General Baseball General Red Sox Steroids

The Whistleblower

Kudos to Lou Merloni for going on the record, illustrating how cozily in bed Ownership (in this case the Yawkey Trust) was with the players and their drugs of choice.   We think this should be a bigger story than it is at the moment.

73 replies on “The Whistleblower”

Ethnics aside, is that true? That steriods is “okay” in moderation as long as you don’t abuse it?
I mean, that sounds like nearly everything else in life, except that I guess the slippery slope is that the ultra competitive would have to abuse it or something..

Dan Duquette says Merloni’s charges are baseless, untrue, the MLB story terms his response as angry. But he issues a textbook non-denial denial, he never says “this never happened, Lou is wrong, there was no such meeting and steroids were never discussed”, he says something entirely vague. Maybe there was a meeting, maybe there was a doctor, there was drug education, blah blah blah. I’d say Duquette is on very thin ice with this kind of response:
“It’s ridiculous — it’s totally unfounded,” Duquette said. “Who was the doctor? Tell me who the doctor is. If there was such a doctor, he wasn’t in the employ of the Red Sox. We brought in doctors to educate the players on the Major League drug policy at the time at the recommendation of Major League Baseball. This is so ridiculous, I hate to even respond to it.”

“It’s ridiculous — it’s totally unfounded,” Duquette said.
Except for a first-hand witness.
“Who was the doctor? Tell me who the doctor is. If there was such a doctor, he wasn’t in the employ of the Red Sox.”
Too bad you don’t have a list.
We brought in doctors
Too bad you didn’t keep your list.
to educate the players on the Major League drug policy at the time at the recommendation of Major League Baseball.
Too bad there wasn’t a lawyer on your list of doctors you didn’t keep.
This is so ridiculous, I hate to even respond to it.”
What, his comment, or your response?

Yeah, Gerb, there’s so much room in Duquette’s statement that it’s not even “wiggle” room, it’s more like “check out my massive basement, sectional sofa, and king-sized waterbed, let’s go have a romp” kind of room.

In situations like this one, it often boils down to a “he said, she said” dispute unfortunately.
It reminds me of a line from that Denzel Washington film Training Day:
“It’s not what you know; it’s what you can prove.”

This sounds like the sex education I went through here in Virginia. “Abstinance is the best, the safest way to go about things! Please do not have sex! However, if you DO choose to have sex, here’s how to put a condom on.”
I don’t have a problem with this at all.

Last time I checked having sex was legal…So even if you couldn’t avoid that urge, you still haven’t broken a law. Steroids on the other hand, well…Little by little tid bits like this are going to leak out. It will get easier and easier for ex-players to speak out.

Yeah, I have a problem with this. One more reason Duquette was effectively blacklisted from the game.
Huge revelation. I wonder why Mitchell didn’t interview Merloni?

Not saying this was the reason Duquette was blacklisted – he way with words is more likely. Hearing this now I’m just glad he was.

> I don’t have a problem with this at all.
Ath, I don’t have a “problem” with this either. I don’t think the sex-ed metaphor works, but that’s not the point. The point is there are two ways to look at this:
1: Merloni is lying (or misremembering).
2: Merloni is not lying and ownership hired doctors who provided information about how to use steroids.
I don’t care about historical PED use. However, this is definitely a revelatory piece of information depending on its “truth.”

Actually Virginia still has the old sodomy laws: it’s illegal for anyone under 18 to have sex, though the law is not enforced. So I think the metaphor still works.
And yeah, I’m happy that Lou came forward because this is important information. I just feel that what the Sox administration did was not a bad thing (if this did indeed happen).
What probably happened: a doctor came in to talk about why steroids are bad, and was asked some questions, and the topic changed over to the safe use of steroids.

To elaborate on the sodomy laws here: it’s illegal for minors to have sex, it’s illegal for any unmarried adults to have sex (consensual or otherwise), it’s illegal to have sex in any position other than missionary, etc.

> So I think the metaphor still works.
As long as we are comfortable with comparing 1) how government organizations attempt to promote the best possible realistic and inclusive health instruction for the nation’s youth regarding one of the (if not THE) most fundamental aspects of human physiology and psychology while considering area-specific legislative and political issues, with 2) a multi-billion dollar industry instructing adults how to use substances that are explicitly forbidden in the contract of their employment with said industry.

Yeah it’s pretty stupid here. Though most states in the south still have these laws, they’re just not enforced.

Ath: I think your metaphor is off because Sex Ed is part of an accepted school curriculum, or at least it seems like it was part of your disclosed education. What Merloni is describing is a kind of shadow education, outside the bounds of a disclosed program.

Possibly SF; it all depends on whether or not it was approved by the Sox administration, or whether the topic of safe steroid use came up on its own. But in defense of the metaphor: sex education is one of the most controversial topics in our state, where a lot of parents believe safe sex should not be taught at all.

I do have to admit I am interested in seeing how this evolves, despite my frequent “don’t care” comments. Gosh, I hope they don’t go with the “lone quack” defense. Or maybe I do.

“…We think this should be a bigger story than it is at the moment….”
gee, could it be because it’s not the yankees; and merloni, who never played for them, is not arod…?
assuming it’s true, this is a huge story, bigger than any of the other stories to date, because it alleges wrongdoing by an organization rather than focusing on a few random rogue players…
the shocker for me is that someone [the doctor] suggested that there is actually a “safe way” to use steroids…huh?…
uh, and yeah, how exactly did mitchell miss this little pearl in his extensive and expensive investigation…

Agreed – a better metaphor than the sexed one would be if schools starting bringing in docs to teach kids about how to use illegal drugs the “right way” rather than in abuse/addictive scenarios.
It’s hard to come up with a reason why Merloni would lie about this – and he could be misremembering, but honestly that doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you would forget or be hazy about. And yeah, I give him a ton of credit for bringing it up. Everybody’s so quick with the naming and shaming of certain players, it obscures the nature of the PED culture that was not only tolerated, but ENABLED by ownership and the MLB league offices.

I think it’s very plausible that the doctor went in there to talk about the negative effects of steroids, and was sidetracked by a question from a player, or added the part about safe steroid use in as an aside. Merloni easily could have been not paying attention and then that part catches his interest, and he leaves the meeting only remembering that. After ten years that could easily turn into “Yeah the Red Sox organization had a doctor come in and talk to us about safe steroid use!”

> gee, could it be because it’s not the yankees; and merloni, who never played for them, is not arod
If someone wants to look at it that way, I guess that’s their prerogative. But it is far more likely that it has not gained any traction because it broke in an interview on regional cable on a weekend.
I am guessing, but I am pretty sure that SF promoted the story exactly because of its bizarre incubation, as the potential of this story is far greater than whatever team(s) may be involved, though I expect there will be many efforts to make it into something political.

The thing about Merloni’s response that strikes me as believable, and therefore an indication that there is truth in his claim, is his “what the heck was that” statement. To me, that kind of reaction is very natural and easily remembered. I can’t put my finger on it, but it feels honest. Typically someone speaking out on a subject like this might muster some kind of false outrage or sanctimony – to me that would be the telltale sign of embellishment or fabrication, it feels too predictable. Merloni, on the other hand, sort of just felt confused. I can believe that.

> gee, could it be because it’s not the yankees; and merloni, who never played for them, is not arod
“…If someone wants to look at it that way, I guess that’s their prerogative….”
well, to be fair, we’ll give it some more time ag, to see if it starts to percolate as the big story i think it is…if it does a fast fade, and there’s no attempt to put some effort into an investigative followup by a national news/sports outlet, or better yet, mlb, then i suspect we’ll have our answer, and it won’t just be my “prerogative” to see it that way anymore…look, i’m not suggesting the whole anti-yankee conspiracy thing…i’m not that paranoid, but let’s face it arod’s foibles and empty seats are apparently much more entertaining for reporters and bloggers…

Me too, SF.
As for the lack of coverage, I think the problem is that Merloni’s account doesn’t place a known, or infamous, PED user in the room. If it were one of the many, that’s a direct line between use and organizational “support”.
Still, the silence is deafening from ESPN, even as is following the story.

As for my contention that A-Rod and Manny are being treated differently, here we are on the following Monday and not one mention of Manny on ESPN’s frontpage. Now maybe A-Rod’s Monday press conference prolonged the coverage, but then he actually gave one (and the Gammons sit-down).
Will Manny ever answer even the basic questions? Or will the media give him a pass?

call me misguided (or anything else you like) but i still believe steroids are a localized yankees issue. i think the few cases of players being caught roiding outside of the yankees organization were either a case of players “trying out” for the yankees or a matter of trying to keep up with the yankees.
happy dc?
so if lou remembers what time of day the meeting was held to meet this doctor, how does he not remember what year it was that it happened?

if it does a fast fade, and there’s no attempt to put some effort into an investigative followup by a national news/sports outlet, or better yet, mlb, then i suspect we’ll have our answer
If it does a fast fade, it has to do with the national media, NOT THE YANKEES. Stop pinning this on the Yankees!
As for the Manny coverage, the New York Times print edition is on Day Three of front page coverage for a team in LA.
I honestly think that worrying that this story is about whether the press is pro-Boston or anti-NY misses the point, by a wide margin. If the press clams up it is likely because of the power structures of the sport, of access, or of lazy journalists. It is not because of sentiments towards individual cities.
The last thing to remember is that Merloni editorialized this, it seems. If you hear nothing for a while that is no indication that a smart and stealthy investigative reporter isn’t digging into what Lou was describing. But getting fact-checked publishable material that won’t risk libel actions might not come overnight. Silence doesn’t (necessarily) indicate an unwillingness to investigate.

One other thing:
Manny and Alex are not, have never been, the same player. Either as media figures (one sought attention aggressively, the other passive-aggressively), as lightning rods (A-Rod is a national entertainment figure, Manny was a national loon), as ballplayers (A-Rod = greatest ever, maybe, Manny = one-dimensional genius).
I can’t understand why they are being equated in this discussion. Nobody has yet explained why Manny should get as much attention as A-Rod, with any eloquence.

Of course if this were someone of the same era from the Yankees this story would have gained more traction more quickly. But what matters is if it turns out the person speaking didn’t smell out to be a bullshitter upon follow-up from the first few reporters nosing at it. It’s a bizarre “story told” and I agree with SF that it has a ring of truth. It will get vetted.

needless to say I vehemently disagree with your thoughts, rod. Players were probably trying to do two things:
– keep up with the Joneses (or Rodriguezes, if you will)
– maximize their earning potential
The Yankees have to do with this only tangentially, as potential market makers. But that’s no good reason to pin this on the Yankees. I think that is absurd.

> call me misguided (or anything else you like) but i still believe steroids are a localized yankees issue
I don’t know if you are, but those words sure are.

I’d say that is a misreading of Paul’s thoughtful post. Your comment is far too reductive.
The question you ask (or have asked and harped on for quite a while here) is about media coverage, with an implication that Manny should be under as much scrutiny as perhaps the greatest player ever, and the most highly paid player ever. It wasn’t about a character analysis or a fan reaction, which is what Paul was posing. I think you are conflating issues here, improperly.

“To elaborate on the sodomy laws here: it’s illegal for minors to have sex, it’s illegal for any unmarried adults to have sex (consensual or otherwise), it’s illegal to have sex in any position other than missionary, etc.”
Wait, is “missionary”the one involving the ball gag or the hot candle wax? I’m from NYC, so the sodomy laws here are a bit different.
As for this article, I wonder if more and more players come out with stories like this that point to organizational complicity now Merloni has broken the silence. Does this mark a change in the way this issue is covered, from a focus entirely on naming players and fallen heroes to trying to understand the big picture.

wish typepad had a sarcasm button. was just trying to give dc and yf’s what they wanted….a yankee tie in. cause, you know, it’s all about the yankees.

One more thing:
I remember when Abraham was pretty much demanding that A-Rod answer questions…based an anonymous source in an SI article hyping a book he now trashes (Chass too).
By contrast, Manny was suspended for actual use. Where’s the outrage that he answer the questions? Where are the reporters stalking him?

Actually, if you go back and read the thread, I had a problem with that post because it seemed too reductive to draw the similarities without discussing the very real differences.
And while you’re doing a nice job of talking up A-Rod’s significance, Manny has been the much better hitter historically.

> A time machine so I could go back and tell Mo to throw a different pitch to Mueller?
Or a better ump at second base?

No, Rob, Pete Abe was printing leading innuendo and drivel like this last week:
UPDATE, 12:55 p.m.: Oh, and if Sully, Little Sully and the rest of the Red Sox fans try to chant “steroids” at A-Rod in June, it would be the height of hypocrisy. If Manny was using in 2009 when baseball was testing, what do you figure he was doing when baseball wasn’t testing?
Meanwhile, David Ortiz last hit a home run on Sept. 22.

which, frankly, makes him no better than any dimwitted partisan blog commenter (general comment, not directed at our readership), and he’s a damned BEAT WRITER. So why do you care what Pete Abe writes? This is a story for the guys like Fainaru-Wada, the investigative journos.

By the way, your analysis of Kristol was spot on. I wish people would point out more often that he would have ended up running the family pizza joint if that’s what his Dad had done.
Chris Buckley however – he has talent.

> Where’s the outrage
I’m not helping here with flip comments like my previous one in follow-up to sf rod’s well-played sarcasm, but I do hope that this doesn’t spiral so far off topic into the realm of searching for “fairness.”

This is a bullshit story.
question 1 Lou who was this doctor? Answer I don’t know.
question 2 Lou when did this happen? Answer I don’t know.
question 3 Lou who else was with you? Answer Everyone.
Thanks for everythig Lou

I know, really, who refers to anyone as “Little Sully”? In Southie it’s either “retahd” or “shitfabrains”. Pete Abe has no clue.

Yeah, sure, ESPN isn’t really paying attention to Manny. At all.
Jayson Stark: Manny won’t find forgiveness
Peter Gammons: Dodgers stuck with Manny
Eric Neel: Dodgers fans saddened
Buster Olney: Union must shed cheaters
Steve Phillips: L.A. can win without Manny
Howard Bryant: He can only blame himself
Buster Olney: MLB needs no-tolerance policy
Bill Simmons: My worst nightmare
Mike Fish: Manny is latest to use hCG
Rob Neyer: MannyLand takes 50 games off
Nate Silver: The steroids game
BP: Dodgers will survive without Manny

gee sf and sf rod, i thought i made myself perfectly clear when i said, i wasn’t advancing the “yankee conspiracy” theory…go back and read my comments please…my point was that arod’s antics, and the yankees in general [hank, empty seats, blah, blah] are apparently more interesting and entertaining to journalists and bloggers than many other topics…lou merloni’s recollections, even though a potential bombshell, seem to be getting token coverage…maybe it’s because he’s, well, lou merloni, and not a star from that era, someone like manny…rod, you even poo-poo it, questioning his memory…what’s his motive?…sorry to disappoint you guys, but like i said, i’m not that paranoid, just starting to understand a lot better what folks think is newsworthy, and what those same folks would just as soon not have to deal with…like ag suggested maybe i just need to be more patient and let this play out before jumping to any conclusions…sf, you said it at the end of your post: this is a bigger story than it seems at the moment…i agreed with you…let’s see what happens next

“…well-played sarcasm…”
i think you meant to say “misguided sarcasm” ag…totally unnecessary if you go back and check my comments…his point was off the mark
“…I do hope that this doesn’t spiral so far off topic into the realm of searching for “fairness…”
read my lips: i don’t think this is anti-yankee or unfair…it’s about what the ambulance chasers that run journalism in this country think is newsworthy…arod=yes, lou merloni=who?

Wow. I’m not entirely surprised – how oblivious would FOs have been to not realize some of their players were using? – but this goes beyond simply looking the other way. I hope some investigative journalists are getting on this. If nothing else, I think it will introduce some interesting perspective on the era.
And for the record, I’m hearing quite a lot about Manny out here on the west coast (Bay Area). The timing of the announcement probably has something to do with the relative levels of national coverage, too. The A-Rod story broke before the season began, and it’s easier to focus on scandals when there are no games to cover.

Newer conversation between Merloni and Duquette discussing the whole thing. Here’s the important part:
Lou Merloni: “That’s the way people took it. I mean they took it as I was saying that somebody was up there showing us where to put the needle and that wasn’t the case you know like I’ve explained it with the analogy of trying to teach your teenage daughter about safe sex. Well you’re not happy that she’s having sex but at the same point you gotta educate her how to do the safe sex. And by no means are you encouraging her to go out and sleep with every guy you see, but you’re acknowledging the fact that you know what I’m not happy about it but it’s going on.”
Dan Duquette: Yeah exactly, but the club policy was abstinence. The club policy was abstinence and that was Major League Baseball policy. And that was communicated first. Beyond that, if a player made a choice I thought it was important that they understood what the risks were.”

>>Actually Virginia still has the old sodomy laws
No state has the old sodomy laws. The Supreme Court overturned them in Lawrence v. Texas.
>>Yeah exactly, but the club policy was abstinence.
So Duquette’s official stance now is, “Sorry about that outrage before. We actually did exactly what Merloni said. Oh, and it was against team policy. But we knew players were doing it. So instead of punishing them for violating team policy, we showed them how to do it better.”
Tthe club clearly knew players were taking steroids and was apparently fine with that. It speaks some to the overall tenure of Dan Duquette. Moreso, it speaks to the culture in MLB at the time, and it’s a shame the Red Sox couldn’t rise above that.

“…Uh, he was safe, mang….”
technically that is true devine, but only because the ump blew the call…not a fan of replay because blown calls are part of the game, but if there was ever a good case for it, that play was it…
“…the club policy was abstinence…”
damn, i should hope so…

Link to Merloni’s comments about sex ed:
Link to Duquette’s comments on a Merloni-hosted WEEI show:
Duquette: “Absent a testing program at the major-league level, I thought the most important part of any program that a team could have was educating the players, educating players to choices they were making, so that they could make an educated choice and avert the health risk. The comment made [by Merloni] on Saturday implied that the club was encouraging steroid use or steroid abuse. That wasn’t the case.”
Heck, Merloni’s comments didn’t just imply that the club was encouraging steroid use. You’d be a fool not to infer that from comments like this:
“There’s a doctor up there and he’s talking about steroids, and everyone was like ‘here we go, we’re gonna sit here and get the whole thing — they’re bad for you.’
“No. He spins it and says ‘you know what, if you take steroids and sit on the couch all winter long, you can actually get stronger than someone who works out clean, if you’re going to take steroids, one cycle won’t hurt you, abusing steroids it will.’
“He sat there for one hour and told us how to properly use steroids while I’m with the Boston Red Sox, sitting there with the rest of the organization, and after this I said ‘what the heck was that?’ And everybody on the team was like ‘what was that?’
“And the response we got was ‘well, we know guys are taking it, so we want to make sure they’re taking it the right way.'”
I think the point to look at is this (and I know no one here is discounting Merloni, though quite a few at are): Merloni has a lot more to lose by revealing this than Duquette has by denying or downplaying it.

Actually, the only part that Lawrence v Texas overturned was the Virginia Fornication Law:
Fornication: “Any person, not being married, who voluntarily shall have sexual intercourse with any other person, shall be guilty of fornication, punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.”
That’s the only law that was deemed in violation of the 14th Amendment. The other sodomy laws, specifically outlawing anal and oral sex, still exist, along with the laws against minors having sex.

“…Merloni has a lot more to lose…”
i agree paul, which is why i asked the question yesterday: ‘what’s his motive?’ …does he have some ax to grind with the sox?…if he’s not telling the truth, then i don’t get it

What does Merloni have to lose? What if he doesn’t want to be a baseball lifer? What if he’s an honest guy? What if he wants the game clean? I don’t see this as being about what people have to gain or lose.
Duquette’s claims are asinine, in my opinion. He’s admitting that the Sox had a doctor explain how to use steroids, that the team knew guys were using them. The meeting wasn’t about the drugs being illegal, against rules, bad for health, and forbidden by team policy. The meeting was about how to use them properly. I don’t find the “hey, we at least want the guys using to use safely” excuse at all compelling or justification, particularly in light of how Ownership played down their role regarding steroids during that era. Their lack of interest in playing hardball with the CBA to instill clean practices would have spoken louder than off-the-radar seminars about safe steroid use. The curtain has been pulled back a little further by Merloni, and we should be grateful.
The question: who are MLB’s Jay Bybee, Stephen Bradbury, and John Yoo? There’s gotta be a memo somewhere…

I don’t think Merloni is intentionally lying, but I do think he may have misremembered some minor parts; whether or not the trainer was there to specifically talk about that, or whether it came up while they were talking about steroid use in general. Duquette’s statements seem to imply that he knew about it though.

i do think motives are relevant sf…why would merloni choose to come out now?…i’m not saying he’s not credible, my point was that if he’s lying, why?…i happen to think he’s telling the truth, but i’m just curious about the timing, that’s all…you are dead on with saying that if the team had knowledge and this was a wink and a nod, that’s despicable…

> i do think motives are relevant
Considering his position as a regional sports commentator I think that’s a valid question. But honesty — if that is with what we are dealing — transcends motive.

From the Wiki article on Lawrence (not the best source, but I’m on my lunch break and I was following your link):
“Lawrence has the effect of invalidating similar laws throughout the United States that purport to criminalize sodomy between consenting same-sex adults acting in private.”
As for SF’s question about what Merloni has to lose, we all know there’s this unwritten rule about keeping the game’s secrets. Merloni probably has friends, if not business associates, who were teammates of his and would a. be upset in general about his airing of this “secret” or b. be upset that he is, as you say, “lifting the curtain” potentially on their own steroid use. Merloni is taking a risk by speaking out. Duke risks nothing by denying it.

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