Every time a baseball player is revealed to have taken steroids, everyone freaks out. The player issues a denial or an apology. We debate the player's reputation for days on end. The world is suddenly not so innocent again. And so on.
We have a feeling it will be different for Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo -- a middling pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds and a big fan of Nickelback-esque guitar rock -- has never publicly failed a steroids test, but that hasn't stopped him from giving one of the more interesting 'roids-related interviews of all-time to USA Today. In the interview, Arroyo admits to taking a variety of substances not approved by Major League Baseball. And he doesn't seem the least bit shy about it:
"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 says. "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 teammate) Curt Schilling introduced me to in '05. I take some Korean ginseng and a few other proteins out there that are not certified. But I haven't failed any tests, so I figured I'm good."
Arroyo believes his name is on the anonymous 2003 positive tests list, as he was taking andro and steroids at the time.
That would seem silly and superficial stuff -- though an active player openly admitting to taking steroids is pretty unusual -- but the real insight in the interview comes when Arroyo starts talking about steroids at large. Arroyo believes much of the steroids climate is hypocritical. He blames fans for not caring about eating junk food, but criticizing players for damaging their bodies. He says he understands why old-timers like Hank Aaron have a beef with their records being tainted, but that no one in the game really reviles Manny Ramirez, and likewise, no fan cares enough about Manny to hope he's still healthy at age 50.
All of which is probably true, and which is stunning coming from the mouth of a seemingly clueless dolt like Bronson Arroyo. Steroids might not have helped Arroyo's pitching, but his logistic and articulation abilities appear to have been vastly improved.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.