This week’s SI: The untold story about steroids in baseball

Back in 2002, Ken Caminiti’s revelations in Sports Illustrated blew open what was painfully obvious: rampant use of steroids in baseball.

This week, Caminiti, who died of a drug overdose, is back on the cover of SI. However, on the 10th anniversary of the original story, SI’s Tom Verducci takes a different approach on discussing the impact steroids had on the game.

His opening paragraph:

This is a story about the real cost of steroids in baseball–not the broken records, not the litigation, not the talk-show drone about the elite players who juiced and how to weigh their Hall of Fame candidacy. This is a story about the hundred, even thousands, of anonymous ballplayers whose careers and lives were changed by a temptation that defined an era.

Kudos to Verducci and SI for detailing the deeper implications here. It went far beyond Bonds, McGwire, Clemens, Sosa, etc..

This is a must-read story. One of the best I’ve seen in SI in a long time.

From the release:

(Verducci) examines the playing careers of four right handed pitchers who were members of the Minnesota Twins organization in mid-to-late 1990s. They had similar skills and backgrounds. None were drafted by the Twins higher than the fourth round of the MLB amateur draft. One of the four, however, took steroids, and he was the only one who ever reached the major leagues. His name was Dan Naulty and his decision to cheat the game, his teammates and himself affected all their lives.

Naulty was 6’6’’ and 180 pounds as a senior at Cal State Fullerton, had a fastball that sat around 85mph and was drafted in the 14th round. After using steroids and other performance-enhancement drugs, he began throwing his fastball at up to 95mph and at one point weighed 248 pounds. He spent three seasons with the Twins, pitching in 97 games before being traded to the New York Yankees in 1999, where he won a World Series.

On the outside, he looked like many other major leaguers, but inside he was an emotional wreck from the steroids, the guilt of cheating and a drinking problem. Naulty hit rock bottom just after the World Series. After a night of celebrating with some teammates, Naulty asked his driver as they crossed the George Washington Bridge, “Tell me. Tell me if this is all there is to life. Because if this is all there is, just stop this car right now and I’ll jump…. I had no hope. I had sold myself that bill of goods so long that I believed it. But I realized at that moment I had totally destroyed my life. And I had destroyed countless other people’s lives. I was ready to die.”

 

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