A few months back, I went to see Django Unchained expecting the movie to end with Django killing all of the white people (SPOILER ALERT: he did). Despite knowing how things were going to end up, it was satisfying all the same.
I feel the same way about Ryan Braun. We all knew he would eventually get popped for his love of drugs that make his long ball just a little longer (and others possibly smaller). Still, when I heard Monday that he was finally being suspended, it felt great. Not for justice, or karma, or cleaning up baseball. I’m happy because now, finally, Braun can be added to the PED Power Rankings.
[Note: PED Power Rankings rank admitted or disciplined PED users only. Highly suspected users like Barry Bonds, although totally guilty, cannot be on the list until they are caught or admit it.]
NR) Alex Rodriguez
A-Rod did admit that he used PEDs from 2001-2003, but something tells me that there is more to come. We can reevaluate after Bud Selig drops the hammer in a few days.
5) Brian Cushing
His injury and the emergence of JJ Watt may have caused fans to forget about this great young defensive player. Still, he needs to be remembered, if for nothing else, then for the single most creative excuse for a positive drug test of all time. He didn’t claim to not know what was injected into his butt, that he ripped some shots of Jack Daniels, or that he didn’t speak English. He just made up a disease.
Brain Cushing claimed that his failed drug tests were a result of a previously unknown disorder called “Overtrained Athlete Syndrome”. Yes, the dreaded OAS. It can (apparently) result from working out so hard that your body naturally builds up testosterone to completely unnatural levels. Levels that should indicate drug use, but do not. He just works out that hard.
Yup, that’s what he said. A for effort.
4) Ryan Braun
Since A-Rod hasn’t been suspended (yet), Braun is the poster-boy for convicted PED users in the “Clean Era” of baseball. In December of 2011, Braun failed a drug test but pioneered a new strategy to avoid suspension. He didn’t really deny the results, but attacked the testing method itself, saying that the sample (his pee) was mishandled and a tester could have maybe tossed some testosterone in there somehow. Arbitrators actually bought that. Sure, he destroyed the career of the tester in the process, but it bought him a solid year and a half before being caught again. So, it totally worked out.
Braun’s system has since been used by basically every member of the Seattle Seahawks.
3) Jose Canseco
Baseball player, Celebrity Boxer, Mayoral Candidate, and all around crazy guy – Jose Canseco is first and foremost known as the Granddaddy of Steroids in Major League Baseball. Before it was cool to have emotional interviews admitting use, Canseco confessed and used his book “Juiced” as a way of confessing for other players too.
At that time, we all thought Canseco was just trying to sell copies of the book when accusing Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, and Alex Rodriguez. We were certain that it was all a lies to help this wackjob make money. Right?
It may have been a desperate attempt to earn a buck and he is definitely nuts, but, yeah, Canseco was also pretty much exactly right with those guys.
Our list would likely not exist without Canseco’s total willingness to sell out his friends and coworkers, and we thank him for that.
2) Lance Armstrong
Lance had, by far, the best method of avoiding being caught for his PED use. He paid-off teammates, he paid-off drug testers, he paid-off members of cycling’s governing bodies, and he paid-off basically anyone else that could in any way slow him down. This technique allowed him to cheat his way into being the most successful cyclist of all time, winning our hearts and getting us to put yellow rubber bands on our wrists in the process.
Truthfully, there was only one person that could finally do what years of drug tests couldn’t and force him to admit his guilt: Oprah.
If not for the God-like journalistic powers of the Big O (God is an excellent journalist), Armstrong would likely still be buying his way out of guilt and keeping himself off of our list.
1) Charlie Sheen
Yes, steroids might be among the more tame things that Sheen has done in his long and successful career as a drug abuser. Still, when Sheen signed on to play an early 90s starting pitching in the hit comedy Major League, he was so dedicated to the role that he started juicing to prepare for the part. That is some commitment to the integrity of the movie’s baseball action. Major League 1 and 2 probably wouldn’t have been as good without it. The third one probably wouldn’t have been good with or without Sheen.
Sheen’s devotion to an accurate portrayal of professional baseball in that era deserves some recognition. And since an Academy Award probably isn’t coming any time soon, he deserves the next best thing: the top spot on PED Power Rankings.
Honorable Mention: Rafael Palmeiro, Bill Romanowski, Hulk Hogan
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