Thursday, February 19, 2009

Let's Go On With It

Can I be honest with you? I'm really not into hockey that much right now. Every season I hit what my friend Schnookie has sometimes referred to as the February swoon. It's not that I want the season to end really but I would like to just get on with it. Let's drop the puck on the playoffs already. Not even a playoff race is holding my interest very well. As long as the Sabres are in it, I don't really care where they stand and actually considering that they play better against better teams and on the road, I'm not sure I really want them to move up too far. This mood never lasts too long but if I seem kind of scattered for the next couple of weeks, that's why.

That said, I spent part of my day off yesterday going through the audio vault on WGR's website and you know, people are starting to scare me a little with all the Tim Connolly talk and how much the Sabres need to re-sign him. I'm very charmed by the way Buffalo repeatedly puts aside years of heartbreak and disappointment the second something good comes along - we talk about being bitter and cynical but I think it's just to cover our hopeful cores - but people, we're talking about Tim Connolly! Tiny Tim! Tim "The Tin Man" Connolly! If we hang on too long, this story is sure to end in tears, Buffalo, and not the feel-good "The catcher is Ray's dead, estranged father!" kind of tears, no. This way lies tragedy. Just a warning.

And now for something completely different... A few people have emailed me to ask me what I think about Alex Rodriguez and the steroids revelations. I've been reluctant to say too much, mostly because just about everyone has weighed in and I think most baseball fans are weary of the whole thing at this point.. but for the record, I think Rodriguez is ridiculous. It was incredibly stupid of him to go out of his way to insist years ago that he'd never even considered using performance enhancing drugs when he knew that wasn't true. It was ridiculous for him to claim he injected something in himself without having any idea what it was, what kind of effect it would have on his body and if it was wrong. It was and is incredibly misleading for him to continue to insist that he was young and ignorant when he was a 25/26 year old player who had been in the league for 5 years when he allegedly first started injecting himself and not a snot-nosed 18-year-old rookie. The long, dramatic pause when he addressed his teammates (and oh, how I would've loved his teammates to say, "I want nothing to do with this dog and pony show") was so carefully planned that I can't believe a single person would believe he was sincere. You could practically hear him counting it out, hitting all his marks: wistful half smile, sad head shake, long sip of water, lean back, deep sigh. Gimme a break.

The one thing that Alex Rodriguez did say that's true however is that baseball is bigger than him. I know there are many, many people who are so turned off by the steroids stuff that baseball is losing its hold on them but come on, baseball will survive. It's survived everything before this and it'll survive this too. I know baseball has always held its numbers more sacred than any other sport and as a baseball loving kid, I knew all those numbers: 714, 755, 61, 56, 3000, 2130. But it wasn't those numbers that made me love baseball. It was a ragtag bunch of overachievers who really probably had no business being as good as they were. It was a short, chunky catcher who took longer to get to first base than some people took to get around all the bases. It was a happy-go-lucky, leapfrogging second baseman who had a career batting average of .254. It was a handsome shortstop best known for sacrifice bunts. It was a high-flying, hard throwing center fielder who always looked like he was having more fun than any one person had the right to have. Those teams, those players, they're still there. You may have to search a little harder for them right now but they're still there. For a much more eloquent post about this very thing, I highly recommend reading this recent entry on Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?

13 comments:

Schnookie said...

I should probably say something here about your very wise and eloquent perspective on baseball but I just wanted to pipe up about the February swoon. I was in good shape with mine, but then we looked at the standings last night. If the playoffs started today, we'd have the MOST AWESOME EC matchups. Now I'm losing my mind. If we end up with boring, lousy matchups just because there was something dumb like six more weeks of the regular season, I'm going to be VERY upset.

And that's my story.

Meg said...

This way lies tragedy. Just a warning.

Yes, tragedy for those of us who will then spend the next several years listening to those same people bitch about what an idiot Regier is for signing a player who is always hurt.

As for A-Rod, I figure his taking steroids several years ago is my punishment for thinking he couldn't get any more obnoxious.

Vanek's Hair said...

I get into a similar swoon during the hockey season. I would have to say mine started in November. The games became increasingly more boring to the point where every game kind of looks the same every night. But I would like to thank the Sabres for last Friday's game against San Jose. It reminded why I love hockey, and particularly, the Sabres.

As for A-Rod, I come from a totally different angle. Understand my baseline opinion, going all the way back to 1998 is I really couldn't care less what the players do. Mainly because if I was a pro ball player, I can assure you I would have taken performance enhancing drugs over the course of my career, particularly if I knew, as baseball players did, that I would get away with it.

I also find it funny that reporters slam A-Rod for taking steroids because it is unethical and cheating. Well, tell me how you describe taking a positive drug test result, a test taken under an agreement of confidentiality and revealing the results of said test shortly before you are about to publish a book about the player whose test result you just revealed. Is that at all cheating and unethical? Also, while the sports media was panting over A-Rod in Tampa, they decided to completely ignore that Larry Izzo will be called to testify against Barry Bonds, specifically that he (Larry Izzo) took steriods supplied by Barry Bonds trainer.

Who the bleep is Larry Izzo and why is he important? He is the second player from the Patriots championship team (Rodney Harrison first) linked to performance enhancing drugs. Why no outrage?

Wow, what a gasbag.

Vanek's Hair said...

I also noticed in Derek Jeter's "defense" of A-Rod, Jeter said "A lot of players did not take steroids during the steroid era." He didn't say "I did not take steroids during the steroid era." Maybe it is just because I parse words for a living, but that is a very interesting comment.

Heather B. said...

Schnookie, you're right. I would watch every one of the current match-ups. You know there's no way that's lasting. We're gonna end up playing the Caps and you're gonna end up playing the Rangers. Ugh.

Yes, tragedy for those of us who will then spend the next several years listening to those same people bitch about what an idiot Regier is for signing a player who is always hurt.

Heh. I hadn't thought of that angle, Meg but yeah, you're right. The entire 3 years will happen all over again.

Vanek's Hair, I get what you're saying on pretty much everything you said. Which is why I'd prefer that a player just say, "I knew exactly what I was doing, lots of players were doing it and I wanted the same advantage." I would have a ton more respect for that rather than, "Injections in the ass? I... don't know what those are!" or "I've never CONSIDERED PEDs because I feel I can compete with ANYONE on a baseball field. Except for those three years where I was sticking myself." I mean... I don't like the idea of PEDs and I think I would've avoid them as a player but ultimately, it is kind of hard to kill a guy for doing something that the league was turning a blind eye too. A-Rod's a douchebag but there's plenty of it to go around and you know, some of it goes to the clean players who didn't push for testing who are suddenly outraged that they're being lumped in with the rest of their generation.

And while I'm pretty firmly in the camp that feels hey, he did it, it's his fault it's there to come out, I do think it's pretty sucky for him that tests that were supposed to be confidential were leaked. If those tests were just done for survey purposes I don't know why they ever had names matched to them in the first place.

Heather B. said...

VH,I haven't seen or read Jeter's comments yet but if that's how he worded it, that is very interesting and seems very intentional.

Schnookie said...

We're gonna end up playing the Caps and you're gonna end up playing the Rangers. Ugh.

You know it! I guess if that happens it just means we'll get an earlier start this summer on "The Rockford Files". Heh. :P

Meg said...

VH,I haven't seen or read Jeter's comments yet but if that's how he worded it, that is very interesting and seems very intentional.

I don't know . . . Jeter's denied taking steroids often enough previously that it doesn't seem to me like he's being intentionally cagey there.

Heather B. said...

Yeah, according the report I just read, in addition to the comment you quoted, VH, Jeter also said: "I've never taken performance-enhancing drugs, I've never taken steroids." That's pretty direct. Which is why I kind of wish he'd bailed on Rodriguez's presser. You can play with the guy and hope he does well while also saying, "This is bogus and I don't want any part of it."

Vanek's Hair said...

My bad, I only saw the cut where he said "A lot of players didn't" With regard to his denial, I don't necessarily buy it. Bonds, A-Rod, Clemens, Palmiero, McGwire, and many others have denied taking steroids too. I guess I presume everyone guilty. I also don't much care. I have actually been rooting for some evidence to come out about Jeter. Not because I have anything against him, but because he is often covered by baseball writers as though he cured leprosy and can blow hurricanes back to sea with a single exhale. It is tedious, and so I would love to see the backtracking they would all have to do if His Holiness Jeter were to get caught up in it too.

Lee Andrew said...

It'd be great if Jeter bailed just to give the F U to A-Rod, but then that would be the biggest story in baseball the rest of the year and Jeter doesn't want that. Plus, judging by the Yankees fans' reaction to A-Rod some would take his side over Jeter and we can't have any of those Yankees fans thinking that Jeter isn't GOD anymore can we?

Did you see Berkman and Oswalt's comments (that's the only way for them to get any attention is to comment on the player everybody really wants to talk about.) I love that Oswalt stood up and said to completely throw out all of A-Rod's stats, although like you said, where was he before this happened?

The only person that I know of that has been pushing for better testing was Jeff Kent. He wanted MLB to do blood tests.

The thing I hate the most is that now when you mention a good player someone says "well how do you know they weren't on steroids??" Yeah, a lot of people used steroids, but I'm not going to assume everybody did. 104 people failed the test not 750.

I also hate that any spike in stats for one season will be thought of as steroid use. Some people just have a career year where everything clicks. I mean come on, Ted Williams hit .406! He didn't do that every year, he did it once, and it wasn't because of steroids, it was because sometimes you just have a great season.

Lee Andrew said...

Oh yeah, also how ridiculous is it that Bud Selig is thinking about suspending A-Rod when:
1. A-Rod didn't break any MLB rules since there was not steroid testing at the time.
2. A-Rod's name never should have been leaked.
3. Bud Selig was the commissioner for the entire steroid era, he had to know it was going on. But he's just now suddenly against it? Please. Not only should Bud Selig be the one suspended but he should be fired.

Heather B. said...

Lee, I think if Jeter had given the F U to Rodriguez and his press conference, more fans would then say, "Hey, yeah... F U!" But Jeter probably doesn't want that either. I'm sure he'd really prefer to just play baseball with all the steroids stuff affecting things on the field as little as possible. Which is understandable I guess.

I also hate that a really great season is automatically under suspicion. I suppose I understand why but like you said, that happened way before PEDs, it'll happen way after PEDs. It's just part of professional sports.

I hadn't heard that Selig was considering suspending Rodriguez but yes, that's ridiculous for a multitude of reasons including the ones you mentioned. If one player is going to be suspended based on that test, every active player out of that 104 has to be suspended too and that isn't going to happen because the tests were supposed to be confidential. And hello, IT WASN'T AGAINST THE RULES. I know there was a time when Selig did try to push for testing but he didn't push hard enough so yeah, he definitely deserves his share of the blame.

I did hear Oswalt and Berkman's comments and while I'm sure a lot of fans fall in the "I don't really care, everyone was doing it, other sports do it" grouping, I like hearing stuff like that. Though again, I do wish the clean players had kicked up a storm years ago. You're in trouble when Jeff Kent is your moral compass.