Thursday, July 30, 2009


Uh oh - more names leaked from that 2003 drug test that got A-Rod earlier this year - this time coming closer to home - cheating swine Manny Ramirez and the sainted David Ortiz are named. Shocking news! Meanwhile, Ortiz wasted little time getting the Boston faithful to put this difficult revelation behind them, hitting a home run to win the afternoon's game....

Personally, I am rather grateful for this revelation. Boston fans were a bit too eager to go after A-Rod or Bonds or Canseco back in the day - local commentary is a bit too willing to sniff at those poor deluded fools in LA who welcomed Manny back with open arms after his suspension. Now - they'll have to find other ways to make fools of themselves. I am happy to report that I have generally not been too stern in my judgments - Manny, getting caught this year, is pretty pathetic - but, he did the time, he's back, there you go... and people like Bonds and such - it was a fact of the game back then. There's no grounds to get self-righteous about it - never was, and every name that comes out just proves it over and over again. There's been a certain amount of talk lately about Bill James' take on steroids - one of the keys of James' argument is that whatever "rules" existed against steroids before 2002 or 3 were openly unenforced, if not simply unenforceable. It was hard, in the 90s, not to see the steroid era as a deliberate policy on the part of major league baseball - home runs put asses in in the seats, most of the promotion of the game was promotion of home runs - not for nothing was the home run contest THE attraction of the all star break in that era. I don't know how to get around this. The plain obviousness of the rampant use of steroids, and the obvious acceptance of this at every level of the game. Maybe not the "purists" - as posturing a bunch of blowhards as you are likely to see - but everyone else. Not that you had to like it - I'm a pitching defense, walks and doubles guy myself, a fan of the national league game stuck in a quintessentially American League city, alas... but it's what it is - or was what it was.

The questions about the hall of fame are coming up, more and more - that's what James is writing about; the other night on one of the Red Sox games, Gordon Edes said almost the same thing - you don't know who used and who didn't - in the end, the odds are almost everyone from 95-05 will have used something - so you probably have to accept it as a fact of the game as it was played and vote for the best players of the era. That is how I feel. Using steroids isn't admirable, but it was done, and done widely, and hall of fame voting (for instance) is always about comparing players to their peers. Now - it might be more of a problem to compare those players to the players who came before - what are the raw totals worth? How much do you have to discount Manny Ramirez to compare him, accurately, to Jim Rice? Personally - I think steroids are already starting to work the other way - I think Jim Rice got into the Hall of Fame mostly as a reaction to the steroid era. I suspect - much as I adored Jim Rice as a ball player - that without the steroid era, Rice would never have made it in. He wasn't getting in before the strike, before McGwire and Sosa and Bonds hitting 60s of home runs, and so on. If they hadn't, even if they had put up the kinds of numbers you would have expected them to - a couple hundred fewer career homers, maybe; topping out around 52-55 in a season, I imagine - I don't think Rice would have gotten in. I don't know if I would have voted for him, for anything except as a home town favorite... I suppose that goes for the juice boys - I don't know if Sosa was really any better than JIm Ed - McGwire was just a power hitter... ON the other hand, steroids or not, I don't see any case for keeping Bonds or Clemens or A Rod out of the hall - if they were cheaters, they were plainly better than all the other cheaters, and probably better than a good many non-cheaters... So...

Baseball. In the end, I expect to treat steroids the way you treat Coors field or the dead ball - one of the conditions of the game at a certain time, that changes the way the stats look.

Meanwhile, to turn to less controversial subjects - I see metro Boston's last big horrendous news item has reached a kind of conclusion, as President Obama's "beer summit" occurs, bringing Henry Louis Gates and police sergeant James Crowley together for a brewski and a few words of wisdom.... I hope those words of wisdom include something to the effect of, "you know, sergeant, while it's true I should not have called you stupid in front of the national media, you really did screw up." It's rather amazing that a significant number of people don't think the cop is essentially to blame. You can't go arresting people for breaking into their own house - or for being pissed off when you show up and investigate them for breaking into their own house... of course, there's some sign the cop knew that, and got Gates to follow him outside in a rage, where he could arrest him for creating a public disturbance - hard to say. But hard to see anything in the story that puts the blame for the arrest anywhere but on the police.

Anyway, it seems to be winding down now. Just as well. Though I hope something more comes out of this than another round of solemn intonations to Never Antagonize An Officer of the Law! Usually from the same people who solemnly intone that Socialized Medicine Will Take Away Your Right to Choose Your Own Health Care! Right. By god, if we've gotta have a police state, let's at least have free health care!

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