Manny Ramirez Hearts Steroids

Thursday, July 30, 2009

(I wrote a lot about steroids at the other place - spoiler alert, I don't care about them - Manny got hit again today, something I suggested might happen when he got hit the first time. Here was that piece along with a couple of others, all about steroids, all right in a row.)

I'm giving a Critical Thinking Exam (I'll need to rethink my approach to this course) which leaves me some room to offer a thought or two about the issues of the moment.

1. Manny Ramirez apparently "let down" the Dodger organization, if the sports media is to be believed. Dodger owner Frank McCourt requested that Manny address his teammates this week, given the degree to which he has disappointed the entire city of Los Angeles.

This is a popular and peculiar spin. Assuming for the moment that the Dodger organization did not have good reason to suspect Ramirez of using steroids (or of trying to get pregnant, given the actual drug he was found to have taken; and that assumption is a little dubious; I was of the mind that one of the reasons for the soft market for Ramirez was informed speculation that he might be one of the 103 remaining names on the PED fail list that got ARod) we do believe, right, that he took those "performance enhancers" while a member of the Dodgers, in fact, almost certainly during the totality of his Dodger career.

Now, since the accepted narrative has been this - Manny comes to LA last season, hits everything in sight, raising the play of his teammates and carrying them into the NLCS - it's fair to say the Dodgers benefited from his performance.

That same performance that was "artificially enhanced".

Why is all the shame and punishment for this (and Ramirez is being punished, he's losing almost 8 million bucks with this suspension, significantly more than, say, if he had authorized or carried out torture in the name of the United States of America, which, apparently, is perfectly fine if you have what you believe to be a good reason. Unlike when everyone else in human history has done it apparently, as they all tortured for reasons that even they knew were insufficient) individualized when the rewards for the cheating were collective?

How are the Dodgers the victims and not the perpetrators?

If Manny took drugs.

And drugs enhance performance

And Manny performed for the Dodgers

Then the Dodgers performance was artificially enhanced.

Shouldn't they be fined? Shouldn't we be talking about taking away their gate receipts, their playoff shares?

Instead - what we're talking about is how they have been victimized.

How does that follow?

On KNBR, John Feinstein, fitting perfectly into the smartguy/goodwriter/entirely, laughably hyperbolic about steroids meme stated, not argued, but stated, that Barry Bonds's home run records were "fake"- that it didn't really happen.

Did the Pittsburgh Steelers win those Super Bowls in the 70s?

Because their offensive linemen sure have a way of dropping dead at early ages.

I don't recall ever hearing about athletic performance aided by stealing signals or taking speed, or getting shot up with epidurals or all manner of extra-legal activity ever once being thought of as having not happened.

The only time in sports we pretend something didn't happen is when the NCAA strips away someone's wins (is my guy Tim Floyd in trouble? (edit, yeah, looks like he was) A grand seems like a cheap price to get OJ Mayo - to me that sounds like a helluva deal) and even then we don't take it seriously; I'm not sure if the Fab Five officially has a final four appearance, but Michigan sure sold a helluva lot of crazy long shorts, and Chris Webber, who escaped prison time because the witness against him died, is perfectly comfortable talking hoops on my tv every night (I picked the Cavs before the season (edit, to be fair, I had them playing the Lakers in the finals) like I picked Carolina before the season, just saying) and I don't think anyone's returning any of the money.

Except for Manny. Manny's not going to get 8 million in checks from the Dodgers.

Who am I supposed to feel sorry for again?

Why demonize Manny Ramirez while labeling the beneficiaries of his performance enhacement, the Dodgers, as victims?

Perhaps it's this - Big time corporate sport (hey, that acronym could be BCS! Fun!) supports authoritarianism, accepting the prevailing social structure, sublimating yourself for good of the corporation. The dominant social order must be protected – it’s not the Pentagon, not the White House, whose pro torture policies lead to My Lai or Abu Ghraib, it’s a few “bad apples” – it’s not a systematic failure intrinsic to capitalism which causes an economic meltdown, it’s some greedy bankers and irresponsible borrowers – it’s not the Sports Industrial Complex, its leagues and media grown rich and powerful by orders of magnitude over the past two decades – it’s a handful of immoral cheating baseball players.

We're good at isolated incidents of corruption. We can find Nixon's tapes. We can catch Shoeless Joe. We're not good at evaluating our systems, our patterns of belief. We can punish Mike Vick. "Don't put dogs on a rape stand. That's wrong." We're less good at considering our worldview where we sublimate animals just because we have the physical ability to do so.

(I hit the animal theme a lot; for two reasons; one, it is the area of my life where I am most immoral; I don't know that I have a bright line to draw, but if morality is a continuum, it's the place where I am least steady in reconciling my personal behavior with what I believe to be true about the universe. There are aspects of my character where I am less than who I want to be; when I take an inventory, there are tradeoffs that I make on a regular basis that do not cover me in glory. I have weaknesses. I don't perceive them as moral failures though, not in the way I do the issue with animals, for which I can't raise a defense any stronger than I'm a captive to my culture. And the second reason is, if I catch a medical science break and live another hundred years, I'll probably see the intergalactic revolution, and I'm hoping to curry favor with my future animal overlords.)

98 high school students died of injuries directly attributable to high school football between 1982-2005.

How many high school steroid related deaths were there in that time?

Where is the congressional inquiry about Friday Night?

And what about this:

In 1996, Brady Anderson hit 50 home runs and slugged .637 in 579 ABs.

In the almost 6000 ABs he had before and after, he had a total of 150 additional home runs and he never slugged as high as .480 in any other season. In a 15 year big league career, over 20% of his career value, by WARP, came in 1996.

Here is Anderson on his workout routine:

I was taking like 25 grams at once and then running back out to the field,” he says of his use of creatine that spring.

“Who knows how much my body absorbed...however much my body could absorb, it was absorbing. I was going through a lot.”

“I always wondered what he would bring into spring training. He’s very much into working out. Even at his age now, when people are physically deteriorating, he seems to be going the other way in some ways. His body fat seems to be down. His explosiveness seems to be going up. He can dunk a basketball off of two feet. I remember having hops when I was younger, and you to try to hold on to them. But you don’t have any when you get older. But he seems to be someone that figures it out.”

Oh, sorry. That last quote wasn't from but about Anderson. From his old roommate. Cal Ripken. You know, the guy who played in 2632 consecutive games. 10 years worth of which were with Brady Anderson, who Ripken has described as his best friend.

In that same John Feinstein interview on KNBR radio in San Francisco, the one where he said the Barry Bonds home runs weren't real - he said the one thing in baseball he clings to is Ripken's streak.

Let's get Cal Ripken in front of that grand jury.

Do I care? Nope? But when Ripken says things like this about ARod just this week:

"I really want to know why," Ripken said Thursday night at a banquet in Florida, according to the Palm Beach Post. "I'm going to make it my business to find out."

...then I think it becomes required of him to reveal what he has to reveal about the illegal activity that went on in his clubhouse.

And what about Nolan Ryan?

When he was 42 years old, winning 16 games with a 3.20 ERA, 43 years old, winning 13 with a 3.44 ERA, and 44 years old - with an ERA under 3.00 and a 12-6 record -

He did all of that in a hitters ballpark. Arlington. As a Texas Ranger.

He played with Palmeiro. And Sosa. And Kevin Brown. And Juan Gonzalez. And Pudge. (and Julio Franco, who still might be playing ball somewhere as he hits 50 years old - and Jamie Moyer, who now is how old Ryan was then and still going out for the Phils every 5th day) and Kenny Rogers and Ruben Sierra (ever looked at his career numbers?) And Brian Downing. And Kevin Reimer. Even Steve Balboni. What do we know about those guys?

And Jose Canseco. He got there in '92. Did Canseco bring the steroid culture from Oakland?

Or did he find one already flourishing in Texas?

Ryan's last year was '93. Also a Ranger in '93 - Billy Ripken.

You want to rip off the band aid, then let's do it.

What did you do and when did you do it?

Hell, rampant, crazy speculation is superfun! I've totally misjudged the BBWA! Let's start the congressional hearings!

This is from the September 11, 1985 edition of the New York Times:

Asked by the defense lawyer whether he had used the amphetamine pills, known
among players as ''greenies,'' Berra at first said no, then later said yes. Q. Where did you get them?. A. From Bill Madlock. You could get them from Willie Stargell.

Q. So Willie Stargell gave you amphetamine pills? A. Yes. Q. When did Willie Stargell give you amphetamine pills?

A. When he was playing with us. It could be on any given day when I asked him for one. On days when I would ask him, yes.

That's Dale Berra testifying in federal court that Willie Stargell gave him speed.

Willie Stargell's in the Hall of Fame. If there was a national debate about his candidacy - if Willie Stargell was hauled in front of Congress to apologize to the parent of some kid who got crazy hopped up on speed and killed himself (or who couldn't stop singing "I'm so Excited") perhaps someone could find the youtube clip of that testimony.

John Milner testified that as a young Met, he took a liquid amphetamine, "red juice" from Willie Mays's locker. Dwight Gooden wrote in his autobiography that 10 Mets regularly took speed; David Wells wrote in his bio that players had "season long stockpiles" of speed; in Ball Four, Jim Bouton talked about players getting jars of 500 pills. Even sainted Hank Aaron admitted to using them "one time" in his autobiography.

Illegal drugs. Illegal performance enhancing drugs.

Here's what I want to see the next time there is a former athlete on television wearing his righteous pants - I want him to tell me every drug he's ever put in his body. All of them.

In fact, I want Mike Lupica to tell me the same thing.

Has he ever popped an adderall to crank out another finger wagging essay?

Did he take a bennie as an undergrad to finish a term paper?

And more than that - I don't really want them all to have to say it on TV - I want them saying it under oath. Because that's the trap they set for Barry Bonds - let's bring every athlete and sportswriter in front of a grand jury and ask them about any drug they've ever taken ever - either they'll open up the windows to their lives or we got 'em. Let's ask about teammates and co-workers. I want to see the bodies hit the floor. What did you know and when did you know it?

You know that new documentary that outs the conservative closeted politicians like Florida's Governor Charlie Crist? That's the kind of thing we're talking about. These are not athletes accused of harming other people; these are not torturers for goodness sake (otherwise, the correct response would apparently be "let's look to the future") they took drugs without prescriptions. If you're Larry Craig and you spend your political life opposed to gay rights - when you turn out to be soliciting creepy toilet sex you're gonna get slapped.

That's what we need here. I want every single ex athlete who has criticized a ballplayer for steroids to have to get called before this grand jury. I want to know everything about his life and about the lives of everyone he ever played with.

If we're going to do it, then let's do it.


Blog said...

I just want to see the whole damned "list of 104" published so we can get it out of the way, rather then having this story breaking in piecemail over the next 20 years.

Still, even MLB is handling this better than FINA is handling the swimsuit debacle. I wonder why nobody has yet tried to streamline baseball uniforms? How many more hits could Ichiro leg out wearing a Descente body suit?

Jim said...

Considering how much less we care today than we did a year ago - and how much less (if I'm to be believed) we'll care in the future, maybe the slow bleed isn't so bad.

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