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Baseball's Steroid Era

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Bash Brothers: A Legacy Subpoenaed

By Dale Tafoya

Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco--the Bash Brothers--ushered in a new era of muscle-bound power hitters in baseball in the late 1980s. Suddenly balls were flying out of the parks like never before, and the rest of baseball stood up, took notice, and followed suit. Baseball's bodybuilding revolution, with its resultant steroid infestation, was here to stay, and many experts today point to these two players as a large reason why.

Author Dale Tafoya has interviewed more than 150 teammates, coaches, scouts, and friends who knew McGwire and Canseco during that era, including former A's general manager Sandy Alderson, former team president Roy Eisenhardt, former commissioner Fay Vincent, Hall-of-Fame closer Dennis Eckersley, and 2004 Ford C. Frick award-winning legendary broadcaster Lon Simmons. They provide first-person commentary on what living and playing with the larger-than-life duo was like, and relate the shock and awe that followed both players and the team as well.

Excerpts

On Canseco and McGwire in 1988

Nineteen eighty-eight. Mark McGwire had been slamming the weights for over an hour. The weight room, in the bowels of the Oakland- Alameda Coliseum and steps from the A's clubhouse, had been his haven. At six foot five, 220 pounds, and strutting rock-like forearms, McGwire had beefed up the lanky frame he carried during his rookie season in 1987. Stretched across his t-shirt screamed, No Mercy. He stole that phrase from his brother-in-law's bowling team and wore the t-shirt underneath his jersey during each game. Beyond sliding it on, however, he internalized the fearless spirit of the phrase. That attitude intensified his workouts in the weight room and performance on the field.

Moments later, Josť Canseco strolled into the gym. At six foot four, 230 pounds, he was a twenty-four-year-old oddity. His chiseled face, biceps of steel, and trim waist had once prompted Tigers manager Sparky Anderson to hail him as a "Greek goddess." Observers, though, understood what Anderson meant. In Anderson's four decades of baseball, the sport hadn't seen such an Adonis. Yet Canseco hadn't lifted weights for over two weeks-the hiatus hadn't deflated his strength. He slid on the bench press and lifted "everything in the building," according to former teammate Dave Parker.

Reviews

"Bash Brothers is a gritty, edgy, well-researched chronicle of the rise and fall of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. Tafoya grabs hold of the subject and doesn't let go until every question is answered."
--Jeff Pearlman, author of Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero

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In 2005, Jose Canseco blew the lid off Major League Baseball's steroid scandal -- and no one believed him. His New York Times bestselling memoir Juiced met a firestorm of criticism and outrage from the media, coaches, clubs, and players, many of whom Canseco had personally introduced to steroids -- with a needle in the ass. Baseball's former golden boy, Rookie of the Year, onetime Most Valuable Player, and owner of two World Series rings was called a liar. Now, steroids are back in the headlines... More »

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Ken Caminiti had already admitted his steroid use to Sports Illustrated, but it was Canseco's book that opened the flood gates. Canseco claimed to have educated and personally injected many players including Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez and Mark McGwire. Canseco described himself as a steroid guru, unabashedly championing steroid use as means to greater production as well as the fountain of youth. It was his book that ultimately led to the congressional hearings... More »

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The List
« 129 »
Mitchell Report - 47
Admitted - 16
Implicated By Others - 34
MLB Suspensions - 27
Other - 4
Suspended for non-analytical evidence that player violated MLB drug policy.
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