As a former pitcher who's remembered more for his famous nickname than his average talent, there are few things that Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd can do to grab the public's attention in the year 2012.
But saying that he used cocaine before "two-thirds" of his games with the Boston Red Sox, Montreal Expos and Texas Rangers is one of them.
Jonny Miller of WBZ NewsRadio out of Fort Myers, Fla., had the interview on Wednesday in which Boyd admitted that a little snow was more of a pregame routine than a bowl of Wheaties ever were.
"Oh yeah, at every ballpark," Boyd said. "There wasn't one ballpark that I probably didn't stay up all night, until four or five in the morning, and the same thing is still in your system. It's not like you have time to go do it while in the game, which I had done that.
"Some of the best games I've ever, ever pitched in the major leagues I stayed up all night; I'd say two-thirds of them. If I had went to bed, I would have won 150 ballgames in the time span that I played. I feel like my career was cut short for a lot of reasons, but I wasn't doing anything that hundreds of ball players weren't doing at the time; because that's how I learned it."
Boyd's autobiography "They Call Me Oil Can" is scheduled for release this summer, so it makes sense that he's stirring up headlines with something other than a claim he'd like to pitch in the bigs again. His claims are also believable. The era that he pitched — the 1980s — played host to number of cocaine controversies from Dwight Gooden to Steve Howe to the Pittsburgh Seven. Boyd says he was never drug tested, but that his teams threatened him with rehab. He says he didn't get the sympathy or help that other drug users like Darryl Strawberry and Gooden received because he was an outspoken black man. (As many have noted, Strawberry and Gooden's talent levels may have also had something to do with that.)
Boyd says he could have won twice the amount of games had he not battled a drug problem — he finished with a 78-77 career record with a 4.04 ERA over 10 seasons — but he also says he has no regrets. I find it interesting that most of us will probably react to this story in the same way as this wasn't a record-breaker admitting to juicing or a burned-out phenom coming clean on the real reason he never lived up to the hype.
But because of that, this story might be sadder than both of those examples.
After all, "Oil Can Boyd did a lot of cocaine" is nothing more than a momentary blip on our Twitters, an excuse to fire off a smirky retort before shrugging our shoulders and moving on to the next thing. In reality, it sounds like Boyd's drug problem was just as serious as the one that Josh Hamilton has been battling in front of us the past few years. A number of factors — talent levels, time and, yes, race — will obscure that fact and make Boyd's addiction nothing more than a momentary curiosity.
But, really, they probably shouldn't.
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