Archive for January, 2008
With nothing going on in Giants-land, I thought I’d talk a bit about the Santana trade. Great news for the Mets, who needed something to forget last season’s epic collapse; and landing Santana, one of the few, true difference makers in the game, is just what the doctor ordered. In fact, you could argue that he is the best pitcher that’s become available in many years, maybe even ever. 29-year old, two-time Cy Young Award winners that are availabe to the highest bidder are that rare, and now he’s a Met.
On the other hand, he’s not a Yankee, and while that news may make Yankee haters happy, it bears repeating that this was a mistake by Brian Cashman. Yes, the Yankees have made a series of very expensive pitching decisions over the last 10 years, Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, Clemens last season, Randy Johnson, even Mike Mussina; all overpaid, all disappointing in one way or another. Not one of those pitchers has managed to get the Yankees through a first round playoff series since 2004, and for the most part, it is their pitching failures that are the reason the Yankees have not won a title since 2000.
But, just because overpaying for one guy is wrong doesn’t mean overpaying for another is as well. Santana is none of those pitchers, in fact, he is unique. He is an absolute ace, at the top of his game. For a team that thinks it is playing for a title every year, he was a must-have player, and Cashman’s insistence that the Yankees let their young pitching develop means that this season, and the next several; are all on him now. If Hughes doesn’t develop into a stud, if Joba Chamberlain turns out to be a one-hit wonder, or, more importantly, if Santana pulls a Josh Beckett for the Mets this season, and brings a title home to Flushing; then Cashman gets it all. He gets the blame, he gets the goat horns, and he probably gets fired.
And he’d deserve it. Sure, developing your players from within is the smart move; just about every time. This is the one time it isn’t. Cashman dug his heels in one this one. Now, he’s hoping he didn’t dig his grave, too.
I haven’t written much about baseball lately, partly because the Giants have been doing absolutely nothing, and partly because of the truly absurd spectacle that this scandal has become. Millions of dollars being spent investigating what consenting adults are using to improve themselves, dozens of big-time, superstar athletes finding their careers and reputations sullied for doing what anyone would do if they knew the truth; a truth that everyone is afraid to face the truth, because of a rampaging, moralistic, sensationalizing mass media machine.
It is enough to make me shut it all down, I’ll tell you that. Today’s NY Times has this piece of propaganda, in which we learn that, contrary to any evidence, or any common sense, or any history, or any facts, prohibition actually works!
Drug policy experts said the prosecutors of Operation Raw Deal could seek, at best, to disrupt the steady flow of performance-enhancing drugs.
“Use goes down when price goes up or availability is reduced,” said Jonathan P. Caulkins, a professor of public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “We also know that ongoing enforcement pressure forces dealers to operate in inefficient ways, greatly increasing their costs of operation and, hence, increase the final retail price. So even if an operation doesn’t create a price spike, if it’s part of the background level of enforcement that forces the dealers to keep their heads down, then it may be doing some good.”
I guess it was a bad idea to end Prohibition after all. Oh, I’m sorry, these are experts. I didn’t realize they were experts. What were you saying? Use goes down if price goes up? Or does it go down if availability is reduced, which makes profits go away? Or are you saying that enforcement makes dealers use inefficient means to distribute their product, which would appear to mean having to use different cars to deliver trunks full of steroids? Are you kidding me? People who think like this need to be in the paper? Logic dies when men like this speak.
Meanwhile, we will soon learn that, because the Players Association failed to properly handle the anonymous testing samples properly, more players names will be dragged through the mud, for what purpose, exactly?
Who cares anymore? This is what happens when you let a used car salesman run a multi-billion dollar, multi-national corporation. You get this, a sloppy, ill-conceived, thoughtlessly disorganized disgrace. The minute Seligula decided to go forward with this “investigation,” we were headed here, to this slapstick comedy lacking style, grace or humor. You have one actor –the mainstream media– that has no legitimate connection with your industry, demanding reform, rehabilitation, and an almost constant stream of bad guys to vilify.
You have your heroes, led by people like Henry Waxman, who has apparently decided that his job is to head up the government’s interference into a completely legal, collectively bargained agreement between ownership and labor, something that would be unheard of in virtually any other industry. And in case you think I’m crazy, just imagine this kind of bullshit going on with, say, your local electrician’s union. You think people in construction don’t use PED’s? You think cops and firemen don’t? Truck drivers? Let me say it loud and clear; ONLY AN IDIOT WOULD THINK THAT.
Consequently, you find yourself throwing another iron in the fire for the prohibition crowd; who actually seem to believe that it is our nations best interest to spend millions and millions of dollars chasing people who use recreational and performance enhancing drugs while simultaneously ignoring the fact, THE FACT that the really dangerous drugs are legal and, more to the point, are actually promoted by the very industry that we now see being investigated.
This is happening, of course, at the same time we have a Super Bowl about to come down that features one of the best players on the best team having already tested positive –this season– for the same kind of drugs that are supposedly in need of being struck from the face of the earth –so that we can save the children– a situation that is so comically absurd as to seem farcical. It isn’t a farce, however. People’s lives are being destroyed, reputations tarnished, and millions of dollars being wasted to “clean up” a situation that isn’t in need of cleaning up.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again; find me the bodies. Get me the actual studies and reports and details that show that steroids kill, or cause cancer, or do whatever Dick Pound wants you to believe they do. You can’t. No one can. What you can find is one more industry built to stop people from doing something that should be their own business. One more industry desperately protecting us from ourselves, and being financed by companies that actually do make and sell drugs that are massively harmful to all of us, including the kids everyone wants to save.
You wanna tell me about drug-caused suicides, tell me about the suicides of the tens of thousands of teenagers who are binge-alcoholics. Tell me about the long-term suicides that we are watching whenever we see kids smoking Marlboros.
All of this falls in the commissioners lap. All of it. The sanctimonious sportswriters forgetting that they are not the show. The government interfering into private business. The investigations and scandals and all of it. If Selig was a man, a leader, he could have come out right from the start and said what is really true; that all he and the rest of the owners care about, all anyone in any multi-billion dollar a year industry care about is the bottom line. If players want to use PED’s to do their jobs, it’s their lives, their careers. They already take risks to be major-leaguers that most people would cringe at; why draw the line there.
Selig didn’t care about the health of the players, Steinbrenner didn’t care, Magowan didn’t, the Busch family didn’t, MIKE -FUCKING- LUPICA DIDN’T!!!
You wanna go after somebody? Go after the owners, go after the general managers. Every one of them should parade in front of Congress before Roger Clemens.
Roger Clemens has finally gone and lawyered himself up, bringing in top Washington lawyer Lanny A. Breuer, and we’ll soon see just how much his new power team is gonna change his strategy. So far, it’s been a public relations disaster, which was, of course, inevitable.
A group of reporters with little or no expertise or knowledge about a subject, all falling all over themselves to prove that they care about integrity, or the children, or the sanctity of competition, or the health of the players, or the law; it’s a recipe for disaster. Of course, being a top lawyer doesn’t mean you are from this planet:
Lanny J. Davis, another prominent Washington lawyer, who worked with Breuer as White House counsel for Clinton, said bringing in Breuer was an excellent decision by Hardin and Clemens.
“I can’t think of a better lawyer in Washington to represent Mr. Clemens or anybody that needs help in the Congress or in the public arena than Lanny Breuer.
…. he’s going to have a much tougher set of cross-examiners than Mike Wallace was that night, to say the least.” Davis added in reference to Clemens’s House committee hearing, scheduled for Feb. 13.
Yeah, right. A group of fearless leaders grandstanding thoughtlessly in front of a bunch of uninformed and lemming-esque reporters…. yeah, that’ll be tough. The only part that’s tough is having to listen to it. Oh, and having to realize that these people are running our country.
I’m sorry to report that I didn’t spend one second watching the latest round of bloviating and lecturing by our elected leaders. I don’t care anymore, because, frankly, neither do they. They don’t care about facts, or the truth. They aren’t interested in knowing what they are talking about, and I am sick of hearing them quoted as if they were. They are not, in fact, knowledgeable about anything at all pertaining to this issue.
They are not worth listening to.
Norman Frost is. He’ll face off in a real debate, with a moderator and rules, on NPR’s new intelligence2, on Tuesday the 23rd, and we’ll see how he likes arguing PED’s with people who know about a tenth of what he knows.
UPDATE: Here’s one recap of the debate:
…. Despite defending a pretty unpopular proposition (“We should allow performance enhancing drugs in sports”), the consensus seemed to be that our side more than held its own We started the night with just 18 percent of the audience favoring our position. After the debate, we pulled 37 percent, winning all of the undecideds, and even pulling 4 percent from the other side.
Alan C. Milstein writes at the Sports Law Blog:
…. Another African American superstar athlete has been prosecuted by the Justice Department for perjury arising from the Balco Grand Jury. Now Marion Jones, winner of five Olympic medals and probably the best female athlete of our time, has been sentenced to 6 months in prison by a federal judge in New York.
The Judge’s remarks in sentencing Jones are curious and reflect the double standard facing celebrated sports figures.
…. “Athletes in society,” he continued, “have an elevated status. They entertain, they inspire and perhaps most importantly, they serve as role models for kids around the world. When there is a widespread level of cheating, it sends all the wrong messages to those who follow these athletes’ every move.”
What is that? Jones, who is still nursing her seven month old, has to spend six months locked away from her family and the rest of us because she disappointed the kids who idolized her? Where in the sentencing guidelines is that factor?
He goes on to challenge whether members of the Bush/Gonzalez Justice Department, who have done nothing but lie and obstruct justice for going on 8 years now, have the moral authority to sentence anyone to prison for lying.
Rick Karcher also wonders just what the hell is going on:
…. I can’t ever recall a situation in which “role model” status of the defendant had any impact on a judge’s sentencing decision. And there is good reason for that.
First, role model status is entirely subjective and personal. Some people have role models who are close family members. Some consider their role models to be firemen, teachers and doctors. Why do we insist that athletes are in fact role models to our children? Just because my kid’s favorite baseball player is Manny Ramirez and he wears Manny’s jersey, doesn’t mean that Manny is his role model. My kid doesn’t want to be like Manny nor do everything that Manny does.
If Manny is ever implicated in wrong doing, my kid will simply say “that’s really sad and unfortunate.” Regarding external forces that have an influence on my kids, athletes taking steroids or lying about taking steroids is not even remotely on my list of concerns, which includes among other things exposure to violence/sex on television, video games and surfing the internet.
In any event, I certainly don’t want judges deciding which criminal defendants they “deem” to be role models.
We are living in the dark ages right now, one in which the moral majority have altered the landscape of our country, making it easy for people to stand around accusing others of some failing or another, and lording over them when they fall. We have forgotten that “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones” and instead, continually chant for another beheading.
It’s bad enough that it happens in bars and over dinner tables. When judges start parroting sportswriter hyperbole, and people like the President himself –who knows little enough about the important stuff– and less than nothing about steroids and other PED’s, start thinking that they are the voices of reason; it makes me glad I live in the middle of nowhere.
It is a sad time for intellectual discourse.
UPDATE: David Pinto has some new stuff on the Clemens situation:
…. According to a source close to the trainer who says he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone, McNamee answered questions from the government and former Sen. George Mitchell’s office truthfully, but “he tried not to hurt Roger” in the process. Now that Clemens has sued him for defamation and has mounted a ferocious attack on McNamee, “stuff is pouring out of him.” According to Ward, “Brian knows a lot about Roger’s moral character and knows a lot about his extracurricular activities. … There’s a lot that he could say to damage Roger’s reputation, but we plan on taking the high road. … If some of this stuff were to come out, Roger Clemens would look very, very, very bad.”
Great. You can’t say CLemens didn’t bring this upong himself, what with the very personal attacks he’s made on McNamee. Nevertheless, what a sordid, unpleasant situation this is degenerating into. Roger Clemens has, indeed, found himself becoming the pitcher’s version of Bonds; arguably the greatest pitcher ever finding himself being roasted into ash by virtually everyone.
Through DK Wilson’s site, I found a site called, interestingly enough, Steroids and Baseball. It is terrific, basically encapsulating my entire five years of arguments, fact-finding, and criticism. I’ll just throw you a taste for today, I may do continuous updates from it for a while:
“With estimates of over 1 million past or current users in the US, an extremely small percentage of individuals using anabolic-androgenic steroids appear to experience mental disturbances severe enough to result in clinical treatment and medical case reports. Even among those so affected, the roles of previous psychiatric history, genetic susceptibility to addictions or mental disorders, environmental and peer influences, and individual expectations remain unclear.” Dr. Charles Yesalis
Every medication whatever, no matter how typically benign or harmless, carries the risk that a particular individual might be the rare person with an atypical and significantly negative reaction. The percentages of the population who may be at risk to a given atypical adverse reaction to steroids seem from the published literature quite small–roughly in line with, for example, allergy to sulfa drugs, which remain a commonly prescribed medication.
Few of the alleged side effects of steroids rise to the level of significant even when reactions occur, and in all but one case (breast enlargement) can be made to disappear by simply discontinuing the steroid; even in the case of gynecomastia, when it lingers it is usually amenable to medication. Nor are these substances addictive.
The bottom line seems to be clear: One, by consensus medical and jurisprudential knowledge, these substances should not be illegal; two, regardless of legal questions, their use would not be considered by any sane person to be a medical “risk”–users would routinely be monitored by medical personnel for possible onset of atypical reactions. Even in the present artificial status, in which legitimate medical personnel are precluded from participating, symptoms above the mildly annoying level are rare and almost always reversible. To present steroid use as a major medical risk–or, worse, as a sure ticket to catastrophic consequences–is to invite at least cynicism in users and, as has been seen with so many other illegal substances, a marked tendency in the user community to disregard all cautions as lies.
First, I had an epic, world-class dinner the other night in Westchester. I’m home visiting my family, and went out Saturday night to a place called Flames, a very highly-rated steakhouse in Briarcliff, NY. I just wanted to throw a shout-out to the whole crew at the restaurant. Owners Nick and Valentina were simply terrific, made me feel like I was a regular, even though it was my first time. The staff was attentive and informal, the food was flat-out perfect, especially the bone-in filet mignon I had as my entree.
I rarely mention my restaurant jaunts here, but this dinner was special, and my waiter, who happens to be a web/computer tech guy, deserved the limelight. Hats off, Dardan.
On to baseball….
Has Roger Clemens put his foot in his mouth? His stance, that McNamee lied, seems to have left him with no outs, other than to be telling the truth. He’s all-in, and he better have the best hand. If he doesn’t, he’ll be the next guy to be indicted.
…. now Clemens isn’t just saying McNamee lied when he said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. He is saying something much more serious than that. He is really saying that the federal government, whose agents heard McNamee’s story about Clemens and steroids the same as Sen. George Mitchell did when compiling his report for Major League Baseball, was selectively targeting Roger Clemens.
“[Clemens] is accusing the government of pressuring McNamee to pin the tail on the Clemens donkey,” Emery (McNamee’s lawyer) says. “And that did not happen. Earl was in the room with the government and the opposite of what Clemens is saying is what happened. They didn’t have Clemens as a target. They had steroid use as a target. It came as a surprise to them. McNamee reluctantly gave them Clemens because he had to tell the truth to stay out of jail, not lie.”
…. “He has put himself in a legal buzzsaw, and I have no idea why, even if he is innocent. I am shocked that his lawyer would allow him to take this position. I would never allow a client of mine to behave this way.”
That last quote is an interesting one. It’s interesting because I’d love to know how Lupica and the rest of his buddies at the News would have handled the Clemens situation if his lawyer had told him to say nothing, do nothing, and let them take the correct legal recourse. If Clemens would have covered up and gone all lawyer, where would he be now? How would this play out in the MSM?
But, this is how it is in the court of public opinion, right? You have talking heads on ESPN demanding the truth, not believing it, demanding more truth, questioning motives, and declaring that they have the pulse of the millions of baseball fans around the world that they, apparently think they represent. Clemens didn’t deny it fast enough. He didn’t deny it the right way, with enough humility, or clarity, or with his wife standing by his side. He should have lawyered up, he failed to figure out the right way to speak, he looks like he’s lying….
Now we have Lupica, being read by millions, watching the Clemens 60 Minutes interview with McNamee’s lawyer, so that everyone can know that McNamee’s lawyer thinks his client is right and Clemens is not. Really? That’s what we needed to know, that McNamee’s lawyer is ready to defend his client? Wow. That’s an interesting angle. Never would have thought that.
You think Clemens’ lawyer maybe thinks the exact opposite? Maybe?