June 10th, 2006 → 12:01 am @ Seth Mnookin
Right now is probably not the time a baseball player wants to see his picture plastered above a banner headline reading “Prime Targets” on ESPN’s baseball homepage. You’d think they could have come up with something better for an article on current players who’d make good managers. (And how about this for a doozy of a double-entendre subhed: “Where are baseball’s future managers? More than likely, they’re crouching at a ballpark near you. Jerry Crasnick explains.” Look out for tomorrow’s feature: “Headfirst: Where are tomorrow’s third-base coaches? More than likely, they already know when to dive between a catcher’s legs.” )
UPDATED: And…the Aumus story is already off ESPN’s homepage. Damn you, Greg Maddux and your 325 career wins!
June 9th, 2006 → 4:32 pm @ Seth Mnookin
No doubt Jason Lee wouldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t approve of a post like thisâ€šÃ„Ã®and just wait, in the next two days Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ll probably lose a winning lottery ticket and news will break that Tim Wakefield has been a drug runner since his days with the Piratesâ€šÃ„Ã®but thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s yet more news about current or former Yankees players taking drugs now banned by MLB. On Thursday, Jim Leyritz said he began using amphetamines in 1990, his rookie year with the Yankees. This comes on the heels of the Jason Grimsley affidavit (Grimsley played with the World Series champion Yankees in 1999 and 2000). And, of course, thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s the fact that the two biggest names ensnared in the BALCO case besides Barry Bondsâ€šÃ„Ã®Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffieldâ€šÃ„Ã®both play for New York. Sheffield says he had no idea he was using steroids. The same canâ€šÃ„Ã´t be said about Giambi, who reportedly told the BALCO grand jury he was juicing while playing for in both Oakland and New York; back in 2001, the Yankees agreed to remove language prohibiting steroid use from Giambiâ€šÃ„Ã´s contract. I’m of the opinion that lots more names are going to come out in the not-so-distant future. But at the moment, a lot of what’s come out so far has some connection to New York.
June 9th, 2006 → 9:37 am @ Seth Mnookin
Sons of Sam Horn, the site for obsessive-compulsive Red Sox fans, was down yesterday, apparently the target of a malicious computer attack. (And yes, we’re looking at you, NYYFans.) Right now there’s a burly Samoan hunting down the culprits; as Papa Jack says, “Somebody gotta pay.”
June 9th, 2006 → 12:05 am @ Seth Mnookin
For any over-eager fans watching tonight’s Red Sox-Yankees game, Coco Crisp was not asking you to make love to him when he repeatedly shouted “fuck me” after grounding out on a 3-0 count. In the future, YES might want to think about turning down the volume on their dugout mics in situations like this. (Michael Kay gamely tried to explain that “Crisp is clearly upset with himself.” At least he didn’t use a wall as a punching bag.)
June 8th, 2006 → 11:42 pm @ Seth Mnookin
Remember when Deadspin’s Will Leitch predicted that those blacked out names from the Grimsley affidavit would eventually leak out? He’s a prescient one: earlier today, Leitch posted some of those names, which he says he’s fairly confident about. Sammy Sosa’s name is apparently one of those blacked out, which comes as a surprise to approximately no one. Then there’s also this revelation: Leitch, a devoted Cardinals fan, says Grimsley named Chris Mihlfeld as the “fitness trainer to several Major League Baseball players” who directed him to a source that provided “amphetamines, anabolic steroids, and human growth hormone.” So what, right? Well, Mihlfeld–not the source who’s said to have served as Grimsley’s personal pharmacy–is not only a former strength and conditioning coordinator for the Royals, he’s also Albert Pujols’ personal trainer. Think anyone will start poking around now? (And why is it that Leitch, a hell of a blogger and apparently a decent reporter too, is the one breaking this news? As good as he is, he’s one dude being paid slave labor wages by a charming Brit. You’d think one of the thousands of accredited MLB reporters in the country might have come up with some of this…)
June 8th, 2006 → 4:26 pm @ Seth Mnookin
In an effort to figure out just whose names might be blacked out in the Grimsley affidavit, the Herald‘s John Tomase comes up with the best line yet in his column on this whole mess. Referring to former Sox reliever and former Grimsley teammate Heathcliff Slocumb, Tomase writes “If Slocumb took something, they were the worst steroids ever and he deserves a refund.” (To be fair–or unfair, as the case may be–to Slocumb, he does have a better career ERA than Grimsley. Slocumb, of course, was the bait in one of the most lopsided trades in history, when the Sox sent him to Seattle for Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek on July 31, 1997. Heck, that almost–I said almost–made up for Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen.) Tomase’s guess as to which one of of Grimsley’s “better friends” he named for the feds? None other than Chuck Knoblauch, the 5-feet, 9-inch second baseman who saw a 142-point spike in his OPS between 1993 and 1994. (You remember Knoblauch. He was the short dude who had an annoying tendency to get hit by pitches and later forgot how to throw a baseball. Good times.)
June 7th, 2006 → 9:16 pm @ Seth Mnookin
Earlier this year, ESPN was showing a graphic on the number of home runs hit this season. After an eight percent decline in the total number of home runs hit from 2004 (5,451) to 2005 (5,017), Major League Baseball players are on pace to more than make up for that loss: if the rest of the season plays out on par with whatâ€šÃ„Ã´s happened so far, thereâ€šÃ„Ã´ll be 5,431 homers hit this year. A reliever was eyeing the ESPN graphic when a bystander remarked that the cause of this year’s uptick must be the recent surge in lighter bats. â€šÃ„ÃºYeah,â€šÃ„Ã¹ the reliever snorted sarcastically. â€šÃ„ÃºIt must be the lighter bats.â€šÃ„Ã¹
Thanks to the MLB testing program, there are no longer coffee pots laced with amphetamines and no longer the kind of open sharing of steroids Jose Canseco described in Juiced. Thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s also no real doubt that thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s still a serious drug problem in baseball. Earlier today, The Smoking Gun posted the affidavit of a Federal agent in support of a search warrant on Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Jason Grimsley. Grimsley was busted after a postal inspector delivered a package of human growth hormone to Grimsleyâ€šÃ„Ã´s Arizona house, and the search warrant was requested after Grimsley stopped cooperating with the feds. HGH, which is not detectible through urine testing, is recognized within baseball as the post-testing era’s preferred performance-enhancing drug of choice.
The Grimsley affidavit makes for sordidly fascinating reading. â€šÃ„ÃºGrimsley stated that throughout the course of his Major League Baseball career, he has purchased and used the athletic performance-enhancing drugs, anabolic steroids, amphetamines, Clenbuteral, and human growth hormone,â€šÃ„Ã¹ the affidavit reads. (According to Grimsley, a year’s supply of HGH cost around $3000.) Grimsley also fingered a number of players heâ€šÃ„Ã´s either used with or received drug tips from; their names have been blacked out, but, as Deadspinâ€šÃ„Ã´s Will Leitch notes, itâ€šÃ„Ã´s likely only a matter of time before they leak out as well. (Over the course of his major league career, which began with the Phillies in 1989, Grimsley, who played on the 1999 and 2000 championship Yankees teams, teamed up with Lenny Dykstra, Sandy Alomar, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Alan Embree, Jim Edmonds, Mike Sweeney, Carlos Beltran, Roger Clemens, Rafeal Palmeiro, and Sammy Sosa, among many, many others. Grimsley asked for and was granted his release by the Diamondbacks earlier today.)
The Grimsley affidavit is yet another sign that baseball needs to get serious about the massive holes that remain in its testing program. As Jayson Stark writes, itâ€šÃ„Ã´s proof that the government still has baseball in its sights. And this could be just the kind of embarrassment that will force the players union to finally talk about allowing blood testing of its players; that way, HGH (and other maskable steroid) users will face the prospect of being found out if and when a more readily available test does become available. It might also force news organizations to put reporters who arenâ€šÃ„Ã´t also responsible for churning out a game writeup five or six nights a week on the story; itâ€šÃ„Ã´s not as if movie critics are asked to report out whether or not there are shady doings at the big studios. (Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s no accident that Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, the San Francisco Chronicle writers who broke the BALCO story, aren’t Giants beat reporters.) The Grimsley saga might even be enough to convince casual spectators that it’s not just the freakishly muscular sluggers (check out these before and after pictures) or admitted HGH users like Jason Giambi who might be using. From my time in MLB clubhouses last year, I’d guess relievers–with their high work loads and need to recover quickly from the physical stress of pitching day after day–aren’t far behind.
UPDATE: In Thursday’s New York Times, Jack Curry writes that there is a blood test for HGH that was used for the first time during the 2004 Olympics in Athens. “Only several hundred of the tests have been administered since,” Curry writes, “because there is a limited supply of the antibodies needed for the test.”