to go on with the colorful stories of baseball’s bottom-feeders. I’d better start giving you dudes what you want, or you’ll probably mouse off to ESPN or Baseball Prospectus, or even Double-Teamed Teens to release your frustration.)
And in a way I felt sorry for guys like Yoyo, who would do anything – even turn his room into a shooting gallery – to try and make the Show. (What’s strange is that his mother was Jewish and that he wouldn’t play on Yom Kippur or eat anything that wasn’t kosher. I guess he got a rabbi to bless his Clenbuterol.)
Before I move on, just a couple thoughts on the Mitchell Report. Point #1: I’m not the smartest dude in the world, but didn’t it strike you as strange to watch a U.S. senator who once shilled for the tobacco industry acting all self-righteous because he wants to protect American “teen-agers” from steroids. I don’t remember hanging out in front of the 7-11 in high school and bribing an older kid to go in and “buy me a pack of steroids.” But who knows the crazy s—t kids do these days. For all I know, they knock back steroid Slurpies.
Point #2: A guy who’s a mucky-muck with the Bosox is put in charge of a drug probe over all 30 teams. And not one Red Sox player who’s still on the roster is on the “list” of ‘roid rats? And the law firm that handled the investigation just happens to be Mitchell’s firm? Just coincidences, I guess.