When you think of Ken Caminiti, what word comes to mind?
Any time Ken Caminiti's name pops up on social media, the critics are bound to chime in:
Yes, those things are true about Ken. But they don't define him. Ken's life was a lot more layered and complex than that. It took me 130,000 words in my book Playing Through the Pain to get to the heart of Ken's story, and I could have written so many more.
Yes, he used steroids during the 1990s, and they helped him win the MVP award. But he was an All-Star and a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman without steroids. And if he hadn't voluntarily come forward in 2002 to talk about his use of steroids, reforms in the game would have taken even longer, and he may have avoided much of the vitriol he continues to receive, nearly two decades after his death, for his PEDs usage.
Which other players came forward on their own and were as candid as Ken was?
By even a conservative count, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of players who used steroids during the 1990s who we don't know about, who we will likely never know about.
Ken wasn't the exception.
And his addictions don't make him an exception, either. At this point, more than 100,000 people each year are dying annually in the United States from overdoses. So many people are hurting and need help to get through their day.
Instead of judgement, I think compassion is in order. We don't typically know the ways people are struggling and the issues they are facing.
Ken's life, to me, wasn't defined by steroids or drugs or the way in which he died. He meant a lot more than that.
Here are some other words that I think better define Ken:
When you think of Ken Caminiti, what word comes to mind? Leave your answer in the comments below.