Now that Mark McGwire has performed his highly public act of contrition in front of all of America (or at least, those discerning enough to watch the MLB Channel in early January), there’s again a public discussion, if not outcry, over the steroid era, and whether it has tainted the record book forever.
Probably not. It’s certainly not the first time baseball players have been proponents of “better living through chemistry.”
Two anecdotes we weren’t able to get into the book serve to illustrate how pervasive the use of amphetamines–a.k.a “uppers,” “greenies” and “beans”–were in the “Era Just Before The Steroid Era, Except it Leaked Into the Steroid Era” :
We talked to a successful pitcher, who not only used greenies on a fairly regular basis, but it was their use that helped him decide when to quit the game. ”I realized one day that I was actually afraid, fearful of taking the field without at least two greenies under my belt,” he told us. “That’s when I knew it was time to get out–while I still had some sanity.”
But even getting out didn’t solve the problem for everyone. At the 2007 All Star Game festivities in San Francisco, one easily-recognized former MVP came into the locker room, walked into the training room and erupted, yelling, “Where the hell is the bowl of beans?”
The player was adamant that he was not going to “go out on that field in front of people” without “beaning up,” and he was clearly serious about the matter.
It’s noteworthy that he was talking about taking the field for the Celebrity Softball Game, and that he’d already been retired from the game for a number of years.
As the players say, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”