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Archive for March, 2005


…. Isn’t it ironic?

John Harper writes about Junior Griffey today, in a piece that is as ridiculous as it is sanctimonious.

He is the only active member of the 500 home run club who was neither part of the recent congressional hearing on steroids or linked to the BALCO investigation. The cruel irony, of course, is that Ken Griffey Jr. did the right thing by refusing to use steroids, only to have his body repeatedly break down on him.

Only in today’s climate of sanctimony could you find an article that celebrates an athlete’s injuries as evidence of his purity. Let me get this straight; if Griffey had managed to stay healthy these last five seasons, he would have been suspected of cheating. But, because he’s been injured, he’s not only free from suspicion; he’s a bastion of all that’s right in the sport.

Here’s another way of looking at it (one that is doubtless going to get me about a thousand nasty emails, I’m sure); Griffey didn’t take care of himself; and the end result was that he cheated himself, his teammates, his fans, and the owners of the teams he played for. Had he kept himself injury-free, his teams would have done better, he would have given himself and everyone involved in his teams’ fortunes a better chance to get that ring, and his career would have been filled with more accomplishment, fun, and excitement, and he would have avoided years of pain, surgeries, rehab and missed time.

In fact, you could argue that Griffey let his fans and teammates down by missing so much time. Cincinnatti fans certainly had to have felt let down, after trading away key members of the team to get him, and then signing him to a huge contract that limited the team’s ability to deal with his missing substantial time.

Griffey’s been in a Reds uniform since 2000, and has played a full season but once, his first with the team. Since that first year, he has hit a total of 63 home runs while playing 317 games out of a possible 648, less than half. And yet, his Baseball Reference page is sponsored by Poisk, who writes, “500+ ‘All Natural’ Home Runs…. Now that’s something to be proud of.”

Something to be proud of apparently doesn’t include being there for your teammates, or the fans, or being able to do your job every day. Why is that a good thing? How do you come to that conclusion? One way would be to take at face value the ramblings of someone like Sally Jenkins:

A week ago, the emerald chessboard crowd predicted the congressional hearing into steroid use in Major League Baseball would be a pointless farce. A week later, we’re still talking about them. The hearings are far from over, and here are some of the things we’ve already learned: Not only do steroids shrink your organs into onions and induce suicide, but they turn heroes into cowards, and baseball officials into worms.

Jenkins isn’t the only sports columnist to believe everything they heard during the dog and pony show. She’s just the one I’ve chosen to spotlight today.

I’m not saying that Griffey should have used steroids. I’m saying that I don’t care what he did or didn’t do. As a baseball fan, I think it sucks that a stupendous talent has had to spend most of the peak years of his career swinging at tennis balls and running on a treadmill or in the recovery room instead of making history. As a baseball fan, I wish he could be neck and neck with Bonds as they both take aim at Ruth and Aaron. And if Griffey would have used steroids, or creatine, or andro or HGH or monkeys brains to stay on the field these last five seasons, I wouldn’t have begrudged him one precious minute of it. It’s his life, his career, and his choice.

He chose the path he chose, and he’s paid the price he’s paid. To say he’s right, that he’s to be celebrated for not taking advantage of every modern medical and physical training advance available to get the most out of his talent, is as absurd as telling us that Bonds has hurt the game of baseball for doing so.



…. The Blogfather

Today, I noticed that I had passed 350,000 total hits, and I remembered that David Pinto is my blogfather, as many of you know. Way back in the olden days, there were times when I felt that I had something to say, something to contribute to the baseball writing world. At that time, I had no idea what a blog was, what Blogger was; I had no idea about anything. All I knew was that Sports Illustrated wasn’t gonna publish my thoughts, but I felt that they deserved to be published.

I found David’s Baseball Musings one day, and was blown away by the thought that one guy could put together a top-notch website devoted to a Bill Jamesian train of thought, and do it so well. David had gotten his site going only a few months before, and I sent him an email with a little column, (that eventually became my first ever post) that I wanted him to put up on Musings, with me as a guestwriter. He said he would if I wanted, but suggested I start my own blog, and then he told me how.

Four months later I asked David for the first of what would be hundreds of plugs, and he generously sent me his readers, as he has done countless times since. The rest is history.

In fact, reading through David’s first couple of months, (as I just did), you can see many of the best guys out there getting their first taste of the big time, including Joe Sheehan, Aaron Gleeman, Jay Jaffe, Travis Nelson, Al Bethke, and of course, me.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the whole baseball blogosphere owes David a huge debt of gratitude. Without him, I’d still be arguing with my brother, or yelling at the radio.

David’s been running a Pledge Drive for March. If you have a second, and a couple of bucks sitting in your Paypal account, stop by and donate to the Blogfather. No one deserves our support more.



…. Silver lining

BP’s Nate Silver takes a deeper look into the upswing in offense I discussed in this post yesterday. It’s a Premium piece, so I can only give you a little taste:

…. while offensive output has increased substantially, the playing field has become comparatively more level. Last season, for example, about 19.3 home runs were hit per 650 plate appearances in the National League, with a standard deviation of 11.9. Compare that to 1970, when just 15.6 home runs were hit per 650 PA–about a 20 percent decrease from contemporary levels–but the standard deviation was actually a bit higher, at 12.3.

What he’s saying here is that while more home runs have been hit in the seasons since 1993, they’ve been hit by everyone, not just the super sluggers, which is in line with my conclusion.

Bonds, Sosa and McGwire have had historic seasons, but not unlike the players from the 1930′s, the game conditions have engendered their record-breaking efforts. Which is just another way of saying that these guys have been the best home run hitters in the league pretty much the whole time they’ve been playing; the only difference beween Bonds leading the league with 46 home runs in 1993 or 73 home runs in 2001, is the game conditions; which have been more favorable to home run hitters for going on a decade now.



…. Incredible but true


…. in Stark contrast


…. Custodians

I’ve been doing a lot of angry writing lately. I understand that it’s not good to do that. I know I’m not supposed to call sportswriters idiots and morons and question their integrity. I know that I’m a lot less likely to get the kind of support that will help this site grow when I attack the SF Chronicle for a month. Sorry. Can’t help myself.

When I was growing up, a NY Yankee fan, every Sunday, my dad and I used to fight over the sports section of the NY Daily News. I always wanted to get to it first, because, besides the fact that I could read about twenty times faster than him, I would use my nearly 100% recall to bust his chops, as he would read each article, he would start to say, “Lupica says Steinbrenner….” and I would finish his sentence, driving him crazy.

Lupica was my dad’s favorite writer, and he became mine. I used to look forward to his Shooting from the Lip Sunday columns, he covered everything, and he wrote really well. He had a way of writing that made it feel like he was sitting with you at a bar, or in your living room, just bullshitting. Quick, sharp, incisive, funny. He’s one of the most widely-read sportswriters in the country, but twenty-five years ago, when he was just getting started, he was more of the new guy, trying to impress. His columns were longer and looking back, I remember that they just blew me away. When I started OBM, I tried to emulate him, that’s how much I liked his work.

Reading him today, I don’t have that same feeling. In fact, as OBM enters its fourth season, I have found myself to be more and more dissatisfied with all sportswriters (and not just over the steroids stuff). I guess it’s just a by-product of being a sportswriter myself now. Sure, I don’t have deadlines or editors or any of that; but I’m a sportswriter, nonetheless. I cover baseball and the SF Giants; and I pride myself on writing as well as I can, with as much passion and integrity and intelligence as I can. I like to read my own work, I do so often. In fact, I’d say my first audience is me; if I can write something that I think reads well, I feel like I’m doing a good job.

Today, most of the writers I read everyday are the internet guys. Guys like David Pinto, Alex Lash, Alex Belth, Rich Lederer, Mike Carminati, Joe Sheehan & co., Gleeman et al. Guys on the outside looking in, like me. These men have helped me to see the impossibility of writing honestly about something you are thisclose to. Bill Madden, for example, is with these players daily, sometimes for weeks at a time. He sees them, talks with them, sometimes travels with them.

How honest about a player can he really be? How much disclosure can he offer, when he knows that tomorrow, the guy he wrote about will be eating a ham sandwich across the table from him? More importantly, how can he reveal anything really important about the team or the player when his newspaper has left any semblance of objectivity behind long ago? To me, this is obvious, as I read the Chronicle, or the Merc, or any of these newspapers. The movie image of the newspaper editor, demanding facts and investigative reporting and cross-checking references; the hard-boiled old-timer chomping on his cigar and yelling at everybody…. I used to believe that there was a guy like that, making sure that Lupica or Boswell or whoever checked their facts, did the digging, the hard work. I don’t believe that guy exists anymore, if he ever did. The curtain has been pulled back, and now I see that Oz is a mirage, a showman; someone just like me, doing his job and trying not to get fired.

That doesn’t excuse these guys. They don’t get a pass just because I see through them now. Pete Rose was the hero of heroes for all these guys. The one guy who played the game like any real fan would, if he only had the chance. I’ve said it, you’ve said it, we’ve all said it; if I could be a major leaguer, you’d never see me jogging to first base. You’d never see me letting up, I’d hustle like nobody ever did. Pete Rose did. Bill James once wrote that Pete Rose got more out of his ability than any player in history. I’d say he was right, and back in the day, before Giammatti got him, so did every sportswriter in the country.

But he wasn’t perfect. He was a gambler, he cheated on his wives, he cheated on his taxes, he lied, he hustled, all the time, everywhere; always on the lookout for a mark, a shortcut, a way to get more out of whatever he was doing. Much like all of us, he was flawed, great in some ways, small in others. When his ban came down, the sportswriters turned on him like a pack of wolves, tearing him apart, exposing all of the things they had chosen to keep from us, the fans, for all those years. Cincinatti sportswriters who had covered him for two decades suddenly revealed all of the dirt they had hidden; embarking on a systematic character assasination that continues to this day.

Other baseball stars went through similar experiences, many are well-known. Ted Williams, Roger Maris, Bobby Bonds, even Jackie Robinson. The past is instructive, knowing what happened before you got here helps you get a handle on what’s happening now. Ted Williams gave up five, six years of his career to go to war for his country. All you ever read about when he was playing was what an asshole he was. Somehow, Joe Dimaggio, just as big an asshole, got a pass. Why? He was a winner, he was on the best team, he was Italian, who knows? It just happened.

Jason Giambi was the best guy in the world, until he admitted he used steroids. Now he’s a pariah. Not more than one or two writers have written about him in a positive light since his Grand Jury testimony was leaked. In fact, I just heard Mike Francesca, on the number one sports talk show in the country, saying he was rooting against him; and that if he did well, he would assume that he was still using steroids! Mark McGwire, I mean, are you kidding me? The guy saved baseball, Lupica wrote a book about it, Summer of 98: When Homers Flew Records Fell and Baseball Reclaimed America. Now Lupica wants McGwire to go to jail. He wants him to return all those home runs. Of course, Lupica isn’t returning all the money he made on his book. Sportswriters all over the country made money and earned accolades writing about 1998. None of them is offering a refund.

But McGwire’s gone from a first-ballot Hall of Famer to a guy who might not even make it, because Canseco wrote a book. He betrayed America, they write. He betrayed the kids. He cheated. Witch hunt? Salem has nothing on today’s sportswriters. We have nothing to convict him with other than Canseco’s book, but let’s ruin the guy. The parallels to Rose are ominous. Rose’s accomplishments as a player are nothing short of spectacular. During his playing days, he was the embodiment of everything good about sports. Sure, it was known throughout the Cincinatti sportswriting community that the guy was less than noble, but not a word was said. Maybe if someone had written something about his gambling before it became a major scandal, things would have been different. Maybe a minor scandal saves him. Maybe not.

McGwire had his minor scandal, for all the good it did him. Andro was found in his locker. He came clean, stopped using it, apologized, and kept hitting home runs. Broke the record. Retired, and four years later, sportswriters are demanding that he confess, apologize, save the kids, humble himself before the altar of Sports Illustrated and ESPN. He didn’t. He protected himself, took the Fifth; and now he’s out. No Hall of Fame for you, Mark. If you won’t do what we say, we’ll get you for sure. Look at Rose. In 1997, SI did a poll in which 97% of the respondents said Rose should be in the Hall. Sportswriters, custodians of all that is good, took that as an affront to their integrity and launched a decades-long attack on Rose that completely turned public opinion. Fans loved Rose, supported him through his troubles, accepted his weaknesses and failings and said over and over; Put him in the Hall of Fame. For crying out loud, President Jimmy Carter said it!

Sportswriters would have none of it. Hammering away, day after day, week after week, on and on…. First he has to come clean, admit what he did, apologize, change his behavior, demonstrate that he’s learned from his mistakes. Over and over, for years. After listening to the fans clamor for Rose to be in the Hall, almost from the day he became commissioner, Selig tried to go around the writers, work out a deal with Rose; FOR THE FANS. When the writers found out, they weren’t happy. In fact, they were outraged. They went after Selig, baseball, Rose…. like piranha’s. They went back to work, writing even more vitriolic bile. He has to apologize to America, they demanded. Even though fans said he didn’t, again and again, writers said he did. Come clean. We don’t care, said the fans. Yes you do, said the writers.

Then, amazingly, Rose did it. He came clean, wrote a book about his transgressions, apologized for lying, for gambling, admitted he did wrong; and what happened? He got slammed. No, not that way! shouted baseball’s custodians. Not in a book, you can’t make money when you apologize. You can’t keep working for the casinos when you admit you did wrong. You did it all wrong. There’s no way we can let you in the Hall now, you did it the wrong way, What were you thinking!?

Sammy Sosa was asked to pee in a cup, he refused. Oh, he’s using steroids for sure. All of those home runs were bullshit, he’s a liar, a fake. It’s our job to get to the bottom of this. He needs to confess, come clean, apologize; for the kids. He says he didn’t use steroids? Yeah, let’s see him do it under oath. He did. He denied using steroids under oath. Yeah, well, he’s still lying.

Same thing for Bonds. He denies it, they say, sure anyone can lie to a reporter. He denies it under oath, yeah, well, he’s perjuring himself. His trainer and the guys at BALCO all say he never used steroids, let’s find someone who says he did. Presto! His ex-girlfriend, fresh off her failed extortion efforts, goes in front of the Grand Jury and says that one time, in band camp, Bonds told her, just her, only her, that he used steroids, and surprise, her testimony is leaked, just lilke Barry’s!

Run him out of baseball, for the fans, for the kids, for America. The keys to the Hall of Fame, a place for fans to go and remember the great players from their childhood, from adulthood, from yesterday, from four decades ago and from the very beginning of the game; are held by these sportswriters. They take their job seriously, as they should. Mike Pagliarulo should not be in the Hall of Fame, and he isn’t. The voters take their responsibility seriously; but many of them (not all) have forgotten who they represent, (not unlike our Congressmen and women).

The Hall of Fame is for the fans. The fans don’t need to be brainwashed like they are right now. We don’t need the facts about steroid use to be distorted and exagerrated to understand what’s happening, what’s important. Barry Bonds has been the subject of steroids speculation for four years now. During that time, PacBell has been sold out almost every single game, and the Giants have been one of the top road attractions in the entire league. Bonds’ merchandise is among the best-selling in all of sports. According to sportswriters, though, the fans hate Barry, hate what he stands for, don’t support him. He should leave the game forever, for the way he’s harmed the game. The fans don’t know what they want. They don’t know that Bonds needs to be humbled, brought down, taken to task for all of his crimes.

The sportswriters are wrong. They are the ones who need to be humbled. They are the ones who have lost sight of what’s important, of what’s right and what’s wrong. I can tell you with no reservation that Barry Lamar Bonds has done more for baseball than every sportswriter in the history of the game combined. He’s done more to educate fans on the history of baseball than any player in fifty years. By breaking all these records, he has brought players from the past back to life. He has reminded us of the greatness of Ruth, Williams, Aaron, Maris, McGwire. He has shown us what transcendent talent looks like. He has shown us what a truly dedicated, self-sacrificing work-ethic can produce. He has married Pete Rose’s desire with Willie Mays’ talent, and given us a sparkling display of baseball prowess that we will never forget.

Did he use PED’s? Perhaps. There was a time when I was sure that he didn’t, and there was a time when I was sure he did. Today, I can tell you I have no idea. Neither does Mike Lupica, or Bill Madden, or Joan Ryan, or Sports Illustrated or ESPN. What we do know is that he is the greatest baseball player of our lifetime; and he is being treated like a murderer. We know that a close friend of his is associated with the BALCO scandal, and Barry has stood by that friend come hell or high water. We know that he has many ties to baseball history, he is the Godson of Willie Mays, the son of Bobby Bonds; we know that he, like Ken Griffey Jr., grew up in major league baseball. We know that he is respected and feared by his fellow players and coaches and managers. And we know that he is despised and scorned by many of the men who have the privilege of putting the game of baseball into words for us, and we know that they have abused that privilege.

If McGwire (or Bonds, or Sosa, or Brady Anderson, or whoever) used steroids prior to 2002, it wasn’t cheating, it wasn’t against the rules, and they didn’t hurt anyone. Bill Madden, (or any one of these sportswriters) writing that Bonds should retire, for the good of the game, cannot make the same claim. He is writing something that is hurtful, that is not based on facts, and in fact, is against the rules (the journalistic code of ethics). Hall of Fame voters saying that they will keep Mark McGwire out of the Hall of Fame are doing the same thing. They are abusing the privilege they enjoy, for reasons that have no business being included in the discussion, based on innuendo and speculation and slander.

Furthermore, as writers like Bill James and Joe Sheehan have begun to question the Hall of Fame voters exclusive status, let me say that should these voters be pompous and self-righteous enough to deny Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds his plaque in Cooperstown; it will be their downfall. They’ve kept Rose out, to the anger and frustration of many, many fans. Their exclusivity is a privilege, and fans will put up with only so much. Should they follow through on their foolish stance; they will force the Hall to reconsider the current arrangement, the fans will make sure of it. Mark McGwire is a Hall of Fame player, and the fans idolize him. Denying him his place in the Hall will not be tolerated.

I apologize if I have been a broken record about this stuff. I’m gonna try to concentrate on the game for a bit, but I make no promises. I will soon be introducing you to a new OBM writer, who I think you’re really gonna like. I hope you will continue to stop by as the season gets under way, as it promises to be a terrific one. The Giants look great, Sabean’s off-season work looks to prove once again that he knows more about building a baseball team than I do. And, of course, Bonds will resume his assault on history. And thanks for making OBM one of the top baseball sites in the world. Without you, I’d be a loudmouth in a closet.

Update: Wow. Readers have sent in a tremendous number of positive emails and backtalks, including a couple from some of the best sportswriters in the country. I’m going to leave this post up for another day, as it has struck a chord, and I want to allow that sound to travel as far as possible. Thanks to everyone who took the time to contact me. I appreciate your generous support.



…. Attack of the drones

Bill Madden continues his relentless character attacks of Barry Bonds in this column.

…. Baseball desperately wants Bonds to go too – but in his case, permanently. As the (unconfessed) face of steroids in baseball, Bonds has become the worst kind of detriment to the game. However, unlike what Stern might have done, Selig isn’t going to have to devise any secret, behind-the-scenes schemes to get rid of him. The government is going to do it for him. Because assuming Bonds is brought up on perjury, tax evasion or money laundering charges, or all of the above, Selig then has the power to suspend him.

So at last Aaron’s Holy Grail record of 755 homers appears safe….

Is this guy unbelievable or what? Here is a sportswriter not only cheering the news that Bonds’ injury may prevent him from breaking Aaron’s record, he’s also blatantly misrepresenting the facts of the situation. OBM reader Tim Schultz obviously has a better grip on reality than Madden:

This is what you all need to remember when it comes to perjury for Barry Bonds: these are federal prosecutors, who while ambitious, tend to be much less prone to ego prosecutions. While Michael Rains is almost certainly correct that this case has always been “U.S. v. Bonds” as far as IRS investigator Jeff Novitzky goes, I don’t think it’s a fair characterization of the Dept. of Justice’s approach.

In order for testimony to be perjury, it has to 1) be material to the matter in question, and 2) knowingly false. It’s arguable that, even if Bonds used steroids at some point, it wasn’t *material* to his grand jury testimony unless the prosecution can link those drugs to Anderson.

For instance, suppose that, in an investigation of a purported Hollywood drug dealer, the U.S. Attorney subpoenas all start associated with the target. Let’s say one such star is Matt Damon, a guy who, while no angel, does not want his career associated with such seediness. When asked if “Blackie the Pusher” ever provided him with illegal narcotics, he says “No.” When asked if he has EVER taken illegal narcotics, he says “No.”

Now, inasmuch as this is a case about Blackie, even is Matt IS lying about his past use, it’s probably not material to his Grand Jury testimony.

But now imagine that all the prosecutor had was the testimony of a woman with whom Matt had had an affair with, who comes forward to tell the Grand Jury that Matt did say to her that he used drugs. She comes forward first to Geraldo Rivera, and only after a protracted legal negotiation about money Damon had supposedly promised her.

If there’s more evidence that what’s been reported, there well might be legal jeapordy. But as of now, both on materiality, and on the testimony that would now apparently comprise the heart of the case, no federal prosecutor would indict.

OBM reader Steve P also demonstrates some synapse activity:

I want to emphasize that this is not just the FEDS in the Eliot Ness comic book sense, but an investigation into non-payment of taxes… right, it’s not actually even about drug dealing except in the sense that it involved off the books financial transactions.

Bonds didn’t receive any illicit income here, he might have paid people cash for supplements, steroids, their winning personality, whatever. The girlfriend is on the hook if she accepted gifts without reporting them or paying taxes, thus a motivation to provide some….juice….(OK that was cheap, but I DON’T CARE!!!), to get immunity.

Bond’s isn’t on the hook, because he wasn’t getting any money from this (a debatable quid pro quo for BALCO’s legal supplement is the closest this comes). So let’s just drop the whole BS line of OMG the FEDS!!!! Bonds isn’t even remotely close to being charged with anything. He’s not bunking with Scott Peterson in May. Baseball ain’t gonna be suspending him in two weeks….he’s got a bum knee.

There are no pretenses to get into finances, I am pretty sure that Bonds’ tax returns have been examined and unless he was reselling his first class fares to ride in coach (oh yeah, that’s likely), or taking cash at autograph shows (Bonds really does have a similar hair cut to Pete Rose), there is not only no fire there, but there is not even a whiff of smoke.

Madden oughta be ashamed of himself. To celebrate Bonds’ injury and pain for the sake of a headline is disgraceful.

So many people read these guys and have their minds made up by them, it’s no wonder AOL Sports has a poll in which 92% of respondents say they believe Bonds used steroids. You ever hear of propaganda? That’s what this is. Propaganda. A non-stop assault on Bonds, for all these years of being a bitchy interview, a difficult target, for being unwilling to play along.

He is already convicted in the court of public opinion, it’s too late, I know. But it really pisses me off.

Update: I don’t read the NY Post very often. It is much more of a tabloid than the NY Daily News, always has been; but I just happened to see today’s backpage, and it leaves me seething.

GET OUT FOR GOOD

And it’s not just one headline-grabbing insult. No, here’s Mike Vaccaro telling Barry that he should retire, for the good of baseball.

…. Bonds should take his time away to reflect on all the damage he’s inflicted on himself and on a game that has made him wildly rich and famous. He should understand that nobody in baseball wants him to break Aaron’s record, not now, not after he’s been exposed as a fraud and a liar, not after all the hate mail and death threats Aaron had to endure on his way to 755 home runs, every one of them collected with clean blood and honestly earned muscle.

Reflect on all the damage he’s done to baseball?! That’s what this Vaccaro wants, for Barry to reflect on the damage he’s done to the game?!? So, I guess that reading between the lines, Vaccaro thinks that it’s writers like him that make this game so great. It’s not the great baseball players, obviously. No, it must be the fantastic writing being done by hacks like him that drives me to the backpages everyday.

Or maybe it’s morons like Joel Sherman that foster my love for the game. I mean, why shouldn’t we compare Bonds unfavorably to Hank Aaron? Aaron played baseball back when the only extra boost available was amphetamines and cut-throat competition. Well, what do I expect, that Sherman would have any real understanding or knowledge of the history of the game? That hacks like these guys should, oh I don’t know, stick to covering what transpires between the lines and let the fans decide whether or not they want to see Barry hit home runs.

Or how about Kevin Kernan?

…. Bernie Williams said, “I don’t know what’s on his mind. It seems like he’s under a lot of pressure. He’s frustrated with all that’s happening to him. He’s pursuing all these milestones, but instead of hearing positive stories he’s hearing negative. This should be one of the greatest moments of his career, but it’s turning into a bitter situation,” Williams said. “I think it’s sad.”

A sad situation, but a situation Bonds helped create.*

As a fan of the game, (Derek) Jeter said he is excited about seeing Bonds attempt to break the all-time home-run record. Bonds is at 703 home runs, behind Babe Ruth at 714 and Aaron at 755.

“All this stuff aside, baseball-wise, it’s exciting anytime you have someone approaching records or milestones,” Jeter said. “It keeps everyone watching. I think that’s great for the game. It puts the attention on the game in a positive way. Unfortunately, you have all this other stuff that’s going on. He loves to play the game. He’s one of the greatest players of all time, so I’m looking forward to seeing him back on the field playing.”

*Italics mine

You think Derek Jeter or Bernie Williams might have an idea of what’s good for baseball? Or is it Kevin Kernan who’s the custodian of the good of the game? I mean, it’s not writers like Kernan who have helped create Bonds’ situation is it?

I mean, these writers have certainly demonstrated that they have their finger on the pulse of the fans, given that Bonds and the Giants were the number one road attraction in the NL last season. Isn’t that evidence enough that the fans might want to see Barry make history?

It’s something else, reading one writer after another presume to tell Barry to retire, for the good of the game, (and the children, I suppose, let’s not forget the children); while in the same breath ridicule Bonds’ assertion that the media play a part in his troubles. You mean, it’s OK for you to have the audacity to tell another person how to live their lives; but it’s outrageous for that person to suggest that when you do, you are making problems for him.

You can slander and speculate with little or no evidence or facts about his legal troubles, but he cannot suggest that without your slander and innuendo and speculation, he’d have none?

Here’s something to think about….

If Bonds had washed his hands of Greg Anderson at the beginning of the BALCO case, came right out and said that Anderson had lied to him and set him up for a fall and misled him; and that if he had doen steroids it was Anderson’s fault for lying to him, would Barry be fogiven?

Or, if he had come clean, and said, yes, I did it. At the time, it wasn’t against baseball’s rules, and I stopped when it was; would he be forgiven then?

Or if he had been drug-testing himself for the last five seasons, and could produce these tests to show that he’s been clean the whole time, would he be forgiven?

He hates the media, has since he watched how his father was literally torn to shreds by them during his troubles with alcohol and drugs; and they hate him. The only difference is that he’s allowed to irresponsibly hate the writers, and treat them as poorly as he likes. Sportswriters are beholden to a code of journalistic ethics; and they are violating it, every day, over and over, with how they are handling this situation. They are a disgrace to their profession, and the sports editors at these papers are as well.



…. Knowledge is power

As per Will Carroll’s email yesterday, there is a detailed report on Barry Bonds’ condition in today’s Under the Knife, which is written by Tom Gorman. It is a Premium Content article.

Basically, Bonds’ knee is in better shape than Joe Mauer’s, as Mauer has a bone on bone situation, while Bonds does not. Put simply, Gorman underscores what I speculated about yesterday, that Bonds will probably be available by the end of April, although Gorman agrees that anything more than that would seriously hurt the team’s chances.

Today’s Chronicle has about fifty articles on the subject, here’s one in which Trainer Stan Conte adresses everyone’s worst fears.

I talked to Dr. Art Ting (he did the surgery) this morning. I talked to Barry. His knee looks exactly as we expected it to five to six days after surgery. I expect he’ll progress as most knee patients go, and that’s it.



…. What!?

According to this tiny press release, Bonds may miss the whole season! At the least, he is saying that he won’t be back until mid-season. I’m looking for more info right now. Here’s an earlier article that talks about him slowing down after this latest surgery, but no one quoted here seems too concerned. And here’s another article in which Bonds says he’s tired and may miss the season.

Hopefully what we’re looking at is Bonds just being bitchy and tired. I sure hope so.

Peter Gammons thinks the Giants can win without Bonds, something so ludicrous it hardly deserves comment. The Giants were 18-28 without him last season, and since he’s missed only a handful of games the previous four or five seasons, we really have no idea what they can do without him; other than to say he’s been the MVP THE LAST FOUR SEASONS!!!!!

Let’s be serious. If Bonds misses even the first thirty games, the Giants will be lucky to be 15-15. This is what Giants fans are facing with the oldest starting lineup in baseball history.* Older players get injured more, take longer to heal, and are more susceptible to re-injury, obviously. Not to mention, they see their skills decline, sometimes rapidly (like the just-retired Roberto Alomar).

This team cannot win without the best hitter alive, no team could.

Check out El Lefty Malo, and Westwood Blues, and our very own Biased Giants Fanatic for some catharsis.

* I don’t know that for sure, by the way, and not to be lazy, but I don’t feel like looking it up

Update: Watching ESPN, I suddenly got the feeling that Bonds is messing with everyone. Just seeing how much his comments have everyone’s panties in a bunch makes me think that he knew exactly what he was doing, that he did it deliberately, and that he’s sitting somewhere laughing. Perfect revenge.

By the way, isn’t it great, the way these players are treated? One minute, they can do no wrong, and the next, they are the Anti-Christ. Unbelievable.

Oh, and I read your backtalks. I believe that Bonds’ true contribution to the team is only partially measurable. To me, his wins shares and runs created and value over replacement and all that are useful tools; but he is such an outlier that I just don’t think the numbers can do justice to his real impact. I mean, with him in the lineup, the Giants were 73-43, a .629 winning percentage, only the Cardinals did better last season. Without him, they were 18-28, a .391 winning percentage.

I sent an email to Will Carroll, and he says to look for an Under the Knife column tomorrow.

Update, Part II: I know it’s a different subject, but Larry Borowski would have had Mark McGwire better prepared for the hearing.



…. Do you see?

Short and sweet. Here’s one, two, three, four different columns in which either Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro or Barry Bonds is called a liar, or Mark McGwire is called a cheat.

And here’s an ESPN story in which we learn that an ex-girlfriend, who has been trying to extort money from Barry, has now testified that Bonds told her he did steroids. And here’s a SF Chronicle article on the subject that has far more detail. Bonds’ lawyers says there’s nothing to worry about, but they sure are going after him hard.



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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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