It may seem opportunistic to inject Rod Beck’s name into the steroid debate, but as Philly Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan points out, any time a 38 year-old former player with no known health problems dies, and that player’s nickname was “Shooter”, you can’t help but wonder.

From the Inquirer:

That is the reason Don Fehr and the players’ union treated the whole idea of mandatory drug testing and punishments as if it were a flock of West Nile mosquitoes. The short-term gain – more money – trumped any concern about long-term health risks to the players or to the game itself.

When Sammy Sosa hits his 600th home run . . .

As Barry Bonds closes in on Hank Aaron’s career home run record . . .

When a player from the height of the steroid era dies at age 38 . . .

You wonder what role syringes and creams and amphetamines played. You can’t help it. And that is bad for baseball. So far, it hasn’t been bad enough to threaten those escalating salaries, but that’s a gamble the players’ union was willing to take.

It’s important to point out that Beck never failed a drug test, nor did he tell Congress he couldn’t speak English. But then again, MLB wasn’t testing for steroids when Beck played, and Congress never subpoenaed him.

We do know that Beck spent some time in rehab towards the end of his career, so he was using something. But that something could be almost anything: alcohol, cocaine, pain killers, you name it (though probably not diet pills). And there’s no reason to think that Beck was still using whatever it was in 2007.

Something I found odd: When the AP story about Beck’s death first hit the web, the only player quoted was Barry Bonds. Why Bonds? Maybe the reporter just happened to be sitting next to the world’s most famous doper when he got the call about Beck’s death. Or maybe he/she simply said to himself/herself, “I need a quote from one of Beck’s former teammates. Who’s the most media-friendly guy I can think of ?” I think quoting Bonds was the reporter’s way of hinting at a steroids connection. But then again, I’m a conspiracy theorist at heart.

I’ll be curious to see what Beck’s autopsy reveals, if anything. Frankly, I’m hoping we discover Beck was on steroids. Because I don’t think the MLB players union will be forced to take performance enhancers seriously until we can show that steroids contributed to the untimely death of an athlete.

7 Responses to “Beck on steroids??”

  1. Danny O says:

    This plagued Tom Glavine when he was with the Braves as well. Don’t know if he has been a shaky first-inning hurler for the Mets, but everytime I see him pitch (which is always against the Braves) he gets lit up throughout the whole start.

  2. Alejandro Leal says:

    Well you you gotta remember Ken Caminiti. It’s not like he died twenty years ago, he passed away in ’04. And though he died of “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of cocaine and opiates,” his steroid use must’ve contributed in some way to his poor health (not to mention, his enlarged heart).

    I dunno if baseball learned anything from Caminiti’s death. Then again, maybe that got this whole thing rolling…

  3. Really, guys?

    From the SI article:

    “Nicknamed “Shooter” and well-known for his fondness for country music, cowboy boots and cigarettes”

    “Beck was popular with teammates, fans and reporters, but battled personal demons late in his life. He abruptly left the San Diego Padres for a two-month stint in rehabilitation during his final season in 2004.”

    A country boy who battled personal demons and your first instinct for his nickname is steroids?

    An athlete (kinda, he was a relief pitcher) who smoked and did a stint in rehab has no known health problems?

    Yes, he was teammates with Barry Bonds. Yes, his third most domninant season came when Slammin’ Sammy was chasing the record.

    Except he was also only ~30 at the time. Was he really that much of a statistical outlier?

    Let’s wait for the autopsy before we break out the tar and feathers.

  4. Coley Ward says:

    Rich, I totally agree. I mean, I was just joking about the link between his nickname and steroids.

    But I do think that baseball will be slow to take steroid (and HGH) testing seriously until we can show that performance enhancers are causing real harm to players. And if one of the fallen players happens to be one of the most popular and likeable guys in recent memory, that will make the need for serious testing and penalties that much more apparent.

  5. Totally agree, Coley. Totally agree.

  6. steve ashman says:

    Coley, you are an idiot. To “joke” about a 38 year old father of 2 and his untimely passing is not “journalism” but the postings of an insensitive – speculation driven – rumor mongering moron. God help your family should you pass on in an untimely fashion. I wonder what skeletons there are in your closet?

    There were no skeletons in Beck’s closet – they were out there for all to see. I found your attack on his character and memory an insult … and you GUTLESS for connecting (from all acoounts) a good ballplayer, teammate, friend to speculative drivel.

  7. Rod was not a “juicer”, he liked beer, hard lemonade and cigarettes. He liked to throw darts and play with his dog “Duke”. He enjoyed being with his friends and was surprized to know he still had fans that cared about him, most of all he loved his daughters. He is missed by my family, he was our friend.

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