Because the only thing cooler than being a bullet-point version of The Sporting News (sooo 1949) is being a bullet point version of Sports Illustrated, here are some highlights from Tom Verducci’s weekly diary.
I am not invited to the Giambi “controlled” news conference at Yankee Stadium. I miss out on the fun. It’s not a news conference. It’s a parlor game, only without Bert Convy. The object is to try to get Giambi to say the word “steroids.” The House that ‘Roids Built holds firm. Agent Arn Tellem is the Leo Mazzone of nonspeak coaching. The well-schooled Giambi doesn’t crack. He is sorry for something — the size of the cups airlines use for soft drinks, the cumulative waste of ketchup that sticks to the bottom of bottles when you dispose of them, the Pontiac Aztec — he just can’t say for what. But the man is sorry. At the end, you expect Bob Sheppard, the Yankee Stadium P.A. announcer, to say, “Thank you for playing. All contestants receive a supply of Turtle Wax car polish. Join us next time.”
I’m one of the very first people to read Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, which will not be available until Monday, though I can discuss it only with three designated people at SI whom I must list on a non-disclosure form. I consider Heidi Klum. I admit it: It’s better than I expected, at least as constructed. I anticipated gossipy jockspeak — such as a bunch of expletives and “gonnas” and “hittin’s” to lend an air of “authenticity.” You know, the David Wells oeuvre. But still, it’s never a good sign when the ghostwriter doesn’t even want his name associated with it.
The most staggering new charge to me is that team trainers hooked up players with steroid suppliers, counseled them on steroid programs and facilitated their steroid injections in the locker room. (This still has gone underreported.) People keep blathering that owners looked the other way on steroids. The men of the boardroom know next to nothing about the clubhouse culture. The foot soldiers who work for the club but curry favor with the players are the ones who know where the bodies are buried.
Meanwhile, baseball is praying the Canseco book has no traction, though the Mistress and Mr. Bonds angle is a reminder that the steroid story is a serial drama with endless plot twists. Baseball’s official position is that it does not anticipate any followup action to Canseco’s book, though — true story — the A’s did dispatch an employee to the clubhouse bathroom to take visual measurement of the stalls, imagining if two 250-pound men actually could fit in without rupturing a disk or wiping out the plumbing.
One person who says he knew Canseco was using steroids is former Oakland manager, Tony La Russa. He tells Wallace that Canseco openly bragged he didn™t need much work in a gym in order to build his strength.
œHe would laugh about the time that other guys were spending there and how he didn™t have to because ¦ he was doing the other ˜helper,'” says La Russa. “He would kid our players. You know, it was a joke with him.
Despite Canseco™s open bragging, La Russa says there was no point in reporting the steroid use.
œI think it™s fair to say that Major League Baseball could have been more hard-nosed about their approach, but it™s more fair to say that even any effort that they made, or would have made, would have been rebuffed by the players association, says La Russa.
œWhy does the players association do things that is really not in the best interest of the game as a whole? They™re really concerned with their constituents.