Remember 2004? Miguel Tejada does. He won the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game with 27 homers total and drove in 150 runs and hit .311. Not too bad for a 28 year old shortstop in his prime and getting paid tons of money by his new team, the Baltimore Orioles.
Three years later, it seems laughable that Miguel Tejada was ever a respected player. He’s now a member of the Houston Astros and his time in Baltimore could politely be called disastrous for his career as well as others’. Obviously, the most infamous thing he did was give Rafael Palmeiro a “B-12″ shot right before Palmeiro tested positive for steroids. I remember even then thinking how horrible it was of Palmeiro to rat out a teammate like that in a sorry attempt to shield himself from blame. This was Miguel Tejada, after all. One of the best shortstops in the league and a perennial MVP candidate. Or he would have been if his team had been any good. Then the Mitchell Report came out and everything changed.
Remember 2004? Well, not only was Miguel Tejada’s body probably sweating pure HGH during that season; it turns out he wasn’t 28, he was 30. His birthday was in 1974, not the 1976 listed in the media guide.
What’s so sad about this situation isn’t that Miguel Tejada was a 19 year old kid born to unbelievable poverty who got duped by some one into lying about his age to seem like a better prospect. That’s a shame, to be sure. Players in his position back in 1993 are taken advantage of by people all the time when all they want to do is make any money at all playing baseball. At least I think that’s what Rafael Furcal was up to.
No, what’s so sad about this is that this isn’t sad at all for baseball anymore. America’s game (and it IS America’s game, not that cold, corporate, greedy NFL) is so mired in controversy, no one really knows how to react to guys like Miguel Tejada anymore. He was named in the Mitchell Report, allegedly injected Rafael Palmeiro with steroids, is being investigated by the Justice Department because he may have lied under oath about his involvement with steroids.
Everyone lies in baseball. Teams give dummy signs so the other team doesn’t know what they’re doing. Catchers and pitchers mix their signs and pitching is about deception anyway. Teams try to steal signs anyway. Players routinely lie about their age and have been using drugs (which are illegal except by prescription in America) to enhance their performance since the 1980′s. And now it’s all out in the open and I, for one, wish I’d never found out.
The NFL has it right. Sweep all that stuff under the rug and rely on everyone’s blind obsession with the sport to play down current PED suspensions like Stephen Cooper and tons of other players who have been suspended in the past.
I’d rather have the leagues clean up their problems in private than have this crap going on anymore. I don’t want to know what kind of bad guy Miguel Tejada is. I don’t want to know that Shawne Merriman probably used steroids. Or that pretty much every good player between 1985 and 2003 was on them too in Major League Baseball. Hide it. Keep it away from the media. Stop reporting on it. Fix it and pretend this stuff never happened.
This is one time the NFL has it right.