Major League Baseball opened the Pandora’s box that is PEDs long ago. They reaped the benefits from it with the help of blissful ignorance.
Once the blissful ignorance finally worn off, the sport of baseball had to deal with the integrity problem that came with steroids. Even now, the presence of banned PED usage is still noticeable and everyone keeps being reminded about because of the endless drama that is the Hall of Fame voting ceremony.
Longtime baseball writers do their best Gandalf impression and with their votes, they cast out perceived steroid users. Even without the need for hard evidence, which is the case for guys like Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Roger Clemons who are guilty even when proven innocent.
But there is now finally someone in the game of baseball with a plan to rid it of PEDs and clean up the game we all love. That guy is Frank Cattalanotto.
Catalanotto was a career .291 hitter for 14 years with the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets. He wasn't with the Mets for long, but long enough become a New York Jets fan.
After retirement, he wrote his own memoir, "Heart & Hustle." He also founded a nutritional company called Proven 4, where he currently serves as the president.
This is all a part of his mission to clean up baseball.
There are two phases of his mission. The first phase is his book, which educates and takes readers into the clubhouses during the steroids era from his perspective.
"In the mid-1990's when I was in the minor leagues, we could see the effects of steroids” Catalanotto said in his book. “Guys were hitting home runs and putting up ridiculous numbers. Some were suddenly putting on a lot of weight, getting muscular, had bad acne on their back and started losing their hair. Whenever we saw those types of things, we wondered if a guy was on something. Other than a couple of players, I never knew for sure whether someone was on 'the juice.'
Catalanotto also noted in his book that he "valued my health, my life and my body, " and using those PEDs "would be putting myself in a bad spot."
He never judged the characters of those who did it, because he understood the benefits. When blanketed by blissful ignorance, steroids helped the players' careers and Major League Baseball as a whole.
“Fans were not packing the parks hoping to see a 1-0 pitchers duel,” Catalanotto said in his book. “ They were there to see the long ball. Six home runs a game compared to one or two; games were frequently over twenty runs were scored. Steroid baseball was like a video game. Heroes were being made with every ball that sailed over the fence. Baseball was riding its biggest wave of popularity ever and at the time, no one seemed too concerned about how it was happening.”
While his book shares valuable information about supplements and what was advised to him in the minor leagues and provided to him in the Major Leagues, the other phase of his plan involves his company. Instead of dealing with steroids as a moral issue -- like most of the Hall of Fame voters are doing right now -- Catalanotto’s solution is to create a product that had the effects that the players desire and would not get them in trouble with baseball.
The one thing that stands out is the supplements Catalanotto's company sells are NSF certified, which is the only certification that Major League Baseball acknowledges. Nothing is allowed in a Major League clubhouse that isn't NSF certified and whatever's found on the banned list leads to a minimum of a 50-game suspension and the public shaming from the media and the players.
This is something that plagues Major League Baseball today. Players like Johnny Peralta and Nelson Cruz were suspended for talking undisclosed supplements. Before, when a player was suspended for 50 games, you knew what exactly they were being suspended for. Which makes this the perfect time for Catalanotto and his young nutrition company.
"One of the reasons why I wanted to start this company was when my partner called me up and said, 'Is this something that interests you?'" Catalanotto said. "I said 'absolutely' because I know there are a lot of guys that don't know what their taking and are not taking things that are not NSF certified. It's a shame that some people are taking stuff that you can just get from GNC and they're failing these tests because they're taking something that's banned. It's not necessarily steroids but it's something that's just on the banned list. And a lot of these guys are Latin players that don't speak English and don't understand. So it was really something that I wanted to do to make an NSF certified product that these players can use and they can trust. That was definitely my motivation for starting this company."
His company's most popular product is their pre-workout formula, which contained caffeine, creatine and beta alanine for increased, sustainable energy for muscles and niacin, which is an essential human nutrient.
"It's really an energy formula that gets you going for the game or a workout," Catalanotto said. "The niacin gets you that pump, the tingles in your face for a few minutes and basically that lets you know this thing's working and it gets you that energy rush. So the guys really seem to like that and like taking it before the games."
Most athletes consume a high amount of protein after every game and workout. Most proteins are clean and they have nothing to worry about when taking them. While Proven 4 has yet to come up with a protein supplement of their own but they have something else that goes great with protein.
"We also have, which is huge, is a post-recovery drink," Catalanotto said, "and I take that after every single workout. It replenishes the body, it gives me the right vitamins and it has glutamine in it, which is an amino acid. It allows me to recover quickly and feel great, have some energy after the workout. Doing that and a protein after the workout is huge and that's what guys have been doing."
Even though Catalanotto was a position player, it’s the pitchers who have benefited the most from his products.
"Most of the guys that use this have been starting pitchers, guys who need sustained energy throughout the game. They do a lot on the mound and they're releasing a lot of energy and I believe by taking out products, they will help out. Not only pitchers, but even the hitters who have to play nine innings."
Catalanotto's company has gained a lot of supporters from players both in the minor leagues the Major Leagues. Some of them tweet out pictures of the Proven4 formula -- the best form of free advertisement there is today – while the rest show on the field how good they can truly become with the help of the Proven 4 products.
"These guys can get educated and start taking some supplements that are certified," Catalanotto said. "The PED problem will get better. We got some good products and I know a lot of Major League teams and a lot of Major League players that are using our products. I hope that they continue to use our products and I think this game can get cleaned up and I hope to be a part of that."
While he's not saying that all a player has to do is take his products for instant stardom, but in an athletic environment where nearly every player takes high quality nutritional supplements, his Proven 4 products are the most trustworthy. And it's through that trustworthy alternative to non-certified supplements including PEDs where the issue finally comes to a close.