You gotta love a happy ending, particularly when it involves forgiveness.
The Oakland A’s had every right to scorn their prodigal son, Jason Giambi. He won the AL MVP award with them in 2000, then bolted after the following season for pinstriped pastures. Much greener ones, too. He signed a $120 million, seven-year contract with George Steinbrenner’s Yankees.
But that wasn’t the worst of it.
Soon, he got linked to the BALCO scandal and ultimately admitted using steroids. The confession tainted every swing Giambi had ever taken.
After the Yanks refused his $22 million option this year, putting Giambi on the free-agent market, I wouldn’t have blamed the A’s one bit if they’d left him begging for coins at the foot of the Bay Bridge.
Instead, they brought the former power hitter home, signing him Wednesday for one year at $5.25 million.
It never would have happened had Giambi not ‘fessed up.
It never would have happened if instead of admitting his transgressions he’d pulled a Mark McGwire (“I’m just here to talk about baseball.”)
Or if he’d continued to deny, deny, deny like so many of Sen. George Mitchell’s new friends.
Not that his mea culpa came easily. Giambi testified before a federal grand jury in December 2003 and reportedly said he’d injected himself with human growth hormone earlier that year and used steroids for at least three seasons. He feigned a half-hearted apology for some vague commission but made no clear public admission until the summer of 2007 when the players’ union agreed to allow him to speak with Sen. Mitchell rather than have him suspended by commissioner Bud Selig.
Before speaking to Mitchell, Giambi said in a statement: “I alone am responsible for my actions and I apologize to the commissioner, the owners and the players for any suggestion that they were responsible for my behavior. I will continue to do what I think is right and be candid about my past history regarding steroids.”
As long and tortured as it took, Giambi throwing himself on his splintered bat not only paved the way for his return to the Bay Area. It also serves as an example to those who still want to play the game but still refuse to play the game.
Baseball is slowing stepping from beneath the steroid cloud, but tainted players still must meet the sport halfway.