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East Carolina Hall of Famer and
former baseball coach Keith LeClair.
 (Photo: ECU Media Relations)

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Editor's note: This feature
coordinated by Denny O'Brien.


From The Dugout

By Keith LeClair

Time to face the music on steroids

When will the rumors ever stop about steroid abuse in the major leagues? I know I have touched on this issue in a recent column I did, but since then more accusations have come out concerning the BALCO company that was under investigation for distributing illegal enhancement drugs, along with Barry Bonds and his personal trainer Greg Anderson.

Anderson has been accused of distributing steroids to five Major League players, including three of the game's superstars — Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, and Jason Giambi. Although they are merely accusations against these players, it is a troubling problem that MLB better take a stance on or it will lose a lot of credibility within the baseball world.

What really bothers me is the way our commissioner — Bud Selig — is handling the situation. In a memo to baseball organizations today, he made a statement that this issue should not be talked about and kept quiet. It appears to me that sweeping this issue under the rug and hoping it will go away is not the solution. In fact, it will only make matters worse.

There is obviously a bigger steroid problem in MLB than we had been led to believe. Jose Canseco may have been more accurate when he said 70 percent of all players are on some type of enhancement drug, quite a bit higher than the claimed seven to eight percent.

Less than a week ago, Gary Sheffield came on ESPN and said he was willing to take a drug test today to clear his name. But guess what. The players' union stepped in and said that would be a breech of contract between the player and the union.

Is it my imagination, or is that statement right there admitting guilt, only to exercise the union's authority to cover the issue up?

The problem with this whole issue lies in the power of Major League Baseball's players' union. When illegal drugs, such as steroids, can be ruled upon by the players, something is drastically wrong. If players have nothing to hide, a mandatory drug test for every player should not bother anybody in the least. But unfortunately, that's not the case and players today want to continue to cheat so they can put up the numbers and sign the multi-million dollar contracts.

You cannot sway me to believe a player is shooting up, thinking, "Gee if this only gives my team a chance to win." That's nonsense. It's all done out of selfishness and greed to make the big bucks.

The other day I heard the most ridiculous comment that a player said involving players of the past. He said, "How do you know if Babe Ruth and other old-time players weren't doing steroids? They never tested for them back then." If I am not mistaken, it doesn't take a genius to take one look at the Babe and tell he was not pushing steroids into that sculpture of a body, unless of course draft beer was considered an illegal enhancement drug back then.

Lets go Bud Selig and MLB players. Clean this abuse up and bring some integrity back into the game.

As far as I am concerned, any record broken from this point on will always have an asterisk beside it until this issue is addressed with some sincerity.

Update on Chad Tracy

I thought everyone would enjoy hearing about how Chad Tracy, one of our former ECU greats, was doing and where he will be located during spring training.

If you haven't already heard, Chad was put on the 40-man roster this November and just recently signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He will be in the big league training camp, located in Tucson, not far from where the Pirates are taking on Arizona State this weekend.

I had the opportunity to talk with Chad this fall about his chances of making the big league club out of spring training.

He felt his chances would be 50-50, depending how he swung the bat, and more importantly, played the outfield. Yes, you heard me right. That was the main reason Arizona wanted him to go over and play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He was playing right field before he hurt his hamstring and had to come back home.

It looks as if Arizona has one spot on their roster, and they want that person play a multitude of positions. They feel Chad can play all four corner positions on the field, being first, third, right and left.

Apparently the D-Backs have seven guys in camp fighting for this one spot, so Chad will have his work cut out for himself over the next five weeks. It didn't hurt in his first controlled scrimmage, thrown by coaches, that he went deep.

Now if Chad can only keep that up, we may be watching him on the tube come April and nobody would be more deserving of that honor than Chad Tracy.

Having had the opportunity to coach Chad for three years, you will not meet a harder worker or better young man. This guy gave his all in a Pirate uniform and it is so nice to see the fruits of his labor pay off. He can flat out hit, and even if he doesn't make it coming out of spring training this year, it won't be long before he will get his chance to tear up big league pitching like he has at every level — collegiate or professional, it doesn't seem to matter.

Good luck Chad and know all the Pirates are behind you.

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02.23.07 10:27 AM


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