Open Thread: Media admits muffing the steroid issue

Haven’t you had enough of the media’s obsession with steroids in baseball? I sure have. The constant headlines about A-Rod do nothing to enhance my enjoyment of the game, and I’m sure that’s true for plenty of others. It’s even worse when they’re trying to out players who used in the past. Not to simplify an issue to one sentence, but: If there were no penalties to using steroids prior to 2004, why wouldn’t you use them?

(Answer: Because of your long-term health. That’s the only good one I’ve got.)

Jason at It is about the money, stupid takes a long look at the media’s role in this “scandal.” (Again, how can it be a scandal if there were no baseball-related consequences to using?) The article includes a massive bullet list of baseball writers admitting they had done wrong by not exploring the situation further. It’s an excellent read if you like hear people admit their mistakes.

A few of them strike me a bit odd. The one that stuck out the most was from Ken Rosenthal. “That is our greatest sin, extolling these guys as something more than they were. Some of us had a feeling that something was amiss. We are more guilty of making McGwire and Sosa into heroes when they weren’t.” Where do I even begin on this?

First of all, McGwire and Sosa are not and never were heroes, even if they hit all those home runs clean. Baseball players are not heroes. They are entertainers. We might attach some narrative lore to them, especially the legendary ones, but that doesn’t make them heroes. There are people who sacrifice their lives for the betterment of others. That’s when you can get into the hero discussion. It does not apply to people who hit baseballs 400 feet.

Second, the crime was not making the players into heroes, even though it was wrong. The crime was not digging deeper into the steroids issue. If other reporters had followed up on Steve Wilstein’s revelation about McGwire’s andro, perhaps this issue would have blown up a bit sooner than it did. Yet most in the press ignored it, and since the public didn’t want to believe it the issue was shelved for a few more years.

At least Jon Heyman is honest: “I guess we were all caught up in the excitement of the home run chase. Rather than spend all of the time and energy [on steroids] when the only guarantee was that we would annoy everyone around us, we took an easier route.”

The first comment on Jason’s post makes a point: “The reason they didn’t report it wasn’t because of a fear of their jobs, or their reputations, or how the players percieved them. They didn’t write it because it wasn’t a story then.” I think that they could have made it a story, though. Tonight on SportsCenter: Baseball players are cheating and tarnishing the legacy of the game. I mean, that’s basically what happened years later, anyway. If the media flat out accused the players of cheating, the public would have gotten into an uproar much sooner. But the media left it alone, and the rest is history.

Now that my rant is over, it’s time to get to the open thread stuff. The Nets host the Celtics, the Knicks host the Hawks, and if you’re into Big East hoops Marquette takes on Pitt on ESPN2. The Rangers picked up forward Nik Antropov from the Maple Leafs (damn Canadian inability to properly pluralize) for a second rounder and a conditional pick. They also nabbed defenseman Derek Morris from the Coyotes for Nigel Dawes, Petr Prucha, and Dmitri Kalinin. Dave at Blue Seat Blogs likes the Antropov acquisition but abhors Morris.

Open Thread: Jeter, USA eke out a win over Yanks

A few times this afternoon, Michael Kay referred to Team USA as consisting of “the best players” in America. I’m not sure if that’s the line being fed announcers in order to generate some excitement over the World Baseball Classic or if it’s truly Michael Kay’s interpretation of the team. Either way, it’s hardly accurate.

That team, led by Derek Jeter, was just good enough to eke out a one-run win over the Yanks. However, considering the Yanks’ pitching today, I either don’t have high hopes for Team USA in the upcoming tournament or do like what the pen in the Bronx could do this year.

The day started out as we predicted last night: Derek Jeter grounded into a double play against Phil Hughes in the top of the first. The Yanks’ young righthander meanwhile rolled through two innings. He struck out David Wright and Adam Dunn in the second before tiring in the first.

An inning later, Jeter, of course, would be the one who delivered the the hit that would send Phil Hughes to his pitch-count induced shower. Down 2-1 at that point, the Yanks would never regain the lead as they lost 6-5.

Hughes looked good today through 41 pitches. He clearly tired a bit in the third, but he K’d two in 2.2 innings. Of all things, he ran into some trouble on inside pitches. The Yanks’ pitchers are working on establishing the inside half of the plate this spring, and Hughes hit Curtis Granderson and Ryan Braun both on 0-1 inside fastballs.

So that was it for Hughes. Eric Hacker was terrible, and Angel Berroa’s lack of range and inability to field didn’t help much in a four-run sixth for team USA. But Phil Coke, Dave Robertson and Jose Veras combined for 6 K’s in 4.2 innings.

Offensively, Brett Gardner ho-hummed his way to another 3-for-3 day while Melky went 1 for 2. Jorge added a pair of hits in three ABs, and Nick Swisher picked up a hit and two RBIs.

Ian Kennedy and the Yanks will face the Braves on the road. tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. in an non-televised game.

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the night. The Devils and Nets are in action tonight, and you could catch the tail end of the Jays-Team Canada game on MLB Network. Oh, and the Rangers reacquired Sean Avery, eating up whatever last bit of salary cap wiggle room they had. Oh joy.

Talk about whatever you want; just be nice; and if you haven’t voted in this week’s Fan Confidence Poll, do it.

Open Thread: Fun Media Guide Facts

During the slow time of year that is early Spring Training, pieces like this fromWFAN’s Sweeny Murti are open thread gold. Sweeny posted a bunch of interesting/weird facts from the Yanks’ 2009 Media Guide, which always makes for a fun read. Here’s some of my favorites:

Hank Steinbrenner (General Partner/Co-Chairperson) was “directly involved” in the free agent signings and managerial hiring after the 2007 season, but was “part of the collaborative front office effort” this past off-season (page 8).

Translation: Hank, we’re putting the training wheels back on.

Joe Girardi was ejected twice in 2008. The Yankees won both games with “walk-off” hits (page 38).

I think this is a big enough sample for us to draw serious conclusions from. Joe, get in the umps face more often this year.

Nick Markakis (38) and Michael Cuddyer (37) are the only American Leaguers with more outfield assists than Melky Cabrera (35) since 2006 (page 76).

Elsewhere in the world of interesting stats, Melky’s totaled 2.1 WAR since 2006. Nick Markakis was a 6.1 WAR player last year alone.

Hideki Matsui acts as a foster parent for 10 kids in Vietnam and worked with Japan’s Eco-Safety Drive campaign in 2008, encouraging Japanese citizens to decrease their car pollution (page 164).

Very awesome of Hit-deki.

In 1991, Jorge Posada led New York-Penn League second basemen in double plays turned with 42 (page 200).

Holy crap, 42 double plays turned? They play like, 70 games in the NY-Penn League. That seems ridiculously high. Anyway, make sure you give it a read, there’s a ton of interesting stuff in there. Otherwise, here’s your open thread for the night. The Islanders are the only local team in action tonight, taking on the Avs at home. Anything goes, just be nice.

Oh, and if you haven’t voted in this week’s Fan Confidence Poll, make sure you do so.

Open Thread: Oh no, minor injuries

PeteAbe has a couple of small injury notes:

· Jesus Montero (strained right groin) was injured sliding to track down a passed ball. Joe Girardi said it seemed like a “moderate” strain. Given his status and youth, they’ll be cautious bringing him back.

· Jon Albaladejo caught a ball off the back of his left leg near the ankle and has a bruise. He’s day-to-day.

A pair of small nothings, if you ask me. Both guys have plenty of time to get healthy before the season starts. The more important injury news, that you might have missed earlier, is that Jorge Posada‘s shoulder is okay, and he could DH as soon as tomorrow. My educated guess it that the team will hold him back until Tuesday.

Former Yankee Updates: Chad Jennings checks in on some former Yankees and how they’re faring during Spring Training. Of note is the news that Carl Pavano managed to throw two scoreless innings without chipping a nail, stubbing his toe or bursting his appendix.

Here’s your open thread for the night. The Nets are the only local team in action because the Devils won this afternoon. Anything goes, just be nice.

Open Thread: Juan Cruz signs, finally

esteban-germanI wanted the Yanks to sign Juan Cruz back in early January, but alas, they never showed serious interest in him and Cruz ended up with the Royals. The terms: 2 years, $6M guaranteed with a $4M option for a third year. The Diamondbacks received Kansas City’s second round pick (because the Royals’ first rounder is protected) and a sandwich rounder as compensation, giving them 5 of the first 44 picks and 7 of the first 62. They can do some serious damage this year. You can see the up-to-the-minute draft order at our 2009 Draft Order Tracker.

To make room for Cruz on the 40-man roster the Royals designated utility man Esteban German for assignment, and I hope the Yanks at least kick the tires on him. German has been outrighted before (by the A’s back in 2004) and has plenty of service time, so if he clears waivers he’ll have the ability to refuse an assignment to Triple-A and become a free agent. Obviously, that’s when the Yanks should look at him, and on a minor league deal only. There’s no way you give him a Major League deal or claim him on waivers (putting him on the 40-man).

Basically, all German offers is versatility and a replacement level bat, although in 2006 and 2007 he was a 1-1.5 win player off the bench. He’s only played 36 innings at short the last three years, but he’s seen plenty of time at second and third. Offensively, about the best you can hope for at this point is .260-.310-.340 with maybe a dozen doubles and a rare homer, but hey, if he’s willing to come in and compete for a job, why wouldn’t you do it? The more competition the better, I say.

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the night. The Devils already won today, and both the Islanders and Rangers are in action tonight. The Knicks are also playing down in Miami. Oh, and here’s the box score of today’s game if you’re interested. Have fun.

Photo Credit: Dick Whipple, AP

Open Thread: A loss to the Twins and Friday randomness

The Yanks dropped a close one to the Twins today after the bullpen couldn’t hold a slim lead. Ian Kennedy gave up a hit and a walk (no runs) while striking out three in two innings of work, and Andrew Brackman made his spring debut in the losing effort.

Brackman was part of the bullpen that couldn’t hold the game. He gave up a home run to Jason Kubel in one inning of work. George Kontos and Wilson De La Rosa gave up the other three runs as the Twins eked out a 5-4 win. The Yanks loaded the bases in the 9th but couldn’t push across the tying run.

Offensively, Brett Gardner went 2-for-2 with a double, two stolen bases and a run scored. Melky Cabrera went 0-for-3 and is hitless in five spring ABs. Gardner has a stranglehold on the center field job or as much of a stranglehold as you can have on a job three games into the exhibition season. Jorge Posada, DHing again, went 2-for-3, but then again we weren’t really concerned about his bat coming back from shoulder surgery. Nick Swisher picked up a pair of hits too.

To the links:

Here’s your open thread for the night. The only local team in action is the Knicks, who are hosting the Sixers. You know the deal, anything goes, just be nice.

Open Thread: Supporting A-Rod

Let’s run the Open Thread with A-Rod news tonight. That way, if you, dear reader, don’t want to talk A-Rod, you can talk whatever else you want. Just play nice.

In The Times today, Marjorie Connelly breaks down a poll about Alex Rodriguez and his current popularity. The Times and CBS News surveyed 1112 people, 429 of whom are baseball fans, and they aren’t big A-Rod supporters.

Sixty percent of baseball fans are bothered by steroid use by players, and 44 percent say Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez should not be allowed in the Hall of Fame, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll…

The 60 percent of fans who said the use of performance-enhancing drugs mattered a lot to them was up from 53 percent last year…

Nearly half of those surveyed, 47 percent, said any major league record set by a steroid user should carry a note indicating the drug use, and 32 percent said the record should be eliminated altogether. Fewer than 20 percent favored keeping a steroids-tainted record on the books…

Thirty-seven percent of fans surveyed said they believed that at least half of major league players use steroids, and another 38 percent said a quarter use them. Nineteen percent said few players use drugs.

For A-Rod, those results are largely meaningless. All the poll shows is what we already knew: Alex Rodriguez will get a chilly reception as the Yanks hit the road this year. Hopefully, it won’t impact his play. A-Rod, after all, is used to a bad reception.

But on a larger level, baseball looks bad in the eyes of the public. When 74 percent of poll respondents think that at least a quarter of all baseball players are still juicing, the game has an image problem. In other A-Rod news, Yuri Sucart has been banned from the team this year.

Around NY Sports: Stephon Marbury is en route to Boston. I hope he kills the Celtics … The Knicks and Nets are off while the Devils, Rangers and Islanders all play home games at 7 p.m. … Johan Santana has tenderness in his throwing elbow.