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SI.Com steroids story on former Twins' pitchers

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#1 Cris E

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 08:46 AM

Tom Verducci's latest piece in Sport Illustrated goes deep into Dan Naulty's career and how much of it was enabled by steroid use. It's rather stunning.

Thirty-three players appeared in at least one game for the 1994 Fort Myers Miracle. Only six of them reached the majors long enough to earn $500,000 in their careers. Half of those players are known PED users: Naulty, outfielder Matt Lawton (who tested positive in 2005) and pitcher Dan Serafini (who flunked a test in '07).


There's quite a bit more, including a several other Miracle players who admit to steroid use. The notable exception is Dan Serafini, who doesn't see it as cheating at all (and he's the only one of the group still trying to stick in pro baseball.)

Read more: http://sportsillustr...oids/index.html


#2 gunnarthor

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 08:48 AM

Yeah, that was a great read.

#3 CDog

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 08:59 AM

I have a feeling reading the linked article is really gonna bum me out. Here goes...

#4 jimbo92107

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 09:09 AM

Makes me wonder how all the top pitching prospects have mid-90's fastballs. Is that natural? Do they really have such good technique? It also makes me wonder why such a high percentage of pitchers need TJ surgery. Are they over-throwing their joints with juiced-up muscles?

#5 mike wants wins

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 09:20 AM

Wow, that was powerful. Doesn't exactly paint the Twins nicely, in the one sentence where they are really mentioned....Great, great article.

What I just typed is probably an opinion, not a fact. I mean, I'm usually right, so you should maybe assume it is or will be a fact soon, but that's up to you. :)


#6 DAM DC Twins Fans

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 09:31 AM

WOW that was a great and very sad read...wonder how many guys were juiced 15 or 20 years ago...and so many guys all sports dying young like Kirby and Seau...must be a connection.

#7 mike wants wins

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 09:53 AM

I think I read online that the incidence of early death is no higher among sportsmen than the population at large, we just hear about the sportsmen, but I also I think I heard on the radio that the study was a bit flawed. However, it would not surprise me that the incidence of young death isn't that much higher, but that we think it is because we hear about it when it happens....

What I just typed is probably an opinion, not a fact. I mean, I'm usually right, so you should maybe assume it is or will be a fact soon, but that's up to you. :)


#8 Shane Wahl

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:50 AM

I was busy today and had no intention of spending that much time reading an article, but I couldn't stop reading it. Pretty fascinating stuff and makes me think back to those days differently. I was a kid and teenager during that era so I looked at the game differently than I do now. I had no idea that steroid usage was like that back then. Furthermore, I didn't know until this day just HOW much they can impact/improve (for a time) one's game. Naulty's "development" seems a bit on the extreme end of the "effectiveness" of steroids, doesn't it?

#9 Shane Wahl

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:51 AM

Also, that is a terrible story about the sexual abuse, and one has to wonder how frighteningly common such a thing might be with coaches.

#10 mike wants wins

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 12:17 PM

Agreed, there was no way I was going to read the long of an article today, but I could not stop. Agreed also on the abuse, just an awful thing to do to another human being.

What I just typed is probably an opinion, not a fact. I mean, I'm usually right, so you should maybe assume it is or will be a fact soon, but that's up to you. :)


#11 John Bonnes

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 12:42 PM

Good story. I remember talking to Rantz one time in the early 00s and he was talking about how they had developed some routines that seemed to help develop velocity. This made me wonder if the Twins perception of what was happening was skewed as a result of steroid use about which they were unaware. It also made me wonder about the origins of the Twins preference of control over velocity. That might have been a workable philosophy in an era where people seemed to just develop velocity, but now that we know that was also a result of steroid use, maybe that philosophy is based on shaky ground.

#12 Paul

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 01:16 PM

...This made me wonder if the Twins perception of what was happening was skewed as a result of steroid use about which they were unaware...


John, I've got some swamp property for sale I'd like to talk to you about.

#13 Highabove

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 01:22 PM

Speaking about the Twins 96-98 Clubhouse

"While he says no one talked to him about steroids in those years, players talked openly about amphetamines -- so openly that Naulty estimated that "80 percent of guys used drugs, no question." Speed was socially acceptable in the clubhouse."

80% of Twins players doing Drugs back in 96-98, this seems to contradict the (holier than thou) image the Twins have sold in the past.


Edited by Highabove, 30 May 2012 - 01:26 PM.


#14 Shane Wahl

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 01:36 PM

Speaking about the Twins 96-98 Clubhouse

"While he says no one talked to him about steroids in those years, players talked openly about amphetamines -- so openly that Naulty estimated that "80 percent of guys used drugs, no question." Speed was socially acceptable in the clubhouse."

80% of Twins players doing Drugs back in 96-98, this seems to contradict the (holier than thou) image the Twins have sold in the past.



There's some other comment about the Yankees front office being gracious, unlike how it was with the Twins. Yikes. I know it is just Naulty's word, but still.

#15 jokin

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 01:48 PM

John, I've got some swamp property for sale I'd like to talk to you about.


I was going to bite my tongue and stay quiet, but... having not read the Mitchell Report, were the findings contained therein a whitewash with regards to what level of complicity management and coaching staff were responsible for during the whole steroid era? Just the description of Naulty's year-to-year body changes and what management was "encouraging" with regards to his physical development seems obviously suspicious... the Rantz comment seems just a tad (take your pick) naive, ironic or (self)-deceptive.

#16 gunnarthor

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 01:55 PM

I was going to bite my tongue and stay quiet, but... having not read the Mitchell Report, were the findings contained therein a whitewash with regards to what level of complicity management and coaching staff were responsible for during the whole steroid era? Just the description of Naulty's year-to-year body changes and what management was "encouraging" with regards to his physical development seems obviously suspicious... the Rantz comment seems just a tad (take your pick) naive, ironic or (self)-deceptive.


Mitchell report was useless. Generally, I think the Twins knew some guys were on roids but didn't help supply it. They were pretty active in Summer Leagues in Latin America and would send some big prospects down there and they'd get bigger (David Arcia, for one). I don't think any team was innocent in the steroid thing but I don't think the Twins were among the biggest violators, for a number of reasons.

I'm also not sure that their reliance on control over velocity was based on steroids except that control pitchers tended to be cheaper.

#17 jokin

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:06 PM

Mitchell report was useless. Generally, I think the Twins knew some guys were on roids but didn't help supply it. They were pretty active in Summer Leagues in Latin America and would send some big prospects down there and they'd get bigger (David Arcia, for one). I don't think any team was innocent in the steroid thing but I don't think the Twins were among the biggest violators, for a number of reasons.

I'm also not sure that their reliance on control over velocity was based on steroids except that control pitchers tended to be cheaper.


Thanks, GA. Given that era was pretty much a lost decade for the Twins, your excellent perspectives probably sums up the level of participation and commensurate results on the field. On the flip side, did the Twins tend to more easily part with possible steroid-abusers (Naulty, Ortiz) and make no attempts in signing suspected FA abusers as an excuse to cut payroll and embrace and accept the consequences of "Piranha" batting power and Pitch-to-Contact throwing?

#18 JB_Iowa

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:13 PM

Thanks for the link. Verducci is an incredibly powerful writer and there is a lot of food for thought in that article. I just find the following 2 paragraphs incredibly depressing:

"What would you do to cross that line, even for a day? Even with testing, the answer for many is to use drugs. Since 2005, there have been 527 violations of the drug testing agreement by minor league players and 35 by major leaguers -- about 70 confirmed cheats every year. One of the most common causes of a failed test is the drug stanozolol, also known as Winstrol, an old school steroid that can be injected or taken in tablet form. It is a favorite among body builders and ballplayers because it adds lean muscle mass and strength without excessive weight gain.

Cheaters can use fast-acting testosterone creams and gels to keep their testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio below the allowable 4-to-1 threshold. They can use HGH, which functions more as recovery agent than strength builder, virtually all year long. This season, baseball became the first major American pro sport to use a blood test for HGH, but the program amounts to one announced test: Players know they will be screened when they show up for spring training, and not again during the season. Still, the testing protocols over 10 years appear to have slowed the cheating considerably."

"Considerably slowing" a 100 mph train may only mean that you've slowed it down to 50 mph (if even that). (And thinking that baseball is leading the way depresses me more when I think about other sports).

#19 John Bonnes

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:13 PM

John, I've got some swamp property for sale I'd like to talk to you about.


You're insinuating that the Twins knew about the steroid use and looked the other way. I don't think that's the case. Verducci seemingly didnt think so either.

As evidence, I'd point to the quotes from the other prospects about being oblivious to the problem. And people thought steroids wouldn't really help pitchers, just pump up those home run numbers. And even with THAT perception, very few people were talking about steroids as being responsible for the offensive explosion we saw in the late 90s. I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of words were written on that "where is all the offense coming from" question. The balls were wound tighter, year-long training programs, etc. And let's not forget that when Canseco dared to say that everyone was doing it, he was instantly mocked.

It might be hard for people to remember, but it was a naive era. Looking back, I feel like that Twins prospect who said that all the signs were there, and he can't believe he didn't see it.

#20 JB_Iowa

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:17 PM

One other thing that struck me is the frank admission that steroids improved performance for both Naulty and Horn. Certainly contradicts all those arguments about PEDS ONLY helping to heal more quickly or prolong a career.

#21 Thrylos

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:18 PM

There's some other comment about the Yankees front office being gracious, unlike how it was with the Twins. Yikes. I know it is just Naulty's word, but still.


Yeah... it's more than Naulty's word. Talk to any of the 3 pitchers who were cut recently while injured and they will tell you, I bet. Even in that article, the way the Twins cut their minor leaguers was mighty bad. And nothing has changed. The same person is in charge of the minor leagues and he is about 100 years old now...
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#22 Thrylos

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:21 PM

You're insinuating that the Twins knew about the steroid use and looked the other way. I don't think that's the case. Verducci seemingly didnt think so either.

.


I don't know if you remember, but TK is in the Mitchell report. When a visiting clubhouse attendant told him that there were syringes in the trash there, he told him to shut up and did nothing about it... Not sure that the Twins were doing anything, but it was hush hush...
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#23 JB_Iowa

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:23 PM

It might be hard for people to remember, but it was a naive era. Looking back, I feel like that Twins prospect who said that all the signs were there, and he can't believe he didn't see it.


I don't know if it was really naive or if it was just that we wanted so much to enjoy baseball again that as fans we turned a blind eye. It was more the "willing suspension of disbelief" than naivete. Especially during the summer of McGwire - Sosa, there were numerous mentions (and open admissions of use) of Andro by McGwire. And very fine lines were being drawn. But baseball had gone through the strike-shortened years and fans, players and ownership/management all wanted to enjoy the sport again -- we simply didn't want to hear about steroids or other black eyes on the game.

Edited by JB_Iowa, 30 May 2012 - 02:49 PM.


#24 Shane Wahl

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 03:05 PM

One other thing that struck me is the frank admission that steroids improved performance for both Naulty and Horn. Certainly contradicts all those arguments about PEDS ONLY helping to heal more quickly or prolong a career.


Yeah, that's what I meant above somewhere. I was shocked about that. 10 mph to a fastball? 60 pounds just with offseason use? Generally all-around improved performance? I mean, that IS what I thought steroids did originally. Then I think there was a pretty good effort of changing that perception to "healing better" or "prolonging careers."

#25 CDog

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 03:27 PM

Couple things... First, as for the anecdote of the Yankees treating Naulty more graciously, I read it as Joe Torre, and not an organizational thing. I also thought it was implied about one or more of the demons he was dealing with, which he had established he had kept hidden as much as possible. I didn't go back to read again to see if that's how it came off on a more thorough go-through. But yeah, I cringed a little to read that. Second, and sort of related, I can't imagine a very high percentage of the overwhelming majority who are released from a minor league team like the way it was done very much, regardless of the organization. My first feeling while reading some of those was similar to comments of "ugh" but it's just an ugly time that I'm sure is awful to most everyone involved for the last hundred+ years. Third, someone commented about the ENORMOUS change in Naulty and how that wasn't what the "word on the street" had been (as opposed to "it helps heal" or makes smaller improvements). I don't know, but my thought would be that possibly/probably Naulty went to extremes more than others with usage and that's why his body rejected the overwhelmingly large burden (tore is groin muscle right off the bone?!??!). But yeah...I was right in my comment early in the thread...the article really bummed me out in a lot of ways. Did folks read the article linked within the linked article about Serafini? He comes off...poorly. To me (copyright Ron Coomer).

#26 Paul

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 03:49 PM

You're insinuating that the Twins knew about the steroid use and looked the other way. I don't think that's the case. Verducci seemingly didnt think so either.

As evidence, I'd point to the quotes from the other prospects about being oblivious to the problem. And people thought steroids wouldn't really help pitchers, just pump up those home run numbers. And even with THAT perception, very few people were talking about steroids as being responsible for the offensive explosion we saw in the late 90s. I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of words were written on that "where is all the offense coming from" question. The balls were wound tighter, year-long training programs, etc. And let's not forget that when Canseco dared to say that everyone was doing it, he was instantly mocked.

It might be hard for people to remember, but it was a naive era. Looking back, I feel like that Twins prospect who said that all the signs were there, and he can't believe he didn't see it.


Wow. I don't know where to begin. Here goes.

Insinuating is not a strong enough word. I thought I was being very blunt. I could see if it was 1 person at the top who was oblivious. But the Twins have a HUGE number of front line people. Scouts...trainers...coaches...doctors. No, if the people at the top didn't know it's because they, implicitly or explicitly, let it be known that they did not want to know.

You have a point on the pitcher vs hitter thing. I'm sure that a few people didn't realize pitchers use muscles too.

As I recall there were "hundreds of thousands of words" written on the obvious juicing and drug usage.

Cansenco was mocked because he was a clown. Not because he was lying. And a lot of the people doing the mocking were practicing intentional obfuscation.

It's not hard to remember for everyone. It was NOT a naive era, you and Verducci notwithstanding.

John, I don't mean to be harsh. I like and appreciate your work. But jeeze dude.

#27 Rosterman

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 03:55 PM

Fabulous read...

#28 nokomismod

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 04:07 PM

What do you think some of the former Twins players like Dan Gladden and Jack Morris would say about that? After reading that article (which was great by the way), I came away thinking the 90's and 2000's drug use was even more prevelant than I thought. There could be a lot of players who I enjoyed watching and even put on a pedestal, who were cutting corners to gain an edge.

#29 John Bonnes

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 04:08 PM

Wow. I don't know where to begin. Here goes.

Insinuating is not a strong enough word. I thought I was being very blunt. I could see if it was 1 person at the top who was oblivious. But the Twins have a HUGE number of front line people. Scouts...trainers...coaches...doctors. No, if the people at the top didn't know it's because they, implicitly or explicitly, let it be known that they did not want to know.

You have a point on the pitcher vs hitter thing. I'm sure that a few people didn't realize pitchers use muscles too.

As I recall there were "hundreds of thousands of words" written on the obvious juicing and drug usage.

Cansenco was mocked because he was a clown. Not because he was lying. And a lot of the people doing the mocking were practicing intentional obfuscation.

It's not hard to remember for everyone. It was NOT a naive era, you and Verducci notwithstanding.

John, I don't mean to be harsh. I like and appreciate your work. But jeeze dude.


It's hard to bring any data to this discussion, because I don't know how we would measure the level of attention this issue received. I can only speak from my experience. (And we may have a generation gap here - I don't know how old you are. I'm 45, so I was paying a lot of attention to the baseball media during the 90s.) That's the period of time we were talking about - Naulty was in Ft Myers in 94 and out of the majors by '00.

Caminiti's confessions was in October of 2004. Even then, it was viewed as an isolated incident. Canseco's book was in 2005. Steroids were certainly in the news in other sports before that - just look at how many references in the article above reference "body builders" - but they were not viewed as a problem or factor in baseball. That many not seem to be the case considering how huge a story they became, but nobody was talking about this in the 90s. I suppose that doesn't mean that inside baseball it wasn't recognized, but I take a look at the quotes from the other 3 prospects and conclude that was probably not the case.

#30 Cris E

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 04:19 PM

What do you think some of the former Twins players like Dan Gladden and Jack Morris would say about that?

I think they'd go into the same shell that Dan Serafini is in: guys in the game (or who want to be in the game) have to live in the baseball community and won't own up to anything specific. It's only when they've moved on that they talk about this stuff. It no coincidence that the only ones talking about this are completely out of professional baseball.