Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Salary Cap: Baseball's Enduring Straw Man

I hate the Yankees.

In the interests of fairness, I should make this clear before I go on. I've been a fan of the Atlanta Braves since the days of Dale Murphy, Rick Mahler and Bob Horner. It was with great pride that I watched the Braves build themselves into a baseball dynasty.
And it was with great pain that I watched them go down, again and again, in October. Yes, they won it all in 1995, beating the Indians in six exciting games. But as good as it was to see that, it was with a crushing sense of pain and doom that I watched the Braves lose the series in 1996 to the Damn Yankees. I remember sitting about 8 inches from the TV screen as Mark Lemke popped out in the 9th inning. I tried to force the ball into the stands by sheer force of will, but it didn't work. Charlie Hayes caught it for the last out of the series. And so was born my hatred of the Yankees. It didn't get any better in 1999, when the Yankees swept the Braves out of the World Series. By then my hatred was festering.
I say all of this because what I'm about to say may sound like Yankee favoritism. Let me assure you that it is NOT. What I say I say as a baseball fan, pure and simple.
Baseball doesn't need a salary cap.

"The Kid" Isn't a Kid Anymore

Just yesterday, reported that the Seattle Mariners have signed Ken Griffey, Jr. to a one-year deal worth $2 million, with incentives that could make it worth as much as $4.5 million. The deal got good reviews from many reporters and columnists. As for me, it sent me off on a nostalgia trip.
A trip back to a simpler time. Back when my Braves were still lovable losers. Back when none of us had ever heard of a place called Iraq. Back when collecting baseball cards was still a young boy's hobby.

... 1989 ...

(Cue Paula Abdul ... or something a little more macho)

Back in my baseball card-collecting days, 1989 was a landmark year. Together with my Dad and my brother, we made it our duty to gather as many complete sets as possible. We came close, getting all but the new and expensive Upper Deck series.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Integrity? What Integrity?

This article was first published at I'm going to be a contributor there under the Sports section, so look for my column there.
The integrity of baseball is not at risk. This may seem like a rash thing to say these days, when pretty much everyone else is claiming the opposite. In the days since Alex Rodriguez's admission of the use of "banned substances," he has made the short list of the most hated baseball players of all time. He — along with Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds — have been publicly blasted for their admissions (and non-admissions) concerning their use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs*). And, in an unscientific poll taken by John Erardi of the Cincinnati Enquirer, none of the accused PED users would win induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
* — It's very important to make the distinction between "steroids" on one hand, and "PEDs," on the other. Steroids are a specific type of performance-enhancer. But not all PEDs are steroids. PEDs refer to any substance giving the user an "unfair" advantage. Most stories on this subject use "steroids" as a catch-all term when they should say PEDs or "banned substances," which refers specifically to those substances outlawed either by law or by the MLB. For the best information about PEDs and steroids as it relates to baseball, read The Juice by Will Carroll.
Baseball columnists everywhere are outraged. In the Detroit Free Press, Drew Sharp
argues that you can't call baseball a sport anymore. Bill Madden of the New York Daily News says that the Yankees should just release A-Rod and eat the $270 million remaining on his contract.
The tone of the conversation in the sports media has generally been that A-Rod has forever tainted our most precious institutions and should be severely punished.
To this I say: Phooey.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

8 Questions to Answer

Before you do anything else, go over to and read this interview with former baseball union leader Marvin Miller. I don't agree with everything he says, but his insights into the controversy need to be given greater attention. If everyone had to interview Miller for this story, they'd at least come away wiser. And from what I've read so far, their learning curve is steep.

I mentioned yesterday William Saletan's
article at that asks eight rhetorical questions designed to cast a shadow over A-Rod and his career. Instead of my short, highly critical response posted as a comment on the Slate website (and again on here yesterday), I'll take the opportunity to answer his questions in a more level-headed manner.

(Note: Saletan's article and my initial comment were written before A-Rod's admission of guilt in an ESPN interview with Peter Gammons. But I'll take A-Rod's story into account when answering these questions).

Question One: [A-Rod's] name is on the list of flunked players. As today's New York Times
explains, "the players had agreed to the 2003 tests under the condition that their results would never be revealed." How many other tests have been taken and flunked but, under rules dictated by the players, never disclosed to the public?

Answer: According to sources in possession of the list, there are about 104 names on it. Take away A-Rod and (presumably) Barry Bonds, and that's 102 names left.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

P***ed off at

With the *news* emerging about Alex Rodriguez, I knew I would inevitably read some sports columnist who would piss me off. Actually I read two of them, both at today.
First was Tim Marchman, whose article on Sunday contained a few bits that set me off. Read his article first, then read the below, which I posted as a comment on the article:
"There was always something inherently implausible about the idea of a 225-pound shortstop playing Gold Glove defense while popping 50 home runs a year."
A-Rod is listed at 6'3", 190 lbs (but I'll give you 225).
Cal Ripken was listed as 6'4 and 225 lbs.
If I am to take you seriously, then Cal Ripken is as guilty as A-Rod. If the standard is baseless inference (factually flawed), then there's more evidence against Ripken, who was even larger than A-Rod when compared to his contemporaries.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Catching Up

  • I was really looking forward to doing my first video blog, but a whole lot has come up since then. I’ve had some bad personal problems come up, and I’ve also travelled to New York to audition for graduate schools to get my MFA in Acting. I’m now sitting in the Newark airport getting ready to fly to Alabama for my final audition. There have been some bits of baseball news come up since then, and I have kept a list of them so that I could cover them all in my next blog. Unfortunately, the list is in Kentucky, and I won’t be there until Sunday. So here’s a few tidbits to tide you over until then:
  • A whole slew of new information has come out concerning Barry Bonds. First of all, it seems that former Giants teammate Bobby Estalella is going to testify against Bonds at his perjury trial. It’s anybody’s guess what Estalella has to say. He may have direct knowledge of Bonds’ steroid use, or he may just have some more innuendo and hearsay to offer. Either way, he’s no smoking gun, especially if Bonds has good defense lawyers.