Friday, March 31, 2006

Steroid Investigation beginning far too late
Trying to argue the question of steroids in Major League Baseball now seems irrelevant. New articles, new evidence and new books surface nearly every day on the topic, and it suggests anything but a clean national pastime.
Baseball seems ready to do something about its past, and ready to look at some of the stars who made the records in question.
My immediate reaction to this news is it is eight years too late. Maybe an investigator (said to be former senator George Mitchell) can, by investigating Barry Bonds and others, give some answers.
The problem here is and has always been baseball's lack of interest in the whole thing. I find it difficult to believe that Commissioner Bud Selig has had any real change of heart on the issue of steroids. It's just that what made him and so many others rich before is getting him in trouble now.
Baseball players started getting big a long time ago. Homer numbers started shooting up after the 1994 strike. Players like the Orioles' Brady Anderson, a leadoff hitter with only a tad of power, started putting up major numbers.
With the homers came the fans. With the fans came the so-called "Baseball Renaissance," and along with that came huge money.
Money for the players. Money for the owners. Money for everyone.
Well, not exactly everyone. The fans were suckered into believing they were watching something really special.
So they parted with lots of money to watch history be made. Now it appears they were watching a drug-induced mirage.
As fans, we will never know what was real and what was not. Anderson may have been clean for all we know. But his sudden power surge in the mid-90s casts a cloud of suspicion over his career, as well as that of every power hitter from the era.
No player can be safe from this scrutiny.
But if every player is under scrutiny, then every manager, general manager, scout, and owner should be as well. Their silence over the last decade has poisoned the game. Instead of taking a stand 10 years ago and preserving some level of integrity, baseball's management waited so it could make some money.
Now, here's where we are:
• One of baseball's most cherished records is gone. Roger Maris' record of 61 homers in the 1961 season lasted 37 years. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa shattered the record in 1998. Then, three years later, Barry Bonds broke it again. He finished the 2001 season with 73 homers; 11 more than Maris. Bonds, Sosa and McGwire are all suspected of doping.
• Perhaps THE most cherished record in all of sports will fall this year. Bonds appears a lock to pass Babe Ruth's 714 career homers. He certainly has a shot at the 755 hit by Hank Aaron. Non-baseball fans don't understand this: Records and numbers are what make baseball different than other sports. It's what connects the present and the past. Now a cheater could hold the greatest record. In his selfishness, it appears Bonds could not only disgrace himself, but also a record.
Now baseball wants to investigate. I appreciate its desire to cleanse the sport, but I have trouble sympathizing. If the game meant as much to the leadership as it did to the fans, all of this could have been avoided.
Investigate what you want, baseball.
But all you'll find is failure.
Also can be read at

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Brown on Colbert
Hurricane Katrina was funny to him, I guess.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Barry, Barry
Mr. Bonds wants us to feel sorry for him:
"Go to the Empire State Building and jump off, commit suicide and people can say, 'Barry Bonds is finally dead.' Except for in San Francisco," he said. "I'll leave something for them."

Sorry, but I'm not buying it.

Keep playing the music; keep playing the games
Yes, I haven't been blogging nearly as much lately. A lot of that is work-related. Anyone who's a sports writer knows why that is. If you've never heard of a sports tab, be glad.
-George Mason is in the Final Four, something no one could have predicted. Naturally, the hype is getting out of hand, with sports commentators already comparing the team to Villanova. Is it the greatest underdog story in sports?
Who cares? But it is a good story. Let's leave it at that.
-With the World Baseball Classic over, we all get to turn our attention to the regular season. It may be hard to focus on the game, given that this Barry Bonds story just won't go away. But nonetheless, regular season games begin Sunday. I'll be writing an MLB preview, and this year, I may not pick the Indians to win the World Series.
- Someone needs to explain to me why a country that wishes to enforce its just laws draws protests.
- To Indians fans, I ask this question: If Andy Marte and Aaron Boone each played 160 games at the Major League level, who would help the Indians more?
I have my answer, and that man will be playing in Buffalo.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Song quote of the day
You had me several years ago
when I was still quite niave
when you said we made such a pretty pair
and that you would never leave
but you gave away the things you loved
and one of them was me-- Carly Simon

Country legend dies
Buck Owens has died at 76. Rest in peace.

Ben Taylor signs with the Pack
This probably won't be enough to excite Andy Barch and Joel Hammond, but former Browns' linebacker Ben Taylor is heading to Wisconsin.
Taylor, as evidenced by the article, is a class act who will be missed. He wasn't a great player, but he worked hard, and had a good attitude. Good luck to him.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Bonds to sue
But it's not a libel suit. Sounds like a waste of time that will hurt Barry more than it helps. Unless Bonds can dispute the truth of what was written (which, will be pretty darn hard to prove), he'll just have to accept that his career and his numbers will be forever tainted. I'd say it was sad, but hey, Bonds did this to himself.
The best part of all this is the writers, and the paper, are not backing down and not looking to settle. If Bonds was trying to bluff them, it looks like it has been called.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hitchens' latest
He doesn't back down:
So, now I come at last to my ideal war. Let us start with President Bush's speech to the United Nations on Sept. 12, 2002, which I recommend that you read. Contrary to innumerable sneers, he did not speak only about WMD and terrorism, important though those considerations were. He presented an argument for regime change and democracy in Iraq and said, in effect, that the international community had tolerated Saddam's deadly system for far too long. Who could disagree with that?

In my own opinion, everything Bush said before the war has been crunched, skimmed, even ignored. Like Hitchens, I believe time will vindicate the decision he made. But, like the effort itself, it will take time.

Three Years Later
Interesting perspectives, and reflections, on the war in Iraq.

My answer:
Did you support the war in Iraq?
Yes. I believed Saddam was a threat and simply, he had to go. He could not be trusted, and his sons could not be trusted. I was actually on the fence for a while, but I read up on Saddam and his human rights violations, and his unstable history, and I became a supporter of the war.

Have you changed your position?
No. I am saddened by the losses and not thrilled with some of the things that have happened there, but I am still optimistic history will judge the invasion and its results as just.

What should the US do now in Iraq?
Do what is nessecary to create a stable government and situation in Iraq. Leaving will make it worse. Still, I confess there are smarter people than me with differing opinions, which is why I posted the article.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Japan beats Cuba in WBC
Capitalism beats communism every time, baby.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Song quote of the day
There's been a load of comprimisin'
on the road to my horizon
But I'm gonna be where the lights
are shinin' on me--Glenn Campbell

Friday, March 17, 2006

It will be hard for anyone to believe Ohio State will be a final four team after its 70-62 win over Davidson today. Really, the only thing you can say if you're a Buckeye fan is "thank goodness for Terance Dials."
Sometimes when I watch Ohio State, I wonder why they don't go inside more often. Ah well. OSU had to survive some poor officiating, and it did.

Jermaine Wallace's 3-pointer, falling down from the left corner with .5 seconds remaining was one of the best endings to a game I've ever seen. You have Northwestern State, a No. 14 seed, knocking off Iowa.
Yet, it almost was a major blunder. After hitting the shot, Wallace ran and embraced a teammate, instead of going back on defense. That allowed Iowa a great look at the basket. And yet, NW State survived. Good for them. Good for the program, and good for the NCAA.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bill Maher
After watching last week's show (which, I admit, was much better than usual) I wanted to write about how Gloria Steinem sure loves the sound of her own voice. I am always torn when Larry Miller is on, because I think he is very interesting and (again I'll admit my bias) usually is on my side of things.
But when he's on Maher's show, he's so polite, he often gets shouted down, or in this case, talked over.
Of course, my dilemma is that when I was in college, I loved to talk and give my opinions. My presentations were usually me talking, and talking, and talking.
In one of my final college presentations, I told my partner to nudge me after she thought I had talked enough. Otherwise I'd take all of class.
She never had to. She just would interrupt me with her points. It was one of my best presentations.
Now, I still love to talk. Despite my best intentions, I sometimes don't listen as much as I should. It's probably why I have a blog. I blabber on here, and there is nothing to stop me.
Self-reflection is a good thing sometimes.

Wholesome Spring Activities
Want to know what Ozzie Guillen is up to these days? From Dave Meltzer:
TNA will air an angle involving Simon Diamond and Ozzie Guillen, the manager of the White Sox, on Saturday night's TV show. The footage should appear on several Chicago TV stations and be written about in tomorrow's newspapers. It was actually taped a few weeks ago, with the storyline of Diamond sneaking into a White Sox uniform and taking batting practice, being confronted by several White Sox players until Guillen hits him with a chair.

-The baseball fan in me wonders if Ozzie can't find anything better to do. The wrestling fan in me thinks it's cool. Pulled in different directions.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Song remains the same
But the orchestra is much improved.

WBC (or, this is SO not the Dream Team)
As if yesterday's tainted win over Japan (the man did NOT leave early) wasn't bad enough, I turn on the television and see the United States getting blasted by Korea. Look, maybe getting beat by Canada wasn't exactly a great moment, but at least it's an actual COUNTRY. Korea is two countries brought together by baseball's odd version of politics.
And please, I know it was a country at one time. I fully expected the United States to get toasted by certain countries, despite the hype. But the fact of the matter is that the United States no longer dominates its own pastime.
What's worse is that it has been hard for me to cheer for the USA. I'm as pro-USA as it comes, and yet, when I see the passion in the players and fans in Puerto Rico, and contrast that with the countless American players who shunned the event, and Buck Martinez' unintentionally hilarious "the umpires want to get it right... and they did," line, how can I not be tempted to pull for the other guys?
The Japanese players left it all on the field Sunday, deserved to win, and were robbed. I don't think it was conspiracy, but it sure looked bad. I left the game not happy my country won, but rather sympathetic to the opponent.
And how can I cheer for a team Barry Bonds wants to play for?
I was against the WBC, and thought it was sloppy and self-congratulatory. But the truth is that the games in Puerto Rico have reminded me why I love baseball. Those players are going all out, and best of all, they don't mind showing how much they care.
It's why I love, and hate, the WBC.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

10 Questions with the South Park guys
It's rare to hear the President compared to Homer Simpson. Even rarer to have that comparison be a compliment.

Saddam's terrorist connection
I better get this out of the way.
No matter how many times it's said, I will not believe that Saddam's Iraq was WMD-free. Saddam either fooled the entire world, or he moved his weapons. I happen to believe the latter.
Now that I've alienated most of you, my second point:
Saddam Hussein had connections to terrorists. Abu Nidal was sheltered by the Iraqi government, and Saddam supported the families of suicide bombers.
To me, that makes him a terrorist.
But some wish to deny that Saddam had terrorist connections. Why?

Milosevic found dead
One of the most brutal men of the last 30 years has been found dead in his prison cell.

Friday, March 10, 2006

More WBC
I'm watching Puerto Rico and Cuba right now. Cuba's uniforms seem to be channeling the 1985 Patriots. The Cubans have Red helmets, white tops and red pants. I mean, I know Cuba is one of the few surviving communist nations in the world, but they do appear a little heavy on the red.

Bonds too legit to quit
It's understandable that things are tough on Barry Bonds right now. He's getting hit from a lot of angles, and very few are coming to his defense, at least without qualifying it first.
Still, Bonds has his supporters. One of whom you may have heard of.
I think Hammer is one of those guys who sees the best in people, and for that, I applaud him. But I am long past the point of giving Bonds the benefit of the doubt, or of getting behind a race to break perhaps the most coveted record in all of sports.
Bonds doesn't strike me as "too legit to quit." If anything, he used "pumps and a bump" so he could get his record. It doesn't matter. It's a record that will never belong to him. Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth are legends. Bonds "can't touch this."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

OK. Are there any Italians on Italy's team?

Andy Marte went 4 for 4 today and drove in three runs. Marte won't be 23 until the end of this year, but I am already thinking about the lineup.
I think Aaron Boone is a great guy, but even if he's healthy and playing his best, he will never reach the potential of the kid looking over his shoulder. I remember having this feeling about a player before --last season with Grady Sizemore. If Marte has a hot spring, it may put Eric Wedge in a tough position.
I just don't see them bringing up Marte as a bench player. But what happens if Marte outplays Boone?
Things will certainly be interesting next month.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Greatest Twin: Remembering Kirby Puckett
Note: This was written and posted on blogcritics early Tuesday morning, but I didn't get around to posting it here until today

Trying to write about Kirby Puckett just a few hours after his death is challenging, because I don't think I really believe it. I know the former outfielder has died, but I just can't accept someone who brought life into every game he played could be gone so quickly.
Puckett was 45 at the time of his death. If you had asked me 12 years ago, I would have said I expected him to play until he was 45. He just appeared to love the game that much.
Honestly, all I know about Puckett is the image he showed us. I never met the man. All I know is what I saw. Even as a life-long Indians fan, I loved watching Kirby Puckett. Perhaps I should amend that. I hated it when he came up against the Indians' pitchers, because it he always seemed to get hits off them. Actually, you could say that about a lot of players in regards to the Indians pitching staffs of my youth, but Puckett seemed to thrive against them.
Of course, Puckett hit well against just about everybody. He had over 2,300 hits in his career, and had over 200 in a season four times. He's also remembered for his World Series performances, specifically in 1991, when he hit a game-winning homer in game six against the Braves.
When you glance at his stats, perhaps the most surprising thing is he hadn't put on a uniform in 11 years. He retired in 1995. But his retirement was not a usual one. In his final season, Puckett hit .314 and smashed 23 homers. Had he been healthy, it's reasonable to believe he could have played several more seasons.Of course, that didn't happen.
In late September 1995, Puckett faced Indians' ace Dennis Martinez. Martinez, who pitched inside a lot, hit Puckett with a pitch, breaking his jaw and bursting an artery in his mouth. The following spring, he was diagnosed with glaucoma and never played again.
Suddenly, Puckett was gone. He did a few announcing gigs for ESPN, but was never as visible after his retirement.
When I heard about the stroke earlier today, I couldn't help but reflect back to Puckett's last at-bat. I remember watching the game, and I remember the aftermath. I remember Martinez apologizing, and Puckett saying he knew Martinez didn't mean to hurt him. It wasn't even known if the pitch had anything to do with the glaucoma.
But I can't help but wonder what going out of baseball so suddenly meant to Puckett. It was obvious to everyone who watched him play that he loved the game. Suddenly, on one pitch, his whole career was over.
Still, Puckett will be remembered for his game, his personality and what he meant to the Twins and to baseball. In an age of drugs, non-hustling stars, gambling managers and overpaid egotists, Kirby Puckett was something of a rarity. His enthusiasm made him not only popular in Minnesota, but all over the country.
The man may be gone, but anyone who saw him play or saw him smile will ever forget him.
Rest in peace, Mr. Puckett.

What it comes down to is this: Do you believe Barry Bonds, or do you believe the writers who have staked their entire journalism careers on this story.
I'm a sports journalist. I know how much verification you need before you run with a story like this. I also imagine Sports Illustrated has the best fact-checkers in the business.
But lets curb the dramatics for a moment. Did anyone really believe Barry Bonds was clean? This is really just telling me what I already knew. Bonds was cheating, and the era is tarnished.
Blame is dispatched to the owners, the players and even the media. I'm ashamed I didn't get bcome aware of it until an off-hand remark by my dentist is 1996. Even then, no one investigated it, and no one called for an investigation until it was beyond obvious.
In some ways, those of us who love the sport have to be accountable for this.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Kim Bauer and C. Thomas Howell
Blech. That's the equivilant of setting your hair on fire and then washing it with gasoline.
Before I watched the episode of 24, I got a voicemail from Aaron. He asked if I'd seen the episode, and it was clear he was surprised by it. I'd thought after having a nuclear bomb go off on US soil, an ex-president be assassinated, and the hiring of C. Thomas Howell, there was little the show could do to really surprise me anymore.
I was wrong. Edgar's death is the most emotional one since George Mason plunged a plane and became a hero. Edgar's last word, and the look on Chloe's face were about as gripping as fictional television can get at this point.
Still, it's unfortunate to see an interesting character like Edgar go, and a shallow one like Kim stay. If Jack were really a hero, he'd have forced Soul Man out and let Edgar in.
Ah well.

Monday, March 06, 2006

WBC Point/Counterpoint
Matt and I debate at Blogcritics.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscar time
Number of Oscar Nominated films I have seen: 0
Number of anti-Bush rants tonight: Hopefully none. Maybe the "artists" will finally figure out that no one needs them to tell us how to think.
I have no problem with Hollywood being liberal. What I do have a problem with is their never ending idea that they're also political scientists. Again, I am not talking about all actors or directors. I'm not even talking about politically active ones. They have as much a right to be involved in it as anyone else.
But the problem comes in when they start talking at events like this. They give the vibe that they are smart and cultured, and we should listen to them.
I write this before the Oscars because I don't feel like sitting through the whole thing like last year. I mean, at least then Lowell Mather was nominated for an Oscar.

Gay Patriot has a rundown.

Song quote of the day
It's in the way that you use it
it comes and it goes
It's in the way that you use it
boy don't you know-- Eric Clapton

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A new Van Morrison album will be out soon. Let the poetic champion compose.
A few minutes after the post, I read Entertainment Weekly's review of the new album. According to EW, it's heavy on the country. Of course, the writer talks about Van "getting around to country," which strikes me a ridiculous when you consider songs like "What Makes the Irish Heart Beat," "I Wanna Roo You" and even "St. Dominic's Preview" are country-influenced, if not country songs outright.
Anyway, EW gives the album a B+. But I'm guessing most Van fans (who regard his albums like pizza--even when it's bad, it's good) will love it.

Brush Back
In my desire to keep this site as clean as possible, I have sometimes neglected posting certain things I enjoy. But today, I am fighting off that urge to link The Brushback, a sports-themed version of The Onion. Word to the wise: Don't check this site if you are easily offended, because nothing there is sacred. But I had to post it after reading the headline about Kenny Rogers checking his contract to make sure he is really making eight million.
The best parodies are rooted in truth.

Song quote of the day
Do you know what's happening around you
do you understand the changes when they come
and you see yourself reflected in the seasons
and you understand the need to carry on-- John Denver