Notebook > Sports

The Bronx bombshell

Sports | Yankees slugger Jason Giambi admits to steroid use in grand jury testimony

Issue: "Daniel of the Year 2004," Dec. 11, 2004

Everyone wondered what New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi told a federal grand jury investigating the nation's premier steroid scandal last December. In testimony obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, Mr. Giambi told the grand jury looking into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative that he injected human growth hormones into his body in 2003 and used steroids during at least three seasons. Mr. Giambi's brother, Jeremy Giambi, also admitted in testimony to using steroids, according to the Chronicle.

Athletes, including Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, and track stars Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones, paraded in and out of testimony before the steroids inquiry. Attorneys for Victor Conte, BALCO's founder, asked a judge to dismiss the case because of the pretrial publicity. But the judge countered that Mr. Conte and his ABC 20/20 special contributed to the publicity. Legal experts expect a bombastic trial, with star athletes like Mr. Bonds, Mr. Giambi, and Mr. Sheffield testifying under oath again, but this time in public.

Sin City hedge

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's gimmicks might not work on television, but they sure do get attention from the NBA. In a 1,200-word blog posting, Mr. Cuban said he intends to mix sports and Las Vegas by creating a hedge fund operated by top professional gamblers making bets on sporting events. A league spokesman said the NBA was still looking into Mr. Cuban's new business plan a few days after the Nov. 27 blog posting. The NBA can't be happy with Mr. Cuban's proposed adventure into sports gambling. Traditionally, sports leagues have created strict rules to separate players and coaches from gamblers. Ask Pete Rose how seriously major-league baseball takes sports betting. Northwestern, Boston College, and Arizona State each recently dealt with point-shaving scandals.

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Where some may see a conflict of interests, Mr. Cuban, who built a billion-dollar fortune in the dot-com boom, sees a business opportunity: "It's not unusual to hear people refer to trading stocks as no different than going to Vegas. They are right. Gambling is gambling. The question really is, which gives the opportunity for a better outcome?" Mr. Cuban argues that sports fans have more accurate information about teams than investors have about corporations. And "the gaming commission appears to actually enforce rules of play, unlike the [Securities and Exchange Commission]," Mr. Cuban wrote.

But the team owner doesn't necessarily have the Midas touch. His copycat reality television series, The Benefactor, bombed while nemesis Donald Trump's show soared. And it still seems the best way to make money in Las Vegas is hosting the card game, not betting on it.

Around the Horn

•Oakland County prosecutor David Gorcyca made one thing clear in the aftermath of the ugly brawl during a Pistons and Pacers game in November: "Whoever was involved in fisticuffs will be charged, regardless if they were wearing a jersey." Several Pacers players, including Ron Artest, could face assault-and-battery charges.

•Baseball's season of free-agency is heating up and it's the New York Mets, not the Yankees, that look like the big spenders. The Mets already signed pitcher Kris Benson to a whopping $22.5 million contract. Now the Mets have made a $38 million offer to free-agent pitcher Pedro Martinez. Of course, the Mets' plan may still be foiled. Boston could offer Mr. Martinez arbitration or Yankees owner George Steinbrenner could start a bidding war for the former Cy Young winner.

•After a recent auction near Chicago, children may start asking their grandparents to dig out the old baseball cards. A complete set of 1914 Cracker Jack baseball cards sold for a record $800,000 to an anonymous bidder. The 90-year-old set included rare Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson, and Christy Matthewson cards in near mint condition.


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