For steroid injections, Giambi merits ejection

Drugs

The Player

December 03, 2004|By LAURA VECSEY

BANISHED, EXPELLED. And, by the way, Jason Giambi: That $120 million contract you pumped yourself full of steroids to secure? It's now null and void.

That's what the commissioner of baseball ought to declare for the Yankees' steroid-slugging slugger.

Sorry, son. Hope your pituitary tumor gets better. Health is far more important than home runs, especially if the homers came courtesy of human growth hormone and other forms of muscle-popping, body-damaging steroids.

Needles in the buttocks, cream on the legs, drops on the tongue: It's a wonder Giambi doesn't have mysterious appendages where there shouldn't be appendages.

Am I missing something, but would not a person of even average intelligence at least begin to worry that injecting and lathering yourself with steroids might lead to a date with Lyle Alzado's ghost?

It's a wonder Giambi doesn't have more medical problems than we already know.

He came to the Yankees big like Bluto, smiling sheepishly all the way to the bank. Was Giambi sheepish because he knew he couldn't field his position well enough to warrant that kind of contract?

Was he sheepish and shifty-eyed and suddenly uncomfortable because he was pushed by a father whose dream it was to have a son play for the team his favorite boyhood player, Mickey Mantle, did? Dad. Dad. Dad. Giambi might have done anything to make the dream come true. And steroids would constitute anything.

Giambi was already on some kind of physical and mental free fall the minute he walked into Yankee Stadium.

For the record, Giambi has never been comfortable in New York, where he must have figured the clock was ticking. If you need steroids and creams to make you like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire - Giambi's idols - chances are your home run chariot might turn into a pumpkin.

Either that, or you might find yourself spending more time in the trainer's office or doctor's suite than the batting cage. Why was Giambi so mysteriously sick? Hmmmm.

Now we know what Giambi wouldn't admit, even when he said his weight loss was because he went on a diet. In fact, Giambi wouldn't even admit he had lost weight when he reported to camp last spring resembling Twiggy.

Now the San Francisco Chronicle printed in yesterday's editions what we already kind of knew. Giambi took the stuff. Surprise!

We all knew this day was going to come. Finally, after the grand jury called in all the BALCO Boys, the Chronicle put it in black and white. After all the problems Giambi has had, the revelation sounded like the long-overdue confession of a young man who must begin to figure out where his career went so wrong.

Personally, I would have loved to have felt sorry for Giambi - or at least the MVP we first met back in Oakland. Giambi was so apparently motley and carefree back when he was the leader of the Lost Boys on the wrong side of the Bay. Giambi and the A's invented "The Idiots" before the Red Sox borrowed the schtick.

It was fun. Giambi the rising star seemed to be about youth and energy. Too bad we were suckers when he attributed his prowess to McDonald's and Taco Bell. Like it was the fat and sodium that made him what he was.

Who knew the incredible pressure Giambi must have felt to be the big bat on that "small-market" team that couldn't afford to keep its stars? All that pressure to hit 40 homers a season so that suitors in pinstripes would come calling.

No wonder Giambi asked Barry Bonds how he kept himself so strong, so big, so productive. Hey, Barry. If you say this personal trainer Greg Anderson can help me, let me at him.

Well, guess what? The fraternity and circle of big-time sluggers just became the fraternity of something else. The circle is drawing tighter, like a noose. Now it's around Giambi's neck.

For the fans who don't cotton to millionaire superstars on steroids while being paid $120 million to hit homers; for the other players who don't like cheaters and who don't want to cheat; for anyone sick of players who lie, lie, lie about not doing something they know was wrong - even if it's not "illegal" or prohibited by contract - time's up.

Baseball should ban Giambi. Expel him. Void his contract. Whatever.

Then tell players union chief Donald Fehr to argue in the court of public opinion. The people who pay Giambi's salary should be the ones who vote - and that basically includes anyone who watches baseball on expensive cable television or buys a ticket. We've been had.

For years, Fehr has argued on behalf of the players union that there should be no drug testing. For years, Fehr made the argument to be one about privacy rights. How can players trust the owners, who could abuse the players in order to downgrade their reputations or salaries?

Well, guess what? The players should go back to their fearless leader and ask how come they're in this mess. A drug-testing policy could have gone a long way toward changing the environment of baseball clubhouses, where steroid use was common fact.

Maybe Ken Caminiti would be alive had he not been able to get away with his drug abuse during his MVP years. Maybe Giambi wouldn't have the tumor and the legacy of the biggest drug bust in the history of the Yankees - and they had Steve Howe and Darryl Strawberry in line ahead of Giambi for that honor.

The only thing worse than a cheater is a lying cheater. Giambi is 2-for-2 on that score. Grotesquely, he has never hit better since donning pinstripes.

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