Archive for April, 2006

…. Arm & Hammer?

No. Armchair GM.

Dan Lewis says the new Armchair GM allows anyone to start their own blog, for free! Woo hoo!

OK, it’s maybe not that exciting, but Dan’s a friend.

Giants are beating (12-6) Atlanta today in a sloppy, long game. Jamey Wright pitched pretty well, got a bunch of double plays, as the Giants try to get back over .500 with an ugly win.

UPDATE: The Giants won 12-6, behind Jamey Wright’s strong outing. The starting outfield of Bonds, Finley and Alou made history as the oldest ever, and Tim Hudson failed to strike out a batter for just the second time ever. Bonds is off to a slow start, but he still has an OBP just under .500 with all the walks.

…. Fact or fiction?

Lest anyone think that I am alone in my ponderings, or whether my concerns about how the major media outlets are handling the “steroids scandal” are based in the real world; here’s Verducci, the guy who started it all, , (not mine anymore, by the way):

You’re the reason Barry Bonds is a circus. What about that as a story: the media swelling up the Bonds story. He wasn’t the only one doing ‘roids — half the league was in 2001 (including pitchers).
– Zack Gideon, San Francisco

Gee, what a novel idea: forget accountability, just blame the media! Would you include in that media a certain executive producer and prime-time star named Barry Lamar Bonds?

When Bonds breaks the home run record, will you and all the other vultures posing as writers stop your smear campaign? The Hall of Fame will be calling soon and you guys can start up again.
– Warren Murphy, San Francisco

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Hall of Fame voter. And, as historical perspectives go, the link between Bonds and steroids will be as immutable as Pete Rose and gambling.

Let’s see how big a news story this is in a month or so. Sports fans forgive rapists, drug users, party boat sexcapades and everything else. My guess is that the home run record would not be the first by a person who used performance-enhancing drugs. Have you looked at the NBA lately? Doesn’t make it right, but Bonds is taking all of the shots for a problem that is much more widespread. I guess it makes it OK for a mediocre player to take them, as long as they don’t put up good numbers.
– Tom Zanoli, Dallas

Check in with Mark McGwire and Palmeiro to see if Bonds is taking all the hits here. And remember, the story of steroids in baseball is into its fifth year; I don’t see it expiring in a month. Steroid use is equally wrong from legal, ethical and health perspectives, whether you are the home run king or the backup second baseman on the junior varsity. It shouldn’t surprise you that the most accomplished and most well-known would receive the most critical attention. It’s true in Hollywood, politics and sports. I don’t think there’s a market for a book about Alex Sanchez’s steroid use. But that’s not to excuse him.

Exactly what in the two new books about steroid use by Bonds and other players is new? Are you not just rehashing an old story? If so, then you’re not reporting news, you’re just trying to make news. The same question, even if asked by a “new subset of questioners,” is still the same question. How many times can it be answered before you’re happy?
– Jay Colson, Springfield, Mo.

As just a small sampling, what’s new is the timeline of Bonds’ drugs use (for many years after the 1998 season), motivation (his numbers were no longer good enough compared with guys like McGwire and Sosa) and depth of usage (his doping regimen is detailed drug-by-drug and sometimes day-by-day). By the way, Bonds never has answered any questions about such details, nor has he challenged the veracity of a single fact as presented. And the questions are not the same. They change all the time. There is, for instance, the matter of a just-launched investigation by the commissioner’s office. There was the hostility of fans in San Diego. The story continues to evolve.

He ignores the first question, and instead suggests that to wonder why Bonds is the center of attention is to be in favor of no accountablility. He then lets us know that, in fact, he and the rest of his soap-box proclaimers will make sure we don’t forget about these horrible criminals. He also operates from the obvious contention that the Bonds’ book is, in fact, the actual truth, and to suggest otherwise is absurd.

Of course the story continues to evolve. Of course the questions change. That’s what happens in a witch-hunt. No answer, no challenge, no failure on the part of the investigators is ever considered valid. Only the demand to step up and be burned alive will suffice. Reading Verducci’s response’s make me wonder if he even has an editor, because he did himself no favors with his glib answers to real baseball fans’ concerns.

Then again, Verducci, Lupica, and the rest of these crusaders have little or no connection to what baseball fans really think about this “scandal.” He ignores the fact that baseball fans are voting in the one way that really matters, over and over again. With every Opening Day game sold-out, fans are letting these jerkoffs know that it’s an issue only to someone interested in selling newspapers or magazines or TV ad time.

Let it go. Same thing fans said about Rose. LET. IT. GO. We’re ready to put it behind us. Why aren’t you?

…. Plug me in

…. Open & shut

Opening Day jitters? So much for Jason Schmidt and his extra 15 pounds of muscle and his health and his strength and all that horsecrap. Schmidt allowed four runs and seven hits, striking out two, as the Giants were pasted 6-1 by the Padres. That, my friends, is cause for concern, because that’s the same kind of bullshit performance that caused me to wonder whether he’d be worth the $10 million this year.

…. Wrong way street

Yeah, I was wrong about Pete Rose. Pete Rose was the darling of baseball, of the baseball writers, for pretty much his entire career. When things went bad for Pete, the baseball writers acted like he had been in cohoots with Hitler in 1933. So, yeah, I was wrong to suggest that it was pretty much a Greek tragedy the way his life went, and his baseball life in particular, went south, so fast. But, Larry, you seem to have missed the point on what I was writing about Rose, just like you’re missing the point about what I’m writing regards Bonds. Here’s my take after Rose’s book came out:

…. I got a lot of emails reminding me that I had been defending him for two years. While on the surface that may seem true, in reality, that’s missing the point. I was defending Rose’s rights, not Rose. He was treated terribly for years, with one writer after another proclaiming his guilt, without even having read the Dowd report, let alone actually knowing anything.

And then, after he finally came forward and admitted that he had bet on basseball, I wrote this:

…. 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!?

And now Bonds is going through the same exact experience, (without having had the fun of being Lupica’s hero first, of course). You don’t think so? Here’s Lupica, today:

….We have come too far on this to turn back, even as so many people now act as if all the precincts have reported, that we have all the information we need about what drugs have done to players and to the record book over the past decade.

…. Does any reasonable person, anybody who’s not still some kind of yahoo for Bonds, actually believe he hasn’t found some new meds to beat the current drug testing?

…. If you don’t think Mitchell is going to give this a full shot with the whole world watching him, you’re nuts. He and his people will talk to every owner, they will talk to the commissioner, to general managers, managers, trainers, clubhouse attendants. They will talk to any player who will cooperate. And if they don’t cooperate, then guess what? That goes into George Mitchell’s report, too. Put down the name of every player who does the same as pleading the Fifth in front of Mitchell and his investigators.

Come clean, tell the truth, apologize, it’ll all be fine. But it’s not gonna ever be enough for Lupica and the mob. Baseball has to have drug testing. Then they have to have penalties. Tougher penalties! More tests!! Apologize!! Apologize and give back all your money!! Play clean and then we’ll let you put your mistakes behind you. No, I meant him, not you.

Lupica thinks that he and the rest of the sportswriters are the protectors of baseball, of our kids, of America; that it is their writing about the game that makes it great, not the great players doing incredible things. Bonds has ruined baseball for these writers, and they think for everyone else, as well.

It is writers like Lupica who have turned this into a witch hunt, a sideshow, who have forced upon us this “tired steroids story” until we can’t stand to hear another word about it. Now, we hear that Bonds must stil be using something, because the tests aren’t perfect. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE JUDGES SAID DURING THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS! The fact that we believe you aren’t a witch means that you are bewitching us.

Players are still using?! That’s what Lupica gets to write in a major newspaper? The drug tests are happening, players are failing them, paying the price, but we still don’t believe you! Never failed a drug test? Who cares! You’re still really big and strong. You have acne! The men convicted of selling steroids still say they never sold or gave you any? WHO CARES! You’re obviously cheating!!! Some guys wrote a book.

Meanwhile, reasonable discourse on the subject can only be found buried in the middle of some side story:

…. (Tom) Glavine and Al Leiter, who recently retired from the Yankees, said they did not condone using greenies, but both gave lengthy discourses on why players reached for them: Players tried to combat difficult hours, handle the endless travel and make a weary body come to life.

Grimsley said that greenies have “been part of the game” at least since Jim Bouton wrote about them in “Ball Four,” his landmark book in 1970. Commissioner Bud Selig has said he first heard about greenies in the Milwaukee Braves’ clubhouse in 1958. All these years later, he is adamant about eradicating them in baseball, citing the health risk.

Others, like Grimsley, do not seem quite as concerned. “There are some things that don’t need to be in the game, but there are things that have been in it for a long time,” Grimsley said. “It’s almost like they’re trying to change everything about baseball. It’s become sterilized.”

Who cares about the long hours, the hard work, the travel. Screw you, you spoiled, rich babies. Tough cookies. But don’t take a day off the one day I come to the park. You better be there when I drop the cash, and you better hit a home run, pitch a shutout, catch that screaming line drive, win the game for me. And you better do it the way I want you to.

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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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