Sunday, August 11, 2013

For Alex Rodriguez, The Hits Keep On Coming

There are two more, what I like to call, hit pieces out on Alex Rodriguez. I say "hit pieces" because they are attempts to assassinate, further, Rodriguez' character. The first hit piece was published in Romanoski, sought help for LEGAL supplements from Victor Conte. Conte founded BALCO, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. Conte cut a deal with federal prosecutors looking into drugs and sports and in 2006, spent four months in prison for his role in providing illegal or banned drugs to athletes. The first hit piece was in the
Alex Rodriguez
the New York Daily News on Sunday. The story claimed that Rodriguez, with the help of former NFL player and admitted steroid user, Bill

The story freely admits that neither Conte or Rodriguez was interested in doing anything illegal. Still, every other sports page has now picked on the story and is playing it as more evidence that Rodriguez was trying to cheat, or trying to break the rules. He wasn't.

Last week, Major League Baseball suspended Rodriguez for 214 games for violating the MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Rodriguez' name appeared on a list complied by the Biogenesis Lab of Miami. One or more former employees provided the list of names, which included Ryan Braun, to a local weekly paper, the Miami New Times. The Biogeneis Lab is now closed but billed itself as an anti-aging clinic. MLB says Rodriguez possessed and used banned drugs, but no evidence about that has leaked out to the press. Rodriguez appealed the suspension and is allowed to play until the appear is heard.

The second story comes from the Washington Post. The writer, David Epstein, pulls out the big guns for this one. Epstein brought in the work of a Yale economics professor to support his claims that what led Alex Rodriguez use steroids in the first place (Rodriguez did admit to using them for three years while he played with the Texas Rangers from 2001-2003) was his obsession with looking good, with vanity. Epstein says the reason Rodriguez got involved with the Biogenesis Lab was to add more years to his career. Rodriguez already has money. He signed a 10 year, $275 million contract with the New York Yankees in 2007.

Epstein and his Yale professor muse say hitters have a slide in production after the age of 29, but the article did not provide any numbers. Epstein said:
Charlie Gehringer

"But in his analysis, the economist Fair identified 18 hitters who, for a while anyway, kept Father Time at bay. From that group, all but one (Charlie Gehringer) retired after 1989 — in or near the steroid era. The list of age-defying outliers includes a notorious who’s who: Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Ken Caminiti, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa. Clearly, some of the stars of the steroid era used drugs to compensate for, or protect, what Father Time was absconding with."

You can add Babe Ruth to the list, but before we do I think its worth noting that our Yale professor only found Gehringer to be exception even though he and Ruth played against each other for nine or ten years. The comparison between Gehringer and "the list of age-defying outliers," is an apples to oranges comparison. Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Ken Caminiti, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa were all home run hitters. Gehringer only hit 184 in an 18 year career.
Babe Ruth

The professor says players begin to decline the age of 29. Well in 1924, at the age of 29 Babe Ruth had 200 hits, 46 HR's and lead the league with 142 walks. Ruth only played in 98 games the following year, but between 1926 when he was 31 and 1931 when he was 36, Ruth hit 302 of his 715 homers, he also led the league in walks in each of those years. And in 1932, Ruth hit 41 home runs. Two things: one it appears that the professor forgot to add Ruth to the short list which he says contains on Charlie Gehringer, and two its clear that Ruth had phenomenal years AFTER he was 29. In fact, he hit his record setting 60 homes in 1927. What's the reason? 
How about Ruth's teammate, the luckiest man of the face of the earth, Lou Gehrig. From 1932, at the age of 29, until the age of 35 in 1938, Gehrig was unstoppable.

Hits                        Home Runs
1932                                         208                         34   
1933                                         198                         32 
1934                                         210                         49
1935                                         176                         30
1936                                         205                         49
1937                                         200                         37
1938                                         170                         29

The only thing that stopped Gehrig was the disease he had that was so rare, they named it after him! In 1939, Gehrig played in only 8 games and was dead in two years.
I don't understand how Epstein or any other steroid fanatics, can dismiss the fact, that players now take better care of themselves so they could play long enough to earn the salaries he's talking about.
Lou Gehrig
Every guy on his list, except Bonds, admitting using drugs, but these same drugs were also only banned after 2002. So the whole premise that they cheated long enough to make a huge impact on their numbers isn't even accurate. 

Maybe Mr. Epstein should call Yale back so they can provide him with a professor who can show us how using those drugs helps you hit a baseball when its coming at various speeds and on different planes. Maybe that professor call also enlighten us as to how these drugs help a player block out the mental pressure of having to deliver the big hit in a crucial spot, let alone in any spot. Maybe we can start with Ruth. If Ruth could have the best years of his career after the age of 29, why couldn't any of these guys. HGH, testosterone repair muscles, that's it. The player has to do the rest. There are tons of guys who we know used, but did do jack. Why did Mr. Epstein leave those names off his list? A-Rod may be a bad guy, but lets not assign to much credit to how much good steroids can do in baseball, and haven't we trashed him enough. A-Rod is less popular now than George Zimmerman.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Johnny Manziel, or Johnny Football, Could be Johnny Toast

The best college football player in the land may have already played his last college game.
Last year's Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel is under investigation by the NCAA. Not for underage drinking, or those three misdemeanor's he was charged with last year, but for being paid to sign collectibles. Collectibles are things like pictures and footballs, or baseballs, depending on what sport the athlete plays, that are sold to other collectors or fans. Earlier this week, ESPN reported that Manziel traveled to Miami to attend the national championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame on January 6th. (Apparently, no one is curious about who paid for the flight, the tickets to the game or the hotel) The report indicated that Manziel met a collector in the airport, and later visited the man's home, where he signed memorabilia in front of other witnesses.
Johnny Manziel

Now it appears the collectibles have surfaced. A rep with an autograph business attending a National Sports Collectors Convention told that several different autograph dealers were selling stacks of Manziel autographed 8x10 and 11x14 photos accompanied with a Professional Sports Authenticator. An Authenticator is just like a notary, but for sports memorabilia. The rep told CBS it is not unusual to see merchandised by college athletes at these shows, but the number and the pattern associated with Manziel merchandise is something usually only seen with collectibles athletes have been paid to sign.

“It's rare for this quantity and quality to be out there (from a college athlete),” said the rep, who spoke on condition of anonymity and whose company has been in the autograph business for more than a decade. “At these shows if we see one or two signatures from guys still in school they could have been signed in person with no compensation. There were a number of different dealers at this show all with stacks of (Manziel) photos, all certified as if they came out of a signing. I've really never seen that from a guy still in school.”
The two pics from same game. Two signatures in the same place

The Manziel photos were packaged and the signature was in the same place on each photo. Manziel memorabilia was "all over the place" during the convention, which was held in Rosemont, IL.

The problem for Manziel is that the NCAA rules for college athletes prohibit them from making money directly from the privilege of playing college sports. Do so often results in suspensions. Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four teammates were suspended for the first 5 games of the 2011 season.

The NCAA said the players sold thousands of dollars worth of memorabilia and university apparel, while receiving discounts at a local tattoo parlor. The OSU quarterback sold his 2008 Big Ten
Terrelle Pryor
Championship ring, 2008 Gold Pants charm and his Sportsmanship Award from the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. Pryor never played another down in college football. He renounced his eligibility, left school and entered the NFL draft. He now plays for the Oakland Raiders. The next nail in the coffin for Manziel would be the witnesses ESPN claims were at the collector's Miami home. If that part of the report is true, Manziel will most likely be ruled ineligible for this season. And given all the other trouble Manziel has already been in, its hard to see him doing anything else but cashing in on his autographs and declaring for the NFL draft.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Alex Rodriguez, Without A Positive Drug Test, Is Suspended By MLB

Alex Rodriguez headlines a list of 13 players suspended by MLB on Monday. The players are all
Alex Rodriguez
accused of violating the league's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Every player on the list accepted the suspension, except Rodriguez who filed and appeal and is allowed to play until the results of the appeal are filed. The league suspended Rodriguez of the rest of this year and the next. Every other player got a 50 game suspension. Here is the list:

Astros: LHP Sergio Escalona (minors)
Mariners: C/1B Jesus Montero (minors)
Mets: UTIL Jordany Valdespin and OF Cesar Puello (both minors)
Padres: SS Everth Cabrera and RHP Fautino De Los Santos (minors)
Phillies: LHP Antonio Bastardo
Rangers: OF Nelson Cruz
Tigers: SS Jhonny Peralta
Yankees: 3B Alex Rodriguez, C Francisco Cervelli and OF Fernando Martinez (minors)
No Team: LHP Jordan Norberto (free agent)

Nelson Cruz

Ryan Braun was suspended earlier this year. He accepted a 65 game suspension. The players on the list all had connection to the Biogensis Lab in Miami. Now closed, the lab advertised itself a place that provided anti-aging treatments. MLB says Rodriguez suspension was based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years. MLB gave no evidence of this. Rodriguez has not ever tested positive for any of these drugs. He did admit to using steroids between 2001-2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers. Still, Bruan is the only player on the list of suspended players who tested positive. Following the 2011 season, a year Braun won the National League MVP, he tested positive for a synthetic testosterone.
Ryan Braun
In 2012, Braun won an appeal of the 50 game suspension he received following the positive test. He used his victory to claim he'd been victimized by an unfair system and suggested the Major League Baseball employee who took Braun's sample, may have intentionally drugs to his urine sample. Many sports writers believe Braun's story. Unlike Rodriguez who was vilified for volunteer information about his use of banned drigs, the media fully accepted Braun's explanation. In 2012, Braun hit 41 homeruns and batted .319. He finished second to Buster Posey in the MVP race.
A competition MLB writers decide by vote. But just before the 2013 season, Braun's name was included on a list of players who are alleged to have done business with the Biogensis Lab. Braun tried explaining that the lab's founder, Anthony Bosch, had been a consultant during Braun's appeal. Braun's lawyer denied that had been the case. Another, more complete list was leaked tothe press in February. That list included a dollar amount next to Braun's and other players names on the list. In July, Braun excepted his suspension, which appeared to have been negotiated in advance of its announcement by MLB. Braun had been playing with an injured thumb so he can fortuitously use his suspend time to heal until his suspension ends in time for the beginning of next season. MLB is doing an investigation into the names on the Biogenesis list, but has not publicly released any findings that put banned drugs into the hands of the players the league suspended.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Aaron Rodgers, and not Greg Jennings, Started It!

Jennings remarks about "12" a retaliation, not an unprovoked attack.
Greg Jennings
The media is hounding Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings for refusing to call his QB in Green Bay by his name. During an interview with a Minneapolis newspaper Jennings called Aaron Rodgers, "12," and "the guy they have now." Jennings also accused "12" of  "of creating a "spotlight for himself'' and putting himself above the Packers team. Well, you would have thought he left the cap of the toothpaste tube, again because the media and fans went after Jennings like pissed off spouse. In fact, in a follow-up interview with other members of the media, first they made him say Aaron Rodgers, then asked him if he would apologize.
Aaron Rodgers with Jennings
Meanwhile, at a banquet last April, mild-mannered Aaron Rodgers graciously accepted the Inspirational Player of the Year award on behalf of teammate James Jones. When asked about Jennings free agent signing with the Vikings, Rodgers replied, "Greg who," the crowd erupted with oohhs. Rodgers responded with, "must be some Vikings fans in here," which, of course, elicited a chorus of boos. I don't think there's any doubt that Jennings heard about this and has been stewing for months just waiting for a chance to strike back at Rodgers. But that's what this is, retaliation. The media is portraying Jennings comments as an unprovoked attack. Its even curiouser and curiouser, that Rodgers comments never became a national story even though the crowd clearly didn't approve. I guess all that mattered then and now, was whether the media thought it was a story. Jennings, by the way, said he's not calling to apologize to Rodgers.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Riley Cooper Is Sorry (what he said hit the internet)

Reaction to Riley Cooper's use of the "n" word is coming in from all around the NFL. Fellow
Riley Cooper August 1
Philadelphia Eagle LeSean McCoy says he's lost a friend. "I can't respect a guy like that," McCoy told the NFL Network. McCoy's reaction came about a day after many of Cooper's teammates said they would accept his apology. "Riley is still my teammate and he just stood in front of us and apologized for what he said. Somewhere deep down you’ve got to find some level of respect for that," said QB Michael Vick.

Vick spent 18 months in a federal prison for killing dogs. He's
LeSean McCoy
the last guy who would have the gumption to criticize the judgment of others. Michael's brother, Marcus Vick's Twitter offer probably more accurately captures the feelings of the NFL players, two-thirds of whom are black.

“Hey I’m putting a bounty on Riley’s head. 1k to the first Free Safety or Strong safety that lights his a** up! Wake him up please …..” Marcus has already deleted the Tweet but one has to question how serious he was in the first place. Is $1000 a lot of money to guys who make $3-$5 million a year. In other words, whose going to get into trouble over a grand. Still, the idea that Cooper will be a marked man is not far-fetched. Two Cowboys defensive backs said Cooper will have a target on his back.
Marcus Vick

"Absolutely. I'm just going to be honest," said Will Allen. "There are going to be players in the league that definitely are going to put a target on him, said Barry Church. In case you missed it, Cooper was at a Kenny Chesney concert last June, and got into an argument with a black security guard while at the show. For some reason, Cooper decided having beef with this guy wasn't enough. He wanted to take care of every black person there. He looked right into the camera and said so.

NFL players weren't the only ones who reacted. Kenny Chesney, the man who gave the concert and one of America's leading country music performers spoke to ESPN. “I’m as shocked as
Kenny Chesney
anyone to see the video of Riley Cooper that’s started circulating on the Internet. I don’t believe in discrimination in any form, and I think using language like that is not only unacceptable, it is hateful beyond words,” said Chaney.

Cooper deserves some credit for coming out and apologizing. I've read what he had to say, and unless he's the world's greatest liar he's got me believing he's truely sorry. And there is something funny about Cooper vowing to beat up black people at a country music concert. How many fights did Cooper really think he'd have on his hands? I believe Cooper means what he says, but I'm not his problem. Cooper has at least two: the first is this happened in June and Cooper said nothing until this hit the Internet in August, suggesting he was hoping no one would find out about what he said, and second he KNEW he was being recorded and it didn't seem to phase him. And then there's that very big third problem that two Dallas Cowboys defensive backs say Cooper needs to
Barry Church
worry about; the target on the back of his jersey. Don't think for a second a black DB who has a chance to crack Cooper upside his head won't take it over concern about getting a penalty. This shouldn't be limited to black DB's either. White players in the NFL should be pissed too. Cooper has just made them all suspects. After all, everyone in Philly is saying Cooper was a good teammate, above reproach. Finding out differently is worse than being a racist upfront because people accepted him, feeling are hurt now. Thanks to Riley Cooper white players may have to start building trust all over again with black players in a league where most of the players are black and most of the managers are white.