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May 31, 2002

It's time to test for steroids
By Rob Dibble

As a former pitcher, I'm flattered that hitters would even consider risking their lives by taking steroids to get an edge on pitchers. Think about the great lengths players will go to get an edge -- like juicing the bats to take advantage of the closer fences. But let's not run with this steroid story without hard evidence beyond the claims of 1996 NL MVP Ken Caminiti.

Drug testing is done in the minors, and it should be done in the majors.
Saying that 50 percent of players do steroids, without hard facts to back that up, is an unjustified guess. But there are obviously some in MLB who take steroids. Some decide it's worth risking their lives -- using steroids has serious side effects -- to get even a quarter of the huge contracts stars get today. They'll do anything just to get into The Show and have a shot at the big bucks.

But I guarantee it will shorten their careers. All the steroid users I knew suffered shorter careers due to injuries, illness, etc. It's sad. And over the long haul, they'll likely cut their lives short as well. The guys who use are stupid. They're risking their future with their families.

It's time for baseball to get on board with every other sport, clean itself up and police itself. In the last collective bargaining agreement, the players' union tried to introduce drug testing. Lots of players, though, didn't want it. But it might save some lives. Those blood tests can also reveal undetected diseases. Drug testing is done in the minors, and it should be done in the majors. While I'm all for testing to clean up the game, let's not blow this story out of proportion -- it's proportional to the drug problems in any other sport.

With the few who are admitting they took steroids, it was their own choice to threaten their lives to further their careers and gain an edge. There's a general feeling that lots of players use steroids, but there's also an understanding that the best don't need them (though maybe the peripheral players think they need them). The guys who were on the juice were often injured; they were peripheral players, not the superstars.

The best players in the game today -- A-Rod, Ichiro Suzuki, Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter, Mike Piazza, Ken Griffey Jr. -- are great athletes who are far from being overly bulked-up. Not like a guy on juice. With Barry Bonds, he's had a personal trainer. Is Bonds using steroids? It isn't inconceivable, but it's very doubtful. Bonds lifts weights like crazy and does speed training in the offseason. As he has worked with a trainer, he has steadily moved up the fitness ladder.

The best players in the game today are great athletes who are far from being overly bulked-up.
Look at the players who have gone to the Hall of Fame in the past 10 years or so: George Brett, Kirby Puckett, Robin Yount, Carlton Fisk, Bill Mazeroski, Dave Winfield, Tony Perez. There's not one oversized guy among them. And look at the All-Star lineups -- 90 percent of those hitters are mildly built guys who are phenomenal athletes.

Steroids may be a performance-enhancing drug, but they don't make a player that much better than the talent he was born with. I know guys who used steroids, but I know they used other drugs as well. Steroids may be the tip of the iceberg.

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Patrick/Dibble Archive


Ken Caminiti had no idea his comments would create such an uproar.
Real: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6
Ken Caminiti explains his reasons for taking steroids during his MVP season.
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Ken Caminiti's entire interview with Dan Patrick.
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Curt Schilling weighs in on the steroid debate.
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St. Louis manager Tony La Russa comments on the use of steroids in baseball.
Real: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6