Saturday, February 21, 2009


Evidently pharmacists in the Dominican are disputing A-Rod's claim that the steroid he used can be obtained over the counter in the DR. Additionally, according to a New York Daily News report, two reporters sent to the DR pretty much were able to obtain Durabolin immediately after getting off their flight.

The reporters went into the first pharmacy, were asked for a first name, and then spent about $20 to get their steroids.

Considering reports regarding a steroid trail from Mexico into San Diego (in relation to the Chargers), I'm surprised, given MLB's efforts over the last two seasons, that baseball's franchises continue to send players for winter league games to Mexico, or any of the Latino countries where obtaining these drugs is so easy.

Hopefully David Ortiz is being completely straight regarding banned trainer Angel Presinal. As much as I agree with Dave over at the Coffin Corner that Ortiz's call for a year ban on users makes it appear that he's likely to be clean, I disagree that his stats have stayed on an even keel throughout his career.

Everyone is quick to point out that he became a monster once in Boston and he was a full time player, but he did have two seasons with the Twins in which he played in at least 125 games and logged at least 400 at bats. For those two seasons Ortiz averaged 15 home runs and 69 RBI's. Over a 162 game season that projects to roughly 20 homers and 85 RBI's.

While the wrist injury he had last season was reminiscent of the one that Nomar had - one of the connective tissue, and an odd one at that - I don't believe that Big Papi has been juicing, but anecdotal evidence isn't good. He's linked with a trainer who's a known supplier (and should know better than to train where this man works - it's not like he doesn't have the money to have the option of training elsewhere), he had a freak injury of the connective tissue - the tendon sheath in his wrist - which is the sort of injury that could be indicative of steroid use, and his production spiked when he moved to Boston with his homerun total spiking by 55 percent when he moved from the Twins to the Sox, and more than doubling his final Minnesota HR total within two seasons, and knocking in 64 more runs within two years of his departure from the Metrodome.

The flip side - Ortiz was 26 in his final season with the Twins, just beginning to enter what is universally held as the prime of his career, the time when most players stats would spike. If you account for a 25 percent increase just based on entering the prime of his career, he would have hit about 25 homers and knock in about 93 runs. A look at Ortiz's stats also shows that he did have, on average a 35 to 40 percent increase in at bats - that would account for up to an additional 8 homers and 17 RBI's bringing him into the 30's and about 110 respectively, and I haven't even figured in the Fenway factor. So, no, I do think he got there naturally - but he really should be aware of appearances of impropriety in relation to the juicing issue.

Given that Kevin Garnett's injury is only a muscle strain and he should be back with about 18 games left in the season, i don't think Garnett's injury is necessarily a bad thing for the Celtics. If the team wins half the games he misses, that means he comes back and the C's have lost four games. At worst that will drop them to the three seed in the East. I don't think going .500 over the next eight games is an unrealistic expectation, and I don't think being the three seed is a bad thing for them.

Based on current standings, even if they lost the four games, they could only fall to the third seed if Orlando goes 7-1 over that same stretch - so it's more likely that the worst that would happen is that they end up in the second seed by no more than two games with 18 to go and a rested Kevin Garnett in the line-up.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My heart goes out...

This story will make sports fans optimistic about the future, and bring a tear to the eye of anyone who has even half a heart beating in his or her chest.

We, the sports-obsessed nut-jobs of the blogosphere spend a lot of our time talking about the subjects of the day - steroids, HGH, rules violations in search of that elusive edge - the list goes on, and it gets less and less positive with each passing month. Hall of Fame arguments used to be based solely on statistics. Now the question of "if they didn't juice, would they have gotten in? Should we put them in anyway?" haunts every HoF vote. People talk about tainted championships, and history books are rewritten by iconoclasts, tearing down players such as Babe Ruth, once held in such high regard that he was almost thought of like a deity in the sport. Now he was a fat, drunk, womanizing baseball savant.

Sports heroes are torn down with a regularity of an iconoclast on an all-bran diet.

Every now and then a story hits the national wire that gives me hope - not for national sports, but most definitely for athletes at other levels of sport. I touched on this about a year ago when I wrote the following -

If you want to look up to athletes, to put someone on a pedestal and use him or her as an example for your kids - look to something, someone a little more obscure.

Look to the Ironman Triathlon Championships. Not to the top finishers.

Look to sister Madonna Buder, an amateur athlete who finished the event for thirteen consecutive years (missing last year's cut off by mere minutes at the end of the cycling stage), breaking her own record each of those years as being the oldest woman to complete the event. Or take John Blais, a man with ALS who completed the Ironman in 2005 in order to raise awareness for the disease. He was in a wheelchair by the 2006 event and didn't live to see the 2007 Ironman. Then there was a competitor in this year's event by the name of Scott Rigsby, a double-amputee who lost both of his legs below the knees. How about Charles Plaskon, a blind 64-year old finisher? Or the story of Dick Hoyt, which you really have to see to believe? Really. I can't do him justice.

There are plenty of athletes out there deserving of that pedestal, for any number of reasons. Just try not to forget that the pros are human too, and generally willing to do whatever it takes to stay at the top of their game. The people I mention above are human as well, with human failings like the rest of us. However, unlike the Clemenses of the world, they're not doing what they do for money...or even personal glory. They see the mountain in front of them and see something to accomplish.
Then there are the teenage athletes that get sportsmanship, that understand it so much better than so many of the adult professionals. There were the high school girls in Washington last year that each gave their medals to the girl who finished a place ahead of when the first place runner was erroneously disqualified.

And now there are the high school basketball teams in Illinois and Wisconsin that did the right thing simply because they knew it was the right thing to do. It wasn't about winning. It wasn't about the letter of the law. It was about doing the right thing by a player on a rival team - the fact that the player was a rival was immaterial. The fact that he was grieving, that he needed to play - that's what was important.

Go to the linked story. In a time when we here Manny Ramirez and Scott Boras whining about his contract, or lack thereof; when we're getting disingenuous apologies from steroid users and half excuses that just open the users up to more questions (A-Rod, I'm looking at you); when some of the biggest names in sports are involved in criminal proceedings (Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, the ongoing saga for Michael Vick); when professional sports are filled with me-me-me players (Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson) that are so self-centered that their teams suffer; when any number of other offenses are committed in the professional athletic community, the story of Johntel Franklin of DeKalb should be required reading.

If you have not read his story, do so now. Don't wait. Please.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Steroids - it's a three ring circus

Never mind the idiot fans that are actually coming to Alex Rodriguez's defense in the Winstrol-Stanozolol Circus - and there are some (all you need do is look at the comments at the end of the article here) - we are now seeing three distinct groups forming in Baseball's biggest side-show.

The Steroid Users and their Apologists - taking center ring, step right up to see records broken and excuses made. Watch false apologies (so so sorry [I got caught]. Won't do it again), crocodile tears, and the support and justification of teammates cornered into shows of such. Witness team brain trusts cringe as they realize they're awarded monstrous contracts under false pretenses, and scramble in conjunction with agents in spin control.

The second ring - Players filled with righteous and, sometimes, justified indignation when going about the game without taking short-cuts. Players not hiding behind the union; players calling for stricter testing and penalties, players that aren't making excuses, calling it "the culture," or justifying use. Yes, there are some players in this group that seem to move to the center ring, but that's all part of the show now, isn't it?

The Fourth Estate is the Third Ring - The reporters reporting the news have become the news. Selena Roberts, the reporter from Sports Illustrated who broke the news has become part of the current news cycle for both breaking the story, and because of Alex Rodriguez's attack on her during his interview with Peter Gammons. During the Gammons interview in which A-Rod copped to his steroid use, the superstar with the quarter-billion dollar talent and the ten-cent head accused Roberts of stalking him and of having multiple run-ins with the police.

Unfortunately for A-Rod, there's not a shred of evidence to support his claims. So much so, that Rodriguez has already privately contacted Roberts and apologized.

My own personal opinion of A-Rod's apology - were I the reporter, it wouldn't be enough. I would want a public retraction and apology. Until that happened, I would have lawyers begin proceedings against Rodriguez, and wouldn't back off until that public apology happened.