Wednesday, October 2, 2013

4 comments Mitch Albom Sits Us Down and Gives Us a Lecture about Caring

There is a list of topics I am tired of discussing. Chief among them is steroids. Mitch Albom is not tired of discussing steroids and he writes a column stating that fans SHOULD start caring about steroids because of the kids and because fans are too focused on winning. The game of baseball has been ruined in some ways by PED's, but Mitch needs to stop lecturing us. If the fans don't want to care about steroids anymore they don't have to. Mitch just wishes the fans weren't so damn concerned with winning games, since sportswriters don't judge teams/players/coaches on that metric also.

“Fans don’t care about drugs, they care about wins.” That’s the common refrain.

It's a refrain that shows how tired of discussing PED's fans are. They are tired of writers getting on their high horse about PED's and tired of baseball players getting caught using PED's. It's gotten old quickly.

You heard it again Monday, after the latest deluge of bad baseball news. Thirteen major league players were suspended, most for 50 games, for their involvement with performance-enhancing drugs in the Biogenesis scandal.

And yet, baseball has managed to carry on while the fans of baseball throw their morality out the door by simply not caring as much anymore that a player used PED's. There's only so much outrage the fans can stand before they just want to watch baseball again. I personally have reached that point. It's not that I don't care, because I do, it's just I can only muster so much phony outrage and shock that a MLB player would use PED's to gain an advantage.

One of those players was Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta — who once claimed anyone who said he used PEDs was “lying.”

He will be out of baseball until late September.

Perhaps fans are too jaded now. I don't obviously speak for all fans, but I find it hilarious that somehow sportswriters are able to act shocked that a baseball player would lie about his use of steroids. Who would have ever thought a player would lie about using PED's? It's almost moronic to even ask an MLB player if he uses or has used PED's because either way the answer will be "no." These sportswriters are screaming into a void at this point. No one likes the use of PED's in baseball, but many fans have come to accept it as a current state of the game and one big reason why the players are drug tested.

Of course, trying to take away Mitch Albom's moral outrage is nearly impossible. He makes a living off being morally outraged and writing columns that lie about whether two Michigan State players atten---I mean---writing columns about how baseball players are cheaters, and dammit, why don't we care as much as he does?

“What are the Tigers going to do?” you heard certain Detroit fans say. “How do they replace his bat? What will this do to their chances? Will he be back in time for the playoffs?”

They traded for Jose Iglesias. They won't replace his bat. This may or may not hurt their chances. Yes, he could be back for the playoffs.

You didn’t hear these fans lamenting the ethics of juicing your body — in flagrant violation of the rules.

Right, because we have had this conversation countless times before. It's old. Players cheat, there are measures to prevent cheating and they may/may not work. I am exhausted of talking about PED's. I want to watch and talk about baseball, not talk about the physiological changes that PED's can provide to a player's body, reaction time, or pitch speed.

You didn’t hear them decry the example it sets for kids. 

Because worrying about "the kids" seems silly. Baseball players are role models, but decrying the example set for kids is something a person like Mitch Albom would worry about. "What about the kids?" is an irritating mantra. I don't think Mitch understands that many fans care about steroids but really, really, really want to move past the fact MLB players use PED's. This is as opposed to sportswriters who have terrible short-term memories and act like the next time a player gets busted for violating MLB's drug policy is the first time a player has ever violated the MLB drug policy. Let me let Mitch in on a secret:

There is an MLB player RIGHT NOW using PED's and he has gotten caught yet. The kids don't even know this and this player is walking around setting a terrible example. I've accepted this is true, while Mitch still tries to muster up some outrage. In fact, I think Mitch would rather talk about PED's than talk about baseball.

You didn’t hear them say “cheating undermines winning.”

Partially because it is almost impossible to know which players on which teams are cheating, so cheating may undermine winning, unless a player on the opposing team is also cheating, in which case both teams are cheating and undermining winning. At that point, my brain explodes and I want to quit talking about PED's.

This portion of the fan base cares only about the Tigers and how far the Tigers can go.

To an extent, yes. What else would you like for the Tigers fan base to care about? Boycott the games because there are immoral players who cheat? Are Tigers fans supposed to say, "I like sports for the entertainment aspect of it and the Tigers are my favorite team, but I would rather the Tigers lose than ever have a single cheater on their roster." Sports fans are fans because they love the sport and many fans know they have to ignore some of the negative aspects of sports to enjoy sports overall.

In which case, we offer the name Nelson Cruz.

Maybe you remember him. Two years ago, Cruz was the single biggest reason the Tigers didn’t get to a World Series. In the American League Championship Series, the Texas outfielder hit six home runs in six games, plus two doubles and 13 RBIs. Think about that. Thirteen RBIs in six games? That’s a two-run cushion in every game — thanks to one player!

That's crazy! Nelson Cruz was cheating and helped the Rangers make it to the World Series. How unforeseen!

Remember that time Johnny Peralta hit .389/.421/.778 against the Yankees in the 2012 ALCS? He hit two home runs and had seven hits in four games. That's almost two hits in every game! Looks like the Yankees got hurt by a cheater.

Now let's go to the Yankees team and see if the Angels remember A-Rod hitting three home runs and having six RBI in six games during the 2009 ALCS. That's a one-run cushion every game! Can't believe the Angels got hurt by a cheater.

So what about the 2002 Giants team? They had Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels pitching against them in the World Series and he has a history of abusing women. Rodriguez pitched 8.2 innings against the Giants and had 13 strikeouts over those innings in helping the Angels win the World Series. Yet, the Giants got burned by a guy who is a terrible person. What about the kids? Kids can't look up to Francisco Rodriguez. So the Giants got burned by a terrible person.

Then you think about the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, both teams who lost to the 2002 Giants in the playoffs, while the Giants had Barry Bonds on the team. He's a cheater. Both the Cardinals and Braves got burned by a cheater. How is that fair?

I think you see where I am going with this. You bring up one player on Team A that cheated and burned Team B by cheating, then you could also bring up a player from Team B that cheated and burned Team C.

Cruz won MVP of that series, and left Tiger fans in stunned disappointment. Only now we learn he was involved with PEDs — and will sit out the next 50 games. What if PEDs had been the difference in his performance?

What if PED's had been the difference in Johnny Peralta's performance in the 2012 ALCS? See, Mitch Albom doesn't think about this because he's too busy trying to appeal to the sense of loss and anger that Tiger fans must feel in getting beaten by a guy who was later found to have been using PED's. He doesn't think that Johnny Peralta could have screwed over the Yankees by using PED's against them in last year's ALCS.

Might the Tigers have been denied a World Series at least partly because of something illegal in somebody’s bloodstream?

If so, Detroit fans, would you care then?

Maybe, but then Tigers fans could look at their team and wonder if a player helped Detroit win a series while having something illegal in his bloodstream. I don't speak for Tigers fans, but I don't think it is a case of them not caring. They are just tired of hearing about PED's. Peralta will serve his suspension and we will all move on.

Now, I have no idea whether Cruz was using PEDs at that time, no idea whether they worked or didn’t.

It seems like you do have a pretty good idea whether Cruz was using PED's at that time because you are strongly hinting the Tigers were denied a World Series due to Cruz's hot hitting in the American League Championship Series.

He told the media Monday he took them only for a stomach disorder at the start of the 2012 season. But earlier this year he “denied” ever using such products.

I think Cruz's story was that he didn't know the substance was on the banned list and had used it for his stomach. Who knows what to believe, which is why I just assume Cruz is lying, and this helps me sleep okay at night. 

That’s the problem. Once an athlete uses PEDs and another doesn’t, you have no fair comparison, and the truth becomes like a sinker pitch.

Yes, like a "sinker pitch." Then we find out the player isn't lying which is like a "curveball pitch."

Could Mitch sound more awkward in talking about a pitcher's pitch repertoire?

Peralta admitted in a prepared statement Monday that “in spring of 2012, I made a terrible mistake that I deeply regret.” The timing is odd, since in the spring of 2012 he was coming off his best season, in which he hit .299. And for the 2012 season, he had a tepid year at the plate.

It's almost like these PED's that Mitch is freaking out about and lecturing fans to really be concerned about may not just automatically make a baseball player turn into Babe Ruth. It's so weird for Mitch when his preconceived notions turn out to be false. He thought all baseball player turned into Babe Ruth when they took PED's, but how does that explain Johnny Peralta using PED's and not having a great year. Hmm...

Then again, this is the same guy who said in a February statement: “I have never used performance-enhancing drugs. Period. Anybody who says otherwise is lying.“

Apparently, he was the one lying. And so we must also question anything he says about his substance use.

Exactly. It's like a writer who lies about whether he saw two athletes a sporting event and publishes a story regarding these athletes being at this very sporting event. Then these players publicly state they never attended this sporting event. We never know when this sportswriter is lying, so we should just ignore him completely. Boy, this is awkward. 

He might have injected human growth hormone or might have thrown the stuff in the garbage.

Who knows?

I'm guessing if Peralta bought it, he used it. Though this does bring up a good point about how it would have been nice for baseball to at least have a positive drug test to suspend Peralta, but I guess that ship has sailed. 

But we do know this. You need to care. Unless you see no difference between baseball and professional wrestling, you need to care. You need to be concerned that fairness is preserved.

Thanks Dad. Fans need to care about the PED's that Mitch Albom isn't entirely sure Peralta took and isn't entirely sure made Peralta a better baseball player. We must be very concerned. After all, sports are about vigilance and not about being entertained. It's not like any other sport could ever have a PED problem and it's not like fans are annoyed at how PED's are sucking the fun out of the game so many have chosen to just ignore them and let the cheaters suffer a suspension. 

Otherwise, there is no game. There’s just the needle and the damage done.

That's a Neil Young song quote! Keep on rocking in the free world baseball players! Keep using PED's and it won't hurt, because only love can break your heart. 

Now, this is not just about the fans.

Except we are all assholes for not all being super-concerned like Mitch is super-concerned. 

Just as certain fans would rather not know, plenty of teams were just as happy to look the other way.

The commissioner, Bud Selig, was once too slow on the PED draw. He’s gotten a little quicker. But thanks to the players union contract, even Monday’s suspensions allow most of the players to get back on the field before the season ends and be available if their team needs them for the playoffs.

Damn MLB for giving these PED users the suspension limit that was agreed to in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and not trying to unilaterally increase the suspension in violation of the CBA. Those owners are always trying to stick to the rules they have agreed to. 

Will the Tigers activate Peralta when his suspension is up? My guess is absolutely — if they need him and think he’ll be effective.

The Giants didn't allow Melky Cabrera to come back last year, so there is a precedent that teams don't allow player suspended for PED use to come back and play in the postseason. So who really knows? Maybe Mitch Albom can write a story about how he sat in the stands with Johnny Peralta during the playoffs and it turns out Peralta was actually playing shortstop for the Tigers at the time Albom claims he was sitting with Peralta. 

The Tigers used him right through Sunday afternoon — even after trading for his replacement — knowing full well his suspension was coming.

If the Tigers had a moral stance, they wouldn’t have done that.

The Tigers organization is immoral, obviously. How dare they try to win a baseball game prior to Johnny Peralta being suspended. They should have benched him or immediately traded him. 

Even Tigers previously harsh on the PED question were telling media members Monday that Peralta just made “a mistake.” That’s what teammates and front offices do to a valued member of their lineup. And if the Tigers activate him and he plays well, Peralta may earn himself a fatter free-agent deal when he becomes eligible in the off-season

Damn the free market that allows teams to pay what they choose to pay for a free agent. Also, a player's teammates will rarely throw one of their teammates under the bus. I know Mitch wouldn't understand how sports works, but usually teammates try to stick by each other and not create a clubhouse issue where there isn't one. 

Hey, it worked for San Francisco’s Melky Cabrera, who was suspended 50 games last year for actually failing a drug test and still signed a two-year free-agent deal for more money with another team.

To be fair, Cabrera was in line for a much bigger and longer contract prior to being busted for using PED's and he didn't receive as big of a deal as he could have gotten prior to his suspension.

That leaves you. What are yours? Are you in the group that doesn’t want cheaters in the game? Or the group that says as long as the guy wears your city on his chest everything is forgivable?

I say if one of my favorite players tests positive for PED's I will be disappointed in him and probably be suspicious of any great numbers he puts up in the future. Once that player serves his suspension I will forgive him and continue to cheer for him because he plays for my favorite team. Hey, I cheered for Gary Sheffield and J.D. Drew at certain points in my life so all that matters to me is the name on the chest in nearly every situation. I'm sorry this makes Mitch Albom sad, but once a player serves his suspension I will forever be suspicious, but will also try to enjoy the game of baseball without turning into an angry curmudgeon.

The question for those who cheer the team on — because they can’t make the final decision — is not whether Peralta should play again.

The question is what kind of fan do you want to be?

I want to be the kind of fan that enjoys baseball. I don't want to be the kind of fan who gets on his high horse and allows cheaters to take the fun out of the game. It's just a game. 


Anonymous said...

Is there anything - anything? - more annoying than when a sportswriter whines, "won't somebody please think of the children?!" I say no.

I can't wait for 20 years from now when sportswriters are excoriating themselves for not seeing the NFL's PED problem while it was happening. Players continue to get bigger, and also continue to get faster. Nothing to see here, I guess. Actually, WE KNOW that guys like Julius Peppers and Shawne Merriman used PEDs, as well as Brian Cushing and numerous others. No big deal, nothing to see here. Baseball players never hear the end of it though. So ridiculous.

Except for Andy Pettite. That man's a saint who took an unfortunate detour, just ask PK. ARod is the enemy here; he stuck a needle right into the buttocks of american morality. We know Pettite used, he's good friends with Clemens who the media also hate, but he's a member of the Core Four, True Yankee through and through, and so he gets a pass. Anyone else is an asshole.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, you clearly don't care about the children.

I am with you on the NFL PED issue and I would include the NBA as well. Merriman used PEDs and then his career went down the toilet, still he gets to be on "the Biggest Loser" as a trainer, because apparently they didn't hear his career sucked after he got suspended for PED use.

I don't excuse the use of PEDs by baseball players, but they get the worst of it simply because their sport quit hiding its head in the sand.

See, I do think A-Rod is an asshole, but I don't hate him as much as I should. In fact, because he is going pure villain on us at this point almost makes me like him more. He's embracing it.

Nothing is more annoying than a sportswriter being worried about the kids. It's so trite.

jacktotherack said...

The question is what kind of fan do you want to be?

Fuck you, Mitch. What a sanctimonious douchebag. You know what I want to know the next time one of these sportswriters asks what kind of example PED users are setting for kids? What kind of example are Albom and other writers of his ilk setting for the future sports journalists of America?

Laziness, no originality, just pick a soapbox or a dead horse and churn out the same piece of shit opinion piece 150 times without doing any actual work. If you want to make a real tortured analogy (which lets face it, most sports writers are great at) assholes like Albom and King are kind of like PED users in their own profession. They "cheat" the system by relying on their name and the clout it provides, while scrappy little writers who actually want to do research and inform the public in some no-name paper have their talents wasted away, sort of like how a minor leaguer can never break through because of the PED cheats. (that was really bad)

Also Ben, the reason that PED use in baseball receives WAAYYYY more scrutiny than any other sport is due entirely to the fact that no other sport gets off on the "sanctity" of their own records quite like baseball, and more specifically, baseball writers. "It's our connection to the past, it's the game that spans generations, yada yada yada." You didn't hear shit about steroids until people started hitting 60+ homers and Bonds started approaching Aaron. Other sports fans care more about the here and now, while some baseball fans and seemingly ALL baseball writers care more about the nostalgia of yesteryear. That's my opinion anyway.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, you are probably right to an extent. Baseball grasps on to the past and won't let go, so the idea players of today are cheating players from the past is what allows sportswriters (and even some fans) to be uppity and focus so much on PED use in baseball.

I guess if Albom and PK's name is a PED then they have been coasting off it for a while now. I know I write about PK more often, but I find Mitch Albom to be even more distasteful. He is a guy who was caught lying, yet has the balls to be sanctimonious and a jerk about asking fans what kind of fans they want to be.

He's a guy who isn't really doing any great sportswriting, yet acts like he is above the fray and above reproach. Albom has won awards recently too, which just proves to me if you stay writing long enough awards will eventually come your way.