This is what we get when baseball and its players allow steroids to grow in the game for more than a decade: a mushroom cloud of fallout from The Steroid Era.
It was a very long weekend for baseball. Just when we should be getting dreamy-eyed about Spring Training, we get five days of the theatre of the absurd starring the three greatest living symbols of The Steroid Era: Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, who reportedly admitted their use in court, and Jose Canseco, who made money off his admission with a book. It was like a Seinfeld episode on Winstrol. The characters' separate storylines somehow melded into one show.
It can't be a good weekend for baseball when talk around the game is about Madonna, Geraldo, Mike Wallace and Bonds' mistress, and The Shot Heard 'Round the World involves two muscular guys in a bathroom stall. I would say that you can't make this stuff up, but apparently -- given all the he-said, she-said stuff going on -- somebody already has. The weekend reminded us that the news cycle churns faster than ever these days. So to keep you up to speed on what's been happening in baseball, gather up the family and listen up, folks.
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. That afternoon, as I am driving home, word is out that Juiced is on the shelves of selected Manhattan bookstores. So much for non-disclosures. SI dispatches someone to buy a copy, only to find the supply already sold out at the first stop. The second bookstore yields two copies. Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes will be irrelevant in 48 hours. I arrange for a one-on-one interview with Canseco for Monday morning. I have a few questions for the man.