The Steroid Innuendo

So here we go again.

As you no doubt have heard/read by now, Jack Clark has accused Albert Pujols of steroid use.  We were overdue for this accusation; after all, Biogenesis is currently in the news.  The last time Albert faced these allegations was right after the Mitchell Report broke.

Pujols is an Angel, so we don’t have to care anymore, right?  Nay Nay, Moosebreath.  Pujols’ career numbers prove why:

  • STL:     .328/.420/.617, 445 HR, 83 WAR, 2001 ROY, 3x NL MVP, 2 World Series titles.
  • ANA:  .275/.338/.485, 47 HR, 4.4 WAR, … um, yeah.

Unless Pujols enjoys a major renaissance after his foot heals, his best years will always be as a Cardinal.  Meaning – and despite the 20-year contract he signed with the Angels – he will always be best known with the Birds on the Bat.  Much like Mark McGwire, whenever the words ‘steroids’ appear next to their names a photo of them in Cardinal Red will go along with it.

OK, so what do we believe?

Albert is not known to have ever failed an MLB drug test. His name does not appear in the Mitchell Report.  He was not connected with the Biogenesis Clinic.  MLB has not investigated him or circled around him like sharks lining up for a hot meal.  Given the current anti-steroids culture prevalent amongst players, the Commissioner’s office, and the Union, I think that’s significant.

Clark states he was told by Chris Mihfield while both worked for the Dodgers.  The Baseball Cube does not include Mihfield in their data base at all, much less as an employee of the Dodgers.  However, let that go; it’s entirely possible he was working with some Dodger players, and not formally employed by the team. Questions:

  1. Clark worked as the Dodger hitting coach from 2001-2003.  Pujols was ROY in 2001.  Since Mihfield trained Pujols, wouldn’t it make sense he’d market himself as ‘the conditioning coach of the 2001 NL ROY’?  Wouldn’t it make sense he’d continue to market himself as ‘the conditioning coach of the best hitter in the NL not named Barry Bonds‘ in 2002 and 2003?  Why would he torpedo his future earnings potential by saying Pujols’ hitting ability is in part due to taking steroids, not wholly due to his training program?
  2. In 2001 Clark had been retired for 9 years.  Why would Mihfield offer to ‘shoot him up’?  Why would Clark be looking for a nutrition program elite athletes were using?  So, what – he could throw harder during BP?  So he could hit the ball a mile?  How many hitting coaches at the ML level actually pick up a bat and face live pitching?  So he could dominate at Old Timers Games and Fantasy Camps?  Seems odd.

Clark is outspoken to a fault.  He left Fox Spots Midwest midway through the 2010 season, in part due to fan (and Tony LaRussa) blow back after calling those Cardinals ‘quitters’.  He is no stranger to controversy; some would say he welcomes it.  Well, he’s certainly welcomed it here.  His name is back in the news.  SI posted a story about his comments since I started typing.  So has CBS Sports.

If he was looking for renewed notoriety he’s succeeded.  Unless he has proof beyond a conversation from 10 years ago most people are going to dismiss his comments as hearsay, which is exactly what they are.

It may come to pass that Pujols is found to have used.  Jack Clark may turn into Jose Canseco.  Until that time, his comments today seem specifically intended to drive listenership and ratings on his new radio show.  Too bad he has to besmirch another man’s name in an attempt to get us to listen to him.

Hard Ball Talk reached out to Mihfield. You can read his response here.

Mike has written about the Cardinals since 2006 from the dry heat of San Diego.  He does have a twitter account and even uses it periodically.

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