Thursday, December 13, 2007
Say It Ain't So
Quick question: Which baseball player would you rather have?
Player A: .236 BA / .376 OBP / .347 SLG
Player B: .315 BA / .423 OBP / .466 SLG
Thursday's release of the "Mitchell Report" – baseball's independent (pfft) study into the steroid era – is expected to name names and will surely provide more grist for the vacuous talk radio mill. ESPN.com's Howard Bryant wrote a lengthy piece on this ridiculous "wildgoosechasewitchhunt" and it's an excellent read.
99.9% of my concerns and criticisms are echoed by Bryant and his findings. Still, there's one angle that I haven't seen addressed by any of the media outlets.
Y'see, rightly or wrongly, my Oakland A's are considered "ground zero" for the so-called steroid era. Former A's outfielder Jose Canseco wrote a book detailing how he brought steroids to Major League Baseball in the mid-1980s. He implicated former A's first baseman and teammate Mark McGwire and I vividly remember newspaper and magazine articles from around the same time marveling at the sculpted physiques of lower-case A's like Lance Blankenship and Mike Gallego.
Those late '80s A's are still my favorite team – in any sport – of all time. As such, they earned a lifetime pass from me. Canseco's violent strikeouts were as fun to watch as his tape-measure testosterone bombs over the wall. Dave Stewart remains the single greatest "big game" pitcher I've ever seen. And, of course, Rickey Henderson is now and forever my all-time…whoops, I've digressed from the point I was trying to make.
So, that aforementioned angle that hasn't been addressed in all this is that after all these months of ersatz investigations, there are exactly two things that fans will be interested in: (1) what players will be named and (2) are any of them on their favorite team. Has anyone asked Red Sox Nation if they'll STFU should all that acromegaly in the middle of their order be outed today? Will Jeff Bagwell still be revered as pure Ivory Soap by Texas' moral absolutist kooks should his name be in the report?
Y'see, for the last few years, lots of baseball fans have called for the cranium of Barry Bonds (since, he was the only ballplayer to ever, ever, ever use 'roids). So, will they be equally as indignant when/if the axe falls on their favorite teams or players? We're waiting, media. Ask, already.
Oh, before I forget…
Player A and Player B are the same guy.
In 1998, Rickey Henderson joined the Oakland A's for his fourth tour of duty with the team. At 39, he appeared to be reaching the end of the line, despite leading the American League in stolen bases and putting up his usually excellent OBP. A year later, he signed with the New York Mets and found the fountain of youth at age 40. It was the last great year of his career and his best season since his peak in the mid '90s.
The New York Mets are expected to be prominently featured in The Mitchell Report later today. If you've read this far, you know all about the former Mets clubhouse attendant (Kirk Radomski) who became steroid distributor to the stars, before turning snitch for the feds. Radomski left the Mets, officially, in 1995, but he allegedly supplied members of the team with "what they needed" for years after that. Rickey's tenure with the Mets coincides with Radomski's entrepreneurial timeline.
Now, I don't believe for a minute that Rickey ever used steroids as he's always been sculpted, but small – if that makes any sense. And, if he's named in today's report, I'll still believe he never used steroids.
If that makes any sense.