Congress strikes out

PAUL FRIESEN

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Apparently, there is life after the Twins. Because Corey Koskie, lured away from his long-time baseball home in Minnesota this past winter, says he's doing just fine as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Reached at his hotel room in Texas, where the Jays began a series against the Rangers last night, the Anola-born third baseman took some time yesterday to talk about his new team, his slow start and the topic that seems to be dominating Major League Baseball these days -- steroids.

As a guy who made it the old-fashioned way, grinding his way to the majors through sheer hard work, you'd think Koskie would be all for cleaning up the game and creating a level playing field.

Well, he is. But you won't find him getting all bent out of shape over the issue.

"You'd like that, but you can't get too caught up in it," Koskie was saying. "I can look myself in the mirror. A lot of people try to justify what they're doing. It'll all catch up to them."

Of course, there are a lot worse things going on in society than drug use in baseball.

Which is why Koskie found himself nearly screaming at the television set watching those U.S. Congressional hearings during spring training.

To hear politicians suggest baseball goes easy on people who break the rules, compared to what happens in the real world, sent him off the deep end.

"What about your corporate executives and tax evasion, doing their thing to the company? And every one of these politicians, what they've done to get into office? A lot of the pot calling the kettle black, there."

I told Koskie that with cynicism like that, he could join the media.

He wasn't quite done with Congress, though.

"These lawmakers drive me absolutely nuts," he said. "Three days later a girl by the name of Jessica (Lunsford) got abducted in Florida. They found the guy, a sexual predator, was in jail 23 times. 23 times! What real world are these guys talking about? This is a joke."

You get the impression, too, that Koskie thinks players are getting a bit of a bad rap, that attacking baseball has become the thing to do.

He may have a point.

The whole thing has taken on a bit of a witch-hunt atmosphere. In the rush to curb steroid use, some people are ready to adopt Olympic-style testing, where even a cold medicine can throw a career into chaos.

The first major leaguer to test positive under the new policy this year, Tampa Bay outfielder Alex Sanchez, says he took an over-the-counter supplement.

We imagine players are getting paranoid about what they're ingesting.

"If you don't take it, there's no reason to be paranoid," Koskie said. "I've never trusted the supplements and supplement companies, because they're not monitored. I've never been into that."

Blackballed

Those who have been linked to steroids are paying a price, Koskie says, even if the suspensions only begin at 10 games.

"These guys are getting blackballed. And everywhere they go they're going to have to hear it the rest of their lives, the whispers. You want to deal with that?"

Not that Koskie feels sorry for them.

Like he said earlier, it'll all catch up with them.

As you can probably guess, Koskie is not in favour of putting an asterisk beside anybody's name in the record books, either.

Players have been trying to get an edge for years: doctoring balls and bats, stealing signals. And now, steroids.

"Everybody talks about the golden era of baseball, back in the day, blah, blah, blah," Koskie said. "Why should baseball be any different than life? You get caught, you go to jail."

Good to see that, at 31, there's still plenty of fight in our favourite major leaguer.


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