Saturday, December 29, 2007

Amped up…

I guess one of the biggest reasons I’m not a ‘punish with extreme prejudice’ those who have used steroids by expunging, asterisking or altering their stats is that the record book has been tainted by illegal drugs for quite some time now.

A quick caveat: there is a large difference between what amphetamines will do for an athlete’s performance as opposed to anabolic steroids. Regardless, both have had an impact on baseball’s ledgers. Steroids allow a player to exceed his normal output by increasing his ability to perform. While debate rages regarding amphetamines’ effect on performance there is no debate that they do have one undeniable function—they get a player into the lineup when they otherwise may have been unable to play.

For example, since 1950 (an arbitrary cutoff but adequate enough to make the point) there are 11 players no higher than 150 hits north of 3000. There are 10 batters no higher than 50 HR beyond the 500-level. Finally, there are six pitchers 25 wins (but no higher) above 300 wins—all since 1950.

It takes about a season’s worth of at bats to garner 150 hits and a season-and-a-half for 50 HR (and 25 wins). Don’t forget, we’re talking elite talent here. Stiffs do not get close to these milestones. The thing is, players that are in this neighbourhood have careers in the 20-season range.

Over the course of 20 years of 154-162 game seasons--how many times do you think players required ‘a little help’ to get into the lineup? Let’s focus on position players for a moment. Suppose they ‘need a boost’ 35 times a year because of travel, partying, illness etc.—how many games does that translate into over a 20 season career? Even a conservative estimate as this translates into 700 games that might otherwise have not been played or played at a sub-optimal level.

Seven hundred games are well over four ‘iron man’ seasons (played in every game) assuming a 162 game schedule. A pitcher amped up five times per season would translate into 100 starts in a 20-year career.

How many extra hits, home runs, or wins could be attributed to the restorative effects of amphetamines that allowed players to get into games or play them at close to their rested level? There is more than enough to put a significant dent in the 3000 hit club, the 500 HR club, and the 300 win club—generally considered to be Cooperstown territory.

I think it’s safe to assume that absent amphetamines both the record book and the Hall of Fame would look quite a bit different than it does today. So, for those that wish to make a notation in the records that these milestones were due to anabolic steroids then it’s only fair to do likewise for players linked with amphetamines. Their effect is not as dramatic as those created by steroids, but it is there—a few hits here, a couple of wins there, and a handful of home runs smattered throughout add up over a career in the two decades range.

Off the top of my head…

For the poor souls who regularly read my stream-of-consciousness meanderings know I have devoted a lot of bandwidth dissecting the issue of steroids in baseball. The thing is, athletes keep getting larger and larger (especially in the NFL) and most folks don’t even bat an eye.

Athletes are regarded to a degree as heroes, a level above the everyday person. For those wishing to discount that claim think back to your high school days. How many pep rallies and kudos by their peers did the scholastic achievers ever receive? Who were “A”-list, the cool kids--the jocks or the brains?

‘nuff said.

If you look at the evolution of comic book superheroes from the 1940’s until today you notice they progressively become bigger, more muscular and far more ripped. In the last 2-3 decades they no longer look human. They are literally anatomical impossibilities in that no frame could handle the stress of that many muscles upon them.

A lot of us have grown up with that as our perception of what physical ‘heroes’ are supposed to look like. By the time we reach young adulthood we become so accustomed to looking at physical freaks that the 300 lb linemen with legs for arms and tree trunks for legs do not shock us. We do not question their appearance, heck—they’re not even as buff as Captain America, Batman or the Green Lantern.

We’ve become desensitized to the appearance of freakish muscles on those who can perform physical feats that we cannot. It explains the disconnect we have between our criticism of those who use steroids and our continued financial support to the sports we follow and the athletes who play on our team.

It’s one thing to be critical of steroid users when sitting in a bar, quite another when we’re at the park watching those very muscles helping our team win games. For the most part, a lot of our vitriol regarding steroid users stems from the cues we receive from the media. Here’s a clip from a THT column discussing this phenomena as it applies to that hottest of hot buttons—Barry Bonds:

Here’s why they hoot and hiss. They read things about Bonds that state:

“…the only thing that seems to bring him joy is his contempt for the vast majority of humans. He greets the world with a sneer ... Yet no great player has been more consistently unpleasant than Barry Bonds, and not only with professional snoops, but teammates, too.” -- (Don't put too much stock in Bonds' tactful concern)

He smiled and laughed, exuding all the charm of a mobster posing for pictures with kids. This was Barry Bonds' good side, the one we supposedly never see. But the man who would be (home run) king has stopped snarling at the world ... He's laughing all right--at Bud Selig, Hank Aaron, the feds, the fans, you and me.”--(Nobody can stop Barry Bonds)

It's why most people who know Bonds wouldn't spit on him even if he was on fire ... Nobody questions his talent. It's his failure as a human being that is at issue.”--(Bonds in the showcase game? It just doesn't add up)

These are comments that have little to with Bonds' PED usage. We’ve read columns for 15 years now about what an unpleasant sort Barry Bonds is, and now are folks saying that if he never used steroids the public would now be embracing him and his assault on history?

At any rate, if history is any indicator, this era will go down as other era have—one where he have to adjust the totals to account for the circumstances of the time.

Best Regards


Friday, December 28, 2007

The Mike Gill Show: a 2007 retrospective...

After spending some time visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame (of which I will be blasting in the near future) it became necessary to move my ESPN 1450’s Mike Gill Show segment to today at 6:05 PM. Mike has asked that we discuss the following…

Baseball's top stories of 2007
  • The Mitchell Report
  • Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron’s HR record
  • Red Sox win their second World Series in last four years
  • Rockies win 21 of 22 to make playoffs
  • Mets blow the NL East

Just a little dialogue about why each made 2007 a great or memorable baseball season.

The Mitchell Report

This was the most overrated story of the 2007 season. It ended up creating more questions than it had answered. First, WNBC put out a bogus list of the players named in the report causing suspicion as to whether it had been altered in the three days prior to its going public. Second, both Larry Starr and Jose Canseco—two people with a tremendous amount of knowledge about steroids in the game—went either unquestioned or underreported. In both cases, they knew the degree of management culpability adding to the perception that Mitchell wasn’t exactly neutral in his investigation.

Further, Mitchell should have involved the MLBPA in the investigation from the get-go or at the very last keeping them in the loop rather than attempting to create an adversarial environment. Of course, this made it that much easier to paint the MLBPA as the problem rather than a partner in getting to the bottom of the steroids mess. Obviously Don Fehr and Gene Orza were too much in love with their own libertarian ideologies than helping insure that the players had a workplace that didn’t require their members to ingest potentially toxic substances to obtain or retain a job in the big leagues.

Fehr and Orza truly had their heads either in the sand, or were suffering from inverse cranial/rectal inversion syndrome by—for all intents and purposes--advising the players to not speak to Mitchell not realizing that they would end up having to speak quite a bit after the fact to the media.

It really didn’t tell us a lot that we didn’t already know; rather it simply confirmed what we had suspected for quite some time. It did demonstrate that Fehr and Orza have damaged the union in a very big way. Their ideology was more important to them than creating a safe, fair working environment for their constituents. They have also inadvertently aided Bud Selig to paint himself as the man who got baseball out of the steroid era and the MLBPA as the ones primarily responsible for it. A lot of players’ reputations have been largely destroyed and they can thank Fehr and Orza for this. If Bud Selig has been laying traps to make sure the public feels he is wearing the white hat and Fehr/Orza the black (hats), the union sprang every last one of them. The Mitchell Report laid bare the total impotence of what was once the most powerful union in the world and highlighted the need for new leadership.

Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron’s HR record

Generally such a milestone is to be greeted with celebration and it was for the most part—in San Francisco. Bonds, Selig and the media made sure that it would be as joyless as humanly possible. We can debate for years (and probably will) how many ‘juiced’ home runs Bonds hit however the new home run king aided and abetted by the media made sure it would be a resounding anticlimax.

Whether it was waiting for the Grand Jury indictment, BALCO, steroids, Hank Aaron’s reluctance to follow the chase both parties made sure there was maximum distraction approaching 756. I found the media’s response to Aaron to be callous. To expect an elderly man to travel around the country answering the same bloody questions at each and every stop just to make the press’s job easier was inexcusable. For a group that was concerned with Aaron’s legacy, they didn’t seem to care much for Aaron, the human being. After everything he’s gone through in his life, you think folks would respect the man’s right to enjoy a quiet relaxing retirement. Instead we read tons of drivel dissecting “The Hammer’s” mindset in all this.

Bud Selig didn’t help much either. He sat by and allowed the steroid era to continue because it was good for business. He made a laughable appearance at HR No. 755 with an impressive public demonstration of pocket pool and was absent for 756. He made his bed and he should have laid in it like a man. Bonds lifelong obsession of making sure everybody around him realize that he’s one of baseball’s greatest players and they (press and peers) alike are not--made him hard to embrace. I think the overwhelming feeling when it was over was profound relief.

Red Sox win second World Series in last four years

Despite the uncertain nature of the game and the seemingly miraculous efforts of the Rockies, the Fall Classic seemed more of a coronation than anything else. Yes, there were some hopeful prognostications based more on optimism than fact, but deep down I think most expected an AL smackdown.

It confirmed that the Red Sox are just another big market team. The Patriots may go undefeated this year, the Red Sox are only less wealthy than the Yankees and Boston will never again be viewed as the underdog. Having said that, it added to the Hall of Fame cases of Manny Ramirez (already there), Curt Schilling (probably was there already, but convinced some of the remaining skeptics), David Ortiz, (not there yet but getting closer). Further, it cemented Josh Beckett’s reputation of being a big game pitcher and demonstrated that World Series MVP Mike Lowell was probably the greatest contract dump in history. Despite the warm and fuzzies of the aforementioned, the AL now views the Red Sox as the Evil Empire II.

Rockies win 21 of 22 to make playoffs

This was the icing on the cake of a wonderful climax to the National League season. All three divisions and the wild card were up for grabs in the last week of the season—as was the NL MVP. Eight teams were in the hunt and nobody had a clue. Three weeks before the season ended, Colorado wasn’t even on anybody’s radar screen. After this run they swept their way to the World Series downing two division champions without breaking much of a sweat.

It was good for baseball and overdue for the fans in Denver. A wonderful reminder that in the world of baseball, it is truly as Joaquin Andujar once opined, “youneverknow.”

Mets blow the NL East

They say what goes around comes around and that in the great cosmic balance everything eventually evens out. In 1964 it was the Phillies that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. In 2007 it was the Phillies being the miracle team. While it’s easy to lump the Mets in with the 1951 Dodgers, the ’64 Phillies, the 1987 Blue Jays etc. I don’t think it does the story (or the Phillies) justice.

The collapse was simply the flipping of two talented, but flawed teams. In the early going the Mets succeeded despite iffy pitching both in the rotation and the bullpen. Late in the season, it was the Phillies doing likewise. It just so happened that the Phils were standing when the music stopped. It was Chase Utley/Jimmy Rollins vs. David Wright/Jose Reyes, Billy Wagner vs. Brett Myers, Oliver Perez vs. Cole Hamels and Carlos Beltran vs. Aaron Rowand.

Further, it was about three relievers named Brett Myers, J.C. Romero and Tom Gordon. This trio told Charlie Manuel they were available every day and posted a 1.05 ERA in 45 appearances over the season’s final three weeks averaging over 8 K/9 IP and less than 2 BB/9 IP. It was about a confident shortstop who predicted that the Phillies were the team to beat and never wavered while setting NL records for runs scored and total bases by a shortstop while enjoying a 30/30 season and topping 20 doubles, triples, HR, and stolen bases while providing Gold Glove defense.

A Mets collapse or a Phillies team that refused to stay on the canvas and scored a KO in the 15th round? I’ll remember 2007 as the latter.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I'm gonna take off eh …

Well, I’m going be in absentia for a few days to travel to upstate New York so this blog will be quiet for a few days (waits for cheers to die down).

(still waiting)

(still waiting)

(still waiting)

(still waiting)

(still waiting)


Geez, I haven’t heard such a sustained amount of cheering since my vasectomy. Even Charles Darwin did a nifty bit of self-exhumation to join the applause. Considering that the word resurrection literally means 'a standing up' I guess that qualifies as a standing ovation.

Speaking of which (how often do you hear that preface in this particular context? You'd think nobody's ever seen a zombie biologist cheer a human quasi-neutering ... you really should get out more folks), I would like to congratulate former MLBtalk compatriot and current writer for FOX Sports Dayn Perry on the safe arrival of his new son.

The poor slob will never know what hit ‘im. The timing of the birth is ironic considering that the name of the Lord was probably invoked repeatedly both at conception and delivery. Dayn, I hope your wife never implied your parents never married, that your mother was a female canine, or that you harbour an Oedipus Complex.

If she did--that’s par for the course; even during childbirth. ;-)

By the way--who got the epidural, you or she?

At any rate big guy; enjoy the ride; it’s fun being a dad … for twelve years, eleven months, 29 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds--then things get tricky.

Anyway …

I still have no idea when my next MSN column will be up. I haven’t heard from my boss in over a week so I don’t know what his or my status is at the moment. I just hope the Mitchell Report isn’t old news too soon. I am paid regardless if my column isn’t posted during the news cycle but it’s frustrating nevertheless. To sit down and slog through the entire report, taking notes and making observations before putting together a couple of columns in a timely matter only to learn my hard work just vanished into the ether without even knowing the behind the scenes circumstances is disheartening.

I’ve had three or four columns that never saw the light of day. It’s not that they were rejected, it’s because the sports department at MSN is a one-man show and if something happens to that man then my article is regally consummated.


I used to be associate editor at MLBtalk--I wonder if I can convince him (or have him convince his boss) to give me the keys to post my work myself. It would lighten his workload and give MSN Canada’s baseball section regular weekly commentary. I think I can be trusted not to cause them undue headaches. I have almost a decade’s experience at this and I think they can count on me not to embarrass them.

At any rate, I hope everything is O.K. with Scott--I’m not upset at him. He’s doing his level best but whatever business model or organizational structure they have with the sports department--it isn’t working. The winter meetings are very, very old news but there’s my commentary on it gathering dust and hoping somebody may click it by accident.

Best Regards


Sunday, December 23, 2007


A quick note (pauses for his reader to regain consciousness--rummages around for smelling salts wondering how he can attach it to an e-mail)…

I am loath to rip a fellow scribe--it hasn’t stopped me in the past mind you, it’s just that I’m loath to do it. Anyway, Mike Imrem of the Chicago Daily Herald has earned a hearty referral to a practitioner in the field of psychiaproctology to treat his severe case of inverse, cranial-rectum syndrome for his column Time to tear down Wrigley.

Listen up sunshine; you don’t tear down one-of-a-kind historical structures. Wrigley Field was originally built for the Chicago Whales of the Federal League. It is a unique artifact of that era in baseball history. His statement:

The place is a tenement not worth saving. Despite all the compromises made the past few years, with more planned, Wrigley doesn't generate the revenues a major-market facility should.

Riiiight. I seem to remember that they’re scalping their own tickets at astonishing prices. I’m sure they could do that as people from around the country to see the latest retro HOK cookie cutter. In 2001, Wrigley Field was sixth in the NL in gate receipts alone despite seating about 40,000. (We'll touch on more up-to-date points shortly.) Take a page from the Boston Red Sox and see how you can turn a classic into a revenue-generating beast.

What’s your solution? Have the area take close to a billion dollars out of schools, healthcare, and infrastructure so we can have Camden Yards version 16.0? None of the HOK parks of the last 15 years is a national tourist attraction--Fenway and Wrigley are precisely that. Ask Peter Angelos about how many tourists he attracts to watch his team finish fourth in their division. The Cubs draw even when the club is poor. Over the last four seasons they have had two winning seasons and two losing seasons and were fourth in the NL in attendance three times and fourth once.

Of course, when the team isn’t a draw, the park still brings in fans. The novelty of a new ballpark would wear off very quickly (just ask the teams that have one)--Wrigley remains novel and becomes even more so each year. The Cubs are worth only less than the Mets and Dodgers in the NL and only those two clubs create more revenue. Every National League club with a new stadium is below them.

What does that tell you?

Mike, if you want to replace Wrigley Field are you liquidating your assets to buy stock in Enron and You may as well be--it’s about as wise a move as the one you’re suggesting.

Best Regards


Winding down …

There is not a lot to cover off at the moment. Fortunately, my specialty is talking a lot without saying much.


I have done two columns for MSN Canada about the Mitchell Report that are currently AWOL. I have no idea when they will be running. My boss has been out of contact since the middle of the week. When this happens, it means something has seriously gone wrong for him on the home front.

I hope it isn’t the case.

My first THT column dealing with TMR entitled “Idiology” can be read here with another slant taken on it that will run December 28. It has inspired a total of seven columns and blog posts combined and parts of five other posts here at TPoSGD. It’s the gift that just keeps on giving eh?

Speaking of THT, starting in the New Year, I will be doing a second weekly feature at The Hardball Times. The tentative title will be either “This Week’s Heroes and Zeroes” or “Heroes and Zeroes for the week of …” It will be a compilation of props and snark regarding people in baseball (including the media) where we will recognize the best and worst of a given week. I’m hoping to come up a catchier title where I name the award after an outstanding baseball personality (think Albert Pujols) and an equally destructive sort (think David Samson).

Back in the days of a poster on the Blue Jays forum did a weekly feature about various weekly goof ups. It was entitled “The Huckleberries” after a snake bitten Blue Jays southpaw named Huck Flener who would be injured in the oddest fashions.

I’m aiming for something like that.

It will be a reader-interactive feature where I will ask the readers for their candidates/submissions (which will be properly credited of course) so I don’t have to do the actual legwork I can have a lot of options to choose from. Some weeks nobody will distinguish themselves for better or worse and it will be strictly a ‘heroes’ or ‘zeroes’ piece. If you have any ideas for a column name or anybody you wish to nominate drop me a line.

I’m going to be headed to Cooperstown next Wednesday hopefully to sequester myself into their library to gather research materials for some projects I hope to start. I’m mulling writing a book and am looking for a subject that I can devote 300 pages to covering. I love the Hall of Fame but whenever I go there, they have the library locked for whatever reason. Should that be the case I guess I’ll just take in the exhibits with my brother and nephews and pout about my poor fortune.

Of course, I’m tentatively scheduled to have my segment on ESPN 1450’s Mike Gill Show Friday 6:05 PM if we’re back from upstate New York by then. I’ll be in London Ontario for that and I really should let Mike know about the change of locale for next week.

Getting back to coverage of the Mitchell Report, I know you’re sick and tired of reading articles about it--the thing is ... there’s not much else for columnists to cover at the moment. Folks in MLB are, like most people, getting ready for the Christianized festival of Saturnalia (the rebirth of the unconquered sun) and New Years celebrations and aren’t getting into a lot of mischief at the moment. Quite frankly, we’re reaching--need proof? Check out these storylines :
We’re trying, but reaching here folks; the Mitchell Report was a godsend to us ink-stained/bandwidth devouring wretches. This is supposed to be a Blue Jays blog (eventually, I guess) but they’ve been so quiet that the Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin was covering the trials and tribulations of John McDonald’s mishandling by J.P. Ricciardi. Of course, if Ricciardi were to find a cure for cancer tomorrow Griffin (Canada’s answer to Bill Plaschke) would criticize him for not doing it sooner. He would then line up interviews with people who have lost family to the disease to demonstrate the human cost of Ricciardi’s tardiness.

Writers and vendettas are a poor mix--everybody comes out smelling like a just opened exhumed casket that was buried under an old outhouse now used for disposing of rotten eggs that was placed on top of an old well that was abandoned because the water had a high concentration of sulphur.

If something happens in the next few days (even if it is a column going live) I’ll let you know. Stay safe over the holidays and if you drink--don’t drive.

Best Regards


Friday, December 21, 2007

Paradox by the ballpark lights …

If somebody from another planet were to spend any time observing human nature, chances are he would come away thinking that human beings are a living, breathing, contradiction. One of the first lessons we learn regarding the social aspect of life is that reporting the misdeeds of others is taboo.

When we’re a kid, we’re told ‘Don’t be a tattle-tale.’ As we get older, we refer to people do engage in such activity as ‘rats’, ‘snitches’, ‘sell-outs’ and worse. If a friend is pursuing a self-destructive course, we may speak with them, but we will never turn them in so they have little recourse but to confront their demons. Generally, we will--while trying to help the person--slowly, painfully watch the person self-destruct.

By the time we reach adulthood this lesson has been drummed into our collective skulls. If our silence will protect a friend or family member while allowing somebody we don’t know (or like) to take the fall for their sins--then so be it. Rare is the person who will risk ostracism to come forward with the truth.

It’s understood within the framework of professional sports that what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse. If a teammate is jeopardizing his health, his marriage, breaking the law or something else--it stays in-house. We look at the whole Mitchell Report and the fallout from it and other revelations; Jose Canseco, Jason Grimsley, Brian McNamee, Kirk Radomski and others are (or soon will be) persona non grata in the sport.


They spilt the beans--a social no-no. In today’s society they’re called ‘whistle-blowers’ and all too often they aren’t rewarded and often penalized. Despite coming forward with the truth, they’re viewed as untrustworthy. They become social lepers for becoming among the lowest forms of humanity--the stool pigeon.

It makes me think about the saga of Buck Weaver of the 1919 Chicago White Sox. He was permanently banned from the game, not for participating in the fix, but rather he didn’t blow the whistle regarding what he knew. Some may feel that it served him right and should have stood up and said something.

However, what do we hear the most growing up, ‘stand up and say something’ or something to the effect of ‘don’t be a snitch’? What did we hear from our peers in elementary school, high school, in the workplace etc? What we hear time and again is not to rat out to ‘the man,’ that entity being the authority placed in its position with the mandate to level sanctions against the type of behaviour that we, or somebody we know may be engaging in.

The thing is, when some scandal or other erupts, we hear the same refrain repeatedly: ‘How could something like this happen?’ ‘Why did it go on so long?’ ‘Why didn’t somebody speak up??

The answer is simple--those are the rules we grew up with; we don’t report what happened, we never intend to, and we don’t wish to become outcasts by blowing the whistle. This is precisely how things like steroids in MLB happen--everybody is following the rules society has taught them. It really is a no-win situation for people ‘in the loop.’ They have one of two choices--be part of a cover up or be a snitch. One generally results in official reprimand, the other peer (reprimand). If we receive penalty from 'the man’ our peer group will generally stand by us--if we’re damned by our peers, then ‘the man’ casts us aside when we are no longer useful to them.

Nobody wants us at that point. Our utility to the authorities is gone as is our standing among our social network--and we’re left to contemplate the repercussions of our decision with no one to commiserate with us.

Not much of a reward is it?

This is why I have trouble with levelling penalties with extreme prejudice regarding the steroid scandal. For every Swede Risberg and Chick Gandil--there’s a Buck Weaver. For every user there is somebody who is aware of that and is scrupulously following the rules he has been taught by his peers his entire life. The conditioning to keep our mouths shut—don’t ask and don’t tell. If it’s violated in some small way when we’re kids we’re buried in vitriol, and smacked upside the head as a reminder of the importance of not being a rat. Come adulthood it becomes almost instinctive.

If people wish to bar the doors to the dirty steroid users then it’s only right and fair that past precedent regarding such matters be followed. The Buck Weavers of the steroid era are lumped in with the rest. As we learned in the Mitchell Report--everybody knew. Juicing was “widespread” according to Mitchell--that being the case there are a lot of Buck Weavers out there. We saw Buck Weaver before the Senate committee a few years back. We’ve read about Buck Weaver in Mitchell’s Report. He’s one of the eight, one of the 85, one of them--a member of the Black Syringes.

As I’ve written before, major league baseball screwed up royally--a world-class fustercluck if there ever was one. We will never know the entire story because the Buck Weavers are still out there living by the code they have been taught since infancy.

If baseball really wants to handle this situation correctly, here is what should happen. Open a Grand Jury and involve the commissioner’s office and the MLBPA. Amnesty with a contractual promise that no penalties now or ever for everyone who testifies truthfully--player and executive alike both inside and outside of the game. If it comes out that somebody allegedly lied, there is a hearing where that person can defend themselves and cross-examine his accusers. If it is proven that the accusation is correct--that person is at the mercy of the commissioner’s office and any law enforcement agencies involved.

This way it will be much easier to take steps that this doesn’t happen again. In my personal opinion, segregation is a far bigger scandal and did more damage to the game than performance-enhancing drugs. We learned from the saga of Jackie Robinson that a lot of players liked to keep things segregated. If we can leave that scandal and move on, we can do likewise with this one. Both had a major impact on the record book and statistics. Just as we know that Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs in a segregated game, Hank Aaron hit 755 in a game rife with amphetamines--we know that Bonds hit 762 in a steroid-fueled game.

Those numbers are what they are--a product of their time.

Best Regards


Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Neate-O addition to the “Dweeb Team” …

I guess it’s an official addition at any rate since Neate Sager has been helping in the background since we started TIM RAINES - HALL OF FAME, 2008. Due to some e-mail difficulties between Tom and me, it took a little longer to get Neate into the machine. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, here’s a brief bio …
Neate Sager is a copy editor and sports columnist for the Ottawa Sun. He can also be read at Out of Left Field, which is undergoing some tweaking but obsesses mostly over the Blue Jays, Toronto Raptors, football and Canadian university sports. Neate's work was selected as Notable Sports Writing of 2004 in The Best American Sports Writing 2005, making the Simcoe (Ont.) Reformer the smallest Canadian daily newspaper ever to be acknowledged in the annual collection. He has also written for Deadspin, Quill & Quire and and makes occasional appearances on Offsides, Kingston, Ont., campus radio CFRC 101.9 FM's 4-5 p.m. Friday afternoon sports roundtable ( He divides his time between Ottawa, Toronto and Kingston.

The funny thing is, I’ve been following Neate around for quite some time without realizing it as we’ve both logged time in Ottawa, tobacco country (Delhi and Simcoe) and the 1000 Islands (Gananoque and Kingston). Well, it’s hard not to see fate arranging things for us to work together on Tim Raines HOF candidacy. At least we hope it’s fate and not the furies at work or we’re both quite frankly screwed.

While Neate has been referenced on the site, he’s done an original piece on Raines that can be read here. As I mentioned to Neate earlier today, its up to we hosers (eh?) in the Canadian media to carry the torch for the best leadoff hitter in NL history.

So, welcome aboard Mr. Sager--oh yeah, it’s your turn to buy the beer.

A good question …

In a different post, the always insightful Jonathan Hale from The Jays Nest and his own blog The Mockingbird (and a fellow hoser who has contributed to The Hardball Times eh?) asked an interesting question. It is one that I hadn’t really thought much about (which is odd for such an opinionated soul such as myself):

“Ok, trick(y) question...if you would vote for Clemens, what about Rose? Does he still get the shaft because the rule he broke wasn't tacitly allowed? The moral quagmire deepens...”

I think Rose should bunt …


Well, gambling in any form has always been the game’s biggest no-no since the Black Sox. There are posted rules in every major league player area about gambling but not for steroids. However, I don’t think that’s his question. The thing is, I’ve always been a big believer in second chances--provided of course there has been a change in behaviour.

Had Pete Rose gone into then commissioner Bart Giamatti’s office and said, “Mr. Commissioner, I have a problem--a big one. I need help. It’s so bad that I have done the following …” and then fully disclosed his transgressions and sought treatment; chances are, he would have been suspended for a time (which is only right and proper) and later brought back into baseball in some limited capacity and been eligible for the Hall of Fame.

If he’s ineligible, I wouldn’t vote for him (apart from the obvious logistics). I would vote (at this point) for him to go on the ballot and take his chances with the BBWAA. I wouldn’t vote for him for the Hall myself. However, if he actually did see the light and demonstrated over a number of years that he has beaten his problem, is no longer embarrassing baseball and himself, and was reinstated. I probably would vote yes.

His credentials are overwhelming.

Despite what I’ve written, I don’t like steroids in the game. I don’t like the fact that only Caucasians could play in MLB before 1947. I don’t like amphetamines and Astroturf either. I will still pick the best of those eras for the Hall of Fame. As to steroids specifically, all I ask is for consistency--it was an era where everybody knew … including the media. Don’t let the self-serving, sanctimonious braying fool you--they knew. Heck, I wrote the following for in July 2001:
“I've had friends who juiced, and after a while you begin to be able to distinguish who's doing it and who isn't. Granted, there are exceptions (some people suffer from body acne post-adolescence, and male pattern baldness early in life simply due to nature and it isn't a positive indication of steroid use). I've been in a few major league clubhouses (although I try to avoid "the beat" as often as possible) and at the risk of sounding like I'm propagating National Enquirer style innuendo--well, you can see that it's more prevalent than MLB officialdom would let on. I've used creatine at various points and can tell you that it doesn't give "the massive gains" that some of their alleged proponents claim.

It's juice.”

I wasn’t even a regular in the clubhouse--I have seen enough guys on steroids in my life to have a pretty good idea what a guy roiding looks like. I saw what I saw and wrote what I had seen without qualification.

Again--the media knew.

Anyway, I have no problem barring players from the Hall of Fame as long as everybody else involved is barred as well; owners, G.M.s managers, coaches, writers--the whole works. If Buck Weaver’s banishment provides a precedent, then even non-juicing players that knew are out as well. I don’t like the idea of having a few high profile players take the fall for an entire era while everybody else skates. As Larry Starr said (and I cited earlier):

“I don't totally blame the players, they didn't abuse the system. They used the system.”

Either everybody who was part of the system is eligible or not. We cannot pick and choose who suffers for the sins of the steroid era.

Best Regards


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Mike Gill Show: Rocket Science…

As per usual I have gotten the skinny for my segment on ESPN 1450’s Mike Gill Show. There’s probably no surprise regarding a couple of the subjects:

  • Is Roger Clemens any different from Barry Bonds?
  • If you had a HOF vote: would you vote for Clemens?
  • Is it better to admit guilt, or do these guys look foolish for the way they have come out (Andy Pettitte, Fernando Vina, Brian Roberts etc.)
  • The Phillies are looking at Geoff Jenkins, Mike Cameron and Bobby Kielty--whom do you like?

Is Roger Clemens any different than Barry Bonds?

No, I don’t see a difference. One cannot discount the race issue when looking at how these names are being handled by the media. Having said that, it’s not as simple and cut and dried as that. It does illustrate a common media perception regarding race however; an intense white athlete is viewed as fiery, a competitor and driven to win. An equally intense black athlete is often labelled as a malcontent, a troublemaker and a first class butthole.

Personally, I do see some differences in their abrasive personalities. Clemens strikes me as antagonistic while Bonds tries to remind people of his superiority. It’s one thing to deal with a pain in the gluteal region, quite another to deal with someone who actively tries to make you feel inferior. Further, one is being tried for perjury the other is not.

If you had a HOF vote: would you vote for Clemens?

Yes, I don’t buy the ‘evil, cheating, dishonourable, defiled player’ schtick the media regularly feeds us. I think former major league trainer, Larry Starr, summed it all up best, “I don't totally blame the players, they didn't abuse the system. They used the system.” The fact is, it was the system, tacitly set up by both union and management. We can discuss all day the questions regarding Fay Vincent’s memo, the commissioner’s right to set major league policy etc. it doesn’t change what was understood by the parties … juice your brains out.

Getting back to Starr’s comments, "The commissioner's office, Bud Selig and that group, and the players association, Don Fehr and that group, they sit there and say, 'Well, now that we know that this happened we're going to do something about it.'

"I have notes from the Winter Meetings where the owners group and the players association sat in meetings with the team physicians and team trainers. I was there. And team physicians stood up and said, 'Look, we need to do something about this. We've got a problem here if we don't do something about it.' That was in 1988.

They knew, they did nothing, nobody stood up and blew the whistle. Nobody invoked the ‘probable cause’ provisions in the collective bargaining agreement’s drug policy. It was like greenies back when Jim Bouton wrote “Ball Four”; amphetamines were a controlled substance, illegal without a prescription but everybody knew about it, nobody objected, and nobody threw up a stop sign.

Here’s the thing, while steroids enhance performance in a way greenies cannot, I’d like you to consider the following: greenies allow players to be in the lineup when they otherwise might not be able to; so we look at guys like Robin Yount (3142 hits), Tony Gwynn (3141 hits), Dave Winfield (3110 hits), Craig Biggio (3060 hits), Rickey Henderson (3055 hits), Rod Carew (3053 hits), Lou Brock (3023 hits), Rafael Palmeiro (3020 hits), Wade Boggs (3010 hits), Al Kaline (3007 hits), Roberto Clemente (3000 hits). Did greenies allow them to get into the necessary games to reach 3000 hits? Does that affect their Hall of Fame worthiness?

Before you answer ‘of course not’ consider, there was a time when players like Alan Trammel, Lou Whitaker and Tim Raines were viewed as future Hall of Famers. Trammel and Whitaker are on the outside and Raines may have trouble getting 25% of the votes.

What happened?

They never reached the magical 3000 hit plateau. Raines walked 1330 times, had he been less patient, was more aggressive and sacrificed a higher OBP for the sake of extra hits there would be no question about his deservedness. Since he opted for substance over style, he is penalized for it. We have no guarantee that guys like Yount, Winfield, Brock, Boggs and Kaline would have made it. Craig Biggio embarrassed himself in his struggle to reach 3000 hits. He was a lock (in my opinion) at the end of 2006 however if you don’t get to 3000 then all bets are off.

Do we off guys who needed amps to get to 3000 hits? No, that was the system as it existed then. I see no reason to change the rules in mid-stride. The way I see it, everybody wants to punish the players for a system created by those seeking to exploit those talents for lucre. It’s time to admit everybody screwed up and move on. We had an era fuelled by performance-enhancing drugs, like any era (deadball era, pre-1947, Astroturf/amps, juice), you pick the best of the bunch for the Hall of Fame.

It seems to me that it’s not unlike paying junior a dollar for every cookie he swipes from the cookie jar then telling him that he’s not getting Christmas because he stole cookies. The media is being awfully obnoxious besides, they knew, heck I knew and wrote about it for seven years ago. I find their indignation not unlike somebody who finds religion while standing on the gallows.

Is it better to admit guilt, or do these guys look foolish for the way they have come out (Andy Pettitte, Fernando Vina, Brian Roberts etc.)

Sports fans like to forgive. They take comfort when heroes are revealed to be human. To see the greats stumble helps reassure us that just because we’re ordinary there is potential greatness in all of us. However, it has to come with full disclosure. A half-truth or admitting to what everybody already knows convinces no one and makes the situation worse. Talk to us in our language--we’ll understand. For example, I think Mark McGwire juiced primarily because he was having so many physical problems.

Imagine if McGwire went before the committee and said the following:

To play in the big leagues is every kid’s dream. It was mine, the first time I put on a major league jersey and walked onto the field for the first time I thought I had gone to heaven. It was everything I thought it would be and more. However, when you’re a kid, you never imagine that your own body might betray those dreams. When that happens, it becomes a nightmare--one from which you cannot wake up. I had that nightmare, time and again, my body broke down; every time I limped off the field and on to the disabled list, all I could think about was that I’d never walk back on. I saw doctors, I saw specialists, I did the work--nothing helped. It was all slipping away. It felt like that nightmare you have when you’re in trouble and you scream for help but nobody hears you--or you try to yell and nothing comes out.

Eventually I did come across something that did help. It made me stronger, it got me back on the field and the kid in me was back. Right now, I am ashamed to state, that the ‘thing’ was anabolic steroids. Please understand, I didn’t take it cheat, to set records or to make more money. I took them because they let me live the dream again. As you get older, your priorities change. Other things become important, like being a good father and a good person. The passage of time allows us to realize the mistakes we did when we were younger. Taking steroids is one of those mistakes--it sent the wrong message and I know some kids are using these things because I did and I have to live with that. I am here today to try in some small way to undo the damage my actions caused. I hope my actions from this time forward will demonstrate just how sorry I am.

Do you think anybody would’ve vilified McGwire? We all have dreams as kids, we all do stupid things when we’re young--we’ve been there, we all have regrets. I think most would have understood where he was coming from. The half-baked things that pass for mea culpas don’t ring true for us. Maybe they are telling the truth--however, they carefully couched words makes us suspicious. We’ve told half-truths, elasticized the facts so we don’t look so bad--it’s one thing to see our flaws in another, quite another to see our own B.S. being sold to us as a bill of goods.

The Phillies are looking at Geoff Jenkins, Mike Cameron and Bobby Kielty--whom do you like?

I’d opt for Mike Cameron despite being older than Jenkins is. He enjoys a wider skill set and may return to his 30 HR level in CitiBank Park. I wouldn’t go beyond a two year with a team option for third for him.

Stuff …

I’ve done two more columns on the Mitchell Report (wheeee!); one for THT that will run Friday and a follow up to the first one on MSN that I hope will go live soon. Anyway, speaking of HOF eligibility, the names Pete Rose and Joe Jackson have been invoked quite a bit recently. The debates about Jackson continue in some quarters but it’s important we separate myth from fact. One thing used by Jackson’s detractors to prove he was in on the fix is the seven triples hit to left field during the 1919 World Series.

That’s only half-right--the Reds hit seven triples but only one to left field. Here’s the breakdown of the Reds septuplet of three-baggers in the Fall Classic that year:
Game 1:

Bot. 4th--D. Ruether ... Triple (Deep LF-CF); Neale Scores; Wingo Scores
Bot. 7th--J. Daubert ...Triple (Deep RF)
Bot. 8th--D. Ruether ... Triple to CF (Deep CF); Neale Scores

Game 2:

Bot. 4th--L Kopf ... Triple to LF; Groh Scores; Duncan Scores

Game 5:

Top 6th--E Roush ...Triple to CF (Deep CF); Rath Scores; Groh Scores

Game 6:

Bot. 4th--G Neale ...Triple to RF (Deep RF)

Game 8:

Top 5th--L Kopf ... Triple (Deep CF-RF)

Have some fun with that. Finally, I’d like to link to a wonderful column written for THT by Lisa Gray (our Jacquie Robinson--first female writer for THT) entitled Times change, some attitudes don’t. If you don’t think she understands her subject matter, just consider--she’s an African American living in the Deep South and she never finished high school.

Of course, when you read her column it’s hard not to laugh at folks like Bill Conlin or Stephen A. Smith who feels their education entitles them to a platform. Lisa is exhibit A for ‘it’s what you know is more important than where you learned it.’ She may not have a journalism degree but she does have a writer’s pedigree.

Best Regards


Sunday, December 16, 2007

An actual Jays post! Wotta concept …

During the dropping of the ‘injections in the A’-bomb and ensuing fallout the Toronto Blue Jays made a couple of moves. The Jays declined to offer Josh Towers arbitration making him a free agent. Speaking of free agents, Toronto added an “X-factor” in inking a one-year deal with shortstop David Eckstein ostensibly relegating John McDonald to a backup role.

I am giving J.P. a .500 average on these transactions. Thumbs up on acquiring Eckstein and a thumbs down on toppling Towers; to begin with, between Eckstein and J-Mac the Jays have the shortstop position well looked after. We cannot automatically assume that Eckstein has the job won outright. Last season folks thought the same thing about Royce Clayton--he would be the starter and McDonald the caddy.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way.

McDonald said he would spend the off-season working on forearm strength to aid in his hitting. His winter regimen last year where he strengthened his legs to be more durable worked wonders. Jays fans were treated to the best defense seen at the position since Tony Fernandez. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see his hitting better than it was last year. Further, with the signing of Eckstein, you can bet a competitor like McDonald is going to ramp up his off-season efforts to another level.

He’ll do the work and give it everything he has, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make the decision of who will start opening day a bit more difficult.

Eckstein is the anti-McDonald; he’s not as slick a defender as the Prime Minister of Defense but he possesses legitimate on base skills (.360 since 2005), solid contact (only 107 whiffs since ‘05), and a touch of larceny on the base paths but is nowhere near McDonald’s league with the leather. If Eckstein can’t handle AL pitching and his OBP suffers, then Johnny Mac will do to the former Cardinal shortstop that he did to yet another former Cardinal shortstop and play pretty much everyday.

I’m not terribly concerned about McDonald’s playing time because he will get plenty of work since Eckstein will see time at third when Glaus’s inevitable injury woes resurface. If Eckstein plays up to career norms (.351 OBP) then McDonald will likely see plenty of late inning duty when the Jays are nursing a lead.

As to Josh Towers, I can’t see how offering arbitration would kill the Jays financially. Over the last two seasons, he is 7-20, 6.50 ERA so I really cannot see him getting a huge raise from his 2007 salary of $2.9 million; in fact, the Jays may well been able to win an arbitration case with the maximum pay cut allowable (20%). Is $2.32 million too onerous a price to see if the guy can be useful? I guess some of it is simply about freeing up a roster spot. Towers has impeccable control and is improving in throwing ground balls but as I’ve discussed numerous times, gets totally annihilated pitching from the stretch.

This is a guy Brian Sabean should be all over. In that ballpark, Towers could possibly give the Giants 200 innings of league average work for peanuts. He could also do well in the NL Central. Regardless, I wish Josh well and will follow his fortunes in 2008.

No, I’m not done with the Mitchell Report yet …

Folks are now pointing to Roger Clemens' late career totals as proof that it was obvious to even the most oblivious lobotomized supermodel smoking a joint that he was a juicer. Well, check this out …

From ages 40-44 seasons:

Pitcher GS IP ERA K K/9
Roger Clemens 134 849.2 2.99 863 9.14
Nolan Ryan 156 1053.0 3.16 1234 10.55

Clemens has the better ERA+ but Ryan blows him away in durability, strikeouts and SO/9 IP. It kind of gives you new respect for the Ryan Express’s post-40 career doesn’t it? Yes, not many pitchers have thrown as well as Clemens after passing 40 but ‘The Rocket’s’ totals don’t exactly scream “juicer!” Ryan was still a strikeout machine despite having already logged 4114.1 career innings with 2268 BB and 4277 K. That’s a staggering number of pitches thrown before passing the big 4-0 and he still increased his K/9 from 9.36 to 10.55 from his pre-40 year old phase of his career.

Had Ryan done that in this environment, we might well be casting a suspicious eye in his direction.

I think something we learned from all of this is that player entourages are a really, really bad idea. While it might be nice to be surrounded by your posse as well as assorted sycophants and ‘yes-men,’ it does not benefit MLB, the players themselves or the people in their entourages. It’s time to confine the clubhouse to players and coaches/manager and licensed, legitimate team personnel and let the various hangers-on get lives of their own. Players would do these people a favour by encouraging them to make something more of themselves than pathetic life forms who live to indulge the whims of a star athlete.

Further, it is time for these young men to stand on their own two feet and not rely on defacto nursemaids. Surely, players can learn to get their own coffee or pick up their dry cleaning (or arrange to have it delivered). It wouldn’t hurt them not to have automatic affirmation on whatever thoughts/ideas spring into their mind regarding a course of action. For a change, think things through on their own or seek objective advice from people with actual experience in life or the game of baseball.

This is one way where old-time baseball was superior. The clubhouse was a sanctum sanctorum for those who played the game--it’s time to return to these actual good ol’ days. There’s plenty of time to hang with their ‘peeps’ outside the stadium. A player’s entourage should never see any part of the park that fans cannot access. If they want to enter the facility, they need to have a ticket.

Best Regards


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Humanizing the Mitchell Report …

When you read the report, it’s hard not to come to the following conclusion: anabolic steroids will not turn a stiff into a star. The names mentioned in Mitchell’s tome are very similar to the names we already know about. There are some fringe guys, journeymen, occasional all stars, genuine superstars and of course potential Hall of Famers.

What struck me were Mitchell’s notations that the problem was both widespread but only a minority of players actually used. I do feel that since you can count the suppliers mentioned in the report on one hand without bothering your thumb, that many users have simply went undetected up to this point in time. I think 50% of players being involved in some fashion seems like a reasonable figure.

However, there are some suppositions we’re reading about in the media that really don’t do the evidence (such as it is) justice. It seems that folks are of the opinion that the players outed were all hard-core long-term steroid users. It is good to keep in mind that a number of players simply experimented with the drugs and decided for whatever reason not to continue usage.

This would have been a valuable data point for investigation, who were regular juicers, who were off-and-on and who simply tried it and thought ‘This isn’t for me.’

We have to remember that a major league player generally hits his decline phase in his early 30’s. This is not an advanced age. We are talking about young men who still have a lot to learn about life. They feel they are invincible, bulletproof and generally are not averse to taking risks. These young men are in a highly competitive macho environment where the darker side of natural selection often takes place. They are not just in competition with those wearing different colour uniforms, they are competing with each other for roster spots, playing time etc. Just because the man one locker over wears an identical uniform to you doesn’t mean he won’t try to take something that you desire.

It is a highly competitive environment right from the time they sign their first contract until they receive their final pink slip. Nice guys truly finish last in such a situation. Adding to this is that while you are competitors, you’re also comrades--part of a fraternity. If the guy across from you is using something illicit, you cannot blow the whistle and violate the code of the clubhouse to level the playing field. A decision has to be made--join the ‘arms race’ or be left behind … there is no third option in their purview.

Bearing all this in mind, I find it hard to develop a sense of outrage over somebody whose usage was brief or intermitted. I was 23 and remember how things were. A player hopes to impress at spring training or perhaps getting called up but is being slowed by a nagging injury that is damnably slow in responding and watching a window of opportunity closing. At that particular moment, he feels his whole world, all his dreams are slipping out of his grasp, and desperation is starting to set in.

He takes the plunge.

The malady is now gone and what’s more, the ball is jumping off the bat or really popping the catcher’s mitt. He hears the coach talking that he's turned the corner and his future is a lot brighter.

Whoa … that stuff is amazing!

His friends and family are bragging about him, his teammates are looking up to him, his ears are filling with cheers and finally he sees his first major league pay check.

Oh. My. God! Look at all those zeroes!

Now it’s time to get off that stuff, but, but … what if his game suffers? How can he phone his family and friends and tell them that he has been sent down? Does he really want to lose those extra zeroes on the pay check? Can he sustain this level without it? He's living the dream and made the big leagues, the local papers are saying he's added a spark to the club--his teammates, family, the fans … they’re counting on him. He can’t let them down … he just can’t. He saw the look in his kid brother’s eye when he saw him wearing a big league uniform for the first time--he’s looking up to him. Little bro' told all his friends at school about seeing his brother play on T.V. and said he was his hero.

He thinks: "What do I do? What do I do?"

Is this an evil person? A cheat? A fraud? Or is it somebody that got in over his head, made a bad choice in a moment of desperation.

That’s reality to a lot of these young men. How many are out there? How many were mentioned in the Mitchell Report? This isn’t some surly superstar with a sense of entitlement--this is a local boy who made good. I’m not writing this to condone what they did--merely to understand it. We’re not dealing with embodiments of evil but a system that failed. A system that put pressure on young men to make tough choices without the wisdom and experience that only years can bring. Yes, some deserve derision--they decided to cheat, they did it for the money but many did it because dreams die hard and painfully and are mourned for a long time. Let’s face it, to see those dreams die at such young age is always a terrible thing to witness but that’s the reality of professional sports.

That is why we should blame Bud Selig, Don Fehr, Bob Dupuy, Gene Orza and many others. It is their responsibility to set the parameters in which the dream is pursued and the parameters they set are what has led us to this point in time.

Let’s hope the lesson has been learned.

Best Regards


Friday, December 14, 2007

Mitchell musings ...

I am sure you’re all burned out reading commentary and post mortems on the Mitchell Report. I did read the whole thing from Genesis to Revelation and while it had some useful recommendations, it struck me as more geared toward satisfying the public and Congress rather than anything meaningful. Selig’s comments in the aftermath confirmed this feeling; I get the sense he is still trying to re-write history in his favour.

He wants to be known as the commissioner who ended the steroid era and not the one who allowed it to happen. Most of my brain dump was done on MSN Canada and should be up soon. I did have one epiphany that I didn’t have before that I touched on my yet to be published article that I hadn’t really thought much about before--the black market.

One of the things about obtaining anabolic steroids is that they have to be purchased in that manner. There are no quality controls with black market drugs and all too often, this is how players received these substances. These chemicals are produced in unsanitary and unhygienic conditions and God only knows what else is in them. This is why places like BALCO and Kirk Radomski were so appealing--at least the players knew that the drugs wouldn’t be contaminated.

To me, this is where the MLBPA failed miserably. They never perceived that ownership was O.K. with the players using these substances because it helped them recover from injury faster and it improved performance among superstar talent. It was making them large amounts of money. The union allowed a multi-tiered uneven playing field between users and non-users and those who could afford substances that were more sophisticated and those that were not. Those on the cusp of the big leagues who didn’t have multi-million dollar guaranteed contracts to fund high-grade anabolics were forced to turn to dangerous black market steroids to win or retain a big league job.

Think about it; these young players needed to be protected from the MLBPA as much as ownership. It was the MLBPA that fought tooth-and-nail to keep an environment where young people had to decide between black market drugs and their dreams. The union hasn’t been reticent about their disdain about the Mitchell Report but guess what? They could have commissioned their own study and implement changes themselves to keep the playing field even and safe.

The union is an organization that fights hard against a business that tries to maximize profits at all costs--even if it is done in an unethical fashion. Sadly, the MLBPA is an association that attempts to maximize salaries at all costs--even if it means obligating young men to take hazardous black market anabolic steroids if they wish to join.

Don Fehr and Gene Orza’s single-minded devotion to the salary bar created a hazardous working environment for its constituents. I am skeptical about the Mitchell Report myself, but they have lost the moral high ground because they showed a slavish devotion to lucre. They have to accept equal blame with ownership for this mess. They cannot complain about the Mitchell Report for the simple reason that they could have done something themselves but neglected to do so. They were quite content to continue with a situation where young men had to take dangerous health risks since it helped the quest to push up the salary bar.

How is that any less exploitive than ownership that had pitchers throw both ends of a doubleheader or had stadiums without padding on outfield walls because it improved the bottom line? Before Messersmith/McNally, the superstars were protected by ownership while lesser players were deemed expendable and replaceable. Now superstar salaries are protected by the MLBPA while lesser players are no less expendable and replaceable. Repeatedly, the union tried to allow elite talent to whatever was needed to secure contracts that pushed up the salary bar even if it meant that the rank-and-file had to subject themselves to terrible health risks.

The bottom line is this: George Mitchell’s report is a self-serving exercise designed to pressure the union and burnish Bud Selig’s image. However, regardless of motives behind it, it was an attempt to do something about MLB’s steroid problem. It was one more thing than the MLBPA did--the union chose to do nothing about improving the working conditions of their constituents.

Right now, Bud Selig, Bob Dupuy, Don Fehr and Gene Orza have one thing in common. Their eyes are so blinded by dollar signs that nobody is truly looking out for the players’ best interests.

Cleaning fish…

For those of you that missed it, my latest gutting and filleting of Jeffrey Loria and David ‘he could be taller if took Viagra’ Samson is up at The Hardball Times. If Bud Selig is interested in acting in the ‘best interests of baseball’ why hasn’t he awarded these two a franchise in Atlantis?

Best Regards


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Mike Gill Show: The day before the bomb drops edition…

I received the docket for today’s segment on ESPN 1450’s Mike Gill Show. Today’s topics include :

  • The Mitchell Report: What do you expect, 60-80 names? Do you expect major names or more or less second and third tier players?
  • Does baseball really want this report out?
  • Gagne to the Brewers ... smart move or bad move?
  • Rowand put his house up for sale--does that really mean he is moving?
  • When will the FA signings pick up?

The Mitchell Report: What do you expect, 60-80 names? Do you expect major names or more or less second and third tier players?

I have heard numbers ranging from 60 to over 100 could be mentioned. If you look at the names already linked to steroids in one form or another, it’s a pretty good cross-section of the sport. I think the report will be likewise. According to the Steroid Era site the number is already at 64 players. Obviously the Mitchell Report will have others we have not heard about as of yet. While some on the site are still somewhat speculative, I think that there will be things in the report confirming those suspicions.

There have been a few leaks regarding the investigation itself. Some state that it’s too harsh, others claim it will be vague, and still others question the methodology used by George Mitchell. If some reports are to be believed, it appears than Mitchell did little more than request various interviewees to make their best guess on who they thought may be juicing. We’re going to have to wait and see how credible will be the report. Will it be weighty and well-sourced or will it be little more than the Blue-Ribbon economic report of a few years ago that was little more than ownership propaganda and public relations than anything truly substantive.

Does baseball really want this report out?

I think most team owners do since it could throw a wrench into the remainder of the offseason marketplace and depress salaries somewhat. In addition, the marketplace has spoken and it appears that steroid usage hasn’t hurt baseball’s revenues (quite the opposite in fact) so there will be little or no economic fallout from the report. If it slows the market down it could even be a plus for the bottom line.

I think G.M.s are the most nervous since they’re expected to have their thumb on the pulse of the roster. They’re the ones entrusted to put the team together and could potentially look bad if they gave a large contract to a juicer over the last 2-3 seasons. We see guys like Torii Hunter, Carlos Lee, Barry Zito, Vernon Wells etc. receive long-term deals in excess of $16 million per year; if their names crop up in the report, then the G.M.s signing them may be dealing with very large albatross contracts.

Eric Gagne to the Brewers--is this a good or bad move?

It’s a good move. The Brewers lost their closer Francisco Cordero to the Reds and Scott Linebrink to the White Sox so they needed to plug those holes. They’ve picked up Salomon Torres who may or may not retire as well as the always-reliable David Riske. There’s little risk to the Brewers since it’s a one-year deal at the going rate. I’m fairly certain Gagne’s pratfall in Boston was an aberration. He wasn’t as good as he performed in Texas nor as bad as he pitched in Boston--he’s somewhere in between. The NL Central is the perfect place for Gagne to build up his value for free agency after 2008.

The question is this: How will Ned Yost manage his new bullpen in 2008? Did he learn anything from his missteps of last season? I co-authored (ghost wrote may be more accurate) a post-mortem of the Brewers 2007 collapse with a fellow who prefers to be called ‘Harvey’s Wallbangers’ that analyzed Yost’s bullpen management (or lack of same).

Aaron Rowand put his house up for sale--does that really mean he is moving?

I wouldn’t think so; if Rowand was set on leaving Philadelphia, he would have placed his house on the market long before now. It doesn’t mean he’s not moving either--the question is where his new house is located. If it’s a ways away from ‘The City of Brotherly Love’ then there’s some cause for concern. It could be a simple matter of realizing he’s about to get a very healthy raise from $4,350,000 to somewhere between $14-18 million per year. Now he’s getting ready to find accommodations that reflect his (soon-to-be) new income bracket.

Of course, I also said Andruw Jones wouldn’t sign until February so be mindful of the source. I’m not called “Nostradumbass” for nothing you know.

Edit: Geez, can I miss them or what? Aaron Rowand signs a five-year deal with the San Francisco Giants. No dollar amounts are known at this time. I'm guessing they paid a premium since they are still a ways from contention.

Then again ... I have been wrong before. Nostradumbass indeed.

When will the free agent signings pick up?

Very soon, midnight (Eastern Time) tonight is the deadline for non-tendering unsigned players. That will put a lot of players into the marketplace enabling clubs know what is available for upgrading the roster. To use one example: If the Blue Jays don’t offer Reed Johnson a contract he would be a tempting (and cheaper) alternative than signing Rowand for six years at (a minimum of) $14 million per year. If healthy, Johnson would fare very well in the NL. He’s a solid defensive outfielder with good on base skills, a touch of power and a smart base runner. Johnson could hit 20 HR with an OBP north of .360 in Philadelphia.

Best Regards


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Suspended animation causes stream-of-consciousness …

It feels like the calm before the storm.

I’m speaking of the upcoming Mitchell Report; it makes writing columns a bit more complicated in that it will overshadow pretty much everything else in the news for a time. I already stated that my THT column this week would be on the Marlins and I do not want to go back on that. Besides, I’m sure somebody on staff will do a bang up job on dissecting it.

It will be the topic of my weekly column on MSN Canada though. I asked my boss to move my deadline so I can put in an article shortly after the entire (feces + kinetic energy x impact + oscillating fan) equation becomes reality. Unlike THT, I’m the only baseball columnist at the moment there so I guess I should be the one to cover it. Speaking of which, my column on J.P. Ricciardi at the winter meetings is now live. You could say I was whining in the article and I am not sure you’d be wrong.

By the way, I was in a cranky mood when I wrote the Marlins column so be prepared for some serious stomping-into-a-gooey-icky mess approach to it. I mentioned in a post a few days back that this isn’t about the Marlins per se but rather the living proof that ‘two heads are better than one isn’t always the case’ truism at the top of the chain of command. I have never been reticent in my admiration of Larry Beinfest and I will reiterate that on Friday AM.

I am extremely ticked that the art dealer and the embodiment of the hazards of nepotism had Beinfest be the front man for explaining how the Cabrera/Willis trade was related to stadium issues. For Orioles fans sick and tired of the Peter Angelos and sons approach to baseball mediocrity just remember, it could’ve been far worse. It was Jeffrey Loria who was bidding against Angelos for ownership of the Birds.

Considering my lifelong hatred for the Orioles, imagine if David Samson was part of that front office.

By the way O’s fans, don’t be offended by my dislike of your team. Quite frankly, I have no idea how it developed, it has been there for as long as I can remember. My only guess is that my dad is a Yankees fan and the Orioles were a dominant team in the late 1960’s when I started watching baseball on our old black and white television. When you consider this occurred during the fall of the Yankees empire, it might have played a part.

In addition, of course the little matter of Ken Singleton was hardly endearing--1973 (Singleton’s entry into “The 300 Club” AKA ‘The Triple-Triple’) helped make me feel slightly less bad about the trade that cost the Expos Rusty Staub and a lot worse about losing both he Mike Torrez in the trade that netted les Expos a lame Dave McNally plus Rich Coggins and Bil Kirkpatrick.

For what it’s worth, I don’t hate all things Orioles. Memorial Stadium was a nice ballpark and I love what Camden Yards did for stadium architecture (although private financing would be nicer in these cases). Boog Powell was a guy I enjoyed watching and I had a lot of his baseball cards. I could never hate Brooks Robinson either--the man was all class and then some.

There are other pro-Birdy things besides--the McNally half of Messersmith/McNally; you’ve gotta love Rube Waddell and El Presidente Dennis Martinez not to mention Frank Robinson, Singleton, Harold Baines and at one time--Rafael Palmeiro (I leave a candle burning in the window hoping that somehow he did accidentally receive steroids--I’m not holding my breath however). Of course the pugnacious and ribald Earl Weaver will always be memorable--especially his mano a manos with umpire Ron Luciano.

Speaking of Raffy, I can’t help but wonder if any other favourite might be linked in the Mitchell Report.

What was this post supposed to be about again? Oh right … like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. 'Give me five bees for a quarter,' you’d say.

Now where were we? Oh yeah -- the important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones. Therefore consult a physician before beginning any exercise program. Some side effect may include vomiting, diarrhea, swelling of the tongue, dizziness, blindness, impotence, prostate acne, loss of cognitive function, bladder control, Paris Hilton joining the Spice Girls as "Promiscuous Spice" volcanic activity, seismic tremors, plagues of locusts, the opening the fifth through seventh seals of Revelation and a matter/antimatter reactions which will cause the universe to implode in a cataclysmic 'big crunch.'

If you experience any of these symptoms be sure to contact your health care provider. Take on an empty stomach and do not attempt to operate heavy machinery. If you catch fire, stop drop and roll, if you choose to run, look both ways before you cross the street. If you ignore the warnings and you end up with two broken legs, don't come running to me.

My name is Indigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die. Luke, I'm your father. Remember who you are, you are my son and the one true king. Life is like a box of chocolates. Offer not valid in all states, check with your dealer for details. Refund where applicable. Remember, only you can prevent forest fires. Any retransmission or rebroadcast of this game is strictly prohibited without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, the commissioner’s office and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Well, it makes about as much sense as anything else I’ve written in this post thus far.

Well, to comment on something relevant, I would like to say that I thought the BBWAA’s exclusion of Rob Neyer and Keith Law says more about the organization than Neyer and Law. Both are superior baseball writers who are far more competent than many within the association. They are poorer for their decision. I have no aspirations or expectations of being asked to join so I have no real dog in this fight. I think a body of work deserves far more weight than number of times one is at the ballpark. As national baseball writers they have different beats and responsibilities than those who cover one team.

If the BBWAA wishes to remain relevant, then they must strive to be current and the world wide web is the present and the future and far kinder to the environment. If the BBWAA wishes to be relevant in the new millennium then they should starting living there.

Best Regards


Monday, December 10, 2007

Raines of Terror...

One of my favourite memories of Tim Raines are when he was completely locked in his zone. He would go on month long tears where it was easy to feel sorry for the opposing battery. Before I headed to Baseball-Reference, I first tried to remember some clues that would help me locate them. My instincts told me that Raines tended to start and finish the season on fire.

Sure enough, when I went through the game logs it was generally the case. At any rate, using BB-Ref and my own memory I cobbled together ten of his hottest runs. This isn’t a comprehensive list but most of these line up pretty well with what I remember--not so much the exact stats but more how he would totally dominate the opposition. While Raines was at his best with the Expos, he did have four terrific hot streaks … well, two hot streaks and a couple of spurts, most notably in early 1993 and late 1996.

While endpoints have little usage as an analytical tool, they do have the utility of examining hot and cold streaks. Anyway, I did keep myself to a couple of basic ground rules: one, only one streak per season would be counted and two, the streaks had to be at least 25 games in length. I bent the rules a bit to document Raines’ final two spurts since they have a couple of memories included with them.

First, the 10 ‘Raines of Terror’…

Apr 15, 1981-May 17, 1981 30 .366 .470 .500 22 2 10 32 3
Apr 3, 1984-May 7, 1984 28 .336 .432 .477 22 3 16 8 0
Aug 17, 1985-Oct 5, 1985 42 .383 .484 .617 34 5 18 24 3
Apr 24, 1986-May 24, 1986 27 .389 .484 .593 28 2 6 13 1
May 24, 1987-Jun 27, 1987 30 .407 .478 .602 32 4 22 13 0
Apr 23, 1989-May 31, 1989 32 .328 .438 .586 28 4 22 11 3
May 10, 1991-Jun 14, 1991 34 .364 .461 .504 24 1 16 17 2
Aug 24, 1992-Oct 1, 1992 31 .336 .403 .540 23 5 17 7 0
Apr 6, 1993-Jun 12, 1993 22 .338 .453 .649 19 7 14 2 3
Sep 4, 1996-Sep 29, 1996 22 .316 .433 .633 22 7 16 3 1

What I remember … (with BB-Ref to jog my memory of course)

Date                        GP    BA   OBP   SLG   R HR  RBI  SB  CS
Apr 15, 1981-May 17, 1981 30 .366 .470 .500 22 2 10 32 3

April 21, Phillies vs. Expos … Raines led off the game with an infield hit and promptly stole second, then third. In the sixth, he singles driving in a pair and again swipes second and third. He successfully did it off two different pitchers; Dick Ruthven in the first and this time Sparky Lyle was the victim. While he was stranded in the first, he came around to score that time. Raines went 4-for-5 with two doubles, runs scored and RBI and was 4-for-4 in swiping bases including third base twice. The Phillies were PWN3D by the “Rock.”

Apr 3, 1984-May 7, 1984 28 .336 .432 .477 22 3 16 8 0

April 6, the Expos are in Atlanta and Raines is in CF and batting third. Who was in left and batting leadoff then? None other than Pete Rose; Raines is more than up to the task this day slugging a double and home run scoring a run and driving in three others. He is 4-for-5 this day as well.

Aug 17, 1985-Oct 5, 1985 42 .383 .484 .617 34 5 18 24 3

The Expos are in Busch Stadium for their final series of the year in St. Louis from September 20-22. The Cardinals are leading the division by a couple of games over the Mets. The Expos are out of it but are in an excellent position to play spoiler. It was not to be as the Cardinals swept. Regardless, don’t blame Raines who reached in 10 of his 15 plate appearances and was a perfect 5-for-5 in stealing bases.

Apr 24, 1986-May 24, 1986 27 .389 .484 .593 28 2 6 13 1

Tim Raines had a 17 game hitting streak with seven doubles, two triples a HR, drew 13 walks and wasn’t caught stealing in nine tries. His batting line was a tidy .414/.506/.614 and not surprisingly, the Expos won 13 of those 17 contests.

May 24, 1987-Jun 27, 1987 30 .407 .478 .602 32 4 22 13 0

There really wasn’t one thing about this stretch that stood out. He opened the season on fire and the only thing I really remember was feeling that Raines was enjoying an MVP season and it was a shame it would not happen. I do recall being happy that when all was said and done Raines returned to the Expos. When he declined arbitration, I was certain he was a goner.

Apr 23, 1989-May 31, 1989 32 .328 .438 .586 28 4 22 11 3

Raines had an uncharacteristically slow start in ‘89; he hadn’t hit a home run, he wasn’t running but he was still getting on base frequently. I eyeballed BB-Ref and noticed that he walked 15 times over his first 18 games and had an OBP of .382. I thought it was lower before I checked. Anyway, game 19 is when he really started to heat up going 3-for-6 against the Cardinals. I didn’t see that particular game but remember reading the box score and noticed that had he went yard, he would’ve hit for the cycle. It was the start of a ten-game hitting streak and while Raines was tearing the cover off the ball, he was still drawing his walks.

One inning of one game stands out: The Expos were 20-17 in mid-May, the Padres 18-21 and San Diego came into Stade Olympique for a three game set. I was hoping for an Expos sweep since the Jays were staggering and finally had canned Jimy Williams and Cito Gaston had taken his place. The Expos dropped the first two and I was hoping they could salvage a game and not fall back to .500 … unfortunately, they were facing Bruce Hurst. Les Expos scored in the first and were up 1-0; Raines lead off the third with a walk and Otis Nixon comes up. “Rock” promptly swipes second and Hurst wild pitches him to third--this is the start of a rally. Hurst whiffs Nixon, but no problem the “Big Cat” Andres Galarraga is up next. They battle but Hurst ends up with another ‘K.’ Next up: Hubie Brooks, next down: Hubie Brooks, Hurst struck out the side. Raines would walk three times and never scored and the Padres would erase a 3-0 lead and swept the Expos back to .500.


May 10, 1991-Jun 14, 1991 34 .364 .461 .504 24 1 16 17 2

Tim Raines, American Leaguer?

It was pretty unnerving to see Raines wearing White Sox let me tell you. What I recall most about this is the game before he started his tear. David Wells was on the hill and threw his knee-buckling hook at will. Raines led off the game with a fly out. Boomer struck him out swinging the next two times up and Duane Ward did likewise in the ninth. Welcome to Toronto “Rock.” I was thrilled with Wells’ awesome start and was surprised Gaston didn’t let him pitch the ninth. The big lefty had given up three hits and a walk and struck out the side in the eighth around a Frank Thomas walk and an infield hit by Ozzie Guillen.

Aug 24, 1992-Oct 1, 1992 31 .336 .403 .540 23 5 17 7 0

I remember feeling relieved. I thought Raines was about done. From mid-June 1991 through late August 1992, he looked like a speed merchant and not much else. I checked the numbers and they were gruesome: .268/.358/.344 with 68 steals. The OBP while O.K. wasn’t Raines’ quality however, his knack for pilfering bases was still there. He wasn’t quite as prolific as he was in Montreal but picked his spots well and succeeded almost 90% of the time. As you can see from the numbers, he finished strong. The Jays were making their run to their first World Series title and wasn’t paying much attention to the White Sox. Toronto and Chicago played six games in late August and early September. Raines hit well at New Comiskey but not so well in Toronto--they split the six games.

Apr 6, 1993-Jun 12, 1993 22 .338 .453 .649 19 7 14 2 3

Raines tore a thumb ligament and was out six weeks. You’d never know it since the 22 game hot streak was before and right after the injury. While I was paying more attention to the Jays that year I remember a series in early June, (I can’t remember which one I attended which is odd, but I suspect it was the opener). It was like watching the Rock of old (except he didn‘t attempt any steals). He scored seven runs, homered twice, doubled and walked four times over the three games. It made for a tidy batting line of .600/.714/.1.300. Thanks for the flashback Tim.

Of course, he wasn’t done … not by a long shot. He was a beast in the LCS versus Toronto, batting .444/.483/.556. Had the White Sox won he may have copped MVP honours (Wilson Alvarez and Frank Thomas also had terrific series although the Jays kept away from Thomas walking him 10 times).

Sep 4, 1996-Sep 29, 1996 22 .316 .433 .633 22 7 16 3 1

This time a hamstring injury brought “The Rock” down. However, by September Raines was letting the Yankees know he was ready to contribute in October with a torrid September that included seven HR. Of course, I remember in mid-September Jimmy Key shutting down his old mates with two hits and no walks over 8 IP and Tim Raines pair of three runs jacks off Paul Quantrill. It was a final …


… against Toronto. Ah well.

Thanks for the memories Rock--I hope to have yet one more in Cooperstown!

Regarding Raines...

TIM RAINES - HALL OF FAME, 2008 (The "Dweeb Team's" Flagship)
Tim Raines: Worthy Hall-of-Famer (MSN Canada)
Cooperstown Needs a Piece of "The Rock" (Hardball Times)
Is 'The Hawk' or 'The Rock' the lock?... (TPoSGD)
Rock Solid Doing the Tango ... (TPoSGD)

Best Regards


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Even Charles Darwin hates Barry Bonds …

I have a question: How is wine, women and song any different from sex drugs and rock and roll?

Without getting into a theological debate, I am going to use a few Bible verses solely to prove a single point … human nature remains wonderfully constant throughout the passage of time. Here is a favourite--find women tough to understand? Join the club--first a little background:

During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes." But she said to her, "Wasn't it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son's mandrakes too?"

"Very well," Rachel said, "he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son's mandrakes."

Well, ol’ Jacob was coming home after a hard days work, the account continues: So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him …

... and she drops the following line on her hubby:

"You must sleep with me … I have hired you with my son's mandrakes."

Huh? Whaa … hired who? WHAT MANDRAKES??? would undoubtedly pop into Jacob’s head at this point. Of course, did he really want to know the details behind that statement? Dare he even ask? Nope, all he had to do was shut his mouth and perform his husbandly duties--which he did …

"So he slept with her that night."--Genesis 30

Wise man ol’ Jacob.

Of course, we guys are wonderfully consistent when it comes to sex. In fact, when Jacob was a young man, he agreed to work seven years for his future father-in-law as a bride price for Rachel. Seven years are finally up and Jacob goes in to see her daddy:

"Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her."--Genesis 29:21

Hey, the poor guy waited seven long years--can you blame him for being so direct?


Speaking of connubial relations, think your wife is guilty of making dramatic statements? Hey, it has been like that since forever. Check these lines out from stressed out spouses:

"Give me children, or I'll die!"--Genesis 30:1

“If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”--Genesis 27:46

"You hate me! You don't really love me.”--Judges 14:16

“How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me?”--Judges 16:15

Sound familiar guys? Here’s another age-old classic human foible: listening to your posse rather older, wiser folk’s advice …

Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: "Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you."

Rehoboam answered, "Go away for three days and then come back to me." So the people went away. Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. "How would you advise me to answer these people?" he asked.

They replied, "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants." But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, "What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, 'Lighten the yoke your father put on us'?"

The young men who had grown up with him replied, "Tell these people who have said to you, 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter'-tell them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.' "--1 Kings 12

Dude triggered a revolt--nice going dum-dum.

Things are no different today, every generation of teenagers feel they can make the same mistakes of the previous generation yet avoid the consequences (“It won‘t happen to me!”) . Folks are on their deathbed regretting they spent their life in the pursuit of wealth only to discover it didn’t bring them happiness. They wish to pass along this wisdom to their children and grandchildren who are too busy figuring out what they’ll do with their share of the inheritance thinking the dough will make them happy.

And I hated life, because the work that has been done under the sun was calamitous from my standpoint, for everything was vanity and a striving after wind. And I, even I, hated all my hard work at which I was working hard under the sun, that I would leave behind for the man who would come to be after me. And who is there knowing whether he will prove to be wise or foolish? Yet he will take control over all my hard work at which I worked hard and at which I showed wisdom under the sun.--Ecclesiastes 2

Ah well.

Which brings us to Barry Bonds’ current situation; I like to say about such things ‘that muffled, thudding noise you hear is Darwin turning over in his grave.’ Bonds’ story is a familiar one--a man brought down by hubris. It never fails, no matter how many celebrities crash and burn due to their own arrogance or stupidity, nobody seems to learn from other’s mistakes. Bonds felt he was bullet-proof, invincible since so many interests were protecting him.

What he failed to realize it that invincibility is temporary, it lasts only as long as the person has value to those protecting him. Once the value is gone, so is the protection. Time and again, the next person down the pipe thinks that inevitability will escape them, that they are somehow immune to what happens to everyone in a position of prominence. They burn bridges on the way up never imagining that one day they’ll have to return the same way they came. When that day arrives, they discover that those people are still there, they have long memories and now it’s time for some payback.

This whole saga isn’t about anabolic steroids, or perjury, or baseball’s integrity. It is about a prominent man who behaved like a total butthole towards those he considered beneath him. Due to his stratospheric athletic ability, folks looked the other way, ate his feces and called it pralines and cream because he made people money. Now Barry Bonds holds the all-time home record and if he plays again it will be as a DH. His ability to make others coin is largely diminished. He’ll be too old to play soon and he has zero value as a celebrity pitchman due to his cantankerous personality.

Since he can’t make folks money--why protect the guy? The media is out using keyboards and modems in place of torches and pitchforks, ink and paper instead of tar and feathers eager to see the guy burn and suddenly Bonds discovers just how vulnerable he has become.

However, in time, the lessons learned from the saga of Barry Bonds will be forgotten. There will be other stars on the scene who will behave as Bonds did never thinking the ride will end and we’ll be doing this all over again. Will we ever learn?

Do you hear that muffled, thudding noise now?

Best Regards