• 46°

Towers broke silence on easy target

It's amazing the people who come out of the woodwork during investigations. Jose Canseco has written a book that is naming names. Jason Giambi has publicly admitted to using steroids and performance enhancers, although he has never officially uttered the word "steroid."

More recently Kevin Towers, the General Manager of the San Diego Padres, has come out saying that he knew that former Padre Ken Caminiti was using steroids but didn't want to do anything because the club was winning.

Wow, Caminiti using steroids – that's a no-brainer. Anyone who picked up an issue of Sports Illustrated from the summer of 1998 would know that. There was a big picture of a baseball with hypodermic needles on the cover of it and a big honking story about Caminiti's battle with the performance enhancers.

Now you have Towers beating himself up over the death of this guy.

More important than Towers coming out and saying he knew it was going on, is the fact that you have so many superstars that have been accused of using just not saying a word.

Mark McGwire went from being part of the Bash Brothers with Canseco in Oakland to looking like a charicature of himself in St. Louis. Barry Bonds went from being a shrimp when playing with the Pirates during their pennant battles with Atlanta to looking like the Michelin Man on the West Coast.

Ivan Rodriguez's moniker should change from Pudge to Ripped after his tenure in the Lonestar State.

All of these people have been named as using steroids. None have said "Yeah I'm using, but I refuse to test" nor have the said "No I'm not using." The silence of this issue has become deafening.

Spring workouts have begun and Bonds addressed the media, but not to talk about his constant accusals of using, but to downplay things and anger the media, referring to them as an episode of Sanford and Son.

To make things even better, Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball has come out looking ignorant by saying that he knew nothing of performance enhancing substances in the bigs.

ESPN.com's Peter Gammons wrote in an article on Tuesday about the unofficial, official uses going on under Selig's nose.

"The fact is that this was baseball's dirty secret. One mid-'90s Oakland A's farmhand said privately they called their minor league culture "the laboratory."

One Red Sox player in the mid-'90s used to regale friends with stories of three of his roommates one year in the Carolina League who were all doing big-time steroids and how they broke down - two of them did, however, make it to The Show.

One former NL assistant GM this spring recounted how when his team was making a trade, the other GM warned them that the player was a 'roidhead. Another former GM told the story of how another GM told him a player he was acquiring was on steroids, but gave them up after the deal and the player stopped hitting for power. Another former GM says that when he was in the minors in the 1980s, he saw a trainer injecting a teammate."

That's some pretty incriminating information right there.

But the problem, like Gammons and nearly every other reporter who has tried to tackle this issue, is that all of this information is off the record and unofficial.

As Gammons puts it, "use names and you take the lawsuit."

In this age of power hitters and power players all of the records will be questioned – from McGwire's first homer of the 1997 season to Barry Bonds' 72nd into the Bay at Pac Bell Park.

Makes you go back and re-evaluate the success of guys like Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Brett Boone and Ken Griffey Jr.

It's that simple.

Griffin Pritchard is the sports editor of the Greenville Advocate. He can be reached by phone at 382-3111 or via email at griffin.pritchard@greenvilleadvocate.com.