When Jose Canseco accused Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, Pudge Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Barry Bonds of taking steroids, everyone laughed. Canseco's the guy that once claimed on the Jim Rome show that he ran a 4.2 40 yard dash at 250 lbs. Even when Jason Giambi admitted to a grand jury that he used steroids, Canseco had almost no credibility. However, let's run down the list of players that he mentioned.
Mark McGwire- McGwire refused to answer questions at the senate hearings about whether he's taken steroids. A simple "no" would've ended that line of questioning but Big Mac wouldn't say it. He repeated over and over that he wasn't there to discuss the past. If you can clear your name by saying you didn't take steroids, why on Earth would you refuse to answer the question? Unless of course, you have something to hide. McGwire all but confirmed he took steroids.
Rafael Palmeiro- There's no grey line here. Palmeiro became the first major player to test positive for steroids AFTER denying ever taking steroids at the senate hearings. In fact, Palmeiro said, "I have never used steroids, period." Nobody proclaimed their innocence more boldly than Palmeiro. Now we know he used steroids.
Jason Giambi- Giambi admitted to taking steroids in front of a grand jury. So far, Canseco is three for three.
Pudge Rodriguez- Pudge has not admitted to using steroids or tested positive for steroids. However, Pudge showed up to spring training this year 20 lbs lighter than the previous season. Pudge has been in the majors for 15 years. He shows up to spring training 20 lbs lighter in the same season where steroid testing has been the focus of MLB and Jose Canseco accused him of taking steroids. Canseco was right on McGwire, Palmeiro and Giambi. Pudge shows up 20 lbs lighter. What do you think? It's not a fact but would you feel comfortable betting on pudge?
Juan Gonzalez- I have no problem believing Juan Gonzalez took steroids. Juan Gone was one of the top players in the majors. He started to struggle with his swing after he bulked up so much. I actually remember when this happened. It was in the mid 90's before any of the steroid talk. Gonzalez also became the most injury prone baseball player in major league history. As most people know, steroid use causes injuries. Bulking up without increasing flexibility is a recipe for disaster. It is very likely that Juan Gone's injuries came by putting on muscle without doing the proper flexibility training. Additionally, steroid use makes muscles grow but the ligaments and tendons do not grow. Unnatural muscle size and growth causes extra stress on the ligaments and tendons. I'm not saying Juan Gone's injuries are caused by steroid use but when you factor in a). bulking up b) injury prone and c). being accused by someone who has proven to be fairly credible, it seems like the odds are against Juan Gone being clean.
Barry Bonds- Canseco says that Bonds inquired about how Canseco got so big after the 2000 season. Canseco says he told Bonds it was from steroids. As everyone knows, Bonds shed his David Banner persona by showing up in 2001 as the incredible hulk. As a result, Bonds had the greatest season in MLB history. He has since broken the single season record in home runs, OPS, OBP, slugging %, and walks. Keep in mind, Bonds' rejuvenation came at the age of 36 and has continued into his 40's. Does anyone really think Bonds hasn't taken steroids? I could go over the whole Balco situation or the fact that his ex-girlfriend confirms that Bonds took steroids. I could go over the monumental change in body structure. But, I don't think it's necessary.
Aside from the above players, Jose Canseco himself has admitted to using steroids. Former NL MVP Ken Caminiti not only admitted to using steroids but guessed that 50% of all major league players were using steroids. Caminiti later died of a heart attack caused by drug use. Sammy Sosa hasn't admitted to using steroids nor has he tested positive. However, Sosa looks particularly thin this year at least compared to years past. He also cheated in 2003 by using a corked bat. I'm not saying that the fact that Sosa used a corked bat means that he took steroids.
However, much like his denial of taking steroids, Sosa denied knowing that the bat was corked. Palmeiro denied taking steroids and now he denies knowing how they got into his system. The days of believable denials are rapidly approaching their end. Also SI's Rick Reilly called out Sosa to take a steroid test to prove that he was clean. I know at the time that Reilly took a lot of heat because it was considered "unprofessional". However, if I was a major leaguer who was long suspected of taking steroids and I was clean, I would gladly prove my innocence. Just think about this for a second. Sosa would rather allow speculation that he took steroids to run rampant than to prove that he was clean.
It sounds a lot like Big Mac at the congressional hearings. McGwire passed on the chance to say, "I have not taken steroids" and Sosa passed on the chance to take a test to prove his innocence. You have to know that these players care about their legacy. Todd Helton was accused of taking steroids by Wayne Hagin, St. Louis Cardinals radio announcer. Helton was irate. He adamantly denied taking steroids and backed it up by threatening a lawsuit. Hagin rescinded his statements by saying "He's the last guy in baseball I'd say did steroids."
One final note on Sosa. Big Mac and Bonds have clearly taken steroids. Sosa was the only player to contend with those two in the home run race. Much like Bonds, Sosa underwent a metamorphosis from what he looked like earlier in his career. Does anyone really think Sosa didn't take steroids?
When Canseco came out with these accusations, the question was whether or not he was telling the truth on any of the players. People said something along the lines of "I can see this player using steroids, but not this player". Now my question is, did any of these players NOT take steroids? Everything Canseco said has either turned out to be true or looks to be true. Other than being particularly annoyed with fraudulent 40 yard dash proclamations, I don't have any reason to doubt anything that Canseco has said. If everthing Canseco has said turns out to be true, just imagine how many other players used steroids. I doubt Canseco was the only person to see this going on. I would bet that the problem was more widespread than anyone ever imagined. I also bet that Caminiti's claims that 50% of major leaguers were using steroids is not all that ridiculous. Believe it or not, Jose Canseco is far and away the big winner in this whole steroid scandal.
I'll leave you with this article from 1997 that's almost eerie to read. Pay close attention to the names that show up in the story.