Mike Piazza wrote a memoir, and if early releases are any indication, it's mostly about how weird a human being he is. Perhaps because of his eccentric streak, many apparently hoped that the book would be a tell-all about the steroid era, like Jose Canseco's Juiced from someone who isn't (as much of a) national punchline. It's not a tell-all, however, and Piazza is using his book tour to firmly deny any past steroid use. No, says Piazza, I didn't use steroids. I only used since-banned performance enhancing drugs:
All week he has referred interviewers to that and other denials. "I just don't understand what part of 'no' people don't understand," he said on WFAN Thursday.
Piazza seeks to add to his credibility by copping to various subsequently banned products, including amphetamines, Vioxx and androstenedione, an ingredient in an over-the-counter supplement he used in the 1990s.
Piazza is doing what we've all done—admitting the non-damning portion of the truth, to establish truth-telling credentials—by offering a basically random list of chemicals he's put in his body. Amphetamines were widely used in earlier eras of baseball and are often the counterargument to the notion that "performance enhancing drugs" are a recent phenomenon. Androstenedione is currently a controlled substance classified as an anabolic steroid, making possession is a federal crime, though it hasn't been proven to do much in terms of building muscle. Vioxx was a painkiller that was only banned because it doubled regular users' risk of heart attack. Piazza's argument for his own innocence seems to be that these drugs are less effective than the PEDs that turned his compatriots into hulking muscle slabs. He's trying to convince everyone that he's bad enough at doping that he should be considered clean in the eyes of the record books.
Piazza probably isn't crafting his defense as a subtle critique of the inane semantics of the steroid debate, but if he was, it would be pretty damn effective. Unfortunately, the character clause still doesn't cover players that cheated incorrectly.