Steroid scandal still smoldering
Yankees' Giambi strongly hints at past use, criticizes MLB's culture of silence
BY CHRIS DE LUCA | Chicago Sun-Times
New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi came as close as any active player has in discussing his own steroid use. He strongly hinted he is a former user but pointed the sharpest finger at commissioner Bud Selig.
"I was wrong for doing that stuff," Giambi told USA Today's Bob Nightengale during the Yankees' series against the White Sox. "What we should have done a long time ago was stand up – players, ownership, everybody – and said: 'We made a mistake.'
"We should have apologized back then and made sure we had a rule in place and gone forward. ... Steroids and all of that was a part of history. But it was a topic that everybody wanted to avoid. Nobody wanted to talk about it."
It's still a topic most want to avoid. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman refused to answer questions directly related to Giambi's implication that he was a steroid user. But Cashman did take issue with Giambi's finger-pointing.
"It gives the implication that a lot of people involved knew what was going on, and that is false," he told reporters in New York.
Cashman's comment is disappointing. How could people who have made a career out of evaluating talent not have noticed the increase in power, the high readings on radar guns and the ridiculous size of bodies invading clubhouses and not at least speculated about performance-enhancing drugs?
Giambi hits the nail on the head when he says it's a topic everyone wants to avoid.
Selig has been ripped in some circles for choosing not to be in attendance when San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's all-time home-run record this summer. Selig most certainly should be there for Bonds' big moment.
If he thinks Bonds is dirty, he should come out and say it. He could turn the historic day into a cleansing for the game, admitting that, yes, it looks like several players enhanced their numbers by using drugs that now are deemed illegal in baseball. Yes, it was terrible that we let the problem go on for as long as we did. Yes, the numbers got thrown out of whack. But we can't turn back time; we only can guard against further transgressions.
Don't hold your breath waiting for Selig to make that series of admissions. If Selig is disgusted by what Bonds has accomplished, then he should resign for allowing the drug problem to rage out of control during his watch. And if this is truly the "golden age" of baseball – as Selig frequently reminds – then how could Bonds not be a part of that?
Instead, Selig chooses to stick his head in the sand.
Meanwhile, maybe Giambi's semi-admission will push others to tell their story. We already are seeing clubbies revealing secrets. More and more players will be dragged under the dark cloud.
Maybe Giambi is trying to do some damage control for himself. Better for him to come clean on his own than to be outed by someone else. If he looks like a straight-shooter, maybe he won't face the same kind of ridicule that continues to dog Mark McGwire.
Too bad Giambi didn't have the guts to go all the way with his frank talk.
Nightengale's article ends with this paragraph: "When asked, 'So why did you take steroids?' Giambi said: 'Maybe one day I'll talk about it, but not now."'
Avoiding the topic is a hard habit to kick.