Geoff Baker Rigidity Award:  to Geoff Baker

Well, this is awkward:

You know who I thought of first today when I heard of the A-Rod allegations? Bill Bavasi. Yes, that’s right. Let me explain.

A lot of the subtext of what’s come out in today’s report is that all those 104 players caught in the 2003 drug-testing sweep were essentially told they had a year to get themselves off drugs before the punishments became more severe. In other words, by 2004, a lot of those players “juicing up” likely got off their steroids and played the game clean. (Some may have gotten on to HGH, but we’ll assume some were clean).

Then, along comes Bavasi to run the 2004 Mariners. All of a sudden, a 90-plus win playoff contender from 2003 plummets to a 99-loss season. The offense drops off a cliff. Is there a connection between those drops and the stiffer drug testing? We’ll probably never know for certain. All I know is, Bavasi inherited a team that — for whatever reason — fell off the planet. I’ve never heard him complain about it. But I have heard other GMs talk about how much tougher it became to sign free agents and plan your team around the past performance of hitters starting with that spring of 2004.

– Geoff Baker, February 7, 2009.

Tell us, Geoff: would tarring the entire 2003 Mariners roster as ‘roiders have passed the “rigid standards” you used to teach at Concordia? Have go gotten around to looking all 25 of those guys from that team in the eye yet? Will you and Rosenthal still be friends after you allow him to rip you to shreds on national TV over this? So many questions . . .

(explanation of the Geoff Baker Rigidity Award can be found here)
(thanks to Ryan Jones and a guy named “good cripple hitter” in this BTF thread for the link).

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Comments

  1. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    Any chance we can rename the award to incorporate the names of Peter Dunn and Albert Wood? Their work on chemically achieving rigidity seems rather appropriate for someone (Baker) who’s so clearly overcompensating…

  2. Richard in Dallas said...

    @ Moose – It really doesn’t matter, as long as Jenny doesn’t end up dead, and Michael Milton gets to remain whole….

  3. YankeesfanLen said...

    Why has the infamous Mike Lupica name not come up yet?  Not only can he tell everyone in baseball what to do, but also politics.  Or does he merely qualify for pomposity award?

  4. Wells said...

    Come now, confess: you had this all lined up and only introduced the Geoff Baker Rigidty Award to give it to Geoff Baker. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Heckuva job, Calcaterrie.

  5. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Nope. Click through to that BTF thread I link on the bottom and you can see me learn about it in real time (after post #30).

  6. MooseinOhio said...

    @Richard – Roberta Muldoon’s “I had mine surgically removed …” is a great line as well as her “do you like football” to the guy who said she looked familiar.  I can’t remember the lines ver batim but they have always stuck with me – I think it is an under quoted movie/book.

  7. Richard in Dallas said...

    @ Moose – No kidding!  I read it as a new release when I was in college in the 70’s.  My best friend’s sister worked for Irving’s publisher, and I got a complete set of his stuff, but nothing ever compared to the original Garp… I think I reread it no less than a dozen times!  If only I had paid that much attention to my text books……

    Also-

    I never envisioned Robin Williams or John Lithgow in the roles they had, but Glenn Close was PERFECT!

  8. Richard in Dallas said...

    @ Moose – No kidding!  I read it as a new release when I was in college in the 70’s.  My best friend’s sister worked for Irving’s publisher, and I got a complete set of his stuff, but nothing ever compared to the original Garp… I think I reread it no less than a dozen times!  If only I had paid that much attention to my text books……

    Also-

    I never envisioned Robin Williams or John Lithgow in the roles they had, but Glenn Close was PERFECT!

  9. MooseinOhio said...

    @Richard – I can see your point about Robin Williams as I thought that William Hurt may have been a more ideal Garp but I really liked Lithgow as Roberta – now Lithgow as the villian in Cliffhanger is hard to accept (damn I just admitted that I’ve seen Cliffhanger).

  10. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Jason—I read your post and Telander’s piece you linked and ALMOST made it its own award, but after reading it a couple of times I thought it verged close enough to parody to let him off the hook.  I mean, it’s possible he was truly accusing Theriot, but I got the sense that he was just using it as a device to find a way into the Manny stuff.  Good writing? Nah, but not serious enough to where I felt that was truly making an accusation.

  11. Richard in Dallas said...

    @ Moose – Lithgow was freat in the role, I just pictured Billie Jean King or Marina Navratilova when reading before the movie came out.  William Hurt would have been a good Garp, but he’s a little too wiry.  I was thinking about more of a Steve Garvey look if there’s anybody that looks like him that can act. 

    As far as quotable lines, my favorite was “We’ll take it!  What are the chances of THAT happening again?” (after the plane crashes into the house they were looking at).

  12. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    That’s cool, CC.  I thought it was pretty blatant, even if he was joking or making light.  I didn’t think that was any worse than what Mr. Morris got skewered for.

    For those who haven’t read Telander’s comments a few weeks back:

    “To wit, Theriot—no disrespect, but if he’s 5-11, I’m 6-12—hit two home runs Wednesday night at Wrigley Field against the Padres, giving him five times more home runs in 33 games this year than he hit all last season.

    That rings the steroid/HGH/ whatever-designer-drug-is-in bell, doesn’t it?”

    So if I (or Mr. Morris) just prefaced our blog postings on Ibanez by stating “no disrespect”, it would have been OK?  Eh, Rosensquirrel?  Baker?

  13. mkd said...

    Yeah it had nothing to do with the fact that a team anchored by a bunch of 35+ year olds finally had father time catch up with them.

    Thanks Geoff, for mindlessly passing along Bill Bavasi’s excuse for 4 years of unmitigated FAIL while tarring a bunch of guys you never met at the same time. Stay classy.

    Hypocritical ass.

  14. Michael said...

    “Baker! That Ibanez steroid article generated thousands of page views and almost 300 comments! Write more on steroids! I don’t care if it’s half-assed, either!”

    “Okay, chief!”

    “And stop calling me ‘chief’!”

    Bavasi’ shortcomings were obvious. To blame them on steroids requires extreme ignorance of the actual facts – or the need to generate controversy.

    Far from rigid, Baker is proving to be quite flexible when it comes to generating fake controversy.

  15. Ted Spradlin said...

    @MKD – you nailed it.  That team went from excellent to geriatric overnight.  They hit their wall and were never going to replicate their magical run.

    In hindsight, they hung on too long.  They needed a midseason out of contention veteran dumping, sending 1 veteran away to a contender for 2-3 good prospects.  As history showed, the M’s kept making silly and overpriced signings (Sexson, Beltre, Washburn, Bautista, Silva, Johjima, etc).  Even with steroids, these signings would have been a disaster (factoring in likely ACL, MCL, & Oblique injuries along with the post-big-contract malaise which happened to nearly every one of these guys).

    Juice or no juice, hanging onto the popular core too long for sentimental value then throwing star money at re-treads was the culprit to the M’s demise.  Steroids would have only resulted in 620 at bats for Willy Bloomquist at 1B, and still 90+ losses.

  16. Jim C said...

    Looking at the whole steroid issue, I wonder how long they have been in baeball. What about Dave Kingman? Everything about his numbers and “personality” is indicative of ‘roids and ‘roid rage. And when his career was ending in Oakland, whose were starting? Canseco and McGwire. I have no evidence, but it definitely makes me wonder.

  17. jason said...

    As history showed, the M’s kept making silly and overpriced signings (Sexson, Beltre, Washburn, Batista, Silva, Johjima, etc).

    One of these is not like the others.

    Also, Johjima’s original contract was fine. It was the extension, which wasn’t Bavasi’s fault, that was silly. That the M’s are still paying Carlos Silva an obscene amount of money to be on the DL (better than watching him pitch, I guess) is all Bavasi. I specifically bring up Silva because he was one of the prime sources of the ‘Ichiro is a cancer’ story that Baker kept hyping & Baker continues to protect Silva on that front because Silva gives him access and quotes.

  18. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    For me this Baker business is really about a group of people piling on a blogger for doing no worse (and actually nowhere near as worse in many instances) than they themselves have done.

    As one of the few folks here who has actually worked for a newspaper, as a sportswriter, and who actually has Journalism degree (two, in fact, plus a degree in History – that and $2 gets me a coffee), I can tell you what’s really galling guys like Geoff Baker.

    It’s that a blogger got this much attention in the first place.

    It’s bad enough that there are folks working in the media that have never set foot in J-school. Worse even, that your domain is usually viewed as the toy department of your medium, and by extension, you’re generally assumed to be an intellectual lightweight (and I confess, I ***LOVED IT*** when I saw the clip of Craig Kilborn snottily reminded one of his KCBA colleagues on air that he was an academic All-American)

    Throw on top of this that the newspaper business is crumbling, and it’s a perfect recipe for someone to get his panties in a bunch and throw a hissy fit.

    The sad fact is that there is no license to get, no test to take, no certificate to earn to work in the media. It’s not like becoming a doctor, or a lawyer (*ahem*), or a CPA; it’s more like being a singer, an actor, or a musician. If you’re perceived as having the goods, or if you look good, or if you have that indecipherable “Jen factor,” you can be a success. Going to J-school helps, just like Berklee or Julliard helps, but it’s not the end-all that folks like me wish it was.

    Maybe that’s not how it should be—it would certainly save us from the likes of Ryan Seacrest, right?—but it’s how it is, and really, it’s how it’s always been, even if nobody wants to admit it.

  19. Jack Marshall said...

    Craig, I agree with you to a substantial extent.

    I guess if I was advising a client who hadn’t used steroids, I’d be less afraid of him incriminating himself by using English than I would be of him looking guilty and wrecking his reputation by seeming to hide behind a translator. Sammy speaks English awfully well—-better than some players who speak it as their ONLY language.

    On a personal level, I feel for the blogger, who had a house land on him while thousands of others who have done worse escaped unscathed. But I’m glad it happened to somebody, because bloggers need to be reminded that they are writing about real people, that the web has huge reach, and that if they publish something, even opinion, they need to be fair, competent and responsible—-and also accountable. On my own website, I’ve been taken to task by the targets of commentary on occasion, sometimes deservedly, and it always makes me more careful. And sometimes I’ve apologized and written a clarification.

    The headline on the blog piece on Ibanez undercut the author’s subsequent characterization of the post. Yes, agreed, the ESPN gang attacked him for doing what is all too common…it’s just important to emphasize the correct conclusion, which is that it IS too common, and not that it’s an acceptable practice because so many writers and bloggers do it.

  20. Jack Marshall said...

    This is a great theme, Craig. Of course, just because someone is a hypocrite and does what he criticizes others for doesn’t mean his criticism isn’t correct…and I think criticism of the Ibanez piece is well-earned. Also, some commenters seem to think that suggesting steroid use because of a big season or a big fall-off is in the same category as making judgements about McGwire and Sosa. Not true. McGwire’s demeanor and evasive answers before Congress and Sosa’s sudden loss of the ability to speak English when put in a position to have to answer questions are legitimate causes for suspicion. A conclusion that McGwire cheated is reasonable, logical, and until someone (like McGwire) can articulate another plausible reason why he refused to say under oath that he didn’t use PEDs, inevitable. That’s a far different matter than impugning Ibanez, Beltre,Brady Anderson or David Ortiz.

  21. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Jack,

    My first post on this subject (at NBC) made it clear that I thought Baker’s central point in his original piece—that you have to have the goods if you’re going to accuse someone of something—is the right one.  As for the Ibanez piece, I think it was something less than an accusation, even if the speculation of it all was based on less than the “hey, look at those stats” kind of thing which I find distasteful.  I’m not going to defend the guy to the end of Earth, but at the same time, I’m not going to pile on.  Ultimately, I think the whole affair blew up to where it did because the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter mischaracterized the Ibanez piece to Ibanez himself, which set things off. 

    As for this:

    “Sosa’s sudden loss of the ability to speak English when put in a position to have to answer questions are legitimate causes for suspicion.”

    Whether or not Sosa had an evasive intent, I don’t think the fact that he used a translator itself is a cause for suspicion.  If I had a client testifying under oath, in a situation where you know the only real chance of legal jeopardy is perjury, and English was his second language, I’d demand that he use a translator even if his English was pretty good.

    As to the overall subject of speculation, I’ll admit that I’m being a bit cute here. I don’t demand a fatwah on all speculation about steroid use. I just demand that it at least have something at its core and that the writer admit that and proceed consistently with the facts that they do not know for sure. I’d also like them to worry about things other than some superstar’s hall of fame chances and explore the effects and incentives at play for lesser players. Not a word about Pablo Ozuna from anyone this week, and that’s telling.

    For me this Baker business is really about a group of people piling on a blogger for doing no worse (and actually nowhere near as worse in many instances) than they themselves have done.

  22. Good Cripple Hitter said...

    I never expected that I’d get thanked at THT. 

    Thanks Craig, couldn’t have happened to a nicer newspaper columnist.

  23. Michael said...

    Wooden: exactly. Baker’s whole rant amounted to “I have worked my whole life to have my stuff picked up nationally, and this blogger guy is the one whose crap is repeated on the wire?”

    LOL at the Craig Kilborn mention. I think he has spent his entire career making sure you know he’s the smartest guy in the room.

    And an unanswered question in all of this: Toronto is a much larger city than Seattle (and has all of Canada’s ear, especially where baseball is concerned). Why did Baker depart for this relative backwater? Did Jays players and front office feel awkward about talking to him after the “White Jays” piece?

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