Bases very loaded

By MIKE MILIARD  |  March 19, 2008

Canseco’s previous tell-all, 2005’s Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ’Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big (William Morrow), was just the opening salvo. Now that the Mitchell Report has given the imprimatur of legitimacy to the charges leveled there, he’s feeling flush with self-satisfaction. And so we await Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and the Battle to Save Baseball, to be published on April 1, just in time for opening day.

According to its publisher, Simon & Schuster, it’ll “[blow] the lid off the steroids scandal in baseball — revealing its biggest players and naming its never-before-implicated names.”

Canseco may feign moral outrage, promising a meditation “on the future integrity of America’s most celebrated pastime.” But we all know he’s really just picking at the scab.

Meanwhile, one has to feel bad for Jonathan Mayo, whose new book, Facing Clemens: Hitters on Confronting Baseball’s Most Intimidating Pitcher (Lyons), is being published at about the worst possible time.

Enough ink has been spilled about the Texas Con Man’s travails of late that more here would be superfluous. But it’s safe to say a prurient reading public probably won’t be much interested in buying a book that talks only about the Rocket’s pitching. Even one that gets the straight dope from guys like Cal Ripken, Ken Griffey Jr., and Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan about what it’s like to dig into the batters’ box against him.

Whether or not Clemens is telling the truth, PED use in baseball has a far longer history than some realize. In The Dark Side, Abrams reminds us that, in 1889, Hall of Fame pitcher James “Pud” Galvin availed himself of the “Brown-Séquard elixir,” a testosterone treatment “derived from the testicles of a guinea pig and a dog” that was said to fortify and rejuvenate. Galvin was the first pitcher to reach 300 wins — and the first to juice.

Far from the last. Be it the cream or the clear, growth hormones or greenies, performance enhancers have always been part of the game. (“The funniest thing I ever saw in baseball was Pete Rose’s greenies kicking in during a rain delay,” Vecsey quotes one of Charlie Hustle’s teammates.)

One suspects they may always be. Thankfully, then, there are books like The 33-Year-Old Rookie: How I Finally Made it to the Big Leagues After 11 Years in the Minors (Ballantine), in which Phillies catcher Chris Coste chronicles his agonizingly slow journey to the Show. At many points, it may have been tempting to seek shortcuts. But Coste did it clean.

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