There is a maritime urban legend about how a captain must go down with his ship. Someone ought to tell Bud Selig that. The MLB Commissioner is no rookie to the game. He owned some of the Milwaukee Braves, bought the Seattle Pilots in 1970 to move them to Wisconsin and has served as commissioner since 1992. While some call his reign revolutionary, I don’t have nearly as high opinion, and the latest Selig news just reinforces that feeling.
In a lengthy interview with Newsday’s Wallace Matthews, Selig attemps to absolve himself of any blame in the PED scandal that baseball has yet to shed. In a completely classless move, Selig blames the players association for stymieing his efforts at securing drug testing in the mid-1990s and claims that he and his advisers felt the bat was to blame for the power explosion ten years ago. “I don’t want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to this or he didn’t care about it,” Selig said. “That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I’m sensitive to the criticism. The reason I’m so frustrated is, if you look at our whole body of work, I think we’ve come farther than anyone ever dreamed possible.”
It doesn’t quite work the way Selig would hope. It happened on Bud’s watch; as the head of the game, he has to take responsibility for it. In a way, though, it’s fitting for Selig to say this on the same day as A-Rod’s press conference. Like or not, these two are baseball’s public face, and every time they open their mouths, they manage to cram their feet down their throats. That is not a comforting thought for fans of the game. · (36) ·
I need a PED break for a few hours. As hard as we’ve fought to find other news, Yankee Universe has been subsumed by Alex Rodriguez and his failed drug test from 2003. I hear he strangles dolphins with his bare hands as well.
Anyway, for your open thread tonight, let’s do a little link-o-rama. Mostly, these are interesting posts outside the realm of the Yanks, but I’ll lead it off with some Bronx-inspired hits.
- A YFSF tipster sent the bipartisan site some photos from a hard-hat tour of the new Yankee Stadium. It looks like the construction crews are just about through with the stadium.
- Speaking of the Stadium, take a peak at this MLB.com-sponsored time-lapse construction video. I love stuff like that. It’s too bad MLB.com hasn’t embraced embedded video codes, but clicking that link is two minutes well spent.
- Heading across town, we find a full gallery of CitiField shots on WCBS 880AM’s website. The stadium looks nice, if reminiscent of Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Is there a better way to insult the Mets than to tell them that their new stadium looks like one in Philly?
- Eric Gagne signed a Minor League deal with the Brewers today. Remember when I advocated trading Melky Cabrera for Eric Gagne? It’s hard to say whose star has dimmed more since July 2007, but Melky at least could turn around his future with a solid 2009 campaign.
- David Ortiz misses Manny while the rest of the Red Sox do not. I don’t miss the Yanks’ having to face Manny.
That’s all I have for now. After a few days off, the Knicks are hosting San Antonio, and the Nets are in Houston tonight. The Devils are skating in Florida. Play nice.
Do you remember where you were six years ago? Do you remember what you did everyday for three years in between 2001-2003? Do you remember what you ate and what you drank? Do you remember, down to the minute, with whom you spent all your time?
In the aftermath of Alex Rodriguez‘s press conference this afternoon, that level of detail is basically what media members and many Yankee fans are now demanding from A-Rod. It’s a patently absurd standard for those of us with the best of memories, and it just doesn’t matter.
Ten days ago, A-Rod’s world came crashing down when Sports Illustrated reported on his failed — and supposedly anonymous — drug test in 2003. From his opt-out antics to Madonna to steroids, he went from an image-conscious superstar to a circus sideshow to a three-ring event in the span of a few hours.
On the flip side was the media. In the span of ten years, from 1998 when the AP started reporting about Andro to today, the people tasked with covering the game have gone from complicity to outrage. Once it was taboo to report about supplements in baseball; today, if the reporters can’t play the Gotcha Game with A-Rod, they fail at their jobs.
Meanwhile, A-Rod is up a creek without a paddle. Today, for reasons unknown, he spun a tale involving his cousin and another unknown supplement. There’s no reason to believe this to be a false one. After all, for years baseball players have been injecting, swallowing and rubbing anything in or into their bodies that they felt would give them a not-so-natural edge. Of course, it would have been better for A-Rod to come out with a laundry list of substances he took and the dates he took them without excusing away his poor decisions.
Great. That is perhaps not the best strategy in an effort to exculpate one’s self, but I have a bigger question: Who cares about the minutiae? We know Mike Francesca does. We know plenty of holier-than-thou reporters all of a sudden seem to care, but it doesn’t matter.
Alex Rodriguez has been publicly shamed. His reputation is in tatters, and as a potential future Hall of Famer, he’s admitted to more drug use than anyone else who has stepped forward so far. Barry Bonds hasn’t accepted any responsibility for his actions, and neither has Roger Clemens. Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi should be commended for coming forward, but they were rather guarded about it. Mark McGwire just doesn’t want to talk about the past, and even Ivan Rodriguez believes that “only God knows” if he is on the list of 103 other players.
Even still, it doesn’t matter. He’s come forward; he’s admitted his wrongs; he made a lot of mistakes over an indeterminate length of time; he’s apologized. That’s that. In the comments to our liveblog, RAB readers are debating this until they are blue in the fingers, but it’s done. The skeptics of the sports world may not like it, but it’s time to move on, at least until the next tell-all book hits the shelves and everyone get all riled up all over again.
Blogging legend Chad Jennings spoke to Nardi Contreras – the Yanks’ minor league pitching coordinator – late last week, and has some interesting info on guys like Humberto Sanchez, JB Cox and Phil Coke (amongst others). Quick summary: Sanchez will be a reliever in 2009, Cox just flat-out ran out of gas last year, and no one really knows what role Coke will play at the start of the season. Make sure you give it a read. · (62) ·
So today’s the day everyone in the New York media has been waiting for. At 1:30 this afternoon Alex Rodriguez will sit down in Tampa and face the media music about his PED use. The Yanks have set up fifteen additional chairs (according to ESPN) for teammates to come out and support him, with Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira expected to be there. Buster Olney and PeteAbe have already chimed in with what they think should go down today, and to save you the time of reading their posts, they boil down to “tell the media everything we want to know.”
Me? I honestly don’t care. He revealed more in his interview with Gammons than any PED user we’ve seen, yet that’s not enough. The details of his PED use is inconsequential to me, and I think that most fans feel the same way. No matter what A-Rod says today, it’ll never be enough. Anything short of revealing exact reasons why, exact dates, exact substances, exact cycling schedules, and exact sources while strapped to a lie detector with the dude from Lie to Me staring him down won’t be enough. I just want some baseball.
ESPN will be broadcasting the presser live, as will YES, MLB Network and SNY. MLB.com will also be providing coverage, but I’m not sure if it’s video or just audio. Either way, I got your back if you’re stuck in the office. Hopefully this is the last time I have to do one of these things.
Just what we need today: more A-Rod. Stick with me for a minute, though. From time to time River Ave. Blues works with the Blogy by Fans network (In Mo We Trust, formerly Depressed Fan). They’ve launched a Spring Training ’09 blog, and I’ve written an article on the Yankee experience. It’s nothing new, but do me a solid and check it out. If not my article, than the rest of the site. It’s something else to help kill the time between now and Opening Day. · (25) ·
In about four hours, Alex Rodriguez is going to face death by media. The venerable and not-so-venerable members of the sports media are going to gather in Tampa as A-Rod, flanked by a bunch of Yankee lifers, faces spontaneous questions from the keepers of the press for the first time since his televised confession to Peter Gammons last week.
When the dust settles, again, around A-Rod, the media will have cared far more than PED-fatigued fans do. A-Rod will, of course, hear boos when the Yanks hit the road, and he will probably hear boos when the Yanks return to the Bronx on April 16. But how is that different from any other year? This press conference will truly be the media trying to bury a broken man while attempting to somehow atone for decades of ignoring the clubhouse story that was unfolding right before their very eyes.
Now, we can bury the media some other time. This morning, let’s talk about someone else speaking out against steroid use in baseball. This player — a very prominent member of the Boston Red Sox — exploded onto the baseball scene in 2003, and Yankee fans always viewed this gregarious player with a raised eyebrow. Of course, that ignores the fact that he had a stellar rookie campaign, battled injuries in Minnesota and was generally misused by his manager before arriving in a hitter-friendly park with arguably the best right-handed hitter of his generation backing him up in the line up. (And that’s just a case of “who really knows?”)
“I think that the A-Rod situation, it was a little bit tough for the game,” Ortiz said. “Talking about the best player all the way around. At the same time, people have to give the guy credit because he came out with what he said at the point of his career where he had done it all. On top of that, that was what? Six years ago? The guy has put up numbers his whole career. It was one thing that he said that caught my attention was that he was young and at the time. . . . sometimes you make the wrong decision like he did. He’s been playing clean and he’s still producing. He’s still been the best player in the game. If I’m a fan and I had to judge the guy, I would put that in the past and move forward. The guy, he works hard, man. He’s still doing his thing. He’s still got nine more years on his contract where he’s definitely gonna do some damage still.”
“I think you clean up the game by the testing. I test you, you test positive, you’re going to be out. Period,” Ortiz said. “If I test positive using any kind of banned substance I’m going to disrespect the game, my family, my fans and everybody. And I don’t want to face the situation so I won’t use it. I’m sure everybody is on the same page.”
“From what I’ve seen right now from the testimony that Alex gave, I would say it was very low the percentage that wasn’t using it. Like he said, that’s what was going around the league at the time. What else do you want? But in 2004 when they came out with the testing, I guarantee the percentage has been going down.”
Ortiz expressed his belief that around 80 or 90 percent of the game is now clean. Who knows if that’s naivete, undetectable designer drugs, the truth or some combination of all three? We just don’t know anymore.
Meanwhile, Paul, one of the Sox fans at YFSF, has an apt conclusion to his post on the matter. “One thing I’m surprised no one asked,” he writes, “especially given Ortiz’s previous comments about the GNC products from the Dominican, is whether he’s one of the 103 other names.”
The problem with David Ortiz’s statement is that you can’t hop in a time machine and ban everyone in 1999. You can’t really save baseball from the past. Ortiz is hitting on all the right things if you care about PED use and the pall it may or may not have cast over the game. But in the end, it’s not really Ortiz who is right.
Rather, the one person who was right is the one most overlooked and quite tarred by the scandal. On May 17, 2005, Mark McGwire said, “I’m not here to talk about the past.” That’s really the best thing right now for baseball. Officials, players, agents, owners can point as many fingers as they won’t, but the only action that will solve this PR problem is to move forward.
For now, though, we’ll just have to a few hours until A-Rod is ready to talk about the past.
The first pic is from Milwaukee’s final game of the regular season, when CC clinched the Crew’s first playoff berth in a quarter century with a complete game four hitter (but you know, he’s never pitched well in a big game). The second pic is from Saturday’s John Harper column. So I guess we know what CC this winter, besides losing what looks like a ton of weight.
It seems like it was just yesterday, but on this day five years ago the Yankees acquired Alex Rodriguez in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and Low-A prospect Joaquin Arias. Texas also kicked in $67M of the $179M left on A-Rod‘s deal. After volunteering to shift over to third in deference to incumbent shortstop Derek Jeter, the Yankees had their new megastar.
It’s no secret but A-Rod’s been one of the more controversial figures in New York sports history, and until his recent PED admission it was almost entirely undeserved. It’s nobody’s business who he chooses to date, and his postseason struggles are obsessed over even though they’re about 2% of the problem, with poor starting pitching being the other 98%. The fact of the matter is that A-Rod has been one of the most productive players in baseball since arriving in New York. He’s hit more homers than anyone else in that span (208), scored the most runs (596) and driven in the second most (616). It’s a trade you make a million times out of a million.
A-Rod will be holding a press conference tomorrow to address what’s already been addressed, in the very same spot where Andy Pettitte admitted his mistake last year. Something tells me A-Rod won’t get the free pass Pettitte has since received, he’s not a True Yankee™©® after all.
So anyway, here’s your open thread for the night. The Knicks, Nets, Rangers and Islanders are all in action. Anything goes, just be nice.
Photo Credit: Gregory Bull, AP
Ever heard of Jimmy Scott? Neither had I until this morning. I didn’t think it was possible to not know a pitcher with 330 career wins and 4,022 career strikeouts, but we all make oversights from time to time. It makes sense, then, that he calls himself “the best pitcher you never heard of.” If you haven’t checked out his website, Jimmy Scott’s High & Tight, you can mosey on over there and check out his interview with Scott Brosius. It provides some insight into the latter years of Brosius’s career, as well as his decision to retire at age 34 after the 2001 season.
Disclaimer: If you believe Jimmy Scott is a real player, or believe that I believed it…I don’t even know what to say to you. · (15) ·