Sunday, December 05, 2004

Suppose They Gave A Drug Scandal and Nobody Came?

In Sunday's Boston Globe, Gordon Edes titles his article "A Harsh Injection of Reality?" which he could also title "Suppose They Gave A Drug Scandal And Nobody Came?"

Jason Giambi is taking quite a bit of heat lately for his admission that he knowingly used steroids. Barry Bonds is taking not a lot of heat for his admission that he thought he was paying thousands and thousands of dollars a month for designer flax seed oil. He should be taking a lot more heat. Not for steroid use -- but for being a poor shopper. Bonds should have sent one of his messengers over to the Vitamin Shoppe on Queens Boulevard. The price on the bottle of Flax Seed Oil tablets in our house says $7.17, but there is almost always a sale on at the Vitamin Shop. I can't imagine that a flax seed oil ointment (clear or creamy style) could cost much more than that.

Yeah, Jason Giambi is taking a lot of heat. Over at ESPN,Buster Olney ran an uncharacteristically nasty article. Maybe that's Buster's true feelings. Maybe he was providing cover for the Balco Bum, who gave ESPN "exclusive sports magazine rights" to the story, or something like that.

Jason Giambi wouldn't have taken so much heat if he hadn't have had such a poor season. Don't see anyone looking for ways to void Gary Sheffield's contract. Gary Sheffield also admitted putting things on or into his body that he shouldn't have. Gary Sheffield is Dwight Gooden's nephew, so he knows that funny things happen when you aren't completely sure about what is going into your system. Anyway, Gary went ahead. How bad can flax seed oil creme be for you?

Randy Johnson, over the age of 40, has a career year. Yankees are dying to sign him. He's never been accused of steroid use. Must be that if your tall (Randy's 6'7"), you can maintain your 20-something athletic edge well into your 40s. The Yankees, looking to void out Giambi's contract, are looking longingly to Johnson.

Roger Clemens, over the age of 40, wins another Cy Young award. You can draw false conclusions from this sort of thing --- but --- here's a fellow who had several incidents of something that is, hey -- exactly like 'roid rage, on the World Wide telly-vision during the most recent World Series he got to. Everybody said that pitchers are throwing broken bats at players all the time. No one said boo. Clemens retired after the 2003 season --- and this is I know, a complete coincidence --- in advance of what looked for a minute or two to be the implementation of a strict drug testing system. The drug testing system turned out to be two tests one week apart (and I wonder whether Bonds and Clemens tested early in the year or late. It turned out that Roger did not have to travel with the Astros on the road (the better to watch his boys play high school football, the better to control his diet and supplement use --- or maybe just a coincidence). At that point, Roger agreed to sign. Now the 2005 drug testing regimen is up in the air, and, Cy Young or no Cy Young, and I am sure, a complete coincidence, Roger is unclear as to whether he "wants to put his family through" the ordeal of another 8-figure paycheck. The Yankees will pay him anytime.

Not to pick on Clemens and the Yankees. The Mets knowingly gave Mike Piazza a contract to be the oldest successful power-hitting catcher in the history of Major League Baseball. You are going to have to ask the Mets how that's working out. Now someone is willing to give Jason Varitek a similar contract based on a similar assumption. Is it all weight training?

Why isn't there any heat on Bill Romanowski? Why isn't anyone drug testing the players who lost control during the Pistons-Pacers game?

The heat will come down on Jason Giambi because he did not hit in 2004. That's all.

It is too hard, in a business, which is what baseball is, to try to graft what is "right" on top of what the "rules" say. Before you accuse me of being a moral relativist, I need to leave you (unfairly, I know) with two sort of cheap shots.

What will it mean for the business of baseball, if after all the drug testing is done, and the hitters can't crack them 450-feet anymore, and the pitchers can't throw 90-miles an hour anymore, and there are only, as perhaps their should be, 10 or 20 real superstars in the sport? And the Yankees sign half of them? Would you still go watch the brand of hit-and-run, stealing, slick glove work baseball that would result? Never happened in the past. I know there will always be hard-core fans, but the casual fans needed to make the business of baseball really run have always watched power baseball, and power baseball only. Should these guys go out of business?

What would you do in your business if your top salesmen was using drugs, and it was effecting his performance. Say that due to the drugs, he was able to stay up later, have more energy, and make so many more sales. Say he was winning awards. Say he had the time and energy to raise a family and engage in community activities. Say that 20% of your top salesmen were like that? Would you really risk firing them all and going out of business?