Do I believe John Rocker? Hell yeah I do.

February 12th, 2008 → 11:10 am @

In an interview with an Atlanta radio station, John “I’ll just keep talking until I get myself in trouble” Rocker says he and a bunch of other Texas Rangers were advised on how to juice without getting caught back in 2000. (According to Rocker, this little talking-to happened after he flunked a steroids test. He also takes pains to point out that A-Rod was one of his teammates at the time. It looks more and more like Alex’s stint with Texas wasn’t the best move: every two-bit punk who did time with him in Arlington is using him to gin up publicity.) Anyway, I believe Rocker is telling the truth.

(Sort of.*)

I’ve had an odd–well, soft spot isn’t exactly the right word, but you get the idea–for Rocker even since he went mano a mano with Deadspin’s Will Leitch, one of our all-time favorite sportswriters, period. (If you haven’t bought “God Save the Fan,” you should. It’s hysterical. And cut up into easily digestible chunks.) But that’s not why I believe him. I believe him because I think the Mitchell report underestimates — enormously — the amount of juicing within baseball. (I’m also surprised Mitchell, et al got away with the methods they used; that kind of crap would get me drummed out of journalism permanently. That’s a whole other story.) I also believe him because if the whole steroids mess has shown us anything, it’s that the least likely folks have ended up being the most honest. That’s in large part because of the frat house/high school locker room mentality of the entire baseball world, where the omerta code is lots stronger than it is in today’s mob…and guys like Jose and JR have already been kicked out of the club, so they have nothing to lose.

There you have it. Happy Potomac Primary day! If you live in the Beltway, make sure you vote. You might as well get involved in something: It’s not as if there are a lot of compelling reasons to invest your time into any of your local baseball teams.

* This is not to say, as Rocker seems to imply, that Bud sanctioned this little clubhouse chemistry lectures. I think the general sentiment is accurate: that a lot of people spread throughout every organization knew exactly what was going on and that there was a whole helluva lot of complicity.

Post Categories: John Rocker & Jose Canseco & Steroids & The Mitchell Report

Day Three: The situation’s looking worse all the time for Roger

December 16th, 2007 → 12:41 pm @

Roger Clemens, through his lawyer, has been sticking with his Casablanca-evoking outrage that he was fingered as a ‘roids user. He shouldn’t be surprised, and neither should anyone else. (Compare this picture of a middle-aged Clemens to this one when he was in Boston. It certainly looks like his body went through a Bonds-like transformation.) I’ve been curious as to why more people weren’t asking questions about Clemens since last January, when Boston was in the hunt for his services.

In the last two days, the situation for Clemens has, remarkably, gotten even worse. There ex-big leaguers like C.J. Nitkowski defending Brian McNamee after he was called “troubled” by Clemens’ lawyer–a remarkable breach of the unspoken code of omerta among current and former ballplayers. There’s Curt Schilling, who looks up to Clemens as an idol, saying “I believe it” when asked about the contents of the Mitchell report. There’s the results of ESPN’s Jerry Krasnick’s informal poll of Hall voters–a full two-thirds of whom say they either wouldn’t vote for Clemens or are undecided.

And now there’s Andy Pettitte’s classy confirmation of McNamee’s revelations about his use of HGH. (Classy so long as his statement that there were only two times he used are, in fact, true.) Not only did Pettitte not say that McNamee was troubled, he confirmed exactly what McNamee had told investigators.

The steroid mess isn’t going to be one of those Watergate/Monica situations where the cover-up is worse than the crime…but it may be a case where the public, and the press, is a lot quicker to grant absolution to guys who come clean on their own. I’m willing to be dollars to doughnuts that Pettitte gets the biggest ovation of any player when the Yankees are announced on opening day at the Stadium.

Post Categories: Andy Pettitte & Hall of Fame & Roger Clemens & Steroids & The Mitchell Report

In defense of the Yankees dynasty

December 16th, 2007 → 12:18 pm @

The presence of Clemens and Pettitte–and, to a lesser extent, of the likes of Chuck Knoblauch and David Justice–has predictably caused some people to question the Yankees ’96-’00 dominance. I’ll add myself to one of the voices for the defense. No one will ever know what the Mitchell report would have looked like had there been a strength and conditioning coach in every clubhouse that talked, on the record, about what happened while they were with their respective teams…but it’s a safe bet that more teams would look like the Yankees, with more than a dozen players named, than like the Sox, who don’t have a single major player cited for actions during his time in Boston.

Post Categories: Roger Clemens & Steroids & The Mitchell Report & Yankees

What – you want more on the Mitchell Report?

December 13th, 2007 → 6:46 pm @

Lots and lots and lots and lots of actual and virtual ink will be spilled on the Mitchell Report, which is going to make life hell for a whole mess of people. I’ll resist added too much of my drivel and will instead limit myself to some few quick points on issues such as…

Roger Clemens. Why, you might ask, would a sure-fire Hall of Famer risk his reputation and legacy over these last five or so years by taking PEDs? People asked me that question again and again during the pre-season frenzies of last season and 2006. I have no way of knowing; for some reason, Clemens won’t talk to me. But I do have an idea: because he has never, in his entire life, had to deal with the consequences of his actions. He can act like a teenage mutant ninja freak and throw broken bats across the field and it’s chalked up to competitive fire. He can demand ludicrous contract clauses like Hummers and private transportation and he’s indulged. Why, after years and years of this, would he suddenly think that the rules applied to him? (Clemens is far from alone in this regard; this is something that crops up again and again in ballplayers, who are constantly reminded that the normal rules of society–stay faithful to your spouse, clean up after yourself, don’t eat McDonald’s for breakfast–don’t apply to them.

I Love (the fact that I’m not playing in) New York. Plenty of teams’ fans are going to be crowing/letting out a huge sigh of relief…so long as those fans aren’t rooting for the Mets and the Yankees. A quick scan of what is destined to become known as the list shows current and former New Yorkers including Kevin Brown, Paul Lo Duca, Mo Vaughn, Todd Pratt, Ron Villone, David Justice, Chuck Knoblauch, Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Lenny Dykstra. Does that mean that other teams–like, say, the Sox–are (or were) any cleaner? Hell no. It just means no-one else had a clubhouse attended that got popped.

The non-inclusion of any of the Idiots: Earlier today, what turned out to be a fake list was leaked; that one included names like Nomar, Johnny Damon, and Trot Nixon, along with other usual suspects like Pudge, Pujols, and Milton Bradley. (Later in the day, well-circulated rumor had Varitek also on the list.) Back in 2005, a member of the Sox’s front office physically shuddered at the thought of what would happen in Boston if news ever broke about someone on the ’04 team roiding up. It looks like that won’t happen…for now, anyway. That brings us to…

Eric Gagne. Gagne, as everyone now knows, was on the list, which can’t be a surprise to anyone. (Also included in the report is news that the Sox inquired about Gagne’s supposed doping before acquiring him at the deadline.) It turns out that the biggest favor Gagne may have done Boston is sucking ass for the second half of the season–now, at least, no one can point to him as one of the reason’s for the team’s success.

That’s all for now. I’ve written plenty about steroids in the past, including last August, when I wondered why no one was wondering about Roger, and way back in October ’06, when I mocked the press’s surprise that Clemens had been fingered in he Grimsley affidavit. I also tagged Jason Giambi a gutless punk, ripped into the Players Union for defending the players’ right to destroy their livers, lamented the fact that Jose Canseco seemed to be the only honest guy around, and talked about how Bill James compared steroids to going through a divorce. (Sort of, anyway.)

More later, I’m sure.

Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & Eric Gagne & Jason Giambi & Jason Grimsley & Jason Varitek & Johnny Damon & Nomar Garciaparra & Roger Clemens & Steroids & The Mitchell Report & Trot Nixon