We hear about the side effects of steroid use, but mostly we see the positive ones. Mark McGwire destroys the historic home run mark and Barry Bonds destroys McGwire's new record. The negative side-effects are described as abstract "possibile side effects". But they are not only possible, they actually happen. But, like Bonds, McGwire and other players steroid use, openly discussing those impacts will not promote the game of baseball. The result is a "conspiracy" of silence that leaves many young people unaware of the real impact steroids can have.
The story of Kirby Puckett's career is that it ended "tragically" when he developed glaucoma. But there is an elephant in the room. Here is just one of many links that discuss the connection between steroid use and glacuoma and cataracts:
"With long-term use of steroids, cataracts or glaucoma may develop."
Moreover, Puckett ultimately died of a stroke. Strokes are another known potential side effect of abuse of steroids.
So is there evidence in Puckett's career of the kind of jolt in productivity that we now see as evidence of potential steroid use? The answer is yes - in spades.After hitting a total of 4 home runs in his first two full seasons ( and 41 doubles) in 1300 plate appearances, in 1986 at the age of 26 Puckett power suddenly "emerged" with 31 home runs and 37 doubles in 723 plate appearances. His strikeouts increased, his walks declined, but his batting average improved by 40 points from 1985. Puckett had gone from a 5'8" singles hitter to the next Hack Wilson in a single season.
Of course that doesn't "prove" Puckett was using steroids, any more than Bonds and McGwires power surge proved they used steroids. And Puckett's fans will use that as a defense, just as Bonds and McGwire fans did when the obvious signs of steroid abuse were pointed out to them. But there is plenty of evidence that Puckett's career end and death were both the elements of a classic greek tragedy, that which makes you great will bring you down.