Miguel Tejada won the AL MVP in 2002, when the Oakland Athletics won 20 straight games; he made six All-Star teams and was named MVP once; he took first in a Home Run Derby; he had a 150 RBI season in 2004; he hit 50 doubles in 2005; and he owns the fifth-longest consecutive-games streak in major league history.
And what will you remember about Miguel Tejada?
• Lying to Congress about PED usage in Major League Baseball.
• Being caught lying about his real age in a humiliating TV interview.
• Probably ending his major league career with the Kansas City Royals, at age 39, because of a 105-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamines, a banned substance. Yahoo! Sports' own Jeff Passan reported it Saturday.
Tejada has 307 career homers, a lot for someone who has logged most of his time — 1,946 of 2,140 career games — at shortstop. At Baseball Reference, five of the 10 players on a list of the most similar players to Tejada are in the Hall of Fame. Two more — Adrian Beltre and Scott Rolen — have a good chance of making it someday. The others: Ted Simmons, Joe Torre and Alan Trammell (especially) made a strong case for themselves.
Tejada has been one of the better players in the majors since 1997, no matter if you realized it or not. But it doesn't matter, because all of his accomplishments are secondary to his mistakes.
Tejada's hypothetical highlight reel, which would include his three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning that won game No. 18 of the A's famous streak, leads this way:
At Sports on Earth, reporter Jorge Arangure Jr. wrote that Tejada's career, mostly played in the shadow of BALCO, is "the story of the game as we know it":
[Tejada] is baseball's version of Forrest Gump, an observer and participant in some of baseball's most defining moments of the era: Tejada, from a devastatingly poor village in the Dominican Republic, lied as a teenager about his age in order to get signed, which foretold a period of corruption in the signing of Latin American players; Tejada was a main protagonist of Moneyball, the baseball tome and theorem that would change the way teams were constructed; Tejada was involved in the first major steroid controversy of the testing era when he became embroiled in Rafael Palmeiro's suspension; he was named in the Mitchell Report, baseball's feeble but famous attempt to reveal its unsavory past; and he was part of baseball's reckoning in Washington when he was investigated by Congress on charges of perjury.
In 2008, he was ambushed for lying about his age:
It was wrong of him to do (as a teenager), but put into the context of the poverty and corrupt system from which he came, it should be understandable. Lying to Congress, though, made him look much less sympathetic.
Not on a major league team in 2012, it was something of an upset that Tejada made the Royals roster out of spring training. He had some strong moments for the Dominican team at the World Baseball Classic and parlayed them into a guaranteed deal with the Royals, who were looking for a utility man/mentor. He did what he was asked, batting .288/.317/.378 with three homers in 53 games. It was better than his dismal, sometimes embarrassing 2011 season with the Giants, but about what anyone should expect of him anymore.
Kansas City put him on the disabled list last week after Tejada strained his right calf trying to make a play on defense. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on Friday when the Royals traded for Emilio Bonifacio. There he'll stay until it's time for the clock the begin on his suspension, which hypothetically extends into the 2014 season. As it pertains to the majors, it might never stop ticking.
As Arangure points out, Tejada never has burned bridges where he's gone. Even those who have been stung by his bad decisions speak well of him. Perhaps the Royals will too.
If he could wipe away lying about Palmeiro, and lying about his age, and getting busted for failing two tests for amphetamines, we might be talking about a major league managerial candidate. If only you could take those things away.
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