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Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Cone, union, kept drug testing out of contract during 1994-95 strike

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- David Cone is taking part of the responsibility for baseball's steroids era.

David Cone


The former pitcher was on the union's negotiating team during the 1994-95 strike, when management proposed drug testing and the players' association successfully fought it off.

"Certainly in retrospect, I think there's plenty of blame to go around. Certainly I share some of that blame as being involved with the players' association at that time," Cone said Wednesday. "It's something I'm not proud of. It's humbling. It's embarrassing."

Cone spoke during a news conference to announce that he's rejoining the YES Network as an analyst on New York Yankees broadcasts. Having played on four World Series championship teams with the Yankees from 1996-2000, he has seen many of his former teammates, including Roger Clemens, accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Cone wants to believe the allegations against Clemens aren't true.

"We played on championship teams together. It affects our era," Cone said. "And certainly I'm in a position to want to defend that era. But at the same time I understand how people may look back a little differently depending on how history is going to be written on this particular issue."

Cone thinks it's important to emphasize that baseball's current testing is on the right track and is sending a positive message to youngsters.

In 1995, Cone threw to Brian McNamee, a Yankees bullpen catcher at the time. McNamee later became a major league strength coach and he claims Clemens used steroids and human growth hormone. Cone said he never got to know McNamee.

Andy Pettitte has admitted trying HGH for two days while recovering from an injury. Pettitte and Clemens both used McNamee as their personal trainer.

"My sense is they were very close, that Roger had a very positive affect on Andy in terms of the workout program," Cone said.

Cone wasn't tempted to work out with Clemens and Pettitte.

"I was afraid of the weight room," Cone said. "I think they knew better. I made my position very well known. I was an old-school guy, I was a couple-beers-after-the-game kind of guy."

Cone feels bad for Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner. Clemens is scheduled to testify before a congressional committee next week and says he will repeat his denials.

"Roger is a very proud guy, and certainly with his son also as a professional player now, there's a lot at stake," Cone said. "And I know Roger's a guy who wants to stay involved in the game. He wants to coach. He wants to really clearly be involved in the game on some level. I know this was a big blow to him and his family."

Cone joins a crew of analysts that includes John Flaherty, Al Leiter, Bobby Murcer, Paul O'Neill, Ken Singleton and John Flaherty. Cone joked that he planned to be a journalist before his baseball career -- "I thought I was going to the next Oscar Madison" -- but he sees his role with YES as providing insight.

"I don't anticipate breaking big stories, or as I said, being a real credible journalist," he said. "I expect to be a decent analyst."

John Filippelli, YES's president of production and programming, said it was too early to determine the schedule for Murcer, who returned last season following surgery in December 2006 for a malignant brain tumor.

"He's fighting an unbelievable fight. I mean, obviously, the fight of his life," Filippelli said. "At this point in time he's winning, but it's an insidious disease."< ^Notes:@ Now that he's staying, YES has started work on an Alex Rodriguez Yankeeography, according to Filippelli.