Saw today that – in lieu of an upcoming book release – Oil Can Boyd admitted that he used cocaine during his time as a Major League pitcher.
Aside from now having no reason to actually READ THE BOOK, and getting a hearty laugh out of a Yahoo! post where one contributor says they’re not surprised, this revelation gave me a great excuse to review the MLB career of the former Red Sox / Expos / Rangers starting pitcher. And it turns out, as I remembered, that Oil Can was more famous for his nickname than his talent on the mound.
After reviewing his career gamelog on Baseball Reference, a couple of his career starts clearly standout where cocaine was a “helluva drug.” Below (and what follows AFTER THE JUMP) is a list of the 5 most obvious examples.
- September 13, 1983 vs. Baltimore: 11 innings pitched, 0 strikeouts. If, as Wikipedia states, cocaine’s effect on athletic performance includes enhanced ability where “sustained attention and endurance is required” it’s not hard to fathom that the Oil Can was hopped up on the powder here. Besides, was there a MLB city in the 80′s where it was easier to acquire cocaine than Baltimore? Oil Can took the mound for the front end of a double header against the eventual world champion Orioles in late September. He must’ve felt he needed an edge. Sure, he didn’t go the distance in the 12-inning tilt. He threw 11 innings in an otherwise unimpressive performance – 10 hits, 3 earned runs, 0 strikeouts. I don’t think there’s any question this start was cocaine fueled.
- July 29, 1984 at Detroit: Complete Game. 9 innings, 10 strikeouts, 1 earned run. The Oil Can was well lubed for this complete game loss against the Tigers. He struck out 10 and only gave up one on his own accord over 9 innings. This game was the second start of a 8-appearance, 35-day stretch in which Boyd went 7 innings or later in EVERY start. He went 5-2 with 51 K’s in 65 innings and threw 4 complete games (2 of which were shutouts) in August! Knowing what we all know about OCB, I think we’d all be nervous if he WASN’T on something during that stretch of games.
- August 26, 1986 at Texas: Complete Game. 9 innings, 1 earned run, 10 strikeouts, ??? pitches. Either pitch counts weren’t actively monitored in ’86 or Oil Can threw so many pitches they just stopped counting. Anyway, we all know Texas’ history with performance enhancing drugs in the Major Leagues, so I don’t think it’s much of a stretch that Oil Can was on the candy when he took the mound against the Rangers.
- September 19, 1989 at Toronto: Complete Game. 9 innings, 3 earned runs, 3 strikeouts, 131 pitches. After missing May, June, July, and August because of injury, Oil Can came back in September and after two five inning performances, took one on the chin for the Red Sox. Only gave up 5 hits, but gave up three earned. The Sox hung him out to dry with 3 unearned runs. Hurled 131 pitches in 9 innings in a losing effort. The only cure for a coke head following a game like that? Mo’ crack.
- July 19, 1991 vs. San Francisco: Complete Game Shutout. 9 innings, 0 earned, 8 strikeouts on 102 pitches. This start happened right before getting traded from Montreal to Texas in his final season as a big leaguer. It is pretty clear that the Oil Can’s best connections for cocaine were located in Canada and Texas.