Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mike Lupica on Juice-on Giambaby

Cloud of mystery will continue to hover over Giambi
You want to know the high cost of steroid use? Jason Giambi is the high cost, even if he never serves one of those 10-game suspensions, even if he never loses a day of salary because of a positive drug test. Giambi is the high cost of steroids because even when he is hitting the ball the way he is hitting the ball now, which is the way he used to, he is still a suspect.
He has never admitted to steroid use, at least not in broad daylight. All we have to go on with him is leaked grand jury testimony to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. And since there is no provision for leaked grand jury testimony in baseball's collective bargaining agreement, Giambi does not fall into the category of players who can be tested more frequently "for cause."
The truth is, he should want to be tested all the time, as a way of convincing people that he is clean. But even if that happened, he would still be a suspect, because there will be enough people who will not believe him when he says this is only about hard work, who will believe instead that Giambi is taking some kind of human growth hormone that shows up only in blood tests, which baseball is not allowed to administer. Or that he is ahead of the curve with some sort of new designer steroid that is undetectable in urine tests, this year's version of hGH, the last designer steroid that was supposed to rock everybody's world.
Even Giambi has to understand that he is expecting us to take an awful lot on faith these days, starting with this: Without any medical help, without trips to the chemist, he looks exactly the same and hits exactly the same as he was when he was on the juice, when he was the kind of slugging MVP guy who could eventually command $120 million from the Yankees.
This isn't about fair or unfair. This is the way it works in the real world. All over baseball, we see other suspects who don't look nearly as muscular, as beefed-up, as they used to. We see ballplayers shrinking before our eyes. We don't have positive tests on them, either. We just know what we see in their bodies and in their power numbers. And, of course, we follow the saga of Barry Bonds, who might become one of the first players in all of recorded history to take an entire year off because of his particular knee problem.
After the news about Rafael Palmeiro hit this week like a force-five baseball hurricane, Giambi was asked about suspicions still directed at him.
"I really don't care, to be honest with you," he told reporters in Cleveland.
Then he said, "If somebody wants to shortchange (his offensive production over the last month or so), that's their problem, not mine."
He ought to care. And it is his problem. Maybe it would be different if Giambi had ever answered one question honestly about steroid use, during that period when he nearly tore a rotator cuff trying to pat himself on the back for being a standup guy for that February press conference at Yankee Stadium. But he has never admitted to anything, as a way of protecting his contract status with the Yankees. A few months ago, the Yankees couldn't give him away. Now he is the "resurgent Giambi," which is the way general manager Brian Cashman referred to him the other day during a phone conversation we were having.
The truth about Jason? The truth is we're never going to have the whole truth about Jason. He has his power numbers again and we still have our questions. Everybody else has shrunk except him, and that isn't a witch hunt, and that doesn't diminish the work he's done. It's just the way things are.
They asked Giambi about Palmeiro in Cleveland and this is what he said:
"My heart goes out to him and his family."
Because Palmeiro is another standup guy in the world of jockdom? It was reported in the New York Times the other day that both Mike Mussina and Ruben Sierra, both of whom were teammates of Palmeiro's once, believed Palmeiro's version of things, that he took something unintentionally. Sure he did. It happens with Stanozolol all the time. Here is the truth about Stanozolol, because drugs don't lie even if drug users lie all the time: It is a powerful steroid that is not found in dietary supplements. Palmeiro unintentionally took Stanozolol the way guys go into bars at the cocktail hour and unintentionally drink martinis.
So here we are with Giambi, taking it all on faith. But then hasn't that always been the case with him? We took it on faith that he was apologizing for steroids, even though he never did. We took it on faith once that he had lost only a few pounds between the end of the 2003 season and the beginning of the 2004 season, even if he looked like a wide receiver after all the years when he looked like a tight end. We were supposed to take it on faith that he had some kind of benign tumor, even though he couldn't tell us what kind.
We were told in February by Giambi and his agent Arn Tellem - he also has Palmeiro, and must be awfully proud of his guys - that Giambi couldn't answer questions about drugs because of the ongoing BALCO investigation. Well, there is no ongoing BALCO investigation anymore. They have made it clear out there that no further witnesses will be called now that Martha Stewart time has been handed down to Victor Conte.
This would be a perfect time, considering Giambi's offensive stats, for him to give us some answers. If not, he can't get indignant because we still have our questions.


Anonymous said...

I have been told by a co-owner of a mortgage company in Las Vegas financed by Jason Giambi that Giambi has been using undetectable corked bats since May.

mouse said...

Usually I say "innocent until proven guilty" about steroids in baseball. But even the most blind optimist would have to admit that it's awfully suspicious how quickly Giambi got his swing back. I'm glad there are even those in the media who doubt Giambi as I do.

PizzaBagel said...

If, hopefully, they finally detect what he's been putting into his system lately, I can't wait to hear the pathetic explanation from Jason ("I'm really, really sorry for something, but my agent and my lawyer advised me not to say what I'm sorry for") Giambaby. Oh, that day will be soooo sweet! I hope the testing labs can catch up with bums like him real soon.