Steroids & sluggers
Was that one of the best baseball postseasons ever, or what?? With four (4) teams that I liked -- Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Braves -- playing in championship series, it was one of the most emotionally draining months of October ever for me. Anyway, belated congratulations to the Marlins!
Randomly-administered blood tests indicate that 5-7% of major league players use steroids, mostly for body building purposes. Those test results trigger the previously agreed-to provisions for making drug testing of players routine, which is a sad development but -- surprisingly -- is generally welcomed by the players. It seems that they'll feel less compelled to resort to such extreme measures if they are assured that other players are not doing so. That apparent lack of mutual confidence is even sadder. A graph in yesterday's Washington Post shows the steady long-term climb in number of home runs hit each year, some of which may have been artificially induced. I'll never forget how much bigger Sammy Sosa's biceps grew between the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Steroid abuse is apparently rampant among young players in his home country, the Dominican Republic, where economic prospects are so bleak that many kids opt for a (literally) do-or-die effort to make it into the big leagues. Perhaps that is the saddest part of all.
Thanks to Chris Jackman for calling attention to another factual error. I had written, erroneously, that the SkyDome was the only venue ever used for both major league baseball and pro basketball. NOT! The same was also once true of the Kingdome (Seattle) and the Metrodome (Minneapolis), and those three pages have been updated accordingly. For you extreme trivia buffs, three other NBA teams used to play in stadiums that were also used for football: Detroit (in the Silverdome), New Orleans (in the Superdome), and San Antonio (in the AlamoDome). (SOURCE: ESPN 1999 Sports Almanac)
I came across yet another book about baseball stadiums recently, and it is a real gem: Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums, by Ira Rosen. It has truly spectacular photos of all the stadiums built in the 1990s, which was useful for me in putting together the new Minute Maid Park page. It also has some (mixed-quality) photos of several ancient stadiums, including a few photos I had never seen before.