Monday, May 11, 2015

6 comments Ten Things I Think I Think Peter King Hasn't Thought Of: Ball Shrinking Edition

It's that time again. I have a bunch of links that I have bookmarked which don't deserve a full post, but would have a place on this blog. The links tend to pile up in my bookmarks and I just never get around to posting them. Instead of doing a short post, like a normal person would, I tend to throw them all together into one long post. I'm annoying that way. As usual, these are links from a variety of topics, so buckle up for the random change from one topic to another. I'll start with reactions to the Patriots deflating footballs, and yes, I refuse to call it Deflategate, and yes, I'm tired of talking about this subject. It makes for great hysterical sportswriting though.

My personal opinion is that Tom Brady knew what was going on, but it wasn't some vast conspiracy that requires a long suspension and public flogging. Bill Simmons' opinion on the subject can always push me over the edge to requesting the death penalty for Brady and the Patriots, simply because he has that effect on me, but I think I can stay non-emotional as long as I'm not listening to his nasally voice give his opinion. I'm tired of the subject, quite honestly.

1. You won't believe this, but "Mr. Non-Judgmental, Wait for the Facts, I Got Done Wrong by the Criminal Justice System" Jay Mariotti calls for the Patriots to vacate wins.

Lance Armstrong deliberately broke the rules and was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories. A generation of prominent baseball juicers knowingly broke the rules and have been rejected for Hall of Fame induction. You cheat on Wall Street, you go to jail.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! "You cheat on Wall Street, you go to jail." That's hilarious. I love it when Jay makes jokes like this. You cheat on Wall Street, you MAY go to jail, but most likely you will be reprimanded and then allowed to make a ton of money again very soon. 

You cheat in politics, you're run out of office. 

I'm starting to wonder if Jay is joking or not. If you cheat in politics, you get elected. Isn't that the deal?

Precedent demands, then, that the New England Patriots — whose dynasty now has been tarnished by two scandals involving a deliberate and slimy circumvention of NFL rules — should return the Vince Lombardi Trophy won in February. Their fourth Super Bowl title must be vacated at once, glaringly evident as it is that star quarterback Tom Brady was a direct participant in a football-deflation scam and paid a co-conspirator to do his dirty deeds — all to gain an illegal competitive advantage — then lied and tried to cover up his role when league investigators interviewed him. 

I'm not sure Jay knows understands the concept of "precedent" or not. I don't know if precedent counts in this situation since every example Jay just provided all were examples outside of football and the NFL. Precedent would be comparing a punishment for Brady to a punishment the NFL has handed out for a similar situation or an applicable situation. Jay does not provide a similar situation in the NFL, only situations not handled by the NFL. Wasn't it Jay a few months ago who suggested that all journalists take law classes so they know the law? Jay really should be the one attending these classes.

When the league announces penalties for Deflategate in coming days, Commissioner Roger Goodell must protect the sport's integrity and issue a robust punishment that sticks for the ages.

FOR THE AGES!

Perhaps change the NFL logo to an outline of Tom Brady's body with an "I cheated" sign hanging over his neck? That'll learn him.

Super Bowl XLIX — Championship vacated. 

Come on Jay, you had to have spent five minutes coming up with a catchier line than that! It's not nearly hysterical enough.

Or, Super Bowl LIE. 

There we go. You know what, since we want this to stick FOR THE AGES, just change Super Bowl XLIX to Super Bowl LIE from now until Roger Goodell runs the NFL into the ground (circa 2028 at this rate).

And much as it stunned the American public to discover that the once-beloved Armstrong masterminded a massive doping program,

There is a difference in considering Armstrong innocent until shown to be guilty and being stunned. I'm not sure anyone was stunned when Armstrong finally admitted all he had done in order to gain the upper hand. All that was left was for him to just admit he cheated.

He has the supermodel wife, the family, the good looks, the image as The Guy Every Other Guy Wants To Be. The other night, I looked up from my ringside seat at the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight (also a sham, it turns out)

Do you like how Jay slipped having ring side seats to the fight in this column?

If you still believe that deflating a football below the league minimum (12.5 pounds per square inch) is an overblown story, consider that Brady benefited from violating the rules just as Armstrong, Alex Rodriguez and the other cheats did.

Like George Brett did with putting too much pine tar on the bat, like Whitey Ford did by scuffing the baseball, like Gaylord Perry did by throwing a spitball...should I continue to talk about cheats who didn't get kicked out of the Hall of Fame or have their legacy tarnished by minor cheating in other sports?

The difference: Whereas the juicers inflated their bodies for an edge, Brady shrunk the football so it would feel better in his hand.

I'm going to try and ignore the "shrunken balls so they fit better in his hand" joke for now. It's hard (boom!), but I'll try to do it. Maybe I'll write in to a Bill Simmons mailbag and talk about it. He seems to enjoy it when his readers talk about jerking off. 

Referee Walt Anderson checked the balls before the game and determined that all but two were properly inflated. But when Anderson and his crew left their locker room to take the field, Anderson angrily wondered why the same game balls couldn't be located, according to Wells' report. That's because McNally — again, the attendant for the officials' locker room — had removed the balls from that room and taken them to a bathroom, where he "locked the door and remained in the bathroom with the game balls for approximately one minute and forty seconds." The timeline was based in part on a security camera in a Gillette Stadium hallway that captured McNally slipping into the bathroom with his needle and game balls. Could McNally do his handy work in 100 seconds? 

Yes, could McNally do his handy work on balls in 100 seconds? Rick Pitino says that wouldn't be a problem at all.

Absolutely. He was an expert ball-shrinker, after all.

(Bengoodfella sits in stunned silence at how much Jay is setting him up for juvenile jokes, but also throwing him off the trail of the hysterical journalism)

Perhaps, McNally just put the balls in cold water. Though I don't think it works exactly that way, does it George Constanza?

A text exchange at the time between McNally and Jastremski indicated Brady was aware of their hanky-panky. It also was apparent McNally isn't a big fan of Brady, which is odd, given Brady's godlike status within the Patriots' realm. 

Brady knew, so why vacate all of the team's wins? A-Rod didn't have all of his records vacated, neither did any of the other baseball juicers. Lance Armstrong still has the money from his Tour de France wins and sponsorships. Want precedent? There is precedent to not force the Patriots to vacate their wins.

What's bothersome is that Goodell is leaving the matter to Troy Vincent, the league's executive vice president of football operations. "As with other recent matters involving violations of competitive rules, [Vincent] and his team will consider what steps to take in light of this report," Goodell said in a statement.

He does this because Goodell is a weenie who wants to see public reaction before deciding on a punishment. He doesn't care to actually hand down punishment based on the violation committed, he only cares about what the public thinks the punishment should be, except when he shows a blatant disregard for public opinion that doesn't fit his agenda.

The only way to accomplish that is by throwing down the hammer. First Spygate, now Deflategate. First Belichick, now Brady.

Vacate. 

It's a little hysterical to make the Patriots vacate their Super Bowl victory. There is no evidence the Patriots won the Super Bowl while using deflated footballs, so I think the punishment should be kept separate from the Super Bowl victory. Plus, the Patriots deflated footballs. It helped Brady or he wouldn't do it, but I feel there is a more appropriate and less hysterical punishment.

2. Nancy Armour thinks the Patriots deflating footballs puts the integrity of the NFL at risk. That's hilarious isn't it? How can something the NFL started losing a while ago, all of a sudden be at risk of being lost? The NFL's integrity problem started long before Tom Brady hired some dude to deflate footballs.

Four-time Super Bowl champion. Three-time Super Bowl MVP. Two-time NFL MVP. Without question, one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game.

A liar and a cheat, too.

BAM! Call the fire department, Tom Brady just got roasted.

Tom Brady, the NFL's Golden Boy and Madison Avenue's perfect pitchman, has proved to be little better than Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and everyone else who broke the rules in search of an edge.

It seems this comparison to PED use isn't going to go away. These three guys used Performance Enhancing Drugs, while Brady used Performance Enhancing Balls (PEB's). I don't like cheating or a team trying to gain an edge, but if the whole "using PED's is the same thing as deflating footballs and the punishment for the team should be vacating of titles" attitude prevails then any NFL team that has ever had a guy suspended for PED use would have to vacate their Super Bowl title (had they won one). Should MLB teams vacate their World Series titles if it turns out they had a PED user? After all, PED use is the exact same thing as PEB use.

The two New England Patriots employees who let the air out of the footballs did so with Brady's knowledge and, more likely, at his behest.

Or, in the simplest of terms, he cheated.

(Bengoodfella clutches his pearls and falls down backwards into his flowered upholstered chair)

But it's not a matter of liking, it's a matter of trusting.

And if you buy the stories told by McNally, Jastremski and Brady, let me know, I've got a bridge I've been trying to unload.

You have a bridge you are trying to unload? Bridges are generally built by and are the property of federal, state and local governments, paid for by taxpayers. So if you have stolen a bridge and are trying to re-sell it on the free market then you are a thief and probably should be in jail. I'll just say that I wouldn't go around bragging about the bridge you stole. How dare you comment on Tom Brady deflating footballs when you are stealing money from taxpayers! Have you no sense of decency, ma'am?

But that's missing the point. By tampering with the footballs – or having someone do it for him – Brady tampered with the integrity of the game.

This is the NFL, and if everybody isn't playing by the same rules, there's little point in playing at all.

Next we know, every team will be deflating footballs and the NFL will be helpless to stop this from happening. Eventually, the league will be forced to fold as football, Roger Goodell will be forced to become a lobbyist for the cigarette industry, NFL players will have to use their college degree and concussions will be dramatically decreased. No one wants this to happen and it will all be Tom Brady's fault.

Think about it. If Brady, or his minions,

Exclusive video of Brady's minions.

are playing fast and loose with the rules in their game, how is anyone supposed to believe the same thing isn't going on everywhere else? It's a question of credibility, and by sacrificing his, Brady put the entire NFL's at risk.

How are we supposed to believe it's not happening everywhere else? We don't, but Brady got caught, so that seems to be some indication that if other teams are cheating they will either (a) stop deflating footballs or (b) get caught.

But knowing he was willing to break the rules puts him in a different, far less-flattering light, and diminishes all that he's accomplished.

It diminishes "all" that Brady has accomplished. Come on, you know that's not true. Brady probably cheated, but it doesn't diminish everything he has accomplished because there's no proof he had been deflating footballs for longer than the 2015 season.

3. Skip Bayless thinks those who paid to watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight didn't get screwed because Pacquiao was hurt. Of course Skip thinks this. Skip hates the public, which is why he subjects them to his ridiculous hot takes on "First Take."

You thought from the start your man Floyd Mayweather dominated Saturday night's fight.

Not my man.

I thought my pick, Manny Pacquiao, ultimately won seven of the 12 rounds.

Heart over head? From the bottom of mine, I do not believe so. I scored the fight round by round on Twitter and had Pacquiao winning seven rounds to Mayweather's five --115-113, PacMan.

So far, Skip in his career at ESPN against reason, obvious fact, and reality. Now, he is arguing against math and the observation of those who are paid to judge a boxing match. OF COURSE Skip had Pacquiao winning seven rounds. Reality hasn't quite set in for Skip that his fighter lost and no amount of opinion, fact or reality will obscure what Skip wants to believe. Look no further than Skip's takes on LeBron James throughout the years for proof of this.

Yet now, Manny Pacquiao is being as unfairly vilified as any superstar athlete I can remember. Instead of being lauded and applauded for his courage, he's being sued by irate fans convinced he duped them into shelling out a hundred bucks for a letdown of a showdown.

I'm not mad about it, but it's a pretty bitch move for one fighter to be injured and then no one who paid $100 to see that fighter fight is aware of the injury. It's almost like the opposite of using PEB's. It's an injury which affects one party's ability to perform to his/her normal standard. Pacquiao had an injury which affected his ability to competitively fight Mayweather. I don't think he should be sued or anything like that, but it's just a reinforced lesson that paying money to watch boxing can be a shaky move for a variety of reasons.

If Pacquiao had taken an obvious dive in Round 1, no doubt he would deserve this class-action wrath.

Pacquiao even told reporters from his country, the Philippines, that Mayweather knew his shoulder was hurt and kept pulling on his arm!

As usual, Skip seems to miss the point. The point isn't that Pacquiao cheated or did something wrong, but the need to go through with the event and make sure he got the money provided to him for fighting took precedent over a fair, competitive fight. That's the perception and that's why some are angry. It's the idea that the consumer was duped and the fight was this unstoppable force that had to happen no matter what in order for each fighter to get their payday. The payday came before a competitive bout, that's the perception.

So what would you have done if you had been in Pacquiao's shoes about three weeks ago? He had campaigned for this fight for five years -- partly for the potential payday, but more so because he believed he could beat the man who calls himself TBE (The Best Ever) and who had accused Pacquiao of PED use and posted a racist rant about him.

It's impossible to say what I would have done, but if I believed I could beat Mayweather and finally got the opportunity to prove it, then I would be very, very sure I was in peak physical condition so that I could prove it. That's what I think I would do. If I campaigned for the fight and knew I wanted to prove I could beat Mayweather, I would ensure I was in the best condition to do so.

But according to a source in the Pacquiao camp, he injured his shoulder while sparring about two and a half weeks before the fight. A cortisone shot eased some of the inflammation and pain, but it appeared surgery ultimately would be required. So why not just let a surgeon show the media an MRI of the torn rotator cuff and ask for a postponement?

Skip's defense is ego and money, which aren't exactly the best defense for why Pacquiao fought injured. I get it and I wouldn't sue him, but these aren't good reasons to fight injured. It feels like those who paid got screwed just a little bit.

Because Pacquiao feared he would give Mayweather one last excuse -- that Mayweather would simply say no way he could wait an entire year and turn 39 before fighting Pacquiao. Postponing would be risking Mayweather would fight the final fight on his contract this September and retire undefeated.

I understand this. I'm talking perception here, not WHY Pacquiao did what he did. "I wanted to fight him because I was afraid he wouldn't fight me" is a logical reason to fight injured, but the idea of a boxing match taking place simply so it could take place is the problem with this reason in terms of perception.

Did Pacquiao risk perjury and suspension by instructing his representative to not disclose the shoulder injury on the Nevada State Athletic Commission form at Friday's weigh-in? Maybe. But my source says that was nothing but a blunder. 

Just a blunder! That's all. I wonder if Skip would give the same amount of leeway to an athlete that he didn't like if a similar situation were to occur? I shouldn't have to ask the question because I know the answer.

For me, the biggest shock of the night was the way the three American judges judged the Filipino boxer. They treated Pacquiao as if he were an unknown underdog whose best (if not only) chance to win rounds was by knockdown or by drawing blood or by at least turning Mayweather into a punching bag.

I should've known: If Mayweather-Pacquiao was devoid of knockdowns and didn't end in a knockout, Pacquiao had no chance. If his fate in a 12-round fight fell to the judges, home-ring advantage would prevail.

I like how Skip is changing the subject from something that Pacquiao may have done that was a bit shady on to potential shading dealings by the judges. I'll stay on-point. If Pacquiao was 100% healthy could he have knocked Mayweather down or turned him into a punching bag? The answer to this question won't ever be known (until the inevitable rematch), but part of the reason Pacquiao is being sued is because the chances of his knocking Mayweather down or beating him bloody were diminished by his injury.

I predicted a seventh-round Pacquiao knockout in part because a month ago sources in Pacquiao's camp said Pacquiao was convinced he could take out the 38-year-old Mayweather "early" with his quickness and power. So of course I was stunned and disappointed when Pacquiao came out tentatively in Round 1. I did not know about the shoulder.

Skip admits Pacquiao's shoulder had an impact on the outcome of the fight, yet he can't figure out why there are those upset with the non-disclosure of the shoulder injury. Skip Bayless will play deaf, dumb and blind until the very bitter end.

Twice before the fight we had Roy on First Take. Both times he refused to make a pick because he was commentating on the pay-per-view telecast. But both times it became clear he's a Floyd fan and thought Floyd would win pretty easily. So his tone during the fight was "told you so," which surely influenced the perception of millions of casual fans or even nonfans who had been intrigued enough to pay a hundred bucks.

So logically, the outcome of the fight was all Roy Jones, Jr.'s fault. Obviously this makes sense.

I got lost in trying objectively to view the competition from round to round.

Because Skip Bayless is the king of objectivity and had picked a Pacquiao victory (mostly because Stephen A. Smith predicted a Mayweather victory, due to being so far up Mayweather's ass that he can taste what Floyd had for dinner last night), he wants his readers to believe he is being objective. The next day Skip Bayless is objective on anything will be the first day this has ever occurred.

Exactly. What Mayweather did best was act like he was winning easily. He shook his head "no" after Pacquiao flurries. He preened and posed and no doubt out-styled little Manny. He blinded judges and Floyd fans with his reputation.

But he did not win.

Except, you know, he did win.

Now the poor man is being sued as he has surgery. Only in America.

Skip Bayless admitting the bum shoulder affected Pacquiao's ability to win the fight, while also not understanding why those who paid to see the fight are angry, is absolutely vintage Skip Bayless. Reality has no recourse when Skip has reached the conclusion he wants to reach.

But I will. This time I'd pay double to see it. Pacquiao deserves a rematch. And he will win. Again.

I think Skip doesn't like Mayweather or picks against Mayweather partly because he feels threatened by someone else who does things solely for the sake of attention. Skip doesn't want the competition. 

4. I've been holding this article from Terence Moore about the Braves being good for the inevitable losing streak(s), just so I could point out how ridiculous his crowing was. After the Braves started 3-0, Terence was all "LOOK! The hustle and grit worked out. These Braves are good." He was wrong of course.

The first Major League team to 3-0 this season wasn't the Dodgers, with their massive payroll and overwhelming talent. 

It was the Braves. You know, the rebuilding Braves. We're talking about the Braves with so many new players after nine trades and seven free-agent signings before Spring Training that super closer Craig Kimbrel had T-shirts designed for everybody that said, "Hello my name is (fill in the blank)."

Yep, when a team trades all of their best players for prospects then that team is rebuilding. I love how Terence took a 3-0 and start proudly starts jumping to conclusions that, even though there are 159 games to be played, this Braves team is better than I think. I think they won't win 70 games, so he's possibly partly right, but that doesn't mean he's entirely right.

The early success of this makeover is just a fluke.
Or is it?

It is. A month after this article was posted the Braves were 14-14 with 16 of these games at home at suddenly spacious looking Turner Field. So yeah, it was a fluke.

Yes, Kimbrel is gone with his otherworldly numbers during his four years as baseball's best closer, but his replacement is Jason Grilli, a former All-Star closer with the Pirates. The rest of the bullpen includes Jim Johnson, a former All-Star closer with the Orioles.

I'm a "former" a lot of things and it doesn't mean I could do those things again. There's a reason Grilli and Johnson don't have "current" in front of "All-Star" and that's because they can't pitch at that level anymore.

The Braves are faster, too. Among their slew of trades, they acquired the speedy Eric Young Jr., who is their first true leadoff hitter since Michael Bourn left as a free agent after the 2012 season.

Does Terence get paid by Eric Young Jr. to call him a "true leadoff hitter"? If not, he should. Young was slashing .167/.236/.288 a month after this column was posted. If that's a "true" leadoff hitter then I'll take the "fake" leadoff hitter everyday of the week.

Then there are newcomers such as Nick Markakis, Jonny Gomes and A.J. Pierzynski providing leadership in a clubhouse where there hasn't been any since the retirement of Jones after the 2012 season.

Leadership is great, but as the legendary Jeff Francouer would have said, "If leadership counted, then it would be on the scoreboard."

In response, Braves officials keep doing the right thing by acknowledging the public outcry each time they unload a popular player, and then they do what they have to do, which is they keep purging.

Purging, not rebuilding! That's the party line. Sure, the Braves got rid of all their "name" players, but they aren't rebuilding, just restructuring the team from a team that could compete for the NL East to a team that can't compete for the NL East. That's definitely NOT rebuilding.

(By the way, I'm down with the plan. Just call it what it is and don't act otherwise. That's all I want.)

What comes to mind is that old line from Branch Rickey, when he traded a stunned Ralph Kiner and his prolific bat during the early 1950s from the Pirates to the Cubs: "We can finish last without you."

So the Braves are going to finish last, after Terence previously said the Braves wouldn't finish last. A hallmark of a Terence Moore column is where he submarines his own argument. It's always fun to read him ruin his own point.

This isn't to say the Braves were awful before their makeover. They were just destined to remain what they were in recent years: Slightly better than mediocre, stale, another team destined to add to Atlanta's string of playoff losses in the NL Division Series or NL Wild Card Game.

79 wins in 2014, 96 wins in 2013, 94 wins in 2012, 89 wins in 2011, 91 wins in 2010, 86 wins in 2009. I wouldn't call that mediocre and to think the 2015 version of the team is an improvement because the team just won't make the playoffs is a fallacy. Remember, Terence isn't supposed to be arguing the rebuild was the right move, his argument is the 2015 Braves team are better than we think. This is not true. There are two separate issues that Terence is attempting to confuse with each other.

Looks like the future for the Braves is now.

No, it is not. It is in the future...maybe. Acting otherwise is only fooling yourself, Terence.

5. Jon Heyman thinks that Josh Hamilton owes the Angels and Arte Moreno an apology. I'm not sure if I agree with that. I don't approve of Hamilton's comments about the Angels at times, but an apology? I'm torn, but Jon is not.

Hamilton possesses that irresistible exacta of ability and personality that's hard to beat. Maybe too irresistible.

You can't trust an addict and Hamilton admits that is what he is. So the "maybe too irresistible" goes to this.

Hamilton is an extremely affable, talented guy, and it's hard not to root for him. It is also difficult to criticize him, as not too many have lived in those shoes. But if no one else will say anything, at some point you'd like to see Hamilton say something. "I'm sorry," would be a start.

Yeah, maybe. For me the whole "I'm sorry" thing should be reserved for those that Hamilton personally hurt and not meant for a millionaire baseball owner who knew about Hamilton's background when he signed him. I don't know, it feels like "I'm sorry" should be reserved for those who aren't multi-millionaire owners. 

Somehow, the Angels, Rangers, Hamilton's agent Michael Moye and the union made it work. It works to the point where everyone's happy, even if Hamilton's the one smiling brightest.

Which is all great. Yet, the fallout doesn't seem quite fair.

I didn't realize that life was fair.

As Hamilton himself said at his press conference, Moreno knew what he was getting into. And he certainly could have come up with much more delicate phrases following the surprise arbitrator ruling that commissioner Rob Manfred couldn't suspend Hamilton for his self-reported relapse.

At that moment, the very rich guy looked a little too interested in saving a few bucks.

But I can't really blame him. Not too much, anyway.

And I understand why Hamilton isn't saying "I'm sorry," because he feels like Moreno didn't take the time to understand his condition and that he will always have an addiction issue. It would be hard to say, "I'm sorry" to a person who has lost your respect through acting like he cares more about his bottom line than you as a person. That's why I think "I'm sorry" to Moreno isn't required, because Moreno won't apologize to Hamilton for coming off as cold. 

In his Texas press conference, Hamilton never once took responsibility for causing the Angels a lot of heartache. Instead, what he said was Moreno should have known better. 

I found that to be an asshole thing to say and this comment comes off as very "gotcha" when it's probably not meant to. 

Moreno questioned Hamilton's "accountability" after the arbitrator ruling. So perhaps Hamilton wasn't in a charitable mood. But maybe Hamilton's lack of accountability is fair game at this point.

No one likes having their accountability being questioned. This is a situation where both parties should move on. I get why Hamilton didn't apologize and I get why Moreno was irritated. If Moreno can't apologize in some fashion then I understand why Hamilton wouldn't apologize either.

6. Bill Madden, as always, wants Pete Rose on the Hall of Fame ballot. He knows he wouldn't be elected, but still wants him on the ballot.

Even before new commissioner Rob Manfred is able to sit down for a face-to-face with Pete Rose, baseball’s banned all-time hit king is back among us, albeit slightly from afar, in a Fox TV Sports studio in Los Angeles.

But the very fact Manfred is even granting Rose an audience — something his two predecessors, Fay Vincent and Bud Selig absolutely would not — tells me the Commish is at least cognizant of this long overlooked fact: Rose is the only player in the history of baseball who has never been eligible for the Hall of Fame — and it wasn’t Bart Giamatti, the commissioner who consigned him to baseball’s permanent ineligible list in August of 1989, who determined that. It was the Hall of Fame board of directors which, a few weeks after Rose was banned, determined that the permanent ineligible list applied to the Hall of Fame as well, and informed the Baseball Writers Association that he could not be placed on its ballot.

You'll never guess why Bill Madden thinks Pete Rose should be on the Hall of Fame ballot. Because of steroids of course.

This was a decision that would’ve probably been accepted as right and just, given Rose’s offense of breaking baseball’s cardinal rule on gambling, until the steroid cheats came along and did as much as Rose to impugn the integrity of the game by making a mockery of the record books.

I consistently fail to understand the "These PED users are eligible for the Hall of Fame, so why isn't Pete Rose?" argument. I don't see the parallel, partly because Rose accepted the lifetime ban, which isn't something PED users have done.

And while, as Manfred again pointed out Thursday in a meeting with APSE Sports Editors, “the rules on gambling have been in place literally for decades,” and that “they have been clear and spell out specific penalties; the reason those rules exist is because gambling is corrosive in a number of ways, including raising the specter of not doing everything they can to win,” it is worth noting in retrospect that Giamatti didn’t close the door entirely for Rose to eventually get reinstated.

In the fourth point of Giamatti’s resolution on Rose, he said: “Mr. Rose may, under Major League Rule 15 (c) apply for reinstatement. This ruling prohibits any such application for a period of at least one year.”

Yep. MLB has chosen not to reinstate him, as is their right.

Then, later on in the press conference, when asked if it would help Rose toward reinstatement if he sought rehabilitation for what many believed was a compulsive gambling habit, Giamatti replied: “The burden is entirely on Mr. Rose. It isn’t up to me. It’s up to Mr. Rose, it seems to me, to re-configure his life in ways I would assume he would prefer. But a person who wishes to establish the kind of record that would sustain an application would want to take whatever steps would seem appropriate to that person to be persuasive.”

And of course, because Rose has done these things then Bill Madden thinks Rose deserves another shot to be on the Hall of Fame ballot? Well, not exactly.

The problem for Rose was he did none of that. Instead he continued to deny that he had bet on baseball for another 14 years, all the while being seen publicly in gambling casinos and spending much of his life in Las Vegas, until he finally came clean in January of 2004 with the release of his book, “My Prison Behind Bars.”

(Deep sigh)

So why would baseball reinstate Rose when he accepted the lifetime ban and has not done, as outlined by the commissioner at the time, the steps to show rehabilitation? Because of PED users of course. All of a sudden it's not about Rose, but about what others have done that shows Rose should be on the Hall of Fame ballot. Rose is scum, but he's scum like others on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Interestingly, the idea there are already cheaters in the Hall of Fame, so this being a reason the PED scum should be allowed in isn't seen as a persuasive argument for inclusion of these PED users into the Hall of Fame. Interesting how Rose should be rewarded for the actions of others who are scum like him, but there is a firm line drawn where PED users don't get the necessary votes for induction despite the actions of others currently in Hall of Fame that were also considered cheating.

it seems to me there ought to be some way to remove him from the stigma of the permanent ineligible list and put him on a “restricted list” that would still prevent him from working in baseball but allow him to make promotional appearances at ballparks, serve as a sort of good-will ambassador for the Reds, or even do (anti-gambling?) public service commercials for baseball.

Rose wants to know how much that would pay.

Then it would be up to the Hall of Fame to decide if he could take his place on a ballot, like the steroid cheats. For the record, even Shoeless Joe Jackson was eligible for years for the Hall of Fame and got two votes in the first election in 1936 and another two in 1946.

Hey Bill, those votes occurred nearly 70-80 years ago. Let's focus on today.

For that, he at least deserves a vote — instead of remaining the only player in the history of the game who never got one.

I'm fine with Rose being reinstated, but he DESERVES absolutely nothing for actions he took that brought the lifetime ban upon him.

7. Bob Klapisch can't figure out if A-Rod is still cheating or not. On April 18, he wrote this article which hinted around the possibility of A-Rod still using PED's. Here are some of his comments:

Good luck to anyone trying to figure why Alex Rodriguez has become the Yankees’ best hitter, despite all the factors that should’ve been working against him. That includes his age, the yearlong drug suspension, two surgically repaired hips and going cold turkey on PEDs. We think.

Let’s address this last point first. I have to assume Rodriguez is playing clean in 2015;

Except, he doesn't dismiss the idea A-Rod is using steroids. Of course. 

So how’s he doing it? Here are a few wild guesses:

  • The time off actually restored Rodriguez’s fast-twitch muscles.

This theory runs counter to conventional sports theory, which says an athlete’s reaction-time deteriorates with time, especially after 35.   

  • Better, more invisible PEDs.
We’d be remiss to completely ignore this possibility, even if we don’t buy it. Still, Rodriguez managed to beat the system in all the years he immersed himself in Biogenesis’ drugs. He was never caught, not even once.

Whatever happened to assuming A-Rod was not using steroids? Klapisch assumes A-Rod is clean, then lists one of the reasons behind A-Rod's hot hitting as being that A-Rod is back using PED's. Sounds like assuming A-Rod is clean isn't something that's being done.

A cynic would reflexively ask: Who’s to say A-Rod hasn’t found a more sophisticated supplier than Tony Bosch?

To this, we shake our head and say no. So does MLB, which has greater enforcement powers than ever before. Not only is A-Rod subject to increased random testing, as is anyone who violated baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement, but testers are now empowered to come to Rodriguez’s home at any hour.

But after A-Rod kept hitting well, this sort of slight cynicism was fixed and now Bob Klapisch knows that A-Rod is not cheating. Sure, Bob beat around the bush at PED use with the idea A-Rod would definitely get caught, but now he knows for sure A-Rod isn't cheating. He's convinced!

Sure, there are plenty of folks who still don’t trust Rodriguez and think his pursuit of 700-plus HRs is a scam. But it felt like everyone in the ballpark had long since forgiven A-Rod and were willing to ride shotgun into the record books.

Sportswriters like Klapisch realize they are behind the curve in the whole "forgiving A-Rod" category, so they are quickly trying to make up for this.

Again, you might not believe any of it. Rodriguez has apologized a million times since spring training and you might think he’s not humble, just hardened and maybe smarter about a PED supplier this time around. 

But as I’ve said before, I believe A-Rod is clean. 

Yes, but then you listed "Better, more invisible PEDs" as a reason he could be hitting the baseball well. So, you believed, but didn't really believe.

The Yankees’ slugger knows he’s being watched, monitored, shadowed. A drug-tester from MLB was dispatched to Fenway on Sunday night and he was there for only one reason, to hunt down Rodriguez. The tester, a grim-looking man who spoke to no one, practically followed A-Rod to the bathroom for a urine sample. Rodriguez didn’t mind the surveillance; he knows it’s his penance for past sins.

Can you feel the narrative around A-Rod turning around? It's amazing what hitting a baseball does for the perception of A-Rod and how it helps him to be a more believable character that a sportswriter can cheer for. Success cures all.

So the night ended with a lingering question: How can Rodriguez hit a ball that far approaching age 40? Why is his bat-speed better now than in 2013, when it should be the other way around? I’m casting a vote for A-Rod’s better angels – that it’s not PEDs, but his surgically repaired hips now healthy enough to generate torque.

That is until Bob Klapisch decides that A-Rod is really powered by PED's again. I'm sure he'll write another "I don't think A-Rod is doing PED's" column where he again dismisses the idea A-Rod is doing PED's while continuing to bring the subject up.

8. Baseball is dying a terrible dying death. Nick Cafardo says so.

Baseball is trying to attract kids to the game, somehow, some way. But it’s been an uphill battle. If it continues, 20 or 30 years from now there won’t be much of a baseball viewership.

Baseball is dying a terrible, horrible death. Perhaps it's my peer group, but nearly everyone I know likes and watches baseball. Perhaps my peer group doesn't reflect reality. That's entirely possible.

The Red Sox probably are less susceptible to this than teams in other parts of the country where baseball isn’t as popular.

Well, obviously. The Red Sox are the team that's the least susceptible to this problem because they have the most informed and dedicated fans that would never turn their back on the team. Red Sox fans GET baseball, so even if MLB consists only of the Red Sox A-team facing the Red Sox B-team for 162 games there will always be professional baseball due to the unwavering fan support of the community in Boston that can't be found anywhere else in the world in any other sport.

It’s a simple game that has been muddled by the trends of recent years. Kids, particularly in the inner city, aren’t playing baseball with the frequency of the past, and the interest level in watching baseball isn’t there either, as the kids interviewed for the Globe story pointed out.

But the Globe interviewed kids who aren't from Boston, right? After all, the Red Sox are always going to be popular in Boston so good luck finding any kids who aren't Red Sox fans.

The human stories of players and their histories have gone the way of their WARs and WORPs, and I’m not sure kids see that as fun.

The idea that WAR and other advanced metrics chase fans away from the game is a fallacy. A total fallacy. If anything, it chases the generation away that baseball wants to be chased away (i.e. older fans of the game), while bringing in new fans who are passionate about the sport of baseball and enjoy using different metrics to watch the game. Using advanced statistics is another way of enjoying the game, not a reason why the game is dying.

In our day, we loved baseball cards and all we cared about was batting average, home runs, and RBIs. It was simple. It was easy to be a fan.

It's still incredibly simple like that. Nothing has changed.

Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, or Willie Mays used to step into the box and swing at the first good pitch he saw. Now, batters are encouraged to look at more than four pitches per at-bat.

As a result, we’re seeing more called third strikes. At-bats take forever, attention is lost, and the outcome isn’t as good as it used to be.

In 2010, there were 28 players with 85-plus RBIs, 85-plus runs, and 20-plus home runs. In 2011, there 20. In 2012, there were 24. In 2013, there were 14. Last season, there were 11.

Reader Matt emailed me this article and included this little tidbit of research that he had done:

I looked it up and in 1963 there were 12 of these players in the Major Leagues. Plus, Hank Aaron drew over 1,100 unintentional walks in his career. Cafardo probably thinks that on every one of them Aaron spit in his hands, glared at the pitcher, and called him a pussy for not challenging him.

Oh, so "back in the day" there weren't so many of these players who hit home runs, drove in runs and scored runs was there? Interesting what research does to disprove conventional, unintelligent thought. Thanks to Matt for this research. It's one year, but it proves that Cafardo is reminiscing about a time that necessarily didn't occur. The past was always much better in retrospect wasn't it? 

Oh, and home runs and RBI's were up during the Steroid Era, which is an era baseball writers like Nick Cafardo see as a black mark on the history of the sport. Yet, fan interest was high. Can't have it any way you want it. Want a clean game, there has to be some sort of sacrifice. 

Why aren’t hitters swinging at those pitches more often? It just prolongs the at-bat, and thus fans lose interest.

Now, the more pitches seen per at-bat is considered a good thing, wears down the pitcher, but so do doubles in the gap.

The personalities have changed, too. Players are making so much money that instead of a game, it has become a business to them.

(Nick Cafardo shakes his fist at a cloud and yells at children for being on his lawn)

David Ortiz is fun, but then he gets criticized if he pimps a home run.

(Nick Cafardo gets in his 1988 Buick, turns on the radio and listens to only the older Rolling Stones albums)

A pitchers’ duel is fun to watch, but how many last a full nine innings? You see good seven-inning battles and then, of course, managers go to their relievers. 

"Not enough runs are scored in baseball these days!"

"Why aren't there more pitcher's duels that last nine innings?"

Can't have it both ways. Want runs? Great, that means there will be fewer nine inning pitching duels.

With all the advancements in understanding the human body and the claim that strength and conditioning coaches do baseball-specific work with their players, why are there so many oblique, hamstring, quadriceps, and shoulder injuries? Is it time to return to the days when players didn’t overtrain and really stuck to baseball-related exercises?

Yes, MLB and their teams should mandate how often players can work out. Just like in the old days when every player was durable for the entire season, except for some pitchers who ended up with "dead arm" that couldn't be sufficiently explained.

Players of yesteryear had to work other jobs and as a result got stronger. Aaron delivered ice. Bob Feller worked on a farm. Over time, their tendons got stronger.

"Baseball players should not work out as much as they do in the offseason or overtrain!"

"Baseball players need to do more work in the offseason by lifting heavy objects or working on a farm in order to get stronger!"

So yes, while the game has to be marketed better to kids, the kids need to see the game we saw as kids. 

Well that game isn't coming back and "the kids" are stuck with the game today. The same game where enjoyment can come from the use of advanced statistics and not despite the use of these statistics.

9. Rick Telander is afraid American colleges are attempting to exploit African teens by giving them an opportunity to go to school and participate in athletics.

The Anteaters player’s name is Mamadou Ndiaye, and he stands 7-6, weighs 300 pounds and has an 8-3 wingspan. That means if you turned him sideways, his arms would cover an entire doorway.

Ndiaye came to the United States speaking no English and was found to have a tumor on his pituitary gland, a problem solved by surgery. He had guardians in Huntington Beach, California, moved through high school, and now he has played in the Big Dance.

So after Ndiaye was dragged to America, a tumor was found and corrected, he graduated high school and now he's getting a college education? When will this exploitation end?

Basketball, dominated by African-Americans at the highest levels, is starting to skip the American part and go straight to Africa for talent that might lead the way.

It’s not a completely new template — Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) and Dikembe Mutombo (Zaire) have certainly left their marks on the NBA — but with this new trend comes a sense of the dirty but time-honored exploitation of a continent so rich in natural resources but so lacking in fundamental order and control.

"Sure, other Africans have come to the United States to play basketball, gotten an education and succeeded, but this is a 'new' trend and it's called 'exploitation' now. Okay, it's not a 'new' trend, but for the sake of this article can't we just pretend it's new so I can try and get my point across?"

You can blame the NBA and its entrance rules for some of this. But the NCAA, which allows freshmen to play and tacitly encourages fake education, plays a bigger role. Coach Cal says it again and again: I’m just playing by the rules they gave me. And, like a riverboat gambler with loaded dice, he’s right. So the hunt for the edge never ends.

It always comes back to John Calipari in some way doesn't it?

In 2010, five Kentucky players were taken in the first round of the NBA draft, something that had never happened before.  This season, Calipari has nine McDonald’s All-Americans.

And here is the damning number about this startling trend. You ready for the truth about the exploitation? Of these 14 players being discussed that played for Calipari, 0 of them are native Africans that were ripped from their homeland to play for the Evil Calipari.

So what has this got to do with Africans?

Good point. Nothing.

Well, the talent in that incredibly diverse continent is bubbling, even if it is raw, largely uncoached and far afield from the cradle-to-adulthood training that most elite American players undergo. But it’s there, and it’s noticed.

So the problem is that United States colleges are recruiting international athletes to come play at their school and get an education? I guess I fail to see the issue here. Nearly every school has an international student program where, and hold on to your hat for the exploitation to begin, they take international students and bring them to the United States to go to school. Sometimes they play sports. I know, it's horrifying.

Shortly after this, I read an article in Harper’s Magazine entitled ‘‘American Hustle: How Elite Youth Basketball Exploits African Athletes.’’ In it, I read about schools like Our Savior that have dominant teams due to relying on dubious African ‘‘scouts’’ who send them players such as Diallo, a 6-9, 225-pound power forward who is a five-star college recruit.

There is money for the scouts, in round-about ways, and for the rare players who make it to the NBA. But many African teen players are brought over and suffer indignities of alienation and poverty and things like sleeping on the floor in a gym for half a year, the report said.

Wait, so high schools are exploiting these African basketball players, which means colleges are also exploiting them simply by recruiting them and offering them a scholarship and housing? Interesting way to look at it, Rick.

‘‘It’s like an auction,’’ a high school insider told the author, Alexandra Starr. ‘‘Each kid is an item to sell.’’

There, watching, with many others, was John Calipari.

Watching, licking his lips, just waiting to send another African basketball player that has never actually played at his Kentucky basketball program to the NBA. One would think if Rick is going to mention Calipari then he would also mention how Calipari has never had a player originally from Africa play for him while at the University of Kentucky. That would display honestly, which isn't something Rick cares to display.

10. Andrew Harrison used the "n-word" and now Jay Mariotti wants everyone to stop using this word. It's Jay Mariotti, social advocate.

If we truly are interested in eliminating racism in this country, uniting as one, then all usage of the N-word must stop. Now. Forever. 

For those who don't stop using this word, Jay will come over and yank your hair, then deny it while complaining the legal system is against rich, white men.

Why? Maybe because a 20-year-old named Andrew Harrison hears the N-word echo through popular culture and finds himself muttering it, under his breath after a difficult loss, when a reporter asks a Kentucky teammate about Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky, who happens to be white.

Not because it's offensive word, but eliminate the word because others will repeat it.

“F--- that n-----,” Harrison said, mouth covered yet in front of a microphone, which picked up the racial slur and sent it careening across social media and into the mainstream. 

CAREENING across social media, CAROMING into the Internet and then SLIDING into Jay's ears where he knew he had to stop this bullshit immediately. If anyone can reach across the racial divide, it's Jay Mariotti.

Either we’re all serious about ending this social sickness or we should stop talking about it and let it be. What was Ferguson about? What were the “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts about? What was “Selma” about, the lessons and the movie?

It wasn't entirely about the "n-word." It is about race relations and perceived racism, which will be present no matter whether a racial slur is spoken or not.

Kaminsky himself should have known better earlier in the NCAA Tournament, when he and his teammates were asked how they would want an opponent to describe them. “Resilient,” said one. “Disciplined,” said another. “Unselfish,” said another. “Tough,” said another.

“White guys,” said Kaminsky, a character. 

Oh my, Frank. By acknowledging that you are white, you are setting race relations back decades. DO NOT acknowledge you are white. No one would know if you didn't constantly bring it up.

We’re not supposed to be seeing color. We’re supposed to be seeing humankind. Why is USA Today counting the number of black and white starters? 

"Let's be colorblind," says Jay Mariotti.

ESPN originally announced it was launching a black sportswriting site, which made me wonder why the network also wasn’t starting an Asian-related sportswriting site and a Latino-related sportswriting site and so forth. Why narrow the audiences? Why separate us instead of using sports media as a way to bond and connect us?

Because ESPN wanted a site that appealed to and for black sportswriting that everyone could read. The same reason ESPN has a site called "ESPNW." It's not an exclusive site, but a site featuring content from a specific sub-group of people who love athletics.

Why does Barkley, a man crusading against racism, use the N-word? 

I simply find it funny that Jay Mariotti, whose writing career is most known for being hateful, wants to start crusading against hate and bring people together. He probably means everyone else should come together so they can all be in the same room while he fires hateful shots and criticisms from a totally separate room. 

6 comments:

Snarf said...

If you still believe that deflating a football below the league minimum (12.5 pounds per square inch) is an overblown story, consider that Brady benefited from violating the rules just as Armstrong, Alex Rodriguez and the other cheats did.

Last I checked, the Yankees didn't vacate the world series they won with A-Rod on the roster...

Chris said...

As much as this moral grandstanding by the media about the whole deflating controversy is I do have to say Brady has made himself a bit of an easy target by being incredibly passive agressive and snippy and defensive about the whole issue whenever it's brought up. I don't know that I would go so far as to say he lied since the whole Wells report isn't very clear about the whole fiasco itself.

Speaking of which why do these sportswriters still seem to trust that Goddell will side with them and protect the integrity of the NFL despite this past year of basically dragging the NFL name through the mud. Goddell delegated responsibility to Ted Wells, who then took 100 some days to reach the conclusion of ehh he probably did it but who really knows.

Chris said...

And if the media were really serious with this moral high horse than I would vote that some of them vacate their jobs after writing horrendously bad columns

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, that's a good point. I think Brady should be punished, but vacating the Super Bowl seems like quite the punishment. It's excessive.

Chris, Brady comes off smug when he discusses the deflating of footballs and I do believe he probably lied. That's certainly not a credit to him. I'm separating Brady the self-important guy who is acting like he never could have done anything wrong with the actual act. Flying in on the helicopter to talk to Jim Gray and getting cheered, that was obnoxious. Fortunately, I try to tune stuff like that out.

I don't know when the media started trusting Goodell. I think it's a shit-show all around. The report is too long, took too long and only comes up with circumstantial evidence. Not a great job. Meanwhile, Goodell doesn't even have the punishment ready when the report came out. That would have made sense, but he needs to see how the public reacts first.

Chris said...

In a way I can understand why Brady would get frustrated since this has been breathlessly reported as if this were some world crisis. How he has gone about it hasn't done him any favors but I can seperate the smug man from his alleged actions.

It's frankly a sad state of affairs when Goddell would rather let the court of public opinion and mob mentality decide punishment instead of doing it himself(though admittedly he hasn't been too good at the latter).

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