Tag Archives: steroids

ON DUSTIN RICHARDSON’S SUSPENSION…AND HIS MOM’S HEARTACHE

I want to send a copy of TRADING MANNY to Dustin Richardson, the 26-year old relief pitcher who just became the latest ballplayer to get tagged with a 50-game suspension for violating MLB’s drug agreement.

It was reported by the New York Times in this story that Richardson’s had an astounding cocktail of banned substances in his system that included some five different steroids. Richardson was no big-league star; he knocked around for a couple of years with the Red Sox during the ’09 and ’10 seasons before returning to the minors last year. When his drug test came back at the end of last season, he was found to have been stacking drugs like one of those champion cup-stackers, a dizzying amount of chemicals.

I was especially struck in the story about the comments from his mother, reached at her Kansas home, who said, “Dustin realized it was the biggest mistake of his life.” And she hoped someone would give him another chance.

I want to send him a copy of MANNY — and her, too — not as a nyah-nyah-we-caught-you exercise. There’s plenty of that going around without me adding to the noise. But I truly believe that ballplayers like Richardson have somehow forgotten the spirit that got them into baseball in the first place as kids, and the childlike wonder that still makes kids fall in love with the game and its players. TRADING MANNY is kind of a reminder that it’s okay to play clean and resist the pressures to do something so dangerous to yourself in order to try to get ahead. In baseball or any other walk of life.

I hope for Dustin Richardson’s sake — and the sake of his mom — that he can come back to the game and his life without needing drugs.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

GETTING MANNY PUBLISHED: A CHRONOLOGY

Thought it might be fun and somewhat instructive (for anyone visited with that crazy, fleeting idea, “I think I’ll write a book and make a bunch of money!”) to show the chronology of getting TM written and published.  Bottom line of all this is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

December 2007: The Mitchell Report comes out and Joe begins to segregate his baseball cards: Clean players vs. the cheaters.  Jim writes an article about it that is published on CBSNews.com, and realizes he might have a book idea brewing.

January 2008: Had my agent at the time send out preliminary pitches for a book about how much the erupting steroids scandal affected a little kid and his baseball-loving father.  Rejections follow from everyone, including the agent.  Joe continues to bring up baseball and steroids at odd times, including on a ski trip to Calgary.

March – April 2008: Jim and Joe talk about baseball on a cruise to Hawaii, attend spring training in Arizona and Opening Day at Safeco Field, and see that baseball does nothing to address the steroids scandal.

May 2008: TM is accepted as a client by Seattle literary agent Elizabeth Wales, who asks for more pages before she can submit to publishers.

April – October 2008:  The 2008 baseball season ensues, with more scandals and more questions from Joe, but no answers forthcoming from baseball.  Jim begins to write drafts and more proposals of the book.  We take a road trip down the west coast to see games in Oakland, LA and Anaheim (with Manny now playing for the Dodgers), move from Bainbridge Island to McMinnville and try to reach players and the commissioner’s office.  Jim returns to Safeco Field in September and ambushes the late broadcaster Dave Niehaus for an interesting talk about ‘roids, and interviews former all-star pitcher Jeff Nelson. 

Winter 2008-’09: Jim continues to write and rewrite drafts of the book in progress, not really sure what the ending will be.  The steroids issue is still prominent with Joe.  Alex Rodriguez admits in January that he had taken juice during his years with the Texas Rangers.

April 2009: Jim and Joe appear on NPR’s All Things Considered, talking about their reluctance to embrace baseball during the scandal.  Jim’s article, “The House That Juice Built,” appears in Seattle Metropolitan magazine.  The 2009 baseball season begins.

April – June, 2009: Jim and Joe make trips to Idaho to visit the town where Walter Johnson started his career, and to Seattle to interview a steroids doctor and the late-Taylor Hooton’s brother Don Hooton.

June 2009: Agent makes the first formal pitches of the book-in-progress to some 25 publishers. 

July 2009: Boston-based editor calls to ask Jim for more info on the book and wonders where it’s going; declines to make offer.

August – Sept. 2009: Book gets endorsements from author/player Dirk Hayhurst and former AP sportswriter Steve Wilstein.  Manuscript rejected by all publishers.

September, 2009: Jim and Joe make trips to Seattle, Boston, New York and Jackie Robinson’s grave in Brooklyn to complete research for the book.

October 23, 2009: Manuscript is fully written and completed for the first time.  Agent begins new round of submissions.  All are rejected.

December, 2009: Ms. gets endorsement from Doug Glanville, former player, author and ESPN personality.

January 2010: Mark McGwire reveals past steroid use; after lull in submissions, agent promises to send Manny out to fresh round of 20 publishers.

January – Feb., 2010: DaCapo Press asks to read manuscript based on query received from agency. A month later, they ask for a phone conversation with Jim.

March, 2010: DaCapo says they’d like to see a new beginning to the book before they commit to publish.

March 25, 2010: New pages written and sent to DaCapo.

May 18, 2010: DaCapo offers to publish the book and deal is struck.

June – September, 2010: Jim rewrites book from start and resubmits to publisher.

Jan. – March, 2011: Editor returns comments and suggestions; Jim rewrites again, scraps opening pages again and finally hits on chronological way of telling the story from start to finish.

April 2011: Final version accepted and turned over to production.

Summer 2011: Copyediting done, afterword written, map of Joe’s journey in the book commissioned and accepted .

Fall 2011: Cover and type design completed, promotion begins with new Trading Manny Facebook page, ramping up of this blog and revision of www.jim-gullo.com.  More endorsements sought.

October 2011: Publisher’s lawyer weighs in with about 20 queries about the manuscript, requesting word changes and some minor deletions, and asks, “Are any of the ballplayers you write about particularly litigious?”  Over the course of an hour and a half on the phone, we hash out changes that everyone can live with.  This is the final hurdle to the manuscript advancing to final galleys.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

WHAT A 7-YEAR OLD KNOWS ABOUT BARRY BONDS

So we were standing in line in the Calgary airport a couple of years ago, right before spring training, and Joe turned to me and said, out of the blue and apropos of nothing, “Barry Bonds is terrible.”

“Excuse me?”

“Bonds is terrible,” he repeated.  “He shouldn’t play anymore.  He’s really terrible.”

I decided to challenge his logic with clever, Socratic queries.  “What do you mean, you crazy little dude?” I said.  “Didn’t Bonds hit, like forty-five homers last year?  Didn’t he break Aaron’s career record?”

“He hit twenty-eight!  You think that’s good?”

I know better than to dispute his numbers.  If Joe said that Barry Bonds hit twenty-eight for the Giants last year, then he hit twenty-eight.  When he wasn’t snowboarding in Canada, he was poring over 2007 statistics in The Sporting News, and his grasp of numbers is astounding.  He will often interrupt a meal by asking me if I know how many career doubles Stan Musial had, or what Ted Williams hit in 1946.  I never do know, but he does.  

Bonds took steroids!  He cheated!”

And there is that word again, steroids, that pops up nearly every time we talk baseball these days, but never popped up when I talked baseball with my dad, or he with his.  Joe has obviously been worrying about this; he’d like to know why Bonds was allowed to break Aaron’s hallowed record while on the juice, and I can’t answer him.

Personally, I would love to find out one day that Barry Bonds gained all of that muscle and bat speed through an uncannily successful regimen of weight-lifting and protein shakes.  I’d also love to find out one day that there really is an Easter Bunny, and he has evidence to prove that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  Bonds’ drug use was so obvious that my seven-year old knew it.  Joe, in fact, still believes in the Easter Bunny, but he doesn’t believe Barry Bonds.

“People think that Bonds took steroids,” I offered.  “He himself has said that he never did.  It hasn’t yet been proven that he took steroids.  Until it has been proven, we consider Barry Bonds to be innocent.”  In defending Barry Bonds, who has been the poster boy for steroid use in the major leagues for the last seven years and is perhaps the least likeable baseball superstar in the history of the game (Ty Cobb, rolling over in his grave, sighs with relief), I feel like a public defender who has been assigned the case of the guy who stabbed his mother-in-law thirty-two times at the wedding, with the knife from the cake in broad daylight in the middle of the reception, and I’m supposed to vigorously defend his innocence.

But who am I kidding?  Bonds was named in the Mitchell Report, and there have been whole books written about the Bay Area laboratory that supplied him with his PEDs.  Even my son knows and acknowledges this.

Joe gave me a piteous look, as if I was the biggest dope in both Canada and the U.S.  “Everybody knows that he took them,” he said scornfully.  “How could he say he never took them?”

I meekly offered that maybe Bonds didn’t know what he was taking.  Maybe he thought it was something else they were giving him.  Or maybe he just believed that it was okay to take them then. 

Joe didn’t buy it.  “Well, he shouldn’t play anymore,” he said, adding with a 7-year old’s absolute sense of right and wrong, “He’s a cheater.  As far as I’m concerned, the home-run record still belongs to Hank Aaron.”

Tell it to Bud Selig.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT A-ROD

“In many ways, I root for him,” wrote the NYT’s Doug Glanville about Alex Rodriguez after the World Series.  I have to say to my surprise that I feel the same way.  A-Rod not only has the greatest baseball skills of anyone around, and always has, but a confluence of life’s events also give him the chance to do some things off the field that no player has done.

To wit, that means really getting out front on the steroids issue and telling our kids, “This was wrong and you shouldn’t do it.”  Shouldn’t take drugs to play a game better; shouldn’t take risks with your health just to make a few more bucks; shouldn’t cheat to get ahead.  All of those things that we want to hear from ballplayers.

Why should A-Rod do this?  Because he has the greatest pedestal of anyone to do this.  And he seemed genuinely regretful of his brush with PEDs when he came clean with Peter Gammons (but only after his name was leaked from the list of 104 players who failed the 2003 drug test).  He has way more money than anyone needs, and so won’t jeopardize his playing career by commenting publicly on steroids; he certainly can’t be disliked by his fellow players any more than he already is.  And because I think he can find a great deal of personal redemption in being the player who comes out front on this issue.  That, as well as homers and run production, could be his lasting legacy to the game.

My reasons are partly selfish: I watched A-Rod play as a youngster in Seattle, and always thought he was a marvel.  He handled pressures that most players don’t have.  I wanted my son Joe to admire him, too, but Joe always was wary of A-Rod, even before the PED revelations emerged.  When it came out last spring that A-Rod had been named, Joe just looked at me and said, “I told you that he used steroids.”

Maybe now, after some new efforts by the Yankees’ third baseman, my kid can turn to me and say, “You know, I think he really means it and is really helping kids make good choices.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

AN OPEN LETTER TO MANNY RAMIREZ

Do you think baseball’s steroids scandal doesn’t affect our kids?  Check out this letter that my son Joe (now 9 years old) felt the need to write to Manny Ramirez when the Dodger slugger was suspended in May for violating baseball’s new drug policy.

Dear Manny Ramirez,

 Hi, my name is Joe.  I am 9 years old.  I live with my dad, my baby brother and my mom.  Why did you take drugs?  Manny, before you took drugs you were great.  You were one of the top players in the history of baseball.  Well anyway, bye.

 

Sincerely,

Joe Gullo

 P.S.   I think you shouldn’t take drugs because they are bad for your body.  And they are cheating.  Bye.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SHOULD WE TEACH OUR KIDS TO LOVE THIS GAME?

Joe hitting
Joe, 7, about to go deep

Meet Joe, holding yet another stick that he will pretend is yet another baseball bat, as he swats another lame (and imaginary) fastball out of another (equally imaginary) park.  He may be skinny, but the kid’s got game!

Two years ago, Joe fell in love with baseball completely, passionately and truly.  Which I thought was great.  I’ve loved baseball since I was seven years old, and I grew up following everyone from Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt to Reg-gie, Gar-vey, Fernand-doh and all the rest of them.  I LOVED it that Joe loved baseball.
And then the Mitchell Report came out, just about two years ago now, and Joe began asking questions that I couldn’t answer.  And in fact, no father in the history of baseball has had to answer.  “Isn’t it cheating to take steroids?”  “Why did Bonds (and all the rest of them…McGwire, Sosa, A-Rod, Manny) take steroids when they were already so good?”  “Aren’t they going to be punished?”
So for the last two years, Joe and I have been exploring the game and talking to people about steroids and baseball.  And always, in the back of my mind, lingers the question, “Is baseball worth it?” 
Should I encourage my kid to love this game as I did, or should I gently turn his attention towards…I don’t know…golf, manga, Rachael Ray?
What do you think, Dads (and Moms)?  How do you feel about the state of baseball right now?
Come along with me and Joe on this journey.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized