catchers-javy-lopez

Inducting Javy into Braves HOF a bit hypocritical

I like it when a member of the Braves hierarchy, typically JS, introduces Hank Aaron as the real HR king. But if you’re going to say that, shouldn’t you think twice before inducting Javy Lopez, who all but admitted to using PED’s,  into the team’s Hall of Fame?

You either cheated or you didn’t. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re in the record books or a nice guy —  both of which apply to Javy. It also shouldn’t matter whether you’re talking Cooperstown or the bowels of Turner Field.

“Well, everybody seen players getting big, hitting the ball harder, home runs and stuff. All of a sudden – boom — they got the big contract and everybody’s like, ‘You know what, did that, it worked for him, why not do it?’ . . . I mean, how can I explain this? It’s like if you’re going to race cars, if you’re going to race a car and some people are using nitro in the fuel [Lopez laughed], and you see them winning all the time, and you’re
using regular gas – you know what? If they’re using nitro and they’ve been winning, well, I’d be stupid enough not to use nitro, too.”

That was Javy circa 2010. Sounds like an admission to what most of us already assumed after a 32-year-old Javy hit 43 homers in 2003 after hitting just .233 with 11 HR’s the year before. You’ll recall that was his free agent year, and he was rewarded with a 3-year, $23.5 million contract.

AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! and AMEN! again

I feel zero sympathy for A-Fraud, but Joe Sheehan’s body slam of the Used Car Salesman, who’s reportedly prepared to ban the Yankees third sacker for life under the “best interests of baseball” clause, is SOLID FUCKING GOLD.

It is ludicrous that Bud Selig would find himself about to invoke XII.B against anyone. In the 1980s, as owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and a labor hawk, Selig faithfully executed MLB’s plan of colluding to fix the market for baseball players. With his fellow owners under then-commissioner Peter Ueberroth, Selig agreed to not compete for talent, to not look to improve his team, in violation of federal labor law. … Selig may have cost his team a division title while spearheading an approach that would end up costing MLB owners $280 million across three separate judgments and queering relations with the MLBPA for the next two decades.

Seven years later, Selig would make the costs of collusion look like ashtray money. After participating in the ouster of commissioner Fay Vincent in 1992, Selig became the de facto commissioner in advance of the negotiations for a Collective Bargaining Agreement in 1994. As the head of the Executive Council, Selig pushed a hardline approach that included a payroll cap, the ending of salary arbitration and the gutting of free agency. The walkout forced by this approach would cost the game more than a half-billion in direct lost revenue in 1994, and more than a billion dollars in total when 1995 and slack revenues in post-strike seasons are tallied. …

The single most destructive act towards baseball in my lifetime isn’t a player cheating, isn’t Pete Rose betting, isn’t a team snorting coke and it isn’t baseball teams colluding. It’s 1994, and 1994 happened because Bud Selig called a play that a Supreme Court Justice saw right through. Alex Rodriguez could kidnap the NL Central, the Texas League and the Southeastern Conference, shoot them up with heroin and drop them off a barge and not violate XII.B to the extent that Selig has.

This should be required reading for every baseball scribe and broadcaster, most of whom forward the ridiculous argument that the Scourge of Milwaukee has somehow been good for the game.

The best $160 million the Braves never spent

It’s often forgotten that, had then-Rangers owner Tom Hicks not lost leave of his senses, Alex Rodriguez would’ve probably been a Brave.

JS was prepared to offer A-Fraud a contract in the neighborhood of 8 years and $160 million, and early indications were that the Mariners SS was itching to play for Atlanta, his favorite team growing up. In fact, A-Rod chose #3 in honor of his boyhood idol.

Murph should sue for defamation.

Rodriguez, who is seeking a long-term deal averaging $20-$25 million a year, said last week he won’t necessarily go to the highest bidder. The Braves are thought to be willing to offer him a deal averaging $20 million per season, $5 million more than Chipper Jones’ salary, but won’t go any higher.

“What I’m focusing on is a team with a good chance to win, the players, the city, things like that,” Rodriguez told ESPN’s Peter Gammons. “I’m not a selfish player. I want to be one player on a good team that has a chance to win a ring.

“When I sign, people will see that there are no big side deals, and they may find out that I took a little less to play for the team I want to play with.”

“Uh oh,” a baseball executive said to Gammons when informed of Rodriguez’s comment. “That sounds a lot like Atlanta.”

Nope, that sounds a lot like a huge phony.

Rodriguez officially reached rock bottom today, announcing, through his lawyer, his intention to have “no discipline,” not just a reduction in any suspension. And thus ends Ryan Braun’s tenure as baseball’s most loathsome superstar.

All I can say is thank God for Tom Hicks. The Braves have largely avoided players who embarrass the organization, save for one major exception.

Come to think of it, A-Rod and John Rocker would’ve probably gotten along famously had they been teammates — two unlikable cheaters who blame everyone but themselves for self-inflicted wounds.

Speed is to steroids as pot is to heroin

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post is an idiot, as evidenced in this exchange with John Schuerholz.

KD : I have one question, one challenging question for you. You know how much I respect you, but one thing I’ve read that irks me a little. I think you’ve had some ceremonies where the team introduces Hank Aaron as “The real home run king” or “The true home run king.” Am I right on that?

JS : Yeah.

KD : Are you OK with that? Is that your domain?

JS : Listen. If you were in Atlanta and you worked for our organization, you would feel the same way. He’s without dispute, people in baseball would look at him as the guy they say is the quote-unquote real home run champion. There’s no questions about how he hit his home runs.

KD : But he admitted to using amphetamines . He used illegal PEDs, just like Bonds did.

JS : I’m not going to make a big deal out of this. He is for us the real home run champion. It’s our view. He’s our home run king. It’s our opinion. And we honor him for that. And I’m not going to stop saying it about him.

Good for JS, though I wish he had said, “Listen, moron. No one ever hit the ball further by taking greenies. Hank didn’t have the best seasons of his career after his 35th birthday, when Bonds, who hit a HR every 16.1 AB’s, began hitting them every 8.5 AB’s (from ’99-’04). Nor did he undergo an unprecedented growth spurt more than 20 years after puberty.

From “Game of Shadows”:

For his part, [equipment manager Mike] Murphy could document Bonds’ physical changes via the changes in his uniform size. Since joining the Giants, Bonds had gone from a size 42 to a size 52 jersey; from size 10 ½ to size 13 cleats; and from a size 7 1/8 to size 7 ¼ cap, even though he had taken to shaving his head. The changes in his foot and head size were of special interest: medical experts said overuse of Human Growth Hormone could cause an adult’s extremities to begin growing.

Regrettably, such false equivalences are repeated as gospel by many in the sabermetrics crowd, baseball’s version of the tea party.

Witness these insipid comments on Hardball Talk, which addressed the Davidoff Q&A:

Holy smokes, [JS} completely handwaves away the fact that Aaron did essentially what Bonds did. That’s some amazing cognitive dissonance. He’d make a great politician.

Why is Greg Maddux a first ballot hall of famer? Is he 100% clean? Really? How do you know that? If Maddux gets in, then Clemens and Bonds have to get in since they failed the same # of drug tests as Maddux…zero.

I demand scientific proof from you that steroids makes you hit a ball farther. That is my challenge to you. Do you accept? Yes or No.

It’s difficult arguing facts with people who chose to ignore them.

Now, as for the effects of speed, have you ever seen a big meth addict? Speed, or greenies, don’t build body mass. Those making the comparison frame the argument as one of morality, or legality. That’s irrelevant. I’m opposed to Bonds’ induction into the Hall because he used artificial means to create an unfair advantage, not because he broke the rules.

Conflating greenies with steroids is willful ignorance, and to what end? To ensure the enshrinement of known cheaters?

PED apologists violate their own liturgy

Familiar language from ESPN’s Christina Kahrl, who claims the HOF is already compromised by PEDs.

I mean, c’mon, no Mike Schmidt or Hank Aaron in the Hall of Fame? By their own admission they broke the same baseball rule on the books that Bonds did, and they did so for the same reason — to enhance their performance.

She’s talking about amphetamines, which were once doled out like Morrison’s peppermints in most, if not all, of baseball clubhouses. That doesn’t make it right, but they weren’t consumed in the shadows. Eddie Mathews wasn’t snorting lines with Hank in a toilet stall, for instance, a la Canseco injecting McGwire. Greenies didn’t give one player a significant advantage over another.

Besides, it’s ridiculous to compare the banned substances.  The proof is in the stats, yet the apologists ignore the evidence. Perhaps because it totally destroys their argument.

What else explains Bonds’ production in the twilight of his career? Bonds’ lowest OPS, in four seasons from ages 36-39, was 1.278. His highest OPS in the prime of his career, from ages 26-29: 1.136. He had 69 more homers from ages 36-39.

Fortunately, someone else crunched the numbers typically required by the statistically obsessed.

Below are the top 15 OWPs of all time, regardless of age. Before 2001, no player had reached .924, Bonds’ OWP for the whole period that covers ages 36-39. Notice how unusual it is for someone aged 36-39 to have such a great OWP. It appears that no one has aged as well as Bonds.

Rank

Player

YEAR

OWP

AGE

1

Barry Bonds

2002

0.942

37

2

Barry Bonds

2004

0.929

39

3

Barry Bonds

2001

0.922

36

4

Mickey Mantle

1957

0.915

25

5

Babe Ruth

1920

0.913

25

6

Fred Dunlap

1884

0.909

25

7

Ted Williams

1941

0.908

22

8

Barry Bonds

2003

0.897

38

9

Babe Ruth

1923

0.896

28

10

Babe Ruth

1921

0.891

26

11

Ted Williams

1957

0.891

38

12

Babe Ruth

1926

0.883

31

13

Ted Williams

1942

0.881

23

14

Pete Browning

1882

0.88

21

15

Babe Ruth

1924

0.879

29

Dare I mention the freakish guns and engorged head?

Apparently none of this is sufficient proof for the likes of Kahrl, who writes of “the purported performance-enhancing benefits of PEDs.”

This from the group that sneers at those who ignore the irrefutable evidence found in the numbers.

Tonight’s reading assignment

Terrific column by ESPN.com’s Howard Bryant — so good he almost makes up for Rick Reilly — on this year’s Hall of Fame balloting. Much to recommend here, particularly this excerpt:

[B]ecause of the steroid era, the baseball writers are going to guess who deserves enshrinement based on who had big muscles or who had a suspicious career year. Thus, goes the thinking, the system must change. It is a disdainful mindset that doesn’t just miss the bull’s-eye, but the entire target altogether. It is the great MacGuffin of the game, and reveals a complete lack of respect for voters who for years have done the work, covered the games, and taken the privilege seriously.

The truth is that the writers are reduced to being a mop, left with cleaning up a colossal mess created by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association for enormous profit. The fans also must take their share of responsibility simply because professional sports franchises respond only to loss of revenue. To the people watching, steroids were always someone else’s problem, not an issue to get in the way of the fun and games — until their guy was accused or their team wronged. The journalists whose job it was to hold the institution accountable failed, too, for too little reporting allowed a corrupt culture to flourish. The emerging Generation M, influenced by its Godfather, Bill James, and his capo, Billy Beane, is also deeply culpable for allowing their calculations to blissfully ignore steroids and, through that omission, attempting to legitimize the whole dishonest era (and themselves) by attempting to make the game revolve around only numbers. It is no surprise, then, that two of the Gen M standard bearers, power and on-base percentage kings Manny Ramirez and Jason Giambi (directly linked to Beane and James) were both disgraced by steroids.

What galls me about the stat geeks, outside of the smug uniformity, is their willingness to rationalize away fraud. The game deserves better than that.

Not all cheaters the same

http://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/clemens_bonds.jpg?w=278&h=208I don’t believe Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens deserve enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Cheaters shouldn’t prosper.

But it’s unfair to lump them together. No question Bonds makes it to Cooperstown without ‘roids. The case for Clemens is much less definitive.

In 1993, a 30-year-old Clemens posted a 4.46 ERA with a 1.263 WHIP. He was effective in the strike-shortened ’94 campaign but decidedly mediocre in his final years with the Red Sox:

(’95) 10-5, 4.18 ERA, 1.436 WHIP

(’96) 10-13, 3.63 ERA, 1.327 WHIP

Power pitchers usually don’t improve with age, but miraculously a 34-year-old Clemens had one of his best years after signing with Toronto, winning 21 games in ’97 with a 2.05 ERA and a career-best 292 strikeouts. He won 162 games after leaving Boston, and it’s fair to say those victories were tainted.

It’s believed Bonds began juicing at around the same age as Clemens. Prior to that he was still a premium player, compiling a 1.047 OPS when he was 33.

Kevin Brown is a more apt comparison to Clemens. The surly middle Georgian was a dominant pitcher over a 10-year period but will never make it into Cooperstown.

Neither should Clemens.

Lance Armstrong, minus the good deeds

Roger Clemens’ denial is contagious.

In a Los Angeles Times story, The Rocket’s lawyers vehemently defended his client (shocking, I know).

“For them to say, ‘He’s not getting into the Hall of Fame because I know he did it’?” co-counsel Michael Attanasio said (latimes.com). “I think that’s shameful.”

And …

“I would think that if a baseball writer really wanted conscientiously to cast a vote on one of the greatest pitchers of all time, go look at the evidence,” lead counsel Rusty Hardin said (latimes.com). “See, after you read it, why the jury did it. It wasn’t a crazy jury.”

At least they’re getting paid for their delusion.

An antidote to sympathetic reportage of Roger Cheater’s ‘comeback’

Any credibility the Astros and Royals organizations had — and I’m not sure they had any — vanished Saturday night when they dispatched scouts to watch a 50-year-old cheater pitch to the likes of Joey Gathright and guys who will never be half as good as Chris Woodward.

Likewise, any scribe who doesn’t treat Clemens‘ return as a cynical attempt to get into Cooperstown (an appearance in the majors means he’ll have to wait five more years before he can be considered) should lose their press credentials.

This much we know: Greg Maddux won’t embarrass himself to win respect. His was earned, and it won’t ever be lost.

There’s no debating he’s the best pitcher of his generation. Those who tell you otherwise should be forced to watch NFL exhibition games on a continuous loop.

Maddux has had as many dominant seasons as Clemens, finishing with an ERA under 3.00 nine times. Granted, Clemens did it 12 times, but in two other years Maddux finished with ERA’s of 3.00 and 3.05. And no pitcher in modern history (a bold statement, but consider the era) matched Maddux’s 1995 campaign: 19-2 with a 1.56 ERA and an 0.811 WHIP. He had more strikeouts (181) than hits and walks combined en route to his fourth consecutive Cy Young.

Mad Dog was more durable, totaling 200 innings or more 18 times, three more than Clemens. Add three more innings over two seasons and Maddux would have 20 seasons of 200 or more IP. My favorite Maddux stat? From July 31, 1993, through August 4, 1995, a two-year period, Mad Dog had 56 quality starts in 57 games pitched.

And Maddux was better in October, with a 3.27 ERA, compared to 3.75 for Clemens. His first Fall Classic appearance might have been his best; the fearsome Indians (with Manny Ramirez hitting seventh) managed to get but FOUR balls out of the infield in Game 1 of the ’95 Series. Time of game: 2:37.

Maddux’s final victory gave him one more win than Clemens. It came, as a Dodger, against the rival Giants and it was vintage Mad Dog, albeit an abbreviated version.

In six innings, Maddux threw only 47 pitches, 38 of which were strikes. He walked no one and allowed only two hits.

His last appearance came in a mop-up role in the playoffs versus Philly. Imagine Clemens saying this:

“It was a privilege,” he said. “I felt privileged to do it. I was glad I had a chance to pitch.”

No pitcher will ever match Maddux’s best seasons in Atlanta. Mad Dog topped 200 innings in both ’94 and ’95, when labor issues cost him probably a dozen or more starts combined.

He finished both seasons with 10 complete games and three shutouts, with WHIP’s of .896 and .811. His respective ERA’s (1.56 and 1.63) were more than 2.5 runs lower than the league averages.

Put it this way: Maddux was nearly three times better than the average pitcher was in ’94 and ’95 — the heart of the live ball era.

And he didn’t have to cheat to do it.

Some will claim that Clemens, like Barry Bonds, would’ve been a HOF’er had he not juiced. Not so.

Take a look at the Rocket’s final two seasons in Boston:

(’95) 10-5, 4.18 ERA, 1.436 WHIP

(’96) 10-13, 3.63 ERA, 1.327 WHIP

In ’93, his ERA was 4.46 and WHIP, 1.263. The Blue Jays signed him in ’97 and, at age 34, Clemens wins 21 games with an ERA of 2.05 and a career-best 292 strikeouts. He won 162 games after leaving Boston, at which point it’s assumed he began juicing. So nearly half his wins deserve an asterisk.

Still not convinced? John Rocker calls Clemens “the greatest pitcher of all time.”

Case rested.

Dumbest question of the day w/ a predictably stupid answer

I watched as much as a I could tolerate of the interminable Kevin Millar show on MLB. He and co-host Chris Rose agreed that Big Fraud-i should go into the Hall of Fame.

Like Red Sox fans everywhere — and The Nation‘s fawning ass-lickers in the sports media — Millar and Rose conveniently forget that Ortiz IS A CHEATER. Just like Manny Ramirez. Not only does it taint the two sluggers but also the Sox’s two World Series wins.

I know if Mad Dog and Glavine had juiced I wouldn’t feel so great about the ’95 world championship.

Ortiz, widely viewed as an ambassador for baseball, is the biggest phony in the game. In the last two weeks alone he’s whined about his contract and the Boston media.

To quote Nelson Muntz (or Jimbo Jones, I can’t remember): “CHARLATAN!”

Baseball vs. itself

Like all of you, I have no idea whether Ryan Braun used roids or any other performance boosting drug. What I know is it’s unfortunate that Major League Baseball is effectively trying to taint one of its mosts marketable superstars.

MLB must have its reasons for reacting so harshly to Braun’s exoneration. Bud’s underlings apparently believe Braun is guilty. Maybe they are trying to defend the integrity of the testing process.

Whatever their reasons for ripping the National League MVP, it seems baseball is about the only sport that routinely finds itself actively undermining its own product. I don’t know. Maybe MLB’s stance “vehemently” disagreeing with the arbiter who ruled for Braun is the smart long-term position. For now, though, it fuels suspicion about one of the game’s brightest young stars.

Again, I’m not trying to defend Braun. I watched him on TV today and he seemed reasonably sincere. Maybe he cheated. Maybe he didn’t.  I just think it sucks that baseball is in the position of wrecking the credibility of its very own product. Meanwhile, dozens of football players pump themselves full of chemicals that could kill Keith Richards, and no one cares. And you surely don’t hear the NFL trying to make people care.

Comments?

Tuffy Rhodes is more deserving

In a recent interview with Chicago Magazine, Sammy Sosa commented on the fact that the Cubs have not retired his No. 21 jersey.

“That number should be untouchable because of the things that I did for that organization,” Sosa said. “That right there shows me that they don’t care about me, and they don’t want to have a good relationship with me.”

The All-Fraud Team

Featuring a combination of cheaters and superior talents who never panned out.  I didn’t include Bonds or A-Rod because they would’ve been great with or without ‘roids. Clemens is a tough call.

1B: (tie) Rafael Palmiero, Mark McGwire

DH: David Ortiz

2B: Bret Boone

SS: Benji Gil

3B: Chris Brown

OF: Luis Gonzalez

OF: Sammy Sosa

OF: Ruben Sierra

LP: Ryan “The Little Unit” Anderson

RP: Todd Van Poppel (he was too good to play in Atlanta. We got Chipper instead.)

Your nominations are welcome.

A post where I say something nice about Bobby Valentine

"You're a dick." "No, you're a dick."

Kudos to the ex-Mets skipper for going after Tony LaRussa on Sunday’s “Baseball Tonight” special. Eduardo Perez — after creaming himself discussing the McGwire hire as St. Louis’ hitting instructor — claimed LaRussa is loyal to his coaches. “He wasn’t very loyal to [former Cardinals batting coach] Hal McRae,” noted Valentine, who went on to question LaRussa’s motive for bringing McGwire back at a time when baseball is trying to escape the steroid era. Couldn’t agree more.

I still have a low tolerance for Valentine, but imagine how much you’d despise LaRussa if he managed the Mets or Red Sox?

–CB

What if Glavine and Maddux had used ‘roids?

Would you feel the same way about the glory years? I sure wouldn’t.

Manny and Ortiz were the offensive version of Glavine and Maddux when the Red Sox won their last two championships. Boston wouldn’t have smelled the playoffs without them. If individual achievements have been tainted by ‘roids, doesn’t the same apply to certain pennant-winning ballclubs?

I’m not picking on the Red Sox, though I have no reservations doing so. I’m just asking for a little consistency.

–CB

St. Louis fans cheer a cheater

On Sunday afternoon in the Hyatt Regency ballroom, 2,500 fans took their turn to join the parade of baseball fans willing to celebrate a confirmed baseball cheat, and they did it with a thunderous roar that nearly brought tears to McGwire’s eyes.

Jack Clark, who criticized McGwire’s lame admission that he used steroids to improve his health, was booed at that same event. I assume they would have booed Carlton Fisk, too, after the HOF catcher told it like it is in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

“That’s a crock,” Fisk said. “It’s just a crock. Look, there’s a reason they call it performance-enhancing drugs. That’s what it does: performance enhancement. You can be good, but it’s going to make you better. You can be average, but it is going to make you good. If you are below average, it is going to make you average. Some guys who went that route got their five-year, $35 million contracts and now are off into the sunset somewhere. Because once they can’t use (steroids) anymore, they can’t play anymore.

“And steroids, during that time, probably did as much to escalate players’ salaries as did free agency, as did arbitration, and all of that stuff. It did more than just put home runs up on the board or money in the guys’ pocket.”

If McGwire had been a Brave, I’d be embarrassed. I certainly wouldn’t be cheering.

–CB