Gazzolo Column: Players to blame for fan skepticism in steroid era

By By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Albert Pujols has nobody to blame but the players themselves.

Pujols is upset that Jack Clark, a former major leaguer himself, called him out last week as a user of performance-enhancing


The former slugger, now injured more than healthy, is even threatening to sue. He wants to make Clark pay for his words, not

just eat them.

Clark has already lost the radio show gig in which he took the shot at Pujols. Clark is also considering legal action against

the radio station.

This could be fun.

Baseball’s past will be put on the witness stand again and early indications are somebody won’t be telling the truth.

Pujols has always proclaimed he is clean. Some believe him, some don’t. Only he and his trainer know for sure.

This is what baseball has left us all with. Players today are presumed guilty until they can prove their innocence.

Maybe that is backwards, but more often than not there was fire where smoke was reported in the world of baseball and PEDs.

It is hard to believe anybody in baseball when it comes to this issue.

Nobody believed Jose Canseco when he blew the whistle on himself and other players and in a book. He was called every name

under the sun and stars even said they would sue him.

Not one lawsuit has been filed against Canseco and his book “Juiced” only scratched the surface. In the end, Canseco was right.

Pujols’ dramatic drop off in production, as well as his recent injuries, leave folks to at least wonder.

Of course, players want to be believed. However, that seems like years away.

Pete Rose lied to us for years about his gambling habits, then finally came clean.

Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro did the same thing when it came to steroids. Palmeiro even told congress he was clean, pointing

his finger at the committee members for proof.

In the end, he was proven to have lied.

Baseball’s game plan has always been the same — deny, deny and deny until caught. Once caught, beg for forgiveness.

See Ryan Braun if you don’t believe me.

Players learned it from baseball officials themselves.

As records were falling and players were growing, baseball execs turned a blind eye to the subject. There were rumors but

nobody in baseball wanted to address the issue.

Money was flowing, crowds were building and the game was as healthy as ever. Then came the steroid crash.

It has left a bad taste in many mouths. The fact is a large number of players used PEDs in the past. Many got rich because

of it.

All originally denied it.

Now Pujols wants to be believed, as does every other player. Fact is, we can’t believe anybody.

Whether or not Pujols used anything to help his game hasn’t been a real issue for a long time.

You can’t trust any numbers from the steroid era. It sounds great to say we believe that Pujols has always been clean but

we can never know for sure.

This is the burden for the clean players who didn’t speak up during the steroid era. That was the time when they should have

screamed the loudest.

Now is too late.

For that, players like Pujols only have themselves to blame.

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Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at