Steroids and Roger Clemens: Time to Add Jeff Bagwell to the List?

One of the things I try to do over here is to spotlight the news that gets overlooked. And I’ve got an item for today that I’m sure many of you here in the Houston area missed over the Memorial Day weekend. One, because the story came out on Sunday, and two, because as far as I can tell, the dead-tree edition of the Chron has yet to mention it (Richard Justice linked to it in one of his Sunday blog postings). So, without further ado…

Late Saturday night, the New York Daily News posted to its Web site another in its long string of steroid stories involving Roger Clemens. But this one was a bit different. It linked another name to Roger Clemens. No, not another mistress, but another player. That player being former Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who, according to unnamed sources, was supplied steroids and HGH by Kelly Blair, of Pasadena, Texas, and the owner of 1-on-1 Elite Personal Fitness.

If the name Kelly Blair sounds familiar, that may be because he’s the one who supposedly supplied Tom Pettitte, the father of Andy Pettitte, with HGH, which Tom then provided Andy.

Blair admits that he has spoken with federal authorities investigating these allegations, and he has admitted to using steroids, and to supplying others with HGH and steroids. He denied, however, being a source of steroids and HGH to Roger Clemens or Tom Pettitte.

But the sources to the Daily News stated the opposite, claiming that Blair bragged about his role to a supplier. The source claims to have seen Blair preparing a shipment. “I asked him, ‘Hey, is this stuff for sale?’” the source told the paper. “And he was like, ‘No, that stuff's going to Clemens, Bagwell and Pettitte.’”

Jeff Bagwell’s agent, Barry Axelrod, admitted earlier this year that Bagwell had been contacted regarding a link to Blair. A link which Axelrod denied at the time, and which Bagwell denied again this weekend.

Now I remember hearing rumors for years about Bagwell and steroids. And since Bagwell is my all-time favorite Houston Astros player, I really, really hope this is all untrue. I’ve always thought Rocket was a bit of an overrated phony, but Bagwell always seemed to be the real deal, at least to me.

And I’m wondering if they’re feeling any shame down the street at the Chron building, because, damn, once again, the vaunted Chron sports department was scooped by New York-based media (specifically the Daily News) on a story taking place in Houston. You would think that a paper that has had four reporters covering the Astros this season – Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Brian McTaggart, Joseph Duarte, and Zachary Levine – would be able to spare at least one of these guys for full-time steroid duty. After all, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, Kelly Blair, Miguel Tejada and Jeff Bagwell all currently live in Houston or are still connected to the Astros or the city.

When BALCO was an ongoing story in the Bay Area, all other media were relying on the scoops of the San Francisco Chronicle to drive their coverage. But somebody, anybody, tell me, what story involving the Astros and steroids has our own Chron broken?

I know this is the Chron I’m talking about. And I should know better. But still, it’s disappointing. But I guess the good news is that, when Roger Clemens completes his mission to destroy the Astros franchise, we won’t know about it because the Chron won’t be reporting it – they’ll probably just run a puff piece on Miguel Tejada. – John Royal


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