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Grim(sley) Tidings

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Okay, where to start. I turned on the radio coming back from The Sets tonight, knowing we'd lost 10-1, but not expecting to hear, oh, news that a Diamondbacks player had been implicated in a federal probe into steroids, amphetamines and human growth hormone (HGH). That player is Jason Grimsley - here's the Republic story (opens in new window): D-Backs Grimsley implicated in steroids probe.

Highlights from the piece:

  • Jason Grimsley admitted taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs and said that amphetamines were used "like aspirin" in major league clubhouses, according to an affidavit filed by the lead federal investigator in baseball's steroid investigation.

  • Grimsley agreed to cooperate with U.S. Internal Revenue Service agents after Grimsley received a package containing two kits of human growth hormone April 19 at his Scottsdale home.

  • Grimsley provided "extensive statements regarding his receipt and use of anabolic steroids, amphetamines and human growth hormone over the last several years," the affidavit said. Grimsley also provided "details about his knowledge of other Major League Baseball players" using illegal performance-enhancing drugs, including several close acquaintances.

  • In a two-hour interview with federal investigators on April 19, Grimsley told investigators until last year, major league clubhouses had coffee pots labeled "leaded" and "unleaded" for the players, indicating coffee with amphetamines and without.

  • Latin players were a major source for the amphetamines within baseball. Amphetamines also came from players on California teams that could easily go into Mexico and get them.

Having savagely torn Bonds a new one for his "alleged" use of performance-enhancing drugs, I have absolutely no problem in condemning Grimsley, if these reports turn out to be true. On that topic, we should remember that at the moment, it is all still only alleged, and we have not heard Grimsley's side of the story: the sole quote from him in the piece is, "I have no comment about that and no idea about that." The Diamondbacks official statement, from Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick, was hardly any less terse:

"We were first informed of this situation late this afternoon. This is a federal investigation, and as long as it is active and on-going, we are prohibited from making any further comments."

Therefore, please take this whole entry as wrapped in the new <alleged> HTML tag. But, really, it does not look good for Grimsley at all, and on that basis, I'd like to highlight some particularly interesting points. Firstly, this is not something that happened in the distant past; he received the packages of HGH earlier this season. Also, note that HGH is illegal under the current rules, but baseball does not check for it, because there is no reliable test at the moment. The effects of using HGH still appear to be the subject of some debate, but they would be used to increase muscle size and strength, or to help allow quicker recovery from injury and training. See here for more information.

The "coffeepot" statement is very noteworthy: if true, it makes it very difficult for management to claim innocence. The usual line is that drug abuse is something players do on their own, without the connivance or support, tacit or otherwise of their teams. Labelled beverage containers in the locker-room would seem, shall we say, to argue against that. One small plus is that this does not seem to cover Grimsley's time with the Diamondbacks. Kansas City, where Grimsley spent his career from 2001 until June 2004, however...

One wonders what this will mean with regard to Grimsley's position on the roster. Going by past events, it doesn't appear that any criminal conviction is required for a team to act. Perhaps the nearest thing is our response to Mike DeFelice, who was arrested in August 2001, and charged with assaulting two women in a Pittsburgh nightclub. Two days later, he was sent down to Tucson, but as a five-year veteran, had to accept the assignment voluntarily - he was released entirely within two weeks (I'm unable to find out when and how his case ended). I suspect a similar fate awaits Grimsley, although I don't know what happens to his $825K salary.

Perhaps the most striking statement in the whole story, is that Grimsley appears to have...well, after casting around for the correct phrase to use, the only I can come up with is, "ratted people out". This will not, I reckon, go down well in the close-knit community of baseball players. However, I hope that this may be the tool with which investigators can blow the whole thing open: so far, the testimony in the area either failed to name names, or been of questionable reliability (I'm looking at you, Jose Canseco).

But this could provide leverage: Grimsley names ten people, say - what if those ten, then each name ten others when leaned upon by investigators holding sworn testimony or other evidence? How far might this go? The answer might be nowhere, and it just peters out into nothing of importance, beyond the end of Grimsley's career. On the other hand, it might be the opening of Pandora's box; in the Greek tale, that unleashed all the horrors of the world that afflict humanity, and it's easy to see how this could degenerate into something like an amateur theatre adaptation of The Crucible, as staged by the Senator Joseph McCarthy Appreciation Society.

On the other hand, it could be the cleansing force that the sport needs, to clear out the festering sore of substance abuse in the game. Even at the bottom of Pandora's box, the gods, in a moment of compassion, had included Hope. Although Pandora had allowed evil to enter the world, bringing untold misery, Hope followed closely in its footsteps, to point to a happier future. Let's keep our fingers crossed that tonight's events will eventually help the sport we love to come through, into a better tomorrow.

Happy 6/6/6, folks...