Friday, December 14, 2007

The Mitchell Witch Hunt, Offseasons Suck And So Does My Computer, Haren to D-backs

As you can see, clearly I should blog more often so I don't have to cram all these subjects into one post, but I expect I'll be forgiven if I say it's only one more week to go in semester and I'm more than ready to go home and have it be Christmas already. Also, my computer has been possessed by demons at a particularly inopportune time, and now the r key is completely broken -- I have to copy/paste it in -- and if I so much as touch the empty socket where it used to be, it goes crazy, inserting very long lines of the letter while I vainly attempt to stem the flow and edit it out. Fortunately, my computer has relented to let me at least use it, which it wasn't doing last night and making me very nervous about finishing/editing term papers, etc. Therefore, I might as well blog because I currently have nothing better to do.

Of course, as I'm sure everyone's aware, the Mitchell Witch Hunt came out yesterday and named 60-80 players that the feds have busted for illicit steroid use -- or at least the ones who used the same supplier (an ex-Mets clubhouse attendant named Kirk Radomski, who apparently was the nucleus for steroid supply during the juiced eras of the '90s) and were stupid enough to write checks from their personal accounts, which of course got traced back to them by the valiant efforts of sir Mitchell. One current Rockie did get fingered -- reliever Matt Herges, who apparently used PEDs in 2005, went 5-1/2.96 last year, and who we just re-signed for the 2008 campaign. It'll be interesting to see what sort of punishments get handed down... Selig, the ball-less wonder, has said that he'll punish players according to what sort of rules against PEDs were in place at the time of their infraction, which makes sense -- no use punishing them now for something that wasn't illegal then.

But all this shows was how badly Selig and his cronies dragged their feet on getting an effective testing policy implemented in the game and how long he turned a blind eye as the 'roid-fueled monsters blasted 70+ home runs in the juicy summer of 1998 and interest in the game was peaking -- all for profit. He let Jeffrey Loria kill the Expos and now he's letting him kill the Marlins... no, I am no fan of the man at all, but at the same time, this isn't all on his shoulders. Those (dis)honors also go to Radomski (thinking that this toad was happily complicit in the shaming of my favorite sport ever, just to make money, makes me want to kill something) and of course all the players who decided that their natural talent wasn't enough and had to get an unfair advantage over those who played fair. There has to be a few -- while rampant 'roiding was the name of the game in the late '90s, I refuse to adopt the position of the pessimists who insist it was everybody. Also, I've read a good deal of the 409 pages of the Mitchell report, and while it turns up a few hard-to-refute juicers (Roger Clemens is going to have to do some extremely fast talking to reserve his previously cast-in-iron spot in Cooperstown, so naturally his technique is deny, deny, deny) it also seems to rely too extensively on hearsay. The entry on Jack Cust, I kid you not, has to do with the fact that he had a locker next to Larry Bigbie (a self-admitted juicer) and they once had a conversation about steroids...

However, the report does kick the last feet out from under the Barry Bonds apologists who point to the fact that the so-called home run king has never failed a drug test -- he had extensive advance warning for them, and besides, Bigbie was on HGH during 2004 and MLB's medieval pee-in-a-cup policy naturally failed to turn anything up. Bonds and Clemens, to no one's very great surprise, are given the biggest black eyes, but the report also turns up a bunch of thoroughly mediocre players (Adam Piatt, anyone?) which proves that steroids, while enhancing your natural gifts, can't turn you from zero to hero overnight. Sad that Bonds and Clemens were some of the most gifted players of their era and then, seeing it as somehow "not enough," had to turn to shady pharmaceutical shenanigans just for a few more shiny stats. It will also definitely be interesting to see what happens in 2012, which, assuming neither of them plays again, is the first year that they'll be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Ask Mark McGwire how that's working for him...

I'm personally relieved that none of the Blake Street Bombers past or present got named, but that doesn't mean they're clean. I hate this culture of suspicion in which everybody is guilty until proven innocent, and you can't go around pre-emptively attaching the juicer tag to absolutely everyone; you'll just drive yourself nuts and hurt the innocent players who have kept their noses clean in a difficult era. The Mitchell Report, however, is just the beginning, and everyone has promised that more names will surface as investigations continue. After all, that despicable weasel Radomski can't have been the only supplier.

I want to emphasize that this does not change my feelings for baseball one bit, and I think those that swear off the sport forever are just indulging in Chicken-Little-style histrionics. Did MLB handle the drug problem badly? Yes. Is Bud Selig an industrial-grade tool? Yes. Are the players and suppliers complete jerks for doing this? Hard to say. Suppliers, yes, there's no excuse. Get a real job instead of dealing drugs. As for the players, it's more complicated. It's never all right to cheat, and while some of them do it to flash their "skillz," some of them certainly were faced with the tough choice of either staying clean and fading away in the minor leagues or getting on the "stuff" and realizing their lifelong dream of making it to the Show. Or they were injured and genuinely wanted to rehabilitate faster and come back to help their team. It's their own fault that they exercised poor judgment in how to go about this, but to paint every steroid user with the "Total cheater, should be banned from baseball for life" label is an ugly and unfair oversimplification. They're certainly there, of course, and it's easy to sort out the self-righteous douchenozzles from the rest of the bunch. Peer pressure, wanting to keep your job, thinking that you needed to take them to keep up with the rest of the league, the difference between financial uncertainty and being set for life -- there are a lot of factors in play. But this too shall pass. The great old game is still the great old game. Watch it anyway. There are good apples and bad apples in the barrel, and when spring comes around again, there are blue skies, palm trees, workouts, and the ever-minted new hope of another season, this will hopefully cease to matter.

Which reminds me.... boy, is this damn offseason long. My newest pursuit is football, and I've been watching a lot of it, in an attempt to while away the long winter months. I know you're astonished, but this post will briefly dabble in football instead, and if I get really bored, I'll turn it into a Broncos blog for the last few weeks before spring. Watching the Broncos is eerily like watching the early-season Rockies, actually. They have the young, talented core, a head coach who may or may not be a total idiot, and a frustrating inability to get it going all at once. I know I missed the boat on the Broncos being good by about ten years, but what the hell. Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Elvis Dumervil, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Stokely, et all (with the exception of Todd Sauerbrun... do not kick to Devin Hester, you asshat) form a talented nucleus with occasional glimpses of greatness interspersed with moments of total brain-fartery.

Still, they're naturally my team, I enjoy watching them, and, being spoiled by the game-a-day schedule of baseball, impatiently await Sundays every week so I at least have a sport to follow. They're usually quite fun. (Thursday's game notwithstanding.... 31-13 loss to the Texans puts the nail in the coffin for all intents and purposes, but I think it was unfair to talk about the playoffs with this unit anyway. They clearly need another year to mature and mesh, and then we'll see. Cutler ranks fourth in the NFL in terms of yards per attempt (7.92) just behind such luminaries as Brady (8.60) Romo (8.58) and Favre (7.96), coming in ahead of Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning (7.90) He's got a cannon of an arm, quick feet, a good head for the game, but is still 24 and as such tends to make rookie mistakes. Also, can he please break a tackle when trying to scramble out of the pocket.... (four sacks last night) Still, he's completing over 64% of his passes, his QB rating is 90.8, and he has 18 TD passes to 12 picks -- while #6 may not yet be #7, he's working on it. Brandon Marshall is also showcasing great potential, and while Cutler/Marshall may not yet be Brady/Moss, it's definitely going to be something to watch. Now that The Carcass Which Was Jake Plummer has vacated Mile High (I don't care if they call it Invesco, nobody in Colorado does) and if Shanny ever got a clue and Sauerbrun stopped doing stupid things like running off his mouth, kicking to Devin Hester, and getting arrested, we could be seeing the start of something again.

Okay! Back to baseball. That was my first foray into football blogging ever, and now back to my familiar ground. Today, the D-backs made the biggest move of the NL West by landing Dan Haren from the A's. Haren, 27 years old, under an extremely reasonable contract for the next three years, and the 2007 AL All-Star starter, is now going to team with Brandon Webb to form an extremely scary 1-2 punch at the top of the 'Zona rotation. His price was six prospects -- Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Greg Smith, Dana Eveland, Aaron Cunningham, and Chris Carter (to which you probably said, "Who?" to every name) and at first blush, it looks as if Billy Beane was going for quantity over quality. Every prospect has potential, clearly, and that's two A-level (Gonzalez/Anderson) and four B-level (everyone else). Still, this will be either the Mark Mulder trade (total thievery) or the Tim Hudson trade (total debacle) for the A's, and I am somewhat baffled as to why Beane made this trade for these parts. What with the big-market teams furiously competing to get Santana and viewing Haren as a safety net, Beane the famous extortionist should have been able to play on that and get at least one ML-ready player (Justin Upton, Chris Young, Stephen Drew, etc) from the stacked Snakes system. Not entirely sure what he sees here to entice him to give up the most valuable commodity in the game -- a young, cheap, durable ace -- for a package of possibility.

I am also admittedly not pleased that we didn't make a comparable offer -- our farm system is also comparatively rich in talent -- and get Haren out of the AL West and onto the right NL West team. Haren/Webb, with Doug Davis, Randy Johnson (if he's healthy) and double-edged threat Micah Owing (he pitches and hits; won the Silver Slugger for a pitcher) is not a fun thought to entertain as we scope out the competition in the West next year. What have the Rockies done? Signed Kip Wells (7-17.5.20/total suck in '07) Mark Redman, and missed out on Tad Iguchi (no Barmes as second base starter. Just say no. Just say no.... Why can't we ever get a proven star-quality pitcher instead of a possibly-decent, possibly-catastrophic retread....? It's not going to get any easier in the West next year and it makes no sense to stock up with gasoline cans if every other team is going to bring the matches.

This has already been a long post and my psychotic r key is starting to go insane again, randomly inserting endless and random r's, which I'm getting tired of curtailing. More later....

1 comment:

Billy said...

Most ballplayers today are taking homeopathic growth hormone oral spray because it's safe, undetectable, and legal for over the counter sales. As time goes on it seems it might be considered as benign a performance enhancer as coffee, aspirin, red bull, chewing tobacco, and bubble gum.