When baseball opens its 2009 Spring Training in four days, players will begin to shake off the rust and get in shape. But, I'm afraid the game itself will remain a mess.
For the second time this week one of baseball's former MVPs has been outed in the steroid scandal. Houston Astros all-star shortstop Miguel Tejada (pictured above right) has been charged with lying to Congress about steroids. Next to yesterday's bombshell confession from Alex Rodriguez this may not seem like much, but as old rock-and-roll deejays – or Pete Rose – might say: "the hits just keep on coming."
Tejada's troubles began when former Baltimore Oriole teammate Rafael Palmeiro wagged his finger at Congress and swore he never used steroids. When Palmeiro flunked a test he suggested that perhaps he'd been given a contaminated vitamin shot by Tejada. Palmeiro's explanation didn't pass the smell test but it did send congressional investigators to Tejada's hotel room, where he flatly denied all things connected with the word steroids.
Tejada told investigators in 2005 he never even talked with another player about performance enhancing drugs. And that was that until former Sen. George Mitchell dropped his steroids report two years later.
In the Mitchell Report, one of Tejada's former teammates in Oakland, journeyman Adam Piatt, revealed he not only talked with Tejada, but actually sold Tejada $6,300 worth of steroids and human growth hormone. Piatt could not say whether Tejada ever used the stuff and for his part Tejada refused to cooperate with Mitchell's investigation.
Now, the 2002 American League Most Valuable Player has agreed to meet with U.S. attorneys tomorrow in federal court. All indications are Tejada will cut a deal to move past the misdemeanor charge and on to the Astros' spring camp.
But baseball's bruise lingers. Even if most of the banned injections stopped when random testing began five years ago, it's clear the steroid era isn't over.