Archive for March, 2013
Congratulations to Buster Posey and the SF Giants. Posey signed a new contract, locking him up til 2021 for the tidy little sum of $167 million dollars. Wow.
I sure hope he can stay healthy.
Sorry for the lack of posts.
As the SF Giants head into their defense of last year's World Championship, I've been paying attention on the periphery, as work and family have kept me on my toes. I'm happy to see Brandon Belt looking like he's ready for a breakout season. He could help alleviate some of the drop off that's expected from players like Scutaro, who can't possibly repeat last seasons scorching .360 batting average as a Giant.
But reading today's little piece about Pablo Sandoval “accepting” his body weight for the next couple of seasons makes me more than a little worried:
…. Pablo Sandoval came to San Francisco Giants camp fat this year, like he does pretty much every year, because there are two truths about Pablo Sandoval, and one of them is he does not do skinny.
The other is that he's a remarkable hitter, preternaturally gifted like only a handful of players, maybe less. At 5-foot-11 (give or take – no, take – two inches) and 262 pounds (give or take – no, give – 20 pounds), Sandoval hits everything everywhere anytime anywhere. If anyone in baseball today is going to stroke a single off a pitch that bounces before it reaches home plate, it's him.
…. “I've got this year and next year to change all the things,” Sandoval said. “It's going to take me a while, but I can do it. I know I can do it. You need to learn. You need to grow up. You need to step up and know the difference between what you can do and what you can't.”
Yeah, well, I'm a bit skeptical. As the article points out, Pablo's missed at least 45 games each of the last two seasons, and whether you think the weight is the reason or not, allowing yourself to just walk around 40 pounds overweight all the time…. as a professional athlete, that's just something Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy must be concerned about.
You're talking about defending a championship, every team in the league is coming after you. After what happened in 2011, everyone associated with the Giants has to be thinking about heading into the season with a different attitude. Roll with it might work when you're trying to win a title, it doesn't work when you're defending it.
Hat Tip to Baseball Musings
In the face of so many calls for stricter penalties by so many misguided moralists in the mainstream media, Commissioner Selig has come out and said he is in favor of increasing the penalties for PED’s. This is, of course, absurd. The penalty system is fine. The testing system is as good as it needs to be:
…. In the year ending with the 2012 World Series, there were seven positives for performance-enhancing substances and 11 for stimulants among 3,955 urine tests and 1,181 blood tests, according to a report issued in November by baseball’s independent program administrator, Dr. Jeffrey M. Anderson.
So, .003% of all the tests come back positive, and the Commissioner, as well as the complete fools in the media are all in a tizzy about solving a “problem” that doesn’t exist. Again, the program works fine. But if you’re in the mood for a different take, David Pinto has a suggestion:
….I would suggest, however, that suspensions may not be the way to go. My recommendation would be to hit the players hard in the wallet. Every positive test moves the start of big money back two years, or does a reset to the minimum salary. So if a first year player gets caught, he has to wait five years instead of three for arbitration, then eight years instead of six for free agency. If he is already collecting an arbitration or free agent salary, the next two years are paid at the minimum. In other words, cheating takes away the salary guarantee. A player might take a chance for 50 games. He might not take a chance for millions of dollars.
It’s an interesting take, but again, the system works. Players are being harmed by the suspensions, teams are being harmed. Melky was essentially an outcast in SF after his suspension, banned from the postseason, and from an eventual championship. What more do you want? Shoot them? It’s a game, people. Someone cheats, they get suspended. Three strikes and you’re out. That’s enough. The Players Association should resist any further calls for tougher penalties. They have no incentive, and they are not required to.
UPDATE: Eric thinks the system isn’t working. Well, I think it is. I think we’re talking about something working versus a completely unrealistic goal of 100% eradication. We’re confusing “works” with “perfect.” No system will catch everyone, for the exact reasons you just stated, the incentives are too great. The idea isn’t to eliminate use to the point of 100% clean. That’ll never happen. To even come close to 100% would entail a level of personal invasiveness no player would thoughtfully agree to. That’s why we shouldn’t listen to the sportswriters, the players, or the owners, or even the commissioner when it comes to this issue. They aren’t experts. Far from it. They are consumers, they are sheep. When they say things like 11 positive tests out of almost 4000 vials of urine means the system isn’t working, it just illustrates how out of touch with reality they are.
There will always be a small percentage of people willing to do anything to achieve success. For the most part, those people are lauded as our heroes. The players agreed to this system. If some of them want to circumvent it, so be it. Some of them will get caught, and some won’t. That’s life. We could easily insure that every single person who ever speeds gets caught. Put GPS tracking devices in every car, and have it automatically issue a ticket every time you exceed the speed limit. Anybody want that? I could go on. How come it’s OK to ask Derek Jeter to allow someone to come to his house any hour of the day or night and ask him to pee in a cup? Because he plays a game? How is it so hard to see the absurdity in this situation?
The players have already given huge concessions in this situation. To give more baffles me.
If I were in the majors, I would never vote to allow that kind of intrusion in my life. But that’s me. I find it amazing that so many people would actively petition for the removal of another person’s privacy.
Having just learned that A-Rod will undergo surgery for a cyst in his hip, my mind wondered back to a story, or perhaps it was a rumor that another Yankee had undergone a similar procedure. Was it in “Ball Four,” that I had read that Mickey Mantle had a cyst in his hip –caused by an infection due to a dirty needle used for a vitamin B shot– that caused him to miss significant time?
Using Baseball-Reference.com, I can see that Mantle missed significant time in 1962 and 1963. Was that what happened?
And if it did, doesn't it raise the question of whether A-Rod's cyst was caused by an infection? An infection that could have started because of a dirty needle?
Two questions come to my mind:
1. Now that we know that forty years ago, elite athletes were already well aware of the powerful effects of steroids, isn't it possible that Mickey Mantle may have been experimenting with steroids?
2. How come no major news media outlet has taken the steps to ask what, exactly, is the cause of the cyst thatA-Rod has?
A few answers come to mind right away. First off, none of these so-called “keepers of the flame” will investigate whether their hero could have been sullied by the steroids cloud, so the Mantle question will be left for us to ponder. And as for the question about A-Rod, no one has asked it because nobody thought of it, until now. All I ask is a plug from the writer who picks up this thread. ;-)
Meanwhile, two former players have come out with their own personal tales of steroid woes. The first one is an in this Philadelphia Daily News story by Paul Hagen:
…. He was, he said, largely unaware of steroids when he signed his first professional contract. Of course, back then his fastball was consistently in the mid-90s and he could throw it effortlessly and without pain.
That was before the elbow operations. Still, he persevered. He worked his way through the minors. He said he still knew little about performance-enhancing substances. He reached the majors and began to have some success. Then he began to have more problems with his elbow and shoulder and faced further surgery. He worried that he might not make the team the following spring. He began looking for ways to recover more quickly.
“I felt pressure that I put on myself,” he says. “It wasn't external. When you struggle for a while, you realize that maybe your performance isn't up to par because you were playing through some injuries. But the bottom line is, the performance wasn't that good. “I had surgery right after the season. And spring training was only 6 months away. So I was looking for something to help speed up that process, to try and regain my health as quickly as possible. Because I felt that pressure of having to perform and compete and throw the ball well right out of the gate or I was going to lose that job.
“I was supposed to be in my prime for a pitcher. But my physical skills deteriorated to the point where it was like, 'OK, I've got to address this or I'm not going to be able to play at this level.' “
He began asking some of the veteran players if they had any suggestions. About this time, he also became acquainted with a guy who worked out at the same health club he went to during the offseason.
“He wasn't involved in baseball in any way, shape or form,” the ex-player says. “And just by looking at him, you knew he wasn't much of an athlete. He was a big guy who carried a lot of weight on him. Let's just say he was on the lumpy side and it was obvious he wasn't in the gym training for the next body-building event. “Over time we became friends, and as it turns out his work is focused on the health and fitness field, as he had a master's degree in exercise science and nutrition. He ran a small practice out of a family doctor's office, where he counseled people on health and nutrition issues. He incorporated a lot of homeopathic and natural cures into his program, and I had become more interested in that.”
Eventually, he made an
appointment. They talked at length about maintaining a healthy diet. And then the conversation moved to a different level.
“He started talking to me about growth hormone and anabolics,” the ex-pitcher says. “I was very ignorant about it at the time. But with this guy's educational background and experience, I really had a strong conviction that he understood what he was talking about. To my surprise, he talked about anabolics in a much more positive light than I had ever heard before.”
Well, of course that would be a surprise. The demonization of all drugs not endorsed for profit-making by the powers that be means that any information disseminated about them be made up of lies and distortions. We wouldn't want people to make informed choices when there's no money to be made.
And over the NY Daily News, Darryl Strawberry opened up his mouth and made headlines:
…. “Hell, yeah, I would have used (steroids). Are you kidding me?” Strawberry said as he kicked off a week as a guest instructor at Mets camp, during a defense of Alex Rodriguez. You know what, it's just the point of being in sports. In our nature we're competitive creatures. We have a tremendous drive and high tolerance and all of these things in us. I'm not saying that was the right thing to do, but if somebody asked me if I would have faced it, what would I have done if that was going on in the era of the '80s, it definitely probably would have been in my system, too. I probably would have been a part of it, too. And I wouldn't have denied it, because you guys know I don't deny anything.”
Refreshingly candid, although Darryl seems to have forgotten about his tougher times, when he did, in fact, deny a lot. But, hey, at least he's being honest, unlike Reggie Jackson, who clearly played in a time in which amphetamine use –at the least– was widespread throughout baseball; but Mr. Jackson wants us all to know that he's saddened by A-Rod's admission that he used PED's.
Yes, I'm sure Jackson never used anything to get an edge. I'm sure that during his whole career, he was a clean as the driven snow.
Here's an idea. If all of these sad ex-baseball players want to do something to help clean up the game, to end this charade, to make the stories be about baseball again, and not whether this guy or that used this or that; they should all come clean.
That's right, open your mouth, and have something come out that's worth listening to. Every living baseball player knows, absolutely knows that either he used something stronger than coffee, or he knows that most of his teammates did. If baseball's fraternity is so strong, then they should all line up together, and tell the fucking truth. They should all stand up and say something like this:
The truth is that elite athletes use anything and everything to gain an edge.
The truth is that if you're not in this world of elite athletic endeavor, you cannot understand, you cannot possibly fathom what goes on. You cannot come close to dealing with the pressures, the constant pain, the fear, and the rewards of an elite athlete. You cannot grasp what it's like to live the life of a superstar, nor can you really understand what it's like to be the 24th guy on the team.
We do. We're living it. We pay the prices, we reap the rewards, we make the decisions.
And then they'd ask the one question that ends any debate:
If you were told that you could take a drug that would earn you and your family millions of dollars, or even hundreds of millions of dollars, allowing you to reach the pinnacle of your dreams, would you use it?
If you were told that using this drug would enable you to stay in the game, after you started to notice you were on your way out if it, would you use it?
If you were good, but could be great, or even the best ever, would you use it?
No one could honestly answer that question unequivocally, either way. You couldn't say absolutely no, and you couldn't say absolutely yes.
You'd have to be there. And if you've never been there, and you still think you know the answer, all you're doing is yelling at the rain.