The House That Steroids Built saw a blight upon MLB history in 2001, as everyone knows by now. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20-plus years since Bud Selig let this happen—all in the name of the almighty dollar. We also find it sad that the baseball “fans” in San Francisco celebrated such a disgraceful, shameful display, and therefore, we strongly believe that any S.F. baseball fan should mocked forever.
But karma was served (temporarily) as the San Francisco Giants missed the playoffs in a season where PED abuser Barry Bonds hit a “record” 73 home runs. Alas, the Giants still finished 2 games out of first place in the NL West and 3 games out of the wild-card spot. The world was spared the horror of seeing the most-blatant cheater in the history of the sport on the October stage … this season, at least.
Exhibit A: Barry Bonds
We start with the reminder of the slash line for Bonds before BALCO and after BALCO:
- BEFORE 1999: .290/.398/.556
- AFTER 1998: .319/.505/.721
During this season, Bonds put up a 1.379 OPS at age 36, which was 241 points higher than his prior season best, which he established at age 28. Nothing more needs to be said here.
Exhibit B: Shawon Dunston
Remember this guy? At age 38, Dunston posted an .804 OPS playing with Bonds, after never posting an OPS over .800 for a full season in his entire career. Circumstantial anomaly? Entirely possible, but it doesn’t add up logically. Playing 12 seasons in Wrigley Field, his OPS with the Chicago Cubs was just .704 over 1,254 games. But in 1997 with the Cubs, guess who he played with? Sammy Sosa.
The coincidence is just too much, as after he left Chicago, Dunston posted much higher OPS marks in stints with Pittsburgh (1.079 in 18 games), St. Louis (.776 in 160 games), and the New York Mets (.784 in 42 games). What did Dunston learn from Sosa on his way out of Wrigley Field, that suddenly made him a better hitter in his late 30s? Remember, too, that PacBell Park was an extreme pitching paradise in 2001.
Exhibit C: Tim Worrell
This is another player who was in Chicago before arriving in The House That Steroids Built. What does that reveal? Well, look at his seasonal ERAs before he pitched in Wrigley: 4.30 ERA from 1993-1997 in San Diego (where he clearly avoided the Ken Caminiti/Bruce Bochy PED pipeline), followed by a 5.98 ERA in Detroit and a 5.06 ERA in Cleveland (both 1998). Clearly, this is a pitcher who didn’t belong.
At age 30 and 31 in Oakland, Worrell “improved” to a 4.10 ERA, so maybe he was hanging out with Jason Giambi. But then in 2000, at age 32, he posted a 7.36 ERA (!) in Baltimore before being released on May 1. His career should have been over, by any measure. Lo and behold, the Cubs sign him as a free agent a week later, and Worrell pitches to the tune of a 2.47 ERA—by far the lowest of his career.
He does this in Wrigley Field, too, mind you. But the Giants clearly saw something they could work with, because they traded for Worrell in December 2000. For the next 3 years, he puts up a 2.87 ERA in 229 appearances over 229 IP—from ages 33-35. This earned him another $7.5M in contracts before he retired at age 38. Worrell was always mediocre, and he resisted cheating at first. Follow the money.
Exhibit D: Armando Ríos
Who? Exactly. We know players from all levels of talent have used PEDs for whatever reason. Worrell was the less-talented brother of an All-Star pitcher, for example. Ríos? He was a nobody from Puerto Rico. His MLB rookie season was 1999 with the Giants, and in 292 games overall with S.F., he posted an .860 OPS through this 2001 season. That was enough bait to get the Pittsburgh Pirates to bite on a big trade.
The rest of his career? Nothing. Nada. He posted a .655 OPS with the Pirates through 2002, and then in 2003, he was even worse with the Chicago White Sox (.544). So, he came up during the BALCO era with the Giants, flashed brilliance, and then never could match it elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Giants fleeced the Pirates with a lie, benefiting from the acquired players traded for deceitfully. Hmmmm.
Conclusion: The Roots of Contemporary Issues Are Always There to Find—If You’re Looking
We recently saw this headline on the Internet: “The Giants are Going to Make a Kevin Gausman Out of Alex Cobb“—and it made us laugh. Gausman, if you recall, was the butt of this backhanded snark last year: “Gausman is the shining example of what the Giants’ Play-Doh Extruder of Pitching Excellence is capable of producing.”
As you recall, Gausman went from being a joke at age 28 in 2019 to an All-Star pitcher in San Francisco at age 30 in 2021. Cobb is 34 this year, and after signing with the Giants despite a 5.10 ERA in Baltimore from 2018-2020, he is getting some sort of shoutout for being the next washed-up pitcher to suddenly excel for no good reason in The House That Steroids Built. Welcome to San Francisco’s same old shit.