He’s on with Murph and Mac every other morning, but every once in a while Mike Krukow will do an extended Q&A with Gary Radnich. With Larry Krueger on vacation, perhaps Radnich felt like it was the perfect time to have Krukow on, especially since the former Giants pitcher and current color commentator made his disdain for Alex Rodriguez clear yesterday on KNBR’s morning show. Also, Radnich thinks that “two-man interviews generally suck.”
Radnich’s interview with Krukow this morning certainly did not suck. Whether Radnich is revitalized by a chance to do the show solo for a couple weeks or because he has a keen respect for the former Giants starter and current color commentator, the 22-minute conversation made for great radio.
Krukow ended the interview with a bang when Radnich asked about the team currently in first place in the NL West: “Bring the Dodgers on. I want them to be as good as they possibly can be, Gary. Because then the rivalry comes back. It intensifies as good as it has ever been. And when the Giants kick their ass it’s going to mean a whole lot more, so bring it on.”
But it was what Krukow said earlier about his own career that grabbed my attention. After discussing why athletes use performance-enhancing drugs for the first 10 minutes of the interview, Radnich got Krukow to open up about the measures he took to stay on the field as his Major League career started winding down.
Radnich: At the end of your career, when you were fighting injuries, you ever feel tempted to do something that was not legal?
Krukow: Well, I was taking cortisone shots left and right. Isn’t that a performance-enhancing drug? Your body can’t process the ability to calm down an inflammation in your elbow or your hip, your shoulder. And now you take cortisone. I mean, isn’t that a performance-enhancing drug to a degree? And I did take amphetamines. There towards the end, I couldn’t lift my arm up. And I had a guaranteed contract. But I wanted to make that contract good. I wanted to justify what (Bob) Lurie did for me. And what he did for me was give me a whole lot of security, and my family. And I felt an obligation to justify that contract. I think a lot of guys did. So for me to sit there and point fingers, I think it’s a little ridiculous because of how I ended my career. I was dealing with injuries. There’s no excuse. I justified it because that was the culture of the game. When I came into the game, you could get amphetamines from the trainer. It was in the clubhouse. “I need a little help today.” You take a greenie, it was like five cups of coffee. You had a hot spot on your elbow, it would pass, you’re good to go.
Krukow spent the last seven years of his 14-year Major League career in San Francisco. His best season came in 1986, when he finished third in the Cy Young voting, won 20 games, threw 10 complete games (two shutouts) and pitched a career-high 245 innings. Krukow had a difficult 1987 by comparison, as his ERA jumped from 3.05 to 4.80 and his innings fell to 163. However, Krukow went the distance in Game 4 of the 1987 NLCS, a 4-2 win over the Cardinals in front of 58,000 fans at Candlestick Park.
Krukow only made 20 starts in 1988, and in 1989 (the last year of his career) he made his final start on June 4. According to Baseball Reference, Krukow made $3.8 million in his final five seasons with the Giants.
Cortisone shots are still a part of the game (Angel Pagan described getting an injection in his hamstring on May 30), and so were amphetamines for several decades. MLB didn’t start testing players for amphetamines until 2006. That Krukow took “greenies” as a player isn’t exactly a revelation, although it was somewhat surprising that he described when and why he took them on Radnich’s show. One thing I found interesting in Krukow’s explanation was how the benefits of amphetamines go beyond energy and concentration, and actually helped him get over elbow soreness.