Mets Merized Online » steroids Sun, 07 Feb 2016 21:08:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Proving Piazza Didn’t Use Steroids Fri, 08 Jan 2016 16:00:04 +0000 mike piazza

There have been some irresponsible opinions that Mike Piazza‘s election to the Hall of Fame means it will pave the way for  known steroid users to be elected to the Hall of Fame. This premise contains one potential logic fallacy. It presupposes Piazza used steroids. Did he?

Let’s start with the case against him. There are no reports, investigations, or tests linking him to steroids. The case against him boils down to rumor, innuendo, and skin problems. We have no statements from teammates, clubhouse workers, or anyone else who may have any link to Piazza establishing he used steroids. So that makes me question how do you counteract rumors and innuendo?  Facts don’t work. Piazza’s denials haven’t worked.  Overall, the only way to combat rumors and innuendo is to present what people will actually say in public about a person.

Cliff Floyd was a teammate of Piazza from 2003 – 2005. Floyd is an analyst all over the place from MLB Radio, MLB Network, and SNY.  Here’s his opinion on steroid users and the Hall of Fame:

Floyd doesn’t want steroid users in the Hall of Fame. Here’s how he reacted when Mike Piazza was elected:

Floyd didn’t choose to ignore Piazza’s election. He didn’t condemn the choice. He celebrated Piazza’s induction. Floyd shared a clubhouse with Piazza for three years. If anyone would know he used steroids, it was Floyd. However, there were no accusations from him. Just congratulations. From this it is apparent that Cliff Floyd does not believe his former teammate used steroids.

I already know the rebuttal. Steroid testing  in baseball began in 2003. Of course Floyd saw nothing. This rebuttal doesn’t take into account that no teammate has ever spoken about Piazza using steroids. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been good enough thus far. To that, my next example is Al Leiter.

Like Floyd, Leiter is all over the place covering baseball. Leiter was Piazza’s teammate from 1998 – 2004. They played together a long time, and Leiter threw to Piazza more than any other catcher. Here was Leiter’s ballot on MLB Network:


It should first be noted Leiter doesn’t actually have a ballot. The above photo from MLB Network shows how he would have voted if he had a vote.

Note, there’s no Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens on the ballot. Leiter didn’t vote for two people who have been linked to steroids use during their careers.  These are two people who would’ve been elected but for their steroid use.  Leiter didn’t vote for people who we know from various sources that used steroids. Yet, Leiter voted for Piazza. Other than Piazza himself, who would know better than Leiter if Piazza used steroids?

If teammates like Leiter and Floyd don’t link Piazza to steroid use, how can anyone else?  If we’re going by word of mouth or rumor, shouldn’t we at least take into account the opinions of Piazza’s teammates?  These are people who have put their name out there and have separated Piazza from the group of known steroid users. They now are now members of the media and are staking their reputations if it ever came out that Piazza used steroids.  I find it hard to believe there is a massive Mets cover up afoot; a coverup which includes each and every player and former player.

Isn’t this substantive proof that Piazza DID NOT use steroids?  Isn’t this more than what has been presented by anyone as a factual basis to prove Piazza used steroids?  Why doesn’t anyone ever discuss this aspect of whether or not someone used steroids?  It seems the people saying Piazza used steroids are the ones that didn’t play the game. They weren’t the ones in the Mets locker room. Somehow, we’re supposed to believe they know more about Piazza than people who were with him every day from February to early October. It doesn’t add up.

Therefore, using the same “standard of proof” others have used, it is conclusive Piazza didn’t use steroids.


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Mike Piazza Questions Enter A Gray Area After HOF Announcement Thu, 07 Jan 2016 15:16:52 +0000 pete-rose-e1426541102609

After he was banished from baseball for violating its golden rule, it appeared there would be no more moments of glory for Pete Rose. When you gamble in baseball, you always lose. You’re always out. No more managing the Reds. Certainly, no Hall of Fame.

Then Bud Selig relented, if only slightly. As part of the turn of the century, Major League Baseball wanted the fans to vote on the All Century Team. Even though Rose’s name would never be permitted on a Hall of Fame ballot, Major League Baseball was going to allow its fans to decide if the Hit King should be a part of the All Century Team. The fans selected Rose, and Selig invited Rose to take part in the honoring ceremony during the 1999 World Series.

At the time, we believed this would be the last time Pete Rose would ever step foot on a major league ball field. When the members of the All Century team were introduced, Rose received the biggest ovation. It was a big night for him. On that night, it was also a big night for Jim Gray to get an interview with Rose:

Jim Gray stood there and asked every question each and every person was hoping Rose would answer.  On the one hand, he was forceful in trying to get answers to his questions. On the other, he was seemingly doing his job. He would be universally derided. A new rule was set forth. There should be no tough questions when a former player is celebrating an achievement. That was until yesterday.

mike piazza black

Finally, after years of waiting, Mike Piazza was elected to the Hall of Fame. He then did the rounds to answer questions on what it meant to him to be a Hall of Famer. It was a victory tour of sorts for Piazza. Then came the question that you’re no longer supposed to ask on these occasions as transcribed by Adam Rubin of ESPN:

Are you bothered when people make accusations against you alleging steroid use and just cite acne on the back?

Someone broke the rule and went there. Piazza was gracious answering the question saying he “really want[ed] to celebrate his career” and accusations like that are out if his control.

In the past, this issue has rankled him. He once asked Peter Gammons, “what does acne have to do with steroids?”  He had steadfastly denied the steroids rumors. Rumors that have been propagated by the Murray Chasses and Jon Heymans of the world without any proof.

Despite the rumors and innuendo, Piazza rose above it all and became a Hall of Famer. He deserved his moment in the sun. However, someone had to go and ask him a steroids question during his HOF announcement press conference . At one time, it might have been a fair question. After 1999, such questions were supposed to be out of bounds. It wasn’t yesterday.

If someone like Pete Rose, who agreed to his own banishment under the cloud of his betting on baseball, can’t be asked hard questions, no one should. This goes double for Mike Piazza, who has never been implicated in any report, test, or investigation. Hopefully, one day these questions will end, and we can just focus on Piazza’s career. Unfortunately, that day is not today.  At least for today, no question is out of bounds no matter the setting.

It makes me wonder.  Is Piazza owed an apology for the question, or is Jim Gray owed an apology for the criticism he received?

we are original 280 footer

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Even In Defeat, A-Rod’s Still A Winner Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:00:22 +0000 (Photo Credit: Noah K. Murray, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo Credit: Noah K. Murray, USA TODAY Sports)

Alex Rodriguez‘s handwritten apology letter released to the media yesterday was a joke. It was authentic A-Rod: cold, unforgiving, and insincere. In a letter that should be the most humble apology we’ve ever heard, he didn’t explain himself. He didn’t even say what he did. He called his steroid use “the mistakes that led to my suspension.” However, it doesn’t matter at this point what A-Rod says (or writes). He realizes he doesn’t need to beg for forgiveness. He’s already won.

Sure, A-Rod’s reputation took a big hit years back when he admitted to using PEDs with the Texas Rangers between 2001 and 2003. But he was already hated. He had already alienated baseball fans everywhere with his stuck-up attitude. If you weren’t a Yankee fan, odds are you didn’t like him anyway.

Since then, Rodriguez has had nothing to lose. He’s played fast and loose with the media in the years since. He hasn’t cared what anyone thinks, nor has he needed to.

Yesterday, we saw two men in very similar yet vastly different situations. A-Rod apologized in what on the surface appeared to be a desperate move while Anthony Bosch, the former Florida clinic owner who sold steroids to A-Rod and others, cried in court before receiving a four-year prison sentence. While what Bosch did was far more despicable (selling steroids to minors), his punishment fits his crimes. A-Rod’s crimes against baseball will go practically unpunished.

No matter what happens with Alex Rodriguez this year, he wins. If he goes into spring training in terrible shape and can’t even beat out the likes of Chris Young and Chase Headley for playing time over the next two years, he still goes home $61 million richer, and that’s the worst case.

Even in a piece for ESPN New York scolding A-Rod and calling him “a serial liar and cheat who thought he needed underground pharmacology to become one of the all-time greats,” Ian O’Connor opened the door for redemption. “Alex Rodriguez has only one genuine way of connecting with fans who want to win a whole lot more than they want to read his handwritten B.S,” wrote O’Connor, “See the ball. Hit the ball. Hit the ball over the wall.”

Say Rodriguez returns with a 30 home run season and leads the Yankees to a surprise playoff run. In a country that craves redemption stories, he will suddenly be a hero, or at least, his reputation will be partially repaired. And that’s the problem.

A-Rod lied to the media, fans, his teammates, and his bosses time after time. He made us sympathize with him over the “pressures” he faced in Texas and made some understand why he did what he did. He even convinced most that he had turned over a new leaf. He has stepped on people and used the media to push people around. He doesn’t deserve a shot at redemption. Heck, he doesn’t even deserve his money. Players will look at A-Rod as someone who, while his reputation is damaged, got away with it all. He won’t get a plaque in Cooperstown or have his number retired by the Yankees, but he comes out of it all with fame, fortune, and yes, a shot at forgiveness. If he got through, so can others. How many times are we going to give clearly bad people who don’t show any true remorse second, third, and fourth chances? Until there is some sort of genuine, collaborative effort by both the players, owners, and teams to stop this from happening, can we really bet on players not repeating these mistakes? Can we really declare the so-called “Steroid Era” over?

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Hall of Fame Thread: Mike Piazza Shut Out Again! Tue, 06 Jan 2015 19:02:09 +0000 mike-piazza

The BBWAA have elected four players into the Hall of Fame and they are Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson.

Biggio received 82.7 percent of the votes (549 ballots cast). Johnson was 97.3, Martinez 97.1 and Smoltz at 82.9. It is the first time since 1955 that four players have been elected the same year.

Piazza got just 69.9 percent of the vote. Also, Carlos Delgado got less than 5 percent of the vote and was knocked off the ballot.

Total bummer….

Among some of those who didn’t cast a vote for Piazza are Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman.

The only positive to take away is that Piazza continues to trend upward for the second year in a row. Like Biggio this year, Piazza goes into 2016 with the highest percentage among all those returning on the next HOF ballot.

9:00 AM

Mike Piazza continues to slip. This morning’s latest tally of 188 public Hall of Fame ballots as tracked by Baseball Think Factory, now have him at 76.1 percent of the vote.

In a span of two weeks, Piazza has seen his support slide from 81.0 to 79.5 percent to 78.1 on Monday to the 76.1 this morning. It is still slightly ahead of the 75 percent threshold Piazza needs to get into Cooperstown, but it seems most are predicting that he’ll get shutout again.

All 571 ballots from the Baseball Writers Association of America will be tallied and announced live on MLB Network and at 2 PM.

Piazza remains optimistic. In a an interview with he said:

“I can only say that there’s been a lot of great players throughout history that have had to wait their turn. Joe DiMaggio had three ballots. Yogi Berra had three ballots. And that’s part of the process. For me, it’s not really my place, I feel, to start campaigning. I can only say that I’m proud of my work and I’m proud of my career. I’ll put my numbers against a lot of players in history, and I feel that’s all I can do.’’

Piazza remains one of the greatest offensive catchers of all time, setting the MLB record of 396 home runs as a catcher while with the Mets. Over 16 seasons with the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres and A’s he finished with 427 homers, 1,335 RBI, and a .308 batting average.

A 12-time All-Star and 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, he spent eight years with the Mets and helped take them to the postseason in 1999 and all the way to the World Series the following season.

Mike has said he would go into the HOF wearing a Mets cap, becoming the only position player ever to do so.

Thoughts from John Delcos

As a Hall of Fame voter, I received emails from several teams over the years lobbying for my vote for one of their players. Seattle wrote me about Edgar Martinez and Boston did likewise for Jim Rice.

There were others.

However, I never received a note from the New York Mets regarding Mike Piazza and I don’t know why.

Surely, it reflects positively on the organization if one of their own gets to Cooperstown. Piazza is one of the more popular players in franchise history, so where’s the love?

I can’t believe the organization doesn’t care, because they’ve gone out of their way to include him in team events in the past.

The only thing I can immediately think of is they are afraid of being embarrassed if he gets in and the PED accusations are later proven true. Or, perhaps they don’t want to be connected to a player with any chance of being linked to steroids.

I voted for Piazza and I didn’t need any lobbying from the Mets. The voting figures to be close, but early reports have Piazza falling short. The announcement will come this afternoon.

Could any stumping by the Mets closed the gap? Hopefully not, but maybe the Mets will get another chance next year.


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More Trouble With Hemi-Roiders Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:27:50 +0000 It’s one thing for Jose Canseco to get pulled over with a goat in a diaper riding in his back seat, it’s quite another if he blows one of his fingers off cleaning a handgun.

jose-cansecoUnless he had bag of ice (or even a slushy) handy , the likelihood is that this little piggy is going in the medical waste bin. What a shame, fingers are handy, especially when you get cut off on an on-ramp by a muscle-bound idiot in a jacked up Ford pickup. The whole thing reminds me of a guy I knew in the service.

He was a shitbird. A shitbird is what we called guys who didn’t press their uniforms and didn’t get regular haircuts. Our unit was real big on personal hygiene and polished boots, because, well they wanted us to look neat and clean if we ever had to go kill people. I was introduced to this guy by a friend and I immediately thought “shitbird” when I saw him. A few months later I happened to see him on an operation in the desert. It was our first couple of days out in the field and we were still getting acclimated and I remember it was very hot. I finally understood what it meant when people would say, “it’s like a desert out here today.”

So I see this guy walking not far from a mess tent and he was carrying 6 MRE’s — MRE is an acronym for “meal ready to eat.” They are beyond nasty, they contain stuff like desiccated pork patties that taste how you’d imagine a pig that’s been through a wood chipper with a stack of cardboard boxes might taste after being dehydrated and cut up into patties. So I say “hi” and he stops and looks at me with this wide crazy eyes look like he’s got several lbs. of hashish duct taped to his ribs. He says, “hey what’s up man.” I say, “what’s with the MRE’s dude?” and he launches into an epic diatribe about calorie content and how they are packed with protein and nutrients and they help him gain weight (never mind that they taste like the wrong end of an ostrich).

“Why do you want to gain weight?” I ask. “Oh yeah,” he says, “I did a cycle.” A cycle, I didn’t know what that meant. “Like a bicycle?” I said imagining him trying to pedal a Schwinn over the sand dunes. “No, dude, you know steroids,” said Private Shitbird dropping his voice to a whisper and shifting his eyes back and forth like someone was listening (there was no one within 1,000 feet of us). “Yeah man, I’ve put on blah blah blah …“ he goes into this litany of weights and measurements as my eyes glazed and I began to feel dizzy from the sun. He ended with, “I can get you some.”

I looked at him and thought, some? MRE’s? Oooooh, Steroids, the injectable kind.  “I’m good, I don’t really need to gain weight.” I said, still under the impression you could pop on a urine test for using. “ Aren’t you worried about getting caught?” I said, knowing this guy had already popped on a piss-test for smoking weed. “Nah,” he said. I got a Corpsman buddy at Division, he gives me a heads up, besides they don’t even pick up on that stuff. “Aahh,” I said, thinking that’s what they all say. I’d reached that point in a conversation with someone you don’t really know where you’ve run out of stuff to talk about and then you’re just looking around wondering why you’re standing in the blistering sun. “Ok well, gotta go.”

I saw this guy a couple of times after that, each time he was noticeably bigger. Then I heard about it one day after returning to Garrison, everybody heard about it. He’d rolled over onto another operation (shitbirds spent a lot of time in the desert because no one liked them) and he got bit by a rattlesnake. That wasn’t the end of it. Apparently he went into a rage after the thing bit him and he grabbed it (whereupon it bit him again) and then he tore into the poor animal with his teeth and ripped its head off. Something you might imagine from, oh I don’t know, Ozzy Osbourne on steroids.

roid rage

Needless to say he needed a medevac pronto and legend has it they even punched a breathing hole in his throat because the venom got into his mouth causing his face and throat to swell up to several times their normal size (I would have paid to see that). It was one of these stories that made it’s rounds around the barracks and you ended up hearing several different versions from several different people before the day was over, and every time it got crazier. Eventually you’d have believed he chewed his way out of a pit of vipers and they punched a hole in his throat with a Ka-Bar and a ballpoint pen. What was clear was the guy was an absolute moron, an evolutionary throw-back who should have been tossed out with the discards in boot camp like some sort of mutated trout. How guys like that made it as far as they did always amazed me. Shitbird survived only to get kicked out – bad papers and all – a few months later for failing a third urinalysis, positive for THC.

Anyway, that was my first real experience with steroids. I later actually worked for a platoon sergeant who was juicing. I began to realize that while they did supposedly check for hormone levels we never heard about anyone getting busted for steroids. They called this guy “the Beef” – as in “where’s the Beef?” He would eat like six cans of tuna for lunch, plain, no bread or mayonnaise or olive oil, not even a sprinkling of paprika and dill. Just gross tuna right out of the can. He was also moody like you wouldn’t believe. One day he’d be cool with three of us being so drunk at morning formation we’d literally be falling over each other, another day he’d have the platoon digging ditches because someone got some shaving cream on one of the bathroom sinks. It kind of sucked, in fact the entire steroid thing kind of sucks.

Sure, conceding that many recent lists of potential MLB HOF inductees are speckled with cheaters is upsetting, even though the Hall of Fame’s rolls are littered with drunks and rogues and some not very nice people, but the statistical integrity of the game is another story.

The users have made it really difficult to figure out what’s what. What does 30 homers mean? What does 40 homers mean? How dumb is Manny Ramirez? Would he bite off a rattlesnake’s head? I could totally see that actually. But getting back to statistical continuity, these roiders (incidentally if you drive a Dodge truck while doing “a cycle” does that make you a hemi-roider?) … anyway, Canseco & Co. have made it really difficult to put a finger on a baseline norm for offensive performance over the past 20 years.

Mark McGwireHow many of Mark McGwire’s gargantuan blasts were the result of testosterone? How many were due to improved nutrition and training? Ever look at a suit of armor from the 1500’s? They were tiny back then — like little kid tiny. I mean if I saw one of these munchkins coming at me in a medieval forest seriously I would laugh, thinking, “is this guy for real?” right before he’d run me through with a lance (not so funny now HA!).  But athletes have been getting bigger and stronger and faster with every generation so there are multiple variables at work here when you look at the ebb and flow of offensive production.

I look at my kids sometimes as they hack my wife’s Amazon account and think “evolution” right there, I can barely get into my email. The improvement in training methods and medicine is another variable. A hundred years ago a broken leg was life threatening, you could be put down … like a horse. Now-a-days they’re talking about bionic hands and total knee replacements. So guys are coming back from injuries that would have been career ending in the not so distant past. They also get paid a lot more, and don’t think that isn’t a factor, I know people who would do some crazy shit for twenty-grand let alone twenty-million.

The sad truth, however, is that the roiders skewed the statistical integrity of the game. There is simply no way to tease the effects of steroids from whatever natural increases we may have seen due to human progress and improved nutrition and exercise. Professional baseball players (and all of their enablers) who took it upon themselves to use performance enhancing drugs have largely taken something away from the game that we can never get back.

I don’t really care for most of these guys who didn’t make it into the HOF. Bonds was a misanthropic grouch with a persecution complex and a head that eventually generated enough gravitational pull to support small satellites (saltshakers and shot glasses and stuff like that). I know several small furry creatures that I honestly believe are smarter than Sammy Sosa.

Jose Canseco is a parody of himself, an embarrassment in his own time lifted from a really bad Tarantino flick. Clemens is a fat and arrogant bully who appears to be living in a world of his own fabrication where he is and always will be the greatest man ever to breath air and eat pancakes – if he even is a man – there are days when he really wonders if maybe he’s some kind of god??! So yeah, I don’t care for these knuckleheads and generally feel like they had the HOF snub coming. I’m convinced each one of these guys has a rattlesnake somewhere waiting around a bend ready to bite them in the ass.

mike piazzaI do, however, feel bad for Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio. Two stand-up players who seemed to stay clean and never really hurt anyone or said anything terribly stupid. I don’t know for sure whether Piazza used but I doubt it.  He doesn’t fit the “unbelievably self-absorbed and dumb enough to bite a rattlesnake” profile.

When I think of steroid side-effects, the moodiness also comes to mind. I remember “the Beef” and how incredibly different he was when he was in a roid-rage. Piazza as we all know was about as laid back and even keeled as you could be – maybe to a fault. Fans used to lament that he wasn’t enough of a “leader,” that he didn’t “get in people’s faces” and that he didn’t turn the broken bat into a Roger-popsicle, and that he spent too much time playing air guitar, but Mike just never struck me as a juicer. Mike also never tested positive.

Murray Chass may go on his witch-hunt and follow Piazza and his back acne into the very gates of Hades for all I care. Who knows why, maybe a young Piazza snubbed Murray in the locker room because he had to take a leak, maybe Murray’s wife called out “oh yes, MIKE!” during an intimate moment, maybe Chass decided to demonstrate the might of his pen by randomly destroying one of the most prominent talents on the NY sports scene just for the hell of it. I don’t know and I don’t care, I don’t have any Murray Chass journalist cards the last time I checked.

It is nevertheless something of a sad travesty that guys like Biggio and Piazza got lumped in with the swollen boils on baseball’s hindquarters — those who didn’t have the presence and wherewithal not to cheat are and always will be the snake-biter shitbirds who end up blowing off their own body parts and getting holes punched in their necks.


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Sandy Has No Recollection Of La Russa’s Steroid Concerns… None, Zero, Nada… Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:29:01 +0000 tony la russa

Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson said Monday that if Tony La Russa came to him with suspicions about performance enhancing drug use when the two were with the Oakland A’s organization, he doesn’t remember it.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about those kinds of circumstances over the years, particularly eight or nine years ago, and I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of any such conversation,” Alderson said.

“If you go back and look at what I have said on the record, yes, I had my suspicions,” Alderson said. “I’m just here to respond to what Tony had to say and let’s leave it at that.”

Read more in the Daily News.

July 28

In an interview with the Daily News this weekend, 2014 Hall of Fame inductee Tony La Russa had some interesting things to say regarding the entire steroids era.

La Russa said he went to GM Sandy Alderson and the team’s ownership during that era about potential player steroid use, but nothing was done and he said he was confronted by “indifference” by the team’s brass.

“I knew our programs in Oakland were 100 percent clean,” La Russa told the Daily News. “But we had our suspicions — guys hitting stronger but not working out. I went to Sandy and ownership about this. And they told me flat off, ‘Right of privacy. It’s a collective bargaining issue.’”

Alderson is expected to respond to the allegations today at Citi Field before tonight’s game.

“I’m not going to comment on that until at least Monday,” said Alderson to the Daily News, presumably so he would not detract from HOF induction weekend.

La Russa also added:

“We have to acknowledge that that period for about 10 or 12 years, somewhere around the early ’90s to the early 2000s, was a black spot, a negative mark in our history.”

“If any manager had known for sure that his players were doing this and didn’t report it to the league, to me, that’s a breach of integrity and he shouldn’t be let in the Hall of Fame.”

La Russa believes that if Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds get into the Hall, they should have asterisks. 

The Hall of Fame governing bodies just made changes to HOF voting system, reducing the number of years a player can remain on the ballot from 15 years to 10 years. It’s being viewed as an attempt to block some of the steroids users who are currently on the ballot.

I would expect Alderson to say pretty much the same things he said in 2010 when he was confronted with this issue after being named the Mets GM.

After Alderson was interviewed by Congress and former Senator George Mitchell for a report on the subject, he told reporters:

“I guess in a nutshell, I suspected Jose Canseco of using steroids,” Alderson said. “I never suspected Mark McGwire. It was at a time when, as an organization, we actually had begun to emphasize weight training as part of our regimen.”

“But nonetheless it was new at that time and may have inadvertently gotten us involved with that steroid aspect of weight training and weight building, body building.”

“If you go back and put all that in perspective, do I wish I had done more?” he asked. “I think that’s almost always true with anything that we experience.”

Many have claimed that Oakland was Ground Zero for the growing steroid epidemic that has left an indelible stain on the game. It led to a controversial bestselling book by Oakland superstar Jose Canseco, who charged that the team knew everything, and that he and more than half of his teammates were all juicing.

Initially labelled as an opportunistic liar by Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and almost all of baseball, Canseco’s book blew the lid off the conspiracy to keep everything under wraps. A congressional hearing and a government oversight committee would eventually ensue and sweeping changes to the drug testing program and stronger and enforceable penalties would soon follow.

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MMO Review: Ken Burns’ The Tenth Inning Sun, 23 Feb 2014 19:32:25 +0000 burns tenth inning

Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby was once asked what he does all winter. The great 2Bman replied, “I stare out the window and wait for spring.” I am just like Hornsby. No, I don’t have a career 358 BA but I do the same. Unlike most of you, I don’t follow other sports. One tradition I have is viewing Ken Burns’ Baseball to help me survive the endlessly boring winters. A few years back I purchased the “The Tenth Inning,” but hadn’t watched it–until recently.

Hard to believe I was disappointed. True, even a bad Baseball documentary is still good. But this felt more like an ESPN show, not a creation by an award-winning documentarian.

There are several familiar faces that return from the original. Doris Kearns Goodwin, Daniel Okrent, Gerald Early, Thomas Boswell and Bob Costas are back sharing insights. Newcomers include sportswriters Marcus Breton, Howard Bryant, Gary Hoenig, as well as great tales from Keith Olbermann and Mike Barnicle. Chris Rock supplies a few laughs. Bud Selig and Don Fehr are interviewed.

In one of the Special Features both Burns and co-prouder Lynn Novick are interviewed. Burns is a die-hard Red Sox fan, Novick a Yankees fan. Burns stated after his Sox reversed the curse in ’04, he formulated the idea to update the original. And therein lies the problem. This episode covers 1992-2009. However, about 2 ½ of the 4 hours is devoted to only two topics: The Red Sox/Yankee rivalry and steroids.


Granted, these were huge topics over the last 20 years. But as a result numerous other subjects and high points were glossed over or ignored completely.

I’m not downplaying the long lasting effects of the Steroid Era. But I felt far too much emphasis was focused on this topic. The steroids issue was presented in such a way I thought I was watching Dateline.

“The Tenth Inning” was little more than a MLB highlight reel. Gone were the personal stories from those in the game. The only ballplayer interviewed was Pedro Martinez. Felipe Alou appeared briefly in addition to Yankee skipper Joe Torre who received approximately 25 minutes of airtime.  

The earlier innings were, by and large, centered on the individual player and his significance to the game. Rarely was a section focused on a ‘team.’ Much of The Fourth Inning, A National Heirloom, was centered on Babe Ruth. A good portion of the Sixth Inning, The National Pastime, was focused on Jackie Robinson. This tenth inning, as a result of overkill on two topics, left many important issues not covered.

After 86 years, Boston finally won the World Series and received endless coverage. On the flipside, the White Sox ended their 88 year drought in 2005 but it was not even mentioned.

In 2003, the Cubs were 5 outs away from returning to the Series for the first time since 1945, possibly winning their first Championship in 95 years. Yes, there was poor old Steve Bartman again. But no time was devoted to the long storied history of Cubs futility. A brief recap of their century long slump would have brought into perspective the fan interference call.

The overkill of Yankees/Red Sox and Steroids left much on the cutting room floor.


The first 9 innings covered the 20th Century. Yet, one of Baseball’s most glorious moments, the 1999 All-Star Game when yes, The All-Century Team was introduced, was not examined.  Ted Williams at Fenway. How much better does it get?

The influx of Latin players received a good amount of air-time. Yet, there was no mention of the decline and almost complete disappearance of African-Americans from the field. I found this interesting, especially since, and rightfully so, so much focus throughout the original was paid to Jackie Robinson’s arrival, the fading away of the Negro Leagues and the horrors that black ballplayers such as Hank Aaron and Curt Flood endured decades after the end of The Gentleman’s Agreement.

Two of the most popular broadcasters in history, Jack Buck and Harry Caray, adored by generations of fans in Chicago and St. Louis, died in 2002 and 1998 respectively. Yet, they were omitted. There was nothing said about Baseball returning to the nation’s capital after almost forty years. Nor was the addition of teams in Tampa Bay, Colorado, Miami or Arizona discussed. The D-backs only got mentioned when Burns turned his focus to the 2001 Yankees.

As the bulk of the 4 hours centered on the big market Yankees and Sox, the fact that small market clubs on a shoestring budget, such as Oakland, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Miami remained competitive, was again barely discussed. The Twins, Rays and Marlins with their 2 titles received no air-time.

With the exceptions of the Braves dominant Big Three and the high profile trio of McGwire, Sosa and Bonds, many other great players from the last 20+ years were non-existent.

Ken Griffey Jr, one of the most loved players of his generation appeared on the cover of the DVD but only was briefly mentioned in the opening minutes. Admired Kirby Puckett, who retired early due to injuries, became one of the youngest players enshrined in Cooperstown and tragically died at 45 years old, was absent. Tony Gwynn’s 338 career BA may have been the highest of the last half-century but apparently that wasn’t worthy of being highlighted. One glaring and unbelievable lapse relates to the greatest lead-off hitter ever. Rickey Henderson is the all-time leader in SB’s (1406), runs, (2295), lead-off HR’s (81) and unintentional walks (2129.) He was rarely out on the bases but he was out of The Tenth Inning.

How can you discuss the last 20 years without including Trevor Hoffman, Robby Alomar, Jim Thome, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Chipper Jones, Craig Biggio and the man who hit more HR’s than any other catcher in history, our own Mike Piazza.

When Aaron Boone, Scott Brosius and Kevin Millar get more attention than Pujols, Cabrera and Alomar, somethin’ aint right.

ichiro_suzuki_catch_seattle_mariners - Copy

One part of The Tenth Inning was almost laughable. Burns and Novick highlighted the arrival of Ichiro Suzuki, the first Japanese position player. It underscored the fact that in the midst of balls flying out of ballparks, a slap hitter won the admiration of fans coast to coast. They made mention of his All-Star game appearances, numerous Gold Gloves and Batting titles. However, while praising Ichiro, they completely failed to include the fact he set the record for most hits in a season (262), a mark that had stood for 84 seasons. To discuss Ichiro without acknowledging his crowning achievement was a monumental blunder.

As for our beloved Mets? Well, let’s be honest. The period 1992-2009 wasn’t a great run for us. However, we were ignored entirely. In the Seventh Inning, The Capital of Baseball (1950-1959), that entire episode centered on New York’s dominance and that seemingly every October there was a Subway Series. Yet, in 2000, when the first Subway Series occurred in four and a half decades, this too was omitted.

Being a New Yorker and Mets fan I was greatly disturbed about the way 9/11 was portrayed. After the Towers were shown on fire and crumbling, the next baseball scene was the Yankees playing the White Sox with Chicagoans holding ‘We Love New York’ signs. There was no mention of the first post-9/11 game in New York, which happened at Shea and not even a mention of Piazza’s HR that healed a city. To add insult to injury, in one of the special features, Joe Torre was talking about how he and some of his players visited families of numerous victims. I’m not playing one-upmanship with regards to a horrific event. But I found it slightly appalling that a filmmaker with the credentials of Ken Burns would emphasize the role of one NY team while completely ignoring the other. A casual fan would think the Mets went the way of the Washington Senators after 1986.


To illustrate the above point, one part focused on how the game got away from the cookie-cutter stadiums of the 60’s and 70’s and built new parks with a retro field. 19 of 30 teams built new homes starting in 1990. If you recall the original documentary, much emphasis was placed on the lore and homey feeling of Ebbets Field. Yet, when the Mets build a retro stadium with an exterior that replicates the Dodgers home, that too, is avoided.

Interestingly, one problem the game has faced over the last generation is the widening gap between big markets and small markets. Yet, Mr. Burns perpetuated that in ‘The Tenth Inning’ by focusing on Boston and New York while largely ignoring everyone else.

the tenth inning

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MMO Fan Shot: How About A 211 Game Suspension For Bud Selig? Sat, 18 Jan 2014 14:51:07 +0000 2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

An MMO Fan Shot by Steven Pacchiano

Selig is the ninth and current Commissioner of Major League Baseball, he’s been at the helm since 1992. His reign began at in the steroid era, and that was his bad luck. He had the opportunity to protect the game at the time but chose the wrong path. He turned a blind eye to it when it served his needs and reaped all the rewards after the strike. Guys like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were at the forefront of the impending debacle in 1998 with their home run chase which sparked the MLB financial turnaround. Fans, owners and Selig all cheered them on. As fans poured into the seats money poured into MLB.

Bud’s resumé boasts that he oversaw Interleague Play and the World Baseball Classic, both of which I think aren’t good for the game, but lets not get off topic. I did like the addition of the Wild Card that came about during his tenure, but this was no genius idea, well maybe it was, but MLB just adopted it from the NFL, so lets give credit to the NFL for that one.

Bud’s true legacy is that of a commissioner who tolerated steroids to advance the game, then flipped on those players who re-populated the stands. These players, who we all cheered for, who brought baseball back into the spotlight and began the run of record-breaking attendance are now all tarnished forever. These players were thought of as living legends as we watched Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Mike Piazza step to the plate every night. We all know the rest of the names of the best players that played in the 90’s and 00’s, we all had our favorites. Like a book with blank pages, the Hall of Fame – a history of the best players ever – over those 20 seasons will not have the greatest players of that era.

Some did it, some did not, no one stopped it, and everyone knew… That will be Selig’s legacy.

What’s the incentive NOT do steroids?

The player puts up numbers, helps their team win games, and makes a lot of money. The result is the Player, Owner and Commissioner are all happy.

If the player fails a test he’s suspended for 50 games and then gets right back to business. I can say, speaking for myself, that I would have no issue doing steroids if it meant being able to sign a nice contract that would take care of my family. Many players now don’t care about the HOF, they are looking for a big payday looking to take care of their family.

Lets not forget the owners, who don’t care either. When a player fails a test, let’s just take Jhonny Peralta for example; after the player is caught a team quickly signs him to a 4 year, $60 million dollar deal. It doesn’t seem that the teams care if they are on steroids or HGH or Fairy dust. The teams just want results and production. Owners are looking for wins and revenue and players are looking for a salary. It’s pretty simple.

If they really wanted to clean up the game, if a player fails a drug test, then the player would get his suspension, (50, 100 or whatever amount of games) but the team should also suffer a punishment.

What about if the team looses their First Round Pick in the upcoming draft if a guy on that team fails a test? Sounds good to me. And if there were two players on the team that failed a test, the team would loose their first AND second round picks in that upcoming draft. And so on.

That would make the team actually think, and say, “is it worth it to sign this player and risk losing a pick?”

If Selig and the owners want to really clean up the game I think this would be the best way.

Singling out Bonds, Clemens, and A-Rod, chasing them around town and spending tens of millions of dollars investigating them makes no sense. Hundred’s of players did it and no other professional sport hunts down clues outside of the sport beyond the basic random drug testing. Teams would actually police themselves and be responsible for their own players. MLB should randomly test players and the Owners should take care of their own locker rooms. Together they can clean up the sport, together they should be responsible.

The biggest joke is that Bud Selig intends to do a farewell tour of all 30 parks and say goodbye to all his loving fans. Hmmm wait a second, something’s wrong there. He’s not a beloved MLB player, jeesh he’s not even a player. I don’t think fans want to see him, at least no one I know does.

Does he think that chasing down three players who did steroids publicly will get him applause from the fans?

Does he think he transcends the game?

Is he admired by fans in the same way as The Mick, or Mo or even Chipper? Players who were worthy of doing a farewell tour?

I don’t think there will be any fan buying a ticket to go say goodbye to Selig, that is unless they want an opportunity to boo him. And I think he will likely get booed out of every park, maybe even Milwaukee where he was once their owner.

Maybe he’s delusional. Maybe he’s on something. Maybe Bud Selig should be suspended for 211 Games.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Steven Pacchiano. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Mike Piazza and Faith in Hall of Fame Voting Sat, 04 Jan 2014 14:00:11 +0000 Another year, another batch of worthy players kept from the Hall of Fame.

As of January 3, according to Baseball Think Factory, only four players, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Craig Biggio, have appeared on 75 percent of publicly-released Hall of Fame ballots in one of the strongest classes in history. Approximately one-fifth of all ballots have been released.

Could Piazza be snubbed from the Hall again?

Of all the projected Hall of Fame snubs, the one that hits closest to home among Mets fans is certainly Mike Piazza. For fans of both the Dodgers and Mets, he seems like a clearly-deserving candidate. However, some voters, almost 30 percent so far, have left Piazza off their ballots. A few voters have kept Piazza off their ballots based on merit, arguing that in a year where the ballot is full of all-time greats, Piazza wasn’t great enough. However, although there are some voters for whom being far and away the best hitter at a position just isn’t enough, most voters who have left Piazza out have done so because of steroid suspicion.

Of all the players on this year’s ballot, only one, Rafael Palmeiro, has ever officially failed a drug test (Sammy Sosa reportedly failed an anonymous drug test in 2003, but it was never officially confirmed by Major League Baseball) . Only one other player, Mark McGwire, has admitted to it. There are suspicions about others, but no one else has been proven guilty. Players like Piazza and Craig Biggio, each deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame, have been punished simply because they played in the same era as suspected cheatersThis is voting at its ugliest.

I have always thought that players who have cheated do not belong in the Hall of Fame. A few years ago, had I been given a vote, suspected players like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds would not have been on my ballot. However, Piazza’s situation over the past two years has changed my thinking. The attempts to keep  cheaters out of the Hall, at the expense of clean players, has gotten way out of hand.

To punish steroid users, and mostly suspected ones at that, is hypocritical of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. It will be the first time players will be kept out of Cooperstown en masse based on the “integrity clause.” To keep steroid users out of the Hall would be to not acknowledge the racists, bigots, criminals, drunks, and drug abusers already enshrined. The writers will vote for players who have a well-documented history of those offenses, but if there is any suspicion of a player using steroids, they won’t get votes? That’s not right. Maybe those voters would have some ground to stand on if we knew for sure who cheated, but with players like Piazza and Biggio getting snubbed, they have lost me.

Ty Cobb once  climbed into the stands to beat up a handicapped fan. It’s even rumored that he once beat a man to death with the handle of a pistol. Some Hall of Famers cheated on their wives. Others were viciously racist. Numerous players even admitted to using “greenies,” since banned by Major League Baseball, in their playing days. Gaylord Perry, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton and Whitey Ford, all Hall of Famers were notorious for throwing illegal spitballs.

As much as I’d like integrity and character to be a part of the voting process, it hasn’t been done for the 75 years the Hall of Fame has existed. If the Hall was started all over again, then I would understand the fight to keep cheaters out. But now, after decades of voting in cheaters and generally bad people, suddenly deciding to embark on a massive witch hunt that keeps players out because of back acne and hat sizes is completely unfair. The Hall of Fame doesn’t have to be perfect, just as its members aren’t.

Follow me on Twitter @UpAlongFirst.

Presented By Diehards

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MMO Exclusive: Tommy Lasorda On Negative Impact PEDs Is Having On Baseball Sat, 08 Jun 2013 11:00:34 +0000 a-rod

With the recent developments of the Miami-based Biogenesis clinic that is at the core of a performance-enhancing drug scandal, the baseball world is abuzz over the possibility that some of the game’s most productive players potentially receiving severe penalties including 100-game suspensions.

Clinic-founder Tony Bosch is reportedly in Major League Baseball’s corner now, and the league is hoping to have the evidence they will need to take a stand against those who allegedly purchased and used performance-enhancing drugs despite continued efforts to close the book on what we now know as the Steroid Era.

Major League Baseball wants the madness to finally end, and they are pulling out all the stops in order to make a statement and curtail the use of steroids in an effort to make it a thing of the past.

Some have criticized MLB for being too harsh in their reported tactics to obtain information on those using and more specifically those who purchased steroids from the Biogenesis clinic, however several of baseball’s finest alumni believe that the league is doing what is necessary to stop these drugs from getting to into the systems of players.


I spoke with several baseball greats on the subject of steroids yesterday and many spoke freely about it, the most vocal of which was Hall-of-Famer and baseball legend Tommy Lasorda, who has little patience for those that choose to use PEDs.

“The guys that are taking steroids, they’re cheating; and they shouldn’t be allowed to play,” said Lasorda with a look of disgust. 

“We can’t allow players to cheat, you can’t allow that,” said Lasorda. “Baseball doesn’t need those kind of players, and that’s what the commissioner is trying to do. He’s trying to make it a game like it used to be. Everybody came out the same way, everybody built themselves up the same way. Everybody made themselves the same way. And that’s what the commissioner is looking for now.

“I think the commissioner is doing the right thing and is doing the best he can. He wants this game to be clean for everybody that plays it, and he’s been doing a magnificent job since all this first started. And he’ll stay on it until everybody is clean.”

The positive tests have popped up again and again over the past decade. Beloved players have turned into public enemies; legends to frauds. It has been a continuously disappointing and heart-breaking process to see many of the game’s most talented players fall from grace and forever be labeled as a “user”.

bonds home run ball

The heartbreak of  a tainted era once thought to be a golden age of baseball has left a bad taste in the mouths of many fans and those throughout the game. Five-time All-Star and 2001 World Series hero Luis Gonzalez says that everyone as a whole just wants to move forward.

“The fans are tired of hearing about it, the organizations, everybody is and we just want to move on,” said Gonzalez as he crosses his arms and sinks back in his chair. “This is America’s pastime, it’s one of the greatest games ever and we want to move forward from it.”

It seems even current players are tiring of having to hear about it as well, leading many athletes to take strong stances publicly on the use of steroids, as seen earlier this year when David Wright proclaimed ‘if you cheat, I hope you get caught,’.


Longtime Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood had strong words of his own on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in today’s game.

“We’ve been warned of the consequences and if you’re trying something at this point; you’re asking for it,” said Wood.

“They’re trying to make sure that it’s not a possibility,” said Wood, continuing on to talk about MLB’s crackdown on those caught using PEDs. “They’re trying to clean that up and really change the image and I think they’ve done a really good job doing that in the past and if they feel guys are still trying to do that and take advantage of the system and not play by the rules, then we’ve all been forewarned as players. Whatever decision they come up with is to keep the integrity of the sport intact which is the most important thing.”

The coming weeks will be very telling as to how MLB decides to handle this most recent steroids scandal. The road to a clean sport will be long, and very possibly never entirely reached. Steroids will always be around, as will those desperate enough to take the risk to get an edge. However in the end, I believe Wood sums it up better than anyone.

“The game is so much bigger than one player. One or two players, or even a handful don’t make this game what it is,” said Wood. “It’s a game that we all need to respect and keep the integrity of. We at least owe that to the players who played before us.”

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MMO Exclusive: The Mets And Their Difficult Relationship With The New York Press Sat, 08 Jun 2013 00:20:53 +0000 jeff wilpon

To Jeff Wilpon The Mets Are Just A Laughing Matter…

That charming headline appeared in a May 29th Daily News article by the rabble-rousing Filip Bondy

You may remember that Jeff Wilpon showed up at Citi Field and made a rare public appearance during a pregame ceremony for Mariano Rivera, who threw out the first pitch, and eventually the last. That was the day that the Mets COO gave up on the season and let the future HOF closer know about it.

The title caught my eye like a mangled raccoon on Interstate 94, but as I wasn’t able to read it until days later. I tried to hold my preconceptions in check, but it looked like Jeff may have put his foot in his mouth again. Or maybe not… Here is what he actually said: “Wish we could see you in the World Series,” Wilpon told Rivera. “But I’m not sure that’s going to happen.”

For Mr. Bondy, this is tantamount to throwing in the towel, giving up, abandoning hope and tucking tail, only one problem … that’s not really what the words say. “I’m not sure that’s going to happen,” doesn’t mean it won’t … or can’t, or even will not … Correct me but don’t those words mean that Jeff WIlpon isn’t certain the 2013 Mets will make it to the World Series?

On what planet is this a revelation? Is this not what any rational person might say under the circumstances? Am I actually coming to Jeff Wilpon’s defense? What kind of warped alternate reality have I just stepped into? Cue the Twilight Zone music.

For Mr. Bondy these comments were outrageous, an affront to his own lofty standards for spirited competition. He never even thought about giving up when he was on the chess team back at the University of Wisconsin (Badgers never surrender!), or maybe it brings back all those ugly memories in H.S. when the jocks would make Filip cry “uncle” between an atomic wedgie and a swirlie. You may recall, this is the same “Flip” Bondy who spent a year in 2004 with the “Bleacher Creatures” in Yankee Stadium and who wrote the following in 2010 as he was gearing up to cover the ALCS:

“Ryan’s no-hitters aside, this ALCS represents one of sports’ great historical mismatches, 40 pennants versus zero. The Yanks should win this series just by throwing their pinstriped uniforms onto the  field and reading from a few pages of The Baseball Encyclopedia. If only Bud Selig would agree to waive a few silly postseason rules, the Bombers might send their Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster to Arlington for the first couple of games, make this a fair fight.”

Of course the impossible to beat Yankees lost that series the same way they recently lost four games to the Mets, shocker.

Now lets pan back a little ways to 2008 and look at a different quote by a different NY Journalist.

“The Yankees are absolutely down two stars this season, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui. They still have enough big names and big contracts in their batting order and that is why it is almost bewildering that, at this point in the season, it is so difficult picking an offensive MVP for them. Right now the closest to that, the player doing the job you expect him to do, is the guy hitting between Jeter and A-Rod, Bobby Abreu.”

“But the biggest offensive disappointment in town, as much of an under-producer as any big name or big ticket or big player either New York team has, is Carlos Beltran.”

The above  was written by Mike Lupica in August of 2008. Lupica never seemed to appreciate Beltran and it is believed his attacks may have had at least something to do with Carlos’ brief media blackout after his difficult first year in NY. To read Lupica on Beltran you’d think the guy slept with his wife or stole his lunch money or failed to treat him with the customary reverence media royalty demand. I never quite understood the unceasing vitriol directed at a guy who by all accounts was a great player (the best center-fielder the Mets have ever had) and a decent human being.

Maybe Lupica was upset that Beltran didn’t end up in pinstripes? Who knows. Maybe Beltran brushed past Lupica in the clubhouse on his way to the restroom just as Mike was trying to ask a question? Hard to say, but, beyond the questionable beef stir-fry at the player’s buffet, what was clear was the one man campaign Lupica went on to try and destroy an athlete’s reputation. None of the accusations that Lupica leveled against Carlos were true, not the selfishness, or the lack of leadership, or the absence of passion, or the surly listlessness, in fact, to anyone who knew Beltran and had actually watched him play, they were categorically false.

Or how about Lupica lumping Beltran in with Castillo and Perez (two bonafide lumps) during the whole Walter Reed fiasco, even though Beltran had a more than legitimate reason than them not to attend? This didn’t prevent Lupica from throwing in a nasty little innuendo:

“All athletes worry about their next contracts when they get close to the end of their current ones. It is why Beltran wanted to get back on the field, even in his current diminished capacity, hoping he would look better than he has before his walk year, worried about what happens to him when he comes to the end of his $100 million contract a year from now.”

Lupica once called Beltran “as much of a free-agent disappointment as any big hire the Yankees or Mets have ever made.” Remember, this is a guy who had a 7.5 WAR in 2006 (only Pujols had a higher WAR a 5.1 WAR in 2007, and a 7.1 WAR in 2008 and who by almost any and all measures more than earned his salary over the course of his contract. Carlos remains one of the greatest players ever to put on a Mets uniform, and this is how he is treated? Unbelievable you say?

How about Murray Chass and Mike Piazza? One man’s tenacious obsession with another man’s back acne may very well have resulted in Piazza not entering the hall as a first ballot inductee. The personal and relentless focus on one of New York’s good guys was weird and creepy, and for what? In the end it seemed Murray’s one man witch hunt was more about Chass demonstrating the power of his pen and less about the ethics of PED use. Chass had this to say in a recent post on his blog following this last ill-fated HOF vote.

“When I worked for The New York Times, I tried more than once to write about Piazza and steroids, but the baseball editor said I couldn’t because his name hadn’t been linked to steroids. I can link his name to steroids, I countered, but I had to wait until I started this Web site to talk about Piazza’s acne-covered back, a generally accepted telltale sign of steroids use.”

Didn’t matter that the accusations were largely based on one observation of some acne which may very well have been caused by Mike’s chest protector straps. Didn’t matter that Piazza had an on and off again history of problems with acne since High School, nope, all that mattered was that Chass was certain that Piazza was a roider, judge jury and executioner.

seaver tradedLets go even further back in our little insidious chronology to February 1977 when Tom Seaver blasted M. Donald Grant for not doing more to improve the team. Later that summer, with a contract agreed upon in principle on the table, Seaver called Grant and demanded a trade after an article by Dick Young came out in which Young commented:

Nolan Ryan is getting more [salary] now than Seaver, and that galls Tom because Nancy Seaver and Ruth Ryan are very friendly and Tom Seaver long has treated Nolan Ryan like a little brother.”

For Seaver the personal nature of the comment was “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he would not tolerate his family being dragged into the fray. Young faced numerous conflict of interest allegations in the press and was vilified by the fans who were aware of his close ties to Grant and McDonald, and the fact that his son-in-law worked for the Met front office.

The day after the trade, in a rare direct assault on a fellow member of the press, Maury Allen of the New York Post responded, “It is Young who forced the deal, who urged Grant on, who participated strongly in the unmaking of Tom Seaver as a Met.”

The wolf spider is known for a particularly peculiar practice, they will very often devour their own young.

You can’t walk into the Met clubhouse without feeling it. The tension is thick and palpable. I couldn’t help notice on the occasions when I was present that there was visible consternation among many Mets players at having to negotiate the press gauntlet, starting most prominently with Terry Collins who seemed acutely agitated and perturbed — even after a win. It was painfully obvious that this team did not like or trust the press. Their words were measured, their inflection flat, their demeanor extremely guarded.

I’m not saying the N.Y. Press should act like a bunch of obsequious homers pandering to a less than informed home crowd as you might see in some other cities. I’m not saying they shouldn’t continue to hold athletes who play in N.Y. to a higher standard. N.Y. is a tough place and New York’s news-media establishment is the one of the most prestigious in the world. If you can make it in N.Y. right? But there’s a difference between holding players to a higher standard and petty character assassinations.

When you contemplate the ubiquitous nature of the N.Y. media, the brightness of the big city spotlight, and the intensity of the fan base, playing in N.Y. is hard enough, we don’t have to make it any harder by subjecting these kids to the megalomaniac rants of self-declared kingmakers holding who knows what grudges against an organization and it’s players. Bondy has openly admitted his dislike of the Mets dating back to 1969 when they dashed his Cubs’ hopes. Seriously? He’s upset because the Cubs lost? That’s like holding a grudge against a bear for pooping in the woods.

It’s hard enough to play in the Major Leagues and it’s hard enough to do so in New York, but when the press becomes it’s own story, adding to an increasingly difficult set of hurdles that young often foreign born players have to overcome, you almost get the sense they are spiting their own just for the hell of it, because they can, and because negativity sells. Circling like sharks at the slightest inkling of controversy ready to destroy lives and careers because they believe it to be within their purview and part of the dog-eat-dog terrain. Meanness for the sake of meanness. Whatever it takes to break a story or make a mark.

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Bud Selig, MLB’s Push For Parity, And Its Impact On The Mets Thu, 09 May 2013 17:19:54 +0000 bud-selig 1Beginning In 1985, as owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, Bud Selig and numerous other owners colluded to undermine free agency by agreeing not to sign other teams’ free agents. The owners were taken to court and eventually ended up paying 280 million in damages to the players. It was with this failed attempt at collusion that the seeds of the 1994 work stoppage were sewn. In 1992, Fay Vincent, then Commissioner of Baseball, openly criticized the actions of this group of owners by saying:

“They rigged the signing of free agents. They got caught. They paid $280 million to the players. And I think that’s polluted labor relations in baseball ever since …”

In spite of Selig’s unscrupulous past he was able to corral enough owners to his side in an 18 to 9 vote of “no confidence” to force Vincent out. Now, you’d think it would be difficult for an owner with a history of impropriety to ascend to a position best suited to someone who might inspire trust from both sides, not so. Selig took the commissioner’s chair in 1992, passing control of the Brewers to his daughter, Wendy Selig-Prieb.

Selig of course presided over the 1994 player’s strike. The 232-day work stoppage lasted from August 12, 1994, to April 2, 1995. What has since been described as the worst work-stoppage in professional sports history was precipitated by a collective bargaining proposal that included a salary cap. Tensions were exacerbated by the collusion attempts … Ownership dug in and the players didn’t budge. Eventually the 1994 season became a lost cause.

The strike damaged the game deeply, fans walked away in droves. There was a prevailing perception that the great American pastime had been irrevocably corrupted by greed. It was also during this time that steroids took root in MLB locker rooms. This issue was covered in a previous piece, so I will only note here that while it is true that the players shoulder a preponderance of blame, the owners did little to stop the spread of PED’s while they lined their pockets, and, in the end, the spread of steroids did occur on Selig’s watch.

The strike hurt the Montreal Expos more than any other team. Montreal had the best record in baseball at the time. The Expos were also lobbying for a new stadium, an effort that disintegrated with the work stoppage. Soon thereafter the Expos were sold to an art dealer named Jeffrey Loria who immediately demanded that the local government build him a new stadium. When this didn’t happen Loria eviscerated and sold the Expos to Major League Baseball for 120 million.

Loria used the proceeds from this sale to purchase the Florida Marlins. A suit was promptly filed by 14 minority owners of the Expos accusing Loria of conspiring with MLB (Selig) to dilute the minority partners’ share of the team from 76 percent to 6-to-7 percent. The suit went on to assert that Loria never intended to keep the franchise in Montreal and that he planed all along on flipping the Expos with an eye on the Marlins. Eventually the suit was settled with the former Expos owners receiving an undisclosed amount. As part of the settlement, none of the documents from the case were made public. This was in effect the second ruling against Selig in a 15 year span.

bud selig 5

In the meantime Selig continued to pursue a contraction campaign focusing on the now MLB run Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins (for which there was a glaring conflict of interest since the Brewers and Twins shared the same market). Selig himself (who was good friends with the obscenely wealthy Pohlads) had managed in 2001 to get the city of Milwaukee to build Miller Park with $290 million in public funds, so he knew the drill — threaten and lobby.

Selig’s efforts to contract the Expos and the Twins failed as a result of a ruling requiring that the Twins honor their contract to play in the Metrodome. The Expos were subsequently sold and moved to Washington. What remained unresolved for many fans, however, were the exaggerated claims of losses on the part of baseball owners who at the time argued that the market was stretched thin and that teams were being pushed to poverty by player salaries and crumbling venues.

The Twins did eventually get their stadium (with 250 million in public funding), and on the day of its unveiling in April of 2010, Selig, strangely, brushed aside questions about contraction by brazenly stating, “there was a lot of mythology” to it. These comments left many feeling as if contraction was an elaborate ruse to secure support from legislators for stadium funding, a ruse Selig’s old conspirator Jeffrey Loria went on to perfect in securing public funding for a new stadium in Miami. An endeavor that eventually left Miami-Dade County with a 2.4 billion dollar debt, an empty stadium, and a massive abomination of a fish sculpture.

What does all this have to do with the Mets? There’s a pattern of influence and impropriety here that stretches back quite a ways. Wilpon was able to wrest the Mets from the more belligerent and restive Doubleday with Selig’s blessing (and a handy low-ball MLB appraisal). Selig has also presided over an office designed, ironically, to help maintain the integrity of the game, turning it instead into a vehicle for charting new profit streams. In the business world Selig is considered by many to be the greatest commissioner ever, having overseen an era that saw profits increase by 400%. But if there is one thing we know about Bud, it’s his long-standing desire to undermine free agency and level the playing field for smaller markets.

Bud Selig may have seen a unique opportunity to bring down spending and bolster parity by recommending a high level MLB operative (known for his ability to slash budgets and operate on a shoe-string), for the position of GM of the NY Mets. What better place to promote a small market paradigm than the biggest stage in the world?

In 2010 two crises were raging in MLB. Frank McCourt of the Dodgers was running his team as a personal bank account during divorce proceedings that had brought him to the brink of bankruptcy, and the Wilpons in N.Y. were in danger of losing the Mets as a result of a massive stadium bill and a disastrous association with Bernie Madoff and his ponzi scheme. Selig all but guaranteed that McCourt would sell by imposing a heavy-handed MLB takover, while he quietly supported the Wilpons with loans and votes of confidence.

In the fall of 2011 Frank McCourt filed a lawsuit against MLB, accusing Selig of forcing bankruptcy on the Dodgers by rejecting a contract with Fox Sports. The Fox contract would have allowed McCourt to retain possession of the Dodgers, but as the Dodgers were under MLB control by then, Selig was within his bounds to reject it — even though it was similar in principle to contracts signed by many other MLB teams. The court sided with MLB, but not without a stern warning to Selig. Again Bud had deftly maneuvered borderline illegal practices with impunity. Selig knew the Dodgers would fetch an obscene sum in sale and he also knew that any buyer would have deep enough pockets to pour truckloads of cash into the franchise. The Mets on the other hand would receive the austerity plan, a painful rebuilding process focusing on cutting payroll and rejuvenating their farm … the polar antithesis of what transpired with the Dodgers.

2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

A friend who was in San Diego during Alderson’s tenure there warned me, “Alderson,” he said “would chop the team up piecemeal and sell off the parts for prospects, it’s what he does.” I didn’t believe him. “This is N.Y.” I countered “Here you have to spend money to make money, the fans wouldn’t stand for it …” After losing, in successive seasons, Beltran, Reyes, and Dickey, with a budget effectively halved, I can only admit he was ostensibly on the mark.

The more pressing question, however, is one of influence. Selig has exerted his influence over the years with mixed results. His approach in 1994 backfired as the players hit back, and his attempts at collusion resulted in a 280 million dollar settlement against MLB … but his influence was largely successful in both the migration of the Expos as well as the funding of numerous new venues on the public’s dime. The real defeat he’s never been able to undo is his failure to limit free agency and his inability to institute a salary cap.

Bud Selig is friends with Fred Wilpon, but given Selig’s commitment to the almighty dollar don’t let a personal relationship fool you. Selig would just as soon pop open a can of Milwaukee’s finest than hesitate to throw Wilpon under a bus if it meant more money in the coffers. His reasons for coming to the rescue of the Wilpons while moving to oust McCourt, can only be explained with an eye on profit. You could argue this is contradictory, how would the “Met austerity paradigm” mean more money for baseball when the Dodgers just boosted values of MLB franchises across the country by raising the bar with their sale price?

It’s all about parity. As Jason Stark recently pointed out, MLB now features more parity than the NFL. If a small market approach can succeed in a big market it would effectively establish an operational model that could be duplicated in any number of cities big and small. Increased parity means more money across a broader spectrum of markets, precluding the need for revenue sharing mandates. Why didn’t Selig attempt a similar austerity program with the Dodgers? McCourt was himself imbued in impropriety and was openly hostile to MLB, his was a hopeless cause where the only resolution was a forced sale.

If Selig’s plan proceeds according to design, the Mets will benefit from a self sustaining minor league feeder system what will propel them to perennial contention while the Dodgers dig out from an array of bad contracts … but, there are no guarantees. Selig lost control of the Dodger situation once the winning bid was accepted. The Mets on the other hand were under his influence in so far as he was able to impress upon both the Wilpons and Sandy Alderson that they needed to cut payroll. Granted, under the circumstances the Wilpons didn’t have much choice, but when you consider Selig’s history and the fact that he got his man on the GM’s seat in NY, you have to believe he was pleased.

Whether or not this experiment benefits the Mets remains to be seen. Given the volume of pitching the Mets have been able to accumulate you have to feel good about the team’s prospects, no pun intended. The Dodgers on the other hand appear to be a flawed, injury prone, aging, and above all expensive mess. As far as business models, you can bet there will be lots of baseball minds keeping an eye on the Mets and Dodgers in the coming years.

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The Steroid Era Is Not A Thing Of The Past Thu, 21 Mar 2013 13:22:49 +0000 alex rodriguez

The current period of baseball has often been labeled the “Post-Steroid Era”, but there is nothing “post” about it. Yesterday we learned that over 90 baseball players’ names lie within the records of the now infamous Miami Biogenesis clinic; enough athletes to field ten teams. We talk about steroids as if it’s a thing of the past–something of the days of Clemens, Bonds and McGwire — yet it is seemingly as present as ever.

There have been estimations ranging from 15% all the way up to 90% of how many players were using in the proclaimed ”Steroid Era” of the 1990s to early 2000s; some claim everyone was juicing. The fact of the matter is nobody — other than the players themselves — knows for sure how many were on some form of PEDs, and the same goes for today’s game. We now know of almost one hundred of them in today’s game that are linked to a single PED/steroid clinic and there are undoubtedly others who are using who have yet to be caught. Who is to say that the game is any cleaner than 1999?

bonds home run ball

Sure, there are stricter penalties in place, but is that stopping anyone from using? The almighty dollar still far outweighs the risk for these players. Ryan Braun is now committed to Milwaukee through 2020 for roughly $140 million dollars. Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid baseball player ever, and still has nine figures left on his deal with the Yankees. Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire combined for three quarters of a billion dollars in salary over their careers. Their names are mud, their reputations are forever tarnished, but they will be sitting pretty for the rest of their lives.

Would you take a magical pill, illegal or not, if it were to increase your salary by ten-fold? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. The problem will never be solved, but testing will not make a significant impact until it hits the players where it hurts, their wallets.

Make it so the first offense is an entire season–unpaid–and the second time is a lifetime ban with a one-time “parole” after two years, which there have been rumblings about. On top of that, make it so that every MLB contract must have a clause stating that if you test positive for performance-enhancing drugs, your team has grounds to void your deal.


This type of punishment would never go through with the MLBPA since they, like many of their cheaters for clients, value money over the sanctity of the game. It is time for Major League Baseball to take a stand and put an end to this problem once and for all. They have the toughest PEDs testing of any sport by far, but has done little to alter the issue at hand.

Player are not afraid of the test or its penalties, especially after Braun showed in 2011 that you can overturn it with one hell of a lawyer and blaming the tester instead. MLB needs to get its act together and start creating effective ways of stopping PEDs from getting into the systems of its players.

The penal system in place that was thought to have been working has clearly failed. It is time for the Commissioner’s Office to put some real teeth into their bite. Major League Baseball needs to take back this hallowed sport from the toxic, tainted wasteland that it has become, where no records are trusted and nobody gets into Cooperstown. Then, and only then, can we close the book on this period known as the “Steroid Era”, and justly put a “post” in front of it.

As it stands now – especially after this recent Biogenesis superstorm – there is still much work left to be done, and calling this the “Post-Steroid Era” is all too reminiscent of another premature declaration of success:


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Will Mike Piazza’s Admissions Still Wind Up Hurting Hall Of Fame Chances? Mon, 11 Feb 2013 16:34:01 +0000 I am so excited to receive my copy of Mike Piazza’s autobiography, Long Shot, which I pre-ordered several weeks ago.

But of course, I can’t control myself in reading all the news stories about what is actually in the book before I read it for myself.

Long Shot Mike PiazzaSo that leads me to a very intriguing discussion.

Piazza admitted in his book to using androstenedione and Ephedra before the substances were banned, according to the New York Post. The 12-time All-Star catcher also said in his book that he took Vioxx (an anti-inflammatory), “greenies” (stimulants) and Dymetadrine (asthma medicine), the Post reports.

The New York Times reports that Piazza wrote in the book that he inquired about HGH, not knowing it was a banned substance, but his trainer advised against using it.

So let’s assume that Piazza is clean of HGH. He claims he never used “steroids,” and to this point, we all know he has never had a positive test on record.

But the real question now is how will Piazza’s admission to using these other drugs – mainly the currently-banned substances of andro and Ephedra – affect his chances at the Hall of Fame.

There will likely continue to be a rift amongst the voters. Some will say that since these substances were legal at the time, Piazza was not cheating. However, some will say that he was still enhancing his performance by using the substances, thus tainting his incredible numbers.

If I had to guess, the voters that voted for him this year will vote for him again next year. But then again, some may now change their vote since Piazza admitted to using “substances” during his career.

Of the writers that did not vote for him this year based on the suspicion of drug use, some may change their votes since Piazza admits to have never used “illegal substances.” But of course, the majority will have their initial inklings about Piazza confirmed and therefore will continue to exclude him from Cooperstown.

Talk about a voting conundrum!

I’m not exactly sure if Piazza’s book will help or hurt him. It almost begs the question of why he would even choose to admit anything in the first place. The timing of the book’s release is also strange, since he could have “cleared his name” before the voting occurred.

But then again, would his admission to using drugs clear his name or would it spark even more speculation like it already has?

I want to believe Piazza. I feel like he might have kept quiet if he used banned substances and would have hoped that no test results ever leaked.

He instead chose to be honest, and from what he admitted in the book, he never cheated according to what was and what was not illegal at the time.

I’m eager to see what else he has to say in his book. I just hope that all the juicy excerpts haven’t been revealed already.

The release of this book just keeps Piazza’s name in the news cycle, which will spark much more debate on whether he’s worthy of baseball immortality.

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The Forgotten Players: The Untold Story Of Performance Enhancing Drugs In Baseball Fri, 25 Jan 2013 15:02:22 +0000 I once heard an interview where a player gave his estimation of how many players were on some sort of performance enhancing drug when he played in the early 2000s. He said it was ninety percent of the players—in other words, nine out of ten guys.

Let that marinate for a second.

I don’t remember who the player was, but I certainly believe that stat to be fairly accurate. It always made me wonder why PED or steroid usage causes such an uproar if it was as common as using tobacco before a ball game. A player could get arrested for being caught with some of the drugs they were using, but there were no written rule in baseball which stated a player couldn’t use them.

For that simple fact, baseball should just build a wing in the Hall of Fame and label it the “Steroid Era.” Baseball should not run away from it’s past, but accept it, and be proud that they took steps to try and right the wrongs.

I know some people will disagree. They want these men banned because the cheated! They want their names removed from the record books! They don’t deserve it!

These same people that proclaim these things are rule breakers themselves. They are law breakers. Not only do they break laws, but their law breaking could have a bigger impact on their lives and the lives of others than the men that used PEDs during baseball.

How many of you commute to work everyday? How many of you drive in and stay at, or below the speed limit? I’m going to go out on a limb and say not many. It’s a rule of the road and a law that is easy for us to ignore. We ignore it for a variety of reasons. Some people can’t afford to be late, and fear of losing their jobs. Others just like driving fast. Regardless of the reason we break the law; the law is there for the safety of ourselves and the other people on the road. We do it because the odds of us getting caught are slim.

However, when we speed on the road and take our lives and the other people’s lives for granted around us, it’s not looked on as harshly as a man that took MLBs sacred records for granted. Not unless we get caught, and not unless something bad happens. Then the speeding person’s name is often on the cover of your local newspaper and looked on as a villain.

The same holds true when it came to PEDs, which brings me to the next point.

Why is it that we ridicule the player who was a superstar, when suspicions of PED usage arise, but the fringe major league player and middle of the road players get a free pass?

Nobody gives a rat’s ass about how PED use of these fringe players affected the game of baseball, all that is cared about is the sacred records. What a crock of crap. Has it ever dawned on anyone that these great players were already great, and while the may have used PEDs, would probably have been hall of famers to begin with?

The truly forgotten player in this mess is the player that never lived out his dream. The clean player that tried to stay on the straight and narrow and never even thought to use a PED to gain an edge. These men were robbed of their dreams, often good enough on god given talent to play professional baseball, but often overlooked because scouts marveled at the guy who was juicing.

I’ve had a few friends who played minor league and independent league baseball who would attest to seeing the other players rubbing the “cream” on in the club house. I, with my own eyes, have seen friends helping inject each other with a syringe of steroids.

It was literally everywhere.

How many young lives were ruined because young men were trying to imitate their heroes? How many young lives lost? How many dreams crushed?

I never for a second thought my heroes were ever using steroids. Not that it would have made a difference in what I was doing if I knew that they were. Call me naïve, but I really thought it was Creatine and other over the counter supplements these players were using. If you didn’t find me in a gym lifting weights, I was probably at GNC re-stocking my supplement stash.

I was a player dead-smack in the middle of the steroid era. I was a victim of the steroid era. My story is probably not much different than others. I’m sure thousands of former aspiring baseball players can tell you similar stories. As an aspiring player, I began using Creatine in an attempt to build huge bulging muscles to catch the eyes of the scouts. The result: between my sophomore and junior year in college I gained almost 20 pounds.

A funny thing happens when you gain 20 pounds in a course of two months when you aren’t using performance enhancers—you get slow as heck. I went from a guy who had the green light on the base paths the two previous years with the nickname of “Jackie” (after Jackie Robinson for my aggressive base running style and the way I wore my uniform), to a guy that should have been utilized as a designated hitter. I went from scoring from second base on passed balls to the back stop, to having someone come in to pinch run for me in certain game situations. I wasn’t fat, just didn’t realize what gaining the extra muscle weight was doing to me and my game.

It’s the year 2001. I am one year removed from college and skipped over in the major league draft, knocking around to different tryouts. I had gotten a full-time job at a prominent company right out of college, but I still had the itch to play professional baseball. I remember getting myself in the best shape of my life (naturally) and decided that a tryout I was going to attend for the Cincinnati Reds would be my last hurrah. Unless I got signed, I was walking away from the game. I would leave it all on the field. It was time to move on with my life.

I won’t bore you with the details of the tryout, but I was invited with two other young aspiring ball players to stay after the tryout. We were pulled into the dugout when everyone else had vacated the field. The Reds scout walked over to us, he began to speak, and I will never forget what he said. He looked at us and said “you three guys are good enough to play in the Cincinnati Reds organization right now. The problem is I can’t sign any of you, although I would like to, because then we would have to release an established player that we have already invested time and money in. However, I can have you placed on an independent team, and if a spot opens up in our organization or a player gets injured, we can give you a call.”

I heard all I had to hear. I was happy I heard the words that I was good enough to play in the organization. I walked up to the scout, shook his hand, and thanked him for the opportunity. I walked off the field for what I thought was going to be the last time in my life. I had closure. At least I thought I did.

Fast forward a few years to all the steroid allegations. All these men I looked up to growing up are now being accused of using steroids. I’m hearing that ninety percent of ball players were on some sort of steroid or PED. The closure I thought I had slowly started drifting away. The closure began to turn to anger. I started to question if the reason why I didn’t get a chance to live my dream was because some other guy that was cheating was holding me back. I started to wonder if I had decided to put that needle to my ass cheek, would things have been different. I started to hate the game.

So while some people out there are angry that the star players used these PEDs to pad their stats, those stats can be fixed with an asterisk. The fringe player gets a free pass in all of this, but why? How can we fix the broken dreams? How can we help the grieving mother or father who lost their son because he was using PEDs?

While everyone worries about the sacred records, and argues about players that should not be in the hall of fame, try to remember that there was more at stake. PED usage affected more than just the record books.

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Reign Delay? Mon, 14 Jan 2013 19:59:00 +0000 As I was driving home the other night, I was listening to Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on the MLB Network Radio channel on XM. They were discussing with Jill Painter, the L.A. Daily News sports columnist, the Baseball Hall of Fame vote which took place Wednesday. This is the same Jill Painter, member of the Baseball Writers Association of America who thought it made perfect sense to cast one of her Hall of Fame votes for the former Blue Jay, Dodger, Diamondback and Met, Shawn Green. As she was engaging in verbal kabuki, explaining her vote, I could almost feel the indignation boiling over from the two hosts. Big kudos goes out to both Bowden and Stern for having the combined patience of a saint. That interview alone should earn them a few Marconi votes in my view.

It’s a good thing I don’t do radio; I wouldn’t have been nearly as diplomatic as they were. As if there wasn’t enough preordained controversy with this year’s crop of candidates, we get this nonsense and I’m not even going to enrage you with her supposed rationale. I have too much respect for you to even try. It’s almost as bad as the one vote that someone gave Aaron Sele. Again, not going to enrage you with the facts, you can look up Sele’s pathetic career statistics here if you wish. Then you have my permission to curse uncontrollably – - and yes you can practice reading that line in your best Bane voice. Or Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery as I believe they’re one in the same.

Call me naïve but I was always under the impression that those having been afforded the privilege of a Hall of Fame vote would show just a modicum of respect towards it. I’m not the only one who thinks this way as does the great Metstradamus. But this is unfortunately the year that common sense, fairness and respect for the game clearly went over the edge of the train tracks faster than a New York City subway commuter. Ouch.

Now I’ve been very sympathetic to the plight the writers have when it comes to wading through the waters that PED’s have polluted in Major League Baseball. But like Metstradamus, when voters use their privilege to make some grand statement (i.e. voting no one in), peppered with some who find it – I don’t know – comical, to vote for the likes of Sele and Green, it simply demonstrates to me that stupidity isn’t determined by who you write for or what and if you get paid for writing it.

When the likes of Marty Noble, someone I’ve always had tremendous respect for, thinks that because Mike Piazza had an abundance of—wait for it—back hair, during his time as a Dodger and decides to connect the follicles and assume that it meant Piazza used. It shows me just how far we’ve fallen as a people more than anything. We’ll believe the very worst of each other just to protect our own vanity because God forbid a player is later found to have juiced.

We can’t have writers dealing with pangs of remorse now can we? To top it off, Noble then ironically said that as a Met, Piazza had a hairless back, which is ALSO a symptom of steroid use. So if Piazza essentially played with Robin William’s back he’s using yet if he’s smoother than an Abercrombie model he’s also using? Absolutely pathetic, especially that never, not once, has Piazza been accused or named in any report or tested positive for any performance enhancing drugs.

I always believed that MLB needs to be far more proactive of a guide for the BBWAA when it comes to Hall of Fame voting and steroids. I wrote a piece for Metsmerized in early 2011 calling for Bud Selig to commission a panel exploring the effects that PED’s have on actual playing performance. Of course Selig and MLB want absolutely nothing further to do with this issue—at least not what happened in the past. One bright spot happened a few days ago when the MLB Players Association and MLB agreed to year round drug testing for Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone.

The BBWAA and their writers refused to vote for some players and based it on innuendo and unproven allegations; and that is shameful itself. In part I can understand their fear of enshrining someone who later is proven to have used PED’s as players elected cannot be removed from the Hall of Fame. My question is why is that? Hypothetically if a Hall of Famer does something illegal, whether during or after their playing career, why are they not immediately open to removal? That, in my opinion, would allow the writers to choose players based on their careers and not on speculation.

George Orwell was quoted as saying:

“Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.”

Now the real question remains, who was Orwell talking about; the players or the writers?

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From Left Field: The Ethics Of Steroids Thu, 01 Mar 2012 19:13:28 +0000 In the wake of the Ryan Braun steroid decision, performance-enhancing drugs have been a hot topic of late. Whether you agree or disagree with the decision, we can all agree that the steroid problem goes way beyond the development of tolerance. I sat down with former Major Leaguer Frank Tepedino to discuss the topic.

Tepedino’s career spanned parts of eight seasons from 1967-1975. He played for the New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves. Though he was never a Met, I felt like what he had to say was relevant for our site.

During that time, performance-enhancing drugs were not part of the game. Talent and hard work alone were the sole determinants of a player’s success on the field. However, as steroids became popular in the game around the mid-1990s, the level playing field changed greatly.

Frank Tepedino

Super-human athletes were taking the game by storm, which certainly put fans in the seats, but also compromised the integrity of the game. Tepedino addressed the issue of whether he would have used steroids if they were available.

“You can’t answer that question until you’re in that situation and you look at right and wrong,” he said. “Where is the wrong of it? Is it because it gives you an advantage over another athlete? But what if that other athlete is doing it, and nothing is being done about it?”

Tepedino gave an example for this year’s MLB B.A.T. Dinner in New York City. Former Minnesota Twins outfielder asked former Yankees third baseman Mike Pagliarulo is the latter would have ever used steroids? But Gladden told Pagliarulo not to answer the question immediately, but instead deeply think about it before giving an answer.

Pagliarulo thought hard, but he couldn’t come up with a firm answer. Tepedino agreed that it is such a tough decision based on all the extra factors.

“Here you are not using them,” Tepedino said. “But the guy on the mound is using them. The catcher is using. The guys in the minors are using. The guy in the minors is going to take your job. The guy on the mound has an advantage over you.”

When weighing these factors, it’s a lot easier to see why many players turned to steroids, especially veterans later in their careers. Put yourself in their shoes for an instant: You have to support a family and kids, but your talent is diminishing. In order to continue playing and earning a paycheck, you need that extra edge so you take steroids. It’s really a tough call.

“Realistically by not doing it, you’re basically saying that’s the end of my career, because someone is going to take my job,” Tepedino said. “And that guy that has an advantage over me is going to get me out. You can’t just say, ‘No I’m not going to use them or yes I’m going to use them.’ You don’t know until you’re in that situation. That’s human nature.”

Many former players, like Tepedino, claim that based on their morals, they would not use steroids if given the choice. He said players like Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth were all clean and still excelled at the game.

The thing with those players is that nobody else was using steroids at that time, so a player’s own ability determined performance. Without steroids, only the top-tier of players shined. But once steroids were introduced, normally average players began putting up monster numbers and performed better than players with more talent but who chose not to use.

And then of course there’s the money factor. The players who perform the best get the most money. Simple right? But not when steroids are involved.

“They’re making two million [dollars] a year, and you’re home carrying a lunch bucket working in a factory in the offseason because of your morals,” said Tepedino.

Tepedino said that though he may have struggled with the decision he ultimately would have chosen not to use steroids.

“You might not have a good as career as someone else, but you can go to sleep at night and say ‘I did the right thing,’” he concluded.

So before we chastise a player for using steroids because they are illegal in the game, put yourself firmly in their shoes. Hopefully, many of you would choose not to use, but based on the extra factors, it’s a tougher decision when you’re actually faced with it.

So would you use steroids if everyone else was using and your job and family livelihood depended on it?

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MLB Needs To Finally Solve The PED Issue Mon, 10 Jan 2011 14:00:47 +0000 As all of us grow older, the players we grew up enjoying, emulating and idolizing, have since retired leaving us nostalgic for days gone by. I remember the first time I read the back of a baseball card and found a player born the year I entered high school. Age had finally caught up to me. Sure I wasn’t ready for shuffle board at The Villages or for dinner at 3, nonetheless it hit me.

The Baseball Writers Association of America comprised of over 700 active members of the media working for newspapers, magazines and web sites, last week elected Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar to the Hall of Fame. Along with Blyleven and Alomar, former General Manager Pat Gillick, elected by the Veterans Committee, will be representing the class of 2011 for the Hall of Fame.

Over the next few years Major League Baseball will come to a crossroads where players from the “steroid era” will become eligible for the Hall. With Mark McGwire barely skimming 20% of votes, down from 22% last year, players who ended their careers clouded with accusations, insinuations and downright admissions of steroid use are making life for Hall voters less than simple.

Jayson Stark in a recent article illustrated his concern over being what he refers to as the “morality police” , when voting for the Hall.

I can understand where Stark is coming from. With the exception of actual courtroom Judges, most of us find the act of judging others to be a difficult proposition that we would do anything to avoid, yet here we are mouthing off and judging in places like this every day; ironic I know.  Maybe that’s a good thing that most of us are wary of casting judgement on others.  The last thing I would want is for someone to have some deep, burning, life long desire to become a judge.  To me it’s a position best appointed to and not sought after.

The core of the issue is two-fold, do players who have accumulated Hall of Fame type statistics over the span of their careers have to prove themselves innocent of PED use in the minds of the BBWAA voters?  Second, to what extent do PED’s have on physically enhancing the skills of a Major League Baseball player?

In the United States we are considered innocent until proven guilty, Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, and the burden of proof is on the accuser. While it is not strictly stated in our Constitution, it is however embodied in the 5th Amendment.

Now there have been those who have admitted to PED use such as McGwire and there have been others who have not but have been targets of Federal investigations involving PED distribution and lying under oath such as Bonds and Clemens.

The best way for MLB to come up with a fair and workable approach to this issue, especially when it comes to Hall of Fame voting, would be to assemble the brightest minds in Medicine – commissioned by Bud Selig – to determine to what extent PED’s have on the already existing skills of a Major League Baseball player.

While we all have speculated that steroids makes an average player good, a good player great and so on, we really haven’t had a definitive, medically supported and dissected view of this, at least not one sanctioned by MLB. The point being, not all players who have taken steroids have become Hall of Famers and not all Hall of Famers have taken steroids.

The BBWAA writers clearly would rather not be placed in a postion to judge players on issues indirectly connected to baseball.  Taking drugs – whether they are PED’s or not being one of the issues.  If a study can give them a somewhat difinitive answer on what effects steroids and other PED’s can have on a professional baseball player’s skill level, perhaps then the writers can vote not so much with a clear conscience but at least with the facts on their side.  It’s an idea that should be explored.  Unfortunately it seems like MLB has had it’s share of PED discussion and deems the current standards of player testing to be the answer to just about every question posed to them.

Here lies the great problem with that. Over the next few years we’re going to see many players become eligible for the Hall of Fame who have the PED stigma attached to them, rightly or wrongly. And like Stark mentioned in his article unless the public and the people who run the Hall of Fame are willing to accept empty podiums (i.e. empty wallets as well) then the course of action is to do nothing.

While many of us are tired of the steroid, PED talk, the fact remains that this issue isn’t going away and to remain ignorant to it or wish it away won’t change the storm that’s clearly on the horizon.

]]> 0 Steroids Era and Hall Of Fame Voting Collide Tue, 04 Jan 2011 00:14:25 +0000 I love the internet and I spend a great portion of my day just reading my sports feeds, chatting with or emailing friends, and even blogging on this site. However, the internet does have its drawbacks.

Lately there seems to be a wide array of opinions on who should or shouldn’t get into the Hall of Fame. It’s actually pretty difficult to avoid the shocking divisiveness and profanity-laden discourse that is being spewed by those who disagree with the stands some writers have taken with regards to their views on PEDs and the players who used or were suspected of using them.

It never used to be like this, but in the last few years many popular writers and members on the BBWAA have decided that they would share their secret ballots in their columns opening up a Pandora’s Box of mindless rants.

Most of those doing the complaining are the bloggers and fans who don’t have a vote. To them, the BBWAA is just a collection of ignorant, know-nothings who have no clue about baseball and who the game’s best players are.

Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse took a novel approach to all of this non-stop bickering and decided to devote a column just to say he will not share his HOF selections and prefers instead to keep it secret.

Unlike the annual BBWAA awards, Hall of Fame voting is by secret ballot. And while in the past I have published my vote, I no longer believe I should.

And that’s because I don’t believe it’s fair to publicly accuse someone of using PEDs without some evidence. If I reveal my ballot, and it doesn’t include an obvious choice, then I am, in effect, accusing that player because I have made it known I will not vote for a player if I believe there was a reasonable chance he used PEDs. … But for now, I feel I’m following the instructions given me. And I’m not ashamed of my stance. I’ll get plenty of backlash, and I hope for reasoned debate rather than name-calling. Throw all the numbers you want at me—and I like to look at all the numbers—but I abhor cheating, and that takes precedence over all.

Good for you, Ed. I can respect his decision as I’m quite certain he wanted to avoid the abuse and backlash fellow Fanhouse writer, Dan Graziano, got for sharing his ballot and his opinions. In retrospect, I’m sure Graziano regrets his decision to go public.

Nick Cafardo, of the Boston Globe, tries to find some middle ground with how to deal with the deluge of steroid-era players now becoming eligible for the Hall of fame.

“It’s not easy to come up with a stance that fits all,” he said. “But in the case of players who tested positive after the steroid policy was in place, I’m not voting for them. These players were forewarned about getting themselves clean or they’d face suspension and embarrassment for the rest of their careers.”

Many of the popular saber sites don’t really care about whether players did steroids or not citing that they weren’t banned for most of the steroids-era, and of course they are right. There wasn’t an official MLB policy in place until a few years ago, long after most of them retired. “However”, one person told me, “they were still illegal. Baseball doesn’t have an official policy on rape, murder or armed robbery either.”

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports devoted much ink to the controversy today, and believes that because the Hall of Fame hasn’t issued any new selection criteria regarding steroids, that it’s a hearty endorsement to ignore the steroids era altogether. He believes that too many writers wrongfully consider themselves the guardians of the sanctity of the game. he calls them the “Morality Police”.

They feel they are protecting some sacred institution, not merely judging one man. The Hall of Fame is capable of protecting itself. It does so by setting its eligibility standards. It could change them in five minutes if it felt threatened. It hasn’t done so in response to the steroids epidemic. That should tell the writers something.

In a completely different spin, Matthew Coller of the Biz of Baseball says that the BBWAA is putting the Hall of Fame on the path to financial ruin by blocking “cash cows” like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. Ignoring the PED users and letting mediocre stars in is hitting baseball in the pockets.

There seems to be a good deal of irony in the fact that, in the end, the very thing writers are trying to protect, the sanctity of the Hall of Fame, is hurting the Hall. And, while ignoring PED players may not kill the Hall of Fame, mediocre stars certainly won’t save it.

It just seems that those whose voices are the loudest and whose internet reach is the greatest, have much to gain by their positions. The more they rant the less objective their arguments become.

I believe that when it comes to baseball, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

I also believe that everyone should feel free to express those opinions without fear of being dragged into the mud or drawn into an all out acrimonious battle that in the end proves and solves nothing.

Ironically, many of the people that are knocking the writers of the BBWAA are the same people who knock the fan voting for the All Star Game.

Neither the fans or the writers are perfect. They are as imperfect as the umpires and the game of baseball itself.

This is what makes baseball such a wonderful pastime – not that it’s a perfect game, but because it’s so gloriously imperfect.

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Darryl Strawberry And Dwight Gooden Enter Mets Hall Of Fame Fri, 30 Jul 2010 16:54:32 +0000 Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden enter the Mets Hall of Fame.

Sure this sounds nice and it is a good PR move and maybe it will sell some more tickets for Sunday afternoon.

But it’s a mixed blessing.

This is my problem with it.

The mid eighties, when both came up to the big team were the years that – my niece and I- spent a lot of time on the third tier behind home plate.  She called it ‘heaven’ and would sit and fill out her scorecard ever so neatly.

We saw the early games of both men – in fact we saw Doc’s first game and also his first home run.  You could see that big grin from way upstairs as he ran the bases.

Strawberry had so many home runs, that it became the usual for him.

However, even early on – particularly with Gooden – there were absences and/or days he was under the weather.  And the word “Smithers” came into our conversation.  Remember – he didn’t even make it to the parade when they won the series.

Now I know that both of them have tried to get their lives in order and Darryl has recently made progress, but Doc has regressed again. In fact it was the late George Steinbrenner who tried to help both these men, but few knew about it.

Sports – all sports – have a big problem on their hands – as drug usage grew – the players union and Bud Selig ignored it.  Even now it is a complicated issue.  A player like Alex Rodriguez ( almost a Met once) used steroids for years under the Selig administration, then apparently switched to HGH even though steroids and similar drugs have been illegal in the United States since 1993.

So, yes there will be a big celebration on Sunday, and I hope that the house is full as it used to be for Doc and Darryl.

This time my eyes will be on Davey Johnson and Frank Cashen.

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