Monthly archives: June 2006
Best Place to Download Music
I can't ever recall pimping a commercial site before, but I discovered a music site called emusic.com that you should definitely check-out. Unlike I-Tunes and Napster, emusic.com has a very reasonable price model. For $9.99 a month, you will get 40 downloads. Emusic is not for people who are looking to download the latest Taylor Hicks "opus" (or maybe Pinto is a better term considering the mortifying ad soulpatrol does for Ford), but if you have more ecletic tastes, it's the best legal place to fill your MP3 player on the web.
Considering I've never made a penny off of this blog, I thought I would make up my own version of a gift list. Go to emusic.com and see if it's something you would be interested in joining. If you decide to join, send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org, as the site has a friends referral program. I will in turn send your address to emusic.com. This program would enable you to get 25 free downloads and Scott (me) to double that with 50, if you join after they send you the invitation. I would greatly appreciate it.
A few artists you should check out, if you do decide to join emusic.com.
The best song of 2006? Let me submit, "Stop, I'm Already Dead", by Deadboy and the Elephantmen. From the minimalist school of the White Stripes, lead singer Dax Briggs has an incredible voice, ranging from Peter Murphy to a bluesy arena rocker. I first saw this band on IFC's excellent Henry Rollins talk show. This the album that David Bowie has been trying to make for the past 20 years.
While Deadboy fills the absence of a new White Stripes release in 2006, it should be mentioned that Jack White is as busy as ever, with his new band, "The Raconteurs." Titled "Broken Boy Soldiers", this new release is the best psychedelic album I've heard since the seventies. While White has never sounded more Robert Plant-like in his vocals, the music displays more of an influence from bands like Love and early Pink Floyd. Call me crazy, but moments on it sound like Uriah Heep if they had written a full album of tunes as good as "Easy Livin'."
Both of these albums are on emusic.com, as is the new Futureheads and Eagles of Death Metal. Were you late to the party on groups like Pavement and the Pixies? You can find them at the site as well. Even if you are not a fan of this genre, emusic has a nice collection of 80's classic rock bands like Triumph, Shooting Star, and Ted Nugent. Let me also point out a lot of great comics appear at the site like George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Dave Atell, Todd Barry, Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, etc. (Honestly, I'm not getting a penny to promote the site, I just think it's a great place to download, without feeling the guilt and shame of illegally doing it.)
In other music news, let me give a thumbs up review to the new Dixie Chicks record. While a lot of attention has been given to how the Chicks are not selling well in certain markets, I have a ton of respect for them as artists. It's a lot easier to call out the President for his failings if you are in the rock genre like Green Day or Neil Young, but when the Dixie Chicks made their critical comments, Bush was high on the approval charts and it was considered blasphemy in the country music world to question him.
I'm happy to say that their new release, produced by Rick Rubin, is an artistic step up the ladder. While it might lack the depth of their second album, it leads off with 3 great tunes and has 3 or 4 more quality songs filling out the disc. I wouldn't say it's as good as "Rumors", but it might be the best Fleetwood Mac-type record done in the past 20 years. Some of my favorite artists are country acts like Lyle Lovett and K.D. Lang, who stopped trying to play the Nashville marketing game.
Exclusive Interview with Abner Doubleday
With Abner Doubleday's birthday arriving and departing with little fanfare yesterday, I decided to contact the "creator" of America's pastime to find out what his views are on how the game has evolved. Of course, since Doubleday has been dead for 113 years, I figured conducting the interview would be a challenge.
Knowing this, I contacted noted psychic medium John Edward to see if he could help me in my quest. He was too busy making money propagating his Three Card Monte game of the mind to help.
Next, I contacted former vice presidential candidate John Edwards, as his name is very similar. Edwards was not as busy, but didn't know how he could help me reach anyone in the spirit world. He was glad to share with me about how there are two Americas, though.
I won't kid you, I was feeling like the Doubleday interview wasn't going to happen, but then I remembered I had a Magic 8-Ball in the attic. Rubbing it and doing a little séance, I was quickly joined by Abner himself. The following is the interview I conducted:
Scott: Thanks for joining me. I figured since you are credited by many as being the founder of the great game of baseball, I should get your opinions on some hot topics about it.
Doubleday: Well, I don't know about being the founder of the game, as that was mainly a story Al Spalding created to sell some sports equipment. I mean, I know the game better than anyone who's been a Pittsburgh Pirate GM over the past 10 years, but I'm no Dave Dombrowski.
Scott: What are your thoughts on the current performance enhancing drug scandals that plague the game?
Doubleday: Players have always looked for an edge. Cap Anson used to drink Coca Colas by the case and that was a time when the Coca part was the real "Real Thing." Do you think Wee Willie Keeler would have passed up a chance using a drug called Human Growth Hormone?
Scott: Do you have any thoughts on Barry Bonds?
Doubleday: Drugs or not, the guy is amazing! Bad dude, though. I was watching a game on my 1,000 inch HD with some friends the other night and even Mr.Rogers was heckling Barry. If you didn't know, Fred Rogers is a native of Pittsburgh. The backstory is that when Barry was playing for the Pirates, he went off on his mailman, who just happened to be Mr. McFeely. Fred says that Barry is the only person he wishes hadn't of followed his advice of "just be yourself."
Scott: What did you think about Ozzie Guillen's reference to Jay Mariotti as a "fag"?
Doubleday: Well, since my family was of English descent, I didn't understand the whole hullabaloo over it, as what's the problem with calling someone a delicious pork meatball? I've read Mariotti a few times and I would have been much harsher, as Mariotti is a real donkey sphincter.
Scott: How do you read Mariotti?
Doubleday: I don't want to get into the whole afterlife thing too much, but let me just say where I'm at has a great high speed connection.
Scott: What do you like about the game that didn't exist when you were on earth?
Doubleday: Well, I'm a big proponent of Moneyball, as OBP is the most important stat in my game. I also like the San Diego Chicken a lot.
Scott: What bothers you about the game?
Doubleday: Outside of the DH, I have to say some of these throw-back games are a little overboard. Take last Saturday night, Atlanta and Tampa Bay played a game in '70s unis. I could barely deal with the circa 1975 Biff Pocoroba/Buzz Capra Braves jerseys, but since the D-Rays didn't even exist, they wore some Single A outfits from the Tampa Tarpons team.
Now I don't know about you, but when I see TARPONS across a player's chest, it looks from a distance like TAMPONS. Mix that with it being spelled in blood red and ol' Abner gets a little queasy.
Scott: Yeah, I can see what you mean.
Doubleday: I did like one thing about the game. The Tampa front-office had Photoshopped '70s hair-dos on each player's jumbotron picture. Andrew Jones looked like the son of Oscar Gamble. Thank the lord they didn't go too far and Photoshop a face on the picture of Joe Pepitone (Not Safe for Work, Homophobes, or weak stomachs). Cub fans can talk all about the curse of the billy goat, but this picture can't help their karma.
Scott: Thanks for joining our readers hear at The Juice Blog, Mr. Doubleday.
Doubleday: My pleasure. Maybe next time I can do a live chat. Seacrest, out!
Good to see that AOL is sending traffic our way via Sports Bloggers Live. I enjoy going on that show and yapping with the crew there. So, what should you expect here? Anything and everything. We'll talk some baseball, but you're just as likely to hear pop culture, comedy, or a deep-meta discussion of blogging. If that's your thing, welcome. If not, there's plenty else to see at the Toaster -- see the sidebar for all the blogs have to offer.
Most of my baseball writing is available at Baseball Prospectus. Be sure to check it out there.
Defending Ozzie Guillen (sorta)
So Ozzie Guillen opens his mouth and something offensive comes out of. Suprising? No. People like Ozzie Guillen are rare in the sports world, as it's easier to just throw-out cliched answers. Reporters dream of an intereviewee like Guillen, but the media also are the willing to eat their young, if it gives them a story.
Using the word fag in describing someone in a negative fashion is pretty common, especially on the East Coast. Just like retard, the word fag has been coopted to have a wider meaning than the original slur it embodied. This doesn't mean it's not hurtful and offensive to other many people's ears, but there should be some context explored before complete condemnation is served.
As a standup comic, I'm in the frontlines of fighting extreme political correctness. Many comics use words like fag or retard for great effect and I support their right to do it. Having said that, I don't use words like these, as they don't feel right coming out of my mouth. I don't like comedy that makes targets of people with mental and physical handicaps, as I feel these people didn't have a choice in the matter. My favorite thing to do in my standup act is to expose the rich and famous as frauds, as I feel these are the kinds of people who need to be knocked down a notch.
It's not like I don't offend some audience members in my show, though, as I purposely use shock tactics to elicit a response. One part of my set I discuss how homophobia is ridiculous. In this part of the act, the main target are people who are close-minded about other's lifestyle choices. At the same time, I have a couple of lines which poke fun at gays. I do this also in regards to race and gender, as I feel that if you are an adult, you should be able to take some ribbing.
Ozzie has used as his defense that being from Venezeula, he has a different thought process on using the word. While I do think there is some truth to this point, I think a better defense for him would be that he has spent most of his adult life (since the age of 16) living in baseball clubhouses. In this super-macho, extremely jocular atmosphere, a word like fag is at home as the snap of a towel. This doesn't make it right, but I doubt many in the game were offended at all by his use of the word.
I don"t believe Ozzie Guillen is homophobic. He has mentioned that he has friends in the gay community and while he wasn't the most articulate in expressing his support for them, I do believe it was sincere. Ozzie has played with gay teammates during his time in baseball and I'm guessing that these players would support him as being a good guy. Of course, the world of team sports seems to still be years away from a player coming out of the closet. From my point of view, this is a more important issue than if a manager calls a pompous sportswriter an offensive name.
Let me repeat, Ozzie Guillen shouldn't use the word fag. He's in an influential position, as manager of the defending world champs, so his words do have some power. Let's keep in mind, though, that a person's actions should be considered before they are thrown to the wolves. I mean, if Ozzie Guillen was a complete homophobe, do you think he would shave his mustache the way he does? (Come on people, lighten up.)
I'm sure there's a lot of people that like this title. You'll like it more when you read on. It's not just me that could be fired, it's all the sportswriters. Whether it's your local fishwrap guy, ESPN's finest, or the bloggers that litter the sports landscape, we're all at risk.
The proper word is disintermediation, a word popularized in the tech world by Clayton Christenson. Christenson is perhaps the guru for the new economy, though his own theories would suggest that he's been passed by. Christenson's work on disruptive technologies led to, or at least explained, how blogs could steal readers from newspapers. More importantly, blogs and other online technologies shifted money from newspapers and newspaper conglomerates in ways they never saw coming. While watching to see how news would move across the web, Monster and eBay took the revenue streams. While they reacted to protect their streams, Gawker and Digg dropped a new paradigm on the news.
Any disintermediation is in itself a middle step. Every ad you've seen that says "we cut out the middleman" is a lie. Most transactions don't take place between buyer and seller; most disintermediations merely change the identity of the middleman and in most cases, change the efficiency of transactions. EBay doesn't introduce you to the guy in Paducah selling collectible Starbucks mugs, it just gives you the introduction, the opportunity, and takes a small cut.
So how does this have anything to do with sportswriting? Easy. We're an intermediary and by definition, at risk of some disruptive technology. At heart, sportswriters are delivery vehicles. Beat writers give scores, quotes, and notes. Columnists give opinion and insight. Bloggers do some combination of those. The medium may be different and the passion and feedback certainly different, but the risk is the same.
Just as bloggers threaten the position of established media writers, the athletes and teams themselves hold the key to knocking both of these out of the picture. Do I want to read a quote in the local paper from Joe Athlete or head to JoeAthlete.com and get his take on the game. Sure, there's a risk of the ham-handed handling we've seen in situations like BarryBonds.com (no information) or with the KC Royals recent damage control blog (pure spin). Done right, it's much more interesting to read Mark Cuban's blog or check the MySpace page of Kyle Orton than it is to hope you get the meaningful quotes in context from news or TV.
It's going to take a smart athlete - or coach, owner, doctor, trainer, agent, whatever - to handle this. It will take a commitment to add in updating the page in addition to the rest of an athlete's schedule. Worse, we'll be confronted with hype, spin, and downright lies. That's where the opportunity lies. If Joe Athlete lies, there needs to be someone watching. Maybe there will be a network of watchmen, not unlike the current networks of bloggers - call it Credibility Nation. There will be aggregators that find the best information. There will be need for writers and bloggers that add value rather than merely occupying a place in an antiquated hierarchy.
That's a disruption I'm willing to lose a job over.
Wedge Issue: What's Wrong with the Indians?
If you missed it, the Cleveland Indians have been the biggest underachievers in the Majors in 2006. Losers of 3 straight and 8 of their last 10, a team some were predicting for the World Series are now 14 games behind the first place Tigers. If that wasn't a big enough hill to climb, the AL Central also has the defending champion White Sox 12.5 games ahead of them as well. At this point I don't think the Indians will have any cliffhanger opportunities like 2005, as the mountain climber doesn't seem to have any yodel left.
Sure Cleveland came back from a similar deficit in 2005, but this year the White Sox are more talented and experienced. Add to this there was no version of the 2006 Tigers in front of them and it's looks bleak for the Tribe's divisional hopes. Even if one of these AL Central teams falls apart, the Indians have 5 other solid teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, A's, and Rangers) vying for just one Wild Card spot. The Indians are at least 6 games behind each one of these squads in the win column.
As the Baseball Prospectus Annual discussed in its chapter breakdown about the 2005 team, "the Indians finished with the fourth-largest discrepancy between their record in one-run games and non-one run games in Major League history."
The Bill James' Plexiglass Principle generally demonstrates that it's a pretty safe bet that the Indians would be on the plus side of the one-run ledger, after such bad luck in the category during 2005. Well, the Indians are proving to be a strong exception, as they have been even worse, going 4-10 in one-run games so far this season. And if you thought they were just bad in one-run games, they are 3-7 in 2-run games. While the common wisdom among sabermetricans is that managers don't make a big difference in their team's outcome, I think it's time for the Indians to consider getting rid of manager Eric Wedge.
I'm sure some would point to these factors as the big reasons for the Indians poor play.
The starting pitching has been a disappointment. Correct.
Yes, these factors point directly to the Indians failure, but considering the high-quality roster that GM Mark Shapiro has built, something else seems to not be working as well. All 4 years under Wedge, the Indians have underperformed their Pythagorean percentage. Combine this with the team's putrid record in close games and it would seem like their skipper should be the fall-guy.
While the Indians are still a fairly young team and have a strong farm system, the Tigers, White Sox, and Twins look to be competitive clubs for the next couple of seasons as well. Last season, the Indians were statistically the best team in the American League, but fell apart the final week of the season and didn't even make the playoffs. This year should have been their redemption, but instead they already look to be eliminated in June. It's time for the Indians to make a move.
Ken Holtzman for a Day
When's the last time a pitcher had a better overall day than Jon Garland had on Sunday? Garland gave up only one run, in baseball's top scoring park. He gave up just 4 hits over 8 innings and stopped the Reds streak of 16 straight games of having at least one homerun. As impressive as that was, Garland also had a sacrifice bunt and a homerun.
Has anyone ever figured out why the A's start off so poorly and then are able to put together extremely long winning streaks, year after year? I still think the AL West champion will be lucky to win more than 85 games this season, though.
The staff with the best 1-2 starting pitchers? The Twins, with Santana and Liriano. If they get anything out of the 3,4,5 spots, Minnesota will be a playoff contender again in 2007.
I finally watched a whole quarter of a NBA playoff game tonight and was "rewarded" with an overtime bonus. Despite having almost everything one could ask when it comes to drama, I still was left empty. Miami, with a couple Gary Payton exceptions, was basically playing clear-out for Dwyane Wade every time it had the ball. Dallas wasn't much different, with Jason Terry working the isolation, supplemented by only occasional appearances by Dirk Nowitski and Josh Howard.
The league has improved its team play the past couple seasons, greatly benefited by the Phoenix Suns example, but the playoffs continue to be same type of grind it out, foul shot laden basketball. Not helping the NBA excitement level is the broadcasting team of Mike Breen and Hubie Brown. These guys are both solid, but they just have the demeanor and style of a local broadcasting crew. Marv Albert and Doug Collins are still the gold-standard when it comes to NBA broadcasting, with color analysts Steve Kerr and Tom Tolbert both superior to Brown.
With all the bedlam that went on during the game, plus the controversy surrounding the suspensions of Maverick's players, all the ingredients seem to be there for a great NBA Finals. Outside of the brilliant clutch play of Wade there just isn't a lot to be enthusiastic about, unless you are from Miami or Dallas. Hey, but it could be worse. Carolina and Edmonton in the Stanley Cup Finals. I would choose even World Cup (NSFW or NSFH)soccer over that pairing.
Drugs Make You Stupid
Everytime I see a new article on performance enhancing drugs, I wonder -- has no one read "The Juice?" (Answer: pretty close.) Forget reading my work, just do the homework.
The most recent example is worse since it's by Joe Strauss, a good writer and I'm told a good guy. His extended article on Albert Pujols and Chris Mihlfeld is an extended excuse. I do not know if Pujols has ever used performance enhancers . As with most players, I have no evidence. In pointing to the pictures of Pujols and Mike Sweeney, saying that these are two guys who "do things the right way," Mihlfeld loses credibility.
Why? Because if you'd asked him a month ago, I bet he would have said the same thing about Jason Grimsley. Grimsley's picture is down now, but he trained next to the other two. He did appearances for Mihlfeld's facility in suburban Kansas City. He touted Mihlfeld's help in coming back from Tommy John surgery. (Quick: If Mihlfeld's name isn't in the Grimsley affadavit, who's the trainer that Grimsley worked with? Does that mean this article bylined to Grimsley is a lie? Who ghost wrote it, Jason?)
Almost by definition, Pujols' assertion that "that's not what we stand for" is wrong. Grimsley stood with him, figuratively, until he was caught. Mihlfeld's assessment of Grimsley's character was wrong and this assumes that the trainer didn't know. Mihlfeld certainly wouldn't be guilty of a crime if he made a mistake, an error in judgement in assessing the people he worked with. We shouldn't make the same.
Is it possible that Mihlfeld's name is in the document but that he didn't make the amphetamine connection? Yes, it's possible. Faced down by IRS and FBI agents, we have no idea what Grimsley was saying. Grimsley apparently made an error in saying he started using steroids after his 2000 shoulder surgery -- because he didn't HAVE shoulder surgery then or at any other time. Is this Grimsley's error or IRS agent Novitzky's?
How does Mihlfeld know that "my name isn't in there"? He says that he spoke with Grimsley's attorney. I'm no lawyer, but a sealed affadavit isn't the type of thing that someone discusses with a non-client. Is Ed Novak now the attorney of record for Chris Mihlfeld? How about Mike Sweeney, who claims to have seen the names in the document ... or to know the names... or to know it's not Mihlfeld's name, depending on which account you read.
Pujols is now reportedly taking nothing. Okay, let's continue the tradition of checking lockers in St. Louis. What's in Albert's? Is he saying that he wouldn't use the supplements that have been blessed by MLB? Is he saying that he used supplements but now stopped? Okay, which ones? "Creotine [sic]" is named, but anything else? If we go back to 1998, did Pujols take supplements which were then not only not banned but not illegal? Could Pujols have taken androstendione, the supplement legally used by Mark McGwire in 1998? Did he use it in 2004 when it was still neither banned nor illegal?
Pujols request to be tested reeks of Barry Bonds' 2002 assertion that he would be willing to take a test. I contacted Bonds' agent and the Giants at that time, offering to pay for the test and to give the results only to Bonds and the team. According to "Game of Shadows," that would have been a really bad idea for Bonds. Bonds could make the assertion because he knew that the MLBPA would never, ever allow that to happen. The same is true here; the testing program is in place and outside of that, it would be a grievous day before the PA would allow extra testing.
We're left with more questions than answers, but no one seems to be asking the right questions. Do drugs make the users stupid or are we equally guilty in not demanding answers. Over and over, writers who missed the steroid usage of the nineties are saying that they'll ask those questions this time. Jeff Pearlman said in Slate that he'd ask it of anyone, doubting first. Joe Posnanski doesn't want to be a cynic and will trust.
Guys, there's a happy medium here. It's called information. I wouldn't walk up to Albert Pujols and hand him a cup. I'd ask about his workout program, his supplements and his maternal grandfather. I'd ask Sweeney that if he feels steroids are against his religion, why didn't he act against the colleague that offered him steroids?
I'd ask Chris Mihlfeld, a man who's commitment is described as "total" where it stops. How does a total commitment stop short of supplementation and even performance-enhancement, or is it mere semantics? I'd ask him who he worked with when he was with the Dodgers and the Royals.
Information is the power and currency of the information age. The question is if we have the intelligence and courage to ask the right questions.
Schizo Scott: Say It Isn't So, Screech!
With all the news coming out of Iraq lately, a major story has been missed by the major media. Here at The Juice, we will try to rectify that. The story I'm talking about is the impending financial ruin of one Dustin Diamond, better known as "Screech" from Saved by the Bell.
Things have gone downhill so badly for Mr. Belding's class clown that he has resorted to selling t-shirts so he doesn't have his house in Port Washington, Wisconsin repossessed. Insted of going through the whole story, I recommend you hear it from Dusty, himself.
On a more positive note, Diamond was an in-studio interview on the Howard Stern Show this Tuesday, where he discussed his impending homelessness. Nevertheless, Howard, being the great investigative interviewer that he is, also took time to explore a popular internet rumor: that Screech packs (ahem) a Louisville Slugger. (Baseball reference just for you hardball fans.) According to Dusty, the rumors are true, and he wields 10 inches of lumber. Wow, this guy is the Clay Aiken of former child stars. If you want to read the transcript of this important interview, just go to the great Howard Stern recap site, marksfriggin.com, to learn more.
After hearing this information about "little" Dustin, I think the t-shirt thing is a waste of time. Where is the Screech Celebrity Porn tape? Skip the "Saved" part, Screech Rings Some Bells would be a great title. I also like Screech the Sex Teach. At least, let's have a Showgirls 2, with Screech reprising the part fellow SbtB alum Elizabeth Berkley had in the 1995 original. In the sequel, Screech plays a male dancer named ironically, Dustin Diamond (great Chippendale name), who just wants people to not think he is a whore. Call Joe Esterhas and Paul Verhoven -- I smell a Razzie.
I know a few of you have been gripped by World Cup fever, so I thought I would start regularly putting up a picture link on what makes the sport so meaningful to me. Today's link (NSFW and NSFH) I've titled "No Diamond in the Rough, Here."
(In case you were unaware what the acronyms stand for, NSFW is "Not Safe for Work" and NSFH is "Not Safe for Homophobes.")
The saddest part about the whole Ben Roethlisberger accident just might be that former Steeler QB Terry Bradshaw had lectured Ben about riding a motorcycle. If it wasn't bad enough that Ben busted his face up, at the same time he made Terry Bradshaw look smart. Ouch!
I've been asked by some readers about my thoughts on this season's Last Comic Standing. Instead of giving my reflections, let me redirect interested parties to the Shecky Magazine website. They have done a nice job of covering the show. The two things I will offer up that Shecky Magazine has also discussed are the following:
After watching the first episode, the funniest, most charismatic comic shown was Jimmy Pardo. I was shocked he wasn't chosen to advance past Chicago, and let me add that if Last Comic Standing wanted to perk up the show, they would hire Pardo as host of the program. Truly, I don't get Anthony Clarke's success on television. Put him next to Whoopi Goldberg and Jimmy Fallon on the list of inexplicable stars in my eyes.
Despite these criticisms, Last Comic Standing is good for stand-up comedy, as it gives exposure to the craft. On the subject of stand-up, let me congratulate my good friend Dan Cummins on his network debut, doing a set on the Late Show with Craig Ferguson on Tuesday night. Go to dancummins.tv to listen to some of his very original act.
Congrats to Will Carroll for his SABR writing award. If you haven't read The Juice, let me say that it holds up well. His chapter about the difficulties of testing for steroids and HGH seeming more prescient as each day goes by.
Finally, if you get a chance, let me remind again that I would love for you to become one my MySpace friends. It's a good chance for Juice Blog readers to create their own blogs and find out what other readers look like. Example: Check out the very cool picture of our own Ryan Wilkins with comedy genius Jim Gaffigan.
I Won a SABR Award
The Happy Hypocrite Takes on Jason Grimsley
Thank You, Jason Grimsley. Hey, I know you aren't hearing much positive feedback lately, but I want to thank you for your contribution to sports. With so much public attention being focused on how power hitters are all juiced, the Juan Rincon's and Mike Morse's of the world were forgotten. Finally with it coming out that you used not only steroids, but human growth hormones as well, it's becoming more apparent that MLB players of all levels and positions were taking whatever they thought would make them better.
And why wouldn't they do this? I'm tired of so-called moralists acting outraged that players could do such a thing. Are you telling me that you wouldn't consider taking some substance if it potentially made you better? Especially if you were in a profession where 2.5 million dollars a year is the average salary. Especiallly if you knew that there would be no drug testing. Especially if you knew that many other workers in your field might possibly be getting an advantage over you.
Do you possibly believe that a pamphleteer like Jay Mariotti would not use some kind of magical elixir, if it promised to give him the talent to write like Jim Murray? I don't have any problem savoring the prose of Poe or Burroughs, even knowing they were junkies. I don't run from the room when I hear Nirvana or Alice in Chains rumbling through the speakers, just because their lead singers killed themselves using heroin.
Hey, but what about the kids, Scott? I would respond by saying that Jason Grimsley is a great example of perseverance. Here is a guy who might have 4 quality seasons over a 16 year period, but hung on any way he could. By doing this he provided a wonderful lifestyle for his family.
Growing up, I respected the Fellowship of Christian Athletes types like Roger Staubach and Kyle Rote, Jr, but my favorite players were O.J. Simpson, Walt Frazier, and Reggie Jackson. Guess what, athletes behave like most men would if they had money and power. Tell your kids that if they are looking for heroes they should start reading comic books.
Personally, I don't have a big problem with some of baseball's greatest records being broken by athletes who are under suspicion as cheaters. We will never know how many pitchers or batters were on performance enhancers and we have even less idea what these drugs did to aid them. Anyone who understands factors like park effects knows that there has never been a level playing field in the game. Hitters in certain decades (in the 1990's and 1930's) had big advantages, just like pitchers (in the 1960's) had the upper hand.
Players have always looked for an edge . Are you telling me that the Ty Cobb Tigers or the Gas House Gang Cardinals wouldn't have taken anything they thought that gave them a chance to perform better? I laugh thinking about what the cast of characters in Peter Golenbock's great book "The Bronx Zoo" would have done if there had been these type of supplements. The Steinbrenner Yankees of the 1970's seemed to be competing against each other as much as their opponents. The naked cake sitting alone would have been enhanced by the added athletic ability provided by juicing. Billy Martin, on a roid rage, would have been frightening, though.
Until there is effective drug testing that can guarantee that users are going to get caught, the game will have players who are willing to use any substance that might give them an edge. In the 60's and 70's players were popping greenies like 10 year-olds at a Skittles factory. In the 80's, the amphetamines of choice was cocaine. Each decade something else comes up that promises if not to make a player better, will at least make them better able to play through fatigue.
This is why it is so ridiculous to me that US senators feel like this is an issue important enough for them to involve themselves in. The next time you see John McCain shaking his head in sorrow at what has become of our national pastime, write him a letter and ask him this. Why isn't he focusing more on the NFL or NBA, where the player's bodies are by far more freakish and where steroids and HGH would have a greater impact considering these sports rely on natural athletic ability much more than a skill-based sport like baseball?
I, like most other baseball fans, will be curious to see who are the next big name players that are exposed as using performance enhancing drugs. Unlike the majority, I will not condemn them as evil doers. I realize they are doing what it takes to succeed in the ultra-competitive world of major league baseball. Now that there is drug testing, if a player tests positive I hope they throw the book at the offender, especially if it's a player on an opposing team.. As a fan, I hope none of the players on my favorite team gets busted, because at the end of the day, it's about my team winning. When it comes to sports, just call me the happy hypocrite.
Postnote: I have rarely mentioned the whole steroid discussion, as my writing partner at thejuiceblog, Will Carroll is the best writer on the planet when it comes to the subject. Please note that these are not the educated opinions of Will's, but the thoughts of a lot less informed person on the subject. I've decided to weigh in because of all the condemnation being thrown around. I haven't heard many express a view outside of "hang them in the townsquare!" So, let me repeat, Scott Long is the author of the above piece. Will Carroll will read this after many of you do, as we don't send stories we write to each other to get approval. (behind the scenes glimpse of life hear at thejuiceblog) Thanks, the management.
The Ultimate Stripper Pole Soundrack
Music lists are fun to compile, but generally offer little when it comes to groundbreaking information. Well, I've had this idea for awhile of listing the best songs to watch an exotic dancer (reality: stripper).
What made me think about compiling such a list was 15 years back, I was at a club where the feature dancer, Sandra Scream (NSFW), danced to "Head Like a Hole" by Nine Inch Nails. Where you might not think this would be a great song to take off your garments, Ms. Scream's performance was beautifully choreographed, creating the best interpretation of a NIN song, outside of Johnny Cash's version of "Hurt." Ms. Scream, who appeared in such classics such as Boobs, Butts, and Blunders 2, New Wave Hookers 2 (a classic), and Screamin' Reamers 12, 16, and 26, was never better than on-stage that night at this gentlemen's club (reality: pervert's palace).
While I have been to only one strip club in the past 10 years, I frequented them enough when I was a younger man that I think I can make a credible list. Yes, Motley Crue's "Girls, Girls, Girls"* is the national anthem for strippers, but I need more muscial originality to be truly entranced by a dancer. The songs I've listed have more dramatic tension in their makeup.
Scott's Stripper Pole Soundtrack
The rest of the list is in no particular order.
These are just a few that I thought of. This is a post hoping for interaction, so please offer up your best choices.
* I was once at Brad's Gold Club (West side of Indianapolis) after work, with some fellow waiters from Chi Chi's (the restaurant, not the Mexican slang term). This was during May, when the time trials at the Indy 500 were still a huge deal. While nursing a $5 warm beer, who walks in but the unlikely buddy duo of Al Unser, Sr. and the Crue's Vince Neil. When the "entertainers" saw him, they responded like Neil was their own personal Pope. I have still never seen such idol worship as I witnessed that night by the ladies for the peroxide-haired, helium-voiced lead singer.
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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