Archive for the 'Talking Heads' Category

…. Attention deficit

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, 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. ;-)

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.


…. Short and sweet

Mike Lupica calls for the feds to get involved, in another of his rantings and ravings about what a dick A-Rod is:

…. There is only

one way for Major League Baseball and for the rest of us to get the answers we need on Bosch the “biochemist” and Braun and A-Rod and all the other misunderstood ballplayers who have made the PED version of the Dean’s List, known as Bosch’s List: Get everybody in front of a grand jury and make them tell their stories under oath, not to their PR men.

It's interesting that, in an article about Ryan Braun, Lupica still finds a way to make it all about A-Rod. Interesting that a sportswriter thinks it is so important to find out whether a guy who plays a game for a living did something Lupica doesn't agree with, that he should be investigated by the federal government; and that he gets to say that in a major newspaper without being vilified for his ignorance and foolishness.

This is the the second

piece Lupica has written suggesting that the only answer, the only way to get to the bottom of it all, is to bring in the feds:

…. You may be one of those who didn’t care what Armstrong was taking, doesn’t care if Bonds or Clemens were juiced to the gills. You may be one of those, like Armstrong’s enablers, who fall back now on the defense that Everybody Was Doing It. But if you believe these guys are cheats, if you are one who believes that what the juicers have done is a form of athletic fraud, then you should want the government to get to the bottom of this with Rodriguez and everybody else.

He should have to tell his story under oath, not to Oprah or Katie.

In a country going through a recession, a country racked by illegal money manipulations at the highest levels, a country where one of the political parties has decided to bring normal government to a screeching halt with no consequence; in this country, Mike Lupica thinks the federal government should spend millions more investigating baseball players for using drugs to help them play better. Great perspective there, Mike.


…. Keep it continuous

So the latest PED bombshell implicates Alex Rodriguez, among others, and once again exposes the absolute absurdity of attempting to regulate the actions of adults in a free society:

…. The name that really made Garcia's jaw drop was hometown hero Alex Rodriguez.

Born and raised in Miami and starring on the diamond since he was 18 years old, A-Rod admitted in 2009 that he had used steroids, claiming in an ESPN

interview that his doping was limited to a three-year window — 2001 through 2003 — while he played under a record contract for the Texas Rangers. Ever since then, A-Rod claimed, he'd been playing clean. He'd never failed an MLB drug test since penalties were put into place.

Yet there was his name, over and over again, logged as either “Alex Rodriguez,” “Alex Rod,” or his nickname at the clinic, “Cacique,” a pre-Columbian Caribbean chief. Rodriguez's name appears 16 times throughout the records New Times reviewed.

Take, for instance, one patient list from Bosch's 2009 personal notebook. It charts more than 50 clients and notes whether they received their drugs by delivery or in the office, how much they paid, and what they were taking.

There, at number seven on the list, is Alex Rodriguez. He paid $3,500, Bosch notes. Below that, he writes, “1.5/1.5 HGH (sports perf.) creams test., glut., MIC, supplement, sports perf. Diet.” HGH, of course, is banned in baseball, as are testosterone creams.

That's not the only damning evidence against A-Rod, though. Another

document from the files, a loose sheet with a header from the 19th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging and Aesthetic Medicine, lays out a full regimen under the name Cacique: “Test. cream… troches prior to workout… and GHRP… IGF-1… pink cream.”

IGF-1 is a banned substance in baseball that stimulates insulin production and muscle growth. Elsewhere in his notebook, Bosch spells out that his “troches,” a type of drug lozenge, include 15 percent testosterone; pink cream, he writes, is a complex formula that also includes testosterone. GHRP is a substance that releases growth hormones.

There's more evidence. On a 2009 client list, near A-Rod's name, is that of Yuri Sucart, who paid Bosch $500 for a weeklong supply of HGH. Sucart is famous to anyone who has followed baseball's steroid scandal. Soon after A-Rod's admission, the slugger admitted that Sucart — his cousin and close friend — was the mule who provided the superstar his drugs. In 2009, the same year this notebook was written, Sucart (who lives in South Miami and didn't respond to a message left at his home) was banned from all Yankees facilities.

The mentions of Rodriguez begin in 2009 and continue all the way through last season. Take a page in another notebook, which is labeled “2012″ and looks to have been written last spring. Under the heading “A-Rod/Cacique,” Bosch writes, “He is paid through April 30th. He will owe May 1 $4,000… I need to see him between April 13-19, deliver troches, pink cream, and… May meds. Has three weeks of Sub-Q (as of April).”

I'd suggest that A-Rod is well on his way to being suspended, as this evidence is fairly detailed and quite damning. Of course, he's already expected to miss the first half of the season after his hip surgery, so maybe Brian Cashman already knew something was up when he suggested that A-Rod might miss the whole season….

Hat Tip to Baseball Musings.

UPDATE: Verducci waited all of two seconds to of another sportswriter:

…. Rodriguez's career never has been in more doubt than it is today. His health and reputation are in tatters. He turns 38 in July. The incentives the Yankees included in his contract for “milestone” home runs now stand as even more awkward reminders that his achievements are fraudulent.

What will become of him? The Yankees would wish he never puts on their uniform again, writing him and his contract off to the insurance companies or, if they have the stomach for it, to try to invalidate the agreement because of his use of PEDs, the way they once threatened to do with Jason Giambi. Rodriguez must give a full accounting of himself and this report to Selig and, quickly, to baseball fans. You can see Oprah, Katie Couric and Dr. Phil already lined up at his doorstep for the next sports confessional.

There you go. Thanks to Verducci, A-Rod knows what to do next. Run to Tom Verducci, and tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to him and Lupica, so he and Mike can protect all the baseball fans who are “hurt” by these allegations. Thanks, Tom.


…. Opposition

I've been waiting to write something about the Lance Armstrong situation. I'm not sure why, really, but it finally dawned on me while reading this excellent article by Molly Ball, in the Atlantic Monthly. In the piece, Ball interviews her father, an amateur cyclist when he was younger, as they are watching the Armstrong/Oprah interview. Here are some of the exchanges:

…. But back to the question about drugs—you've sort of led me to believe you didn't entirely disapprove of them.

Had I had Lance Armstrong's body, and had I had the possibilities he had—that is to say, if I were able to somehow magically find myself in the pro peloton—I have no confidence that I would have refused the blandishments to which he eventually succumbed. Besides, as you know, you're talking to a father who's a vitamin freak.

Right, you believe in better living through chemistry.

Keep in mind that our lives are fundamentally different in part because of the understanding of the human body that modern science has made available to us. A good deal of the technology that's outlawed in sport and the subject of great scorn is the same technology that allows us to save AIDS patients from wasting, that allows us to bring many, many disabilities and disease states back from the brink to something like full functioning. I myself have been taking supplemental testosterone for medical reasons for 15 years, with no ill effects. These things are powerful weapons that mankind has developed for good.

…. You said to me once, and I've never forgotten it, “The perfection of the human form is a worthy goal, and if a few teenage boys' reproductive systems have to be sacrificed to that end, so be it.”

[laughing] I said that?

We were talking about steroids, I think. So were you just being outrageous, or is there a part of you that feels that way?

There's a

part of me that feels that way. Not perhaps with that particular example, but in the larger sense. Had somebody, at one moment in my life, offered me some sort of a Faustian choice—would you like to win the Tour de France or would you like, I don't know, to prove great [mathematical] theorems—I wouldn't have hesitated. I would have chosen to win the Tour. I cared so much about it. Maybe it would have been a foolish mistake, but there's no doubt I would have chosen it.

All in all, a reasoned, thoughtful take on a conflicted and difficult situation. Well worth the read. And then, there is Lupica:

…. It was new and noteworthy only because one of the great phonies and great frauds in the history of sports was finally saying this himself, not saying he was clean when he wasn’t, not attacking the real truth tellers, not suing anybody who tried to cross him, not calling his accusers crazy and calling them whores.

“The story was perfect for so long,” Armstrong said to Oprah Winfrey, who had chances all night long to come after him hard and didn’t, just seemed happy to have him sitting there and answering her questions. “The mythic perfect story and it wasn’t true.”

Later on, maybe half an hour in, Armstrong stated the obvious, to go along with the obvious admissions about his drug taking.

“I’m not the most believable guy in the world right now,” he said, and somehow, in this distracted way, acted as if he saw that as being some sort of temporary thing, instead of a lifetime sentence, along with the real lifetime sentence that will come in the aftermath of these admissions, the one where nobody thinks that guy is fascinating or important ever again.

See, for Mike Lupica, athletes are heroes (like Stan Musial, who Lupica could hardly write more glowingly about if he had cured cancer), or they are liars and cheats. Athletes who are coached, prodded, pushed and manipulated into giving everything they have, over and over, from high school and even earlier, these athletes have to remember to never, ever do anything that might not be deemed acceptable by Lupica and Verducci and the rest of these children savers.

Here's what Professor Ball has to say about the culture of drug use in cycling, amateur cycling, back in the '70's:

…. one day there would be some racer that you knew or had raced with or had trained with and you would drop him off the back—he couldn't get out of his own way. And two days later you couldn't hold his wheel—this was just not the same rider, not the same human being. And this was just at the lowest level of amateur riding.

So under those circumstances you're very soon forced to deal with that. You're not going to be competitive with that if all you've got are the legs God gave you. I have no confidence that I would not have started taking that stuff in that situation, no confidence.

At the professional levels of sport, the pressure to win at all costs, is immeasurable. Watching the NFL's Championship Sunday, I was struck by how casually the media covered the injuries some of the football players were either playing through, or were going through right in front of us. Ray Lewis, another athlete who is being painted as a “leader” a “man's man” an “inspiration to all” was shown on TV about as much as Tom Brady, maybe even more. Everyone knows about the unfortunate circumstance's that led to Lewis being charged in a double homicide. That's been swept away as his inspiring comeback from a devastating injury has found him leading his team to the Super Bowl.

What medical miracles have made this happen? What drugs were legally prescribed by his doctors that enabled him to recover from a torn muscle in such rapid fashion?

I have worked in construction for almost 35 years. I live in constant pain. I've already had surgery on my right elbow,

I am going to have surgery on my left in a couple of months. I am getting HGH injections in my right shoulder, the left is next. I have just begun a topical cream regimen of steroids, oral DHEA, and a variety of supplements and vitamins, all in an effort to keep working. To provide for my family. In a way, I have done whatever it takes, I have lived a “win at all costs” life. There were times where I knew I was damaging my body in unfixable ways, all the days that I took pain killers, the multiple times I asked my doctors to give me corti-steroidal injections so I could finish the job. I'll be paying the price for those choices for the rest of my life. I knew it at the time, and I know it now.

Were I a football player, baseball player, or a professional cyclist, my “job” would require me to win. To keep my “job” I would have to produce, I would have to be at least as good as the worst player in my field. And I can guarantee you that I would have been availing myself of every medical advance known at the time. It is absurd to me to suggest that I would have had to consider whether somebody else approved of my life-altering decisions.

Who is Mike Lupica to tell me that I cannot avail myself of the same medical and scientific advances in physical health that some carpenter in California can?

Why have we decided that allowing athletes to get the most out of their bodies is wrong, while every other person in the country is allowed –allowed?– encouraged daily to do so?

We are living in a world of amazing advances in health, breakthroughs are being made all the time, all designed to make your life better. Longer lasting youthful bodies, better sex, better strength, stronger muscles, bones, eyesight….

For everyone but our athletes. Athletes have to do it with what they were born with, that's that. Well, not really. If they do it in a way that Mike Lupica approves of, then it's all OK. Curt Schilling can lead the Red Sox to a World Series title on the strength of painkilling injections, but A-Rod can't get muscle strengthening steroid injections, because that's different. Mariano Rivera can have his ACL rebuilt with a ligament from a cadaver so that he can pitch again, but Mark McGwire can't use steroids to help his muscles and ligaments and tendons repair themselves and grow stronger so that he can hit again, because that's different.

And don't talk to me about getting stronger or bigger from a needle. Not a single athlete indicted by these crusaders as a cheat got result one without a level of hard work, dedication and sacrifice that you or I would find unimaginable. So fine, Lance wasn't only on his bike. But you can bet your ass he was on his bike.

Slippery slope? It's a cliff. The position is untenable. Fifty years from now, we're going to laugh at Mike Lupica's assertions that these athletes should be vilified. Science will eventually win out, and athletes will avail themselves of all the benefits of modern medicine, their careers will be lengthened, the record books will be rewritten.

Because realize this; what Lupica and the rest of the children savers are saying is that these athletes only get to be as great as their natural state will allow. That is his message, distilled down to it's essence. Be only as great as you are with what God gave you. If that means you are finished at 29 or 30 years old (like Sandy Koufax or Dale Murphy) because your body cannot handle the rigors of your sport any longer, so be it. If you are unable to stay on the field due to brittle ligaments and tendons (like Mark McGwire), too bad. If you can't recover from injuries fast enough, or completely enough, if you can no longer sustain the strength, flexibility and energy needed to be the best, and your career looks like it's coming to an end (like, say, Roger Clemens or Andy Pettitte), tough shit. Go retire.

Lupica and his friends say so.


…. Calling all cars

This Giants team is so desperate for offense it’s not even funny anymore. One game after another in which the opposing starter turns into Roy Halladay. 4 straight losses due to a staggering number of blown opportunities, leadoff doubles wasted, and stellar pitching left in the lurch.

It’s time for Sabean to make a move.

Reyes is out there, and Hanley Ramirez might be too. We need a real hitter, right now.

I’d also mention that with the entire team slumping all year long, it might be time for a change with our hitting coach. I’m not saying panic, but Sabean needs to do something.

UPDATE: One of you guys suggested that because the Giants have a lot of average players, upgrades are tough because above average players are expensive. Well, a quick glance at the stats page tells a different story.

Just using runs scored:

Catcher 10th

(without Posey, dead last)
First Base 14th
Second Base 13th
Third Base 12th
Shortstop 16th
Left Field 12th
Center Field 11th
Right Field 11th

The entire team is cover-your-eyes awful. Average? Please. The average left fielder has scored 35 runs. The Giants left fielders have combined to score 17 runs. The numbers are exactly the same for our shortstops.

The Giants are below average at every position on the diamond. There are but a handful of players on this team who should be safe as a Giant. Something needs to be done. Sure, Vogelsong is a great story. He’s also a 32 year old journeyman pitcher with a career record of 10-22 with a 5.84 ERA coming into this season.

If a GM can transform his out of the blue performance into a massive upgrade at a key position in the diamond, it is the kind of move that absolutely has top be considered. And Reyes is no guarantee to be a rental. You think he’d like to play behind a pitching staff that is younger than he is and leading all of baseball in strikeouts, one that just led their bottom feeding offense to a championship?

To suggest otherwise is laughable.

…. In vogue

I'm back. Vacation was great, but it's time to start breaking some balls.

With the recent Hall of Fame vote concluded, it has again become fashionable to write, (incoherently, for the most part) about steroid use in the game of baseball. Today, I'd like to focus on a coherent writer, and an incoherent one. Let's start with incoherence.

Here's a man with no Hall of Fame voting credentials (Jeff Pearlman*) explaining to us, (and actual HoF voters, I presume) why Jeff Bagwell probably did steroids:

…. what the hell are we supposed to think?

A. Have you seen the photographs of a young Jeff Bagwell, first as a prospect in the Boston system, then with the Astros as a pup? He looks, perhaps not coincidentally, like a young Jason Giambi; like a young Barry Bonds; like a young Sammy Sosa; like a young Bret Boone. I know … I know—people gain weight as they get older. And, hey, he lifted! And used natural, over-the-counter supplements! And … enough. I’ve heard enough. Seriously, look at the guy as an in-his-prime Astro. Dude looks like Randy (Macho Man) Savage. And while I can already hear the “Just because he had muscles atop

muscles doesn’t mean anything” argument brewing, well, it does—in the context of a sport overrun by cheaters—mean something. In fact, it means a lot.

Further on, in what could hardly be called an article, Pearlman also comes up with the fantastic statement that 75% of players during the “steroids era” were users! Wow! I didn't know that. Of course, no one knew that. No one “knows” that, either, because it not only isn't true, it's made up. It's what can only be charitably called, stretching the truth. In fact, it's a lie.

Sure, I know that Pearlman is just trying to get some reader reaction. Make a controversial statement, get lots of traffic, etc.. I find it reprehensible. But, hey, that's just me. In the meantime, real conversation about the situation, as shown in the work of Joe Posnanski, who is actually reasonably trying to wrestle with what we know about what happened, gets lost in the shuffle:

…. Jeff Bagwell — though he never tested positive for steroids, never was implicated in any public way, was not named in the Mitchell Report or by anyone on the record as a suspected user, and is not even on this rather comprehensive list of players linked to steroids or HGH — seems to have become in some voters’ minds a player who used performance-enhancing drugs.

I can’t even begin to describe my disgust at No. 2 … it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. This is PRECISELY what I was talking about when I said how much I hate the character clause in the Hall of Fame voting. I think it encourages people to believe their own nonsense, to stand up on high and be judge and jury. It’s something that my friend Bill James calls the “I see it in his eyes” tripe. Bill has finished a book on crime — it is, he says, actually about crime books as much as crime — and one thing he kept running into in his research was people who claimed that they could pinpoint the murderer because “it was in their eyes.” Well, as Bill says, that’s a whole lot of garbage. Eyes are eyes. Some people look guilty when they’re innocent, and some people look innocent when they’re guilty, and most people don’t look innocent OR guilty except when we want to see that something in their eyes. Oh, but we love to believe we know. It’s one of the flaws of humanity. And the Hall of Fame character clause gives voters carte blanche to judge the eyes and hearts and souls of players.

…. I would say this to those people who would not vote for Jeff Bagwell because they simply believe he used steroids, based on how he looked or some whispers they heard. I have a better idea: Let’s just burn him at the stake. If he survives, you will know you were right.

A Hall of Fame voter who wants to exclude someone from the Hall because they can reasonably be assumed to have used is fine. It's the voters choice to determine whether it matters or not. But to simply assume they cheated because they were great is not just absurd, it is a travesty, and it demeans the honor that having a Hall of Fame vote is. That's right, it is an honor to be a voter. As such, if you cannot keep yourself from acting like an insufferable prick, if you cannot refrain from making unsubstantiated accusations, then maybe you should have that honor taken away.

We don't know who did or didn't use unless they tested positive or confessed, and even then, we are looking at laughably thin evidence; just look at the apology/confessions of A-Rod, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte or Mark McGwire. Or even better, just look at the testing protocol, which I doubt Jeff Pearlman ever has.

I'd also like to correct the commonly used fallacy that it is impossible for someone to put on twenty pounds of muscle without using steroids. Any man in reasonable shape (as in, not a flabby, out of shape sportswriter) under the age of thirty-five who puts in a two hours a day, six days a week serious weight-lifting regimen, under competent supervision, with a coincidental improvement in their diet and rest, could put on twenty pounds of muscle in six to nine months, twelve at the outside. A professional athlete, a man who is already filled with the highest levels of natural testosterone, and is already in terrific shape, who has the time and money to obtain the best training possible, could do it in six to nine months easily.

As someone who once trained under the supervision of a professional bodybuilder, someone who went from 5'8″ 158 pounds with a body fat percentage of 24%, to 5'8″ 177 pounds with a body fat percentage of 8% in 11 months, I actually know what I am talking about, you know, from actual experience. You think Pearlman, or any sportswriter can say that?

* For those of you in need of a reminder, Pearlman is the guy who wrote the book that goes into nauseating detail explaining how Barry Bonds was insufferable. He basically interviewed a couple hundred people who confirmed that, yes, Bonds was a dick to them. That was a book.

UPDATE: Regards Pearlman, here's a quote from James W. Loewen that is pertinent here:

“People have a right to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight.”

I'd also like to rebut the many writers now defending any players from the last fifty-plus years who used amphetamines. Unless you have used speed over a period of more than a couple of days, relied on it to get through your back-breaking, ten-hour-a-day, six day-a-week job; your opinion on whether it should be considered a performance enhancer is worthless. You don't know what you are talking about, and the hundreds of thousands of people who have used speed to get through the grind of their workday lives prove your folly. I have, and I'm telling you, you don't know what you are talking about. For a baseball player, speed can be the difference during one of those fifteen games in sixteen days road trip, or during the dog days of August and September, and only an apologist could even think otherwise.

The Baseball Engineer deserves some front page time:

…. they’re demanding that everyone skip the ethics and morality “crap” and stick to the performance on the field. They’re also calling the majority voters who did not vote for McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro as the “high-horse crowd” while referring to their submitted ballots as demonstrations “self-righteousness” and “McCarthyism.”

Maybe the scathing labels are all part of a strategy to get the fence-straddlers and the soft-stance majority to hop on over to their side. Regardless, it’s clear the minority wants to ignore half of the voting requirements set forth by the Hall of Fame, which says, “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Which leads to one question for this resistance: Have you forgotten what sport you represent?

This is major league baseball, where sanctity, history, and tradition reign.

Are you kidding somebody? Sanctity? Really? What a crock of shit. Baseball — like life– is full of liars, cheats, and scoundrels. And so is the Hall of Fame. See, the issue isn't that amphetamines are good. The issue that Neyer is raising is that these writers are using double standards, and either making up facts, –as in the case of Pearlman– or ignoring and/or explaining away inconvenient ones. So, when Rob Neyer says that he feels like if we know that many Hall of Famers used speed, he can't hold any players steroid use against him, he's not arguing for speed, he's arguing for fairness. And when my friend David Pinto writes:

…. a lot of ballplayers like to party hard. Uppers allowed them to both party hard and play the game. Without speed, most players would have realized that partying put an early end to a career and let up so they were able to play awake. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that an amphetamine enhanced career wouldn’t be very different from his career if he went back back to his hotel room after a game and got a good night’s sleep.

He's making excuses for guys who were doing something illegal in order to do better than they would otherwise. In addition, the idea that a good night's sleep has the same effect as five or ten “greenies” is utter bullshit. I've read Ball Four. Bouton made it clear that there were players who couldn't function at all without amphetamines. He wrote of teams that had coffee laced with it, next to candy bowls full of pills. Guys weren't taking a pill, they were taking handfuls.

Furthermore, it wasn't just speed. Athletes, including baseball players, have been using every chemical available for at least fifty years, something that I was shocked to learn was common knowledge in 1969:

…. “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.

That quote came from a Sports Illustrated cover story from June 23rd, 1969. So, let's get real. Or better yet, let's get off our high horses. Stop the “save the game” bullshit, the “protect the integrity” hypocrisy, and get back to doing what you are good at, writing about baseball. I don't need your help in determining what is right or wrong. You don't want to vote them in, don't. Stop inventing reasons. We already know your reasons. You want to make sure you're on the right side of the argument. Back when nobody cared, you didn't either. Now, Congressman Henry Waxman thinks it's a travesty, so you do, too. Please.

Hat Tip to Baseball Musings, where I've been finding virtually all of these latest articles and rants.


…. Shocked the world?

That's the headline in Tom Verducci's piece on the Carl Crawford signing. . Really? I mean, yeah, I'm shocked. I'm amazed. I just don't think I'm shocked and amazed in the way that Verducci is talking about:

…. Boston somehow turned $142 million into stealth money, agreeing to make Carl Crawford the second-highest paid outfielder in baseball history with hardly a moment of preparation by those outside their own suite. It was a rare “wow” moment in a Twitter-mad world.

“Fucking Theo,” one GM said of Boston general manager Theo Epstein. “What a brilliant move.”

Brilliant? Um, people, we're talking about Carl Crawford, who is now the second-highest paid outfielder in baseball history. I just took a quick look at Crawford's stats, and let me just note that they don't jump out at you. Crawford's career-high in doubles is 30. His career-high in home runs is 19. His career-high in walks is 51. He's scored 100 runs just three times in nine seasons. Sure he's been above 90 a couple of times as well, but, you know, since he's never driven in 100, and he's stealing 50 bases a year, and hitting all those triples, you would think he'd be scoring 100 runs a season like clockwork. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. I mean, he's a terrific ballplayer. He is good at a lot of things. He's fast, gets a lot of triples, steals a bunch, doesn't hit into double plays. But he strikes out twice as often as he walks, and, in reality, he just isn't that great a hitter. He's led the league in both triples and stolen bases four times, but other than that, what the hell is going on here?

This contract is awful. $20 million a year for a guy who is projected to hit 14 home runs and reach base 240 times? Really? Brilliant? I don't see it. Both he and Jason Werth absolutely owe their agents a Lear jet.

Just for the hell of it, let's throw out a little side by side:

Jayson Werth 106 R 164 H 46 2B 2 3B 27 HR 85 RBI 82 BB 147 SO
C. Crawford 110 R 184 H 30 2B 13 3B 19 HR 90 RBI 46 BB 104 S0
Derek Jeter 111 R 179 H 30 2B 3 3B 10 HR 67 RBI 63 BB 106 SO

Now, before you get your panties in a bunch, let me just make my point. I know these numbers don't encompass all of the value these players bring to the table. I'm just taking a quick and dirty look at these three ballplayers. First, let's remember that Jeter is a shortstop, and in the beginning of what is supposed to be the end of his career, and was basically offered a take it or leave it three year deal by the Yankees. These two guys are outfielders, they are supposed to be better hitters than a shortstop, and they just went out

and signed two of the richest contracts in baseball history. With all that said (and all that has been said), if their numbers don't blow Derek Jeter's numbers off the page, and they don't, then somebody just got their asses handed to them.

Sure they're younger. But still. Come on. Werth is 31, not 21. Crawford is 29, and wasn't he the guy who was supposed to be some kind of clubhouse cancer a few years ago. I mean, what the hell are the Cardinals gonna do with Pujols, now?


…. Going down with the ship

It would be refreshing to hear some candor from our estimable GM, but, obviously, that’s never gonna happen. You’re never gonna hear Brian Sabean admit making a mistake, or admit failure. He’s never gonna come out and say that another GM got the best of him, or that he handled a player or a situation incorrectly. He’s gonna puff out his chest, and, “Damn the torpedoes,” everyone around him until they either agree with him or shut up.

This is the trademark of an insecure, immature man.

So when Sabean trades Molina for nothing, once again demonstrating that Sabean was wrong in his evaluation of a players worth, of course we’re gonna hear his bullshit explanation of how the team needed to make this move, how the player just acquired had a lot of upside, blah blah blah.


Sabean is boring, his team is boring, his bullshit excuses are boring…. It just goes on and on.

Look at the list of trades Sabean has made in the last several years, put together by +mia:

May 31, 2007 — Traded Armando Benitez and cash to Florida Marlins in exchange for Randy Messenger.

July 31, 2007 — Traded Matt Morris to Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Rajai Davis

August 9, 2007 — Traded Mark Sweeney to Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Travis Denker

July 20, 2008 — Traded Ray Durham to Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Darren Ford and Steve Hammond.

March 27, 2009 — Traded Jack Taschner to Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Ronny Paulino.

March 27, 2009 — Traded Ronny Paulino to Florida Marlins in exchange for Hector Correa.

July 27, 2009 — Traded Scott Barnes to Cleveland Indians in exchange for Ryan Garko.

July 29, 2009 — Traded Tim Alderson to Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Freddy Sanchez.

Add to that list the endless stream of players that go straight from the Giants to the after-life, the Edgardo Alfonzo’s, the Dave Roberts’s…. And then add to the list the young players Sabean waived or traded for essentially nothing who are now performing admirably…..

At what point does this Giants team ownership group realize what the hell is going on here? At what point does performance begin to matter? When will Sabean be held accountable for the team that he has built? This is a team with one of the highest payrolls in all of baseball, how the hell can this team be so poorly constructed?

I know I was wrong when I said they were in last place the other day, but let me ask you this:

If –at the beginning of the season– I would have told you that the reason this team wasn’t going to be in last place heading into the Fourth of July weekend was gonna be Andres Torres, how many ribs would you have cracked laughing at me?

This team is a laughingstock.

…. Ass coverage

Here’s a question; why are so many of the Giants beat writers making excuses for the Giants? How is explaining to me that all free agent signings come with some risk part of Henry Schulman’s job?

…. The Giants’ position is this: Every signing carries some risk, whether the player had surgery or not, that is weighed against the potential reward.

If you want to look outside this organization, consider the Dodgers. They took a risk when they signed Jason Schmidt to a three-year, $47 million contract knowing he had shoulder issues but also knowing how he could carry a staff if he was right. For that money they got 10 starts and three wins. The A’s signed Ben Sheets for $10 million last winter after he missed a year with elbow surgery. Also, it was widely believed he has back issues. They took a risk. As of May 13, the reward remains uncertain.

The best a team can do is ask all the right questions and do all they can to determine how healthy the player is at the time he is signed. Did the Giants ask all the right questions with DeRosa? It’s hard to know for sure, because I wasn’t in the room.

Thanks, Henry. I was wondering if life’s risks apply to the Giants just like they apply to me.

But, if you really want to be helpful, why don’t you explain why the Giants shouldn’t get any heat from their fans? It’s not just the DeRosa signing. Freddie Sanchez is injured, too. In point of fact, because the team, because Sabean seems to think that the best players in baseball are old, the Giants have been dealing with this kind of wasted resources for a decade now. A decade of old, past their prime free agents and trade acquisitions. A. DECADE.

Who cares how much research the team’s medical staff did. GET YOUNG PLAYERS FOR A FUCKING CHANGE!

Old players get injured. Old players get injured. How can the Giants fail to recognize this? How can you, Henry Schulman, fail to recognize that this has happened again and again and again. How can you think we need you to cover Sabean’s ass again? Shit goes sideways? Really?


You want to have some fucking credibility? Go after the owners. Go after the GM. Because they are failing.

…. Broom Hilda

Another sweep at the hands of the best record in the NL Padres. Another one-run loss, another offensive display of offense. Another bunch of bullshit excuses and explanations telling us how this shit just happens, it’s not our fault, everybody is trying real hard:

…. As for DeRosa’s signing, team sources said the Giants did an extraordinary amount of research. They consulted the doctor who performed DeRosa’s surgery and the medical staffs of his two 2009 teams, the Indians and Cardinals. When DeRosa and the Giants came to terms, he flew to San Francisco for a physical that included an examination by team hand specialist Dr. Gordon Brody, and X-rays and an MRI on the wrist.

At the time, the Giants believed the surgery worked.

“Anyone can get hurt in any game,” Groeschner said. “All the guys have a history of things. We’re aware of it. It’s something we research thoroughly. This is something than can happen when a guy plays baseball.”

The team’s position is that all signings carry risks that are weighed against a player’s potential benefit. The Giants understood the risk when they signed DeRosa. Right now, they are losing their bet. But in their view, the game is still on.

Yeah, right. Edgar Renteria, Freddie Sanchez, Edgardo Alfonzo, Moises Alou, Rich Aurilia (version 2.0), Randy Johnson, Ryan Klesko, Ray Durham (version 2.0) Mark DeRosa, I mean, come on. How about Dave Roberts or Mark Sweeney? Two guys that had never been everyday players signed to be everyday players for the Giants. How about Steve Finley? We only signed him about five years after he was washed up. Michael Tucker, anyone? How about signing Jeffrey Hammonds at 33 years old?

Here’s the line that Neifi Perez posted in 2002, .236/.260/.303 .563 OPS. Since Triple-A stats don’t mean anything, I’m guessing that major league stats must not make too much of an impression on Captain Queeg either, because the hitter that posted that line got a two-year deal for $14 million dollars, and a declaration from our estimable GM that Neifi was already penciled in as our starting shortstop and top of the lineup table setter.

The simple fact is that the Giants, that Brian Sabean decided that these guys, these washed up, has beens and never was’s had to be Giants, and he ignored, in fact, he flaunted his ignorance and his stubborn unwillingness to acknowledge what was known in baseball at the time; that old players tend to decline, that old, injured players tend to get injured, and that signing old and injured free agents to fill your entire roster has to be the worst possible way to do so. This is all on him. Brian Sabean built this team, has been building this team for going on fifteen years.

The number of acquisitions, trades and free agent signings that have worked out for the Giants can be counted on your fingers. The number that have been failures, not just so-so, but flat out colossal busts, is staggering. We’re talking millions, millions of dollars thrown on the ground as if there was no way to know what to expect with these players, as if we were still in the 1920′s, when all you had to go on was a game or two when your scout saw a player hit two home runs.

“…. team sources said the Giants did an extraordinary amount of research”

Yeah, well, that’s only part of your job. And, by the way, who’s getting fired for all the terrific “research” the baseball team has done with the last five or ten free agents we’ve signed?

Nobody. In the world of the Giants, it’s always bad luck. It’s always somebody else’s fault. There’s always a team that is chasing the superstar Brian Sabean wants, so he has to overbid, overpay to get them. There’s always a reason. And in the words of a fairly famous mentor of mine, “You either have reasons, or you have success. You can’t have both.”

Every time you read a Sabean quote, or hear him talk on the TV, he’s explaining how these things happen all the time, or he’s telling you how he doesn’t need statistics, or some other bullshit how he just has to be patient, that the hitters will come around. Here’s an idea: Go get some real baseball players, players who are young and good, and we won’t have to wait for them to finally get the rust out of their ancient bones, and we can stop hearing how unfortunate it is that another 35-year old is hurt again.

UPDATE: Just to be clear, I’m not blasting these players. These players are who they are. They are probably good guys. They work hard. They have integrity. It’s not their fault they are being asked to be the second, third and fourth best hitters on a team, instead of the sixth, seventh and eighth best. It’s Brian Sabean’s fault.

Buster Posey has now played essentially one full season in the minors. Here’s what he’s done so far:

158 Games 585 AB 120 Runs 194 H 46 2B 2 3B 24 HR 110 RBI 89 BB 92 SO .332/.425/.544 .968 OPS

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, those numbers are inflated, or better, will be depressed some 15%, maybe even 20%. That guy’s not ready? Really?

Bengie Molina, last season:

132 Games 491 AB 52 Runs 130 AB 25 2B 1 3B 20 HR 80 RBI 13 BB 68 SO .265/.285/.442 .727 OPS

Are you kidding somebody? How can anyone who knows anything about the game of baseball think that Posey couldn’t match that production? That Posey couldn’t have saved the team the $5 million we gave to the out-maker, and used it to land a real hitter?

Here’s the BP boys talking about Posey and Sabean:

…. Giants general manager Brian Sabean insists that Posey has work to do in the minors, but at least he doesn’t pretend any of that work involves his hitting. With last night’s outburst, he’s batting .355/.448/.579 for the Grizzlies. Instead, Sabean insists that Posey’s receiving skills still need work, despite the fact he’s played errorless ball so far, been charged with just one passed ball and nailed half of all stolen base attempts. Just admit you are managing his service time clock, Mr. Sabean, we’ll understand–kind of.

Well, first off, he is pretending that his offense is an issue, absolutely and constantly. And, even if he is only managing his service time clock, that is still pretty much inexcusable, given how poorly Sabean’s efforts to improve the offense went this off-season, highlighted –lowlighted?– by the fact that he brought back Molina to bat cleanup again.

This is a joke, that’s what that is. A joke.

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
None of the opinions expressed should be construed as being endorsed by the
San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball, or any other organization mentioned herein.

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