The next year, my back started getting worse. I'd been having trouble with it since I was a kid, and suddenly I hit a wall. I was juicing up to get through it, which is not without some irony: that same year, steroids were finally added to the list of substances prohibited under baseball's drug policy. The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 reclassified them as Schedule III controlled substances, and the criminal penalties for their use were increased.
In 1992, late in the season, I got traded to the Texas Rangers. I wasn't happy, as Oakland had been my only home in baseball, but I tried to make the best of it, and the guys were welcoming. It was particularly good to be playing with Rafael Palmeiro, a fellow Cuban who grew up in Miami, on the same streets as me and my twin brother, Ozzie. I made friends with Pudge Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez, Latinos like myself. All three men made an effort to make me feel at home, and I returned the favor by lecturing them on the joys, and perils, of steroids. This was a drug, after all, and not without its dangers. Loss of hair, acne, shrinking testes — to name a few. I'd read about mood swings and surges of anger, too, and I'd had experiences with both of those myself, but they were part of my personality, and I can tell you unequivocally that they had nothing to do with steroids.
You couldn't blame all bad behavior, on and off the field, on steroids. Some people just behaved badly naturally, and who was to say it was 'roid rage? (I still remember the day Roger Clemens picked up a broken baseball bat in the middle of the 2000 World Series and chucked it at Mike Piazza as Mike ran to first base. What was that about?) Before long, my new Rangers teammates were looking pretty buff and feeling good, and I warned them about getting too carried away. If you don't lay off the stuff from time to time, I told them, your body can lose its ability to produce its own testosterone. And you don't want to get too big. If those muscles got out of control, the tendons might not be able to support them. (That's what they say happened to Barry Bonds in 1999, when he blew out his elbow. But, really, what would I know? It's not like I have any real experience in this area, right? I mean, the man was clean, wasn't he?)
That same year, my debut year with the Rangers, we were playing against the Cleveland Indians and I was in the outfield. A long fly ball hit me in the head and bounced into the stands for a home run. It was pretty humiliating, and I'm sure you've seen that clip a bunch of times. (If you haven't, you can probably find it on YouTube.) The next year wasn't much better, and the year after that — 1994 — we had the baseball strike, which took the luster off a good year for me.
When we finally returned to the business of playing ball, I decided to claw my way back to respectability, and I got a little help from steroids. Or maybe more than a little. The juice made me stronger, faster, and better, and the fans noticed.