Monthly archives: February 2005
I've followed this one a while, mostly because it got a lot of early coverage in Indy due to a Bob Knight connection. Texas Tech is being held in violation of NCAA rules for supplying substances outside a very limited group.
Most of the articles I've seen, including the SI that I linked to, do a very poor job of noting that it is the supplying of these substances, not the substance or use, that is the violation. I could go on a massive anti-NCAA rant, but will resist for now. Suffice it to say that anything that the schools could give to the students would probably be banned by the NCAA if they could, up to and including the scholarships.
Late Nite Notes
For all intents and purposes, "The Juice" is loose. Err, finished. There's a couple loose ends to tie, including an end-run around the roadblock I've mentioned a couple times. Still, I must admit it feels good. I hope everyone likes the finished product as much as I hope they do. I'm proud of it and for a writer, that has to suffice.
Bill Maher had Jose Canseco on his HBO show. It replays, so be sure to catch it. After a smarmy start, Maher asked some great questions and didn't let him slide when he tried to avoid them. What struck me is that Canseco seems to have a very tenuous grasp on the health effects of steroids. When asked if steroids help, there *are* some answers, such as hormone replacement therapy for declining testosterone production, assistance with wasting diseases such as cancer and AIDS, as well as some more aggressive anti-aging treatments.
Remember, this is a guy that called himself "The Chemist," purporting to mix steroids and growth hormones to optimize his body for baseball. I'm guessing that stoichometry is not one of Jose's five tools. Call me an egotist all you want, but here's one basic difference between Jose's book and mine -- Jose says he's an expert; I go and talk to experts, then explain it.
Big happenings in these parts beyond that. More on a very interesting development in the next couple days.
If you weren't aware, let me recommend visiting Baseball Analysts, which is the new site by All-Baseball alums Rich Lederer and Bryan Smith. Of all the baseball blogs on the planet, Rich's has been my favorite, as he mixes old and new media styles, coming up with some great work. I think Bryan does some fantastic work getting to the core of transaction analysis, plus he's a University of Iowa guy, like myself, so he follows in a long line of great writer's from the school like John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O'Connor, etc. (Well, maybe Bryan and I are not in that category.) I wish them the best of luck and know their site will be one I check on a regular basis.
Rich has a great piece where he's interviewed a lot of baseball writers discussing who their favorite player was when they were growing up.
I grew up in Iowa, so there was not one team which I would automatically gravitate to. Kansas City was closest, but the Royals have never been a team I've liked. Minnesota was almost the same distance as KC and was the team broadcasted on the big AM station (WHO), but they never connected with me. In those days, the Triple A team in Des Moines was named the Iowa Oaks and had players like Vida Blue make stopovers on the way to the big leagues, since it was the A's farm club, but they weren't my team either. Now, I would guess that currently, half of the state is Cubs fans, but in those days, despite having WGN games on Sunday afternoon, I didn't know one Cub fan. My team was the Tigers.
My Dad was born in Detroit and my Grandmother still lived there, so every couple of years we would make the Trek up to the Motor City for a game at newly named Tiger Stadium. (It had been called Briggs Stadium) This was just a few years after the great 1968 World Championship season, so my heroes became Willie Horton, Mickey Lolich, and Al Kaline.
For some reason, my favorite player was Norm Cash, though. My guess was that he was second in homeruns (1971) the year I first started collecting baseball cards. (Beltin' Bill Melton led the AL with 33) Looking on the back of Cash's card, I discovered one of the great mystery seasons of all-time. In 1961, Cash batted .361, with 41 dingers and 132 ribbies. This entitled him to a 4th place finish in the AL MVP race.
Taking their OPS in 1961, Maris (993) and Mantle's (1135) were behind Cash (1148). This put his OPS 201 points higher than the league average. Place of deleted sentence
Canseco, Olberman, and Mr. Blackwell
I just watched an interview that Keith Olberman conducted on his great MSNBC show, with Jose Canseco. Jose was solid in his points and has said that he will take a lie-detector on national TV to validate the book. (and of course he wants to get paid for this.)
There was one very disconcerting thing during the interview. Jose was wearing a "shirt" that appeared to be made of a see-through silk scarf material. It looked like something out of an International Male catalogue or a woman's store (Lane Bryant would be the only one that would have his size.) Underneath this "shirt" Jose was sporting a tank top. Dude, if you want to gain more validity, lose the blouse. This "shirt" made the Seinfeld puffy shirt seem like a Brooks Brothers button down.
On the subject of steroid books, Let me recommend to Will not to wear any see-through shirts or pants. Well, unless you're on Hannity and Colmes, because that show could use a little sex appeal.
Making The Call
I get in trouble every time I make a run at this subject, but I'm a bit fired up about this one. I was on the phone today with a reporter/columnist for a major newspaper. The name isn't important, but he was talking to me in relation to "The Juice" when he says:
"You know, why don't more guys like you - the smart ones on the internet use the f---ing phone? I've never, ever seen a blogger say he called the team for comment."
It's a good point. Blogs -- and even online "magazines" like BP -- don't do a lot of this because most of the writers are 'instant columnists.' Few have a reporting background or worked their way up to columnist status. This is neither right nor wrong, just part of the new paradigm that we're seeing shift towards the middle. Yes, we're seeing newspapers co-opt the format or even hire online writers like Derek Zumsteg, John Bonnes, and Steve Silva. They're also using beat reporters as bloggers. The Cincy papers have an interesting one, combining the access of a beat writer with the immediacy of blogging.
So the question I have is, why is this? I don't have any specialized training as a journalist - like I need to point this out. I get on-the-job training and luckily, I have good editors and role models. But this isn't about me. Why can't someone do some actual reporting or at least fact-checking? I'll use Aaron Gleeman as an example here, not to single him out, but because he's widely read.
Aaron regularly writes commentary about his favorite team the Twins and in his last post, wrote this:
And finally ... Twins GM Terry Ryan will be doing an online chat at TwinsBaseball.com this afternoon, starting at 1:30 Central time. I'll be heading to class around then, but brave souls with nothing better to do should ask him something challenging and hope he answers it.
Now, here's my question - why NOT ask these questions? I'm guessing that, face to face, Aaron might be slightly more tactful. (If not, I'd like to watch from a safe distance.) Terry Ryan's pretty accessible. Aaron Gleeman is pretty well known. If Jonah Keri and I can walk up to Terry Ryan at the Winter Meetings and start a conversation, I'd think Aaron could pick up a phone.
I'm not picking on Aaron here, just using an example -- and I saw Aaron online, so he should learn to get to bed at a reasonable hour. When's the last time you saw an article take a team to task or praise them, then give a quote from the team? I looked and couldn't find any. Even a 'no comment' from a PR intern would be an improvement.
(I should note that Gleeman vehemently disagrees with me on this issue. He says what I write here is different than saying 'you might get some useful stuff if you ask questions. I'll leave it for you to decide.)
There's plenty of net-based writers that could take a lesson from Rich Lederer, one of the few guys around these parts that does pick up the phone, that does work the rooms, and that does a lot of the little things that we all need to get better at. I'm NOT saying that asking questions and turning into the mainstream media is the right way -- I'm just saying that it's a bullet in the gun most haven't fired.
There's some smart guys out there writing about baseball and I think those smart guys can ask smart questions. If we're ever going to be taken seriously, we have to get serious.
Alright, What's Next (Scott's Take)
Usually Will and I agree on the subjects we post on, but on his posting below, I guess I'm closer to Lars Ulrich than Will. With legal downloading sites (Napster, ITunes, etc.) I feel like I have options and that I should have to pay something to the music conglomerates/artists. Let me also recommend a new music club by BMG where you can buy any single disc CD on their site for 5.99 and this includes shipping and handling. http://www.yourmusic.com/enroll/
Now having said this, I have recorded music that I've checked out at my public library, so I guess that is similar, but at least someone paid for it initially and my tax dollars go to the library. (excuses, huh) Also, I have bought used CD's plenty of times, so that is circumventing the system again. So ultimately, I know there's some hypocrisy on my part, so I'm not trying to come off like I'm above illegal downloaders.
One place I am on the side of illegal downloading is in regards to artists who don't put their music on legal downloading sites. I realize these artists want people to spend 14 bucks or more for their albums, but we all know it's highway robbery and it's this attitude that is one of the core factors in consumers being aggressive about illegal downloading.
I know I'm all over the place in this post, so let me just have a wrap-up.
Alright, What's Next?
* With a week to deadline on "The Juice" everything is still falling into place. There's only one major roadblock left, so things look (knock on wood) good.
* Ozzie Smith's son is one of the finalists on "American Idol." He's a dead ringer for his dad and even wore Cardinal red. So, I can talk about Idol and baseball ... or should I leave the Idol chatter to Scott?
* An amazing piece from Ira Berkow. I met Ira a couple years ago, seated next to him at Game Six of the '03 NLCS. Great guy, great writer.
* I know we have a really varied audience here, so I'll ask a home question: with all the low down payment, zero down, ARM mortgages and seemling endless housing developments, where are these people coming from? Are they good risks and would you want to live next to them? I keep seeing apocalyptic real estate bubbles in my head ...
* The writers of '24' are officially insane. I read recently that they're only two weeks ahead of shooting and honestly only have a rough outline of where the show is going. I see them overusing some devices ("our new lead is mysteriously killed again!" or the trouble magnet daughter) but they also throw in some insane twists that I'm not even sure they see coming. Who's this cat that came in whacking Aisha Tyler?
* One more Idol note -- is Ryan Seachrest the most annoying person on TV? How did he get where he is? And has Brian Dunkleman killed himself yet? Ok, that's three.
* Hunter S. Thompson, rest in ... is peace appropriate for HST?
* I'm going to do a Laminated List post sometime in March.
* America's done a good job of rejecting gays in America, while simultaneously celebrating them in popular culture. It's fine to be flamboyantly gay if you're funny, in fashion, or singing. I'm not sure why it's not the equivalent of blackface.
* I still don't get Paris Hilton. Her fifteen minutes are long since up, I don't find her attractive or even useful, yet it seems that Warholian clock of hers has a snooze button, giving her five or six more runs at us.
* Jamey Newberg, I will never doubt you again. Jellyfish's "Spilt Milk" may be one of the ten best albums of all time. If only I'd listened two years ago when you first suggested it. Someone get these guys on "Bands Reunited" now!
* What TV star would you most want to have a beer with? Mine's Steve Watson from "Monster House," but if you come to the Vegas Feed, you may get a chance to have a beer with my second choice. (Oooh mystery ...)
Back to writing for me ...
Gary Bettman for President
I''m not a big fan of hockey and I think NHL honcho Gary Bettman all or nothing behavior threatens the sport's future, but maybe his fiscal tightness would make for a good President. Our current one, as I've mentioned before, spends money like a 16 year-old girl with her first credit card. Just check out this commentary from the Washington Times.
"Now for that reality check. Mr. Bush proposes the federal government spend $2.57 trillion, or $2,570 billion, in the next fiscal year. That's 38 percent more than the federal government spent in the last year of President Bill Clinton's term. Spending on programs for the poor is up even more, about 45 percent. Annual spending has risen $700 billion since Mr. Bush took office."
Now I know some of you will respond with "that's just the case of another liberal media bias." Yes, the Washington Times is well known for it's left-wing leanings. Bush has had too much power for too long and it's time for more Republicans to start calling him out on his outlandish spending.
No, I didn't make a mistake on the THR's -- at least not that I've caught and believe me, when I make one and my editors don't catch it, my readers sure do.
Anyway, last year I made myself available to bloggers for interviews regarding the THR's. If you have a viable blog about a specific team and would like to ask questions, I will do so. You know how to email me with a request but ...
... I am going to ask everyone to hold off until March 1. I'm on deadline for "The Juice" and while I'd love to have time for everything, I have to prioritize. Please be patient and I promise I'll give you some time.
Very good stuff, some of the more original I've seen, combining two of the more recent things I've been thinking about.
Know what else? I think Mike is ... well, you form your own opinions.
Ok, let's see if I can keep this all straight.
I found out that a lot more people think they know who the THG creator is than I expected. You should expect THAT story to get more traction prior to "The Juice" coming out.
This article by Steve Kettman shows a lot of interesting tips and a good grasp of the basics of this whole thing. It gets a LOT more interesting when you realize that Kettman is Jose Canseco's ghostwriter on "Juiced."
Yes, this was news to a lot of us, including, I suspect, Rob Neyer.
I know for a fact that one of the items in Kettman's piece linked above is absolutely false. I suspect he put the falsehood in intentionally, trying to trip someone up a bit.
Two people mentioned - Mark Fainaru-Wada and Howard Bryant, both of whom have done amazing jobs reporting this story - are my guests on BPR this weekend. (If you want to be on BPR, we're taking calls 9-10 EST on Saturday morning.)
The last graf is the most pointed and poignant:
Still, there's reason to be skeptical whether the Chron's drive on this story will be emulated in the future, even by the paper itself. Ask yourself a question: What about McGwire? Who is asking him the hard questions about the year he broke Roger Maris's home run record? He was Giambi's best friend, and I've spoken with a number of reliable inside sources who've talked in explicit detail about his steroid use. But have any editors sent a reporter to show up at his door in Southern California, the way reporters often show up at front doors to badger coaches who've just been fired? Apparently not. What are they afraid of? Probably the truth.
It's a damned good question and I'll be honest - it's really weird to be in the middle of this.
IMPORTANT: PLEASE READ
For the last few days, many have noticed that the ads in the box just above the banner have often been advertising "legal steroids" and the like. These Google AdWords ads help defray the cost of running the site and are standard for All-Baseball sites.
I DO NOT ENDORSE THE USE OR SALE OF ANY STEROID, STEROID-LIKE PRODUCT, OR THE USE OR SALE OF ANY PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS.
I apologize for these ads running on my site in the past and am endeavoring to fix this problem in the future.
Mark Cuban gets it.
I don't think it's just political bloggers either. When are sports NTM's (non-traditional media) going to get some respect, some access, and the credentials that every paper from the NY Times to the Northwest Indiana Herald gets, regardless of *their* real credibility.
Believe me, the Cubs should realize they'd do better having the Cub Reporter than George Castle in the Dusty-gaggles.
Outtakes from Canseco's "Juiced" (SATIRE)
With so many juicy tales told in Jose Canseco's new book, little has been made about what didn't get past the lawyers. Here are some exclusive outtakes from "Juiced" that were not cleared.
Jose tells about his birthplace of Havana and then outlines how he was heavily involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis. I<92>m sure some skeptics will challenge him on this, since the Cuban Missile Crisis happened in 1962 and Jose wasn<92>t born until 1964.
He outlines a conversation that took place in the A's lockerroom with a teammate.
Jose states that not only did Tony LaRussa know that he was using, but LaRussa had only one rule on the subject. DO WHATEVER YOU WANT TO YOURSELF, BUT NO TESTING ON ANIMALS.
He tells the tale of his date with Madonna. She told him that she really had an intellectual connection with him and felt feelings of love for him. Because of this he would be the only guy in the past 6 years that she would not have sex with. Jose responds by shrugging his shoulders and saying no big deal, then has a threesome with Rosie O'Donnell and Sandra Bernhard, who were staying with Madonna at the time.
Admits that he started so many players on the path towards steroids that he's the first human being classified by the DEA as a gateway drug.
We learn that Texas Rangers General Managing Partner, George W. Bush, was aware of players steroid use. Jose tells how his "juice" dealer at the time was a man named Karl Rove, who Canseco later introduced to Bush. (When contacted, now President Bush says he has no recollection of this event and also added that he has no recollection of saying there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.)
Jose discusses how in 1994, Rafael Palmiero asked Jose if there was any drug out there that would help with erectile dysfunction. Over the next 3 months, Jose works in his state of the art laboratory he had built in his mansion and comes up with the product, which would later be known as Viagra. He shares his info with Palmiero, who betrays Jose by giving the information to Pfizer.
His explanation of how the whole flyball hitting him on the head and bouncing over the fence for a homerun was that it was done on purpose. "I had been testing a new steroid that I would shoot into the soft tissue of my cranium and wanted to see if it was working. COMPLETE SUCCESS!"
Jose tells what hat he would wear to his Hall of Fame induction. Not an A's, Rangers or Devil Rays hat, but how he has set up a sponsorship deal to wear a MexicanPharmacy.com hat, if elected to Cooperstown.
He tells how he never spent one day of his sentence confined in his home, instead tricking authorities by having his twin brother Ozzie get fitted for the ankle brace.
Believes he was blacklisted from baseball because he was a communist sympathizer and felt Donald Fehr should follow the union tactics of Eugene Debs.
Questions for Jose
I have a couple more questions after finishing "Juiced" and seeing his "60 Minutes" interview -
1. Why no mention of your brother, Ozzie? Did you not help him the same way you allegedly helped others?
1a. Ozzie was good enough to make the majors, if not stay there, and to play in credible leagues until recently. Would you have been Ozzie without steroids?
2. How did you get access to hGH in 1985, just as it became available to the public as Humatrope? At an estimated cost of $30,000 for a therapeutic dose (presumably much smaller than used for performance enhancement), why would he share it?
3. A's, Rays, Rangers - what about your time with the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and White Sox? Why no steroid lessons there?
4. After 1991, you only played 150 games or more once. Was THIS also an effect of your steroid use?
5. Why inject in the stadium? What's the value?
5a. Why inject "before games or batting practice?" There's NO medical reason to do so.
6. If you used steroids regularly and with as much knowledge as you allege, what happened between 1992 and 1997?
6a. What changed in 1998?
6b. Why didn't you keep doing that?
7. How much was the advance on your book? Why sell your World Series ring on Ebay just months before what you had to presume was going to be a big payday?
I'm sure you have more. Feel free to share in comments.
Here's another thing ... when Mike Wallace shows up at your door, bad things are about to happen. Has anyone ever sat across from that man and come out looking good?
On YES, I say No.
I've been working on a piece that I originally intended for the blog for a couple days. It got past the "bloggy" stage and into one that needed a bigger stage. Here it is at the always great YES Network. (Great, unless you're a Yankees hater, that is, but they do great coverage of what they cover.)
Anyway, I'd love your opinions. For now, I'm back to work on "The Juice."
Sunday Night Viewing
Watching the 60 Minutes Interview of Jose Canseco, there was one part in which I completely believed him. It was when he refuted the Mike Wallace's idea that roid rage was behind much of his despicable behavior, as Jose said there are plenty of people who act like jerks, without using steroids. My guess is Canseco would be an asshole if all he was popping was a daily vitamin.
I Love Ray Charles, but it was your typical posthumous celebration of someone, who should have won more Grammy's during his greatest period in the late 50's and early 60's, not for the duets thing his last release was. I'm not a John Mayer hater, but his second album is not good and "Daughter" should not be song of the year. Overall, though it was a pretty fair year for the Grammy awards, since Kanye West, U-2, Loretta Lynn, Alicia Keys, and Green Day were deserving winners.
Great NY Times article about the increase of injuries in men's and women's tennis. Oddly, there's no mention of steroids, but there is an interesting discussion of core training.
There's much to be learned from other sports injury problems. Much like cross-training, we need cross-learning. The tennis serve and baseball pitch have a similar biomechanical structure. I'll bet Andy Roddick could throw the hell out of a baseball.
It's rare when something from the artistic world can be intelligent, dark, funny, and touching all at the same time. The rare occasions this happens it's usually a great book or movie that accomplishes it. Well, for the last couple of weeks, I've been listening a lot to a CD which has all these characteristics. William Shatner's Has Been release.
First, let me say, NO, I'M NOT JOKING. A musical collaboration with Ben Folds, Shatner speaks over some great music with a Ken Nordine cool jazz detachment. From the opening selection, a great remake of Pulp's "Common People" featuring Joe Jackson singing the chorus to the closer "Real" written by country musician Brad Paisley, "Has Been" is unlike anything I've heard.
Some of you might have heard Shatner's golden throat "classic" remakes of songs like "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", well let me say, "Has Been" is not a joke. Oh and in case you think I'm some kind of Trekkie who would love anything Captain Kirk does, I should mention I've never liked any version of Star Trek. (If I do recall, I did kind of like Wrath of Khan, but my favorite thing in it was the strangely hypnotic performance of Ricardo Montalban.) Oh and I've never seen one episode of TJ Hooker, despite the acting chops that I'm sure were displayed by one Adrian Zmed.
Would you pay a dollar (or some small amount) to ask a fantasy question or have me (or some other expert) help with your draft?
I'm just curious - I just got wind that there's someone who's name you'd know considering this and, well, if there's money in it ...
Remembering The Roots
Ever have one of those days?
I had one today. I won't bore you with the details but it started early and went late. I'm busting ass on my book, I'm burning out the Team Health Reports, and there's more B.S. in my life right now than at a West Texas feed lot. In fact, I haven't had much fun writing about baseball since the Winter Meetings.
It's probably just one of those phases, partially from really not enjoying the topic I've spent a good 3/4 of my time. Add in the rest of the drama and it's really worn me down.
So about nine o'clock tonight, I'm trying to salvage the steak I cooked and readying to watch "The Apprentice" when my boy Alex Belth gives me a ring. Alex is one of those guys that just has this infectious voice and enthusiasm, instantly pulling you into the conversation. We talked about our respective book projects, life, music and by the end of the conversation, I had this image in my head -
It's New Orleans, late 2003. The Winter Meetings are going and Joe Sheehan and I are walking back from Riverwalk, where we had eaten lunch and heard about the J.D. Drew deal. The overcast sky, slight drizzle, and low moan of the barges on the Mississippi made it uniquely New Orleans, even without the omnipresent smell of molasses in the distance. Joe and I are walking back to the hotel and we see a guy, dressed in a yellow slicker and old-school, earcup headphones be-boping in front of the hotel. It's Alex.
I turn to Joe, having met Alex just the day before after corresponding for nearly a year. "Dude marches to the beat of his own drummer," I said, smiling.
Joe looks back. He knows what I mean perhaps better than I do, the kismet of these two New Yorkers almost palpable. "Dude's got his own band." Leave it to Joe to turn the right phrase. Leave it to Alex to hear that music.
Alex called at just the right time for me tonight, the mark of a true friend. He let me hear a little snippet of that band he has going. Dance on, Alex. Dance on and don't mind me if my feet start moving.
Alex - and a lot of friends, including many of you - remind me why I do this. God, I love this game and I love the people and talking with them about everything. Baseball gives us a common language and a means to start a conversation that just might never end, going all night and into the stars.
Keep reminding me, friends. You never know when I'll need it.
My Fantasies Involve Women
My pal Matthew Leach has sent up a WhatIf league that has some open slots. It's not free, but hey, getting a chance to beat me and some other baseball types shouldn't be free. Here's ML's pitch:
"It's not quite fantasy, it's not quite Diamond Mind or
I've also accepted an invite to take another shot at Sportsline's Expert League. In my case, the term "expert" is used loosely, but I did come in third last year. I'll be looking for help. (BP's also taking part in LABR and, I think, Tout Wars.)
Taking a break from ESPN bashing
I know taking shots at ESPN is a favorite pastime for many around here, but let me once reiterate how great the Hot List with Brian Kenny is. Taking place on ESPNews between 3:00-6:00 EST. this show is like the best sports radio show, but on TV. If you are unaware, Kenny is the most SABR-oriented guy working at ESPN, outside of Rob Neyer, who is a regular guest with Kenny.
Just yesterday, Kenny had Joe Sheehan in the first hour. Joe reiterated what he wrote in BP, saying about the Magglio Ordonez deal that the only good thing about the contact is the clause that gets the Tigers off the hook, after the first year if he spends 25 games on the DL. The best line of 2005 followed with Joe saying "The problem is, that's the best-case scenario for the Tigers, so much so that it might be worth their while to dial up Tonya Harding and get Shane Stant's phone number." I will say I disagree with Sheehan's opinion that Omar Minaya had the best off-season of all GM's, as yes, the Pedro and Beltran signings were good, but there were few teams who could afford these guys and I didn't like anyone else he signed in the off-season.
After talkng to the Ben Folds of college basketball writers, Greg Doyel from CBS Sportsline.com, he then had Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian. Excellent discussion on the off-season, though Timmy comments about how great the Giants did signing Matheny and Vizquel in the off-season seemed loony.
After most of the hour with these guys, Kenney had a second baseball roundtable in the last hour, with Jayson Stark and Steve Phillips. I think Phillips is really good on TV and he actually was honest enough to admit that he wouldn't have told players to use or not to use steroids, since he realized there was other players on other teams using. Starks felt the best signing was Steve Finley and JD Drew was the worst. WHAT? Phillips didn't like the Lowe signing. When asked about the Ordonez deal, Phillips thought it was good deal. (Did I say I liked Phillips?)
If you get the chance, catch the best 3 hours on ESPN, with the very informative Kenny, who's never afraid to come with strong opinions.
Couple quick notes:
* Yes, there was a satiric post that Scott had up late last night about the Canseco book. Since the book and its contents are under embargo, it was too close to a violation for comfort. Scott will repost it soon.
* It looks like Deep Throat - no, not that one - is ill and could finally be known to the public. In honor of the confidential source that changed the world, I'll reiterate my pledge to name one of my two sources on the Rose story when they pass away. I will say that the source said something in the time following the release of Rose's book last year that made me reconsider my promise of anonymity.
* "The Juice" is coming along nicely. I may die before it's done and I'll never do another book on this type of schedule again, but it's going to be done on deadline, if not before.
* Comments on the new THR format?
* Tips for a March vacation? Seems like Florida is jacking the prices up during Spring Training/Spring break time.
* New tunes to check out - The Kleptones, masters of the mashup. It's on heavy rotation in the iPod.
Aaargh, Part VII
Must. Resist. Killing. Olney.
The "Whoa" Moment
Score one for XM. I'm driving yesterday listening to my latest favorite channel - they seem to come in phases, currently "The Loft" (XM 50) - when a song comes on that just ... flat ... blew me away.
"At My Most Beautiful," by R.E.M. Echoes of the Beach Boys, great lyrics from Stipe actually singing rather than mumbling, and just an amazing piano line. For a band I loved (Murmur through Document) and then followed since, how did I miss this song?
And why can't we have more "whoa moments," songs coming on the radio and making us nearly pull over so we can listen closely? I think we could all use those. XM does that to me more than radio has in the last decade. If the upcoming MLB package hasn't pushed you to try it, maybe a whoa moment will.
Heading It Off At The Pass
The emails have been coming fast and furious since this morning, so I want to make my "official" comment on the Canseco NY Daily News article now.
I won't have any comment on this at this time, nor will I answer questions. I don't have any specific knowledge that pertains to the information in the article nor have I read the book itself. The book remains a mystery, supposedly still in "the editing stage" with less that two weeks before it's scheduled release.
I'm working on my own book - with a similar title (anyone think that's a problem?) - but I will not be addressing Canseco's allegations directly. Where Canseco seems to intend his book as a memoir and "tell-all," I hope mine offers an even-handed and scientific look at the issue.
My Super Bowl Experience
Last year I was contacted by one of the NFL Teams and asked if I would perform standup for their corporate clients during the week of the Super Bowl. The following is my story.
Flying down to the game with the clients, I struck up a conversation with one of them who mentioned that the past 3 years the comedians had been Sinbad, Bob Newhart, and Jay Leno. I laughed and said hey thatís a good one, until I realized it was no joke. Iím guessing that the team must have been over the salary cap for the year and the entertainment budget was the first casualty.
Arriving in Houston, the first thing you notice is that the city's architecture would best be described as modern strip malled. I was told the reason for this is there are no zoning laws, which definitely seems the case, as you see strip clubs resting next to family restaurants. On the subject of strip clubs, Houston is famous for them, but when I heard that there were $100 dollar cover charges the week of the Super Bowl, I realized no adult entertainment for me. I would have been like a $5 dollar player sitting at a $100 dollar table. Houston knows gouging like Enron setting California energy rates. Coincidence? Speaking of Houston and gouging..
I do a number of corporate events each year, so that's no big deal, except that when I came to the hotel ballroom for the show, I discovered that one of front office types from the team had decided to bring his children to the comedy show. Now, I always keep my corporate shows at a network TV language level, but when you have kids under 10 in the audience, anything with a slight bit of innuendo or edge makes many adults uncomfortable. Well, I still hit the stage confident, after being introduced as a comedian who has performed in 32 states and even though he doesn't like to mention it, a writer for the NFL on Fox Pregame Show, let's hear it for Scott Long.
I spent my day on the road today, finally having my sit-down with the creator of THG. It took almost two months of wrangling and negotiating to get this to happen, almost falling through several times. Since it's a centerpiece of "The Juice," it was stressful.
Now done, I'll be putting fingers to keyboard and putting one of the more chilling stories in print. I can't share much in the way of details, but here's a couple interesting points:
1. THG doesn't require much in the way of chemistry. It doesn't seem any harder than the millions of garage meth labs plaguing the country.
2. THG has been around longer than I expected.
3. THG is "three generations back." Designer steroids have a very small "window of opportunity."
4. "The biggest risk is toxicity. For every ten we try, five are toxic and four don't work." How do you find out they're toxic, I asked? He shook his head, the signal that I'd asked something he wouldn't answer. "Sometimes cats."
5. What brought down Victor Conte? Though he'd never met Conte, he had a quick answer: "Ego. Brag once in this business and it's over."
And So It Is
New Lid Day
Every spring, I have a ritual of buying a new lid. For a guy who's follicularly challenged, lids are a necessity, not because I'm embarassed or feel inadequate, but because I like lids. It's an accepted part of the American uniform and immediately introduces you to people.
Wearing a Cubs lid is a great way to meet people. There's Cubs fans everywhere. Yankees lids will get a reaction, not always positive, even overseas. It's fun to wear more obscure ones and watching people try to figure out what it is. My Devil Rays lid gets some great reactions.
This year's lids are both BP caps (yeah, I bought two - MLB.com was having a buy one, get one half price sale.) Not BP like Prospectus, but the mesh, slightly stretchy ones. They fit very well - no jokes about having a big head, please - and don't get hot. If they have downside, it's their lack of shape.
To me, I like the classic looks of most caps. The simple NY on the Mets and Yankees caps, the "C" for the Cubs, or the interlocked letters of the Dodgers or Giants. It surprises me just how much I dislike the Nationals lid. It might be the red - I don't like red usually - and the design is just bland. I don't mind the jerseys so much.
Best lid? Yankees. Worst? Indians. I'll have to do a post on minor league lids soon.
The Super Bowl Pregame Show
TIME UPDATE: I'm being told the sketch should air after the Paul McCartney interview, a little more than an hour before the game. Not positive on this, but it's what I've been told.
Normally not one to mention my role in writing the comedy sketches for the NFL on Fox, but our Super Bowl sketch I'm pretty proud of. What will air is an idea that Frank Caliendo and I came up with in August and I believe it's pretty funny. Of course, the audience gets to make the final decision and since it's the Super Bowl that's quite a large sample size. Now back to our regular programming.
Good luck with the new drug policy.
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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Personally On the Juice
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