Article Archive: A Look At the Steroid Era

This was a newsletter exclusive that I am releasing now. I will also be releasing some of my older newsletters on the mailing list tab.

Baseball’s ugliest moments are disputed. Some say that it’s the Black Sox trial. Others say that it’s the moment that Ray Chapman died on the field. But I think that it’s when baseball’s most popular stars were brought down for drug use.

To this day, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, and Manny Ramirez have not made the Hall of Fame. This is due to Performance Enhancing Drugs, or PEDs. It’s also known as steroids.

Where to begin with the Steroid Era? Baseball’s ugliest time to date seemed an amazing time for baseball. In 1981 fandom soared to a new low after the strike shortened 1981 season. It happened again in 1995 after the strike canceled the year. But soon fans began to show up to games. This was because of players like Bonds and Sosa.

To navigate through this era, we are going to look at Bonds in particular, but I’ll also cover some of the big names in the infamous Mitchell Report that brought baseball down, and sickens me to this day.

Barry Lamar Bonds was born on July 24, 1964 in Riverside, California. He went to Junipero Serra HS and then attended Arizona State for college. He was drafted in the second of the 1982 draft, but did not sign, and he attended ASU. In the 1985 draft he was drafted by the Pirates in the first round. This time a 20 year old Bonds signed. Bonds skipped through the minor leagues and he broke into the majors in 1986, when he slashed .223/.330/.416 with 16 HR in 413 AB. In 1987 Bonds got the full time role, and he played with the Pirates until the 1993 season. In 1993 he signed with the Giants, and the rest is history.

He tore up the league in 1993 with an unreal stat line of .336/.458/.677 with 46 HR. He “fell off” the next year, and in the 1995 he was still a super star. 1996 was another amazing year, and so were 1997 and 1998. In 1999 He only played in 102 games and did not make the All-Star team. 2000-2004 were the best years of his career, even if he was ages 35-39. 2005 he was injured, and ‘06 and ‘07 were very productive years. And then he was shown the door at the age of 42 by the MLB in the wake of the Mitchell Report.

Remember how I said that 2000-2004 were amazing years? That’s no coincidence.

I have obtained the official Mitchell Report that was released on December 13, 2007. The Mitchell Report was the official whistle blower into the scandal.

Harvey Shields was Barry Bonds’s personal trainer from 2000-2004, and he continued to provide Bonds training services as a Giants employee from 2004-2006. Shields said in an interview that Greg Anderson provided Bonds with “arthritis cream”. Shields also said that Anderson provided Bonds with a clear liquid that was to be placed under his tongue.

Shields said that he thought that the cream was flaxseed oil. But Patrick Arnold, the chemist who developed it, said that he substance was sticky bitter and would never be confused with flaxseed oil.

Peter Magowan told George Mitchell that he released a telephone call from Barry Bonds to talk about ways to improve the team for the coming season. At the end of the call, Magowan asked Bonds, “I’ve really got to know, did you take steroids?” Bonds responded that he took steroids, but he didn’t know that he was taking them. He later found out what they were. He also said that he took these substances for a period of time to help with his failing arthritis, along with his Dad’s horrible health. To emphasize that he wasn’t hiding anything, Bonds said that he used these in plain view of his teammates. Magowan asked if this was what Bonds said to the grand jury. Bonds said yes. Magowan then asked if Bonds was telling the truth. Bonds said yes. This same story stayed very consistent with Bonds.

The BALCO raid played a key part in the Mitchell Report and frankly the whole investigation.

On September 3, 2003, law officers raided Bay Area Laboratory Co. The raid was part of an investigation that had been going on since 2002. On the day of the raid, Victor Conte, the founder of of BALCO, agreed to be interviewed by federal agents. He told them that BALCO provided the “elemental analysis of blood and urine samples.” Conte also said that BALCO gave elite athletes substances that he referred to as “the cream” and “the clear” and that they were “athletic performance enhancing substances.” Conte said that “the clear” was a liquid with anabolic effects that helps athletes recover. He bought the clear from Patrick Arnold. Conte said that “the cream” was something that the athletes rubbed on their skin, and was a combo of testosterone and epitestostorone. Conte said that he obtained the cream from “other sources”. The combo allowed athletes to pass drug tests. Conte said that he gives the clear and the cream to athletes so that they can increase athletic performance without getting caught by testers.

Conte said that he sold both the cream and the clear to many athletes, including Barry Bonds.

A direct quote from the Mitchell report on the BALCO and Greg Anderson involvement in the scandal is:

“At the beginning of this major league baseball season, Greg Anderson, a personal trainer at Bay Area Fitness who works closely with several major league baseball players, brought in several of the players to Balco in order to obtain the undetectable cream and clear. This was done because of Major League Baseball’s new drug testing policy. Barry Bonds was one of the players that Anderson brought to Conte to obtain “the clear” and “the cream”. Bonds takes “the clear” and “the cream” on a regular basis. The protocol for using the substances is two times per week for “the clear” and two times per week for “the cream”. The athletes do this for three weeks then take one week off. [BALCO vice president] Jim Valente deals more with Anderson than Conte does. Anderson last got some of “the clear” and “the cream” from Conte for his athletes about three (3) or (4) weeks ago.”

This quote was paraphrasing one of Conte’s quotes from September 3, 2003. Conte also explained that Barry Bonds doesn’t pay for the cream or the clear with money, but rather with promoting Conte’s ZMA product.

Jim Valente, BALCO’s vice president, also agreed to be interviewed on the day of the raid. Here is another quote from the Mitchell Report paraphrasing Valente:

“[He] is aware that Greg Anderson also provides human growth hormone and testosterone cypionate to his professional baseball clients. Anderson told him this. Anderson brought his baseball clients to Balco this spring when major league baseball announced their new steroid testing policy. This was so Anderson could start giving them steroids that would not show up in drug tests.”

Among those baseball players brought to Balco by Anderson was Barry Bonds. Bonds has received “the clear” and “the cream” from Balco on a “couple of occasions”. According to Valente, Bonds does not like how “the clear” makes him feel.

Other players that Anderson has obtained “the clear” and “the cream” for from Balco are Benito Santiago, Gary Sheffield, Marvin Benard, Jason Giambi and Randy Velarde. Sometime [sic] the substances are given to Anderson to give to the athletes and sometimes the athletes are given the substances directly. . . .

. . . One instance that Valente recalls where athletes did test positive for steroids involved Jason and Jeremy Giambi. The Giambi brothers came to Balco and informed them that they had taken a steroid some time ago and wanted to see if it was still detectable in their systems. Valente recalled that the particular steroid they took can stay in a person’s system for up to 18 months. The urine that Balco collected and sent out for testing came back positive for steroids.

Valente recalls sending a blood sample belonging to Barry Bonds to Lab One, then notifying Lab One that the sample did not refer to Bonds but rather to Greg Anderson. Valente stated that Anderson asked him to do this because Bonds did not want his name on the blood sample. Despite signing an affidavit stating that the blood sample was mislabeled as Barry Bonds, Valente knew that it was Bonds’ blood.

After completing the search on BALCO, agents found six 100 gram jars of the cream and a number of injectable steroids.

The officers then obtained a search warrant for Greg Anderson’s property, and then they confronted Anderson at Bay Area Fitness. Anderson showed the officers his property, and the officers then searched his property.

It was found out that Barry Bonds was Anderson’s first athlete client.

The mystery lies in the fact that Anderson said that Bonds had never took the cream or the clear. The officers found a calendar about when athletes should take their drugs. Agents also found the cream, the clear, $63,920, empty boxes of human growth hormone, and injectable steroids.

Bonds later admitted that he used the cream and the clear and that he got it from Anderson.

The mark that these players left on the game was horrible. Fans stopped coming to games. It was a horrible time for baseball, and baseball really hasn’t recovered.

I can draw the conclusion that Bonds used drugs. It was obvious. Same with Sammy Sosa. The question doesn’t lie in the fact that these players used drugs, but the question is rather if these players should make it to the hall of fame. I think that the have to answer each player individually. Below I will include the major names, and say if I think that they should make it to the hall of fame.

Barry Bonds-No

Jason Giambi-No

Benito Santiago-No

Gary Sheffield-Yes

Roger Clemens-Yes (I will explain)

Eric Gagne-No

Andy Pettitte-Yes

Jose Canseco-No

Manny Ramirez-No

Sammy Sosa-No

I think that the reasoning behind Bonds not making it to the Hall-of-Fame is that he used steroids. Yes, I get that he had a great career when he didn’t use steroids. But during his 2000-2004 stretch of great years, Bonds juiced. And there is no denying it. I said that I will explain why I think that Roger Clemens maybe should get into the Hall-of-Fame. I think that MAYBE he should get into the hall because Jose Canseco, who wrote a book about juicing in baseball, said that he was skeptical that Clemens used drugs. I say Gary Sheffield should get into the hall because he only used steroids in the offseason of 2002-2003. And he really didn’t know it. I do believe that.

Even though Canseco wrote a whistleblowing book about steroids in baseball, his career stats don’t have hall of fame written on it. That plus using drugs? Yeah, that’s a no-no.

Sammy Sosa is a different story. If there’s anybody I hate more in baseball than the guy who beats my White Sox, it’s Sosa. Hmmm…let’s see. He pumped his body with 70 different kinds of drugs, repeatedly denies it, has a cold personality, made a transformation from a slim dude with the White Sox to a big lumbering person with the Cubs, used a CORKED BAT, and he played for the Cubs. I’m just kidding, playing for the Cubs had nothing to do with it.

Manny Ramirez has a special personality, but he stilled repeatedly failed drug tests. Eric Gagne, don’t get me started. Robbing a Cy Young award from more deserving winners, winning the Cy Young as a freaking reliever, and winning the Cy Young.

As much as I hate to say it, PEDs are still in baseball today. Recognizable names such as Yasmani Grandal, Nelson Cruz, and Robinson Cano have been caught up in PEDs. There has not been a year since 2005 that no one has been suspended for using PEDs. In 2019, 3 recognizable people caught up in PEDs were Tim Beckham, Frankie Montas, and Michael Pineda. Below is a complete list of people suspended for PED use since 2005.

Alex Sanchez

Jorge Piedra

Agustin Montero

Jamal Strong

Juan Rincon

Rafael Bentacourt

Rafael Palmeiro

Ryan Franklin

Mike Morse

Carlos Almanzar

Felix Heredia

Matt Lawton

Yusaku Iriki

Jason Grimsley

Guillermo Mota

Juan Slas

Neifi Perez

Ryan Jorgenson

Mike Cameron

Dan Serafini

Jose Guillen

Jay Gibbons

Eliezer Alfonzo

Sergio Mitre

JC Romero

Manny Ramirez

Pablo Ozuna

Edinson Volquez

Ronny Paulino

Mike Jacobs

Freddy Galvis

Marlon Byrd

Melky Cabrera

Bartolo Colon

Yasmani Grandal

Ryan Braun

Antonio Bastardo

Everth Cabrera

Francisco Cervelli

Nelson Cruz

Fautino De Los Santos

Sergio Escalona

Fernando Martinez

Jesus Montero

Jordan Norbeto

Jhonny Peralta

Alex Rodriguez

Jordany Valdespin

Miguel Tejada

Troy Patton

Alex Colome

David Rollins

Ervin Santana

Jenrry Meija

Andrew McKirahan

Cody Stanley

Abraham Almonte

Daniel Stumpf

Chris Colabello

Dee Gordon

Josh Ravin

Raul Mondesi

Alec Asher

Starling Marte

Raudy Read

Jorge Bonafacio

Jorge Polanco

Robinson Cano

Wellington Castillo

Eric Skoglund

Steven Wright

Mike Marjama

Frankie Montas

Tim Beckham

Michael Pineda

That’s a list of 83 players.

What scares me the most isn’t the players who have gotten caught, it’s the ones who haven’t. And I know that they are out there, playing the game dishonestly. A few weeks ago, Emanual Clase was suspended for using PEDs. PEDs are still in baseball today.

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