It was only a matter of time. Admissions or accusations of steroid use now plague almost every major league clubhouse, and today they officially reached the Red Sox, when ESPN The Magazine published an article in which former Sox pitcher Paxton Crawford talks about using steroids, human growth hormone, and speed while with the Sox in 2000 and 2001. (The article is available online, but only if you’re a subscriber to ESPN Insider.)
Crawford says he was introduced to steroids while in the Sox’s minor league system in 1999. “Shoot, why not?” he says he remembers thinking. “I’m just a country boy; I didn’t even think twice. It seemed like everybody else was doing it, so it wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t a big deal, right?” When he made the big league team in 2001, he says a teammateâ€šÃ„Ã®and there are a number of players who were members of the Red Sox in 2001 that remain with the team todayâ€šÃ„Ã®introduced him to HGH.
Over the past half-decade, there have been widely varying estimates of how many major league players have juiced, ranging from Ken Caminiti’s 50 percent to Jose Canseco’s 85 percent. (It’s worth noting that the oft-mocked Canseco appears to have been more honest than many of the players called to testify before Congress last March, including Mark McGuire, whom the Washington Post called “a shrunken, lonely, evasive figure.”) After spending a year around Major League Baseball, neither figure would surprise me. (I want to make clear that I never heard a single player admit or acknowledge using, I never saw anyone use, I never saw the presence of steroids, and I never heard any member of the Red Sox management or ownership talk about knowledge of a player on the team using.) In the days and months ahead, there’ll be more and more players who either come clean or are outed as being usersâ€šÃ„Ã®sluggers, sure, but also marginal pitchers like Crawford looking to reduce their recovery time and gain a few miles on their fastball and slap-hitting singles hitters looking for improved reaction time.
In Boston, where baseball is more a religion than a pastime, the effects of these revelations would be absolutely devastating. Take a look at what’s happened to the Diamondbacks following the Jason Grimsley affidavit and think for a second about how much less suffocating Phoenix is than Boston. Recall the round-the-clock coverage of Theo Epstein’s interregnum last winter. And now imagine the feeding frenzy that would occur if a hero of the 2004 World Series team is revealed to be a user. It could take months, if not years, to deal with the fallout.