I love the image…

December 6th, 2006 → 10:13 am @

…of Barry Bonds trolling the winter meetings in desperate search of a contract. It sure is hard to imagine Hammerin’ Hank or the Babe down in Orlando hoping to interest a team in his services.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Barry Bonds & Steroids

Big Mac: Worthy of the Hall? I think not…and here’s why

November 28th, 2006 → 9:46 am @

For all the sturm und drang surrounding this year’s voting, the Hall of Fame has always had its share of ridiculous members. Two players — Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker–were inducted for no other reason than the fact that their names were included in a popular ditty. (Hell, even Murray Chass has been honored by the Hall.)

Still, this year’s voting will be especially interesting. Mark McGwire, who was a lock for a first balloter as recently as two years ago, now looks like he won’t make it in. (I’d bet he gets even less votes than Jim Rice.) This, of course, is because pretty much the entire world assumes McGwire’s transformation from Dave Kingman to Babe Ruth was chemically enhanced.

I certainly understand that school of thought. I also understand other sides to the issue. Put aside the fact that steroids are illegal — reason enough to consider steroids differently from other performance enhancing medical options, but stick with me for the sake of argument. How are steroids different from, say, Lasik eye surgery? Or Tommy John surgery? Don’t you think there are plenty of guys from any previous era that could have had their careers prolonged by a decade or more if they’d had these options available to them? And wouldn’t at least some of these guys have made it into the Hall?

What’s more, if McGwire — who has never tested positive — doesn’t get your hypothetical vote, how do you evaluate other players of what’s already known as the steroid era? Does this affect how you think about guys like Roger Clemens, who’ve been the subject of persistent rumors? Or, for that matter, Barry Bonds?

I’ve thought about this for a while, and have settled on a doctrine articulated to me by the Kansas City Star‘s Joe Posnanski (for my money, perhaps the best baseball columnist in the country). If I had a vote — and there’s absolutely no danger of that ever happening — I’d vote for guys like Clemens, and even Bonds, because they seem like Hall of Fame-caliber players regardless of whether or not they used steroids. (If it were ever established definitively that a player used, said player would not get my vote, because ‘roid use in the absence of medical necessity, unlike Lasik and Tommy John surgery, is illegal.) And I wouldn’t vote for guys like McGwire, who is the very model of a player who would never have even sniffed the Hall were it not for a remarkable mid-career surge that seems, on top of all of the other anecdotal evidence, to be the result of a healthy regimen of PEDs.

It’s an imprecise formula, to be sure. But I’m not sure if I can think of another one that makes any more sense.

Post Categories: Mark McGwire & Steroids

The press is shocked, shocked! Roger Clemens named in Grimsley steroid affidavit

October 1st, 2006 → 5:16 pm @

You remember Jason Grimsley, right? Back in June, the Diamondbacks reliever was busted by federal agents when he signed for a shipment of human growth hormone; within days, he’d given an affidavit in which he named a bunch of names of MLB players who’d recommended PED regimens and/or used the drugs themselves.

Well, as Will Leitch predicted, the names in those affidavits didn’t stay blacked out for long. Today’s Los Angeles Times has a report in which they reveal those players: Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, who played with Grimsely on the Yankees, and Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons, who played with Grimsely on the Orioles. (David Segui, now retired, has already told ESPN he was one of the names in the Grimsley affidavit.) Grimsley, according to the Times piece, met his first steroid supplier through former Yankees trainer Brian McNamee, who remains Clemens’s and Pettitte’s personal strength coach.

Anyone who’s followed Clemens’s remarkable career shouldn’t be completely surprised by this. (As Buster Olney wrote earlier today, Clemens’s name was not “being whispered on background” after the Grimsley affidavit, “it was being shouted behind the scenes.”) Before the start of this season, Clemens had the best winning percentage of any pitcher after age 40, the third best ERA, the third best walks plus hits per nine innings, the third best hits per nine innings, the second best strikeouts per nine innings, and the fifth most strikeouts. Save for K/9, Clemens’s post-40 numbers are all better than those he put up from ages 21 through 39. The question is, why hasn’t someone looked into this possibility before?

Olney thinks the fact that Clemens’s name is in the affidavit won’t affect whether or not he returns next year. If true, I think that’s a sign of arrogance, although Olney clearly disagrees. But it should affect whether or not the Red Sox pursue Clemens in the offseason, as they did before before the ’06 season and at this summer’s trade deadline. As Jerry Remy noted in last night’s broadcast, the media coverage of the Red Sox is unique: “It’s probably the only place in the country where there’s a baseball story in both papers every single day of the offseason.” A PED scandal in Boston would make the tempest surrounding Manny’s knee injury seem like a decorous meeting of the local library lovers club.

Clemens will get a lot of scrutiny, and a lot of criticism, over the coming days and weeks. (Can you imagine what it would have been like had the Astros made the playoffs?) But this is a black mark on more than just a handful of players. It hasn’t been long since the country’s sportswriters made massive mea culpas — with special reports, investigative articles, and tendentious broadcasts — promising that never again would they turn a blind eye to players who mysteriously bulk up or show odd performance spikes. And yet there’s been very few questions asked of Jason Giambi concerning his remarkable return to his peak performances…which occurred during a time in which Giambi has acknowledged he was using steroids. And there’s been nary a published peep about Clemens.

Back in June, Jeff Pearlman asked, in Slate, why the country’s sportswriters were pretending that the steroid era was over. It was a good question then. It’s an even better — and more embarrassing one — now.

Post Categories: Jason Giambi & Jason Grimsley & Obvious references to Casablanca & Roger Clemens & Sports Reporters & Steroids

It’s only because I’m in a pissy mood that I’m letting myself do this. (Or: the old Manny, Ortiz, and PEDs debate)

August 19th, 2006 → 8:10 pm @

There’s a wingnut hanging out over here who is trying to bait me into an argument about why Manny and Ortiz are roiding up. I know this is wrong, but when I’m in a particularly bad mood, a good beatdown always of cheers me up. Comments by said baiter (screen name: pepsicorp) are in itals.

Ahh, the old Ortiz always had power claim. Of course, it’s pure BS. Lifted this from an ESPN post:
Theory 1: Always had power, just couldn’t hit as well. One poster says he had a season where he hit a HR every 16ab in MN (it was actually closer to 17). But in Boston he’s hitting HRs every 10ab. Heck of an improvement from 25 yrs old to 30. Another said he never made good contact in MN although he hit 270+ 4/5 seasons.

Ortiz has always had power. In fact, it’s one of the reasons the Sox wanted him — because their scout in the Dominican couldn’t get over what a superstar he was down there. In 2001, he hit .234 but had a secondary average of .400 — a sign of a player who could be on the verge of a breakout. If you’re interested, check it out.

Theory 2: MN coaches don’t know how to coach Ortiz. Nice theory b/c the Twins clearly sucked but they did have competant coaching. TK won 2 WS and manager of the year (you had Williams and Little). Ortiz is the only player from that horrid era of Twins play that left and became a better hitter. Others, like Knoblauch, McCarthy, Cordova and Meares clearly had their best hitting seasons in MN. Obviously, the Sox did have him look at his swing differently but a 40HR improvement based on coaching? Not a chance.

First off, get your facts straight: Ortiz didn’t play for Jimy Williams. Second, Ron Gardenhire was Ortiz’s coach in 2002. And if you’re going to tell me you think Ron Gardenhire is a brilliant manager I have some swampland in Florida to sell you. Maybe you missed the 2004 ALDS? The current Twins regime is notorious for relying on speed, pitching, and defense as opposed to power — to the point where they’d discourage people from going yard in favor of moving the runner along. In fact, this is exactly what they did to Ortiz, telling him to hit the ball to the opposite field as opposed to swinging for the fences; that’s why Ortiz said the Twins wanted him to “hit like a little bitch.” (From an article on why the Twins have’t had a player hit 30 home runs in 19 years: “Boston’s David Ortiz has become one of the game’s most feared sluggers after never reaching his full potential with the Twins, a point that Ortiz has made many times by criticizing the organization’s conservative approach to teaching young hitters. Minnesota’s philosophy: Go to the opposite field and form sound fundamentals before letting it rip. ‘It’s not that anybody is against hitting home runs,’ Gardenhire said. ‘It’s just that first the process comes with learning to hit and be a hitter.'”) Third, while Knoblauch may have had his best years by average in MN, he had consecutive seasons of 17 and 18 home runs in New York…after topping out at 13 in MN. Two of Cordova’s top 3 HR years came after he left Minnesota. Pat Meares was a lifetime .258 hitter — he sucked when he played for the Twins and he sucked when he left. And I have no idea who McCarthy is. (If you’re talking about Dave McCarty…well, then you’re talking about Dave McCarty.) Finally, Ortiz’s batting average — which you seem to equate with being a good hitter — didn’t spike up after leaving the Twins; his power did. In 2000 and 2002, the only two years in MN in which he had more than 400 ABs, he hit .282 and .272, which isn’t hugely off line with what he’s done in Boston: .288, .301, .300, .284. And over the past three years, Ortiz has hit .271 on the road…which would seem to indicate that the Sox were right when they thought he would be the type of hitter who could take advantage of Fenway.

Theory 3: PEDs. Why is this hard to grasp? In MN Ortiz was an extremely well liked player known for being aloof and lazy with a poor work ethic and being injury prone.

I’ve never met someone who was extremely well liked and known for being aloof, lazy, and with a poor work ethic; that’s just asinine. If he was aloof and lazy with a poor work ethic, he wouldn’t have been well liked. Another reason the Sox wanted him — besides the power he showed in the DR — was the fact that he was both well liked and known for his ability to keep a clubhouse loose. And he was injury prone because he was a big guy with balky knees who was stuck playing first base on artificial turf. Since coming to Boston, he hasn’t played in the field, and he hasn’t had to play on turf.

The Twins, a playoff team now, let him go for nothing and Boston was the only team that gave him a chance.

Terry Ryan has said exactly that…just as he’s said that letting Ortiz go was the biggest mistake of his career. What’s more, the Yankees also wanted him — but they had a logjam at first/DH, with Giambi and Nick Johnson both on the roster.

27 yrs old and he hadn’t even hit 60HRs in his career. Why wouldn’t he try some PED to improve his then failing career? I would’ve, you would’ve.

Look, just because you’re a cheater — or a wanna-be cheater — doesn’t mean everyone is. Plenty of players have seen spikes in their power from 25 to 30. In fact, plenty have seen spikes at age 27, the year Ortiz arrived in Boston. There’s Stan Musial, who’d never hit more than 19 home runs before age 27; in his next eight years, he topped 30 six times and 35 three times. There’s Dave Winfield, who never topped 30 home runs before age 27. There’s Dwight Evans, who didn’t top 20 homers until he was 26 and didn’t top 30 until he was 30. And, since I know you heart the Twins, there’s Gary Gaetti, who hit 5 home runs in a full season at age 25 (sandwiched between a 20 and a 21 hr season) before hitting 34 when he turned 27.

Theory 4: Twin fans secretly hate Ortiz for sucking for them and becoming good for another team so it must be sour grapes.

This is the best theory I’ve heard so far.

Well, I can’t prove this one if you don’t believe it. Red Sox fans became more hated than Yank fans over the years so you have some ammo here but I don’t really care.

That doesn’t even begin to make sense.

Since Seth is so high and mighty on the integrity of the game, I’d like to know his thoughts on PEDs on the Sox. You have a former pitcher who said it was everywhere. Manny came from Clev, a team that should clearly raise eyebrows.

My beef with Giambi wasn’t so much that he juiced, but that he juiced and now is moralizing about the reporters who uncovered it. Anyway, you’re talking about Paxton Crawford, right? The guy who played in Boston two years before Ortiz got there? I’m sure there are players on the Red Sox who have used PEDs. There might still be; I have no idea. The only people we know were juicing are those who’ve been implicated by their grand jury testimony or tested positive.

As for Manny, this is his 12th year in a row of remarkable consistency. During that time, he’s never hit more than 45 home runs and he’s never hit less than 26. Assuming he makes it to 37 this year, it’ll be the eighth year in a row (not counting his injury-shortened ’02 campaign) in which he’s hit between 37 and 45 homers. Compare that to the odd, late-career spikes for the folks we can reasonably guess used PEDs:

* Sammy Sosa hadn’t hit more than 36 home runs in a season before he put up 4 straight seasons of 66, 63, 50, 64.

* Mark McGwire had never hit more than 50 before hitting 52, 58, 70, 65 in consecutive years.

* In his first four years in the bigs, Jason Giambi hit between 20 and 33 home runs. Then, according to his grand jury testimony, he starts juicing. Voila! 43, 38, 41, 41.

* After hitting more than 30 hrs exactly once before he turned 30, Rafael Palmeiro had consecutive years in which he hit 39, 39, 38, 43, 47, 39, 47, 43, 38.

* And, of course, there’s Barry Bonds. In his first 14 seasons, he topped 45 home runs once (and 40 three times). Starting at age 35, he hit 49, 73, 45, and 45.

Let’s hear Seth’s version.

My version? My version is that in the current environment, it’s hard to say for sure anyone’s 100 percent clean (although Manny is as close to a model of non-juicing consistency as is possible and there’s a whole boatload of reasons why Ortiz has blossomed). My version is also that if you want people to take you seriously, you should come up with something – anything – to back up what you’re trying to say. If not, you just sound like a moron. Correction: an aloof and lazy moron with a poor work ethic.

Ahhh…I feel better already.

3 AM SUNDAY MORNING EDIT: Not surprisingly, pepsicorp answered with another inane comment. Only slightly surprising is the fact that I again took the time to answer. It’s below. This time, it’s my responses to his comments that are italed.


Hey, nice. You answered me posts. I’m actually impressed. Still, we have issues. The main issue I have with you is that you don’t know anything but apparently hung around the team for a year. That seems like you’re lazy/aloof or willfully blind. Either you know some players are cheating or you don’t – and odds are very good that that someone on the team uses. What % of players use? I’ve heard as high as 75% or as low as 10%.

However, I can’t imagine someone who has the access you do doesn’t know more than what you’re speaking of. I’m really hoping we’re not going to be reading an article from you in a few years telling us how you’re another victim and can’t believe players were hiding this from you. Enough columnists already wrote that article.

Lazy, aloof, willfully blind — or not physically in people’s homes when they would be using. I’ve written that I think the media was (and is) too credulous; it’s not my fault you haven’t bothered to look that up. I’ve also written that the clubs themselves have no idea who is or isn’t using — in an age when players change teams constantly, and an age when contracts are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, why, in god’s name, would players let team officials know they’re juicing? And finally, I’ve written that without a solid testing program — and the current one most definitely is not — we’ll never truly have any idea who is or isn’t clean, and because of that, everyone will be suspect. Try using a teensy, tiny amount of the time you spend writing comments on other people’s blogs actually doing some research.

Further, your defenses of Ortiz aren’t that sound. Ortiz was coached by Gardy one year, before that it was the TK era. And it was that era (94 or so to 2001) where the Twins clearly sucked. Still, no other Twin that left became a better power hitter. Knobby hit more a few more HR (best seasons in NY were 17 and 18, in MN it was 11 and 13) but only once did he even hit higher than his career slg avg. If the Twins organization was so bad you’d expect more hitters to leave MN and improve. Ortiz is the only player from that period that did. And he improved by a lot. And maybe the Sox were able to predict his future greatness but they took thier time to sign him – he was a free agent for 5 weeks. This sounds more like a defense after the fact.

In Knoblauch’s highest HR year in Minnesota, he hit about 72 percent of what he hit in NY (13 versus 18). During Ortiz’s last year in MN, he hit about 65 percent of what he hit the next year in Boston (20 versus 31) — and in Boston he was hitting in a park that rewarded his swing, with a team that encouraged power-hitting, and with protection from the best-hitting team in the history of the game.

Wait — let me guess: now you’re going to say that Ortiz went from 20 to 31 to 41 to 47. True. In 2002 (20 home runs) he had 412 ABs. In 2004 (41) he had 582 — meaning he had 1.4 about times as many chances to hit home runs. 582 ABs in MN in 2002 would have produced about 28 home runs…which means that, once you adjust for at bats, he hit about 68 percent as many home runs in 2002 as he did in 2004. By 2005, he was hitting in front of Manny Ramirez. And you can’t get better protection than that.

Finally — and I really do not know why you can’t get this through your thick head — the Twins have said they not only badly bungled that situation but that it was a defining mistake of that era.

Further, one of the reasons Ortiz hates TK was that TK thought he was soft and wouldn’t play hurt. Hence the rep.

You also state that the Twins didn’t let hitters hit HR. Not exactly true.

I’ve never in my life come close to saying the Twins didn’t let hitters hit home runs; I said they didn’t emphasize it, and they discouraged it when it came to Ortiz. The Twins have also said this. Repeatedly.

In 2000, Jones hit 19, Ortiz 10.

In 2000, 102 players hit more than 19 home runs.

In 2001, Koskie 26, Hunter 27, Ortiz 18.

In 2001, 46 players hit more than 27.

In 2002 (Gardy’s first year), Hunter 29, Jones 22, Ortiz 20. Sure, Ortiz blames MN for his failures as a hitter but remarkably NO OTHER hitter has. Amazing that Ortiz was singled out solely by the staff.

In 2002, 38 players hit more than 29. As I — and about every other media outlet in the country — have pointed out, the Twins had gone 19 years without a player hitting 30 home runs; 478 players had seasons of 30+ in that time, or about 27 players per season. The Twins haven’t had a player with an OPS of over .900 since 1996; last year, there were 27 players who had OPS’s of .900+. The Twins have been a crappy power team for years. That could be because the front office is stupid, or it could be because they’ve de-emphasized power in favor of small-ball, defense, and pitching.

You note that Winfield, Musial et al showed spikes at these ages. However, these players certainly had different career paths. There was no question about them at age 27 (Ortiz’ 1st year in Boston). They were complete players. Ortiz was a washout. A bit of a difference.

That he wasn’t able to stay healthy in his early 20s is blamed on turf? And now that he’s a DH on grass no more injuries. I suppose that makes some sense although that’s also very convinent. The big advantage, supposedly, for PEDs is much faster recovery time.

You suppose that makes sense? How is that very convenient? Perhaps you’ve heard of Occam’s razor. (Wait a minute: of course you haven’t.) It states that the simplest answer is usually the correct answer. What makes more sense: moving Ortiz off of artificial turf and not playing him in the field made him less prone to injury? Or Ortiz decided he was going to use steroids and therefore hatched a grand scheme to switch to grass and become a DH by pissing off a manager who’d left Minnesota a year earlier and then using his Jedi mind tricks to get the Twins to ask him to slap hit singles to the opposite field? Finally, if, as you say, Ortiz was “washed up,” why wouldn’t he have decided to start juicing before — say, in 2000 or 2001 or 2002. You know — the years that are now acknowledged to be the steroid era.

You mock me for making accusations with no fact. Well, since I’m not a reporter and have no access I don’t have much to go on.

Every single thing — everything — from my post and this response was based on “reporting” I did on the this new-fangled thing called the Interweb. Using high-tech, top-secret journalist tools like Google. You don’t have much to go on because a) you don’t have much to go on and b) you’re a moron.

However, we also know that the Twins organization and the Sox org have both been tied to steroids so I believe it is fair to suspect some players. If you don’t think so fine, but it does call into question your journalistic curiosity.

I’m not sure why you think you know anything about journalism, but let me give you a some quick lesson. It’s not “journalism” to go throwing around accusations in the total and complete absence of facts. That’s recklessly irresponsible. I don’t think it’s fair to call anyone into suspect in the absence of a single shred of evidence. What you’re citing isn’t evidence; it’s not even particularly suspicious, although I do realize you’d need a combination of a tiny amount of smarts and a teensy bit of curiosity to actually sit down, dig up some stats, and crunch some numbers.

But, for the record, there are lots of things I’m curious about. I’m curious about the inner workings of the Bush White House. I’m curious about Scientology. I’m curious about global warming and astronomy and the nature vs. nurture in human developement. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or the resources to go out and write books about all of these subjects. I wasn’t writing a book about steroids, although if I’d somehow stumbled upon any evidence — say, a syringe sticking out of someone’s ass — I’d have done everything I could to figure out what was going on. Right now there’s an MLB-endorsed committee granted near-prosecutorial powers and run by the man who helped broker peace in Ireland, and thus far they haven’t come up with any bombshells. I don’t know why it’s surprising that I didn’t either…especially since that wasn’t what I was working on.

Wouldn’t you like to know if the best hitter since Ted Williams is cheating?

I actually know that — or am pretty sure I know that. Barry Bonds was cheating. David Ortiz doesn’t come close to being the best hitter since Ted Williams. He’s not close to the best hitter currently in baseball. He’s not even the best hitter currently on the Red Sox.

Manny has been remarkable consistant – so were Palmerio and Juan Gonzalez – the hitter he most closely resembles. Ortiz was a washed up player who couldn’t stay healthy – now he’s an MVP canidate.

The steroid cloud is going to stay over a lot of players until people know what happened. Part of that will be good reporting. You credit the Red Sox wining on money, smarts and nerve. Shouldn’t you also determine how much ‘roids played a part?

It’s fitting that your email handle is “brat” — you have that rare combo of zero intellectual sophistocation and a petulant belief that whatever dumb thought comes into your head is not only correct but deserves being shared. Most people move beyond that when they’re 12. I’m know I deserve part of the blame for indulging you. Don’t worry — it won’t happen again.

Post Categories: David Ortiz & Manny Ramirez & Paxton Crawford & Rampaging morons & Steroids

Jason Giambi is a gutless, steroid-using punk

August 18th, 2006 → 10:20 am @

The Supreme Court has considered a case involving reportorial privledge exactly once, in the 1972 case Branzburg v. Hayes. In that case, a trio of reporters were subpoenaed to testify about illegal activities they witnessed in the course of their reporting: drug dealing and Black Panthering. In his 5-4 majority opinion, Justice Byron White held that reporters should not have a “testimonial privilege that other citizens do not enjoy.”

In that same decision, White wrote that there should be a “test” before reporters are compelled to testify before a grand jury. Citing Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., White said that the government needs to “convincingly show a substantial relation between the information sought and a subject of overriding and compelling state interest.”

For most of the last three decades, this ruling against the press has been used to support the press: because of White’s establishment of a “test,” reporters have almost never been called before a federal grand jury to reveal their sources. (Most states have shield laws granting reporters the right to protect their confidential sources.)

This, as you might have noticed, is no longer the case. In the past several years, this “overriding and compelling state interest” has time and time again been interpreted as anything the government wants to know about a journalist’s sources or methodology. The latest battleground is the Balco grand jury leak case. Earlier this week, a Federal judge in San Francisco ruled that Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, San Francisco Chronicle reporters and the authors of the book Game of Shadows, must reveal the sources that provided them with grand jury testimony regarding Barry Bonds’ steroid use. Oh, and the sources who told them that Jason Giambi had admitted to that same grand jury that he had treated his body as a grand science experiment. (It’s no accident that Giambi shares cover billing with Bonds on Game of Shadows.) In that testimony Giambi acknowledged that, at the very least, he had used either steroids or human growth hormone during three of the four years in which he’d hit more than 35 home runs: 2001, 2002, and 2003. In the year after Giambi’s last acknowledged HGH-fueled year, he hit 12 home runs and batted .208.

I’ve said much every chance I get that I think the fact that Giambi won last year’s Comeback Player of the Year is a sham. And I haven’t met a single person in baseball–club officials around the league, New York beatwriters, etc–who is convinced beyond a doubt that Giambi is now clean: his turn-around is too stark, his history too suspect. I’m sure he’s being tested more than your average bear. But MLB doesn’t currently take blood samples (or store its urine samples) and has no way of testing for HGH…Giambi’s admitted drug of choice just three seasons ago.


Earlier this week, Giambi told a reporter from MLB.com that grand jury leaks are a “serious issue.” “When we were brought in [to the grand jury], we had to talk about our situation that we went through,” he said. “People want to know the same thing now, because these laws are what our country is based on. However they obtained it, it was illegal.” Indeed, Giambi says he’s now concerned about the sanctity of the American legal system (although the sanctity of the profession that’s made him rich doesn’t seem to concern him): “There are now a lot of people who won’t testify in front of a grand jury because of the situation that has gone on. It was a situation that, who knows what would have transpired” had his testimony not been leaked. “I went through what I did and moved forward. I haven’t looked back.” That’s for sure: Giambi is currently on pace to hit 48 home runs, five more than his previous best.

A year and a half after his pathetic non-apology apology, Jason Giambi is lecturing reporters on their need to take responsibility for their actions. (Giambi, for anyone who doesn’t remember, made the Yankees remove the word “steroid” from his 2001, $120 million contract.) Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein has said his paper will not comply with the government’s demand that his reporters give up their sources. And there’s now another brewing showdown that could result in reporters in jail.


I’m pretty much a First Amendment absolutist: I think a robust free press is necessary for the healthy functioning of a democracy. That doesn’t mean I think reporters shouldn’t be held accountable or should have free license to operate outside of the law. In the cases involving the New York Times‘s Judith Miller and Time‘s Matt Cooper there was, at the very least, a compelling argument to be made for both sides.

That is not the case here. There is no “overriding and compelling state interest” outside of the government’s desire to keep grand jury proceedings secret. This is about steroids and baseball, not WMDs and war. Jason Giambi will not have any effect on the ultimate outcome of this case. But the fact that he’s acting as if he’s now concerned the Balco leaks will effect whether or not people feel free to testify in front of grand juries in the future is pathetic.

Post Categories: First Amendment & Jason Giambi & Steroids

Brought to you by the same folks who sold papers on the backs of Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Jason Giambi

August 2nd, 2006 → 8:44 am @

Antidoping officials working on [Landis’s] case already have evidence that some experts say is convincing enough to show that Landis cheated to win the Tour, regardless of further testing or appeals.
— “Experts Say Case Against Landis Is Tough to Beat,” Juliet Macur and Gina Kolata, August 2,
The New York Times

“Rocked by drug allegations against Armstrong and an on-going Spanish investigation into illegal blood doping that forced their teams to send home Tour de France contenders Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, cycling has been looking for a new hero or anything positive to spin. …[Shawn] Hunter, [president of AEG sports], was able to smile Thursday and say, … ‘It was an unbelievable human performance, one of the greatest ever.'”
— “Landis Wins Stage in Huge Turnaround,” Diane Pucin, July 21, Los Angeles Times

“Many longtime devotees of professional cycling said they had never seen a performance–from Armstrong, from the legendary Eddy Merckx or from any other cyclist–like the one produced by Floyd Landis on Thursday in southeastern France. No less an expert than the longtime Tour director, Jean-Marie Leblanc, called Landis’s performance ‘the best stage I have ever followed.'”
— “Landis Climbs Back Into Contention,” Edward Wyatt, July 21, The New York Times

“He had a mischevious glint in his eye…the look of a punk kid who had made good on a ridiculous dare. That’s precisely what Landis did, turning the Tour inside out with a solo demolition of the peloton almost unheard of in recent editions of the race.
— “Pedal to the Mettle,” Bonnie DeSimone, July 21, The Boston Globe

“Like his old boss, Lance Armstrong, Landis has a seemingly superhuman ability to do the Greek pathos-mathos thing and transform physical and emotional pain into forward momentum on a bike for three weeks in July.”
— Andrew Vontz, July 21, Fox Sports

“The comeback was read by many as a master stroke, instantly enshrining Landis in cycling’s pantheon alongside greats like five-time Tour champion Eddy Merckx of Belgium for his show of both human frailty and superhuman courage in the span of 24 hours.”
— Associated Press, July 21

“The Hail Mary pass. … provided a gleaming counterweight to the doping scandal that had overshadowed this Tour since the day before it began. (Operación Puerto, as Spanish police called it, led to the expulsion of prerace favorites Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, among others.) By single-handedly transforming stage 17 into a kind of velo Instant Classic, Landis ensured that this Tour will be remembered as much for the heroics of a rider who was there as it will be for the suspicion hanging over those who weren’t.”
— “The Amazing Race,” Austin Murphy, Sports Illustrated

Post Categories: Jason Giambi & Media reporting & Steroids

Don’t ask me nothin’ ’bout nothin’ — I just might tell you the truth

July 4th, 2006 → 1:29 pm @

In the year and a half since Jose Canseco published Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, Madonna’s former paramour has served as a punching bag for those within baseball’s protective fraternity. During last March’s Congressional hearings, Curt Schilling, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire refused to be sworn in en masse because they didn’t want to be pictured with the greased-up, perma-tanned slugger. McGwire referred to Canseco as a “convicted criminal who would do or say anything to solve [his] own personal problems.” Schilling warned of “glorifying the so-called author” or “indirectly assisting him to sell more books.”

Canseco—who, at age 42, is attempting a comeback with the San Diego Surf Dogs (the same team for which the 47-year old Rickey Henderson put up a .456 OBP last year)—is back in the news, and it’s not because of his three strikeouts in his Surf Dogs debut last night. Before yesterday’s game, he had this to say: “They’re mafia, point blank, they’re mafia. I don’t think Major League Baseball is enthused about finding out the truth. There needs to be a major cleanup in Major League Baseball. I think they are treading on very thin ice, and [commissioner] Bud Selig has to be very careful what he’s doing because his job is on the line.” Has the new testing program solved the sports steroid problem? “The policy sounds great, but that’s not the problem,” Canseco said. “There are major problems not with the policies but the individuals who are instituting this policy. For example, and this is theoretical, if Roger Clemens gets tested and he gets tested positive and it comes back, what do these individuals do with this policy? I think it’s going to depend on a case-to-case, player-to-player basis.”

Canseco’s comments were treated with what must be by now a familiar brand of condescending disregard. At first, a baseball spokesman wouldn’t even deign to address Canseco’s allegations: “We wouldn’t comment on anything he said.” Later, an MLB official amended this statement, telling the Associated Press, “His allegations are complete nonsense.”

Of course they are. Just like his allegation that Rafael Palmeiro was a steroid user was complete nonsense. Canseco, after all, is the guy who embarrassed himself on national TV, the boob with the awful track record when it comes to telling the truth. Just look at the testimony!

Jose Canseco: “MLB did nothing to take it out of the sport. Baseball owners and the players union … turned a blind eye to the clear evidence of steroid use in baseball.”

ESPN The Magazine Special Report on Steroids, November 2005: “Who knew? We all knew: the trainers who looked the other way as they were treating a whole new class of injuries; the players who saw teammates inject themselves but kept the clubhouse code of silence; the journalists who ‘buried the lead’ and told jokes among themselves about the newly muscled; the GMs who wittingly acquired players on steroids; and, yes, owners and players, who openly applauded the home run boom and moved at glacial speed to address the problem that fueled the explosion.”

Mark McGwire: “I’m not going to go into the past or talk about my past. I’m here to make a positive influence on this.”

“My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family and myself.”

“I will use whatever influence and popularity that I have to discourage young athletes from taking any drug that is not recommended by a doctor. What I will not do, however, is participate in naming names and implicating my friends and teammates.”

McGwire, described at the hearings by the Washington Post as a “shrunken, lonely, evasive figure,” has not, to date, been involved in public efforts to discourage young athletes from taking performance enhancing drugs.

Sammy Sosa: “Everything I have heard about steroids and human growth hormones is that they are very bad for you, even lethal. I would never put anything dangerous like that in my body. Nor would I encourage other people to use illegal performance-enhancing drugs.”

Sosa averaged 48 home runs a year in the five years preceding MLB’s new testing program. Last year, he hit 14. He is no longer on a major league roster.

Rafael Palmeiro: “I have never used steroids. Period. I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that.”

“I am against the use of steroids. I don’t think athletes should use steroids and I don’t
think our kids should use them.”

“To the degree an individual player can be helpful, perhaps as an advocate to young people about the dangers of steroids, I hope you will call on us. I, for one, am ready to heed that call.”

Palmeiro was suspended last August after testing positive for steroids. He is no longer on a major league roster.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig: “Major League Baseball has always recognized the influence that our stars can have on the youth of America. As such, we are concerned that recent revelations and allegations of steroid use have sent a terrible message to young people.”

“Baseball’s policy on performance enhancing substances is as good as any in professional sports.”

In February 2005, after reports that Jason Giambi had told the BALCO grand jury that he knowingly used steroids, Giambi apologized in a much-ridiculed press conference. In October, MLB awarded Giambi its Comeback Player of the Year Award. (The award is sponsored by Viagra, for which Palmeiro formerly served as a spokesman.)

Baseball’s drug policy is so porous magazine articles give maps on how to beat it. Testing administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the organization responsible for testing U.S. Olympic athletes, is far more stringent than the testing done by Major League Baseball.

What’s that old Sun Ra saying? Ah, yes: “A prophet is not without honor except among his own people.” (Fine, fine: Jesus came up with it first. But could Jesis have pulled this off?)

Post Categories: Baseball & Bob Dylan & Bud Selig & Jason Giambi & Jose Canseco & Rafael Palmeiro & Steroids & Sun Ra