Archive for 2004
Over at Baseball Musings, (which recently celebrated one million hits!), David posted a link to this piece by Jeff Kallman, on the history of bending the rules in baseball. Outside the mainstream media seems like the only place you can find reason during these difficult times.
David has also been posting a lot of terrific stuff on the steroids situation, as he remains the standard by which all baseball sites are measured.
And the venerable Bill James, the Godfather of virtually every writer doing this because we love this game, rips it up at the Hardball Times.
And, finally, check out my Steroids & Baseball section for a comprehensive look at the issue, including the piece that started it all, the Verducci/Caminitti SI expose’.
Many backtalkers are as confused and conflicted as I am. Some, are just assholes, and make me wonder why they even come here in the first place. Hey Carl, you don’t like my site, don’t come. Seriously.
Over at the New Giant Thrill, Josh adresses many of the conflicts and wonders why Bonds has provoked such moral indignation. Bonds’ relationship with the media has been so bad for so long; and now they finally can vent all of their anger. In large part, it’s vengeance, pure and simple. Think not? How much heat have Sosa and McGwire gotten? The speculation about Bonds using has only the tiniest bit more validity than the speculation about those two, and the headlines read, BONDS ADMITS USE.
Here’s the often-great Mike Lupica, sounding like all the rest of them, ill-informed and headline-grabbing; “We can’t save Jason Giambi from himself, or the wrath of Yankee fans. But maybe we can save the next Giambi.” He’s talking about saving Giambi’s life. He’s talking about steroid use as if it was a life-threatening issue. Life-threatening, as in, you can die from using steroids.
There is no evidence to suggest that there is one grain of truth to that statement. None. Steroids have been used and abused by bodybuilders since the 1950′s, (including the Govenator, who doesn’t seem to have suffered too much for the massive doses of whatever he could get his hands on in the ’70′s). They have been used and abused by tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of athletes for going on six decades. The list of athletes who have died, or who have even gone on to suffer serious consequences is out there for everyone to see. It’s not something that’s been swept under a rug, some silent conspiracy. You know the stories of virtually every athlete who has had a major problem linked to steroid use. Lyle Alzado, Ken Caminitti, the East German women’s swim team…. who else? Anybody want to come up with the list of the thousands of athletes who have died from using steroids, who have had liver failure, heart attacks, deformities, whatever; send it to me and I will publish the whole thing, even if it’s all I publish for a month.
There is no list, there is no crisis, there is no mountain of evidence. The stories you’ve heard are just that, stories. Everybody keeps saying that steroids are so bad, over and over; that no one even thinks to check anymore. You want to know about it, go to the and look it up.
You know what they have there? A press release. Here, I’ll print the whole thing:
Since the 1950s, some athletes have been taking anabolic steroids to build muscle and boost their athletic performance. Increasingly, other segments of the population also have been taking these compounds. The Monitoring the Future study, which is an annual survey of drug abuse among adolescents across the country, showed a significant increase from 1998 to 1999 in steroid abuse among middle school students. During the same year, the percentage of 12th-graders who believed that taking these drugs causes “great risk” to health, de-clined from 68 percent to 62 percent.
Studies show that, over time, anabolic steroids can indeed take a heavy toll on a person’s health. The abuse of oral or injectable steroids is associated with higher risks for heart attacks and strokes, and the abuse of most oral steroids is associated with increased risk for liver problems. Steroid abusers who share needles or use nonsterile techniques when they inject steroids are at risk for contracting dangerous infections, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and bacterial endocarditis.
Anabolic steroid abuse can also cause undesirable body changes. These include breast development and genital shrinking in men, masculinization of the body in women, and acne and hair loss in both sexes.
These and other effects of steroid abuse are discussed in this Research Report, which is one of a series of reports on drugs of abuse. NIDA produces this series to increase understanding of drug abuse and addiction and the health effects associated with taking drugs.
We hope that this compilation of scientific information on anabolic steroids will help the public recognize the risks of steroid abuse.
Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Isn’t there anybody out there wondering why there is no data available on these risks? Where are the links to the studies? Where are the actual results of the studies? Where is the list of deaths, of cancers, of heart attacks that have been documented? WHERE ARE THE BODIES!?!
They aren’t there. The risks are all pretty much the same risks you find with just about anything you ingest.
Steroid abuse has been associated with cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart attacks and strokes, even in athletes younger than 30. Steroids contribute to the development of CVD, partly by changing the levels of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol in the blood. Steroids, particularly the oral types, increase the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and decrease the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL). High LDL and low HDL levels increase the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty substances are deposited inside arteries and disrupt blood flow. If blood is prevented from reaching the heart, the result can be a heart attack. If blood is prevented from reaching the brain, the result can be a stroke.
Big Mac’s contribute to a change in the levels of lipoprotiens in the blood, for chrissakes! So does wine, sugar, bagels with cream cheese, cigarretes, steak…. They talk about how oral steroids may screw up your liver, well, so does ibuprofen. Many professiojnal athletes take hundreds of ibuprofen pills a week, all the time. The kind of ibuprofen use that, say, Larry Johnson worried about, when he went to his own doctor because he didn’t trust the Knicks’ doctors anymore. The kind that may have caused Alonzo Mourning to have to have a kidney transplant. Where’s the outcry about all of the pain medication these athletes take to keep playing?
What’s the difference? What’s the difference between an athlete taking twenty or thirty ibuprofen every single day to keep themselves going, or an athlete taking vicodin’s every day, or game day cortisone/novocaine shots, or amphetamines to bring their energy levels up so they can handle the grind of 162 games in 280 days, or 82 basketball games in 130 days. Slippery slope? You better believe it. The line between 100 Motrins a week and Vicodin addiction is razor thin. The line between over the counter amphetamines and the real deal is like a butterfly’s wing, almost invisible. Pain-killing injections, or cortisone injections, like the ones Gary Sheffield’s been taking; are one tiny step away from preventative measures like steroids. That’s right, preventative. Steroids, first and foremost, make the body stronger. They replicate the hormones levels that a teenager might have. That’s what they do, in a nutshell. They make you feel as if you’re 18 years old, and you can play all day long, party all night, and get up in the morning and do it again.
The reason athletes use them is because they work. They enable your body to handle the work load of the modern athlete, a workload that is as intense and never-ending as any workload anybody in any field of endeavor has to deal with. A workload that is built for one thing, to make money.
The owners care about this because the sportswriters won’t stop writing about it, that’s why. Peter Magowan could give a shit what Barry uses to get out there on August 28th, the first day back from a ten-game road trip. Just get out there, because 43,000 fans just dropped a million bucks to see him hit a home run. Get that straight, because that’s where we are. Hypocrisy central. Selig cares about it because Lupica and Gammons won’t let up. Because what Selig really cares about is filling the stands. And as far as that goes, the Giants and the Yankees were the number one and number two draws in all of baseball.
Slippery slope? You bet your ass.
Here’s ESPN’s Tim Keown basically agreeing with me on just about everything.
And Ray Ratto, too. So, maybe, after all, the hypocrisy will out, and we can stop the witch hunt. We’ll see.
Let’s get something straight right now. The story has a life of its own, and that’s fine. But before we go down the road of deciding whether or not Bonds or Giambi or whoever should be banned, or burned at the stake, we need to remember that prior to 2003, there was nothing in baseball’s rules prohibiting their use. And since then, Bonds or Giambi or any player who has not failed a drug test cannot be subject to any kind of sanction from MLB or their teams, regardless of their leaked testimony. So all this talk about asterisk’s and possible suspensions is one big pile of BS. It ain’t gonna happen.
As for Bonds, well, I still find a part of me wondering about whether it was possible that the creams he used from Anderson might not have been the illegal stuff after all. Here’s an showing Barry year by year since he was a rookie. (Actually, the link is active from that page, the photo log is on the bottom right-hand side)
I find it tough to believe that anyone looking at that can see this so-called “explosion” in size between 1999 and 2000 that all of these sportswriters keep talking about. To me, he looks like he’s put on about five pounds a year almost from the time he was in the league, which is just about right for an athlete who trains as hard as Barry says he does. Looking closely, you can see that in 1999, the last year in which he had an injury that really cost him any time, he began to look big, but the previous four years worth of pictures shows a progression, his hips and legs look like he’s doing hard leg work as early as 1994. My wife doesn’t see any evidence of a twenty or thirty pound jump (she and I were both into serious weight training together when we were in our early twenties). I worked out at a gym in Manhattan that was a professional bodybuilders gym. I saw the guys who were on steroids all the time. I worked out with two pros who were on the juice, and they suggested to me that I could get them from them whenever I wanted. I got big (naturally), so big that I decided to stop, It was a simple choice of either being 5’7″ and 200-plus pounds, or looking normal. And I never did even one cycle (of steroids). But I put on 25 pounds of muscle using protein shakes and working out two hours a day, six days a week, for just shy of two full years. So, I’d suggest that I have some ability to discourse about these things knowledgably.
Bonds growth in size doesn’t strike me as amazing at all. He’s been harping about his training 6 hours a day for going on 12 years now. If I had never stopped, I’d be square by now, probably 210 pounds of muscle on my short frame. Some guys respond extremely well and fast to lifting, and I am one of them. I keep going on to my wife about starting up again, because I am forty (like Bonds, I was also born in 1964), and I am beginning to notice my age. I can guarantee that the minute I do, I will put on size and strength almost immediately.
It doesn’t matter. Many, if not most people refuse to believe that Bonds didn’t cheat. They believe that he did more than he admitted, and that what he admitted was disingenuous at best. Fine. I am less convinced than they are, but I also find his testimony questionable. I am having a hard time imagining the sequence of events that would lead Barry to use anything from Anderson so blithely, particlularly given that in 2003, when this was supposed to have occured, Bonds was already in the center of a shitstorm.
But, perhaps because of my appreciation of his exploits, I do have some small part of me still allowing that he didn’t use, or that he didn’t knowingly use. (a very small part, admittedly, but it’s there). I’d have felt a lot better about this if he denied everything, (ignorance is bliss), but that’s not the case. As such, I cannot, in good faith, continue to operate as if he is still innocent of any use. Life’s not simple, things aren’t always black and white. So, if I seem to vacillate here at OBM, I hope you, my faithful readers; will find it in your hearts to forgive me.
Oh, and by the way, ESPN’s steroids coverage is anything but. It consists of nothing more than a bevy of columnists and ex-baseball players commenting and offering their opinions. For real coverage, look no further than OBM’s Steroids & Baseball links section; where you can find actual articles and even the government’s steroids website.
Peter Gammons absolutely nails it in this column. No excerpts, read the whole thing.
The Boys over at All-Baseball have a conference call-type of string on the that warrants attention. I am still too stunned and twisted too have much more to say about it right now.
I have to say, as dismayed and disarmed as I am with these revelations, OBM is just about the hottest site in the world right now. I guess you’d say I’m conflicted. In reference to some of the terrific backtalk, let me respond to some of you directly:
Bonds may say he had no idea what he was putting into his body, but we all know it is not physically possible to get your head stuck that far up your backside. And in so doing Bonds crossed a line, at least with me. I know that governing institutions, corporations, and politicians do things a lot worse than taking steroids, but that’s not the point. The whole point of professional sports is that it is almost THE ONLY area of our lives where personal connections, double-dealing, compromises and half-truths don’t determine the outcome — ideally, in sports the outcome is all about performance ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. You win or you lose based on performance, and if it’s three strikes then even Johnny Cochrane can’t save you from being out. I mean, why should we care about sports, if the playing field is slanted? And that is why the fact that Bonds, Giambi and others benefited from an unfair advantage is so distressing. So I think it’s reasonable to judge Bonds very harshly, even if what he did is far less “serious” than what other people do in other walks of life.
I’ll let Bill James have the last word on this (the quote is from page 206 of the 1986 Baseball Abstract). He was commenting on baseball’s drug problem in the mid 1980s, but I think that what he wrote applies equally to today’s steroid problem: “People say it is hypocritical to judge baseball players more harshly than we judge others in society, that if school teachers and airline pilots and architects and engineers use drugs, that is a lot more serious than a few baseball players. I say that it is not hypocritical in the least. We judge athletes more harshly than we judge our friends, more harshly than we judge ourselves. Athletes are heroes. That is their job.”
Well, I guess. I have suggested before that to the athletes, whether they love the sport or not; it’s still their job. As such, I do struggle with the idea that a performance enhancing “anything” should be subject to outside influence or discretion. In my view, I have a hard time with anyone telling me what I can or cannot do in my quest to be the best in my field; regardless of the risk. It’s my life, and it’s up to me to decide if I want to push whatever envelope is before me in my field.
Another thing that stands out for me is that it is always taken for granted that there is this “level playing field.” In fact, it just isn’t so, not in baseball anyway. The Commisioner has been guilty of manipulating the financial arrangements between players and clubs, clubs and clubs; these are things that have direct influence on the action that happens between the lines. The Yankees have far more discretionary income to use to build their ballclubs than the other owners; nobody suggests that this is cheating, but, in fact; it is entirely within the realm of George Steinbrenner to propose that it is inherently unfair to the other owners and that he’s going to give it back. It’s an advantage that the other owners do not have; hence, the playing field is not level.
I could go on and on, but really, I’m not that convinced by my own argument. There is a part of me that does care about winning and losing; and I do care about a level playing field. It’s a confusing issue for me. Tough times for baseball.
And before I get a million backtalks and emails, let me remind everyone of just what we’re talking about; a performance enhancing “drug” that some players used, something I have written about as much as anyone in the last two years. Performance enhancers have been available and used since there’s been performances. Here’s a short excerpt from I wrote in February of this year:
…. We live in society that has criminalized a number of personal actions (smoking marijuana, for instance), while allowing enormous profits to be generated on others that are just as bad or worse (say, smoking cigarettes). To say that it’s OK for athletes to undergo radical surgeries, take pain-killing injections; to describe as heroic the athlete that will “play in pain,” while portray as weak those that can’t or won’t; to suggest that one kind of performance enhancement (amphetamines or supplements or surgery) is acceptable while another (steroids or GHB) is not…. I’m sorry, I cannot go along. This is hypocrisy at its highest form, and I will continue to treat it as such.
Furthermore, it is hypocrisy to suggest that baseball’s hallowed records are tainted by the suggestion of steroid use. There can be no doubt that throughout baseball history, athletes looking to gain an edge have tried virtually anything they could find to gain it. Whether it was to drink some strange concoction brewed up by the team trainer, rubbing liniment on sore arms, popping greenies or reds, beer before the game, beer after the game, you name it. I’ve read (probably apocryphal) stories of ballplayers sticking their heads out of a train so the soot would make their eyes water; the better to clean them out, or so the thinking went.
Virtually any athlete in any sport will do just about anything to be the best of the best, and a manager or coach will push them to do so. Some athletes will push the envelope only so far, while others will throw it away, and risk their very lives, if they truly believed it would make a difference, the difference between winning and losing. We, as fans, not only ask this of them, we demand it. Their coaches demand it, their teammates demand it, the game demands it. Be the best, win at all costs, do whatever it takes; these are the credo of virtually every championship-caliber player, coach, or team.
David Pinto echoes this line fo thought in his latest post on the subject:
I want to throw out a hypothetical here. What if a surgeon invented a way to make you stronger with muscle implants? We already harvest hearts and lungs and corneas and livers for transplant. What if there was a way to graft more muscle onto your thighs? Is it different than laser surgery on your eyes so you see as well as Ted Williams? Is it different than getting a new arm through surgery to repair a blown tendon? Hypothetically, the effect would be the same as steroids; a stronger body hitting the ball farther. Would this be okay? Where do we draw the line and why do steroids seem to cross it?
I don’t know where the line is drawn, but Verducci and his pals sure think that they do. For them, not unlike the fanatical religious right, they have all the answers, and we need to listen. I don’t buy it, and neither should you. This is a bad day for baseball, but not because they say it is. It’s a bad day because some of the biggest stars in the game have been involved in some shady, behind closed doors, type of shenanigans; doing things they knew they shouldn’t have, and now it’s out. It’s sad, because we’ll never know what would have happened had they stayed clear of Greg Anderson, and what they’ve accomplished will always be questioned. It’s sad because many of their fans refused to believe the hype, and now they are the ones who will be eating crow.
Personal note: I have been defending Bonds to my Dad and my brother since the beginning. They will never let me forget that I was wrong. In the baseball blogosphere, I have developed a certain authority and respect, (deserved or not). To my family, I am an idiot, someone who is always subject to derision and questioned at every turn. This, along with the Pete Rose revelation, ends any chance I might have had at being held in a higher regard.
When I say that it saddens me to hear Bonds admit using this stuff, well, I’m a fan, and a big fan of Bonds. I felt all along that he was THE target of this “investigation” all along, and I wanted him to be clean, (saying he didn’t know doesn’t really make a big difference to me). I wanted him to be able to say, unequivocally, kiss my ass, to everyone who participated in this witch-hunt. Sadly, he cannot, and neither can I.
What I can do is offer a suggestion to him and his management team. Take the Pepsi Challenge. Make this season a BS free season, nothing behind closed doors, everything open and subject to review and comment. All supplements, protein shakes, everything. Let reporters come to your workouts, let them see what you eat, rub on, whatever. Show it all, to everyone. And then go out and win your fifth MVP in a row, pass Ruth, pass Aaron. Play 140 games at 41 years old, win your third batting title, hell, hit .400! Show us that it’s still you, that it’s been you and your talent all along.
It will, of course, do nothing to silence all of your detractors; who will always have the satisfaction of knowing that they were right, in the end; that Bonds is a cheat. But for your fans, for those of us who have defended you blindly, defended your right to be innocent before proven guilty, who have defended you as a superstar who has never been pulled over for a DUI, or busted for doing blow, or beaten your wife, or been drunk at an awards show. Defended you as a star who did his job and went home, for those of us who will never hear the end of it, do it for us. Give us something to hang our hats on. What have you goy to lose?
Over in my right-side links, you’ll see my Baseball & Steroids section, in which I compiled not only the thousands of words I have written on the subject, but also the most comprehensive collection of well-written and researched pieces on the subject. Regards these latest revelations, I cannot say I’m surprised. In fact, I am not. The details, that the Giambi brothers admit using steroids prior to meeting Anderson, that Bonds’ trust of Anderson apparently exceeded his trust of virtaully every other person in the world, and that he probably “unknowingly” used illegal performbance enhancers…. Well, my brother will never let me hear the end of it.
I have never suggested that Bonds didn’t use, (although that is all Anonymous, and many of my detractors ever heard me say). I have defended Bonds’ right to be free from the unfounded speculations that have been rampant almost from the moment he hit 73 home runs. I have suggested that the steroid scandal is one more aspect of an overly-conservative world view that is out to control every aspect of human behavior, and that steroid use has not, in fact, been the scourge of mankind that guys like Lupica want you to believe it is. I have also done the research that demonstrates just how little actual carnage steroid use seems to have caused. No one really cares about that, actual dialogue and learning is of no interest to headline seekers.
Now they’ve got what they want, Bonds’ testimony is out there, which means the pressure on Giambi will let up for a while, since Bonds is the only guy the press wanted to get anyway. Bonds’ admission that he used the stuff that Anderson gave him without knowing what it was is questionable at best, but it will be very difficult to prove that he was lying. It falls into the same category as Ronald Reagan’s forgetfullness, if someone says they didn’t know, how can you prove they did?
It saddens me, as a bit of the luster on all of Bonds’ greatness is lost. Knowingly or not, Bonds’ superhuman efforts these last four MVP seasons must now be viewed with an asterisk, (however small) and his legacy (in my eyes, anyway), will always be tainted. Hey Johnnie, there is no Santa Claus.
Update: Here are some of the writers who have chimed in….
The latest BALCO leaks include a copy of the grand jury testimony transcripts obtained by the SF Chronicle. Included in the story are several quotes attributed to Jason Giambi, who admits using several different types of steroids, and that he received them from Greg Anderson directly:
During his testimony, the 10-year veteran described how Anderson had begun sending him several different performance-enhancers, including a batch of injectable testosterone, “the cream” and “the clear.” Giambi also testified that Anderson had advised him about the use of the human growth hormone he had obtained at the gym in Las Vegas.
Anderson kept him supplied with drugs through the All-Star break in July 2003, Giambi said. He said he had received a second and final batch of testosterone in July but opted not to use it because he had a knee injury and “didn’t want to do any more damage.”
“Did Mr. Anderson provide you with actual injectable testosterone?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nedrow asked Giambi.
“Yes,” replied Giambi.
This is, of course, damning evidence for Giambi, but interestingly, he states that he had no knowledge of Bonds’ actions regards steroid use, and that Anderson never told him that Bonds used this or that.
I’m not the only one who is wondering how Brian Sabean comes up with these three year deals while the rest of the baseball world is talking two. ESPN has this analysis of the Benitez deal:
“Detroit’s signing of Troy Percival to a two-year, $12 million deal rearranged the market for closers, and the Giants probably wound up paying more than they anticipated for Benitez.”
The article concludes that the deal makes the Giants the front-runner for the NL West, and I happen to agree with that assesment; but still…..
Why does Sabean overpay for guys nobody else seems to want? Why pay a 40-year old shortstop for an extra year, guaranteed, when you don’t have to? Why guarantee three years to a reliever, regardless of how dominant, who has had a hard time staying in anybody’s good graces for that long (four teams have had him and gotten rid of him in the last eighteen months)?
Why guarantee that fourth year for Snow? Why four years for Alfonzo, a player the NY media had dead to rights as a guy with a dead bat (especially when it had only been about fourteen months since you let Bill Mueller leave because of his desire for a lesser deal)? Why give Reuter the money that you just told us you didn’t have for Russ Ortiz?
I understand that the inner workings of a baseball team’s organization are sometimes Greek to the average fan. I’d like to think I am a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding how businesses work, I run my own, and have been in a management role for most of the last decade. Many times decisions I’ve made probably seem crazy to the people who have to listen to me.
Is that evident here? We couldn’t afford to keep Ellis Burks. We couldn’t afford to keep Bill Meuller, or David Bell, or Russ Ortiz. We couldn’t afford to keep Jeff Kent. We couldn’t affford to make a play for Vladimir Guerrero, or Sheffield, or any of the top free agents. But we can afford $35 million dollars for Vizquel and Benitez?
I’ll make this point one more time, and then I’ll drop it: The Giants have been crying poor for going on five years now. During that time, (due to Bonds’ game-warping production) they’ve been a player or two from winning it all. Simultaneously, they’ve overpaid for free agents and/or their own re-signings to the tune of perhaps $100 million dollars. So the next time you hear Sabean and Magowan talking about how tough it is to make their morgtage payments, remember how much money they’ve wasted on bad management decisions.
Update: Some of the backtalkers put in a lot of time, so I thought I’d bring them up to the front and do a little give and take….
BiasedGiantsFanatic wrote about seven hundred words, and his basic point was to defend Sabean by pointing out that many of his decisions worked. OK, point taken. As for the Alfonzo deal, the naysayers he mentions weren’t in the background, they were here, and they were on the back page of the NY Daily News, the NY Times, the Post, etc., all of whom were astonished that Alfonzo was offered a four-year deal sans a physical. Here’s the link to the ESPN coverage of the story, which says, “…. After hitting .308 last season with 16 homers and 56 RBIs, (Alfonzo’s) first choice was to re-sign with the Mets, but he rejected an $11 million, two-year offer, asking for more than $2 million a year more.” Enough said.
I just did a little research, and here’s an article on the JT Snow deal from July of 1997:
“…. Snow said he was very happy with the deal, which will get him on a par with Pirates first baseman Kevin Young. It was Young’s $24-million deal which set the standard Snow was reaching for in negotiations that began last spring.
The Giants at first were willing to talk only about a three-year contract with an option year.
But Snow, dropping his switch- hitting style for a lefty-only approach at the plate, has played beyond expectations. He is 26 for his past 77 (.338) against lefties this season and seems to have answered the question about whether he could be a full-time left-handed hitter.
Snow was willing to sign for less than Young money in the spring. By waiting for Snow to show them that he could bat from the left side exclusively, the Giants probably cost themselves a couple of million dollars.”
That’s seven years ago, and Sabean was doing the same thing then. As for Kevin Young, his career stats eerily mirror Snow’s, although he was out of baseball by the time he was 35.
To defend Benard’s signing borders on absurd. Benard was a career minor leaguer. The number of players who have gone on to even modest long-term success after spending ten years fighting their way out of the minors can be counted on one hand.
Kyle suggests that my criticism of the Vasquez deal is hindsight. Again, I questioned the signing at the time, as did many sportswriters; since Vasquez had never pitched in a pennant race, or with the enormous pressure of being a Yankee when he was give a $50 million dollar deal. Situations like that have a way of blowing up, and for Vasquez, that is what appears to have happened.