Archive for the baseball Category

The Ballpark: MLB Knowledge

Posted in baseball, The Ballpark with tags , , , , on December 26, 2007 by Patrick
  • Roger Clemens is going on the offensive. His lawyers are launching their own investigation. He wil also talk with reporters. (ESPN) (My Pinstripes)
  • Murray Chass breaks down the Yankees’ pursuit of Johan Santana, their luxury tax situation and relative economic progress in the Bronx. (New York Times) (MLB Trade Rumors)
  • Baseball Musings is less than pleased with the Florida Marlins attempt to replace Miguel Cabrera. Apparently Luis Castillo doesn’t quite fill Cabrera’s shoes. (Baseball Musings)

Well, I Guess There Was This One Time…

Posted in baseball with tags , , , , on December 18, 2007 by Patrick

I should have picked a different example when I chose Brian Roberts as being unfairly accused of steroids use in the Mitchell report. You know, you trust someone and they let you down. Brian Roberts has confessed to using steroids one-time in 2003. Afterwards, he came to the realization steroid use was not in line with what he “stood for” and hasn’t used since.

Who uses steroids once? What about steroids that could be learned after one use couldn’t have been deduced beforehand? Were you unclear of where you were morally? Were you uncertain as to whether you would enjoy having another man stick needles in your butt?

We heard a song of a similar tune from Andy Pettitte, admitting he used HGH on two occasions in 2002. He said:

In 2002 I was injured. I had heard that human growth hormone could promote faster healing for my elbow,” Pettitte said in the statement released to The Associated Press by agent Randy Hendricks. “I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone. Though it was not against baseball rules, I was not comfortable with what I was doing, so I stopped.

“This is it — two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for an edge. I was looking to heal.”

Being able to recover from an injury faster than normally possible isn’t an edge? Is he deluded? He states an obligation to his team, as though most steroid users aren’t looking to help their team. He, also, is quick to mention that it wasn’t explicitly against baseball rules. True enough, but don’t be naive.

Is this what we will see now? Players saying I only cheated this one time? Players claiming it wasn’t against the rules, so they didn’t cheat? How many times does a player have to take steroids or HGH before he is officially a charlatan? If they took steroids or HGH, but it wasn’t officially banned by the MLB does that make it OK? Or at least not as bad?
These are tough questions because, although I don’t know why someone would use steroids once, using on one occasion wouldn’t have much of an effect on your career, short or long-term. This makes it the perfect mea culpa. Brian Roberts hit 5 home runs in the 2003 season, so it’s tough to really see him as a villain. Baseball was completely asleep at the wheel, so if you saw a good number of your colleagues taking such drugs without repercussions are you less guilty for following suit?

People make mistakes all the time. I make them often. But if I was allowed to make mistakes one or two times before I was held accountable I’d have a laundry list of things I’d be doing tonight. Some mistakes are more grievous than others and taking performance enhancing drugs once is, I suppose, not as dishonorable as recurrent use over a long period of time. But I fear that people will use these rationalizations simply as a means of lessening public scorn. One last ruse in a long line of deceptions.

While I want to forgive these players, I don’t know that I should. They’ve lied before–Andy Pettitte, for example, has previously claimed to have never taken any performance enhancers–so what is one more lie? I want to believe them. I want to believe that our heroes were only guilty of momentary lapses in judgment, but I can’t know for sure. But considering they have trampled on my trust before, making me at least slightly skeptical of all modern athletic achievements, I don’t feel I owe them anything.

Mitchell Investigation Post-Mortem’s Post-Mortem

Posted in baseball with tags , , on December 14, 2007 by Patrick

Not to get political, but I am an opponent of the death penalty. I am not opposed to it because I think that the state shouldn’t sponsor murder or that an eye for an eye leaves us all blind, but because if one person is proven innocent after the fact it is irreversible. If exculpatory evidence is found after someone has been hung, it is too late. I am beginning to hold that same feeling about the Mitchell report.

The evidence about some of the players implicated in this report is so thin that, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com notes, it “would never hold up in court. Not even in a civil case.” The case against Brian Roberts is that he, allegedly, admitted to roommate Larry Bigbie that he, “injected himself once or twice with steroids in 2003.” That’s it. No inculpating evidence, just one man accusing another.  There are other accounts just as flimsy as this one–Jayson Stark does a fine job reporting them.

Was this a good idea?  Was it smart to sacrifice the reputations of dozens of players with flimsy evidence?  Will this help baseball’s reputation or tarnish it further.  To me, it exacerbates their problems.

Baseball knowingly turned a blind eye for years while profiting from their acquiescence.  Fans turned out in droves to watch chemically enhanced behemoths hit 500 foot home runs to their amazement.  According to Mitchell, everyone in baseball, top to bottom, was complicit in this fraud.  Now, in an attempt to quell the anger among baseball purists and fans alike, they have trampled on the integrity of several players, rendering all their career accomplishments tainted in the court of public opinion.  You can say you never took steroids forever, but to prove that something never happened that possibly could have is impossible.  I can tell you that I’ve never had blood sausage in my life, but I can not provide evidence to prove that point.  You’d have to have evidence that I had eaten it in a democracy.  You can’t prove a negative.

The names in the Mitchell report are not proven guilty, they have been accused.  But they will never have their day in court to clear their names. They have been branded permanently.  And if one of the branded players has been falsely accused, no one should have been named.  And considering it is Senator Mitchell’s prerogative that no players be punished after the fact, what was the point of naming anyone?  Was it just to provide some red meat to those who have wanted the blood of those who soiled their cherished pasttime?  Sometimes it is impossible to please everyone.

Once someone is accused of something grievous their reputation seldom heals completely.  For every person who believes that a man is innocent until proven guilty, there is someone else who believes the opposite.  Acquitted murderers are still viewed as being more dangerous than those never charged, acquitted thieves will still make some guard their possessions more closely in their presence.  The same can be said of those players’ named in the Mitchell report.  The more thoughtful of us will know that accusations do not equal guilt, but others will be quick to judge.  They will never be able to produce evidence to prove their innocence.  They will never be able to acquit themselves in the court of public opinion.

Baseball has really outdone itself here.  When they had a problem to deal with they did nothing.  Then, when they finally tried to tackle the problem they went well beyond where they could reasonably go.  They have gone from aloof governors, who heard no problems and saw no problems to irresponsible, reckless disciplinarians whom, while aiming to repair baseball’s integrity, may have finally destroyed it.

Alex Rodriguez is 7000x As Valuable As You!

Posted in baseball with tags , , , on December 14, 2007 by Patrick

If you are the average American, earning $36,764 a year, it would take you 7,480 years to make what he’ll make over the next 10 years. Considering he doesn’t earn a dollar of that in October, he’s doing pretty well.

Mitchell Post-Mortem

Posted in baseball with tags , , on December 13, 2007 by Patrick

So, now that Senator Mitchell has released the results of his 20 month investigation, where do we stand? I, sadly, believe that we are no better off than we were.

We have the names of dozens of current and former baseball players who are alleged to have used or purchased performance enhancing drugs. Some of these names carry some weight; Clemens, Tejada, Bonds, Pettitte and others you would recognize. But without subpoena power, I think we can all expect more of what Roger Clemens’ attorney, Rusty Hardin, had to say:

“I have great respect for Senator Mitchell. I think an overall look at this problem in baseball was an excellent idea,” Hardin said in a statement. “But I respectfully suggest it is very unfair to include Roger’s name in this report. He is left with no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations. He has not been charged with anything, he will not be charged with anything and yet he is being tried in the court of public opinion with no recourse. That is totally wrong.

“There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances and yet he is being slandered today,” said Hardin, who called McNamee a “troubled man.”

There is more of this to come. I must confess that I have not read the entirety of the report, but I don’t believe, from what I have read, that there is much inculpatory evidence. There are pictures of checks from players to trainers who have confessed to providing PED’s. There are stories Clemens and Pettitte being injected by Brian McNamee, a New York strength and conditioning coach. But none of this can prove that the implicated players were indeed steroid users. The report certainly casts a cloud over the entirety of baseball, but who could argue that it was a sunny day beforehand.

The past 20 years of baseball history will forever be in question. Baseball needed a report of this magnitude to repair its credibility on the heels of such an era, but this report will not do anything more than affirm what we already suspected: Everyone was complicit.

By convicting everyone, no one is guilty. By spreading the blame so broadly and universally, it is impossible to hold individuals accountable without it seeming like a witch hunt. Players, owners and management will apologize publicly for what has transpired over the past 20 years. Yet, individually, they will accept responsibility for nothing. The list of players who will voluntarily confess guilt for what they have allegedly done will be small. It will be comprised mostly of retired players who no have to make the long jog out to their positions, facing fans who know their career, at least in part, is fraudulent.

The Senator From Maine is Recognized

Posted in baseball with tags , , , , on December 13, 2007 by Patrick

“Protecting the integrity of our game is vital, and we intend to study his findings and recommendations, and will not comment until we have done so.” This is how owners and general managers are being advised to address the media in wake of Senator George Mitchell’s 20-month report on the “Steroids Era” in baseball. Some 60 to 80 players are rumored to have been implicated in the report, a significant number considering the difficulty in obtaining information from the secretive locker room culture.

Whatever information he has been able to procure will be worthy of praise. To reach his conclusions, Senator Mitchell has been grappling with the mightiest labor organization in America: The MLB Players’ Union. The Union had to be consulted prior to Mitchell speaking to any player. Using its contractual obligations to protect the players it represents, the union was a worthy adversary to Mitchell’s fact-finding investigators.

The difficulties in reaching this point are obvious. Both players and owners have entrenched interests in such a report never seeing the light of day, so any report at all could be viewed as cause for celebration. The owners are financially invested in the integrity of the game and don’t want to be viewed as swindlers profiting from the artificial glory of the steroids era. The players, like the pack animals they are, are seeking to protect their own at any cost: even their own integrity.

This will, in baseball’s eyes at least, bring closure to arguably the biggest black-eye in sports history. Finally names will be named. Who cares? If they aren’t all cheaters than they were all cowards. How did so many men sit by and watch America’s past time have its integrity pissed on by a bunch of ‘roid heads who lacked the ability to establish their own legacy in the game without the assistance of science? How many players were reassigned to Triple-A while frauds dressed as ball players stole their jobs? No one spoke up?

How did the owners oversee such poorly managed teams that illegal drugs could permeate the everyday environment of their workplaces? Oh, that’s right, it lined their pockets. But even still, a few of them must have had some moral objection. Some of them must have considered the ramifications of such chicanery.

Where were the journalists? Balls were flying out at a clip of unseen proportions and the common fans investigative arm sat on its duff writing lofty, praising articles about the magic of the 1998 home run race. McGwire and Sosa weren’t magicians, they were con men masquerading as heroes. None of you caught wind of this until the damage had been done? If pestilence like this had spread in any other industry I would like to believe that journalists, protectors of the public, would have been quicker to sniff it out.

How does Bud Selig still have a job?

To their credit, they did have the Players’ Union to deal with. A union representing all that can go wrong when workers unite. It has used its power not to do what is best for its members, but to stifle dissent and protect the integrity of those who have soiled the integrity of everyone.

While this report may satisfy our national blood-lust, the real damage has already been done. No report released over a decade after the fact will do anything but confirm what we already know: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.