King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Steroids fatigue: Have we heard enough about performance-enhancing drugs? Plus: Zimmer has advice for Yankees. Our advice: Do the opposite!


Salon Staff
May 1, 2007 8:00PM (UTC)

Are we reaching steroids fatigue?

I'm wondering because the guilty plea April 27 of former New York Mets batboy and clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, which seemed like something of a blockbuster story to me, wasn't treated that way over the weekend by the national media.

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It was a busier than normal weekend, with the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs -- trust me on that, Americans, they're happening -- the NFL draft and the death of St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Josh Hancock.

Still, a guy pleading guilty to dealing performance-enhancing drugs to major league players for 10 years using the connections he'd made the previous decade working in a big-league clubhouse, a plea that includes his agreement to continue cooperating with law enforcement and baseball's own drug investigation, that seems like a big deal to me. This could -- might not, but could -- lead to dozens of heretofore unimplicated ballplayers being named as PED users.

I thought it was big and that's why I wrote about it Monday.

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And I got what I found to be a surprising number of letters from readers asking why I wasted a whole column on steroids when there were NBA and NHL playoffs, the NFL draft and the death of a baseball player to write about.

I get a lot of those letters. Comes with the territory of being a one-person sports department. I can't write about every story every day, and since sports seasons, events and news stories have an inconvenient way of overlapping, there's always someone who's clicking over looking for coverage of something that isn't being covered here that day.

But that doesn't happen if the story's big enough. And it happened Monday.

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Maybe I'm reading too much into a few cranky postings, and it's worth noting that my page-view numbers Monday were toward the upper boundary of normal. So it's not as though I can add steroids to the NHL and women's basketball as a subject I can write about when I don't want to be bothered with readers. Quite the contrary, it seems.

But that reaction combined with the tepid play the story got nationally -- I think it was possible to pay pretty close attention to the sports world over the weekend without noticing any coverage of the Radomski plea -- makes me think we as a republic are starting to say, "Enough with the steroids. We get it. Ballplayers take performance-enhancing drugs. The rest is details we'd rather not know, thanks. Now what time's the game on?"

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I think that's how we as a republic talk. I've been missing the meetings.

It reminds me of the reaction I sometimes get to the subject of corruption in big-time college sports, which I find endlessly fascinating. More than one person has told me some variation of: "I know that stuff goes on and it's grubby and everything, but so what. I just want to see a good game, with cheerleaders."

So I'm throwing it out there, republic, or that part of it that has read this far. Sick of the drug stories? Don't need to hear more? Or do you want every rock overturned, every name named, every sordid detail in the light of day?

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I suspect there are strong feelings either way, which would explain both the high traffic and the loud yips. I also suspect the low-key play the Radomski story got from the commentariat has more to do with steroids fatigue on the part of the commentariat than with any kind of sound judgment about what the people -- that's you all -- want to hear and read about.

And one more thing: I found it funny, maybe even ironic, Monday to read complaints that I was writing about steroids when there were first-round NBA playoff games going on. Aren't I part of the media-industrial complex that has been rightly raked over the coals over the past few years for almost universally ignoring the exploding performance-enhancing-drug issue in American non-Olympic sports, especially baseball, from the '80s onward?

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Zimmer: Cashman's the problem [PERMALINK]

Item in the New York Post: Don Zimmer says the New York Yankees should extend the contracts of manager Joe Torre and reliever Mariano Rivera, and that the team's problem is its general manager, Brian Cashman.

"To me, Cashman is the problem," Zimmer, a former Yankees coach now with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, told the paper's George King. "Four or five years ago, we were in the coaches' room and talking about the club and he said, 'Anybody can manage this team.' Well, let him manage that team now with all those injuries."

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Torre is the only manager who has achieved success and longevity under the ownership of George Steinbrenner, who gave both Torre and Cashman a vote of confidence the other day. If I were the Yankees I'd keep the skipper around as long as he wanted to stay, or at least until there's a better reason not to keep him around than a 9-14 start following nine straight division titles.

Rivera is 37 years old and struggling early, with an ERA of 10.57 and two blown saves. What has happened is he has had three bad outings out of nine, giving up two earned runs in one, three in another, four in another. But three bad outings is usually about a season's worth for him. Last year he gave up at least one earned run in 11 of his 63 games, gave up two runs four of those times, and never gave up more than two.

He's an all-time great and it's not unlikely he'll put it together. He does have eight strikeouts in seven and two-thirds innings, so he's still got something. But at 37, perhaps it would be wise to wait till he does get things straight before giving him an extension.

As for Cashman? Steinbrenner should give him a lifetime contract and pay him what he wants. Don Zimmer thinks he's the problem in the Bronx? Don Zimmer? Don 1978 Boston Red Sox manager Zimmer? Don Throwin' Down With Pedro Zimmer? The Gerbil?

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I can think of no more ringing endorsement.

Previous column: The latest steroid bombshell

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