Happy birthday Nelson Cruz! Today, Nelson turns 41, so I’m going to write an article about his PED use, how nice of me. I’m actually writing this article to talk about why he is so much more than that time in his life. His on-field success, philanthropy and great eyebrows should not be tarnished by steroid use.
It’s no secret in 2013 Nelson Cruz was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball as part of the infamous Biogenesis scandal. He admitted to using hGH, a banned muscle growth substance. This was his statement after getting caught:
“By the time I was properly diagnosed and treated, I had lost 40 pounds. Just weeks before I was to report to spring training in 2012, I was unsure whether I would be physically able to play. Faced with this situation, I made an error in judgment that deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error. I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse.” - Nelson Cruz
If Nelson were to test positive again he would miss an entire season.
Now that we are done digging in the past for negativity, let’s focus on what Nelson has done SINCE his suspension.
How about heading to — the very next season. Nelson signed with the Orioles, was an All-Star, lead all of baseball in home runs with 40, made it to the ALCS and the rest is history, literally.
Since his suspension, he has not hit fewer than 37 home runs or driven in fewer than 93 RBI in a season (minus a shortened COVID-19 season.) In his past three seasons with the Minnesota Twins he has been a Godsend, batting .300+ and cranking home runs at an age when most other big leaguers have hung up the cleats.
Yet, it seems his name is still synonymous with steroids. Why? It’s so unfortunate we diminish accomplishments because of past mistakes. The fact that Nelson has done BETTER since his suspension should say something to some of these neigh sayers.
Quick neigh sayer example: Casey Fien
Last year Nelson was celebrating his success as being named American League Player of the Week. On Twitter, Cruz said, “Hard work pays off.” Fien, a former Twin, ripped into him about it.
“Really... hard work pays off. Says a player that got caught using PEDs and blamed it on stomach infection,” Fien tweeted.
And Fien never backed down. He even tweeted again when the Twins re-signed Nelson this past off-season.
What a hall of fame career after he was caught and suspended for steroids. “Hard work pays off,” quoted by Nelson Cruz. What do we tell our youth? Steroids get you paid! https://t.co/5HJ37EpLN1— Casey Fien (@CaseyFien) February 3, 2021
I just don’t understand. If you have a different perspective please comment below and explain to me how Fien can possibly correlate Cruz’s current success with his 2012-13 steroid use.
The MLB tests extensively for — well it seems like everything these days — but steroids, yes steroids. Every Spring Training all players are tested. There are thousands of random tests throughout the season, and players also can be tested randomly in the off-season.
I argue - making a mistake, realizing it and turning things around, can still get you paid - that’s an okay message for kids. But whatever Casey Fien.
Nelson Cruz is a very special person, and I think a lot of people, especially Twins fans, understand that. His rebound over the past 8 years and success on the field is one thing, but what he does for others off the field might even say more.
Just recently Cruz was awarded the ESPYs Muhammed Ali Sports Humanitarian award and the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Awards for his philanthropy — much deserved. He has done a large amount of charity work for his hometown in the Dominican Republic and his Boomstick23 Foundation has raised thousands for that community, furnishing the Las Matas Santa Cruz area with much-needed ambulances and a fire truck.
He does more than most off the field and on the field - he has managed four Silver Slugger awards since 2013 and been on three All-Star teams since then. At the age of 41 he is still one of the best players in baseball and honestly, the most reliable/consistent Minnesota Twins player for however long he will remain on this team.
Steroids are a touchy subject with me, but the way Nelson Cruz has shown success after getting in trouble, is unique. This guy is just a beast and really DOES work hard. I think he still has a few years in the tank and at this rate, will likely continue to put up big boomer numbers. Doing so, without doping.
Let’s forget his mistakes in the past and focus on what this guy is doing now. It’s phenomenal. He came to America, let’s show him we aren’t this ‘cancel culture’ place but a land of second chances.
Happy Birthday Nelson!
P.S. Casey Fien can take a hike. We know he has the time since well... he isn’t playing anymore.