Arroyo’s Strange and Refreshing Honesty

Title: Arroyo’s Strange and Refreshing Honesty
Date: August 14, 2009
Original Source: The On Deck Circle
Synopsis: With Bronson Arroyo revealing that he basically has no idea what he puts into his body. I discussed whether this was refreshing honesty or run-of-the-mill idiocy.

Lost in the news of Mike Vick signing with the Philadelphia Eagles was a gem of an interview from Bronson Arroyo yesterday. It was my favorite news of the day, for certain. I knew I wanted to write about it, but I really couldn’t decide how I felt about his statements. Is Arroyo an idiot? Ahead of his peers? Looking for trouble? Creating awareness? I have no idea. Rest assured, though, Arroyo’s statements are extremely thought provoking.

This ESPN article does a good job outlining the words Arroyo used, and that’s about it. This USA Today story does a little better. But what was Arroyo really doing? In a time when nobody will admit to steroid use even when they’re caught, when everyone has an excuse as to why they’re on the List of 104, when players walk on eggshells regarding supplements and vitamins, Arroyo flat out accused himself of taking banned substances.
 More after the jump!

“I have a lot of guys in [the locker room] who think I’m out of [my] mind because I’m taking a lot of things not on the [MLB-approved] list,” Arroyo said, according to the report. “I take 10 to 12 different things a day, and on the days I pitch, there’s four more things. There’s a caffeine drink I take from a company that [former Boston Red Sox teammate] Curt Schilling introduced me to in ’05. I take some Korean ginseng and a few other proteins out there that are not certified.”

Well, Arroyo certainly has more guts than anyone else in Major League Baseball. The amount of supplements he takes really isn’t all that surprising – after all, I work a desk job and I take a half dozen or more daily. 10 to 12 supplements is nothing for a professional athlete.

There are different-colored pills, powders, liquids, proteins, caffeine concentrates and ginseng, products such as creatine, Triflex and xelR8 found at local vitamin stores.

Like I said, nothing very out of the ordinary. Really, Arroyo has just called attention to himself at this point, and speculated that he’s at risk of a future positive test because these items may or may not be on the approved list. That is, MLB hasn’t certified them, so there’s no way to know if they can trigger a positive test. Some (most?) would call this stupid and irresponsible. After all, these are all fairly common products, and you’d think Arroyo would just make the move to a creatine/ginseng/protein on the approved list.

Still, Arroyo has stood up in the face of MLB’s strict policy (and from what I read, they’re also slow to approve new supplements and suppliers). Not exactly the most righteous fight, but a fight nobody else has made, regardless.

While Arroyo is confident what he takes is clean at this time, he also offered up, without provocation, that he is probably on the list of those who tested positive in 2003.

Arroyo told the Boston Herald that he had used androstenedione and amphetamines before they were banned in 2004 and 2006, respectively.

Arroyo says he believes he is also on the 2003 list, as there were rumors at the time that andro taken by some ballplayers was tainted with steroids. He said he took andro anyway because it helped him gain weight and strength, according to USA Today.

Well, that’s as much of an admission as I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I’ve been waiting and waiting for someone to just outright say they did it, what they did, and be completely honest about it. While Arroyo is taking a rebellious approach to doing so, he is at least doing so. Few people discuss Andy Pettite with the other Mitchell Report names, mostly because he ‘fessed up and moved on. You’d think, with a lot of the media focus being on the creative excuses and arguments players make, that some would be wise enough to admit it and try to move on. After all, there’s not really a story after that.

What was nice, too, was that Arroyo didn’t cop to the ‘peer pressure’ excuse for enhancing.

“I took androstenedione the same way I took my multivitamins. I didn’t really know if this was a genius move by Mark McGwire to cover up the real s—- he was taking, but it made me feel unbelievable. I felt like a monster.”

He’s not pulling any punches there. That’s as honest as it gets. No peer pressure, no injuries, it just made him feel good so he did it. Yeah, the real reason most players take performance enhancers. And hey, at the time it was legal, so Arroyo can’t even be vilified for those comments.

Arroyo also called out fans and owners alike for being partially to blame – after all, fans and owners will take wins and money (respectively) at any cost, and athletes are essentially assets in the eyes of both. Arroyo made the point that people vilify Manny Ramirez, but wouldn’t care if he dies young outside of baseball. Cruel, but a fair enough assessment.

For the most part, I thought Arroyo came off very strong. He was honest, straightforward, and while he took the position of rebel more than spokesman, it was a refreshing take on the entire steroids saga. I’m personally tired of it and would like to find a filter for steroid-related pieces on, so a change of pace and attitude was greatly appreciated. Of course, the always-colorful Arroyo had to ruin his credibility by ending with this gem:

As for the potential health risks? “It might be dangerous,” he said, according to the report, “but so is drinking and driving. And how many of us do it at least once a year? Pretty much everybody.”

Yeah Bronson, that’s the case, and it’s extremely comparable. Or…

Anyway, it made for great and refreshing reading up to that point.
Oh, and if you’re wondering if there are any performance signs that Arroyo may have been on PEDs, I made this beautiful chart for you. He’s followed a pretty standard career progression, though 2006 sticks out as a curiosity. The year’s we’d be looking for, though, were the pre-testing years, where he struggled as a young pitcher on a fairly standard career path.


Oh, but he lead the league in hit batters in 2004. ‘Roid rage, anyone?

I’m also a loser…on…Twitter. You can follow me here, but there’s not a whole lot of action outside of shameless self promotion.

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