Turn Back The Clock: February 10th, 2005-Jason Giambi Comes Clean…Somewhat


Nowadays, it seems like it’s really no big deal when a player gets popped for PED use, or evidence surfaces years after the fact, that a player was involved in steroid activity. It’s a black mark on the game, but a part of the game’s history nonetheless. The New York Yankees unfortunately, like almost every other team in the game, hasn’t gone without their fair share of controversial figures from the steroid-era. Most recently, as pitchers and catcher prepare to report for spring training, along with position players a week later, the circus that is Alex Rodriguez will once again make itself present in Tampa, Florida at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

But with all of the distractions that A-Rod brings to the Yankees and to baseball, it was a decade prior that first brought the rampant use of steroids among some of the game’s greatest sluggers to light. The heavy hitters as it turned out, weren’t the only ones who would eventually come under suspicion, as former Yankees’ hurlers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte were just as guilty as any slugger to ever don the pinstripes. While Clemens has continued to deny every partaking, Pettitte came clean about his use, and has since been forgiven by the Yankee faithful. 

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One of the poster boys for the bulked-up era of hitters, was of course Jason Giambi. Giambi came to the Bronx as the celebrated new hitting savior for a lineup that had recently seen the departures of longtime favorites Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, and Scott Brosius. Giambi brought an impressive resume to him to New York, and eventually being paired with fellow PED user Gary Sheffield, the Bronx Bombers were hitting on all cylinders when it came to offensive production.

During his first two seasons in the Bronx, Giambi posted back-to-back 41-home run seasons, and was everything the Yankees had paid for and then some. Injuries and a tumor removal raised the red flag, and in his third season, he only played in 80 games, and his once respectable batting average dipped to just .208. Then the other show dropped. Giambi testified in front of the federal grand jury in the BALCO steroid case against Victor Conte, and admitted under oath, to using performance enhancing drugs and steroids.

While Giambi’s numbers bounced back to a respectable .272/32/87 in 2004, Giambi finally had to face the music for his actions prior to the start of the 2005 season. He had always been a likable player, one in which the Yankee fans had grown fond of, but now it was time for damage control. The Bombers were coming off an October collapse for the ages, once that witnessed a three-games-to-none choke job to the rival Boston Red Sox, capped off by their first World Series title in 86 years. Nobody would be saved from the media scrutiny–including Giambi.

Looking to save face and to move forward, it was on this day, 10 years ago, that Jason Giambi held a press conference, and apologized to his teammates, to Yankees fans, and to baseball fans everywhere. What is interesting, is that while he took full responsibility for his actions, he never once used the term PEDs, performance enhancing drugs, or steroids. It was the elephant in the room, but everyone who had been following the situation, knew exactly what he was referencing. It was a step in the right direction, and just goes to show how taking accountability–even in a limited capacity, allows for forgiveness.

Giambi would play three more seasons in pinstripes, posting two 30+ home run seasons, before moving on via free agency at the end of his contract. It was a chapter the Yankees would rather put behind them, and even after a solid 2008 season, the Yankees missed the playoffs, and big changes were coming. Out went Giambi, and in came Mark Teixeira. Giambi remains a fan favorite when he returns to the Bronx, receiving the same love he always enjoyed when he was a member of the Yankees.

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