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Steroids in Baseball Don’t Matter

This is written by site contributor, John Ramey. Ramey works at KNX 1070 in Los Angeles as a sports anchor and web editor. He’s also an accomplished musician. He has been known to contribute passionate articles to LBS when the moment strikes.

Alex Rodriguez took performance enhancing drugs now banned and punishable by the rules of major league baseball.

As a baseball devotee and a human being, I implore you to take a breath.

This, nor any other performance enhancing behaviors of other players, is cause for concern. Here’s why:

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What Isn’t China Fixing in the Olympics?

This is just absurd. First they faked the skyline in the Opening Ceremonies with digitally enhanced graphics. Next up they had a cuter 9-year-old girl stand in as the face for the real girl who sung the actual anthem at the Opening Ceremony because the real girl wasn’t cute enough. Then we find out that Bela Karolyi suspected the Chinese were using 10-year-old ringers on their gymnastics team. And if you did watch any of the Olympics (which I got boonswaggled into seeing briefly), there’s no question about it — those chicks are not 16. Mark Chmura thinks those girls are underage.

OK, well if that wasn’t enough, no sporting event would be complete without a conspiracy theory. I was hearing all night from my sister, who was watching the events, how the judges kept screwing us. “The judges are screwing us, the judges are biased against the U.S., the judges must be paid off.” Apparently the U.S. women’s gymnastics team won silver while China won gold. Any shockers there? And as for her charge against the judges, I must show her this video so her suspicions can be confirmed. Luckily I’m in the U.S. and can write this without fear of having my site blocked to boot.

CBS Replacing Billy Packer with Clark Kellogg

Now all we need is ESPN to do the same with Joe Morgan and the Angels with Rex Hudler. Though Clark Kellogg wouldn’t be the replacement of choice. Anyway, the Miami Herald reports that CBS is letting Billy Packer go after 28 years with the network. This decision means that Packer won’t be providing commentary for his 35th straight Final Four, most likely. It doesn’t take me saying it for you to know that Billy Packer is an old and crotchety dude who’s expressed an inability to adjust to the times. Honestly, how’s Packer supposed to properly commentate on these games without using the best resources available to him, like say for instance, a computer. This news also comes about a year after Packer got into some hot water for making a “fag out” comment in an interview on PBS.

Between the “fag out” comment and Packer’s proclamation that the Kansas/North Carolina game was over with 27 minutes to play, suffice it to say that CBS had had enough. The only problem is Packer’s replacement — Clark Kellogg. He’s a nice enough dude who obviously knows the game, but he’s too even-handed in his analysis. Maybe getting him out of the studio and putting him courtside will bring out his best. Whenever they do pre-game analysis and expert picks, he never takes an actual stance giving a real pick, he just explains how both teams can win. Gee, like I didn’t know that Carolina can win if Hansbrough dominates, but that Kansas can balance things out with their guard play. Like I said, hopefully Kellogg’s best will come out in game analysis courtside.

Pacman Suspension Is Wrong

The following piece has been written by featured contributor, John Ramey 

Let me first disclose I am no Pacman Jones fan. He is a defensive back for a team I care very little about in a league I like even less, especially after today’s action from NFL Commissioner, Roger “Benito” Goodell.

Pacman Jones has been suspended for the entire 2007 season. And I’m wondering why.

Oh yes, he has a litany of arrests from 2005 and 2006. He has been involved in an ugly shooting incident in Vegas this year. Pacman may very well be a bad guy. I have no proof that he is not.

how EVAH

The law has traditionally been applied in unequal volumes upon the young and the black. So let’s keep that in mind before we decide that Pacman is always “at the wrong place at the wrong time.” American Law Enforcement has a 400+ year history of picking on the black man. This is an unimpeachable fact. It is not inconceivable, nor even unreasonable to assume Pacman’s sordid history with the police can be, in part, a symptom of this societal ill. You will either understand this as truth or dismiss it as excuse making. Whatever.

What really concerns me is the lack of outcry. It is an outrage that the NFL Commissioner, the governing office for 32 football teams, can unilaterally suspend Pacman for a season. Isn’t that blacklisting? Collusion? Let’s say I am an employee of Larry Brown Media Enterprises. Let’s say I’m part of an investigation relating to a very serious crime. Is it ethical or legal for Larry to suspend me, assuming my cooperation with the investigation has not affected my ability to perform the duties for which Larry has hired me to perform? Has Pacman’s ability to perform football duties for the Titans been impaired by these incidents?

Moreover, if there is something in Pacman’s contract that allows the league to take such an action resulting in his being contacted by law enforcement, is that an ethical agreement? Legal? Are these agents even reading the damn things? What good is that union? I’m waiting for proof that NFL Labor leadership aren’t the lapdogs of the commissioner’s office.

Some have pointed out to me that Pacman’s unsavory reputation has impaired “the fans'” ability to enjoy any game in which Pacman performs, and that the NFL is protecting “the fans”. But when was it legal for an employer to deny a worker his right to earn a living simply because certain patrons had a problem with said worker?

Oh, wait! I remember it used to happen all the time before the Equal Employment Opportunity executive order was signed in 1965. You might recall that period as American Apartheid. Or you might not. How convenient.

Here’s a hint: If you have a problem with Pacman’s personal affairs, I suggest you root against him, or boo him, or choose not to patronize the Titans, or the NFL, or boycott their sponsors.

Larry Brown has pointed out to me that the Commissioner is well within his right to suspend Pacman in order to preserve the NFL’s reputation. If this is the case, I am hereby encouraging a boycott of the NFL by current and future players. Only a fool would willingly bind themselves in legal fashion to an employer so obsessed with the whims of racist law enforcement over the interests and labor rights of its most basic and beautiful product, the players. 60% of the NFL is black and I’m pretty sure that means 60% of the league has an elevated chance of being fucked with, merited or otherwise, by the police. I encourage all those in the players union to rethink the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement. Think about it; if the NFL is banning players at will because of police contact, not convictions, no felonies, no jail-time but mere police contact, then it might not be the best place for minority athletes to draw a paycheck.

Surely we as a society cannot cheer the denial of a man his right to exploit his considerable skills in his given profession, because that would be inhumane. The welcoming of this action is disgusting. Shame on Roger Goodell, the NFL, and all of the rest of you who think this is acceptable.

Letters to Raoul Duke – On Spring Training

Duke –

Let’s put this one to bed. I know you love the professional football, but when it comes to pre-season play, nothing beats baseball. I’m more entertained right now by an 4-1 Philly/Bravos piefight in the grapefruit league than I am by any middling October crapfest between Miami and Jacksonville, let alone the ghastly pre-season drivel for which the NFL charges its sap fans.

These boys are pulling no punches, which is admirableconsider they will now be bringing this kind of intensity to the yard daily (save for like 3 days in july) until October. I don’t think the cumulative effort in my life adds up to the mental workload required to play one year of big league ball….dude, just caught a sweet assist from left-center field to nail a would-be Bravo run at the plate. NBA bench guys don’t even play this that hard until May.

Sweet, sweet hardball; so good to see you again.

GP

I’m so over Steroids in Baseball

*The following piece comes to you from site contributor John Ramey*

The arrival of baseball is imminent, and thank god. The Super Bowl did an outstanding job providing the perfect summary of my feelings towards professional American football: over-hyped, over-exposed, made-for-TV, and best during the Conference Championships. I digress.

Baseball is the best and that is the topic for a different day…or anytime you want to get the next round at the Frolic Room. Today I would like to quickly review the Arguments About Steroids and Why They Are Ruining The Game. And I will debunk them. I will destroy them. I will sodomize them. You steroid-phobists will not enjoy this. I do not care. It is my time to lend some sense to the debate. Because when we all stop hyperventilating over steroids, we can get back to enjoying baseball instead of fretting.

Here is why you should eat it and:

  • begrudge the admittedly unlike-able Barry Bonds his greatness as soon-to-be homerun champion
  • knock off that silly shit about mcgwire not being hall-of-fame worthy.
  • (insert any other purist/sanctimonious crap about being concerned about “the game”)

Argument 1 IT’S CHEATING, MOMMY!

Cheating has a long and distinguished history in baseball. To arbitrarily declare Gaylord Perry, the 1951 New York Giants, Don Drysdale, Preacher Roe, Fred Hutchinson and His Minions, Mike Scott, Joe Neikro, et al as acceptable cheaters but users of pharmaceutically-based performance enhancers as unacceptable cheaters is arbitrary, illogical, and clearly the by-product of faulty reasoning. And subtly racist and xenophobic (oh, yes. you look it up…check out the surnamesnames and hues of those you target with your righteously indignant ire…apart from Big Mac). And lets not even get into who used and who didn’t use greenies before the steroid era. Or before they wrote this.

Argument 2 IT’S AGAINST THE LAW

This is usually employed as a bullshit rebuttal to those who correctly point out that baseball had no rule against steroids for many years, even after the federal government had declared improper use of prescribed anabolic steroids as illegal. Firstly, let’s not forget steroids were part of baseball BEFORE they become a Schedule III controlled substance (http://www.drugpolicy.org) in 1990. Anyone remember the 1988 ALCS? What were you Fenway fans chanting?

According to the IT’S AGAINST THE LAW argument, all of Jose Canseco’s career prior to 1990 is legit. And I would posit this is not in the spirit of the anti-steroid movement.

The larger problem is this: People, including baseball players, break the law all the time. You name the governing body that is equipped or capable of determining which law breakings are okay (adultery, speeding, tax evasion) for baseball players, and which are “bad” because they purportedly give the law-breaker in question a competitive advantage. Again, this is stupid. If general law-breaking is the thing that needs correcting in baseball, you should have started about 150 years ago.

Argument 3 IT’S AN OUTRAGE BECAUSE PAST ERAS’ STATISTICS ARE NOT COMPARABLE

Guess what. Stats from different eras are totally incomparable and would be even without ‘roids. We are comparing apples, oranges, and pomegranates. There is NO WAY POSSIBLE to make neutral the competitive advantages enjoyed by one era over another.

SEE THE FOLLOWING LIST

Evolution of medicine

Currently helps players to recover and prevent injuries. Extends careers which (gasp!) inflates career totals. Can anyone determine whether this helps pitching more than hitting? Whose numbers are less “pure”? And PS, would the Babe not have hit 100 more homeruns if he’d had a trainer and a nutritionist? Are his numbers unfairly DE-flated? Should he have an asterisk?

Weight training (see above)
Scouting/In-Game Technology

Let’s say you’re Denny Hocking. Let’s say you’ve never seen a pitcher before. Let’s say he freezes you with a big curve on 2-2 and strikes you out looking. Well, Denny…good thing you can just amble back to the clubhouse and watch the at-bat in real time, slo-mo, etc. as many times as you like before your next at bat. You might see if he tips his pitches. You might spot his release point, something that eluded you in the first at-bat. You might decided he owns you. Regardless of the outcome, this is a HUGE competitive advantage over past eras. Why no asterisk for anyone who uses video scouting? It’s a competitive advantage, right?

Lowered Mound

Would some stat geek please compare the difference in offense before and after 1968 (the final year of the higher mound) and then compare the discrepancy to before and during “the Steroid Era” and tell me which helped offense more?

Different Talent Pools

This one is difficult to slot does it mean past totals are not legit because the best athletes weren’t competing? Today we have twice as many teams. Does this dilute the talent pool? Or does the world-wide talent draw cancel this out? Only now are the best players in the world playing major league baseball does playing the Devil Rays or the Rockies helps players’ career totals? Or could the 1993 Rockies beat the hell out of the 1927 Yankees? (remember, no Latin, nor Black, nor Asian players played back then my career stats wouldn’t be half-bad if all I had to worry about was Mike LaCoss and Storm Davis). Hank Aaron didn’t get to hit in Denver. But Babe Ruth didn’t have to worry about facing the Bob Gibsons, Pedro Martinezs, and Atlee Hammakers of his era. The numbers CAN’T be comparable for a rainbow of factors, of which steroids are only one and as you will see below, a relatively minor one.

Pitching Versus Hitting

Where is the outcry for asterisks next to all pitching statistics from the “Steroid Era”? Did only the hitters take them?

ARGUMENT 4 IT TURNS OTHERWISE AVERAGE PLAYERS INTO GREAT ONES (LIKE JOSE CANSECO, or the last 5 years of Barry Bonds’ career)

here is a fairly current list of all-time steroid team

  • Alex Sanchez Tampa Bay Devil Rays April 3, 2005 Ten days
  • Jorge Piedra Colorado Rockies April 11, 2005 Ten days
  • Agustin Montero Texas Rangers April 20, 2005 Ten days
  • Jamal Strong Seattle Mariners April 26, 2005 Ten days
  • Juan Rincon Minnesota Twins May 2, 2005 Ten days
  • Rafael Betancourt Cleveland Indians July 8, 2005 Ten days
  • Rafael Palmeiro Baltimore Orioles August 1, 2005 Ten days
  • Ryan Franklin Seattle Mariners August 2, 2005 Ten days
  • Mike Morse Seattle Mariners September 7, 2005 Ten days
  • Carlos Almanzar Texas Rangers October 4, 2005 Ten days
  • Felix Heredia New York Mets October 18, 2005 Ten days
  • Matt Lawton New York Yankees November 2, 2005 Ten days
  • Yusaku Iriki New York Mets April 28, 2006 Fifty games
  • Jason Grimsley Arizona Diamondbacks June 12, 2006 Fifty games
  • Guillermo Mota New York Mets November 1, 2006 Fifty games

You could also call this the all-horseshit team.

Argument 5 IT TAINTS RECORDS

But only in baseball? Where is the outcry to strip the NFL record books of all accomplishments prior to 1987? Put your money where your mouth is, dude.

Conclusion:

If you are worried about steroids, you are dumb. Steroids, and/or any performance enhancing drugs, are not influencing the game nor its stats nor its style of play to a greater degree than at least 10 other factors, some of which we have touched on here.

I would posit the natural and slightly silly urge to become totally bent because ILLEGAL DRUGS are involved should be curtailed. To recap, Steroids are not fundamentally altering today’s baseball more than weightlifting, scouting, video technology, nutrition, medicine, the international talent pool, expansion, and free agency, To name a few. So if you are really hell bent on “pure baseball”, get to work. There’s a lot more than steroids to deal with.

And If you still want to apply asterisks to everything unnatural in baseball, how about one next to every WILD CARD World Series Champion? Now THAT’s an outrage.

Letters To Raoul Duke

Duke –

The MGM is giving the Bears seven. I have been struck with a revelation.

The Angel Gabriel revealed unto me this:

“Take the Sex Cannon and the Points.”

That is all.

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