Thursday, February 7, 2013
CURT SCHILLING, RED SOX, AND PED'S
We know this about the steroid era: a lot of people made a lot of money. Players, coaches, managers, owners, and even television networks were all getting filthy rich from a game that was pumped up
with fraud. Baseball was everybody's cash cow and with so many people getting fat at the trough,
there was pressure not only to produce, but to win, even if it meant cheating.
Curt Schilling said he felt that pressure during his final season with the Boston Red Sox in 2008.
On Tuesday, the former pitcher told Colin Cowherd of ESPN radio that some members of the
organization suggested he might want to use PED's to aid in his recovery from an arm injury.
"I had gotten hurt, there was a conversation that I was involved in, in which it was brought to my
attention that this is a potential path I might want to pursue,” Schilling said. "It was suggested to me
that at my age, and in my situation, why not, what did I have to lose? Because if I wasn’t going to get healthy, it didn’t matter, and if I did get healthy, great."
Players have outed other players and their steroid use, but this is the first time a former player has
accused the organization he played for, of getting pressure to use PED's. This isn't going to sit
well with anyone in the game. Not the players, not the Red Sox, and certainly not Major League
Baseball, who is reportedly set to look into Schilling's allegations. The league is still woozy from
the hurricane in south Florida where Alex Rodriquez and several other prominent players
were allegedly going to a doctor at an anti-aging clinic to get injected with a fountain of cheat.
Major League Baseball didn't need this.
Why did Schilling dispense this information and why did he do it now, some five years after he
retired? First of all, it's Curt Schilling. He has an opinion on everything, which is what ESPN pays
him for and that's great. But he's not lying or creating a story to gain attention. Major League
Baseball still has a big and serious problem with steroids and when a prominent ex-player accuses a
team of advising someone to take PED's to get better, the league can't bury its head in the sand
like it did when the steroid era began. They stated they looked into Schilling's allegation in 2008
and will follow up with him.
Red Sox CEO Larry Luchino said the team will "look into it." Look into it? Lucchino protects the
image of the Red Sox like Fort Knox protects its gold, so a statement like the team "will look into
it" is quite telling. You figured a strong denial would be the first thing out of Lucchino's mouth.
The Red Sox had signed Schilling to a 1-year deal worth $8 million dollars and his rehabilitation
from an arm injury was going slower than anticipated, which might be the case with a 41-year old
pitcher. Since the team was getting virtually nothing out of their investment and had a pitcher whose
arm was close to shot, it's not out of the realm of possibility that someone encouraged Schilling to
take the magic needle.
Has anybody every seen the movie, "North Dallas Forty", or read the book, "Meat On The Hoof"?
Players in all sports are nothing more than pieces of meat. When they can no longer produce, they
are close to worthless. Pressure has long been put on players to "take one for the team" and perhaps,
do whatever it takes to get back on the field and perform, even if it means cheating.
Schilling doesn't need Lance Armstrong's dictionary to know the definition of a cheater.He worked
side-by-side and pitched against many players who pumped fraud into their bodies during the steroid era. The former pitcher saw medium built teammates morph into linebacker-sized ones and had a
front row seat as punch and judy hitters were suddenly competing for home run titles.
Will Schilling's accusation do anything to rinse the residue of the steroid era away? I doubt it.
As long as there is big money to be made, players will continue to cheat. And players know that
if they don't produce or get off the disabled list, there is always somebody else to take their jobs.
In addition, trainers, doctors, and other members of an organization know that if one player doesn't
take their advice, there is always somebody else on the team willing to, that's for sure.