Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fifteen Years of "Tainted" Titles?

By The Common Man

Earlier today, The Common Man had an interesting exchange with former reliever Steve Karsay on Twitter that got his mind working. Karsay was having a conversation with a pretty obnoxious Red Sox fan, when he said, “your rings are tainted with guys like Manny who used steroids.” That’s an interesting word, “tainted.” Even though Manny wasn’t caught using banned substances until 2009, Karsay makes the (understandable) leap to say that the Sox’s 2004 and 2007 titles were not won fairly. It’s a relatively fair point, as no one really thinks Manny began using in 2009, and the Sox also had other players suspected, accused, or suspended for use, including David Ortiz, JC Romero, Eric Gagne, Bronson Arroyo, and Brendan Donnelly.

But this left TCM wondering, are there any teams that we can claim won their titles fairly over the past 15 years? How wide-spread was the problem? Is everyone tainted? Using the Mitchell Report, Jose Canseco’s books, players MLB has suspended for banned substance use, and players who have admitted their use publically, TCM has done some digging to find out how many World Series Championships have been tainted by PEDs, using the definition laid out by Karsay (who, by the way, was incredibly engaged, seems like a good dude, passionately hates PEDs, and should have more followers).

Below, is a table, showing all the alleged users of Performance Enhancing Drugs that were on the rosters of World Championship teams (note, there are a couple more added in the comments section). These players presumably made some contribution to the team’s overall success and have therefore tainted their team’s success.

*Tony LaRussa, while not a player and not accused of PED use, presided over the careers of many prominent
PED users, including Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.  Click to embiggen. Table by The Common Man

As you can see, every single World Championship that has been won since 1995 has had at least one player who has either been formally accused, or admitted using banned substances, with the exception of the 2005 White Sox (as reader RickG points out in the comments, Pablo Ozuna, a member of the '05 Sox, tested positive in 2009, so officially no World Series winners have been "clean" from 1995-2010). Maybe it’s time to stop pretending this was an isolated problem. Maybe it’s time to stop pointing figners. Indeed, if we were to argue that “tainted” championships somehow aren’t legitimate, we would have to ignore 15 years worth of Major League History. Perhaps "tainted" is the wrong word, when virtually everything is the same color.

(Update, as intrepid reader The Baseball Idiot points out, Joe Torre and Terry Francona, and their organizations, have also presided over multiple PED teams. TCM pointed to LaRussa in part because he was part of the beginnings of steroids in the game, and also because he holds other managers less accountable for following along with the culture of baseball in the 1990s and 2000s. But in fairness, TBI has a point.)

Here is the context behind each allegation:

2010 San Francisco Giants: Guillermo Mota was suspended 50 games in November of 2006 for testing positive for a banned substance. He told reporters, "I have no one to blame but myself. I take full responsibility for my actions and accept MLB's suspension. I used extremely poor judgment and deserve to be held accountable." According to the San Francisco Chronicles, Jose Guillen bought $19,000 worth of steroids and HGH from 2002-2005, and continued to receive them after MLB had explicitly banned them and implemented testing.

2009 New York Yankees: Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroid use in 2003, and admitted his use, from 2001-2003 in a 2007 interview on 60 Minutes. Andy Pettitte was named by Jason Grimsley in the Mitchell Report of having used HGH. Pettitte admitted his use in 2007, admitting to using it on two occasions.

2008 Philadelphia Phillies: JC Romero tested positive for Andro in 2009 and was suspended for 50 games. He told reporters, “I still cannot see where I did something wrong. There is nothing that should take away from the rings of my teammates. I didn't cheat. I tried to follow the rules."

2007 Boston Red Sox: Manny Ramirez tested positive twice for banned substances, in 2009 and 2011 respectively. He was suspended for 50 games, and retired rather than accept a 100 game suspension. David Ortiz tested positive during the 2003 league-wide testing, and had his results leaked to the media in 2009. Brendan Donnelly was accused by Kirk Radomski in the Mitchell Report as having purchased anabolic steroids on two occasions. Radomski also accused Eric Gagne of purchasing HGH from him on two occasions. JC Romero (see above).

2006 St. Louis Cardinals: Larry Bigbie was accused by Radomski of purchasing HGH. Bigbie admitted his use of HGH and steroids. Tony LaRussa presided over the careers of several prominent steroid users, including Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.

2005 Chicago White Sox: To date, no 2005 Chicago White Sox player has been accused of taking performance enhancing drugs.

2004 Boston Red Sox: Bronson Arroyo admitted to reporters in 2009 that he took andro and amphetamines from 1998-2003. Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz see above.

2003 Florida Marlins: Ivan Rodriguez was accused of using steroids and HGH by Jose Canseco in his book. Canseco alleges that he injected Rodriguez “many times.”

2002 Anaheim Angels: Troy Glaus purchased testosterone and nandrolone in 2003-2004 according to a 2007 report in Sports Illustrated. Brendan Donnelly see above.

2001 Arizona Diamondbacks: Matt Williams purchased HGH, steroids and other drug paraphanaelia in 2002 according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Williams admitted receiving a prescription for the HGH and receiving the drugs after he retired in 2003.

2000 New York Yankees: Jose Canseco wrote two books in which he freely admitted steroid use and named other players. Brian McNamee claims that he injected Chuck Knoblauch with HGH multiple times in 2001.Glenallen Hill was named by Radomski in the Mitchell Report; he has admitted purchasing steroids, but claims he did not use them. Jim Leyritz admitted to using HGH in 2000 and 2001 during a 2006 interview with the New York Post. Jason Grimsley admitted to receiving and using HGH from 2001-2005 to federal agents in 2006. He named several other players in the Mitchell Report who he claims used PEDs. Mike Stanton was accused by Radomski of purchasing HGH during 2003. Radomski accused Denny Neagle of purchasing HGH from him on several occasions from 2000-2004, and backed up his accusation by producing several checks. Andy Pettitte see above.

1999 New York Yankees: Roger Clemens was accused of using steroids and HGH by Brian McNamee, who claims to have injected Clemens on several occasions. The two continue to verbally spar and are embroiled in litigation for defamation, amongst other things. Chuck Knoblauch, Andy Pettitte, Jim Leyritz, Jason Grimsley, and Mike Stanton see above.

1998 New York Yankees: Darren Holmes admitted to ordering HGH but claims he decided not to use it after a 2006 Sports Illustrated article that accused him of purchasing HGH and testosterone in 2003. Pettitte, Knoblauch, and Stanton see above.

1997 Florida Marlins: Gary Sheffield was accused by BALCO VP Jim Valente of receiving “the cream” and “the clear.” Sheffield claims he did not know he was receiving PEDs, and thought they were “vitamins.” Kevin Brown was accused of purchasing HGH in 2001 by Radomski.

1996 New York Yankees: Jim Leyritz and Andy Pettitte, see above.

1995 Atlanta Braves: David Justice was accused of purchasing HGH in 2000 by Radomski, a story Justice allegedly confirmed to McNamee. Justice denied ever taking HGH and named several other players he suspected of using to the Mitchell Report. Kent Mercker allegedly purchase HGH in 2002, according to Radomski.

Information from The New York Times and Baseball's Steroid Era were used to create this post.


William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Fantastic post and I agree. I also think Steve Karsay is an engaging tweeter.

By the way, the verification word on this comment was "Likilly." I likilly your writing very much.

The Baseball Idiot said...

Seems like a unnecessary shot at LaRussa. Francona managed two tainted teams, and Torre managed four of them.

If LaRussa gets special mention, so should those two.

Why does LaRussa get singled out when the others don't?

The Common Man said...

That is absolutely a valid point, TBI. TCM will update to reflect that.

Joe said...

Clemens was on the 2000 Yankees, too.

RickG said...

As a White Sox fan, I'd love to say the 2005 club was completely clear of steroids...but I can't.

Pablo Ozuna tested positive in 2009 and was suspended 50 games...he got 217 PA for the '05 Sox, and pinch-ran in two ALCS games (scoring the winning run in game 2 after the AJ Pierzynski dropped-third strike play).

Now, do I think Pablo Ozuna was 'roiding at the time? And even if he was, do I think it even mattered? No, to both. But facts is facts.

Anonymous said...

Would be super cool if you could do the same thing with the World Series loser, so we could discuss who the "real" chapions would be, if any of them were clean.

The Common Man said...

Thanks for the updates to Joe and Rick G. So now we officially have no clean World Series winners from 1995-2010. Yay?

And Anonymous, what do you think TCM is working on for tomorrow?

The Baseball Idiot said...

Thanks, TCM. Should have said also that this was a good post, and very interesting. Just an observation on my part, so I hope it didn't come out as a criticism.

I think you make a good point on the entire issue I haven't seen anyone else hit on yet.

Anonymous said...

Larry Bigbie played in 17 games in 2006 with the Cardinals and had a weeks worth of plate appearances. You seriously included him on your list?

The Common Man said...

In the interest of completeness, everyone was included.

Anonymous said...

Bigbie wasn't on the "World Series winning" team, however. His last appearance with St. Louis was in June. Definitely not on the 25-man at Series time. Didn't all the others have accused guys on the actual post-season roster? Ozuna and the Sox are the only other possible exception I can see -- he appeared in the post season but not in the Series, and I don't know whether he was active for the Series or rnot.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps an insignificant distinction, but I believe David Ortiz's test officially was classified as "inconclusive" rather than positive.

Timothy said...

Andy Pettitte was on the 2005 Astros so the 05 series was also tainted.

Anonymous said...

Jose Guillen wasn't on the Giants playoff roster last year, for what it's worth

Pepe Free Us said...

Not to be too nitpicky, but Alex Rodriguez denied ever taking any PEDs in that 2007 60 Minutes feature. He didn't admit anything until early 2009.

Anonymous said...

David Justice was also on the 2000 WSC Yankees -- a big part too -- ALCS MVP.

J-Doug said...

Manny Ramirez was never punished until 2009 but he tested positive during the trial period, which IIRC was in 2004.

Also, I support your including Larry Bigbie on the 2006 Cards team. Considering how few games they won to make the postseason, Larry Bigbie's contribution is relevant.

Vidor said...

I agree that it's a tremendous stretch to include the 2006 Cardinals on this list. Tony LaRussa, the manager, is no more responsible for steroids in the game than any other coach or manager or front office personnel of any stripe. And Larry Bigbie, as noted above, had 28 plate appearances for the 2006 Cardinals.

One can only suppose that the listing of the '06 Cardinals derives from either a personal animus by the writer against LaRussa, or a desire to make the list complete.

Anonymous said...

Larry Bigbe! You've got to be kidding me! He had 28 plate appearances the entire season. Wasn't even on the playoff roster. 17 games!

LaRussa shouldn't even be on there.

2006 wasn't a tainted title whatsoever.

BilliamFloyd said...

TCM- Glad to see this discussion picking up steam. I've been using this point as my "go to" rebuttal in the ever evolving disparagement of individual PED suspects/users.

Ultimately, this is a team game whereupon the greatest achievement remains one garnered by the team as a whole.

Certainly the debate over individual performance deserves scrutiny as it pertains to the hallowed records of individual achievement, but we cannot simply condemn players w/out full acknowledgement of their contributions towards what SHOULD BE the most guarded and sacred prize in team sports...

...or have we just reached the point where designating members of the 500 HR club and eligibility for the HOF is more important than the name of the team on the Commissioner's Trophy?.?.?

Snavenhoj said...

i'd like to point out that that the Braves championship team was clean. Justice didn't use PED's until much later in his carrier(00-01) when he was with the yanks. The same is true for Merker. His first case was in 02 with the Rockies. The braves are a clean organization. Just look at the faces; Chipper Jones one of the best clean players of this generation, and the pitching staff of Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine, all clean and making up the best rotation in the 90's. The braves don't tolerate cheating and shady characters. There's a reason no brave has ever been banned. I'd be surprised if Lowe isn't on his way out for the DD charge

Snavenhoj said...

sry that was supposed to be DUI charge

The Common Man said...

Gotcha. PEDs and booze = not cool. Manager beating his wife = fine. Come on. Ken Caminiti was a Brave. So was Gary Sheffield. They don't have a monopoly on morality.

air to air heat exchanger said...

In the interest of completeness, everyone was included.