August 1, 2005

Rafael Palmeiro nailed for steroid use

The NYT reports:

Rafael Palmeiro, the Baltimore Orioles slugger who at a Congressional hearing in March vehemently denied using steroids, was suspended for 10 days today for violating major league baseball's steroids policy.

At a congressional hearing in March, Rafael Palmeiro said, "I have never used steroids, period. I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that."

The Orioles' first baseman is by far the biggest name suspended under baseball's recently toughened program, which tests for performance-enhancing substances. Over all, he is the seventh major leaguer this season suspended under the new program.

Last month, the 40-year-old Palmeiro collected the 3,000th hit of his career, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the only players in history to amass 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.

In February, I blogged:

Back in 1993, a baseball player agent whose brother was a major-leaguer told me that "Jose Canseco is the Typhoid Mary of baseball," because when he'd show up on a team, soon his new teammates started to inflate like him.

You may recall that Rafael Palmeiro came up with the Chicago Cubs in 1986, but was traded to Texas after 1988 when rookie Mark Grace emerged as the Cub's first baseman of the future. Grace enjoyed a fine old-fashioned career, hitting .303 with a career high of 17 home runs. Palmeiro, however, turned into a modern-style monster in Texas, hitting 47 homers in two separate seasons, and now has 551 for his career, 30 more than Ted Williams and 226 more than Joe DiMaggio, all without anybody ever thinking Palmeiro was a great player.

On the other hand, all three of the Texas Rangers Canseco named [including Palmeiro] were good players before Canseco arrived, so I'm not convinced. Maybe they would have developed without him. But I am suspicious.

There's an interesting political angle: In last year's State of the Union Address, President Bush used his bully pulpit to denounce steroid use in sports. Bush, however, was the co-managing director of the Texas Rangers in 1992 when they acquired Canseco. Bush's partners didn't trust him enough to give him substantive power in running the team, using him as a front man. But, Bush claims, he did have responsibility for signing off on all trades, so he apparently approved the acquisition of Canseco, even though Canseco had been notorious as a steroid user since at least the 1988 post-season when Fenway Park fans showered him with chants of "Ster-oid! Ster-oid" and he responded by striking a Mr. Universe pose in the outfield. (The details on Bush and Canseco are in my "Out of the Park: Baseball & Steroids" article in the April 12, 2004 American Conservative.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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