Thursday, August 11, 2005

The juice guys

While flipping through Bill James's 1993 Player Ratings Guide for the hell of it the other day - yeah, so, I'm an incurable dork - I stumbled upon this priceless snippet. See if you can guess the player he's talking about here:

"Didn't match his MVP-candidate season of '91, but there are players who wouldn't complain about 22 homers and 85 RBI. Has an estimated 16 percent change to get 3,000 hits, which may be too optimistic, but he should clear 2,000 and hit 200 home runs. A product of the same Miami Cuban community as a Jose Canseco, the Rangers may be hoping he will be a good influence."

Figure it out?



(I suppose the card at the top was the giveaway, huh?)

The way I see it, that fascinating little flashback to what Palmeiro was and what he was supposed to be reveals two truths:

1) Even the most prescient statheads couldn't foresee the havoc performance-enhancing drugs would soon wreak on the sport's record book. (And no, we aren't talking about Palmeiro's other favorite performance-enhancing drug.)

2) The claims Jose Canseco made in his literary masterpiece "Juiced" are more fact than fiction - contrary to the Rangers' hopes in '93, it was he who ultimately influenced Palmeiro.

In the aftermath of last week's bombshell, we now have no choice but to believe Canseco when he says it was he who introduced his teammate to the benefits of sticking a loaded needle in his butt cheek, he who fueled a hitter who "wouldn't complain" about 22 homers to a sudden power spike that resulted nine consecutive 30-homer seasons, he who helped Palmeiro cheat his way into the ultra-exclusive 500-homer, 3,000-hit club when 200/2,000 had once seemed his ceiling. It was he who delivered Palmeiro to the doorstep of that most exclusive club of all, the one in Cooperstown . . .

. . . at least until all of Palmeiro's brazen, finger-wagging proclamations of clean living were apparently proven as fake and fraudulent as all his gaudy statistics.

Now? Now Palmeiro's just another disgraced cheater, one whose place in history will never be accurately measured by Bill James or anyone else, at least until he finally decides the truth is worth telling. Judging by his recent track record, I don't imagine that day will arrive anytime soon.

Neither will his Hall of Fame induction.

And to think, we once believed that the only career Canseco wasted was his own.