"You guys are, like, re-running stories. This is old stuff. It's like watching 'Sanford and Son.' It's almost comical, basically. It's just rerun after rerun after rerun."
— Barry Bonds complaining to reporters last week over repeated questions about steroids
Sanford and Son, the Lost Episode (Season 3, 1974)
[As the familiar theme music ends, the episode opens on the junkyard, where FRED SANFORD is carrying an enormous sofa on his back. LAMONT SANFORD walks into the lot, sees his father lugging the couch, and rushes to his side.]
LAMONT: Pop! You know better than to carry something that big and heavy! That couch must weigh 200 pounds! And with your heart condition? You should have waited for me — I would have carried it in for you.
FRED: If I waited for you to do some work around here, Dummy, I'd be waiting until Aunt Esther was crowned Miss America.
[FRED sets the couch down and begins cracking walnuts in his bare hands.]
LAMONT: I can't believe you carried that couch all the way in here.
FRED: Why not, Dummy? You've seen me with a couch on my back plenty.
LAMONT: No, Pop. I've seen you with your back on the couch — there's a big difference. Personally, I've never seen you lift anything heavier than a 24-ounce bottle of Ripple. Anyway, didn't Grady say he would help you out while I was gone? Where is he?
FRED: He's unloading the rest of the truck.
[GRADY enters, whistling and easily carrying a 26-cubic foot Amana side-by-side refrigerator/freezer over one shoulder and a 27-inch Sylvania console TV over the other. He sets both down, wipes his brow and unbuttons his shirt to reveal a broad, well-defined chest.]
LAMONT: A refrigerator and a TV console! What's gotten into you two? You guys usually can't hold anything more than the remote control and now you're ripped like Joe Frazier and carrying around a couple hundred pounds like it was nothing.
GRADY [Holding up a bottle of ointment]: It's this flax-seed oil your friend Rollo sells us for our arthritis. We just rub it on our bodies each morning and it's like we're 25 years old again.
LAMONT: Flax-seed oil? Rollo doesn't sell flax-seed oil. The only thing he sells is ... Hey, let me see that bottle.
[LAMONT reads at the label and his eyes bug out as if he just saw Angie Dickinson streaking through Watts.]
LAMONT: Pop, this isn't flax-seed oil — these are steroids! And these aren't even the kind of steroids for humans. They make these for horses.
FRED: I don't care if they're made for Aunt Esther. They work ... and they go great with Ripple. I mix them together and call it Anabolicipple.
LAMONT: Pop, don't you know how dangerous steroids are? Government studies have shown they can ravage your heart and liver. They can cause violent periods of rage. They can lower your sex drive and even shrink your testicles.
FRED: Shut up, Dummy. Esther lowers sex drive and shrinks testicles but the government hasn't stuck no warning labels on her.
LAMONT: I'm sorry, Pop, but you and Grady gotta stop taking them — steroids are illegal in this country. Rollo warned me all about them. They were developed by East German doctors for their Olympic athletes.
FRED: Well, they work for them, don't they?
LAMONT: For awhile. Then it just gets too dangerous. The only athletes who take them are in the Soviet Bloc because their governments force them to take them. The fact is, no American athlete would ever take a chance with steroids — they're just too risky. A steroid abuser has as much chance of living a long, healthy and productive life as he does being elected governor of California.
GRADY: But Lamont, girls have started noticing me again for the first time since before my face broke out. Although, now that I think about it, I've started breaking out again, only in the weirdest places.
LAMONT: Look, if you guys won't stop taking this stuff for yourselves, do it for me. You always say Bobby Bonds is one of your favorite players. Well, he doesn't take steroids — what kind of example would that set for his kids if he did?
FRED: Son, you're a big dummy. Tobacco is the leading cause of death in this country — does that keep you from smoking? Alcohol is the third-leading cause of death in this country — does that keep any of the major sports leagues from accepting huge amounts of money from the beer companies and selling their product at their games? Does it keep any of the networks from airing beer commercials during games? Does concern for today's kids keep any sportswriters from turning an alcoholic like Mickey Mantle into a hero with stories about his wild nights with Whitey Ford?
But you, the government and the media are only concerned about a drug that makes me stronger and fitter? You're going to demonize the few of us and let everyone else off the hook? The owners are going to benefit from bigger, faster athletes and then hypocritically chastise the players for the way they got bigger and faster? The only thing that tells me is the steroid people better get a lobby as rich and powerful as this country's tobacco and beer industries.
I'm sorry, son. I haven't felt this young and strong since the day I met your mother. Nothing but nothing is gonna make me to stop taking these steroids.
LAMONT: What if I told you Rollo has been selling those same steroids to Aunt Esther for the past decade.
[FRED clutches his chest and staggers forward]
FRED: Elizabeth, I'm coming to join you, honey — this is the big one!
[Fade out ...]
FROM LEFT FIELD
The Veterans Committee announces its Hall of Fame vote today, and we hope the long-deserving Ron Santo finally makes the cut. But getting into the Hall of Fame through the Veterans door isn't easy. For one thing, the cream of the crop get voted in by the writers, who have first shot. After that, you need to convince 75 percent of the living Hall of Famers and their fellow committee members that they should expand their club, and they now only vote every other year.
The Veterans elected no one two years ago under the new voting rules and have elected only 10 non-Negro League/pre-20th century players in the past 16 years (not counting George Davis, whose best years were pre-20th century). Those 10:
|RECENT VETERANS COMMITTEE HALL OF FAMERS|
|1991||Tony Lazzeri, 2B (1926-39)||1,191 RBI, .292 average|
|1992||Hal Newhouser, LHP (1939-55)||7-time All-Star, 2-time MVP|
|1994||Phil Rizzuto, SS (1941-56)||7 World Series rings, 1950 AL MVP|
|1995||Richie Ashburn, CF (1948-62)||.308 average, 2,575 hits, great D|
|1995||Vic Willis, RHP (1898-1910)||249-205 with 2.63 ERA|
|1996||Jim Bunning, RHP (1955-71)||7-time All-Star, 224 wins, 3.27 ERA|
|1997||Nellie Fox, 2B (1947-65)||12-time All-Star, 1959 AL MVP|
|1998||Larry Doby, CF (1947-59)||7-time All-Star, 1st black in AL|
|1999||Orlando Cepeda, 1B (1958-74)||7-time All-Star, 379 HRs, 1967 NL MVP|
|2001||Bill Mazeroski, 2B||7-time All-Star, 8-time Gold Glover|
Jim Caple is a senior writer at ESPN.com. His first book, "The Devil Wears Pinstripes," is being published by Plume and goes on sale March 2. It can be ordered through his Web site, Jimcaple.com.