Group hug in the press box

June 15th, 2006 → 11:56 am @

Awww: Dan Shaughnessy proves he’s not an incorrigible curmudgeon with this big wet kiss to Chris Snow. Obligatory quote from Manny, who has spent approximately 1,000 hours in the same room as Snow over the past 16 months: “Who’s Chris?”

Post Categories: Boston Globe & Chris Snow & Dan Shaughnessy & Sports Reporters

Gentlemen, update your resumes…

June 14th, 2006 → 3:35 pm @

Chris Snow began covering the Red Sox fulltime less than a year-and-a-half ago. His first stint with the team came during spring training, which, especially for reporters who’ve been on the beat for a while, can be a slog: the hundreth article on a crusty veteran’s hopes for the coming year, a bunch of plus ca change pieces…and on and on and on. Snow worked the hell out of the job from day one, always looking for different angles and always coming at stories with fresh reporting. In the regular season, during the soul-crushing hours reporters spent idly wandering around the Sox’s clubhouse before and after games, Snow was always politely excusing himself to go buttonhole a player about a story.

Today, the Globe announced that Snow was leaving the paper for a job as the director of hockey operations for the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild. At age 24, Snow will be one of the youngest executives in professional sports—but then, he knows all about the pressures of being a young executive.

In hiring Snow, Globe editor Marty Baron showed he wanted young, hungry reporters covering some of the paper’s most important beats. It’ll be interesting to see who ends up filling Snow’s spot: there’s the equally precocious Amalie Benjamin (a Newton North High School alum; go Tigers!), along with all the Herald scribes worried that the city’s tabloid is about to go under. And, of course, there’s Chasing Steinbrenner author Rob Bradford, who’s been cleaning up on the beat this season while toiling away for the Eagle-Tribune and its criminally difficult to navigate website

Post Categories: Boston Globe & Chris Snow & Red Sox & Sports Reporters

Brad Ausmus, it’s time to fire your publicist

June 10th, 2006 → 12:01 am @

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!

Post Categories: Oblique References to They Might Be Giants Lyrics & Sports Reporters & Steroids

In a minute it will all be coming down.

June 8th, 2006 → 11:42 pm @

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…)

Post Categories: Albert Pujols & Baseball & Ben Folds Lyrics & Deadspin & Jason Grimsley & Sports Reporters & Steroids

Federal agents use a black marker; baseball breathes a sigh of relief

June 7th, 2006 → 9:16 pm @

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 what’s happened so far, there’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. “Yeah,” the reliever snorted sarcastically. “It must be the lighter bats.”

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. There’s also no real doubt that there’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 Grimsley’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. “Grimsley 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,” the affidavit reads. (According to Grimsley, a year’s supply of HGH cost around $3000.) Grimsley also fingered a number of players he’s either used with or received drug tips from; their names have been blacked out, but, as Deadspin’s Will Leitch notes, it’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, it’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 aren’t also responsible for churning out a game writeup five or six nights a week on the story; it’s not as if movie critics are asked to report out whether or not there are shady doings at the big studios. (It’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.”

Post Categories: Jason Grimsley & Sports Reporters & Steroids