The phrase "Manny being Manny" took on a whole new context after Manny Ramirez became a member of the group of famous baseball players who used steroids. Ramirez tested positive for steroids in May, 2009 and was suspended for 50 games that season. Then, in April, 2010 he tested positive again and decided to retire from baseball rather than serve the 100 game suspension for second-time offenders. Ramirez is just one case, though, as the decade in Major League Baseball from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s has come to be known as “The Steroids Era” since so many of the game’s biggest stars were implicated in the use of performance enhancing drugs. Just goes to show you, even super athletes can't quite do it without a little help from their (illegal) friends.
Rightly or wrongly, Barry Bonds is the poster boy for the steroids era in baseball. Bonds was indicted by the federal government for allegedly lying about taking steroids and the feds spent eight years and close to $100 million trying to prove Bonds committed perjury about his use of steroids. The case ended on April 13, 2011 and Bonds was found guilty of one count of obstruction of justice. A mistrial was declared on the other three more serious counts due to a hung jury and Bonds is appealing the obstruction charge. For all of that, Bonds never failed a drug test or admitted he used steroids. He did, however, admit to having his personal trainer provide him with two substances called the “cream” and the “clear” that turned out to be performance enhancing drugs. Therefore, knowingly or not, Bonds was a steroid user.
McGwire held the season home run record before Bonds, and admitted to taking steroids during his playing career in 2010 after he was named the St. Louis Cardinals' hitting coach. This came after years of denying that he had ever used steroids. McGwire and Sammy Sosa helped infuse life back into MLB after the strike of 1994 to 1995 that wiped out the 1994 World Series and left fans of the game extremely disgruntled. Attendance and television ratings had fallen dramatically, and the epic home run race between the two in 1998 brought droves of fans back to the game. McGwire wound up with 70 home runs that year while Sosa finished with 66. Both broke Roger Maris’ 37 year record of 61 home runs. This, of course, brings us to…
Sosa was one of the 104 players to test positive for a performance enhancing drug in MLB’s 2003 anonymous drug survey testing. The results of this were later leaked after they were seized for the BALCO steroids case (that led to the Bonds investigation). Sosa was one of several players that gave sworn testimony to Congress during their 2005 steroids investigation and denied ever using a performance enhancing drug.
Lest people think only hitters were using steroids, here we have the case of Roger Clemens, perhaps the best pitcher the last twenty years has seen. Clemens denies any steroid use to this day, but his name was mentioned 82 times in the Mitchell Report on steroid use in MLB. In the report, a New York Yankees trainer (Clemens was a Yankee during those years) stated that during the 1998, 2000 and 2001 baseball seasons he personally injected Clemens with steroids. In August, 2010, a federal grand jury indicted Clemens on charges of making false statements to Congress about his use of performance enhancing drugs. Though his trial was found to be a mistrial almost as soon as it began in July 2011.
The man who is on pace to break Bonds’ all-time career home run record is also an admitted steroid user. In February 2009, after denying use of any performance enhancing drugs, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids. He said that he used them from 2001 to 2003 when playing for the Texas Rangers and claimed that he did so because of the tremendous amount of pressure to perform up to expectations.