Friday, December 14, 2007

Friends Help Friends

One of the most striking aspects of the Mitchell report on baseball's steroid era is the connections.

Read through the report, and you find example after example of how one player's use led to another player's decision to dip his toe in the water. We knew already about Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield and the Giambis (with trainer Greg Anderson in the middle). But there are many more stories in the Mitchell report about players who turned their teammates or workout partners on to the juice.

There's a story about Wally Joyner, at the tail end of his career, accepting advice from Ken Caminiti in San Diego and briefly trying steroids. There's the connect-the-dots tale of FP Santangelo, the journeyman utility player whose stops included the Giants and the A's. Santangelo had a connection (through David Segui) with the former Mets clubbie Kirk Radomski, who supplied him with human growth hormone. In a modern version of Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance, Santangelo hooked A's outfielder Adam Piatt up with Radomski, and Piatt passed that connection on to Miguel Tejada. A strength trainer is the reported connection between Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite.

Why should we be surprised? It's the way of the world. Who hasn't gotten a stock tip from a coworker? Or real estate investment advice from a neighbor? Or managed to get an "inside" deal on a hotel room or a car or a new TV?

We're social beings. We trust those around us. And when they offer us a deal, we're often quick to jump on it.

It's easy to blast these ballplayers as cheaters. No defense here: they broke the rules. But in searching for the "why" of all this, it's worth remembering the power of a personal relationship--for better or worse.

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