Thinking about Braves and steroids

I was reading Bill Simmons’ take on David Ortiz’s positive steroid test, and I couldn’t help wonder about who on the Braves did or does take steroids.  A decent number of ex-Braves were implicated in the Mitchell report, but IIRC most were implicated in their post-Braves career:

The report on the use of drugs includes the names of former Braves players Gary Sheffield, David Justice, Denny Neagle, Todd Pratt, Kent Mercker, Mike Stanton, Paul Byrd, Matt Franco, and John Rocker.

Of that list, I’d say David Justice, Kent Mercker, and Mike Stanton would be players whose use would make me sad.  Not that I liked them that much, but because they were important parts of the early 90’s clubs that I idolized so much. I don’t want anyone’s steroid use to taint those memories, and knowing that those players steroid use came while they were with the Yankees makes me laugh in a bitter, craven manner.  I don’t feel anything special about those particular players, just… the g-d Yankees.  Of course.

But that is old news.  I’m sitting here thinking about the list of 104 players who tested positive in 2003, and of who could have been using during the Braves mid-90s runs.  Some guys, like Gary Sheffield, were no surprise.  David Justice was a bit of a surprise.

If I’m honest with myself, who would I not be surprised took steroids?  I’m not saying I think these guys took steroids, but if I had to admit some Braves were using, this would be my list of guys to be suspicious of:

  1. John Smoltz. Sorry, I know he is supposed to be a great guy, and very Christian and moral and everything.  But the guy was only pretty good until about 1996, when he turned into a fantastic pitcher.  He’s also the kind of hard throwing pitcher who I associate steroid use with, and his truly great years came once he turned 30.
  2. Andres Galarraga.  He just seemed too wide.
  3. Mark Wohlers. Aside from how fast he threw, the guy had three incredible years in the mid 90s before melting down.
  4. Ryan Klesko. He’s on the debunked list of 103 steroid users, or he probably wouldn’t be in my head.  Still, he was one of the larger home run hitters we had during those years.
  5. Andruw Jones. I’ve read articles where AJC writers say he’s never mentioned, but we all watched the guy get really big over the years.  Also, the guy’s home run total errupted in 2005 and 2006.
  6. Javy Lopez. See Ryan Klesko.

So, my “method” has basically been a) who seemed freakishly big or talented; b) who had sudden changes in success or ability.

Players that would genuinely make me sad if they were steroid users:

  1. Chipper Jones. He has never seemed to seek the kind of attention and records that the big steroid users sought.  His power numbers haven’t been ridiculous, although he did hit 45 homers in 1999.  Also, one of my favorites.
  2. Ron Gant. Man, he was pretty ripped.  Played a little too early to be in serious danger of being in the “steroid era,” but he was one of my favorites, too.
  3. Obviously Maddux or Glavine, but these guys never threw hard enough to elicit suspicion.

Your thoughts?  Am I totally off base?

4 Comments so far

  1. rustytanton on August 12th, 2009 @ 7:08 am

    Former NFL player Lyle Alzado said he was taking anabolic steroids as far back as 1969, and his playing career only lasted until 1985.

    Tom House, the pitcher who caught Hank Aaron’s 715th homerun in the bullpen, estimated 6 or 7 pitchers per team were using amphetamines and steroids in the 1960s and 1970s.

    So no, I don’t at all think Ron Gant was too early to be in the steroid era.

  2. james hervey (jeherv) on August 13th, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

    i think it’s pretty safe to say that EVERY team in the steroid era had key contributors that were on the juice….

  3. bking on August 13th, 2009 @ 4:54 pm

    It is hard to look at those early 90s teams and think anyone was on stuff. Guys like Sid Bream and Terry Pendleton were borderline out of shape. Okay, but we can all agree that Rafael Belliard was NOT a juicer, right?

  4. james hervey (jeherv) on August 14th, 2009 @ 9:40 am

    heh. yes that i will stipulate.

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