BALCO, baby. And some hot, hot Radomski action.
The standard BALCO chronology that anyone who read Game of Shadows should know by now, complete with the listing of the usual BALCO suspects: Marvin Benard; Barry Bonds; Bobby Estalella; Jason Giambi; Jeremy Giambi; Armando Rios; Benito Santiago; Gary Sheffield; and Randy Velarde. Going forward, a lot of this stuff may be repeats from Game of Shadows, but I'm going to go over it anyway because it's been a while since I read that and, frankly, the specifics have all blended together in my mind. If Mitchell gets to cut and paste, so do I.
Gary Sheffield initially declined my request for an interview. Sheffield later said that he would agree to an interview, subject to the availability of his lawyer who was undergoing medical treatments. Because of her medical condition, we were unable to secure a date for an interview of Sheffield before the end of this investigation.
Why do I not buy this? I like Sheffield the player, and I don't think he's as evil as a lot of people make him out to be, but he's totally the kind of guy who would mess around with you like this. I'm sure there were a lot of "hey, you mean you didn't get my voice mail?" kind of conversations going on between Sheffield and Mitchell.
Of all the players, only Barry Bonds was at the time the subject of a criminal investigation, which has now led to a grand jury indictment against him for perjury and obstruction of justice, so under these circumstances his refusal to talk with me was understandable.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with the first charitable comment anyone has ever made regarding Barry Bonds.
Interviews also were requested of numerous other persons believed to have knowledge of BALCO, including Greg Anderson, Patrick Arnold, Kimberly Bell, Victor Conte, Mark Fainaru-Wada, Steve Hoskins, Remi Korchemny, Jim Valente, and Lance Williams. All declined to be interviewed.
Williams and Fainaru-Wada didn't agree to be interviewed? That surprises me. Were they worried about Mitchell's report cutting into their royalties? On a more serious note, will Fainaru-Wada's reporting at ESPN make any critical mention of players' refusal to cooperate? I kind of doubt it -- he seems to be squarely in the reporting, as opposed to commentary camp -- but it's worth watching.
Sabean told [Giants' trainer Stan Conte] that if Conte objected to Anderson and Shields being in the clubhouse, Conte should order them out himself. Conte said he would do this if Sabean would support him when Bonds complained, which Conte believed would be the result of his actions. Sabean did not respond to this request for support, leading Conte to believe that Sabean would not do so if Bonds protested. Conte therefore decided to take no action to deny Anderson or Shields access to restricted areas.
And you think signing Aaron Rowand for $60M was the most thoughtless thing Sabean ever did. Between this and some other reported instances in which Sabean was presented with steroids/Bonds/Anderson allegations and did nothing, one gets a real sense of just how spineless and, ultimately, powerless, Sabean has been within the Giants' organization since taking the job. Even if he had done nothing but make the perfect baseball decisions since joining the Giants (ha!), the man should be fired for being an utter coward to do anything about a known drug dealer walking around PacBell Park.
In August 2002, the Giants were visiting Atlanta for a series with the Braves. At the time, Anderson was traveling with the Giants. Conte recalls that during this series a Giants player asked Conte about anabolic steroids. Conte refused to identify the player to us, citing athletic trainer privilege.
Athletic trainer privilege? That's a new one to me, and I've asserted more spurious privilege claims than anyone I know. And hey, I actually rememeber that series in August 2002. I even wrote something about it back in the old Bull Magazine days. Some dumb play on the Giants' part in one of the games almost caused them to have to make some impossible end of season one-game playoff trip back to Atlanta. There heads were obviously someplace else.
Conte persuedes Sabean to check out Greg Anderson via a DEA agent he knows. Sabean drops the issue when the DEA agent comes up with nothing on the basis that "he believed that if Anderson was in fact selling drugs illegally the government would have known about it." What does Sabean think, drug dealers have to get a license from the government before they peddle their stuff? Brian: by definition, the government would only have been aware of those drug dealers it had ALREADY CAUGHT. Man, the Rowand signing becomes clearer with each passing day.
2. Players’ Links to Performance Enhancing Substances
a. Marvin Benard
Bonds is (b). I know it's alphabetical and everything, but how do you think Marvin Bernard feels right now, being listed first on a list of steroid users that also has Barry Bonds' name?
Hey, a Will Carroll reference! Way to hit the big time, Will!
Short discussion of Bobby Estalella, and how the Dodgers declined to sign him because he was "a poster boy for the chemicals." True enough, but in what way was he different in this regard than was Bonds? I mean, besides the homers and on base percentage and glove and everything? Hey, you know what? I'm thinking that baseball may have had a double standard regarding how bad steroids were depending on how good a player was. I know, call me crazy.
Page 132, footnote 346:
Giambi spoke freely with Mitchell, but "on the advice of his lawyer, Giambi declined to answer any questions about performance enhancing substances for the period before 2001, invoking the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination."
I'm struggling at the moment to understand why, exactly, Giambi's lawyer felt that it was OK for his client to talk about post 2001 stuff -- which he knew would wind up in this report -- but instructed him to invoke privilege when asked about pre-2001 stuff. Usually you talk about the old stuff but clam up about new stuff for which the relevant statutes of limitation haven't run. Hurm. The only thing I can think is that, pre-2001, Giambi was distributing to other people and is worried about being tarred as a dealer or something. There is some hint of corroboration of this in the following section when brother Jeremy tells a minor league teammate in the late 90s that he could obtain drugs for him if he wanted, but it's still rather mysterious. Maybe it's a sinister John F. Mabry plot.
In his book, Sheffield attributed the increase in home runs in Major League Baseball after the 1994 strike to widespread steroid use, and he claimed that at the time he asked the Commissioner to investigate the issue, only to be ignored. Selig denied that he ever received such a request from Sheffield.
There's Sheffield again. I don't get the sense that if Gary were your friend he would ever totally screw you over, but I do get the sense that he'd lie to you about that party invitation and countless other little things. Seeing as I have never been closer than 50 feet to Gary Sheffield in my life, I have no idea why I feel this way about him.
According to his lawyer, if interviewed, [Randy] Velarde would have told us he received the “cream” and the “clear” from Anderson in a transaction that occurred in a parking lot during spring training in 2003. Velarde was playing for the Oakland Athletics at the time, was near the end of his career and was attempting to play for another year to support his family.
Velarde uses the Laterell Sprewell defense! Let the record show that, Velarde had made nearly $15M playing baseball at the time he was trying to hold on for one more year to "support his family." In other news, does Velarde's lawyer realize that you're not really protecting your client by telling investigators what he "would have told them" if he had consented to an interview? You just did, wise guy.
Page 140: The Radomski stuff begins:
In addition to his statements, Radomski provided us with copies of bank, telephone, and other records that corroborated his statements. Copies of the checks and money orders relating to reported purchases of performance enhancing substances by the players who are named in this section are attached to this report in an appendix.
I know I've made a couple of references to youthful drug use already -- and I don't want to give anyone the idea that I was some kind of burnout when I was younger -- but I have to tell you, I never once purchased illegal drugs with a personal check nor have I ever met anyone dumb enough to have done so. I know Crash Davis said "don't think -- it can only hurt the team," but I don't think he meant for players to so literally take that to heart.
In 1993, when Radomski arrived at spring training significantly bigger, many players noticed and asked him about his size and training program . . . Radomski said that his dealing in performance enhancing substances began in response to inquiries from players.
Mitchell really does a convinving job of portraying the players as, well, kind of dumb. Or, at the very least, impressionable. I get the sense that I could just show up at spring training on year in an expensive suit with a lot of money hanging out of my pockets and wind up managing half of the players' portfolios by mid-May.
Mitchell gets into the name-naming based on information obtained from Radomski and McNamee on page 145. It's a big section, and I want to do it justice, so we'll stop for now. If I don't have too many cocktails at my firm's holiday dinner this evening,
expect Part 5 either late tonight or impossibly early tomorrow morning.
Well, I didn't have too much to drink at my firm's holiday party, but it was a late night. Moreover, today is ShysterDaughter's 4th birthday, and that takes precedence over David Sequi's buttocks and other assorted steroid nonsense. I know, hard to believe.
Part 5 is now up. To read it, go here.