The San Diego Padres are scheduled to honor the late Ken Caminiti tonight in a ceremony before they try to end the Dodgers’ 8 game winning streak. The North County Times’ Steve Scholfield has a problem with it.
By honoring Caminiti, the first major leaguer to admit he used steroids while becoming the league’s most valuable player, the club is glorifying his use of steroids and other drugs.
Caminiti had many demons, including alcohol, steroids and drugs. He died from an overdose of cocaine and opiates in New York.
At the very least, the Padres are sending a mixed message to all young baseball players that steroids are acceptable as long as you win.
Moores disagrees: “I think everyone has gotten that message about steroids and the point has been pounded home.”
Still, this gesture is giving tacit approval of Caminiti’s lifestyle, which is wrong.
El Camino High athletic director Herb Meyer has been an educator for more than 45 years and sees the danger in promoting Caminiti.
“The bad thing is recognizing the things he did on the field and not recognizing what he did off the field,” Meyer said. “It is hard to separate those two.”
They can’t be separated.
The team is celebrating ill-gotten gains. Yes, Caminiti was exciting to watch in 1996 not only offensively but defensively.
But how much of it was Caminiti on the juice? He hit 14 more home runs (26 to 40) and drove in 36 more runs (94 to 130) than he did in 1995.
In six full seasons in Houston prior to coming to the Padres, Caminiti averaged 11.8 home runs a year, never hitting more than 18 in the spacious Astrodome. But in four years with the Padres, he averaged just over 30 home runs.
It could be argued that Caminiti was at least worth three more wins in the standings, probably more. The Padres won 91 games to win the NL West by one game over the Dodgers. The best team that failed to make the playoffs that year was Montreal, which had 88 wins.
In essence, Caminiti’s play kept Montreal out of the playoffs.
Felipe Alou, who was Montreal’s manager back then, doesn’t see it that way.
“Why blame one guy, especially a guy who is dead?” said Alou, who is now the manager of the San Francisco Giants. “I feel bad for a guy who died so young.”
There is no question Caminiti helped the Padres win the division that year and the National League pennant in 1998. A month after the latter title, voters approved the funding for Petco Park.
I’m connecting the dots here, but without Caminiti’s cheating, the Padres may not have a new home today.
Wow. Maybe, just maybe the Padres and their fans are sophisticated are enough to think they can say a public goodbye to a fallen friend and colleague without necessarily condoning what killed him? And Ken Caminiti is hardly the only confirmed drug user whose exploits got a team into the post-season (or help get a ballpark built).