Asking The Question: Does Giambi Really Have The Audacity To Criticize?

By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: September 21, 2006

ARod (left) and Jason Giambi (right) flank Derek Jeter

ARod (left) and Jason Giambi (right) flank Derek Jeter

NORTH CAROLINA — Oh, how soon we forget about things. Just one year ago, baseball was mired in the biggest controversy of it’s existence or at least in over a lifetime when some of the biggest and most famous players were attached to the infamous “steroid scandal”.

The steroid investigation was so debated and the public outrage and outcry was so loud, ears on Capital Hill heard the noise and decided to call hearings on steroids in baseball and other sports. Not since the Black Sox scandal had the everyday man or woman got involved with heated debates and dialogue at the water cooler at work or in living rooms across the country.

Many prominent players were named, accused and even testified in front of Congress on the subject along with league commissioners and other experts. Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Curt Schilling and Frank Thomas all showed their face in front of cameras all over the world in Washington for the hearings.

We saw Palmeiro pointing the finger in denial only to be revealed as a liar, Sosa suddenly forgetting how to speak English and needing an lawyer/interpreter and McGwire’s silence, which spoke volumes into his guilt.

The others, so far. seem to be helpful, concerned and clean (for now). Barry Bonds was not present but I think the media witch hunt for Bonds and some kind of evidence of guilt also speaks for itself. Others were accused, rumored and even found guilty of using the illegal drugs but were lesser known players with lesser penalties.

One such person that did not testify in front of the open hearings in front of the entire country and world was Jason Giambi.

Where was Giambi?

Like Bonds, Giambi testified before a grand jury and it was discovered that Giambi admitted to using performance enhancing drugs while in Oakland during the year he won the American League MVP award.

After word leaked that he admitted to using the illegal drug(s), all the world especially the media wanted to hear Giambi admit his guilt in public and tell exactly what he did, what he used and when exactly he used it. Instead, Giambi gave the world and the media a bunch of double-talk, prepared statements and rhetoric that amounted to nothing.

The extent of his revelations were only to say “I apologize to my teammates and the fans”. Apologize about what? The other thing I recall is the struggles Giambi had at the plate especially in key situations during the regular season and playoffs with the Yankees which is something he (Giambi) is quick to point out about Rodriguez.

I mention these occurrences because of the recent Sports Illustrated story that talks about Alex Rodriguez, Joe Torre, Giambi and the rest of the Yankees.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the story: In a story in this week’s Sports Illustrated, ARod is portrayed as a loner on the AL’s best team, whose struggles prompted Giambi to urge manager Joe Torre to get tough with ARod.

ARod is currently hitting .286, 34 home runs and 116 RBI but has committed a league leading 23 errors at third base this season and has been perceived by the fans and media as unable to get the big hit when the Yankees need it.

Giambi is quoted in the article as saying ARod has a “false confidence” and that Torre should “stop coddling him.” In an exchange between Giambi and ARod recounted in the magazine, the Yankees’ first baseman challenged the slumping third baseman to step up his play. Before approaching Torre, Giambi said he talked to ARod while the Yankees were playing in Boston.

Isn’t Giambi the same person who wouldn’t come clean when it was known he used illegal steroids/drugs his MVP year? Were their any Yankee players or coaches telling him or encouraging him to come clean to the media and fans in a public fashion?

No, Mr. Giambi wanted to sweep everything under the rug or push it aside and play baseball he struggled immensely to the point of thoughts from Yankee management to trade him or release him. When he struggled early and often, I distinctly recall Giambi using the same rhetoric that ARod has used before and after games during his struggles..

He didn’t want anyone in his face questioning him, his desire to play the game or do and say the right thing. How is Mr. Giambi now going to tell ARod to get the big hit in the games when it counts?

Throughout last season, Giambi could barely get his average over .200 and outside of a couple of hot hitting streaks over a week or two, had a miserable and disastrous season. The fans booed him terribly and the media and George Steinbrenner criticize him repeatedly.

So history repeats itself. As ARod’s struggles, the criticism comes in abundance from fans, the media and management who’s critical of him and Rodriguez doubts himself. These components were the same in 2005 for one Jason Giambi.

Now if you want to say George Steinbrenner has a right to be critical of ARod, I understand because he is the owner and he pays his salary. If you want to say Joe Torre can criticize him, I concur because he is a Hall of Fame manager and he knows what’s best for the team.

If you want to say captain Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada or any other player who’s been apart of the past four World Championships and knows what to do in big games and how to play the game, then I definitely agree.

I can even relate to the fans having a voice in lack of performance of ARod because they pay to see the best and in “Yankee land”, they expect the best. But Giambi? Not at all.

Was has Giambi won or achieved other than a league MVP award and some unwanted fame for the wrong reasons (because he was on the juice). The great years he had in Oakland was always overshadowed by my 2006 league MVP Derek Jeter and the Yankees eliminating them in the playoffs.

Now I must add, I certainly am not an ARod fan. He puts too much pressure on himself to perform and as you see in games it takes an opposite affect. He also tends to blame others with his struggles or is quick to point out what he’s accomplished in the past rather than taking owness of his errors and inconsistencies.

Throwing your teammates “under the bus” by alluding to the fans showing favor to Derek Jeter or pointing fingers at mistakes and failures made by Rivera or Reggie Jackson, shows a lack of maturity and a lack of taking responsibility for your own actions on the field.

But having Giambi as one of the spokesman or one of the so called “leaders” speaking to him in the manner he did in the article is hilarious. That’s like a kid in detention telling another kid how bad he is and he needs to straighten up even though they share the same detention center.

So Giambi needs to think back just a short time ago as he was mired in a season long slump, not the kind of slump ARod has had in certain situations and certain parts of the season.

I’m sure their are a lot of players in baseball who would love to have an off year hitting almost .290 with 34 homers and over 100 RBIs. And that includes Giambi.

At least ARod can say his struggles seem to be mental and seem to be the effect of him trying too hard to do too much. Giambi’s deceit and cheating led to his rise and fall. ARod didn’t need illegal drugs or steroids before his struggles and will not need them after he is back on top of the baseball world again.

Can Giambi ever be believed as doing the same?

Since the Yankees have clinched their 9th straight division title, the bottom line is that all of the struggles for both players in 2005 and 2006 mean nothing in the postseason.

If neither ARod or Giambi performs, they will both be criticized, booed and the talk of trading them will be discussed by Yankee management once again.