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Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I'm really spacing out this afternoon. I need something interesting to happen.
OK, that was interesting.
OK, that's a bit premature. But we do have game action!
Alex Rodriguez was booed, then homered in his first game since admitting he used a banned substance.
Since this was against the Jays, it's just as possible that the boos were for the nearly two year-old "I've got it"-gate than they were for the PED stuff. At least I hope so, because irrational, long-held grudges make me smile.
But hey, baseball, babies!
Lost in all of the hype over Yankee Stadium and Citi Field is the fact that, for all practical purposes, we have a new Kauffman Stadium this year as well:
In the end, it was decided that there was no need for a new baseball stadium in Kansas City. Instead, Kauffman Stadium would be renovated.
The article itself doesn't have a ton of details, but there are links to renderings and webcams of the actual renovations.
Kauffman was always a great park -- one of my favorites, actually -- and now it looks like it's even better. Let's hope that the Royals one day have a team worthy of the place.
Murray Chass misses the books:
If this is too much inside baseball, I apologize, but I am too devastated and outraged to write anything else at the moment. Major League Baseball, which can’t kill steroids, has killed the Red Book and the Green Book.
It would be easy to make fun of Chass as an out-of-touch old coot -- and I may do that when he holds forth on another subject -- but it wouldn't be fair to do that here.
No, there is nothing in any book that outclasses Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet, and any number of other online resources, and I will always, always, always, go to those resources first because I'm an online guy in an online age. But that doesn't mean that the books Chass refers to -- or any other book, really -- don't have their value. This is not some nostalgic point on my part. I don't fetishize the look, feel, smell, and culture of books like so many people seem to (see, every critical article about the Kindle). I simply believe that my brain works differently when I'm browsing books than when I'm using online resources, and because of that, book browsing almost always complements what I'm doing online.
My primary experience with this is in the legal world. The online legal research services LEXIS and Westlaw are great, I use them all the time, and I'm not sure what I'd do if they weren't around. That said, rare is the case when I don't spend at least a little time in a legal book. Why? Because while LEXIS can grab a case quickly and efficiently when I need something that says "x, y, z" is the law, any case of any complexity is going to present issues and be amenable to arguments that fall outside of that which is said in an on-point case. The books, by virtue of their organization, allow you to browse related subjects more easily and that in turn helps you make connections and analogies you might not otherwise have thought of. If I had to give up one or the other I'd give up the books in a heartbeat, but I always feel like I'm missing a little something if I don't make it to the library, even if only for a few brief minutes. For what it's worth, LEXIS and Westlaw have tacitly acknowledged this inasmuch as they are continually refining their products in order to better replicate the book-browsing experience. They've gotten pretty good at it too, but it's still not the same.
I suppose this is less relevant when it comes to baseball research tools. I mean really, it's not often that you're truly flailing with baseball like you can with the law. But there is a certain value in flipping through pages that will never truly go away, and in light of that, I have a bit of sympathy for Chass in this instance.
(link via BTF)
Neyer's off-the-cuff comment about the A's heading to Portland has spurred an interesting conversation over at BTF this morning mostly challenging Portland as a viable market. And I'll admit: my personal preference for the A's moving to Portland has nothing to do with a reasoned economic analysis of the situation and everything to do with aesthetics and other mushy considerations. I simply think it would be neat to have a team in Portland. I know a handful of baseball nuts who live there who would really appreciate it! If I flew there for a weekend, they could get me tickets!
But back on planet Earth, one has to think about the coporate base for a team, the size of the media market, whether the fans would actually support it, and all of that jazz. Enter San Jose, which Mark Purdy of the Merc thinks is owed serious consideration:
Well, after Tuesday, no more straddling is allowed. Fremont is dead. Do the MLB owners now want to give San Jose a fair shot? Or not? Earlier this month, Wolff met with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed to discuss the soccer stadium that Wolff wants to build for the San Jose Earthquakes. At that meeting, Wolff also briefed Reed on the A's situation. Reed simply listened.
Purdy's best point is that the tail has been wagging the dog too long here. The issue of the Giants' territorial rights -- which has long been cited as an obstacle to the A's going to Santa Clara County -- is not some inherent liberty interest for the Giants to assert or for the A's to work around. It's a fiction created by Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball has the complete power to deal with it, and Major League Baseball should do so swiftly and decisively if it truly wishes to maintain two viable franchises in the Bay Area.
I've been beating this horse for some time now, but I link to Dave Zirn's takedown of the Bonds prosecution because (a) it's good; and (b) no one likes to feel alone:
Novitzky was given the green light by President Bush and Ashcroft to go for the jugular. In 2004, accompanied by eleven agents, he marched into Comprehensive Drug Testing, the nation's largest sports-drug testing company. Armed with a warrant to see the confidential drug tests of ten baseball players, he walked out with 4,000 supposedly sealed medical files, including every baseball player in the major leagues. As Jon Pessah wrote in ESPN magazine, "Three federal judges reviewed the raid. One asked, incredulously, if the Fourth Amendment had been repealed. Another, Susan Illston, who has presided over the BALCO trials, called Novitzky's actions a 'callous disregard' for constitutional rights. All three instructed him to return the records. Instead, Novitzky kept the evidence...."
My only quibble with the article? Zirin goes with an Old Man and the Sea analogy. I prefer Moby Dick.
In any event, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Anderson's testimony was the prosecution's only hope. They've known that for years, and they've known that he won't provide it for almost as long. In its absence, this case should have been dropped a long time ago.
(link via BTF)
While he's not as over-the-top as Rick Reilly about it, SI's Tom Verducci likewise pretends to know who has and who hasn't done steroids. My favorite part:
He is right about the guessing game. It is laughable how people want to draw simplistic conclusions about steroids and home runs. Take Rodriguez, for instance. People want to explain his home runs in Texas via steroids, ignoring the ballpark effects and the youthful prime of his career. Similarly, it is naïve to put those three years in their own lockbox, which would be, for one, to believe a highly suspect person at face value that somehow he did not use before or since, and secondly, to ignore the physiological benefits even from those three years.
This after Veducci himself has (1) played the guessing game by assuming that Carlos Delgado has never done steroids;* (2) drawn simplistic conclusions about steroids and home runs by assuming home run totals say something instructive about steroid use; and (3) put the years 1996-2003 in a lockbox, calling them the height of the steroid era and assuming that there was not substantial and significant use before or since.
Look, I appreciate what Veducci is trying to do here. He, like so many of us, wants to bring some kind of certainty to bear on steroids' impact on baseball. He wants to draw a line around certain players and statistics so we can at least have some kind of a foothold for assessing the era in which we find ourselves. The fact of the matter, however, is that no analysis, such as it is, like this one going to achieve that certainty or allow us to separate the wheat from the chaff. Rather, it's going to take a lot of time and a lot of reporting and scholarship. In the meantime, we're just going to have to live with our vague senses about this stuff and have some faith that the enduring nature of the game -- and the work of history -- will sort all of this stuff out for us.
*I'll grant that it's very possible -- likely even -- that Delgado didn't use steroids. His denials sound impassioned and genuine. But if we've learned anything in recent years, it's that we cannot rely on a player's word about this subject. Perhaps that's unfair to Delgado, but if it is, he should take the matter up with Messers. Palmiero, Clemens, Rodriguez, and others.
Is the government guilty of entrapment, or something akin to it anyway, in the Miguel Tejada case? One law professor thinks so:
The criminal prosecution of athletes who use steroids may or may not be a worthy enterprise. Notably, however, Miguel Tejada was not prosecuted and has not pleaded guilty to using performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, the government acknowledges that it lacks sufficient evidence to disprove Tejada's claim that he spent $6300 on human growth hormone, only to change his mind and throw it all out. The U.S. government has instead prosecuted Miguel Tejada for lying about drug use -- more specifically, for saying falsely that he had neither discussed nor known about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball . . .
We're all on board with the idea that it's not a good thing to lie to law enforcement, at least I hope so anyway. But it is instructive to remember why that's a bad thing: because to do so interferes with law enforcement's mission to protect the public and punish wrongdoers. Does the rationale against lying still hold, however, if law enforcement is truly not interested in the underlying crimes it claims to be investigating?
(Thanks to Daniel F. for the heads up)
Neyer agrees that with Fremont dead, the A's need to look at Portland. Or maybe he's not that serious about it. Hard to tell. What is clear, however, is that Neyer has a new headshot running with his columns. And let's be honest about this, people: we are now two generations removed from the flannel, so I think it's about time we all gave up hope of it returning.
Things to read as you sit back and feel all smug about how you've put together quite a nice little catching platoon in one of your fantasy leagues:
Well, I suppose it could be a nice catching platoon, assuming the right handed side of it actually plays in the big leagues this year.