Major League Baseball should test players for steroid use

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 4, 2002

Sports Editor

From what I read, Sammy Sosa got mad at Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly and stormed out of a recent interview.

Wait. That can’t be. Sammy Sosa? The man who, along with St. Louis Cardinal slugger Mark McGwire, captured the hearts of America with a marvelous home run race a few years back? Sosa, the humble Dominican, who had little league players across the nation imitating his patented one hand chest pound and finger kiss? The man, who despite Chicago’s so-so overall record, made Cubs’ gear hot again?

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Nah. Not my Sammy. My Sammy would have embraced Reilly before and after the interview, much as he did with McGwire when the latter eclipsed Roger Maris’ home run mark.

This, however, is clearly not my Sammy.

Although Reilly is a brilliant sports writer, he can come across as a bit arrogant and obnoxious. And the way he jumped Sosa was the equivalent of a scare tactic used at a Jaycees haunted house.

Still, you have to think…

Last Thursday at Wrigley Field, Sosa told Reilly that if the players’ association voted to implement steroid testing in Major League Baseball, he’d be the first in line.

Reilly said why wait and handed Sosa a piece of paper with a phone number for LabCorp, a diagnostics test lab. Just a blood or urine sample and ten days later the whole world would know whether or not Sammy was juicing.

Sosa got irate, told Reilly that he wasn’t his "father." When Reilly explained that he wasn’t trying to tell the Cubs’ star what to do, but that a player of his status stepping forward would be a positive for Major League Baseball, Sosa ended the interview.

With an expletive about Reilly and his mother no less.

Ever since SI ran a story a few weeks ago about former National League MVP Ken Caminiti and his steroid munching problems, MLB stars have come under fire. Caminiti said in this article that it was "no secret what’s going on in baseball. At least half the guys are using (steroids). They talk about it. They joke about it with each other…I don’t want to hurt fellow teammates or fellow friends. But I’ve got nothing to hide."

Caminiti’s career ended last year and following his release from the Braves he was arrested in Houston, in a crack house of all places. (Curiously, doesn’t the weight-draining effects of crack cocaine counteract the muscle loading of steroids?)

So steroid use is rampant in baseball. So half of all major leaguers’ muscles are as plastic as their respective Starting Lineup action figures.


What else is new?

When we think of addicts, we think of alcoholics and coke freaks. Those are the norm, (if being addicted to something could be called the norm.) But anything can become an addiction. Sex. Prescription medicine. Myself, I strongly think I’ve developed an addiction to the ebb and flow of E-Bay.

So it is with steroids. Weight lifting becomes a rush. Muscles explode to almost super heroic proportions. Steroid pushers recommend that takers load for six months, followed by an equal amount of downtime (as if they were doctors prescribing some sort of healthy alternative to freebasing heroin). But for frequent users, that half a year away from their drug of choice can be a nightmare. All weight gain is lost. Muscles deflate like balloons. They lose their "baddest on the block" attitude and quickly rush off to find their fix.

A cycle has begun.

I say test them all. They do it in football. Why let the players association decide it? I think it should come as a mandate from the league front office.

Because if they don’t do something soon, all Major League Baseball players may soon resemble little more then professional wrestlers with bats and gloves.