Your Texas Rangers: The Steroid Sluggers
Part of the shrapnel from the *A-Roid bombshell:
Not that it manifested itself in any sort of team success, but there's no denying that the Texas Rangers now have more big-name stars linked to performancing-enhancing drugs than any professional team this side of a European cycling club.
Ruben Sierra. Jose Canseco. Ivan Rodriguez. Juan Gonzalez. Rafael Palmeiro. Alex Rodriguez.
Huge individual numbers. Miniscule team results. Chalk one up for "cheaters never win ..."
For all their home runs and fireworks displays and MVPs and "wow!"s out in Arlington, the Rangers remain the only current franchise in Major League Baseball to have never won a playoff series. With the bulk of those players together on the 2002 team, the Rangers lost 90 games.
While A-Rod does the right thing and apologizes - though, anyone believe he would've ever voluntarily apologized had he not been caught? - Rangers owner Tom Hicks' reaction to yet another of his former players being linked to illegal performance-enhancing drugs is "I'm shocked."
I'm not. You?
Seems to me the Rangers' problem with steroids shouldn't be considered surprising, but more so systematic.
First time I made the connection between steroids and baseball was the spring of 1990. Ruben Sierra, coming off a season in which he was second in MVP voting, arrived with a bulked-up body that looked more Lou Ferrigno than Lou Brock. Seriously, the dude gained 30 pounds of muscle.
In between Sierra and A-Rod, the Rangers had three AL MVPs (Juando, I-Rod and A-Rod) - each saturated with steroid suspicisions. And, remember, Canseco, who played in Texas from 1992-94 says he introduced Gonzalez, Rodriguez and several other Rangers to steroids. And at this point he's the most - only? - believable voice in the whole syringed saga.
I don't believe Hicks when he says "I'm shocked." Or former co-owner George W. Bush. Or even - at the risk of blasphemy - even former manager Johnny Oates.
To appease players like Rodriguez and Gonzalez and A-Rod, the Rangers routinely gave free run of their clubhouse and facilities to personal trainers. Those are the guys that know. And probably an equipment manager. And maybe a bench coach. Manager Buck Showalter. GM John Hart. And, yes, even Hicks.
To be fair, in 2009 these are not your father's Texas Rangers. Following baseball's lead, the Rangers now have significant education and stringent testing. As opposed to the steroid era when - with steroids illegal but no testing or punishmetn in place - the Rangers and all of baseball were handcuffed. That is, if they wanted to know in the first place.
"How could they have known?" Rangers' GM Jon Daniels told Channel 8's Dale Hansen Sunday night. "There was no accountability in place. Today we have testing and punishment in place. It's hard to compare apples to apples."
We'll probably never pinpoint the Rangers' level of culpability. But, to some degree, they all knew then what we all know now:
That the Texas Rangers are baseball's Steroid Sluggers. Today, their accomplishments ring more hollow than ever.
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