July 30, 2014

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Dan Coughlin: Steroid use in baseball? Just butt out

Years ago we knew when a pitcher had elbow or shoulder problems. A tiny bandage marked the spot where he had just received a cortisone shot, a standard remedy at the time.
There was no place to hide in the old Stadium locker room and players were always walking around half-naked, so it was impossible to conceal the evidence.
I would casually remark, “I see you got a cortisone shot,” which was answered with vigorous denials. Pitchers never, ever wanted anyone to know they were hurting.
What did they think that I thought? That they had popped a pimple on their shoulder? I let it drop and wasn’t surprised when they missed their next start and wound up on the disabled list a couple of weeks later.
This makes me think of steroid detection.
When Rafael Palmeiro sat before a congressional committee and vowed that he had never taken steroids, he was sitting on the evidence that said otherwise. He should have been ordered to stand up, turn around and drop his trousers.
The needle marks on his rear end are the proof that he’s a user.
Judging by testimony coming out of the New York Yankee clubhouse, Roger Clemens’ rear end must have looked like a pin cushion. “Shoot me up, Scotty,” was his battle cry.
So here’s what I’m thinking. Every day when the players are putting on their game uniforms, line them up and have an independent observer check for needle tracks on their posteriors, which seems like the popular place to inject their steroids.
This is not a job that appeals to you or me, but I’m sure some others would enjoy it. Independent observers, maybe; disinterested, probably not.
Baseball players can be creative and it’s fun imagining their excuses to explain needle marks on their behinds. Here’s some sample dialogue.
“It’s a tetanus shot. I got bit by a rabid raccoon.”
“It’s penicillin. Would you believe I’m coming down with a cold?”
“It’s Botox.”
“OK, then what’s the name of your doctor? Who gave you the shot?”
“Dr. Kevorkian.”
In baseball they better check their watches.
It’s butt-check time.
Dan Coughlin is a columnist for The Chronicle-Telegram and a sportscaster
at Channel 8. Contact him at ctsports@chroniclet.com.