Craig Biggio, Steroid User?

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Wait, Craig Biggio did what?
Craig Biggio used steroids.

Yes, you read that right. Craig Biggio used steroids.

At least that's the latest allegation to come from Jeff Pearlman, the man who says Jeff Bagwell used steroids but refused to offer up any evidence of Bagwell using steroids. Of course, he doesn't really offer up any evidence that Biggio used steroids, either. But in the world of Jeff Pearlman, facts don't matter because Pearlman has yet to produce any facts to support any of his statements.

For instance, how does he know that Biggio used steroids? The answer, according to Pearlman, is simple. Biggio played for the Astros, a team that he says was the major league hotbed of steroids use, and thus Biggio used steroids.

(Note, if there was a major league team that was a hotbed of PED use in the majors, it's the New York Yankees, which eagerly made use of such players as Jose Canseco -- the Johnny Appleseed of steroids -- Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, David Justice, Kevin Brown, Chuck Knoblauch, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. So by the standard Pearlman has laid out to label Biggio as a steroid user, then Derek Jeter must be a steroid user.)

Pearlman's allegations, his belief, regarding Bagwell, Biggio and the Houston Astros, supposedly come from the research and reporting he did in writing his book on Roger Clemens, The Rocket That Fell to Earth.

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We're eagerly awaiting some proof, Mr. Pearlman
Pearlman states on page 280 of the hardcover version of the book that the "Astros were known throughout the league to have lots of players benefiting from performance enhancers."

But beyond a quote from an anonymous player, Pearlman offers up no support for this statement. If he has any of his own evidence, he doesn't supply it in the book, and he definitely doesn't provide any evidence or support for this in the notes section of the book. So all we have is Pearlman's statement and an anonymous quote.

That's not much. Technically, it's nonexistent. But Pearlman continues to base his allegations on what he learned when investigating Roger Clemens.

People have asked Pearlman to prove his allegations. He has refused to do so. At least, he has refused to do so publicly. One of the writers at the blog Astros County got in touch with Pearlman and asked him to produce the evidence. They exchanged emails and discussed the matter, "[h]owever, he conditioned a defense of his comments on my agreement not to repeat the information that he provided me with. When I explained that I would not be willing to do so and why, he politely withdrew his offer to back up his statements."

It is possible Pearlman has some real facts to back up his allegations. Maybe he has promised to back up his sources and provide them with some protection. But even with that, the guy has to at some point provide some specificity to his allegations. Instead of just saying the Astros were a hotbed of PED users, and that Bagwell and Biggio were users, he's got to say something specific. Such as when they used, or what they used. Where did they get the shots? Or did they use the Clear and the Cream?

Now maybe Pearlman's not totally to blame for his lack of specificity. The guy's a sloppy-seconds writer. He moves in and makes his mark after others have struck. His biography of Barry Bonds, Love Me, Hate Me, came about only after San Francisco Chronicle investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wade and Lance Williams faced jail time for their work on the BALCO investigation and Barry Bonds, which they wrote about in Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports.

And he didn't move in on Roger Clemens and write The Rocket That Fell to Earth until after the Mitchell Report and an investigative research team with the New York Daily News did the dirty work and unveiled most of the dirty stuff there was to know on Clemens. Pearlman just moved in, wrote a biography that was nowhere near as well-sourced as what the Daily News crew did, and moved onto other topics.

He says his research is how he knows that Bagwell and Biggio used. But we don't really know what kind of research he did. His other steroids books relied on the reporting and hard work of others. There's been no such hard work toward Bagwell and Biggio.

In his Clemens book, Pearlman spoke to Fred Faour, former sports editor of our own Houston Chronicle. And the statement from Faour, on page 281 of the hardback edition, is pretty damning when it comes to why the Chronicle never did the same thing that its sister paper in San Francisco did, or what their counterparts in New York did.

"I had [an Astros steroid probe] all planned," Faour told Pearlman. "We all had suspicions about Roger and some other guys, and we did a lot of digging. But that kind of thing takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. I had an investigative reporter I had planned on hiring just for the task, but I was not allowed to bring him in."

"There was no commitment from management to go after it," Faour continued. "So we let it die. If the players wanted to live a lie, we wouldn't stand in their way."

So because the Houston Chronicle was too cheap to do any investigative work, Pearlman had nothing to glom off of regarding Bagwell and Biggio. Thus he just makes allegations without backing up anything. And because the Chron was too cheap, the reputations of guys like Bagwell and Biggio can continue to be besmirched.

We do not know that Jeff Bagwell and/or Craig Biggio used PED. But while offering up no proof, Pearlman is telling the world that they did, and that because of this, they're cheaters who don't belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Maybe it's just me, but I'd actually like to see a little evidence, a little proof their wrongdoing before condemning them.

After all, is that really too much to ask?

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal