Nomar Garciaparra retired yesterday, which prompted the following Google search for me: Was Nomar on steroids? It’s a question debated in the baseball world many times in recent years, something I continue to wonder about, even as the former Boston Red Sox shortstop has never failed a drug test or admitted use or been under federal investigation or had his name included in a book or told Congress that his wife did HGH, like so many fallen ballplayers before him. My search returned an interesting NBC Sports article posted earlier today.
The piece, written by Craig Calcaterra, decries the fresh round of speculation brought on by the retirement. Calcaterra writes:
For the second time today I have to say that I don’t know if a player ever took PEDs, but I know the writer making the accusation doesn’t know either, yet does it anyway. And though I’m certain the answer will be “never,” I ask again: when will anyone in the mainstream media call out guys like Steve Henson (or Rick Telander or Jon Heyman) for hurling such accusations the way they called out blogger Jerrod Morris for doing something far, far less irresponsible?
And no, “because we think Nomar did it and [Raul] Ibanez didn’t” is not an acceptable answer. At least not for people who like to lecture others about “journalistic integrity” all the time.
All the same, there are many red flags regarding Garciaparra. The obvious ones include:
- A ripped physique, famously captured on this Sports Illustrated cover
- Gaudy numbers in the early part of his career followed by significant injuries
- Being a teammate of Jose Canseco
- And perhaps most importantly, being a Major League Baseball player of any renown in the last twenty years
Sadly, few ballplayers have much credibility these days regarding steroids. I suspect most recent players of juicing just as I assume lots of people in the late 1970s and early 1980s tried cocaine and even more folks a decade before that smoked pot. All those things simply went with their respective times. Steroid use in baseball has been well-documented. Thus, I think it’s fair to speculate, within reason, if a player has used. The journalist in me took umbrage when Morris got attacked on ESPN last summer by a couple of sportswriters after his infamous blog post.
That being said, I don’t know if Garciaparra did or did not use steroids. I also don’t know if I care all that much, because end of day, Garciaparra isn’t bound for the Hall of Fame. But in Garciaparra’s defense, an ESPN article by Peter Gammons suggests various reasons he was clean, including bodybuilders saying Nomar had love handles in his SI cover photo (but didn’t Bob have bitch tits in Fight Club?) Also on the Nomar Was Clean front, it can be argued that Garciaparra was a prominent enough ex-teammate that Canseco would have named him in either of his books if he had dirt.
Again though, I’m uncertain. I wouldn’t be comfortable betting one way or the other on this, and I feel similarly right now as I do before Maury Povich announces paternity test results on his show. Is Nomar the father, so to speak? Is he not? My guess is as good as the next guy’s.