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.