Only Baseball Matters


Archive for February, 2005

…. Off-base or on?

I have to say, David Pinto manages to read a lot of work. He almost always beats me to an article. That won’t stop me from linking to him and what-not, but he sure is quick.

Today, he writes about a lineup construction piece for Baseball Prospectus Premium subscribers, written by James Click. Click and Pinto both found that stacking your lineup in descending order of OBP was the most effective way to put it together, sort of in line with my desire to see Bonds bat in the first inning. But based on their conclusions, It’d be interesting to see the Giants put together a lineup with three good hitters batting 7th, 8th and 9th, and Bonds leading off. Using their OBP, I’d like to see something like:

Bonds .609
Alfonzo .350
Grissom .323
Alou .361
Pitcher .250 (?)
Matheny .292
Durham .364
Vizquel .353
Snow .429

Now that would be unconventional. The at-bats he’d gain as a leadoff hitter, as opposed to batting cleanup (I’d guess between 60 and 100), would be offset by the 90 or so first inning AB’s with men on. But the Giants would have their first batter of the game reach base twice as often as normal. Seems like that would be a big advantage. I’d love to see it for a month. Maybe David can run it through his computer, I’ll ask him and let you know what he says.

Update: David emailed me back. I read his piece wrong, it’s not his program. I sent an email to James asking him to do it. We’ll see what he says.

As an aside, I must mention that I failed to read the whole Click article earlier. He did do a Bonds-type lineup, but he didn’t give the computer Bonds the same super-powers that the real Bonds has, and that lineup didn’t really stand out as particulary efficient. D’oh!

…. Expose’

And speaking of talk that got things started, now we find out that the FBI warned MLB about steroids use way back in 1995. Again, not to put too fine a point in it, but how was a story like this ignored for ten years? How come no reporter covering baseball had the scoop on this, oh I don’t know, within a year or so of it happening?

…. Odds & Ends

After listening to Brian Sabean and company tell us that JT Snow saves dozens of games with his glovework year after year, I have often wondered the same thing David Pinto does; how do some of these guys get to run a baseball team? David ponders this question after reading about how the new Mets GM, Omar Minaya says essentially the same thing about the Mets first-baseman, Doug Mientkiewicz in this MLB article.

…. Minaya figures first base is undervalued in the market place and in the minds of the average fan. “People take the position for granted,” he said. He looks at a guy like J.T. Snow of the Giants, a smooth, graceful glove who “saves the Giants 10 games a year,” and he anticipates something similar for his club with Mientkiewicz.

JT Snow saves the Giants ten games a year? Wow. I’ve watched the Giants for about the whole time Snow has been here, and I’d suggest that he’s perhaps saved ten games with his glove in his whole career. I doubt that there are ten games a year in which defense at any position is the deciding factor.

It’s talk like this that got Bill James started. Some of the things that people inside baseball say make people outside of baseball a little skeptical, and next thing you know…..

Bill James is also the subject of an email I received from the great Rich Lederer, of Rich’s Weekend Baseball Beat, who added his own two cents to my column on the Giants lineup by pointing me to his review of the 1988 Baseball Abstract:

James, in a study regarding lineup construction, reports that the number of runs scored was the highest in the first inning (“the only inning in which you get to decide who will hit”), the lowest in the second inning (“when the bottom of the order comes up”), and almost the same in innings three through seven.

What was surprising, however, was this: If you took the first two innings and added them together, the average was not up from the standard for innings three through seven. It was down. What does that mean? By setting the lineup for the first inning, managers are exercising a degree of effective determination over not one but two innings, the first and the second. They accept the cost of a poor second inning in order to get the benefit of a strong first inning — and they lose on the deal! They wind up scoring fewer runs than if they just started the lineup at a random point.

…. Further, the traditional baseball thinking puts in the fifth spot the slow-moving slugger with the low on-base percentage…. Think about it. Who leads off the second inning most often? The first inning ends 1-2-3 a little less than 30 percent of the time. The most common lead-off man for the second inning is the fifth hitter — the one player in all the lineup least suited to be a lead-off hitter!

James wonders if it wouldn’t make more sense to put the player with the high on-base percentage in the fourth spot and the one with the low on-base percentage in the third spot. What do you know? Maybe Felipe Alou gets it after all. Although I would prefer to see Barry Bonds bat first or second, it follows why Alou would bat him fourth rather than the more traditional third slot for such a hitter. The only disadvantage in sliding a player down in the lineup is the loss of approximately 18 plate appearances per spot/season.

So I guess the question is whether building your lineup so that you score first makes up for the breakdown in the second inning. I’ll look into this question later, last season would seem to be an ideal test case, since Bonds, with his unbelievable .612 OBP batting fourth, should provide me with a lot of weird looking second innings.

…. Just wondering

I’m sitting here watching the San Antonio Spurs in Miami against the Heat, and it just occured to me; I never wonder whether NBA players are using PED’s. It would never occur to me to think, Jeez, that Dwayne Wade is pumped up, I wonder if he’s using amphetamines. But, in reality, I also can’t remember ever thinking that about baseball players either, even though I know that their use is pretty widespread. Why is that? I’ll tell you why, at least, I’ll tell you why for me. Because I don’t care. I’ve thought about it a lot; and the bottom line is that I think these guys are professionals, and it’s really their business. I could care less about what Barry Bonds thinks about how I earn my living, and frankly, I could care less how Bonds goes about preparing to earn his.

What I do care about is what he does when he’s between the lines. I’m a fan, and I expect him to play as hard as he can, and I expect him to prepare himself as best as he can to do just that. I expect athletes to work as hard at their jobs as I do at mine. Now, if I were to find it neccessary or desirable or profitable for me to, say, use amphetamines every day, I would hardly ask Jason Giambi’s opinion about it. Mike Lupica apparently thinks I would, or more accurately, he thinks that I should. Lupica thinks that it’s everybody’s business, it’s everybody’s problem, and it’s his job to make sure we understand that. He’s as wrong about this as he is right about so many other things. I’ve always said that he is the best sports columnist of our generation, and even though he and I are the opposite side of this issue, I still do.

But his non-stop, one sanctimonious diatribe after another is just so wrong-headed:

…. Brian Cashman said they weren’t talking about steroids when they were talking about signing Giambi because it was a different world back then? Really? Just three years ago? Randy Levine, George Steinbrenner’s increasingly powerful consigliere, says that the Yankees had no steroid concerns about Jason Giambi. It is a version of things so light you want to tie a rock to Levine to keep him from floating away.

Nobody knew anything, that’s the truth they all want us to believe. Sandy Alderson didn’t know anything when he was running the championship A’s of Canseco and Mark McGwire in the old days. Tony La Russa didn’t know anything. All Giambi knows about Jose Canseco is that he’s “delusional.”

Now he’s going after the owners and managers for doing nothing for so long. After going after the Players Union for fighting drug testing for all those years. After going after Selig, and the players, and Victor Conte and Barry Bonds.

Here’s a thought: How come Mike Lupica didn’t write a bunch of expose’ columns back in 1998, when McGwire and Sosa were in that amazing race fof history? How come Lupica gets a free pass, when, as a reporter with access to the lockerroom and the players, he wrote nothing and said nothing? Remember way back when, Bart Giamatti going after Pete Rose? How surprised everyone in the country was, why would he go after Rose? I remember people didn’t want to believe it; I know I didn’t. You know why? Because all those years he was doing it, in front of sportswriters, they did nothing. It was news to us, but to them, it was old news. And they turned on him like he was selling child pornography. “Oh, he was betting from the clubhouse? How could he?” The clubhouse, where he was making bets, was a place the sportswriters were in all the time. Baseball players using amphetamines? It was news to the entire country when Ball Four came out. To the players, coaches, owners, and sportswriters, it was so yesterdays’ news, all they could manage was to complain that Bouton was a traitor for outing them.

Here’s Lupica again, this time talking about the Giambi contract:

…. But here is what a baseball official said about the reality of Jason Giambi’s situation three years ago when the Yankees signed him to that $119 million contract: “Look,” the guy said. “We knew it, you knew it, everybody knew it. Let’s admit it and stop pretending that we didn’t.”

So, Mike, if he knew it and they knew and you knew it, why didn’t you write the big blockbuster column about how the contract language had been changed to delete any reference to steroids back when it happened? All of these stories now coming out, from all of these poor, hurt sportswriters, writing about how they’ve been cheated, we’ve been cheated, fans are heartbroken….

Know what? It’s not true. Baseball fans think it’s screwed up that guys use PED’s, but for the most part, it’s not gonna hurt the game. Teams are still selling record numbers of tickets in places you should expect, Baltimore’s ticket sales have gone up since the Sosa signing The Washington Post has a poll up asking who got the better of the deal, Cubs (40%) or Orioles (60%). There are probably less than 10,000 tickets available for the entire season in San Francisco, we all know why. The only guy getting his ass handed to him for real, Giambi, is on the hot seat for one reason: His horrible, injury-plagued 2004 season. If Giambi had been a big producer last season, like say, Gary Sheffield; you can bet the tone of the NY media would be a lot different for him right now. You can bet what Lupica would be saying…. “Oh, how big a man, what a stand-up guy Giambi is. He’s the only one that came clean. Oh, what a story, telling the truth at such high personal risk.”

Instead, Giambi, who told the truth, went through a strange and mysterious illness last year, one that included a tumor in his pituitary gland; and so now he’s gonna pay. It’s OK if you do anything to be the best, as long as you actually are the best. God forbid something goes wrong. And more importantly, Lupica’s constant attack on Giambi underscores the second, less noticable aspect of this trial-by-headline garbage: Giambi can’t win. Giambi lied, they ripped him for it. Giambi’s honest testimony comes out, they ripped him for it. He apologizes, they ripped him for it. He cannot win. When he finally comes out as says, “I’m sorry I did steroids.” THEY. WILL. RIP. HIM. FOR. IT. It’s just more evidence of the decline in journalism, which is part of why a place like OBM can do as well as it has. Real journalism is almost non-existent, so all that really matters is whether or not someone likes your writing style. Anybody can do what Lupica does, I know lots of guys who watch as much sports as anyone, and since all he ever does is talk about stuff that’s already in the public sphere, the only question is whether you can do it well.

My saving grace, the writers who have pulled me down from the ledge, have been the online guys. Real work is being done by the guys outside the mainstream media, guys like David Pinto, Alex Belth, Will Carroll. It’s not neccessarily ground-breaking, expose’ journalism, but so many times I find the only voices of reason are out here.

Over at the Hardball Times, I found a new one. John Brattain has written what I feel is perhaps the best column on the subject I have read to date. Here’s a taste:

…. We live in a consumer culture where we judge each other by the amount of jack in our pockets/wallets/bank accounts. We set the standard of what’s considered important. I think it was Will Rogers who said: “The dollar will never fall as low as people will stoop to acquire it.” People peddle in kiddie porn for money, creeps hang around our schoolyards trying to sell our kids drugs for money, people will sue at the drop of a hat for money, people will fill your e-mail and phone lines with fraudulent business schemes for money, people will scoop children off the streets and force them into prostitution for money, people will lie, cheat, screw family members over, look forward to when mom and dad kick the bucket so we can get our inheritance, betray, defraud, misrepresent for money. What about us law abiding folks? Ever enter the lottery? How about sports betting? Poker? Vegas? Be less than forthcoming on our income tax returns? Why did we do this? Now we’re acting all surprised an indignant because some ballplayer puts something in his body for money?

Did we cheer every blasted home run? Did we go to the park early to watch Mark McGwire take batting practice? Home run Derby is a popular part of the All-Star Game–how did that happen? The fans enjoyed it and folks were willing to pay money to make it happen. Did we celebrate when a prominent slugger was signed by our team as a free agent? Up to the last collective bargaining agreement there was no drug testing, there was no penalty for using performance-enhancing substances, and teams were handing out nine-figure contracts.

What would you do?

Now be honest.

Have you ever dreamed of playing in the big leagues?

Have you ever dreamed of being rich?

How far would you be willing to go to achieve this–especially were it a distinct possibility?

…. Anabolic steroids, HGH, TGH, and other performance-enhancing drugs (amphetamines anyone?) became part of the game because everyone was complicit: from the offices of the commissioner and the MLBPA, through team owners, managers, and players on down to the fans. It was allowed to continue because people like you and I made it profitable for the media, advertisers, and others to associate with the sport. We’ve suspected steroids for years but still came out with our money in hand ready to cheer. We cannot fairly pin all this on players who have used. We made it profitable to do so. Deep Throat said “follow the money”; do that and more often than not, you’ll find the reasons why something happens.

This is no different.

Think about this: We–the fans–always had the power to rid baseball of drugs. If nobody came to the park, if nobody watched the games on TV, if nobody bought any merchandise and souvenirs, and the stated reason is that we objected that the sports was tainted with drugs–how long do you think it would take for everybody involved in baseball to rid the sport of performance-enhancing substances?

Remember, when we point a finger, we’ve got three pointing back at us.

Honest? You bet. To the point? Absolutely. Clear? Crystal.

Update: Will Carroll has a lot of questions, here, and here, for Jose Canseco now that he’s read his book and watched him on 60 Minutes. They’re good questions. I picked up the thread at Baseball Musings.

…. Go fourth

El Lefty Malo has a quick note about Felipe Alou’s intended Opening Day lineup, (he picked it up at yesterday’s Giants luncheon). Anyway, the lineup would be:


What happened to Alou batting cleanup? What happened to getting Barry to the plate in every first inning? I guess we’re back to using JT Snow as if he’s one of the best hitters in the league again, since he’s had his once every five years run of a half-season of good hitting.

Don’t these guys have access to the same stats we do? I mean, seriously, isn’t there anyone working for the team with a computer, who can go to ESPN’s stats page and figure out how to put a lineup together? Here’s your OBM lineup card, with actual stats to suggest there’s a plan:

Durham .364 OBP
Snow .429 OBP
Bonds Hello?
Alou 78 extra base hits
Feliz 58 extra base hits
Grissom 90 RBI
Matheny (whatever he does is gravy)
Vizquel (somebody has to bat between Matheny and the pitcher)

Actually, once the first inning is over, you have an essentially random batting order for the rest of the game. Of course, this is why it’s so important to have Bonds at the plate in every first inning, since the first inning is the only inning in which you have a choice. Batting Bonds third is saying, hey, if I have a choice, I want him to bat last. Batting him fourth is saying that in rougly 1/3 of your games, Bonds will not only not come to the plate in the first inning; but that he will lead off the second.

This is not a tragedy, at least the Giants will have someone with a little bit of a track record of hitting well with a man on, but in reality; it is a poor trade-off. If Barry’s walked with two outs and nobody on in the top of the first, (something that might happen a couple of times this year, I don’t know), Alou still gets the same opportunity he would if Barry’s walked leading off the second. Here’s what I wrote over a year ago:

How do we determine what percentage of the time your order should be succesful? Well, I am a dunderhead, so I did some dunderhead calculations, using the following as my premise: Durham, Aurilia and Cruz all will be held to be able to reach base approximately 35% of the time they go to the plate. So, if you run that out in reverse, looking at out-making percentages, you would see that 65%x65%x65%=28%.

That means that 28% if the time, or 45 games or so, Bonds will not bat in the first inning at all. The inverse should be that something like 72% of the time, he will come to the plate with at least one man on in the first inning, or 117 times, (4% of the time, or 6 or 7 times, he would come to the plate with the bases loaded). These are rough calculations, but I’d say that on first glance they look OK. So, with Bonds batting fourth rather than third, you trade 45 first inning appearances for 117 or so men on base opportunities. What about when he bats third?

Well, using the same simple numbers, you get 65%x65%=42%. 42% of the time, or 68 games or so, Bonds should bat in the first inning with 2 outs and nobody on. The converse would be the 94 games or so he’ll come to the plate with at least one runner on.

So, with Bonds batting third, you are guaranteed 162 at bats in the first inning, 162 times when your absolute best hitter comes to the plate in the first inning, the most important scoring inning of the game, including approximately 90 times when he’ll bat with men on base in that first inning. With him in the cleanup slot, you’re looking at 45 games or so when he will miss the first inning completely.

Batting 3rd 94 games with at least one man on in the first inning, 162 games batting in the first inning

Batting 4th 117 games with at least one man on in the first inning, 117 games batting in the first inning

Towards the end of 2003, I did a follow-up piece in which I concluded that my rough calculations were dead-on. The trade-off is barely 20 more men on base opportunites vs. 50 more first inning at-bats.

This is old news. Somebody ought to call Alou and let him know that managers have been putting their best hitters in the third slot for only about 100 years or so.

…. Tough times

Jason Giambi faced the media for the first time since the SF Chronicle reported his grand jury testimony, and carefully avoided the actual reason for all the fuss. He and his team of representatives decided that they would use the old “I can’t discuss an ongoing legal issue” front, and consequently, wouldn’t say the word steroids, and wouldn’t answer any questions that had the word in them.

Now, I’m probably the last guy that’s going to condemn Giambi, as I have a fairly libertarian view of how things ought to be; but that was a poor strategy by him and his team, led by super agent Arn Tellem. Since his team of representatives weren’t smart enough to come up with a good, solid apology, I took the time to work one out for him. Here’s what I would have had him say, whatever the consequences:

“I’m here to apologize to everyone who was offended or disappointed in me upon discovering that I had used steroids. I’m sorry if I let people down. I did what I did, for the most obvious of reasons, I wanted to get the most out of my ability possible. I wanted to be the strongest, fastest, most powerful hitter and athlete I could possibly be, and I was willing to do anything to meet my goal. At the time I decided to experiment with steroids and other performance enhancing agents, I was not breaking any of baseball’s rules, but I understand that in the eyes of many of you, I was cheating. Again, I am sorry.

I hope you will understand my desire to be the best I could be, and understand that I am human. Thank you.”

There. That’s a pretty good apology. Covers all the bases.

The problem Giambi faces is that apparently the Yankees are still considering voiding his contract, so anything he says can be used against him. Nonetheless, I would have him say something like this, because Giambi must get out from under the dark cloud, and only this type of apology can start that proccess. If it meant that he would have his contract bought out, so be it. He will never be able to handle the pressure of his comeback if he hides behind the lawyers. He must say it all, get it all out there.

Murray Chass says that when the Yankees signed him to the mega-contract, Tellem and Giambi had all references to steroid-use deleted from the contract, and the Yankees said OK.

A person with knowledge of the contract said that before they signed off on Giambi’s seven-year, $120 million deal, the Yankees acquiesced to his request and removed all references to steroids from the guarantee language routinely included in contracts.

The Yankees were not innocents in this matter. They didn’t say to themselves: Delete references to steroid use? Well, all right if you insist, but why would you want us to do that?

They wanted Giambi badly enough that they relinquished the right to suspend him or stop payment on the contract or terminate the contract or convert it into a nonguaranteed contract if he was found to use steroids. No other words were deleted from that paragraph of the contract, the person said.

Well, that’s interesting. Now they want out? That’ll be a tough sell.

Alex Belth has his two cents, and finds the one writer who actually has some dignity, Tim Marchman, of the NY Sun.

…. Assuming – and it is reasonable to do so – that he was not first introduced to performance-enhancers in 2001, it’s clear that Giambi also wronged the players in the Oakland A’s system with whom he was competing as he came up through the minors (just as, no doubt, many of them wronged him). And most of all, he wronged players on other teams, against whom he competed with an illegal edge (though again,many of them wronged him as well).

There were no words in Giambi’s statement, though, for long-forgotten minor league washouts who couldn’t compete with both his talent and his willingness to break the law for his own advantage. Actions have consequences. A home run Giambi was only able to hit because he was on drugs may have made the difference between the majors and the minors for a fringe pitcher trying to qualify for a pension. The 2000 Indians, who finished a half-game out in a three-way race for two playoff spots with the A’s and Mariners, may well have been kept out of October by testosterone cream.

Not acknowledging this isn’t a fault unique to Giambi, and it isn’t really fair to blame him for it. Judging from his statement, he thinks about performance-enhancers much the same way most people do – that using them is wrong because ballplayers owe everyone not only their athletic performance, but also a reprieve from the real world,w here people cheat each other in ways infinitely worse than any ballplayer has ever been accused of doing.

That’s not true. The accounts Giambi has to settle are with his own conscience and his fellow athletes – not with you, not with me, and not with George Steinbrenner. These are not matters for press conferences, and it’s unfortunate that the Yankees would trot the man out in a deeply silly attempt to pre-empt what will be a richly deserved storm of bad publicity for their organization.

In speaking yesterday, Giambi has already done more than he needs to do. It speaks well of him. Apologies are at best more than the rest of us really need, and at worst more than we deserve.

…. Field of dreams

A group of Giants fans have started a website, Mays Field to try and get the Giants to rename PacBell/SBC. I am not sure I really like the name all that much, but it’s preferable to SBC, and/or whatever else they might change it to again. For me, I still call it PacBell, but Mays Field is better than just about anything else.

Of course, expecting the Giants to pass up the millions of dollars the naming rights generate is a bit unlikely. Still, a worthy cause.

…. Backtalk

Some of my backtalkers questioned my comments regards PED’s earlier this week. Listen, I’m trying to keep an open mind here, but let’s get our heads out of the sand. You cannot know anything about the way people respond to challenges, the way people act under pressure, the way people risk and sacrifice for their dreams; and not know that a people at the highest levels of competition already have taken, and will continually take, enormous risks to bring their dreams to life.

Simple point of fact, we are encouraged to do so, and derided when we don’t. Look at the all the BS Donovan McNabb is going through right now, all because he and his teammates didn’t handle the pressure of the final minutes of the Super Bowl as well as they could have. Let me tell you right now, exhaustion or dehydration or whatever, if a trainer would have walked up to McNabb and offered him a drink that would have cleared his head and made him feel like a million bucks, McNabb wouldn’t have asked question one, he would have taken it. And he would have been right to do it.

A guy like McNabb spends his entire life getting to the Super Bowl, a one shot deal, and he may never get there again. He would have taken five years off his life to win it, on this point there is no doubt. Virtually any player, in any sport, would take that deal. PED’s are the logical extension of that argument. (And as an aside to Concerned, wrestlers aren’t very different from football players, who regularly die in their forties and fifties, and let’s not forget that basketball players have life-long knee and hip problems). Baseball, today’s baseball, is a marathon of travel and games that lasts seven months. Athletes who participate in today’s baseball are playing a game that is markedly different from the game they grew up watching. There are fewer days off, more night games, way more traveling, to cities that are much farther apart.

These players train year-round in an effort to maintain their strength and abilities. PED’s are available to help them do so. Whether they use greenies or beans, or andro or steroids or HGH protein shakes or whatever else to help them get and stay in the optimum condition to perform at the level that the team, the fans, and the game demands; the simple truth is that, from the perspective of the athlete, no one really cares how they do it. Just do it.

Now, why would a slogan like that be so damn popular? You ever read Ball Four? Most people remember the greenies stuff in it, but nobody seems to understand that the demands of the game create the pressure to use the greenies. It’s not a simple question of peer pressure. In fact, what is peer pressure? Peer pressure isn’t doing it because others say you should, peer pressure is a description of an artificial environment, one that is governed by different rules. The pressure to not let your team down, the pressure to avoid being sent back to the minors, the pressure to be perfect, every day, day after day, game after game; the pressure that led Joe DiMaggio to utter his now famous, “because somebody out there might be seeing me for the first time,” line.

You think DiMaggio wanted to play when his knees and his back and his elbows were all but destroyed? You think DiMaggio wouldn’t have given anything to play another five years, pain-free? You think Ruth wouldn’t have done ANYTHING to keep hitting home runs at Yankee Stadium? If you came up to me right now, and told me if I could be Derek Jeter, 21 years old, rookie with the Yankees… I don’t even know what I would say no to. I wouldn’t kill somone, I can tell you that. But beyond that, I know I would be willing to make some serious sacrifices, take some pretty damn big chances. And I would be right to do it. Because that’s what it takes. Big chances, huge, life-changing risks, to make it to the top.

For some, there are limits. For others, there are none. Who is right?

…. Juice

I know I’m supposed to have something to say about Jose Canseco’s expose’. Ray Ratto does. He says Mark McGwire needs to come forward and respond to Canseco’s allegations.

…. It must, however, be done, because silence is a right, but not a very effective shield. McGwire doesn’t want to speak out on this, he doesn’t want to have to defend his character, but failing to do so is far more reckless, and exponentially more dangerous, for obvious reasons. He has to speak, and submit his words to more diligent fact-checking than he has ever known. Why? Because, for lack of a better explanation, that’s just the way it is.

Well, I don’t know about that. I mean, does McGwire really have to? His career is over, he answered a bunch of these questions already during the andro controversy. Now, Canseco’s trying to sell books, so McGwire’s back in the hot seat?

And Buster Olney continues his assault on reality, his never-ending “steroids are the end of the world” rant.

Steroids has held the game hostage for almost two decades, and there will be constant reminders of that; inevitably, other steroid users like Jose Canseco will come out and tell us more about what we already thought was happening. At this point, we should not be shocked.

Steroids has held the game hostage. Well, given the staggering number of fans who’ve packed ballparks these last ten “steroid-scandalized” seasons, perhaps the Olneys’ of the world might lay off the hyperbole just a bit. I don’t know, maybe.

Here’s where we are. Baseball has a new policy, with stiffer penalties and public shaming. This will do much to calm the fears of the sportswriters, but in reality, athletes will continue to have access to substances that will aid them in their efforts to ply their trade. As fast as the drug testing companies can find the new sensation, another one will be available.

This is not news. This is as old as competition. There has never been a time when athletes, professional athletes, have not had access to performance enhancing agents. There is little doubt that Babe Ruth (or virtually any of the “hallowed” greats) would have done anything to extend their careers, to be better players. How ridiculous for these sportswriters to go on and on about the “sanctity” of the game. It’s a game, a business, a profession. It’s all of these things, and the men that are involved in it are grown-ups, and they will make choices and take risks according to their needs, desires, and backgrounds. Should they decide that the benefits of using performance-enhancers are worth the risks, they will use them. Count on it.

There will never be a time when baseball is “clean.” There has never been a time when baseball was “clean.” But I guess asking people to stop over-reacting is unlikely to have any effect. So, I’ll just sit here and read about it, and write about it, and get lots of angry backtalkers.

….Same Bat-time, same Bat-station

Andrew Vogelsong, OBM reader and afficianado, sent me one of his own articles comparing the current New England Patriots and the New York Yankees of the late 1990′s. It’s an interesting comparison, as both teams exemplified team over individual, both were sort of lunch pail type of professionals. Andrew just started his site recently, so check him out, and tell him how great he is. He’s headlining my More Sports section on down there on the right.

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
None of the opinions expressed should be construed as being endorsed by the
San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball, or any other organization mentioned herein.

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