Friday, February 27, 2009

Lesser-known steroids (satire alert)

Thanks to Bryan Jones for pointing out this report from the great satirical site, The Onion, regarding some of the lesser-known steroids. A sample:

Estrogen: Popularized by A-Rod, who religiously injected this steroid in an effort to speed up his swing by strengthening his cervix, adding mass to his labia, and slimming down his rectouterine pouch

Document Clamp on the Nuts: Not so much a steroid as a method of increasing aggression and adrenaline output by fastening a large document clamp right on your nuts
And Bryan added an impressive list of his own:
  • Jeterbolone: transforms slick fielders with excellent range into permanent geographic points. See Bobby Abreu and the Washington Monument.
  • MrMetabol: users sport a marked hydrocephalic appearance and increased loss of balance consistent with ever enlarging hat size. See Barry Bonds and Spongebob Squarepants.
  • Piniellabolin: regular cycling with this baby causes users to walk to the mound like they've doubled down on the Depends, sound strategy in view of the chronic diarrhea common in injectors of a certain age. Piniellabolin has also been credited with irrational hostility towards left-handed relievers, long periods of wide-eyed unconsciousness, and the inability to remove a low OBP player from the lead-off spot.
  • McCarvipose: The steroid of choice for catchers and second basemen, the long term side-effects of brain cell loss, rapid acquisition of baseball ignorance, repetitive non sequiturs, and massive ego enlargement appear to become more severe with age. See Joe Morgan, Harold Reynolds and Joe Garagiola.
  • Mannystrol: closely related to Borastanon-250, the recommended two week cycle should never be attempted during a competition period as users lose interest in participation and often suffer from a heightened awareness of non-existent injuries.
  • GayRhoid: First introduced in 2004, not a steroid per se, but a fast-acting hemorrhoid treatment, often associated with self-absorption and erratic athletic performance as autumn temperatures decline. Users report elevated mood and distorted eyesight, which often results in dates with unfortunate looking-older women.


"In the best shape of my life"

We've always been suspect of the Spring Training claims of a new-found diet, rededication to the weight room, yoga, Pilates, etc. The NY Times George Vescey has a long tome on the subject today:

Baseball clubhouses seem to be getting bigger this spring, with more room to move around. Or maybe the players are becoming smaller.

Out of the roughly 1,000 major leaguers in spring training camps, a couple of dozen appear to have lost significant weight in the off-season, all in the name of health and agility.

Some of them did it by eating grilled fish. Others played active video games with their children. Some went on diet programs or took up yoga. Others cut back on alcohol. Whatever they did, clubhouse attendants are coming up with smaller uniforms all over Florida and Arizona.

Among the biggest losers are Brett Myers and Ryan Howard of the championship Phillies, who lost 30 and 20 pounds. Yankees relief pitcher Brian Bruney, Mr. Avant-Garde himself, shed 25 pounds before last season by giving up beer and eating healthy food. He has slimmed down another 10 this year, and essentially does not look like the same person.
I know Vescey's not accusing Myers, Howard and Bruney of previously doing things that were against the rules, but it sure smells like he's doing that.

Vescey landed a good quote from a damn reputable source:
“You have to be a little skeptical, given the context of watching bodies change,” Dr. Gary Wadler, an internist and member of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said Thursday. “The explanation then was that they were eating more and working out more. Now if you hear players say, ‘We changed our ways,’ all you can do is be suspicious.”
And that's all we're left with, as fans: suspicion. We can't assume all players are clean, just as we can't assume all players are dirty. Can we really put all our chips on Pujols, Jeter, Wright, Sizemore, Longoria, Howard, Utley? I think the only way we can get to a place where we, the fans, can have a greater degree of confidence in the testing program is if they start TODAY taking, testing and storing blood. There are questions that blood testing/storing open up, but that can be addressed some other time. I can see this being a major issue when the CBA next expires.

Wishing Baldelli well

Hard for any fan of the game to root against Rocco Baldelli, even a staunch Yanks fan.

"It's tough," Baldelli said. "I don't know if there is a layman's way to describe it. It's almost impossible. My muscles get tired, but I prefer not to even say things like that because I don't want that to be the headline of the story. That's why I don't really get into it much. It's tough for me to explain to other people exactly what's going on."
I can't imagine what it must be like to be a world class athlete in peak condition to have trouble cranking the engine when needed. I hope he can make a full recovery and makes 80+ starts in right field.


In the same article, there's a comment about the "new" Sox clubhouse. Sox fans, your team's persona is on the same path as the Yanks: professional, corporate, vanilla. Just read this next comment and swap out "Baldelli" for "Jeter", "Sox" for "Yanks", "2004" for "1996", and "Jesus hairdos" for "former drug-addicted Mets":
Baldelli is polite, almost shy when dealing with the media. He'll deliver words and fill the sound bite for the 11 o'clock news, but strives to say as little as possible. This makes him a perfect fit for the 2009 Sox. Theo and his guys have assembled a group that is the polar opposite of the 2004 Idiots. No more wild and crazy quotes. No more Jesus hairdos or Jack Daniel's shots.
Not saying there is anything really wrong with that corporate, vanilla persona. We just have to recognize that once a team wins and eventually loses the key players of that team, the team will bring guys in who try to fit in rather than just be themselves and giving the team a new identity. It melds into something pretty santized.

The '04 Sox lost Manny, Pedro, Damon, Millar, Foulke, etc. Think of those personalities. Big personalities, lockerroom leaders. Sure, 'Tek and Papi are still there, intense as ever. Papelbon seems to be a bit of a wacko, and I mean that as a compliment. But JD Drew, Ellsbury, and Bay aren't exactly guys you think of as leaders. Pedroia seems to be a natural leader, but is he (and Lowell) the loose kinda guys in the lockerrooms like Damon, et al, were? I ask because I don't know the answer, not facetiously.

The "early dynasty" Yanks lost the same type of leaders: Wells, Cone, Paulie, Bernie, Jimmy Key. Sure, we filled them with other guys, some of which had larger than life personalities (Clemens, Giambi) while others were as vanilla as they come (Moose, Abreu, Matsui). And the team slowly conformed to Jeter's "give 'em only what they need to know/hear" personality. Santized, scrubbed, polished. And ARod and his personality is as obvious as they come. I heard someone say on XM MLB #175 today that it looks like ARod is acting like he is playing ARod in a movie about ARod. "Sincerity" is not a word I'll ever use to describe him. The truth is, if he was a pompous ass, crass and crude, people might have an easier time accepting him. At least we'd know he was honest with himself. I think this is what helped Giambi's "recovery" in the eyes of fans. [Not for nothing: I think adding Sabathia's clubhouse presence will do wonders for this team, who needs a boost of personality]

I still think the Sox are as feared an organization as there is in baseball, this year and for years to come. I think I have been more than fair in my thoughts on this team, no matter how much I want them to fail. My respect for Tito, Theo and so many of their personnel is tremendous. I think their off-season acquisitions were smart and calculated, even without Teix. But this team is no longer the Boston Dirt Dogs. They are now a corporate powerhouse. They are no longer the lovable losers; they have an image to uphold (and sell).

Dodgers pull PR stunt on Boras

Trying to protect Manny from their fans totally and completely turning on him, the Dodgers released a statement putting the blame for the lack of progress at the feet of Boras.

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers today received a letter from Scott Boras, the agent for Manny Ramirez, rejecting the offer that the club made yesterday. This rejection is the fourth by the agent in the club’s attempts to sign Manny.

“We love Manny Ramirez,” said Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt, “And we want Manny back, but we feel we are negotiating against ourselves. When his agent finds those ‘serious offers’ from other clubs, we’ll be happy to re-start the negotiations.

“Even with an economy that has substantially eroded since last November, out of respect for Manny and his talents, we actually improved our offer.

“So now, we start from scratch.”
This was a PR stunt to help Manny save face ASSUMING he ends up with the Dodgers. Of course, the ultimate decision lies with Manny, NOT Boras. Manny has to do something he's been reluctant to do during his entire career: take responsibility for his actions.

This release calls the bluff of Boras. It also invites the Giants to recontact Boras and get creative. Maybe the Dodgers go up a bit, say 2/$50m. But what if the Giants do that first? Talk about a death blow... It'd be like the Yanks snatching Teix from Boston, though the difference being Boston didn't "need" Teix like either NL West team needs Manny. Whichever team lands Manny becomes the presumptive favorite in the NL West.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pujols: "It's not about the money"

Well, we'll see, won't we (emphasis mine):

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt liked what superstar Albert Pujols said upon arriving at camp about winning being more important than money to him when it comes to his next contract.

I'm not going to lie to you: It's not about the money all the time," Pujols said when he got to spring training. "It's about being in a place to win and being in a position to win. If the Cardinals are willing to do that and put a team together every year like they have, I'm going to try to work everything out to stay in this town."
While both sides are tossing bouquets toward each other, the type of money it would take to execute a Pujols extension -- word is, he'd seek $25 million a year for 10 years -- would be almost unprecedented territory for a team outside one of the very major markets. So while extending Pujols is a possibility, it's certainly no sure thing. Considering Pujols' true market value and the Cardinals' prudent spending past, it's probably going to take some serious compromising on both sides to get it done.
At least DeWitt hopes money isn't what drives him.
Ya think? Can the Cardinals both build a winner around Pujols while simultaneously affording a $25m contract? Let's see that happen.

It's ALWAYS about the money. Just ask Teix, Sabathia, Burnett, Lowe, Manny, ARod, Zito...

Another patch

At least it's better than the Mets sleeve patch:

The New York Yankees will wear a new cap for the entirety of the 2009 season featuring a patch on the back commemorating the opening of the new Yankee Stadium. The patch is the first of its kind to appear on the back of an official MLB Authentic Collection cap, incorporating the MLB logo in its standard location to maintain the traditional Yankees cap design.

Of course, it's just another way to separate your dollars from the comfyness of your wallet.

(click on the image to the right to see a larger version)

Love me some Lackey

No, this is not another of the "Yanks should go get this guy" or "sign him at any cost" sort of rant. Just saying that John Lackey will be a free agent after this year and he's exactly the kind of pitcher I love to watch.

Quiet, intense, underrated, and efficient.

In an era when pitching is king—when isn't it?—Lackey has gone 58-30 with a 3.42 earned-run average the last four seasons. He has earned $17.5 million for that contribution, and checks in at $9 million this season.
Assuming Lackey has a solid 2009, it's hard to see him taking less than A.J. Burnett, who received $82.5 million over five years from the Yankees this winter.
He started last year on the DL and didn't reach 198 IP, the first time he missed that threshold since his rookie season in 2002. He's posted an ERA+ of at least 119 each of the last 4 years, including an amazing 151 in 2007. He averages about 0.8 K/IP and he doesn't walk a ton (hasn't had a WHIP over 1.3 in three seasons). Lackey's going to be 30 this season and likely in line for a nice 5 year offer if he can put up yet another solid season.

Some team is going to land themselves a stud. If the Angels can't get him to an extension, it will be a HUGE loss for them.

And yes, I'd LOVE to see him in pinstripes. So take that. Pffft.

Partial view, partial price

At least they are putting up TV's to see what you're missing. Then again, you can do the same at home without paying a boatload in parking.

The price of watching a fraction of Yankees games dropped to a fraction of its original cost yesterday, with obstructed-view bleacher seats abruptly falling from $12 per game to $5.

Lonn Trost, the team's chief operating officer, made the announcement during an interview on WFAN. The ticket price applies to about 600 seats on either side of a sports bar that extends to the centerfield wall.

"Those seats are being sold at $5, not $12,'' he said. "I think some seats may have gone out improperly invoiced. Those are going to be corrected, but those 600 seats are going to be $5.''
"When we built the sports bar we knew architecturally there is an architectural shadow,'' he said. "And that means there are a group of seats that are in the bleachers that if you are sitting very close to either the rightfield or leftfield side of the sports bar, you may not see the opposite side."

We knew that going in, and to that extent we pre-prepared to put televisions in the wall, as well as that big screen so you don't miss anything.''
"Architectural shadow"??? Say what? You mean you couldn't have figured out a way to NOT block the sight lines of your most loyal and ferverent fans? No? You'd rather jut a sports bar out and block their sight lines and put up some flat screens to compensate. After all, they're only the $12/ticket customers, not the "high value" ones in the sports bar, eh?


What's in a name?

Brett Gardner's son is named Hunter. Hunter Gardner. Two "professions"? Middle name has gotta be Gatherer.

coffee, please!

Oh yeah, Gardner hit a HR with his three month old son in attendance at his first game. Coool.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Advertising on IIATMS

This posting is for two audiences: the readers and potential advertisers.

First, the readers: I have been very reluctant to place ads on the site. There is one fixed ad and only recently have I been testing small ads here and there on the site (mostly at the bottom). I'm sensitive to clutter and the site's already pretty busy. It'd be nice to collect a few nickels though I have no aspirations of anything significant. I'm contemplating adding some ads just see what they bring. If it's only a few dollars, then I won't do much. But I promise that if I do indeed add some banners and such, I will do my best to keep things to the borders and not interfere with the content. The reason for this is that I have gotten a few inquiries (some still awaiting an answer, my apologies) and I'd rather than do this than constant one-offs.

Also, if any of you have prior experience with online advertising and have an interest in helping, by all means, please lend a hand. I know my limits and I've about maxed out my abilities in creating what you currently see.

Potential advertisers: Please email me your proposals. Operators are standing by.

Fool's errand: Separating clean from dirty

Talk about a fool's errand, trying to read skull growth, acne, bicep size and temprament to ascertain who was "clean" and who wasn't during the Steroid Era is nearly impossible. We know of many, many names. Some obvious, most less so.

I didn't give Rick Reilly's crapfest of a "let's give Pujols 5 MVP's" article any pub because it's silly and based upon a house of cards worth of logic (I'm not even linking to it). So when I read Tom Verducci (a writer who I really think very highly of) discuss the stature of Carlos Delgado, I thought it was worth pointing out. Verducci ran the list of HR hitters from 1996-2003 (graphic below).

So I ran the numbers for the greatest home run hitters of the heart of the Steroid Era to find the lost slugger. This list is a terribly sad one, because it is a veritable rogues gallery. It is likely that anywhere from nine to 11 of these top 14 home run hitters from 1996 through 2003 were dirty -- at best, a crime rate of about two-thirds.

When I ran down the list, Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado stood out as the guy most pushed into the shadows. This season, be it anything close to ordinary for him, Delgado will become only the 11th player in baseball history with 500 home runs, 500 doubles and 1,500 RBIs. It is a club with no back door. The others: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray, Griffey, Ramirez, Palmeiro and Bonds. And yet Delgado never is talked about as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and is rarely discussed as a Hall of Famer at all. He started only one All-Star game (and made only one other, while a juiced Giambi started three), never won an MVP award (he was robbed of one by a juiced Rodriguez) and never won a home-run title (he once finished second to a juiced Rodriguez), even though he hit between 38 and 44 home runs seven times.
I am firmly in the guilty party who have never been a huge Delgado supporter. Maybe it's because he's too quiet. Maybe for his silent objection to standing for the singing of "God Bless America". Maybe because he's pretty vanilla and not exciting. Maybe I need to re-evaluate the way I look at players.

Reading Delgado's comments below, I just want to believe him. I almost NEED to believe him. But can I, without a shadow of a doubt, believe him? No. Sadly.
"Health, No. 1," he said. "And No. 2, it's cheating. I take a lot of pride in my preparation and my ability to understand the game and try to get any edge by watching the game or taking advantage of what's in my head.

"I guess, if by doing the right thing, should you get extra points for it? I guess so. In this society, all the bad things, the controversial things, get most of the exposure, and I kind of understand how the system works in that way. It's not news that some guy did it the right way."

Bonus related reading: Shysterball's take on this.

For all the screw-ups, at least this went well

No misspelled, awkward, strong-armed emails from the ticket office discussing relocation plans. No blocked sight lines. Just the calm re-establishing of one of the better Yankee traditions:

The transfer began at 7 a.m., when workers loaded the monuments by forklift into a massive steel box, each legend encased in a plywood box, the contents identified by simple black marker. "The Babe," it said on Ruth's. On the 9/11 box, someone wrote, "We Will Remember." The steel box was strapped down onto a flatbed truck. The truck trundled two blocks north. At the new Stadium, a crane rig picked up each monument - they weigh 5,500 pounds apiece, except for the one for the diminutive Huggins, which weighs 7,100 - and gently lowered them over a wall, into Monument Park, where they were hoisted again and moved to their appointed spots.
The Yanks, as an organization, rankle many with their attitude. As do many fans. I get it. I hear it from the Haters. And they are often right. Some of the things the Ownership group does and says if flat out absurd and insulting. But, what the Yanks do well -if not better than anyone else- is celebrate and embrace their history. This is another example of that.
"This is our legacy," [Tony Morante, director of Stadium tours and the Yankees' in-house historian] said. "People will come here not just for ballgames, but for our history, and a big part of that is these icons, and 9/11."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Yanks ticketholders getting shafted

Here's yet another great "tribute" to the Yanks and their remarkable ability to keep their elbow firmly on the pulse of their most ardent fans:

Still, even if one could block that all out and simply focus on the relationship between one customer's wallet and his ability to put his butt in a seat at this new park, the bottom line is that this is an outrage, a disgrace, a catastrophe on the level of Joe Torre summoning Jeff Weaver from the bullpen in Game Four, a Bambino-rolling-in-his-grave nightmare over the successor to the House that Ruth Built. A chorus four million fans strong should be shouting four- and twelve-letter words at Yankee president Randy Levine and every incompetent front-office numbskull who played a role in this fiasco. A pox on the House that George Built.

The Yankees deserve every pixel of bad publicity they receive over this, every blankety-blank karmic quantum of bad yankety-blank karma. My friends and I are hardly the only customers wronged in such a fashion; an informal discussion with a few other longtime Yankees ticket holders who write for various sites (including this one) reveals similarly shoddy treatment. Indeed, all of us who have something at stake short of a full-season ticket package are being screwed because the Yankees have bungled this so badly that they can't possibly fulfill the demand. So naturally, their impulse is to trample the loyal customers who helped carry them past the three million and four million attendance milestones over the past decade. This is a story worth illuminating, not only to fellow Yankee fans who may commiserate about finding themselves up the same fetid creek, but to baseball fans everywhere.
I've long made my feelings and intentions known about this new ballpark. It will be gorgeous. It will be impressive and leading edge. It will be a showcase. It will NOT be something I get to see in person very often (unless a friend with corporate access can weasel me some tickets).

I haven't been in the waiting line to fork over money for tickets so I haven't been privy to these sorts of ugly tactics and it's so painful to hear about it. Yet again, I look squarely at Randy Levine, the Master of all that is Evil in the Evil Empire. I hope Randy, Hank and Hal catch all the crap they deserve for this. It's a shame on so many levels.

Yankee haters, feel free to pile on. After all, we're just fans, like you. We're used to being dumped on. Just remember, your team could also do this to you.
But just remember that if this is happening here, it can happen in your city as well. Even the green cathedrals of Wrigley Field and Fenway Park will someday fall to the wrecking ball, and when you emerge from the rubble with a lesser opportunity to visit your new ballpark, you'll have plenty of company.

thanks to Pete Toms for the heads up!

Who wouldn't you give for...

...Roy Halladay?

Being a Yanks fan is a double-edged sword. You have to face the bashers but you also have the ability to be grandiose (also: obnoxious, ridiculous, conspicuous, aggressive) in your dreams ("Yeah, we want Teix, too! After Sabathia!"). Hate me all you wish. I can take it.

That being said, if Toronto crumbles (Vernon Wells' return delayed, the rest of the rotation stumbles, life in the AL Beast doesn't get easier...) and truthfully entertains the idea of dealing Halladay, who wouldn't you give to get him?

For reference, Halladay is entering the 2nd year of a 3 year extension:
  • 2009:$14.25M
  • 2010:$15.75M
  • award bonus: $0.125M for All Star selection
This should be viewed not under the "well, you didn't deal those guys for Santana, why would you do that now?" lens. The times have changed, faults revealed, finances crumbling. For me, everyone this side of Joba is fair game. What about a similar package that was offered for Santana way back when? For a year and a half of Halladay, who would you give up?

Wezen: The greatest teammates of all time

Quite an excellent piece of work by FOTB wezen-ball. He starts by asking the question: "What team did have the best collection of young talent playing together at one time, and was there a way to quantify it?"

That's a pretty tough challenge and while there is no fool-proof way to do that, his use of Win-Shares is as reasonable as any.

The question was too intriguing to ignore and so, first chance I got, I started exploring it. First off, I decided to use Win Shares as my metric. I know it's not necessarily a perfect stat, but I think it should work well here. Once that decision was made, I needed to define exactly what I was looking for.

This is how I would describe the query I used: find all teams that have 3 or more players who started their season with that club and played more than half the season there, who are in the first half of their career and who have 300 or more career Win Shares.
Have a read and examine Lar's results. They are very interesting.
The first thing you'll notice is the utter dominance of this list by the 1960s and 1970s Cincinnati Reds. In the eleven seasons spanning 1964 and 1974, the Reds qualified for this list in nine of them, using various combinations of Vada Pinson, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Jim Morgan. Pinson and Perez may not be among baseball's immortals, but there's little doubt that the others are. The Reds were able to maintain their place on the list by a fortuitous combination of young stars and long tenure (i.e., they're stars came up early and they stayed on the team for a long time). They were, however, only able to make it to the World Series twice in those eleven years, winning neither time (they did win back-to-back Series in 1975 and 1976, though).
Yet another example of a blogger doing something other than sitting in his mom's basement in his underwear (or just being derivative like me).

Warning: Boring game coming

I'm not sure it's such a bad thing, be decide for yourself:

As Bill James wrote in his Historical Baseball Abstract: “Fans like hitting. Fans have always liked hitting, and they always will like hitting. Throughout the history of the game, almost every significant increase in offense has been accompanied by an increase in attendance, and almost every decrease in offense has been accompanied by a decrease in attendance.” So you can sort of see why the players might be wondering what they did wrong. Sure, they violated a rule, but it was a rule that had never been seriously enforced. And unlike gambling or cocaine use, which detract from the quality of the game, steroids turned baseball into a hitters’ paradise. Steroid-enhanced baseball gave fans what they wanted. If we go back to a juice-free game, we might wind up with a situation like we had in the early ’90s, when 30 home runs was a good season and .280 was a high batting average. With steroids out of the game, it might get a bit boring.
I believe that even before we saw the HR rate tick north, there were plenty of players hitting with high batting averages. I don't think BA and PED use has a strong correlation, but if you know otherwise, please let me know. I seem to remember George Brett hitting .390 in the 80's (I had a Brett .390 model glove for some time) and Tony Gwynn hitting over .325 seemingly every year of the 90's.

Does fewer HR's make the game boring? Maybe moreso for the casual fan. HR's are exciting, no question, but so are steals and extra base hits. I'm quite OK with fewer HR's to see a nice game at a quick pace. Perhaps the other side effect of a power outage is that the games will proceed more briskly with fewer pitching changes and mound visits. If the biggest three or four HR guys are "only" hitting 40 or so, we can still have a great game. I will still love the game.

As for the attendance issue, we're going to have a double-barrelled impact: less offense and less disposable income. I, for one, won't be going to many games at the new Yankee Stadium due to the sheer cost of the tickets. We hung a great big flatscreen at home last year and that was a better investment than three games in-person for the family of four at the Stadium (and not in the "good" seats). I'm also postulating that I am not alone. Many of you will either buy an MLB TV package or watch games on your computer rather than peeling off bills to see your team in person.

Bottom line, I will still watch and still love the game. I will still root for my hometown nine, just as you will. I will respect your right to boo my guys as I boo yours. Afterwards, I'm happy to debate it over a beer. And I won't fret if HR's are down a bit.

ARod to meet with investigators

I won't harp on this, but it's worth noting:

Major League Baseball's investigations team intends to meet with Alex Rodriguez between tomorrow and Friday to discuss his recent confessions of illegal performance-enhancing drug use...

For all of Bud Selig's threats of discipline against the Yankees' third baseman, there's virtually no chance of that happening. A-Rod likely will bring both a personal attorney - he just hired Jay Reisinger, who has represented Andy Pettitte and Sammy Sosa - and a players association lawyer with him, and the only questions Rodriguez will be compelled to answer are whether he procured illegal PEDs on MLB grounds - the clubhouse, for instance, or the team plane.

Since Sports Illustrated reported his positive result from the 2003 survey testing, Rodriguez has offered one story to ESPN's Peter Gammons and a second to a group of media. He won't have to offer a third version, as long as he is properly represented.
So assuming he didn't buy/use this stuff on MLB grounds, Selig has no recourse with regards to fines or suspensions. Another investigation where the investigators have dull, gray baby teeth.

The Curse of IIATMS

Seems that just days after being captured by yours truly on a Disney expedition, Vernon Wells pulls a hammy and is out of the WBC and all Jays activities for a month.

I feel his pain, those strollers are a b*tch.

Monday, February 23, 2009

LOLJocks and my Sabathia picture

Scary what a twisted mind can do:

Maddux being Maddux

I love a good practical joke:

Greg Maddux may be retired. But he's still wreaking havoc on his old sport -- and one of his old teams.

Maddux sprung a hilarious practical joke on the Braves recently. And it was recounted to me by
Derek Lowe, whose arrival to help rescue the Braves' rotation is chronicled in my most recent column on this site.

Lowe said that shortly before he signed with the Braves, he called his pal Maddux and told him, kiddingly: "I want to wear No. 31" -- which, of course, was Maddux's old number. For the record, while the Braves haven't retired No. 31, they also haven't given it to anyone else since Maddux exited.

I can safely say that if Derek Lowe fired that quip out there to most players, they would have laughed and then gone about the rest of their lives. But not Greg Maddux.

"Jokester that he is," Lowe chuckled, "he actually called the Braves and told them he would let me wear No. 31."

Maddux even sounded so earnest when he made that call, the Braves totally bought his act. So GM Frank Wren decided he had to intervene.

"I was getting ready to sign with the Braves when Frank texted me," Lowe said, "and he said, 'We have a problem here. We're not really going to give out No. 31.' Was there any other number I'd like to choose?"

So Lowe said he'd take No. 32 if he had to. And you'd have thought that would have been the end of this. But it wasn't.

The Braves were still so unsure who was kidding and who wasn't that when Wren arrived at Lowe's news conference, he got a call from media relations director Brad Hainje. And the question of the day was: "Which uniform are we using -- 31 or 32?" The GM was pretty sure he had the answer, but not quite sure enough.

"So I actually went to Derek at the press conference and said,
'Derek, what's this about 31? Are you really going to wear 31?' " Wren said. "And he looked at me like: 'What the heck are you talking about?' "

So obviously, Lowe is running around this spring, wearing No. 32. But he also has his very own Braves jersey with No. 31 on the back, as the ultimate souvenir. And somewhere (between pitching wedges, no doubt), Greg Maddux is still laughing.

Projecting ARod

Nate Silver's got a pretty good track record predicting things. So what does he have to say about ARod's career HR totals?

I took Rodriguez's top 20 PECOTA-comparable players and averaged their performances over each remaining season of their careers. Actually, the process was a little more complicated than that (each comparable's performance was adjusted for his park and league context, as well as his previous track record, and we had to make an accommodation for guys like Manny Ramirez who made A-Rod's comparables list but have yet to conclude their own careers). But the basic idea is simple: Comparables like Frank Robinson, who aged well, have a favorable effect on Rodriguez's forecast, and players like Caminini just the opposite one.

PECOTA's best guess is that Rodriguez will finish with 730 lifetime home runs, running out of steam after another three or four seasons and leaving him just shy of the marks established by Aaron and Bonds. Of course, there is a lot of uncertainty in this estimate. If Rodriguez follows the path charted by Aaron or Frank Robinson, he could finish with well in excess of 800 home runs (and possibly as many as 900). On the other hand, if he draws Albert Belle's ping-pong ball, he might not top 600. Overall, the system puts Rodriguez's chances of surpassing Aaron at only about four in 10 and of surpassing Bonds closer to three in 10.
Using the chart to the right, this 10 year deal won't look so good pretty darn soon and damn ugly after the next three years. But hey, the Yanks would save some cash in bonus payments not made.


But 94% tested clean!

In typical stonewalling fashion, Donald Fehr denounced the claims that a perception exists about anyone who played in 2003: they are all guilty until the rest of the 103 are outted.

Baseball union head Donald Fehr rejects the suggestion many players are under suspicion because 104 of them tested positive for drug use in 2003, including Alex

The testing was confidential until Rodriguez's results were leaked to a reporter. Pitchers Curt Schilling and Brad Lidge are among those who have said all players who tested positive should be identified because otherwise everyone who played in 2003 is suspect.

If that's the judgment, it seems to me that is entirely wrong," Fehr said Monday. "We know what happened in 2003. The number of positives we had was slightly over 5 percent. That means that slightly over 94 percent was negative."
Does any fan (at least those who CARE about the use of PEDs in the game; I know some of you don't care and that's fine by me) really care that 94% tested clean? No. We're solely focused on those who tested dirty.

If you disagree with that premise, look no further than the hue-and-cry about those who didn't vote for Rickey on the first HOF ballot. No one cared that he got over 94%; it was about those who were in the 5-6% who didn't.

Memo to Fehr: Those players who are clean (at least tested clean) want their names out to the public. They want their fans to know they are not among the 103 and are among the ranks of the 94%.

We're going to continue to have a bleed-out of those 103 remaining names, as soon as someone has a book to sell. Just wait until next February comes and we're decrying the next player who's apologizing for "unknowingly", while "young and stupid", "never, ever did steriods" but only "wants to look ahead, not at the past".

Yet another tragic fall

This is a bit off my usual path, but it struck me:

As senior director of player personnel for the White Sox, he was a high-ranking member of the front office and a trusted adviser to his good friend, general manager Ken Williams. Wilder's name periodically surfaced when other teams had openings for a general manager, and he had interviewed with at least one other club for its top front office job.

But his dream of running a team ended in May.

The Sox fired Wilder after a Major League Baseball investigation into allegations that he pocketed money from Dominican players' signing bonuses.

Last month, Wilder filed a petition with Family Court in Arizona seeking to lower his child support payments. He indicated he was making $7.25 an hour, or roughly $15,000 a year.
As a guy who reportedly was "meticulous about finances and didn't need money", that's a pretty serious fall from grace. This is why baseball considers gambling such a serious offense; it's too easy to get in over your head and before you realize it, you are compromising your standards to get back to even.

From the outside, it seems that Wilder simply got in too deep with some of his other interests (a money losing bar) and resorted to skimming funds to compensate. Too bad.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hacker's making some noise

Looks like FOTB (friend of the blog) Eric Hacker is quietly starting to make some noise. Aside from him and his family, no one would be more excited than me (and my family). We haven't yet met Eric personally, but his interview here and subsequent openness about his goings on getting ready for Spring have us rooting like mad!

Meanwhile, here’s a little tidbit from [Posada]. As he was walking away from his locker, he turned around and called a few of us over. “Keep an eye on (Eric) Hacker,” he said. “It’s 95 and he does it easy. Very impressive.”
Thanks for posting that tidbit, Pete Abe!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pictures from Spring Training

Some of my pictures from Spring Training last week. Enjoy.

Is this Vernon Wells?

Seen at Disney's Hollywood Studios (and yes, we left him alone):

Friday, February 20, 2009

I'm back, baby!

Hey there, friends. I'm finally (and perhaps sadly) back from a great trip. I've got a bunch of pictures from Spring Training (the boring stretching and warm up parts since games haven't yet begun). I'm almost done editing them but I will have them up here for viewing by the end of the weekend.

I can tell you first hand: PFP is as boring as you think, but watching a 6'10" Andrew Brackman try to get low for a bunted ball is almost comical. Like a stork picking up a pebble while running.

We unfortunately never got to hook up with Eric Hacker, though we yelled a bit and I think he acknowledged us with a quick wave. I can't fault him; he's trying to make the team not new friends in the stands. Maybe another time when we can weasel an autographed ball or two!

We did get, as you saw, a nicely autographed ball signed by Goose, which was nice.

The ballpark looked great and it was a crisp sunny day. Thankfully, we were out of there and back riding roller coasters by the time the ARod mess conference began. I am glad I was away and not dissecting his half-truths and stuff.

I'll get to that at some point, but maybe you're as sick of it as I am. Tell me if you want me to just "move on" and I will happily skip it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


My wife smiled nicely and got a ball from Aceves (who also signed it), then landed an autograph from Goose.


This dude is big.



Friend of the blog, Eric Hacker, #71.

Greetings from Legends Field

So far, so good.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Programming note: Vacation, baby!

Just a quick note to say that I will be catching an early flight tomorrow (2/14) to Disney for almost a week. I'll be back Thursday night. I can't imagine I will have the time to post much, if at all. I will be taking a Disney detour and heading to Tampa on Tuesday morning to watch pitchers and catchers practice. Not the most exciting thing there is, but just to see guys in uniform playing will be a nice salve after the news and beatdowns of the past week. I hope to run into a beat writer or two, and maybe snag a few pictures and autographs for my boys.

I will post pictures and other good stuff if there's anything worthwhile.

Feel free to email me if there's any breaking news or you just want to rant about anything. Have blackberry, will travel.

Speedy recovery wishes

Wishing Ben Sheets a speedy recovery.

Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery on Sheets in Birmingham, Ala., repairing a partial tear in the pitcher's right flexor tendon. Sheets said that while Andrews set no timetable, the doctor was confident that he would pitch later this season.

Andrews performed the same surgery on left-hander Andy Pettitte in Aug. 2004. Pettitte has since produced four straight 200-inning seasons, two with the Astros, two with the Yankees.

Someone's going to sign Sheets in July with a good team option for 2010 and come out looking rather smart.

What happens when your rich dad helps out

First: snags you a sweet internship at New York Magazine.
Second: bankrolls a weekend jaunt to Atlantis in the Bahamas (she probably has an amazing apartment in NYC that costs more than you make per month)
Third: become another moocher on someone else's celebrity.

A New York intern — we'll call her Jane Blonde — was on vacation in the Bahamas this weekend [Ed: We know, we hate her] with some friends from college when, suddenly, they found themselves face-to-orange-face with none other than A-Roid and his lusty ladies! Because she is an intern, we made her tell us everything, then sent her back to her cube to fact-check some New York Weddings stuff. After the jump, read Jane's timeline of how, in one magic night, she was transformed from an Intern into a Celebrity Entourage Hanger-On to a Tabloid Superstar!
Ooooh, dazzling. Or pathetically lame, if you ask me. Sorry, I've seen too many of these girls back when I was living in NYC, living so far above their means it was silly.

From "Jane Blonde" herself:
11 p.m. He introduces himself. "I'm Alex," he says, and we die. The security guard then ropes off his table. But we are in!

(via Deadspin)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Softball Times?

Just giving a little dig at Shyster for working for "The Softball Times". I mean, hardballs have red stitching, not white. Right? I know that ye olde style glove is small, but that ball's too big to be a baseball anyways. (click on their banner below to see a larger version)

These are the things that I notice that keep me up at night.

Bud caught off guard

From Buster:

Now Bud Selig is weighing his options in regard to possible A-Rod discipline. Selig was caught off guard by this, writes Bill Madden.
Bud gets caught off guard by morning. ba-dum-cha.

When's my vacation start? Saturday? Good.

Be consistent, Bud

To retroactively punish someone for something done 5 years ago that wasn't against the rules at the time and the results of which were agreed to remain anonymous is ABSURD. Bud, you cannot threaten to punish any player outted from this List Of 104. No one. Not one single player, even as high a profile as ARod.

In an interview with USA Today, Selig was asked if he would consider suspending the three-time American League MVP after Rodriguez told ESPN on Monday that he had juiced from 2001 through 2003 when he played for the Rangers.

"It was against the law, so I would have to think about that," Selig told the paper. "It's very hard. I've got to think about all that kind of stuff."
Yes, Bud, it is very hard. It's painful. The scab has only been torn, but it's hanging and getting caught on everything. It hurts. Either rip the entire thing off and expose all of the remaining 103 or be prepared to have to address a leak every off-season.

As far as the remaining 103, I am totally torn on this. On one hand, the players and Union were assured anonymity by MLB. Releasing this now would be against those players' rights and expectations of confidentiality. If I were one of those 103, especially if I were now retired, I'd want that list destroyed. If I were one of the 103 who is still active but not a superstar, I'd be fighting the desire to remain in the dark versus standing up for one of my Union members who got unjustly outed. I would love to see some player come out and break the glass, admitting he was one of the 103 and he couldn't live with himself knowing that one player was taking the heat for everyone. Will it happen? Doubtful. It will happen when a good investigative reporter gets another name or two leaked and has a book to sell.

On the other hand, I'd love to see the 103 names release immediately. Just get this nightmare out there so we can get to the business of healing. Sure, there'd be a huge hue and cry but soon enough, it'd fade into the ether and we'd be talking about the games again. And we wouldn't have the scepter of additional leaks coming every year forever.

Via Shysterball, Joe Maddon discussed an amnesty idea, which I think is smart. Said Shyster:
Only problem -- and it's, you know, a pretty huge one -- is that under the terms of the 2003 testing program, no one could have been punished for it anyway. And it's not like MLB discipline is even a problem. The problem is that anyone caught using steroids is made an utter pariah by the professionally outraged baseball media, and there is no amnesty program short of the suspension of the First Amendment that can do anything about that.

If there was ever to be anything approaching a workable amnesty setup, it would have been a law enforcement/baseball deal associated with the Mitchell Report and the BALCO/Radomski/McNamee/Novitsky business. That would have had at least some media buy-in and could very well have prompted something at least approaching a thorough clearing of the air. Never happened though, because (a) the feds are far more interested in prosecuting the War on Drugs than they are in actually stopping drug use; and (b) baseball has never really wanted a clearing of the air. They wanted a nice phony End Point. And they got it for about a year, but
now it's gone.

Free agent reluctantly signs for most money

No, not our friend CC Sabathia. I'm talking about Adam Dunn. It's clearly obvious that he wanted to play anywhere else but in DC, but they offered the most guaranteed money in this bear market, thusly proving (once again) that it is about the money, stupid. Dunn could have taken less to play somewhere else but he is now resigned to spouting the new company line:

"The opportunities [as a free agent] weren't exactly what I wanted them to be, but I get a chance and hopefully turn the program around," Dunn said on the MLB Network. "I think it will be a better feel of accomplishment to help turn the program around than go [to a place] that is established."
Yeah, sure.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

That sounds like me

Here's an article that sounds like me and my thoughts/opinions, though better written.

Winter is loathsome to me. I am a baseball fan. It has been central to my life from the moment I came into this world because it was central to my father's life.

More than that, I am a Yankee fan. The Yankees have been the constant in our family. The team has held us together through the turmoil of life, providing something to cheer for, something to cry over, or when father and sons struggle to find common ground, something to just get us talking. Yankee Stadium was as much our home as the two bedroom apartment in Mt. Vernon, NY.

So from the moment the last out of the World Series is recorded, I get anxious. I look into the bleak abyss of winter and, God forgive me, wish my time away. I need baseball.
Minus the location of the apartment (and the struggling to find common ground), that's me.

Thanks to Bryan for the tip

Abreu lands in the bargain bin

There were many, myself included, who were surprised when Cashman declined offering arbitration to Bobby Abreu back in December. I had (wrongfully) assumed that Cashman would do that, thinking Abreu would decline, looking for a multi-year deal. Cashman sure looks pretty smart today, doesn't he?

Angels got a steal:

Free agent outfielder Bobby Abreu and the Angels have an agreement on a one-year deal, has learned. The deal is worth a little more than $5 million and also includes incentives.
Abreu is the only player in major-league history with 200 home runs, 300 stolen bases, a .400 on-base percentage and a .300 batting average (Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson hit the first three marks but don't have the .300 career batting average).

ARod "enhanced" his anti-Roberts claims

This is precisely why ARod should have avoided any Selena Roberts bashing:

But police departments from New York and Hoboken to Miami and Coral Gables say A-Rod never reported Selena Roberts' alleged crimes to them.

I haven't been able to find anything to corroborate that she has tried to break into his home," Detective Juan Sanchez of the Miami Beach police said. "I haven't been able to find anything that corroborates the statement Alex Rodriguez made to ESPN."
Sanchez said Miami Beach police did file a "miscellaneous incident report" after police were called to answer a security guard's question about whether the island where Rodriguez lives is public or private property.

She was trying to gain access onto the island, and they had no right to stop her," Sanchez said. "It's a public right of way. She can stand in front of his house and do whatever she has to do as long as she doesn't step on his property. There's no follow-up. She was not arrested. She was not cited. It doesn't go on her record. It's not even entered into our system."
This only makes ARod's claims look off-base and mis-guided.

Speaking of ARod's bashing of Selena Roberts, Jeff Pearlman took Gammons to task for letting ARod get away with it:
The reason Gammons scored the interview with Rocker a decade back is the same reason he scored one with A-Rod today: He’s the Larry King of sports television. Softball questions, limited inquisitiveness, an easy time for all involved. I’m not sure if Gammons was jealous of Selena for scoring a huge story, but he had to—absolutely had to—follow up Rodriguez’s presumably ludicrous accusations with a question or two or three or 10. “Alex, are you saying Selena Roberts literally broke into your building? Alex, can I see the paper you’re referring to? Alex, you rip Selena Roberts’ reporting? But wasn’t she, ahem, correct?

Seriously, give me a break.

Oswalt wants to re-write the books

Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt wants ARod's numbers stricken from the record books:

If Roy Oswalt had his druthers, any player who was proven to, or admitted to, using performance-enhancing drugs would have his numbers erased from baseball history, the Astros ace said on Tuesday.

That includes Alex Rodriguez, who on Monday admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs after a Sports Illustrated report revealed he had failed a drug test in 2003.
So Roy, when your teammate, Miguel Tejada, pleads guilty to some charge relating to perjury this week, what will you say to him?

How would you do this? Would you only take away ARod's totals, or do you have to adjust the opposing pitchers' stats, too? Do you then go and retroactively adjust the scores and outcomes? Are teams records restated? Much like an accounting ledger, you can't simply deduct from one side without impacting the other side. But what if the pitcher he face was also a known user?

Oz complained that ARod (and others) were cheating him. What if Tejada's performance HELPED Oz earn an extra win or two?


Wiping numbers away is impossible and (since I love the term) a fool's errand. When the book of baseball is written and catalogued in Cooperstown, cheats will be enshrined whether we know it or not. We are living in an era of chemically enhanced players and despite the testing, it's not going away any time soon. The crooked scientists and doctors are three steps ahead of the testers. We cannot simply strike whatever numbers we wish to make us feel better about ourselves, as fans. The 1950's, '60's and '70's all saw their fair share of chemical enhancement, from greenies and other amphetamines to cocaine. Now we have more elegant and advanced drugs.

A generation ago, fans saw the careers of beloved players like Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax end prematurely due to injury. Nowadays, Koufax would have had the "zipper" on his elbow or his shoulder worked on by Dr. Andrews and Mantle's knees would have been fixed arthroscopically. Aren't these medical procedures technically performance enhancing? The medical/chemical advancements have changed the game. Players get lasik surgery to improve their vision; isn't that performance enhancing?

What about players drawing their own blood, having it spun to consolidate the platelets only to have it reinjected to help rejuvenate an injured area? Is that performance enhancing?

What I have heard a ton of this week is this: Players should be competing only with what you were born with. OK, I like that. I'm not encouraging use of PED's, but to me, the line is a bit blurry. You aren't born with a replacement elbow or knee ligament or a repaired rotator cuff, things that both enhance performance and prolong careers. I know that the medical procedures are merely restorative, per se, but don't we see players coming back from TJS eventually throwing harder than before?

The line is a nice shade of gray and turning blurry.

Sad news about Robbie Alomar

If true, this is terribly sad (emphasis mine):

Baseball great Roberto Alomar has full-blown AIDS but insisted on having unprotected sex, his ex-girlfriend charged Tuesday in a bombshell lawsuit.

The shocking claim was leveled by Ilya Dall, 31, who said she lived with the ex-Met for three years and watched in horror as his health worsened. In papers filed in state and federal court, Dall said Alomar finally got tested in January 2006 while suffering from a cough, fatigue and shingles.
Alomar, 41, who quit baseball over health issues in 2005, could not be reached for comment.
Also in 2005, Alomar told Dall that when he once was raped by two Mexican men after playing a Ballgame in New Mexico, according to the suit.

Other symptoms began to develop, she says, including erectile dysfunction , a chronic cough, and fatigue.
While I hope it's not true from any number of angles (that he doesn't have AIDS, the rape story, that if he does he didn't do what's alleged), perhaps that explains his precipitous drop off in performance. He batted .336 in his final year with CLE only to slide to .266 in his first year (2002) with the Mets. He batted .258 in 2003, split between the Mets and the WhiteSox.

Alomar's eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

UPDATE: If you want to read the whole sordid filing, here it is on The Smoking Gun. Warning: It's ugly.

Some farm notes

From Chad Jennings and his chat with Yanks vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman:

Eric Fryer will most likely open the season in Tampa, where the Yankees are set and then some with Jesus Montero and Austin Romine at catcher. With that in mind, Newman's take on Fryer's playing time was exactly what you would expect. “We’ll see how it goes, have to see how that whole thing shakes out," Newman said. "We think early in the season most of his at-bats will come at first base and the otufield.” Newman agreed that there's a solid chance Montero or Romine -- or both -- will play too well to stay in Tampa all season, so opportunities behind the plate could open by midseason. Or, Fryer could get hot and move up himself. Fryer's new, so we'll all have to "see how it goes."

Here in Scranton, the ramification of the Wright trade is more immediate than a High-A outfielder/first baseman. Newman said trading Wright increased the chances of either Eric Hacker or George Kontos opening in the Triple-A rotation, but Double-A hasn't been ruled out for either of them. In theory, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre rotation could be filled without Kontos or Hacker (could be Hughes, Kennedy, Aceves, Coke and Igawa) but that's going to depend on what happens in big league camp.
From a personal level, I am hoping like heck that Eric Hacker makes the big club out of ST. I had the good fortune of interviewing Hacker here and would love to see him make the leap.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Marvin Miller checks in

Earlier this week, I made this comment:

Wonder what Marvin Miller is saying now. Betchya he's saying something like: "See, I told you numbskulls you shouldn't have caved in and let Bud & Co. have their way. You got burned."
So guess what Marvin Miller actually had to say today:
But Miller, the 91-year-old Players Association icon, said union leaders are also now paying for their biggest mistake -- the decision to bow to public and congressional pressure and enter into an agreement with Major League Baseball to institute mandatory testing in 2004.

"Everything I've read in the last few days is unfair and anti-union," Miller told on Tuesday. "But that does not mean I agree that [union officials] are without blame. When they agreed on a testing program, I said, 'They're going to regret this, because you're going to see players going to jail.' "
Now, Miller has some other stances which I don't necessarily agree with (no proof that steroids/PEDs even work, the media perpetrates the images, using the tobacco industry as a diversionary arguement, etc.). While I am in favor, obviously, of stringent testing, I do see the Miller's arguement, from a Union point of view. He knew that in allowing MLB to kick open the CBA would allow for MLB to impose its will. And that's just what happened.

Congress regains their senses (for the moment)

Thankfully, the new chairman of the congressional committee that hauled in Clemens, Big Mac and Raffie Palmiero will NOT be dragging ARod in to discuss his admission of PED usage.

"The American people need leaders who will focus on stemming job losses and getting credit to flow in the marketplace before hearing from yet another person who cheated both himself and the game of baseball," said House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Edolphus Towns, a Democrat from New York.
Amen and hallelujah.

And now, Tejada

Lovely. Another day, another PED poop-fest.

Former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada was charged today with lying to congressional investigators about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

Federal prosecutors accused Tejada of making misrepresentations to congressional staffers during an interview in a Baltimore hotel room focusing on the prevalence of steroids in the game.

Says Shyster:
Ya think it's a coincidence that both this and the A-Rod leak are happening all a couple of weeks before the Bonds trial? I sure don't. In fact, I can almost see this as an orchestrated operation in order to bolster the opening and closing statements of the Bonds prosecutors. Rather than refer to lies about a raid five years ago, the prosecutor can stand up and say "this was no innocent lie! The headlines in just the past month show that the scourge of steroids is as rampant as ever! Like A-Rod and Tejada, Bonds is a ballplayer who thinks he's above the law and worked to thwart an important government investigation!"

Dissecting the ARod transcript, pt III

While someone correctly called this exercise "a fool's errand", I will continue to be the fool to run the errand. While this is getting lengthy, reading everything so closely has be very helpful for me.

PETER GAMMONS: How do you go about making people believe you?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think coming into the league at 20 years, coming second to Juan Gonzalez as MVP is one good indication. And then, 14 years later in 2007, having the greatest year of my career is another. The other thing is, I'm going to have a sample of 14 years past this Texas era where I get to show and prove to the world who I am as a player. Hopefully I'm part of a championship team or two.

And I also, more importantly, have a chance to, you know, tell the story to kids so they can learn from my mistake. Because there's a story to be said here. I'm looking forward to that challenge.

But to me, '09, now I'm getting excited going to spring training. When you take this gorilla and this monkey off your back, you realize that honesty is the only way. I'm finally beginning to grow up. I'm pretty tired of being stupid and selfish, you know, about myself. The truth needed to come out a long time ago. I'm glad it's coming out today.
Let's face it, there is NOTHING that ARod can do, right now, to convice people he's telling the truth about anything. The only thing he CAN do, is run counter to the Union and have his blood tested and stored. He's not glad it came out. He's just dealing with the reality of it all. If he was really glad, he would have volunteered this years ago (which we know would never happen for any athlete). I'll believe his "telling the story" crap when I see it.
PETER GAMMONS: Two years ago when Barry Bonds was passing Henry Aaron, it was written a lot of places, well, the great thing -- when you pass Bonds, the great thing will be we'll finally have a legitimate home run champion. When you
read those articles, did you worry a little bit about all this coming back to haunt you?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: You naturally have to worry. I mean, again, there's such a gray area. That era wasn't about facts. That era -- those words you just mentioned, I guarantee that half the guys that did that in any sport don't know what that is.

You basically end up trusting the wrong people. You end up, you know, not being very careful about what you're ingesting. And, yeah, it worried me completely, absolutely. And today, although I know that people are going to be very disappointed, just like I am, I feel good about moving forward and doing things the way I've been doing it the last five years and the way I did it prior to being in Texas. And that's a very important point for me.
What he should have said: "Peter, I hoped like hell that it would never come out, that the samples were actually destroyed. Unfortunately 'anonymous' doesn't mean what we thought it did." I would have given him big bonus points for being honest if I heard that.
PETER GAMMONS: A lot has been said about the fact that the union did not get those samples destroyed, which involves over a hundred players. Are you bitter at all that the union didn't get those tests destroyed?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: No, I mean, God has done this for a reason. There's a reason why. I can care less about what the union did. I could care less about what Selena Roberts did. This has to come out. This is very important. The most important thing for me in my career is to be honest and forthright, to go into my '09 season as part of the greatest organization in the world, as one of the guys to go out and try to reach our goal.

And when you have that monkey on your back, it's really hard to be the person that you know you can be. It's hard to fulfill your potential that way.
Too bad Peter never really seemed to push ARod's answers back in his face a bit. Too many softballs with no defense. To invoke "God" is just pathetic. Everyone can believe and worship whatever, whenever, whoever. But "God" had nothing to do with outting just ARod's name.
PETER GAMMONS: Over the years, have you talked to anybody about this?


PETER GAMMONS: You haven't talked to [agent] Scott Boras?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Not one word. Not one word.

Bullsh*it. Hell, it wouldn't surprise me one iota if his ex-wife tipped someone off about all this. Way to push him, Peter.
PETER GAMMONS: How much did you learn from Andy Pettitte coming forward and essentially admitting what he did last year?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: It was very commendable. I love Andy like a brother. He's one of my best friends on the team. I know he went through a very hard time.

But the one thing is all of us, 1 through 25, we supported him, we loved him, we didn't judge him. And going through this process, Andy has been texting me four or five times.

You know, one thing I'm learning as I get older, and hopefully a little wiser, is that honesty, the truth will set you free. I'm just proud that I'm here sharing my story. Regardless of what the union -- this is no one's fault. This is my fault. I'm responsible for this. And I'm deeply sorry for that.
Then where were you at Andy's presser? Girardi, Cashman and Jeter were all there. Liar. At least he said "I'm responsible".

I feel compelled to call it quits here. The balance of the interview are the same questions, re-asked. A few more softballs or leading questions, too.

I want to believe that he's been clean since the testing really was stepped up a notch. I want to believe that for all players, not just ARod. But, we will just never know. We have to continue to root for the laundry. Have your kids idolize players that you feel best represent your own ideals, and if that player breaks your heart, well, you've got a good excuse to teach your kids about the bad things people do.

Pitchers and catchers report in a few days. The business of baseball gets demoted for PFP, sore hamstrings, rookies making noise and veterans fading away. Spring is coming. The Rays will seek to prove they are more than a one-hit wonder. The Phillies try to repeat. The Yanks and Sox will resume their "Hatfield & McCoy" battles. Someone will come from out of nowhere to be this year's Rays.

I am going down to Florida on Saturday for a family vacation. If all goes well, I will try to drop by Legends Field in Tampa to get a first hand account of what's going on in Yankeeland. I want to smell the freshly cut grass, hear the gloves pop, watch players run and shag flies. And when/if I am sitting there in the sun with my two boys, I can promise you I won't be thinking about ARod, PED's and the rest of this mess.

Other dissections:

Dissecting the ARod transcript, pt II

Click here for the transcript on ESPN.

PETER GAMMONS: To talk a little bit about that culture. It was an underground culture. A player said to me last summer that he really believes in that period between about '98 and 2004, that the players who didn't do one thing or another were either scared or didn't care. Do you agree with that?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: I think you just felt a tremendous need to keep up and to play well. You know, it was hot in Texas every day. It was over a hundred degrees. You know, you felt like, without trying to overinvestigate what you're taking, can I have an edge just to get out there and play every day? And that's what it came down to. I can't speak for everybody who did. I can only speak for myself.

Regardless of what we want to [unintelligible] and say and justify, there's absolutely no excuse for what I did. I'm sorry. If I was a fan, a fan of mine, a fan of the Rangers, I would be very pissed off. And I can't take that back. But just realize that I'm sorry, and I want to do things to change.

I want to do things to influence children and realize they should learn from my mistake because, you know, it's the biggest regret I have in my life because baseball's given me everything, and I have so much respect.

There will be some people that say, you know, Alex is not a great player, going back to high school, I mean, they're just going to have this blanket cloud over my career. And for those, they may have their own point, but it feels good coming out and being completely honest and putting it out there and realizing that the more honest we can all be, the quicker we get baseball to where it needs to be.
Channelling his inner McGwire. I will only believe the "influence children" when I see him on anti-steroids ads. Using the Texas heat as an excuse is just lame. Steroids don't cool your core body temperature. Sure they help recovery and that helps getting out on the field day in and day out, but to use steroids for this purpose is silly.

The "without trying to overinvestigate" comment is again so profoundly absurd, it's amazing that he kept going back to this. Gammons, who knows ARod as well as anyone, should have hammered on this. I'm disappointed he let it slide the way he did. Sure he asked ARod a few times but never said "C'mon Alex. Do you mean to tell me that you injected or ingested whatever someone gave you without asking what it was, what it did, what the effects were?"

PETER GAMMONS: To go back, you were 21 years old. You're saying at that point in your career, high school, No. 1 pick in the country, you're hitting .358 at the age of 21, you were completely clean?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: 100 percent. 100 percent. Even before that I had never even seen or even heard of the idea of taking any substance. I've been very fortunate to come up. I was up at 18 years old. I remember meeting you when I was a few months removed away from high school. I was all of 195 pounds or 200 pounds. That was a special time.

And you put my first year and you put my very last year in New York, there haven't been many peaks and valleys. I had the greatest year of my career in 2007. It's a year that I'm very proud of. Although we didn't win a championship, it was a year that was full of -- you know, it was a very historic year. Just to have 2007, 1996, that for me says a lot.
I can believe most this. ARod hasn't had the pronounced peaks and valleys. His numbers are consistently astounding. But if you're one who likes to look at pictures to determing guilt or innocence, his bulk arrived in Texas. He's even come down in size in NY (not saying he's been clean since arriving, but he's clearly smaller than his Texas days).

PETER GAMMONS: How much of the culture -- how prevalent was this culture in Texas at that time?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: You know, I've always been a guy that raced my own race. And I don't like to look left, I don't like to look right. You just feel there's an energy. To say only Texas, that wouldn't be fair. But overall, you felt that there was -- I felt a tremendous pressure to play and play really well. I felt like I was going up against the whole world. I just signed this enormous contract. I got unbelievable negative press, for lack of a better term, for [Rangers owner] Tom Hicks and I teaming up together...

So I felt that I needed something, without overinvestigating what I was taking, to get me to the next level.
There's more pressure in NY, but I guess as the first guy to break that salary thresholds, the pressures were surely significant, I can't dismiss them. Maybe he has gotten better about handling his pressures.

See above for my thoughts on ARod's "without overinvestigating" comments.

PETER GAMMONS: How long was it before you found out that what you were doing was actually illegal?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Again, at the time of that culture, there was no illegal or legal. It was just -- you have to understand the time. To take you back there, again, people were taking a number of different things, from GNC, to whatever.

To be quite honest with you, the first time that I knew I had failed a test 100 percent was when the lady from Sports Illustrated [Selena Roberts] came into my gym just a few days ago and told me, "You have failed a test."
Cop-out. Plain and simple.

PETER GAMMONS: [Major League Baseball Players Association COO] Gene Orza didn't tell you that? There's a report that says that he told all the players who failed drug tests in 2003.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Gene was very specific in 2004. We had a meeting in September or August. Don't quote me on the date. But he said there's a government list, there's 104 players on it. You might or might not have tested positive.

At that point I said OK. That was five years ago. I never heard anything ever since. In my mind I assumed that, OK, whatever I was experiencing in Texas perhaps was OK, I'm OK. And in my mind, as I did my interview with CBS last year, I felt I haven't failed a test ... And that was my belief. Whether I wanted to convince myself of that or ... That's just where my mind was.

I felt it was important for me that all my years in New York have been clean, and I wanted just to move to the next chapter in my life.
"Might or might not have"? This is very sketchy. I have a hard time buying this. As far as the CBS interview, he lied, plain and simple.

PETER GAMMONS: ESPN surveyed a number of doctors and experts in this field, and they said the Primobolan could never be prescribed by a doctor. But it was accessible?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: First of all, I want to see these tests because I haven't seen them ... I am saying I'm guilty of being naive and not having all the information and being negligent. But I would love to see the tests before I start answering questions that I've never even heard before, probably yesterday for the first time.

So, again, I am guilty of being very naive, and I'm deeply sorry for that.
Lame. Sorry for the short comment, but it's just the perpetrating of this bogus claim that bugs me.

PETER GAMMONS: Now, you mentioned the Katie Couric interview. You were asked if you ever used steroids, human growth hormones or other performance-enhancing substances. You said no, flat-out no. In your mind, that wasn't a lie?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: At the time, Peter, I wasn't even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with Katie or CBS? Today, I'm here to tell the truth, and I feel good about that. I think my fans deserve that. I'm ready to put everything behind me and go play baseball. You know, we have a great team this year. I couldn't be more excited about the guys that we've brought in, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett ... It's an important time in my life to turn the page and focus on what's next.

"I feel good about that"? Maybe he does feel better with the truth out, but have we heard the entire truth? I am not sure. We heard part of it and overall, it was a very good first step for him.

PETER GAMMONS: So from 2004 on, you have been completely clean?


I want to believe this. I sincerely do. I think that most players had been scared straight. With ARod, I just don't know.

PETER GAMMONS: Have you even been able to check and find out how many times you've been tested?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: I don't know the real number, but I would guess at least eight to 10 times. But I would like to know that number. I know I've been tested quite a bit over the last five years.
I mentioned this yesterday.

PETER GAMMONS: You were tested during the WBC [World Baseball Classic] in 2006, is that correct?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Correct. I got tested in 2006. And also this year when I go down to Puerto Rico, I'm sure I'll get tested again in 2009.

Prior to Texas, I really had -- at that time in Seattle, I had never even heard of a player taking a substance, a steroid of any kind in my Seattle days. I mean, I know this lady from Sports Illustrated, Selena Roberts, is trying to throw things out there that in high school I tried steroids. I mean, that's the biggest bunch of baloney I've ever heard in my life. I mean, what makes me upset is that Sports Illustrated pays this lady, Selena Roberts, to stalk me. This lady has been thrown out of my apartment in New York City. This lady has five days ago just been thrown out of the University of Miami police for trespassing. And four days ago she tried to break into my house where my girls are up there sleeping, and got cited by the Miami Beach police. I have the paper here. This lady is coming out with all these allegations, all these lies because she's writing an article for Sports Illustrated and she's coming out with a book in May.

Really respectable journalists are following this lady off the cliff and following her lead. And that, to me, is unfortunate.

The character attack on Roberts has no place here and dilutes anything ARod's trying to accomplish. It's an unfortunate turn. Particularly since Roberts has come out and refuted it all. His "this lady" reminds me, sadly, of Clinton's distancing himself of "that woman, Ms. Lewinski".

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