Cubs manager Dusty Baker has suggested that the federal steroid investigation evokes the ghost of Joe McCarthy. We're hoping that he didn't mean the red-baiting senator but rather the Red Sox-baiting Yankees manager, whose Ten Commandments for Success in Baseball included—at No. 6—a call to take responsibility for one's actions: "Do not alibi on bad hops," said McCarthy. "Anybody can field the good ones."
But it's unlikely that players will step forward voluntarily and confess to never having taken steroids. So we're left to indulge in idle speculation: Braves in-fielder Rafael Furcal and Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez both have symptoms of the performance-unenhanced: Which is to say, both are thinner than Tuesdays with Morrie and have skulls that are fully grown.
In other cases, though, we may never know the truth. Perhaps that's just as well. Que sera syringe. The last thing we want is a version of the 1974 film Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, in which every sportswriter travels with a pair of those cranium calipers popular among 19th-century phrenologists. Bring me the head of Freddy Garcia, the Mariners pitcher? Heavens no.
Besides, enormousness is not in itself incriminating. Boog Powell was on M&M's, not hGH. Frank Thomas of the White Sox was born gigantic. And Americans grow ever larger by the month. It's hard to believe now, but Reggie Jackson's playing weight was 200 pounds. The self-styled "straw that stirs the drink" was built like an actual straw, swizzle-stick skinny compared with Thomas, who is listed at 275. To put this another way: If the 1978 version of Mr. October were to attend a party in the Big Hurt's uniform, he could smuggle the 65-pound, pinch-hitting midget Eddie Gaedel and a nine-pound bowling ball past the bouncer, and still have room in his pants for a pound of flour. Which would raise the question, What the hell kind of party is this, anyway?
And can I come?