Archive for the 'Barry Bonds' Category
Be very afraid:
…. managing general partner Bill Neukom said he expects the Giants’ active payroll to rise in 2010.
“I anticipate that in terms of actual dollars of people playing for the Giants between the lines, it should be an uptick from this year,” said Neukom, who did not divulge a specific amount. It is not expected to be dramatic.
…. Asked if that means the team would consider one of the few wildly expensive middle-of-the-order hitters expected to be free agents, he said without mentioning names such as Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, “I wouldn’t rule out anybody at this point.”
At the same time, Neukom said the Giants have a “finite amount” of money for payroll
…. No matter which players the Giants consider this winter, Neukom said, the same formula will apply in evaluating them – and here is the caveat on the big-money hitters:
“At the end of the day, the question is going to be, Would this person significantly help us and make us more likely to be a winning baseball team, competitive to contending?” Neukom said.
“What’s it going to cost us in money? We have a finite amount of money to spend on this. Can we afford the money? Can we afford to give up the talent we would give up to get this person in a trade situation? Does acquiring this person (place a) lid on some talent we have coming up? Finally, what does this addition to the roster mean to the chemistry of this team?”
Let’s take a look at these questions in the order that Neukom asked them:
Would this person significantly help us and make us more likely to be a winning team?
The Giants are finishing a season in which they’ve scored fewer runs than just about every other team in baseball. Position by position, our team looks like this:
Catcher 27th in OBP 15th in OPS
First 26th in OBP 26th in OPS
Second 29th in OBP 29th in OPS
Third 5th in OBP 2nd in OPS
Short 18th in OBP 22 in OPS
Left 19th in OBP 20th in OPS
Center 22nd in OBP 20th in OPS
Right 29th in OBP 29th in OPS
So, for those of you not paying attention, we have a league average catcher, a top of the line third baseman, and nothing else. There are eight positions on the diamond, and we have one of them filled. That pretty much means that Neukom is already posturing. He is already getting prepared to tell us that, for the team to be able to go out and sign players like Matt Holliday, if they are going to cost so much money, one must be able to prove that they will help the team win. I can hear him already, “Well, you know we won 87 games last year with Randy Winn –who is an All Star, by the way– in right, why should we spend $40 million to get a guy who’s only marginally better.”
Not to mention, our GM is too stupid to know the difference anyway. Last year, we went out and got Edgar Renteria and Randy Johnson, and Jeremy Affeldt. Brian Sabean went out and upgraded three of the 25 men on his roster because he thought that would translate into making the postseason. So, we already watched Sabean make moves that were never, ever, going to “significantly” improve the team’s chances, even though Brian Sabean thought they would, just one more reason he should be fired. He thought that signing Edgar Renteria, Jeremy Affeldt and Randy Johnson were significant, dramatic upgrades, upgrades that would propel the team to the playoffs, even though we knew those kinds of moves were absolutely provably wrong, and absolutely guaranteed to fail.
…. To suggest that Renteria would even be an improvement over the stack of cordwood the Giants have been trotting out to short the last couple of seasons is laughable.
The Giants ranked dead last in all of baseball in production from short, running out a horrific .228/.295/.281 .576 OPS line that actually understates how bad it really was. The Giants shortstops scored 51 runs, accumulated 156 total bases, hit 1 home run, and made something like 450 outs.
Renteria (.270/.318/.382 .699 OPS) scored 69 runs, accumulated 192 total bases, hit 10 home runs, and also made something like 450 outs. To oversimplify just a bit, virtually all of the difference between him and the Giants shortstops was in the extra 9 home runs he hit; which he will never hit in a Giants uniform.
Again, a team as far from contention as the Giants shouldn’t even consider paying a 33-year old that kind of money, regardless of how good he is; and Renteria just isn’t all that good anymore. He had a fluky .332 season two years ago, but other than that, he’s been a league average hitter with modest defensive skills, who will be 34-years old this season.
Here’s what the boys at Baseball Prospectus said about Renteria before last season:
…. This may come as a surprise given his recent production, but PECOTA is not a fan of Edgar Renteria heading into 2008. His forecast is just .279/.343/.393 with a Collapse Rate of 50 percent. Part of the reason why for that decline is easy to spot—his BABIP was .375 last season, which helped him hit .332 on the season. There’s a significant drop in his projected power production as well, stemming from a combination of his getting older and also switching from the better league for hitters. If we adjusted his line from last year just for his BABIP, he would be somewhere around .307/.365/.445; that high Collapse Rate is PECOTA’s way of saying he isn’t as good as his 2007.
And then he wasn’t as good as his projection. You think he’s gonna be better this season, a right-hander with little power playing half his games at PacBell? $9 million good?
He failed to even reach the low levels of his forecast, .279/.343/.393 .736 OPS, running out a dismal .250/.307/.328 .635 OPS line, including, just as I predicted, only 5 home runs and 40 missed games. He scored, by the way, 50 runs, accumulated 187 total bases, and made 345 outs in 124 games. I won’t bore you with rehashing my accurate prediction that Johnson would get his 300th win and then not play another game.
What’s it going to cost us in money? We have a finite amount of money to spend on this. Can we afford the money?
Well, yes, you can. You can afford the money. We know that you can, because you give it away like it’s covered in anthrax. You “gave” $18 million dollars to Dave Roberts, who went from the Giants to the retirement home. You “gave” $18 million to Edgar Renteria, who was worth exactly ten cents in the grand scheme of “help us win a championship,” horseshit you’re trotting out right now. You, and your crack team of baseball experts are already getting your selves ready to “give” something like $30 million to Freddie–I am not 100 years old–Sanchez.
Here’s an idea…. Go out and “give” some money to a real baseball player. One who isn’t already past his prime, who isn’t injured, or out of shape, or a “savvy veteran.” Go out and get a good, young hitter, preferably an rightfielder, which will allow you to use Winn as a fourth outfielder. Send Fred Lewis to the winter league to learn how to play left, let Rowand play everyday in center. Sign Uribe for $3 or 4 million per and hope he has one more year in him. Sign Penny for about the same. Leave Sandoval at third base, play Velez at second and pray that he wasn’t an illusion the last two months, and platoon Garko and Ishikawa. Don’t throw another $25 million on the ground for Freddie Sanchez, who’s a marginal player at his best.
Does acquiring this person (place a) lid on some talent we have coming up?
What does this addition to the roster mean to the chemistry of this team?
Fuck you and your “chemistry.” Grow up! Have a player who’s not the nicest guy in the world, but is actually good, on your roster. You sound like an old lady when you talk about chemistry. Winning breeds chemistry. Players who don’t fail all the time make good teammates. You think anyone on the Giants cares about the fact that they’re all good guys right now? Or maybe you think they wish they had that prick Bonds around to, oh, I don’t know, maybe hit a couple of home runs every once in a while?
Two recent articles involving steroids caught my eye, my attention, and drew my ire. The first one was in the NY Times, having to do with the attorneys in the Bonds case:
…. Barry Bonds is at home, awaiting trial and hoping that a major league team will ask him to play again. The prosecutors overseeing his case have gone back to working on other investigations. And one of Bonds’s lead defense lawyers has spent time helping to determine who the prosecutors’ next boss will be.
…. Whoever eventually becomes the United States attorney — the highest law-enforcement official in the Bay Area — will have an important decision to make in the Bonds case.
…. “I can see the concern that it looks worrisome,” he said, “but there are many layers in this decision, there are a lot of people on the committee — there is no direct decision-maker — it’s Boxer’s call, it’s Obama’s call and it’s subject to review of the Department of Justice and Congressional approval.”
Expressing more concern than the legal experts was Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees the testing of all Olympic athletes and promotes clean competition in all sports.
“Right or wrong, perception can become reality and the perception here is not good,” Tygart said. “Hopefully, this will not have anything to do with the truth of Barry Bonds’s doping from coming to light and his tainted home run record being expunged.”
…. Since prosecutors began scrutinizing Bonds in 2003, there have been three United States attorneys for the Northern District of California. The current United States attorney, Joseph P. Russoniello, said in an interview Wednesday that he wanted to remain in the post after his term expired in December 2011.
…. Russoniello declined to say whether the government would move forward with the case if the appeals court does not let them use the disputed evidence. But he took issue with those people who have criticized his prosecutors for going after professional athletes.
“With all people we expect that when we put them in front of the grand jury they will be truthful,” Russoniello said. “It would be wrong to impose different standards because they were celebrities; we prosecute regardless of who the people are. We prosecute what is in front of us.”
ello said that since he took over as United States attorney, in 2007, he has developed a greater appreciation for the Balco investigation and how the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes can influence teenagers.
“Stan Musial was my hero when I was a kid, and he smoked cigarettes,” Russoniello said. “I smoked cigarettes. Did I smoke cigarettes because of him? Well, there was not anything that he did to deter me from smoking cigarettes.”
That's two people charged with important decisions, being in important jobs, who are either lying or idiots. If Tygart really thinks that way, he's not an executive running an organization. he's a crusader wit a vendetta, who cares more about image than facts, and he should be fired.
As for Russoniello, he's a disgrace to Italians everywhere. I can't even believe a grown man would allow himself to think something so absurd, and to allow himself to say it aloud, in front of a reporter is embarrassing. “There was not anything he did to deter me from smoking cigarettes.” I'm sorry that Stan Musial never told him not to smoke. Wow.
I'll get to the second one in a day or so. I just had to point put the absurdity.
UPDATE: Speaking of Bonds and absurdity, here's the headline to this article about Bengie Molina:
Giants’ Cleanup Hitter Is No Bonds (That’s a Good Thing)
…. Is there a more improbable full-time cleanup hitter in the major leagues? In his first 80 games, Molina batted .259 with 11 homers and 50 runs batted in. He was on a pace to hit 20 homers and drive in 91 runs.
Those projected numbers would be decent, but Molina, 34, is hardly a fearsome or dependable slugger. He was hitting .239 with runners in scoring position and had walked a shockingly low three times. Molina had a .432 slugging percentage and a .267 on-base percentage, which was worst in the National League.
Yeah, who needs a guy who gets on base half the time, has the highest slugging percentage in the league, and is generally the best hitter alive?
That piece was written by Jack Curry, just one more slam job by a cadre of reporters and mass media idiots who are obviously under some obligation to relentlessly continue their attacks on Barry, even when there's no reason whatsoever. Disgraceful.
In an ugly, error-filled game, Tim Lincecum failed to beat the worst team in baseball, as the Giants lost to the Nationals to fall back to .500. After 50 games, the team has scored and allowed almost the exact same number of runs, and without a major trade, will be lucky to maintain their current pace for much longer. No pitcher can carry the load of having to be perfect every game, just ask Johan Santana, who has been given the worst run support imaginable the last season and a half. The Giants pitching staff has been dealing with this kind of pressure for a couple of seasons now, and there's not much real hope for the rest of '09.
By the way, for everyone who keeps insisting that the Dodgers can be had, they've allowed almost the exact same number of runs the Giants have. Of course, they've also scored 100 more runs. Not to belabor the obvious, but that means they are outscoring the Giants by 2 full runs per game. Just in case you haven't had your coffee yet, let me elaborate…. if the Giants traded Travis Ishikawa straight up for Albert Pujols, they wouldn't make up that difference. If they traded Ishikawa for the 2003-05 version of Bonds they wouldn't score two more runs per game, although they'd probably come close.
My point is that the real contenders are the teams that are outscoring their opponents. Forget about won loss records, just look at ESPN's upgraded standings page, and check out the runs differential column. That'll tell you everything you need to know. 50 games in, we know who we are. 50 games is a large enough sample. I just read explaining that the number of teams who've made the playoff after being five games below .500 at the start of June is three:
…. Here are the facts. There have been 104 teams to make the playoffs in the 13 full seasons of the wild-card era. Exactly three of them, or 2.9 percent, were worse than five games below .500 when June began. Here are the three outliers:
1. 2005 Astros (19-32 start; 89-73 final record).
2. 2007 Cubs (22-29; 85-77).
3. 2007 Yankees (22-29; 94-68).
That's just another way of saying the same thing. Over the course of a season, the teams that outscore their opponents by the largest margins will be the ones that –with the occasional exception–make the playoffs. So here's a different way of looking at those three teams, looking at where they were on the morning of June 1st of those seasons:
2005 Astros 18-32 -48 runs differential Expected Won-Loss 18-32
2007 Cubs 22-29 +11 runs differential Expected Won-Loss 27-24
2007 Yankees 22-29 +24 runs differential Expected Won-Loss 29-22
You wanna know how Houston made up that deficit? They outscored their opponents by 132 runs over the last 112 games of the season, which is normally a full seasons' worth of extra runs for a contending team. In fact, only one team in the NL outscored their opponents by more than 132 runs that year, the St. Louis Cardinals, who didn't make the Series in what was widely considered an upset. But, from June 1st on, the Astros were the better team. Over those last 112 games, the Cardinals runs differential was only 116. The Astros won 5 more games than the Cards over that stretch, and then won the NL pennant before falling to the White Sox in the Serious.
As of today, no team is significantly outperforming their expected winning percentage, a couple should have a few more wins, notably, the Nationals, who should have about four more, and the Tampa Bay Rays, who are also about four or five wins worse than they should be. Most teams are right where they should be, which is another way of saying this:
The Giants have no chance of competing for a championship this season.
The minor league system has been restocked, and there should be help, in the form of real hitters, coming up next season, and hopefully we will see the Giants become a team that has a steady supply of good, young talent in the future. It's important that Brain Sabean remembers that championships are built, not bought. He knows that the Yankees recent dynasty –contrary to
popular belief– was built upon the nucleus of home grown talent, by the maturation of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie WIlliams, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera, who all came up through the Yankees system. That Yankee team was built upon that core group of All Stars, who were then surrounded by key free agents and savvy veterans; think along the lines of David Wells, David Cone, Wade Boggs, Paul O'Neil, Scott Brosius…. those kinds of guys. In fact, it was only when the Yankees began to swing for the fences, signing the best free agents out there, when they began to look like an All Star team, that the dynasty started to falter.
The Giants should be sellers, not buyers. They should be looking to unload the collection of overpaid mediocrities masquerading as middle of the order talent. They should be looking to trade Winn, and Rowand and Molina, and Renteria, and collect even more minor league talent, young talent. They should wash their hands of these money sucking role players, and start looking to 2010, because none of these players will be around when Giants players are pouring champagne on each other.
The Giants have two studs right now, two. Cain and Lincecum. Pablo Sandoval looks pretty good, albeit a little rough around the edges. Perhaps Burriss grows into an everyday second baseman. Fred Lewis will be 29 years old at the start of 2010, and he's done exactly, what? Maybe Jonathan Sanchez will be part of a contending Giants team. Maybe. Who else in yesterday's lineup will be?
The Giants need three or four elite players to come up through the system in the next two seasons. A first baseman, Posey, and an outfielder or two would be perfect. Then the players that Sabean is so fond of would actually have real worth. Signing the Aaron Rowands and the Randy Winns of the baseball world would be a fine strategy if the Giants got 90 home runs and 250 runs batted in from their first baseman, left fielder and their catcher.
Trading anybody younger than 28 years old in an effort to make the playoffs this season would be a huge mistake, because you'd be betting half your stack knowing that you're a 10-1 underdog. Trading a player as valuable as Matt Cain would be catastrophic.
UPDATE: I just have to….
Many major media outlets continue to insist that the Yankees surge to the best record in baseball is somehow tied to A-Rod's return, or to the terrific defense they've been getting from Melky Cabrera and Mark Texeira, or from their pitching staff finally coming together. Here's none other than OBM supporter Peter Gammons:
…. Recently, the Yankees have gone on a big-time roll and taken first place in the AL East, all after the return of Alex Rodriguez. However, the key difference hasn't been offense, although the tandem of A-Rod and Mark Teixeira is similar to what David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez once were with Boston. With A-Rod and Teixeira in the order, the Yankees' runs per game have only risen slightly. The Yankees' ERA, though, has dropped by more than two runs, as CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Joba Chamberlain and Co. have come together as a power rotation.
The Yankees' rotation is made up of hard throwers who get minimal hard contact, and put little pressure on the defense. Teixeira, the owner of two Gold Gloves, has made the infield much better, and Melky Cabrera's defensive matrix is the best of any major league center fielder.
None of that is true. Well, it's not that that's not true, it just overstates the case. The Yankees were 14-15 on May 8th, the day A-Rod hit the first pitch he saw for a three-run homer. In those 29 games, they had a run differential of -16, having allowed a staggering 178 runs in those 29 games, over 6 per game. But they'd allowed 44 of those runs in just three games, the three games Chien-Ming Wang started before they put him on the DL. Take those games out, and the Yankees gave up 134 runs in 26 games, or just over 5 runs per game. Over their last 23 games, they've allowed 91 runs, around 4 runs per game. This improvement, in fact, can and should be attributed to better defense, and the pitchers starting to reach mid-season form.
This is why Brian Cashman signed Burnett, Sabathia and Texiera. Those players are delivering.
So new we learn that one more player was willing to do whatever it took to win, one more player who took the mantra that winning isn’t just everything, it’s the only thing as seriously as a heart attack.
One more reason for all of the talking heads to wring their hands, declare themselves the last bastions of decency and all that’s good, to remind us that while Manny Ramirez doesn’t care about saving the children, they sure do. One more overwrought response to an overblown issue, by one after another overweight and underpaid hacks.
The NY Daily News has nine articles related to Ramirez, this from a paper that considers itself the anti-steroids locus operandi of the sports world, but is, in reality, a joke; running one more innuendo-filled smear after another. Or, if smear jobs aren’t enough, the News will run flat out attack pieces, with enough anonymous quotes to make Selena Roberts blush. Here’s John Harper:
…. Unless you think that cheating the game shouldn’t matter, you continue to cross the names off the list of future Hall of Famers. Not that deleting Manny Ramirez’s name from consideration is particularly painful.
It was always going to be hard to vote for someone who quit on his team as transparently as Ramirez did with the Red Sox last year, when he forced his way out of Boston. So in this case, Ramirez’s suspension for using a banned substance just makes it easier to say no.
Or the poster boy for calling everyone a cheater, Lupica:
…. Ramirez talks about some doctor doing this to him. What doctor? He doesn’t give us a name on his doctor any more than A-Rod gave us the name of that Nurse Betty-cousin of his. Manny and Boras also fail to mention that there is a hotline ballplayers can call, one that tells them exactly what drugs they can and can’t use.
So, in a one-paragraph statement, Ramirez manages to give us a story as full of holes as the one Rodriguez gave in Tampa before he choked himself up.
Again, baseball officials and sportswriters know, FOR A FACT, that virtually every baseball player for the last fifty years has used performance enhancing drugs of some kind during his career.
Let me write that again, so you understand how disgraceful all of this posturing and hand-wringing really is:
BASEBALL PLAYERS HAVE BEEN USING PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS FOR THE LAST FIVE DECADES:
…. Here’s what Gilbert wrote FORTY YEARS AGO!!!!
…. “A few pills—I take all kinds—and the pain’s gone,” says Dennis McLain of the Detroit Tigers. McLain also takes shots, or at least took a shot of cortisone and Xylocaine (anti-inflammant and painkiller) in his throwing shoulder prior to the sixth game of the 1968 World Series—the only game he won in three tries. In the same Series, which at times seemed to be a matchup between Detroit and St. Louis druggists, Cardinal Bob Gibson was gobbling muscle-relaxing pills, trying chemically to keep his arm loose. The Tigers’ Series hero, Mickey Lolich, was on antibiotics.
Bob Gibson? He’s one of the heroes these guys keep going on and on about. He’s one of those guys who would never, ever have used steroids, right, Lupica?
…. “We occasionally use Dexamyl and Dexedrine [amphetamines]…. We also use barbiturates, Seconal, Tuinal, Nembutal…. We also use some anti-depressants, Triavil, Tofranil, Valium…. But I don’t think the use of drugs is as prevalent in the Midwest as it is on the East and West coasts,” said Dr. I. C. Middleman, who, until his death last September, was team surgeon for the St. Louis baseball Cardinals.
Tim McCarver was Gibson’s catcher, wasn’t he? When is McCarver gonna come out and tell the truth? When is McCarver gonna be asked a tough question? He and Joe Morgan can sit there during games and drone on and on about how horrible it is that this player or that player is cheating…. WHEN WILL THEY COME CLEAN?
Think about that when you listen to these guys talk about their heroes being so full of love for the kids, so true and honorable that they saved people from burning buildings before hitting the game winning home run. We know, KNOW that all of these guys, Reggie Jackson and Cal Ripken and Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and Tom Seaver and Joe-fucking-Morgan ….. all of these Hall of Fame players absolutely, positively used speed to play baseball. And we know, for a fact, that the only reason they didn’t use steroids is because they weren’t readily available.
And we know that the sportswriters and broadcasters knew as well.
Instead of another article quoting Cal Ripken as being disappointed or shocked, I’d love to read an article in which Ripken lists, in detail, every single thing he ever took to play in 2130 games in a row.
…. “I don’t know what people would think. You stand for what you stand for. If you’re asking me whether I juiced, the answer is no.
When different people are suspected or popped, there’s a kind of shock that runs through your system. This falls in the shocking category.
You can only control what you can control. You have to live your life and live it as consistently as you can, the way you believe.
Instead of looking at it from a pessimistic point and saying it’s dragging the game down, I still would like to believe most players are making the right choice and right decision based on who they are. That’s how I choose to look at it. Whether it’s going to prove out to be wrong, time will tell. The truth will come out.
Yeah, don’t ask him a real question, like, what did you take, at any point during your career, to take the field? Or better yet, did you ever use speed, or anything stronger than ibuprofen, EVER?
This is all bullshit. It’s all lowest common denominator, pander to the idiots, race to press and make sure everyone knows that you stand for honor. And it’s all a lie.
Having just learned that A-Rod will undergo surgery for a cyst in his hip, my mind wandered 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 that A-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.
UPDATE: Well, no plug.
The NY Daily News did some investigating, and came up with this:
…. “Because A-Rod kept changing his story about his steroid use,” said Dr. Lewis Maharam, the medical director of the New York Road Runners Club, “it made us skeptical about his hip issue, thinking it could be steroid-related. It is not. Avascular necrosis of the femoral head is linked to steroids and sometimes described by the lay public as a cyst. This is not what he has.”
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.
Greg Anderson has refused to testify, and it looks like he could be held in contempt again. I'm surprised, since Judge Ilston indicated earlier in the proceedings that she was unhappy to see that Anderson had already been jailed twic
e for refusing, asking prosecutors if they'd ever heard of someone being jailed twice for refusing to testify, to which he answered no.
Now the trial will be delayed more, maybe even several months, which, of course, will result in more money being thrown on the ground.
What a disgrace.
Remember that? Remember when Chris Berman used to call Bonds that on the highlights. Jesus, I can't believe how long it's been since baseball was a game for me, and I used to wait every night for the Sportscenter highlights….
Man, that seems like a lifetime ago.
So now that Bonds is about to head into his absurd perjury trial, Jonathan Littman has come out with another Playboy article, this one laying bare the fraud that IRS agent Jeff Novitzy has been from minute one:
…. This spring’s perjury trial of Bonds—scheduled to begin in early March—promises to draw a carnival of television, print and Internet attention not seen since the first O.J. Simpson spectacle. Forgotten in this media orgy is that Barry Bonds is no O.J. No one was murdered. Nothing was stolen. No victim has been found. And Bonds may not have done anything particularly different from hundreds of other ballplayers.
…. How did allegations of cheating in sports rise to the level of a federal crime and become a subject considered so critical that everyone from George W. Bush to Senator John McCain wanted to cast a stone at Bonds? Why did whatever Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Marion Jones said (or didn’t say) become worthy of a $55 million federal investigation? Why for more than half a decade did so many miss the hypocrisy and brutal irony of what may one day be looked upon as the biggest put-up job in all of sports?
…. Novitzky became a world unto h
imself. He rebuffed attempts by the San Mateo Drug Task Force to bring in another undercover agent. Requests to bring in the FBI or DEA to do phone wiretaps or recruit new undercover agents were rejected. What had begun as a joint federal, state and local investigation was fast becoming one controlled by a single man. The undercover operation, wiretaps and Dumpster diving were about to give way to something never before seen in sports: a parade of high-profile athletes forced to speak about their drug use under penalty of perjury before the watchful eye of an IRS man—Novitzky.
…. Bonds was not given the same opportunity offered to virtually every other athlete who gave grand-jury testimony: the chance to view the evidence against them before they testified. When Bonds’s 149-page grand-jury transcript was finally made public, in early 2008, there was no doubt that the slugger was being asked about documents he’d never seen.
(Bonds attorney, Michael) Rains said, “It was a perjury trap.”
I could cut and paste the whole thing, but that wouldn't be fair. You must read the whole thing to realize that Littman is saying exactly what I have been saying for years now; that Bonds is being singled out, that this witch hunt is a complete fraud, that Novitzky has broken the law himself, almost certainly more seriously than whatever horseshit the government is trying to nail Bonds for, and that the driving force behind the entire steroids “scandal” has been and still is money money money money.
Great work by Littman.
Read this and don't pee your pants:
…. Sixteen Broward Sheriff
9;s Office employees, including 15 deputies, have been moved to desk jobs while they are investigated for possible steroid use.
Insert your own punchline.
Now that we have seen the relentless attack pieces on Barry Bonds, the insinuating questions and overall disgracing of Roger Clemens, investigative dirt-digging and complete discrediting of Mark McGwire, and, of course, the latest, A-Rod's admission of guilt and apology, I'm just wondering…..
When is somebody gonna take Seligula to task? When does somebody do a full court press article –in the mainstream media, not some blog– detailing all of the ways our commissioner did nothing while Rome burned?
…. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Monday he has never encouraged the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, and added he is perturbed by people who say he hasn't done enough to get steroids, human growth hormone and other drugs out of the sport.
“I don't want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to this or he didn't care about it,” Selig told Newsday's Wallace Matthews in a telephone interview. “That annoys the you-know-what out of me.”
Yeah, well, you know what annoys the hell out of me? I mean, besides a grown man who seems to be afraid to say hell? A grown man who was the number one guy in charge of his sport sitting here and trying to explain how, while the inmates apparently were running the asylum, and everything went to hell, and all of his heroes were pushed aside by cheaters; he was, in fact, working diligently to do something about it, but everyone else just wouldn't let him.
Baseball players have been using PED's for forty years, and everyone knew it.
BASEBALL PLAYERS HAVE BEEN USING PED'S FOR FORTY YEARS AND EVERYONE KNEW IT.
Selig has been involved in the game for that entire time.
We keep hearing how every time A-Rod talks he makes it worse, how every time Clemens opens his mouth he makes it worse. What about Selig? Why should he get a pass? He didn't do steroids, obviously, but he and the rest of the owners sure liked all of those crowds who showed up while Bonds and McGwire and Clemens were doing their thing. Just like the editors at Sports Illustrated and ESPN and the NY Daily News and the Chicago Tribune loved loved loved all of those papers pouring out of the newsstands when these guys were breaking records and generally creating ABSOLUTELY ENORMOUS PILES OF CASH FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED IN THE SPORT!!!!
When will a team, a GM, or somebody, anybody other than a player get shredded by these so-called watchdogs of morality?
When will Lupica go after Selig the way he's gone after Bonds, or A-Rod?
…. the next time you feel added pressure to produce on your job, feel like you're lacking the proper energy, don't think about vitamins.
Don't think about a nutritionist or a personal trainer or a new diet or exercise regime.
Don't even reach for a can of Red Bull.
Call a cousin.
Call a cousin and tell him to find you something that will give you the jolt you think you need.
If he asks what kind of jolt you're talking about just say, “Whatever you think is best, you're my cousin, who'd know better than you?”
And once your cousin tells you he's found exactly the wonder drug you need, practically like baseball Viagra, here's something important:
Do NOT ask exactly what it is or press him too hard on how he got it.
Just have him start injecting you, whether he knows which end of a syringe to use or not, even if he's only gotten his medical training watching Dr. House on television.
Now here is an even more important part of this whole process:
Even if you can't tell whether or not this drug – a drug that may or may not be a steroid and may or may not be illegal – is helping you, continue to use it.
And not just for a few months.
Have your cousin inject you a couple of times a month, 30 or 40 times and maybe more than that over what you say is a three-year period, even as you continue to wonder whether it's actually doing any good for you or not.
Then, and only then, have your come-to-Jesus moment about performance-enhancing drugs.
After a neck injury, and after years of taking a drug that may or may not be illegal and may or may not be a steroid and may or may not even be helping you, stop cold turkey.
Here's how that might sound if he were writing about Bud Selig:
…. the next time you feel added pressure to produce on your job, feel like you're lacking the proper energy, or just plain presiding over the worst labor stoppage in the history of your sport, and are hearing sportswriters talk about how baseball, America's Pastime, isn't exactly America's pastime anymore, and are wondering where the miracle is gonna come from that's gonna save your ass, don't think about vitamins.
Don't think about a nutritionist or a personal trainer or a new diet or exercise regime.
Don't even reach for a can of Red Bull.
Just sit around and wait for the stars of your sport fill the stands while being involved something that you may think is wrong. Do nothing while the team that you own pockets millions and millions of dollars in revenue sharing monies, a revenue sharing program that just happened to be one of the very first things you implemented when you became commissioner, by the way. But, most of all, just do nothing.
Call a news conference celebrating the breaking of a 30-year old record by one of the game's new stars, even though you now say you were wondering, nay, worrying that he may be using PED's that might be a danger to his health.
If anyone asks what
kind of jolt he's taking just say, “We already have a policy to deal with this, so why dig any deeper?”
And once someone tells you exactly what the wonder drug is that he's taking, practically like baseball Viagra, here's something important:
Do NOT ask exactly what it is or press too hard to find out how he got it. Just ask him to stop, and when he tells you OK, go back to doing nothing.
Now here is an even more important part of this whole process:
Even if you can't tell whether or not this drug – a drug that may or may not be a steroid and may or may not be illegal – is helping him, just talk a lot, act confused, say you can't be expected to know everything, and make sure you leave it all up to everyone else.
And not just for a few months.
Sit by idly, while player after player is implicated, rumored or just plain slandered to have somehow cheated, stretched the rules, or was simply led astray over what you say is a 10-year period, even as you continue to wonder whether it's actually doing any good or not.
Only after a player that everyone can agree is the most disagreeable superstar since Ted WIlliams, a player who is –coincidentally– also widely acknowledged to be the best player of his generation is implicated in what any reasonable person could see was a blatant witch-hunt, and after years of doing nothing, come out with words, strong words condemning all of these horrible cheaters who helped bring the game you say you love back from the brink of bankruptcy, the same game that you tried to contract, that you masterminded a collusion that hurt players and teams and damaged beyond repair any possible collaboration between the players and management, and then, after superstars, Cy Young Award winners, MVP's and even World Series Champions have been smeared and implicated and after a five year run of almost endless scandals and controversies, after all that…..
Then, and only then, have your come-to-Jesus moment about performance-enhancing drugs.
And in that moment, being the leader that you are, get some flack of a government representative to ask people a bunch of questions, and then put together a report that does two things; implicate even more of the game's top players –based on the testimony of people who are talking to reduce their possible sentences or their own criminal acts, by the way– and of course, as a leader of men, make sure that everyone knows it's not your fault.
Here's what Selig, who is afraid to say bad words, should be saying right now:
EVERYONE IN BASEBALL –INCLUDING ME– NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR A CULTURE THAT ACCEPTED THE WIDESPREAD USE OF PED'S FOR DECADES, A TIME IN WHICH WE ALL LOOKED THE OTHER WAY.
OR NOBODY DOES.
Investigate A-Rod? Change his records? Suspend him? Only a commissioner with real integrity, one that is actually in command, could consider suspending the best player in the American League. Selig? He's a used car salesman. Baseball is in flames right now. This is his problem, and by extension, the owners problem. When they fired Fay Vincent, who said bad words and told the truth –all of his other faults notwithstanding– the owners made sure they got somebody who would do what he was told, and would do anything and everything to win. And for the owners, winning meant making money.
How could baseball players not the exact same thing, how could they not do anything to win, when the top levels of the management of their sport were not only turning a blind eye to their efforts legitimate and otherwise; but more importantly, were doing the exact same thing. Selig's leadership of baseball was directed not unlike any corporate leader's; pay attention to the bottom line and little else. And now, not unlike our government –who's lack of real leadership for the last eight years I could go on about for a year– he is presiding over a train wreck.
The owners got this mess when they appointed someone as far from a real commissioner as they could, a flunky who would do everything he could to make them rich, make himself rich, and bring NO REAL INTEGRITY OR CHARACTER TO THE POSITION WHATSOEVER.
Real leaders take responsibility for the results. These results, the scandals, the controversies, investigations, trials, hearings, all of it, are his. He cannot save his legacy. And make no bones about it, his latest, “woe is me,” quotes are directed at one thing and one thing only; his getting into the Hall of Fame. And here's the simple truth. He gets in when McGwire, Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, A-Rod, Palmeiro, the whole lot of them get in first.
If you're gonna keep the best players of a generation out of the Hall of Fame because you think they shit on your beloved, sacred game, then the guy who ran the show while the game got shit on has to buy a ticket, too.
UPDATE: Not that Goodell is some paragon of virtue himself, but he's about a hundred times the leader Selig is:
…. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has taken a 20 percent pay cut and the league staff has been trimmed by 15 percent because of a reeling economy. The league said Wednesday it has dropped 169 jobs as a result of buyouts, layoffs and other staff reductions. Goodell voluntarily took a cut from the $11 million salary and bonuses he was to receive this past year. He and other league executives are freezing their salaries for 2009.
Symbolic, maybe, but at east he's demonstrating some semblance of compassion and empathy for the difficulties most of the NFL's fan base must be going through. something Selig obviously gave no thought to when he allowed information about his record-breaking salary to be released.
Some of the more interesting quotes about my latest piece include a forum writer who commended me for my endless defense of Barry Bonds; “Say what you will about Perricone, the guy's been defending Bonds for going on five years now.”
Thanks, I guess.
In truth, I think I've been more interested in defending Bonds' rights. The right to be treated fairly, to be held as innocent until proven guilty, the right to self-determination, and, of course, the right to be an asshole. I think I've also been criticizing the ham-handed, sanctimonious outrage and piety being displayed by so many of the members of the mainstream media, who are falling all over themselves in their efforts to prove that they will save the children, the heroes of the past, and, of course, by extension, us.
To them, I say, thanks but no thanks. I'm comfortable with controversy, I'm OK with sports stars who may not be perfect. I do, in fact, want our athletes to do amazing things, and I don't really care how they go about doing it. It has always been obvious to me that to perform at the highest levels in athletic competition, extreme measures have always been taken.
I have some context, that perhaps a writer like Lupica doesn't. I've worked in construction for most of the last 25 years, and I know what it's like to work through pain. I've shot myself in the leg with a nail gun and wrapped duct tape around it and kept going. I've had to drill a hole in my thumb nail to release the blood blister under it, and kept going. I've worked on a roof in three feet of snow, with a 20 mile an hour wind making the wind chill factor below zero, all day long, for days on end.
When I wasn't out in the field building houses, I worked in a mirror factory, I worked in a restaurant, I've worked with my body since I was 14 years old. In that time, I've taken every pill, literally, everything I could get my hands on, to make sure I could go to work every day. Until you do, maybe you can't understand. But I know that my readers who come from a similar background understand.
And when I read Bill Gilbert's account of the different players who do the same, I wonder, no, in fact, I know, the only difference between what Bob Gibson did and what I did was directly related to access.
If I would have had access to a physician whose sole purpose was to ensure that I got up and worked to the best of my ability, well, I mean, come on. Anybody would have made the same choice, and to suggest otherwise is more than disingenuous, it's flat out lying. Reading Bill Gilbert's followup piece makes that crystal clear:
…. ” 'Where's the Dexamyl, Doc?' I yelled at the trainer rooting about in his leather valise,” pitcher-author Jim Brosnan quoted himself as saying in his celebrated baseball book, Pennant Race. ” 'There's nothing in here but phenobarbital and that kind of stuff.'
” 'I don't have any more,' said Doc Rohde. 'Gave out the last one yesterday. Get more when we get home.'
” 'Been a rough road trip, huh, Doc? How'm I goin' to get through the day then? Order some more, Doc. It looks like a long season.'
” 'Try one of these,' he said.
” 'Geez, that's got opium in it. Whaddya think I am, an addict or something?' ”
…. On good evidence—which includes voluntary admissions by physicians, trainers, coaches, athletes, testimony given in court or before athletic regulatory bodies, and autopsy reports—amphetamines have been used in auto racing, basketball, baseball (at all levels down to children's leagues), boxing, canoeing, cycling, football, golf, mountain climbing, Roller Derby, rodeo, Rugby, skating, skiing, soccer, squash, swimming, tennis (both lawn and table), track and field, weight lifting and wrestling.
The amphetamines, of which Benzedrine, Dexedrine, Dexamyl (which has a barbiturate added) and methamphetamine (the notorious “speed” or “Meth”), are among the best-known, affect the central nervous system and produce what might be called a triple threat.
They act indirectly to suppress hunger spasms, and for this reason are used as appetite-killing pills by jockeys, boxers, wrestlers and anybody else who has to make a weight.
The drug is a metabolic stimulant, speeding up the respiratory and circulatory systems and enabling users to remain hyperactive when they would ordinarily slow down because of fatigue.
Finally, the amphetamines act directly on the brain, inducing a sense of excitement and euphoria, a sort of I-can-lick-the-world high.
Let's not forget, this article was published June 30th, 1969, forty years ago. Bill Gilbert is saying that it was commonly known forty years ago that amphetamines, illegal or otherwise, were used in virtually every sport there was.
…. “I dope myself. Everyone [that is, everyone who is a competitive cyclist] dopes himself. Those who claim they don't are liars,” Jacques Anquetil, a five-time winner of the Tour de France and a French sports figure of the stature of a Jean-Claude Killy or a Michel Jazy, has said. “For 50 years bike racers have been taking stimulants Obviously, we can do without them in a race, but then we will pedal 15 miles an hour [instead of 25]. Since we are constantly asked to go faster and to make even greater efforts, we are obliged to take stimulants.”
Anquetil's remark was made i
n the summer of 1967 in the midst of what to date has been sports' messiest public drug scandal. Anquetil himself was much involved, both as a commentator and competitor. In May 1966, after winning a race in Belgium by nearly five minutes, he forfeited his victory and his check rather than provide a urine sample, which was to be analyzed for amphetamines or other banned drugs. In September 1967 a world speed record set by Anquetil in Milan was disallowed for the same reason. In between these two incidents there were two cycling deaths attributed to amphetamines, a number of suspensions at the Amsterdam world championships and a slowdown strike by cyclists protesting the fact that they were being forced to compete without the aid of their accustomed drugs.
Next time you read another slam-job article on Lance Armstrong –by one of these uninformed hacks– keep that in mind. One of the men whose record was broken by Armstrong was speaking openly of doping FORTY YEARS AGO!!!! Cycling almost fell apart because everyone was using speed, and nobody wanted to stop.
How about the major sports?
…. Among major American sports, amphetamine usage may be highest in football, or again it may only be easier to verify in this sport. Among professional clubs, players, physicians and trainers of the Steelers, Chargers, Cardinals, Lions and Redskins have indicated that chemical pep is or has been used. At least one professional football team made the taking of pep pills part of its pregame routine.
“It usually seems to be the older players and boys who think they need an extra lift to make it through a game that want them,” says Joe Kuczo, the Redskin trainer. “I personally am not convinced that they do much good, but it's a mental thing with some of them. They've been used to the pills. In the quantities they get here, at least, I doubt if they do much harm.”
You might notice the Steelers in there. The same Steelers who, in the last couple of seasons, have seen several of their championship teams of the 70's implicated in steroid use rumors.
And then there's pain:
…. In addition to exhaustion and tension, all athletes are at some time in some degree challenged by a third physiological phenomenon—pain. The relationship between pain and sports is ancient and close. For some, pain is the prohibitive price that makes games not worth playing; for others it is the secret but ultimate opponent. For most it is a necessary vocational byproduct.
Does knowing that there are reasons players use drugs mean it's OK to use them? Of course not. I'm not saying it's OK, but I'm also not saying it's not. I'm saying it's none of my business. You don't get to tell me I can't take a Percoset so my elbow pain goes away, allowing me to get back to work. Why should I be able to tell Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire what they can or can't do in order to be the best at their job? How is that even remotely acceptable?
The players and coaches and owners are there, in the game. The sportswriters cover the game. Since when did the sportswriters become the guardians of anything? Since when did they become the judge and jury? How did we get here? You wanna write about what these athletes do, go ahead. Stop telling me what's right and wrong. I don't need you to help me figure that out. Really. I'm a grownup, and I can handle saving my children by myself, thanks.
UPDATE: Is this even possible? Did Peter Gammons just link to my last post, and not only link to it, but cut and paste most of it? I am flabbergasted, to say the least:
…. We are blasted with the stun guns of moral outrage. Bud Selig claimed he knew nothing of the PED world until he read about Mark McGwire's andro in 1998; now he says he pushed the union for steroid testing in 1995. The incomplete Mitchell report never addressed where so many of the drugs came from, sticking with a couple of East Coast leaks and ignoring the underground steroids world of Latin America.
We now know that there are baseball players from the 1950s who had vision and other problems because of “red juice.” We read “Ball Four.”
John Perricone's superb “Only Baseball Matters” blog this week recalled a 40-year-old piece by Bill Gilbert in Sports Illustrated.
…. At the least, Perricone should make us all think. Alex Rodriguez's admission doesn't bring baseball to an end; it should help those who love the sport edge closer to the truth, and allow players who want level playing fields to force the union into finally allowing one.
I don't know the whole truth, no one does. That list of the 103 other players who tested positive in 2003 is out there and could become public, and there will be more stories and revelations. But this is more complex than simple good and evil, just as there has been a lot of good in what Presinal has provided young athletes in a poor country.
Perricone criticized some writers who really care about baseball and their kids and what has become so ugly. But it's not just Barry Bonds, Bobby Estalella and Alex Rodriguez — it's societal, and as Bill Gilbert pointed out in the first year of the Nixon presidency, has been for generations.
UPDATE, Part II: I seem to have made the bigs. Rob Neyer also threw me a link. Hoo Wah.