Though acknowledging Sandy Alderson’s impressive credentials and (relative) pioneering status as a sabermetric advocate, ESPN NY’s Ian O’Connor — in perhaps his boldest public move since torpedoing Willie Randolph a few years back — insists the New York Mets’ new choice for General Manager, “has a hole in his game the size of Citi Field, as do scores of fellow executives and union leaders who once looked the other way” (“Alderson is likely to preach accountability with the sad sack Mets, and that’s fine..he would make that pitch credible if he started with himself, and took a few minutes Friday to apologize for an opportunity lost.”)
Alderson put together the Oakland A’s of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, the Bash Brothers who slugged their way to three consecutive World Series appearances from 1988 to 1990 before ultimately taking their heavy lumber to baseball’s good name. Of course, Canseco and McGwire admitted to using steroids, effectively nominating Oakland as a ground zero for the performance-enhancing plague.
Alderson declined to comment Wednesday about the A’s and their role in a grand pharmacological hoax, but the Mets’ GM-to-be is on record saying he suspected Canseco, not McGwire, as a steroid user back in the day. During his 2005 appearance on “60 Minutes Wednesday,” after Canseco had already talked to Mike Wallace about the steroid allegations in his book, Alderson was asked by Wallace if he had confronted Canseco about his suspicions.
“No,” Alderson said. “There were a number of occasions when he publicly denied that he was using steroids. And you know, the notion that he was going to admit to me what he had already denied on many occasions, I think was not likely.”
On the same program, Alderson’s manager in Oakland, Tony La Russa, admitted Canseco often joked about his steroid use and how clean teammates were wasting their time working out in the gym. “Our players knew it,” La Russa said of Canseco’s drug use.
Asked why La Russa wouldn’t share that information with his direct supervisor, Alderson said, “That’s a question, I guess, you’ll have to ask Tony.”
Weak answers from a strong man.
I wonder how many public apologies we’re owed if every executive with strong suspicions or outright knowledge of PED use during said era were held to O’Connor’s standard of accountability? The number is probably not so small, and would only get much larger if the same criteria were applied to O’Connor’s colleagues in the worlds of print and broadcast media. Canseco and McGwire’s exploits didn’t merely occur on Alderson’s watch, they also happened in front of alleged journalists who either looked the other way or were every bit as naive as some baseball executives claimed to be.