A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ken Caminiti

Providing the world doesn't end, you will be reading this - that you are means that it either:
A) hasn't happened yet.
B) isn't going to happen.
Nevertheless, the death of Randy "Macho Man" Savage did happen. While it seems sad, it seems that he's just another pro wrestler to die early from abuse to his body that years in the ring caused.
And while baseball has not seen death due to steroids since Ken Caminiti... let's be honest, even football hasn't seen much death (Lyle Alzado), it has witnessed lots of career death. From Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa to Barry Bonds to Roger Clemens, the stars of the past have been tainted. The stars of the present seem to be without a lot of the big guns steroids users with exception to Alex Rodriguez. It's a slippery and sad slope, but all the same, it's pretty much covered in its entirety at Baseball's Steroid Era (though they stopped writing last year).
At the time Ken Caminiti was famous for 2 things:
1) the 1996 NL MVP for the Padres.
2) doing a lot of steroids and not getting clean.
On October 10, 2004, he shuffled off this mortal coil, a victim of his demons. Prior to this, he never was able to go back to 1996 (neither was Brady Anderson), and while 1997 and 1998 were good, they will always be steroids tainted (as will his 239 home runs).
He finished his career where it started - Houston - and went noisily to his grave. In 2001, he was arrested, and it wasn't pretty - cocaine in Texas. He came clean to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated in 2002 and admitted to how much better that steroids made him (Mark McGwire would disagree with this, but alas... as we've never used roids, we wouldn't know. We do know that they cut down the time between workouts, help with recovery, and make working out easy, so...).
Interestingly enough, in the discussions with Caminiti, he said that 50% of players are on steroids. Jose Canseco said that 85% of players were. Verducci thought Canseco was about shock treatment, but alas, history has vindicated him, but all the same, he's still a worthless piece of crap.
Today, Lance Armstrong faces the accusations of Tyler Hamilton, a cyclist who trained with Lance, and said that he also used EPO. Lance is famous for employing the Clemons defense (or vice versa): spend A LOT of money, tell the world that your accuser(s) is a lying piece of crap, and hope that you can outspend him / her / them.
It worked for Lance. He got the French book that trashed him from being published in America (either we love Lance, hate the French, or both), but it didn't work for Roger. Now, it seems that it's not working for Lance either, which is sad because his was a story that we needed to be real (cancer victim makes good and wins the Tour De France 7 times in a row, once again leaving the French to feel inferior.
Now, he looks to see his image and world destroyed as Hamilton has given up his Olympic medals, and just like Floyd Landis who took Armstrong to task, we see a sport so shattered with regard to PEDs. EPO is the undetectable drug of choice for the field as it's natural in the body - unless there is too much of it there, so players will measure their level and and inject more to get to the top of the spectrum for what they can have in there. The EPO allows for more oxygen to be absorbed by the body during breathing, and wahlah, the cyclist kicks butt in the mountains.
Until he's found out.
Then he's meat, and that's not good.
Many baseball players have walked the line that Mr. Armstrong looks to walk, and while they've come back from disaster in varying degrees, the yellow bracelets for Lance will be history very soon. It's a shame since it's talent at the end that wins the race, and Armstrong is talented, but some will say he's dirty, and perhaps that's true, but in the end, is a player cheating if he's just cheating to keep up with a sport full of cheaters?
And for this, we have to wonder if all sports will soon be seen as "sports entertainment" rather than natural competition. Wrestling survived when it admitted to being "fake." Will baseball and cycling when they admit to benefiting from better living through chemistry? Since they can't be like the NFL and just manage to avoid the fray despite their cast of 300 pound goons who run 4.0 40s, we can only wonder.

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