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Thursday, February 12, 2009
Bud Selig is a fine steward of the game when things go well, but he's dangerous when he tries to, you know, do anything. Here's a good example of that:
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig reportedly is considering restoring the crown to Aaron, who lost it in 2007 to Barry Bonds . . . "This is breaking my heart, I don't mind telling you that," Selig told USA Today in an interview published Thursday, disclosing that he is considering removing Bonds from the top of the home run list.
Hank Aaron used amphetamines, does that make Babe Ruth the champ? Babe Ruth corked his bat. Does that mean Roger Connor is the home run champ? Roger Connor played at a time when the game was outrageously dirty and gambling and throwing games was commonplace. Does that make Harry Stovey the champ? Many of Stovey's homers came in the old American Association, and who knows whether that league was as competitive as the NL. Does that mean Dan Brouthers, Charley Jones or Jim O'Rourke is the champ? If so, I'm guessing Lip Pike's descendants have something to say about that.
Baseball history is a patchwork of different eras, different rules, and yes, multiple flavors of cheating and nastiness. Heck, that's one of the things I like about it so much. Not the cheating as such, mind you, but the fact that the game has a rich and varied history that lends itself to argument, analysis and, occasionally, uncertainty. I like all three of those things!
Any attempt by Selig or anyone else to pretend that which has happened to records and standards in "The Steroid Era" is utterly unprecedented in baseball history proves his ignorance of that history. Even worse, he takes a step towards whitewashing the pre-steroid eras in ways that I don't believe they could hope to appreciate with those pea brains of theirs.
Cut it out, Bud, before you hurt someone.
(thanks to Sara K for the link and, more importantly, for acting as the sounding board for the rant that preceded this post)
The State of Maryland is poised to enact an official day in honor of the Negro Leagues:
The bill, received favorably by the committees in which they were introduced, is expected to breeze through, and Jones is confident it will be signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley in time for Negro Baseball League Day to be celebrated next year, and on the second Saturday in May thereafter. It is believed that Maryland would become the first state to officially commemorate the Negro leagues.
The Twins unveiled the plans for the space surrounding their new ballpark yesterday, and it sounds pretty spiffy:
Other plans for the space include nine 40-foot tall topiary frames, lit with LED lights and twisted with annual vines. (To the beer snobs among us: Plaza designer Tom Oslund said hops will be one of those vines.) Twins execs said a light demonstration will be part of the show when a Twins player — and only a Twins player — hits a home run.
There are some renderings if you click through.
One less-spiffy moment came when a reporter for the Star-Tribune asked Twins' President Jerry Bell how Target and/or local government -- both of which have been cagey about costs and allocations and everything, and both of which are experiencing tough times -- could justify the expense:
When Furst asked a follow-up later, Bell rebuked him for continuing to ask about costs and added, "Not every company is bankrupt," a shot at the Star Tribune's well-publicized financial woes. Many people cringed.
Leave it baseball owners. They want to be treated like some sort of public trust when they're asking for handouts, but they get profoundly pissy when you inquire as to what they're doing with those handouts.
Remember a couple of years ago when Jose Offerman went nuts? No, not that time. No, the other time. No, the time he hit those dudes with the bats. Yes. Anyway, he's getting sued for it now:
Former all-star Jose Offerman is facing a federal lawsuit for a bat-wielding attack at a minor league game that injured two opposing players.
Offerman was one of the worst glove men around and he hadn't been a league average batter since 1999. As such, I'm surprised he (a) was able to catch the guy in the first place; and (b) managed to hit him once he caught him.
While the whole Orza/MLBA/sample destruction drama seems to have receded into the background since Monday, there is one big question about all of this that bothers me, and that's why it was ever possible -- destruction or not -- for names to be linked up with the 2003 samples. I had only been thinking vaguely about this, but reader/fellow shyster Ken Schultz articulated the problem quite nicely in a recent email:
Everyone is focusing on Fehr's failure to shred the document the day he got it. If it was just a list of random numbers and a column with a "1" (for yes) and "0" (for no), there would have barely been a reason to shred the document.
Is anyone privy to the 2003 testing agreement? Does anyone know why there ever was a way to link names and samples? I'm no testing expert, but given the limited purpose of those tests, it strikes me that a purely anonymous system, as opposed to a merely confidential one, would have been preferable.
In the American Spectator, Mark Corallo tries to get inside the mind of the steroid using ballplayer:
Or imagine you're a rookie. You just arrived with the big club. And looking around the locker room, you can't help but notice that 80% of the veterans are looking like something out of a superhero comic book. You heard the whispers when you were down on the farm. It was almost a joke. But now it's just there in front of you. As you look at some of your new teammates, still pinching yourself to make sure it's not a dream, you think, "If those three guys who are legitimate all-stars without the juice are juicing, then what the hell am I supposed to do?"
Corallo runs us through the thought process of the hypothetical veteran and minor league user too. Maybe the examples are a bit too cliched -- The 32 year-old veteran he sketches would likely have already made millions and thus the multiple appeals to his three year-old daughter ring a bit hollow -- but his overarching point is a good one: these guys aren't villains. They are the products of a complex system that is flawed on many levels, and though we'd like to think that they would have transcended that system and made better choices, it's asking way too much to expect that most let alone all of them would have done so.
(thanks to B. Jones for the link)
Newsday's John Jeansonne, via quotes from some other contributors, observes that, for all of the sturm und drang, nothing that has happened this week is going to turn people off of baseball:
I have no doubt that if Alex has a good year, he will not be jogging around the bases, celebrating a game-winning home run, in a silent Yankee Stadium . . .
The game itself is the most powerful antidote to all of this business. We can work to outdo each other with our outrage all winter, but I defy anyone who truly enjoys baseball to not forget all of this off-the-field business and enjoy themselves when the actual games begin.
I've generally been praising the Dodgers for not bidding against themselves in the Manny Ramirez derby, but as Ken Davidoff notes, they're pretty much out of maneuvering room:
This has not quite been Scott Boras' finest week, but give the man credit. He can run a free agency like no other agent out there.
On one level such a deal could be spun as a fair one in that it would allow the Dodgers to say that they didn't go back up in terms of annual salary and allows Manny to say that he improved on both his Red Sox options and the quality of the overall offers he's been getting from L.A. But make no mistake: such a deal would be a win for Manny and an admission by L.A. that they maybe waited a bit too long.
As for the timing? I think it's done before February 27th. In fact, I'd be surprised if it wasn't done by next weekend.
Joe Maddon has proposed an amnesty program for PED users:
Maddon suggested Wednesday that MLB implement an amnesty program for the reported 103 other players who tested positive then take strong measures to make sure there are no future violations.
Only problem -- and it's, you know, a pretty huge one -- is that under the terms of the 2003 testing program, no one could have been punished for it anyway. And it's not like MLB discipline is even a problem. The problem is that anyone caught using steroids is made an utter pariah by the professionally outraged baseball media, and there is no amnesty program short of the suspension of the First Amendment that can do anything about that.
If there was ever to be anything approaching a workable amnesty setup, it would have been a law enforcement/baseball deal associated with the Mitchell Report and the BALCO/Radomski/McNamee/Novitsky business. That would have had at least some media buy-in and could very well have prompted something at least approaching a thorough clearing of the air. Never happened though, because (a) the feds are far more interested in prosecuting the War on Drugs than they are in actually stopping drug use; and (b) baseball has never really wanted a clearing of the air. They wanted a nice phony End Point. And they got it for about a year, but now it's gone.
Tom Glavine seems to misunderstand his value and leverage at this point in his career:
Tom Glavine still hasn't received the financial offer that he's seeking. But he remains hopeful that the Braves will eventually make the concessions that will allow him the opportunity to fulfill his desire to pitch in Atlanta this year.
Look, I love Tom Glavine like nearly no other player, but if this "negotiation" constitutes anything other than the Braves giving his agent a lowish number that reflects the unlikelihood that he will be a durable and effective pitcher in 2009 and Glavine saying "done," someone with the team isn't doing their job.