Tag Archives: Barry Bonds

NBA.F17: Resting Has Warriors Besting LeBron’s Backs-to-the-Wall Gang

6 Jun

It was as plain as even the rather small nose on the forlorn face of Stephen Curry as he watched his Golden State Warriors in the closing seconds of last June’s NBA Finals, about to drop their third game, second in a row, to their fierce foes the Cleveland Cavaliers who were going to take game six (115-101) and even-up the Series at 3-3, the defending champs having squandered a 3-1 lead: The 2016 single-season record setters in victories (73) were, not surprisingly, dog tired.

It had been a whirlwind campaign of championship and achievements for the Bay boys, having bested LeBron’s bunch in Finals 2015 (4-2), his 2d Cleveland tenure, then almost running the table the following regular season to reach those 2016 Finals only to fall short (3-4) to what in the aftermath must’ve seemed a certain James’ destiny to bring a first NBA title to his native Ohio.

That Wars’ leader and star Curry had bagged two (2) consecutive MVP awards added just that much more glitter, and pressure, to their mostly joyous run.

So when coach Steve Kerr & Company failed to complete the technical dynasty (at least two (2) sequential championships), all asked, ‘What happened?’

LeBron James happened, of course, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

The following is an excerpt of an article I wrote last July in wake of Wars unexpected collapse and Cavs historical comeback win, postulating what was a major factor in the result and what the future (F17) held in store:

“The weary factor: It’s why Warriors failed to close the deal on what might’ve been the greatest season in NBA history. Ironically, those 73 RS wins that put them on precipice of immortality were also the reason why they fell short. Winning that many takes its toll, as previewed in the WC final vs OKC (4-3) where the champs had to pull their fat outta’ the fire just to move on. Of course, those 1995-96 Bulls piled a weary-worthy total themselves in their super season (72-10) and still managed to take the title vs Seattle (4-2). Just sayin.’

Rubbermaid® NBA Finals 2017

NBA’s powers-that-be salivate over thought of a Cavs – Wars 3-peat. Who’s gonna’ stop ‘em, besides the injury bug? That the Association’s quality of competition rating is at lowest ebb since the scaling was first calibrated by this writer some years back, matters not in the least to the Cufflinks, the same frat-boys who think tanking’s a joke, as long as the Big Celebrities make it to the Big Party, i.e., LeBron, Stevo, Durantula, Love & Irving.

Even if Durant does work a small drain of the splash-pool and Lue takes no action to teach Kyrie who’s #1 (James) and fundamentals of point play, i.e., ‘See the ball, set a play, pass the ball,’ these two teams should have little trouble making it into next season’s Finals, again barring any notable injury issues.

If they do meet, it’s Warriors who likely take the rubber-match.

Kyrie Irving’s not about to learn that kindergarten starter-skill called sharing and former All-Star Kevin Love is now so marginalized by team & press that LeBron’s gonna’ lose whatever hair he has left by season’s end.

For the Oaklanders, they’ve already got the 73, the substantive one (See; B.Bonds (‘01)), and Kerr will make damn sure his men are better rested this time in event they make the WC finals. Sixty-plus should get home-court…no tanking, mind you, but Stevo will give his starters…respites as needed to avoid weariness that turned splash into a prolonged belly-flop in G5-7 (https://stevenkeys.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/nba17-too-many-cooks-spoil-the-splash-but-cavs-wars-are-rubbermade-for-re-match/).”

So, did Kerr work to curb enthusiasm in a strategy to help ensure his men had enough Finals end-game this time around? The six (6) fewer regular season victories (67-15) suggests he might have. Of course, having 2014 MVP Kevin Durant rostered this season has certainly played a part to ease some burden, maintain energy levels, while at the same time easing his own workload for the first time since his rookie NBA campaign in 2007 (Seattle (OKC)).

Which brings this Series, this terrific NBA trilogy of titledom that may someday rival the fantastic Lakers v. Boston feud of the 80s (Jordan never had a great rivalry) to its critical point: Game 3. It’s winner will likely win these Finals, for a third W for the Wars will break Cleveland’s spirit while a Cavs victory will enspirt a team that seems to play best when their backs are to the wall.

We might even get one of those forever frozen in time moments, as when Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, at center for Jabbar, scored on that baby hook-shot late to steal G5 (?) in the Garden, going a long way in helping LA win the ‘87 Series and then the rightful claim to supremecy as the decade‘s best. We might.

Steven Keys
Nothing But Net
Photo credit: basketball-net, wc.cca, 1995, static; S.Kerr-NBA.referee, wc, 2.24.25, K.Allison; S.Curry, wc, N.Salzman, 4.6.14; Love-Irving-James, 10.1.14, wc, E.Drost;
Posted: 6.6.17 @ 6:45p EST; Copyright © 2017

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MLB16 Chin Music: The Last Iconic, Hack’s 191 Endures As Ueber-Think Thrives

24 Aug

The Ueber Code: No $tone Unturned

Evanston, Illinois: That’s the birthplace.

It aught tell the reader, onto which of Windy City’s two major league ball-clubs I pin my hopes n’ dreams for World Series glory. It aught.

Not familiar with Chicagoland, beyond sports, its famous residents (Prez Obama, Ray Kroc (McDonald‘s), Carl Sandburg (“Big Shoulders”), Oprah Winfrey, Bill Murray) and the legends (Mrs. O‘Leary, Al Capone, Harry Caray)?

...........Hack.Wilson.smile.faceNo map-app? No problem. Some clues: I think Hank O’Day had moxie to burn while bribe-taking Joe Jackson, human as we all are, has no place in the Hall, ever.

Still in the dark? Hmmm, okay, let’s see…oh, oh, I’ve got it, this should flip the switch: My team was the first dynasty of professional baseball, winning the flag (6) or taking 2nd (3) nine of MLB’s first 15 years (1876 – 90) and today can make a strong case in claim of title to our nation’s most beloved sports franchise, i.e., America’s Team. A claim.

That‘s right, you got it, I’m a Chicago Cubs fan.

And like any Bruins backer worth their weight in beehive bounty, I accept the White Sox as a necessity to Chicago’s baseball gestalt, appreciating their one-half part in helping make that rare state, a metropolis supporting two major league teams (NYC, SF Bay, LA metro). Were they members of rival operations, i.e., a Federal, Players or American Association, that’d be even the better (quality & cost controls), but the Courts and compliant media don’t see it that way and most fans, even with $20 nachos, aren’t squawkin.’ Buuurp!

..........Comiskey.wc.thm.1910.BPLI’d appreciate South Siders even more had they chosen to keep “Old Roman” Charles Comiskey’s (1859-31) name for their new digs (1991-02), one that drips with cachet, first gaining national prominence in late 1880s as key cog in those great St. Louis Browns clubs (AA) and then of course as founder of Chicago’s entrant into the new rival American League, rather than cave to corporate shill, i.e., US Cellular, a tag with about as much cachet as a corn-dog n’ cola. Buuurp!

Nevertheless, I do hold the Pale Hose in higher regard than HFCS, most TV and fellow Evanstonian Peter Ueberroth who as Commissioner in ‘84 PS gave Cubs playoff chances, their first in 40 years (25 more than Padres existed), the short shrift in awarding the Garvey – Gwynn Padres home-field (SD 3-2), even as San Diego was five up in the loss column over the Sandburg – Sutcliffe North-siders, then strong-armed the Cubs into installing lights in the friendly confines.

Not very nice, Peter.

And not all too bright either, given that this baseball version of America’s Team was likely the favored opponent of neutralites around baseball nation who were eagerly anticipating the match-up with Sparky’s roaring Tigers (DET 4-1 SD).

But that sort of play was $OP for Pete in his two Directorships, the first selling the summer semi-Olympics in Los Angeles (Commies stay home after Corporates boycott Moscow (80)), then in steering MLB operations (Oct.1984-89), a procedure that would change the business of sport management forever.

..........Ueberroth.wc.USGov.thm.WrigleyWhile his baseball reign was a cup o’ coffee in Commissioner time, his directives have had staying power, becoming the template for sport leaders from coast to coast in both professional and semi-pro (NCAA) ranks.

The Ueber Principle: Maximization of profit potential (MPP). Nothing’s sacred, nothing’s off the table. Everything in the sport is either a billboard or bargaining chip in a profit scheme. If it doesn’t turn a buck, it’s out with the recyclables, Dude. Continuity, style, history, reflection, ‘Where’s the consumerism in those, Loser?’ Oy vey.

In a real sense, Pete’s tack was an outgrowth from Earl Butz’ game-plan for US farm families in the 70s, President Nixon & Ford’s landscape-changing Secretary of Agriculture: ‘Get big or get out!’ Sans the subsidies (anti-trust?), but ballparks no small contributor to the push on high-fructose corn syrup consumption.

And it’s not just greedy owners and media minions who push the UP, union rank n’ file (& Retainers) are at the front of the profit parade. When it comes to money in sport the enemies (owners) of my enemies (players) are friends. Cha-ching!

Ueberroth’s predecessor Bowie Kuhn (1969-84) was no Ernie Banks (“Let’s play two!”) and had his critics in owners (Finley / Steinbrenner) and players both (Flood / Mays & Mantle (casino ties)). But the Maryland native and former NL lawyer did exude a sporting spirit in maintaining a competitive field, backed the induction of Negro League greats into the Hall as their BoD resisted and had an awares of the corrupting influence that some forms of profiteering can have on a game‘s integrity (fantasy gamble, etc.). Cufflink with a conscience?

.....Kuhn.wc.MLB.1982.thmToday, those kind of views will make you a sauropod, flagged straight into the tar-pits. Gulp!

The games are no longer pastimes but merely vehicles for money-makers with smallest of pretense given to quaint notions of reflection & trust. No surprise then that most players now live by the Machiavellian (or Orson Wellesian (The War of the Worlds (radio ‘38))) credo: ‘Ends ($$) justify the means (PEDs),’ or, in present verbage, ‘Cheat if you can get away with it (smirk), even if you don’t (See: Lance, Braun, A-Rod, Lochte, Al-Jazeera 4, etc.) because you’ll get a Disney gig either way. Honk!

And the passengers taken for a ride in the vehicle? Young consumers, of course, the most malleable market who slurp celebrity n’ selling-points the media’s all too eager to pour (Goodell’s grim, rule change needed, officiating awful, etc.).

Hoping for Hatchlings

With the 2016 Cubs cruising to a Central crown, a 2nd straight post-season and most people’s pick to win their first Pennant in over 70 years, you might think I’d be giddy with good vibrations. And then you’d probably be new to sports.

.........Wrigley.wc.Jblesage.5.28.08.thmIf there’s one thing a well-weathered Wrigleyite is not, it is a chicken-counter, as in before those proverbial eggs get hatched. Hatchlings here being the necessary deeds & titles (playoff ticket punched, NLDS win, NLCS, etc) that must be in-hand for residence in Champion City.

The caution comes from generations of fan disappointment, starting with every Cubs contender post-1918, from Hippo Vaughn’s hopefuls, who had a higher BA (.210 v .186), scored more total runs (Red Sox’ Ruth top RBI man (2))) and lower ERA (2.18 v 2.30) than their ‘victorious’ Boston opponents, to last season’s NLCS fellows of fizzle (0-4 NYM) and 11 other post-season busts in between.

Wilson Watch: The New 61

But there is an achievement so impressive, so weighty that Bruins’ backers can, around late-August of every season, reflect upon with pride and satisfaction, one that’s not likely to be eclipsed anytime soon if ever, and that is Hall of Famer Hack Wilson’s eye-popping 1930 single-season tally of 191 RBIs.

This season, that satisfaction came earlier as the only challenges to the 191 were mounted by Ed Encarnacion (TOR) and Nolan Arenado (COL) who just hit the 100 RBI mark last week. With five weeks to go it’s safe to say, “forget about it.”

........Hack-wilson_bat.thmHack’s record will likely stand for another winter and is so frozen in place it’s gonna’ take a serious bump-up in greenhouse gas emissions and disappearance of at least one polar cap to melt the icy wall of invincibility that seems to surround the mark.

There are many tremendous single-season records in MLB’s annals that’ve been achieved, challenged and sometimes bested since it‘s first opening day in 1876.

A short list of some unique and still standing notables:

· Boston Beaneater Hugh Duffy bats .440, wins NL Triple Crown in 1894;
· Same season, Phillies’ Billy Hamilton crosses home plate 198 times;
· Christy Mathewson wins 31 (1.27) and tosses 3 CG-SOs in 1905 Series;
· Ed Walsh wins 40 in ‘08 (1.42 / 464 IN / 42 CG) as Sox team bats .224;
· Ruth’s 1921: 177r, .378ba, 16tp, .846slg, 17sb, 145bb, 59hr and 171rbi;
· Indians’ Joe Sewell strikes out a mere four times in 608 at-bats in 1925;
· Rogers Hornsby wins 2nd Triple Crown in 1925 batting .403 (.401 ‘22);
· AL Leader in HR, R, SLG & OB%, Ted Williams hits .406 in style (41);
· Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson breaks MLB color barrier, wins ROY in ‘47;
· A’s Bill Fischer pitches 84.1 straight innings w/out issuing a walk in ‘62;
· B. Gibson (22-9 / 1.12) & D. McLain (31-6 / 28 CG) go pitch crazy in 1968;
· O. Hershiser throws 59 scoreless innings en route to ‘88 Series win (A’s).

Some sportologists try to sell the theory that the ‘streak’ is baseball’s grandest feat for its high stress and unassailability. And to that I say, poppycock, Doc.

.......Barrow.Ruth.Frazee.McInnis.wc.1918.TSN.282kSuch marks may prove invincible once sanctioned but anything subject to official scoring (Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio’s 56) or personal discretion (Cal Ripken’s 2632) will, upon closer inspection, reveal weak-links in their chains of greatness.

Ever since Yankees’ GM Ed Barrow snatched the Babe from Beantown (‘19), fans have thrilled at power-ball. Goodbye spitters, dead-ball hitters and “Hit ‘em where they ain‘t” (Keeler),..hello lively ball, home run call and “Holy cow, he did it (Rizzuto)!”

In supplanting Ruth’s 60 single-season homer mark (‘27) in 1961, Maris’ number became the biggest jewel in the crown of baseball exploits and holy grail every big bopper in the game wanted to grasp. If the stars aligned, both homer marks did invite serious challenges: Foxx (58 / ‘32); Wilson (56 / ‘30); Greenberg (58 / ’38); Kiner (54 / ‘49); Griffey (56 / ‘97).

But it was the possibility which made them enticing and then easy prey for the performance-enhancing slugs.

Juicers blew by the iconic 61 like it suddenly didn’t exist, as fans & media went ga-ga over Mark & Sammy (’98). The hypocrites could fill every park in the land.

.......Sisler.Ruth.Cobb.10.4.24.wc.929k.LoCSome of the great bat marks felled in recent years:

Maris’ 61, SS – HR (‘61), bested by Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa (‘98), then Barry Bonds’ 73 (‘01);
Hank Aaron’s 755 career HR (‘76), overtaken by San Francisco Giants Bonds’ 762 total in 2007;
George Sisler’s SS – 257 hits (‘20), surpassed by Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki in 2004 with 262 safeties.

Baseball’s governors have a sticky-wicket on their manicured hands: What does Elias Sports Bureau do about Bonds tainted tallies (73 / 762)? Does Ichiro get a pass? Not bold-decision makers and, as noted, focused on coin rather than history, Manfred & Co. will likely continue on the ‘do-nothing’ path and leave the mess for future generations to resolve. Guardians of the game? Ugh.

What the major league game clearly needs is an injection of some Kenesaw Mountain Landisonium to give baseball back its courage and clarity, in play, ownership, management, media coverage and record-keeping, a bedrock component since 1876 . Get Pfizer on that one, STAT.

As such, Roger’s fabled 61 will never regain its former luster, leaving one, last, great, untouched single-season, power mark, free from the grimy fingerprints left by drug-cheats, calling-cards ignored by baseball’s cops on the beat (MLB & collectors in media) who seem only interested in making their pension.

......Hack.Wilson.Goudey.wc.1933.thmWilson’s gargantuan RBI record has stood the test of time (86 years) and serves as testament to what a man on a team stamped Good Dugout Seal-of-Approval can achieve w/out body armor, cortisone, PEDs and $30M-a-year (K).

The 191 is the new standard for power prowess, benchmark for immortality. It’s the new 61. But you won’t hear that on Disney (ESPN) or MLB Network.

Had Hack painted his masterpiece with a New York brush (NYG 1923-25) instead of Chicago, epicenter of trains, Great Lakes traffic, commodities & Midwest flair, Gotham City scribes would’ve immortalized Wilson’s fantastic feat in poetry & prose (See; Franklin Pierce Adams). As it stands, the media mecca of America will never pay homage to a record set by a Second City sultan.

Another reason Hack’s 191 is marginalized: So few have challenged it.

There were Gehrig (184 / ‘31), Greenberg (183 / ‘37) & Foxx (175 / ‘38), but even with today’s advantages in armor, medicine, nite n’ lites, travel-zip, more games, AL-DH, Denver and lower mound, 153 (T. Davis / ’62) and 165 (M. Ramirez / ’99) are closest anyone’s gotten in over 60y. Tigers Miguel Cabrera stood at 130 with five weeks+ left in the 2012 season and finished with a thud (139).

RBIs need three things: Base-runners, a team-mentality and general health.

......MeetingGods.wc.1630.Poelenburch.RPG-Mauritshuis.3mRuth ushered in homer-ball but Depression era players were frugal fellows, never forgetting the purpose behind batting: Score runs, win games! Today’s Home Run Derby mindset sneers at OBP and then, when the table is set, too many batters ( & Mgrs) fixate on the long ball.

Maybe the Sporting Gods guard the 191 as an emblem to an era. Good riddance to segregation and the fixola (1919) which was embedding but honoring the days free of nightly walk-off bunny-hop hysteria, Gatorade® drench, shave cream pie-in-the-face routine, drag pants, body armor, late-game World Series snooze (Zzzz), drug cheats (PEDs), tinker-bells (in rule change), sabrmetrics nor hanger-ons who hope for Hall call. Only records most 30s guys cared about spun on a Victrola.

And maybe Cubs finally take the Pennant again this season, maybe they don’t.

What’s certain now and likely to remain certain for the foreseeable future is that practically no one remembers who won the Pennants or World Series two years ago but nearly every baseball fan worth their weight in salted peanuts n’ franks knows the name of the man who holds major league baseball’s single-season runs-batted-in mark. “Hackidu” it’s you! That aught tell you something about the sacrosanct status of records, Mr. Manfred. So get crackin!’

.....canned cornSteven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo Credit: H.Wilson-R.Hornsby, Chicago Cubs; H.Wilson; C.Comiskey, BPL, 1910, wc.cca; P.Ueberroth, wc, Wrigley, US.Gov; B.Kuhn, wc, 1982, MLB; Wrigley.Field, Jblesage, wc, 5.28.8; H.Wilson; E.Barrow, B.Ruth, H.Frazee, S.McInnis, wc, 1918, TSN; G.Sisler, B.Ruth, T.Cobb, LoC, wc, 10.4.24; Wilson, Goudey, wc, 1933; Meeting.Gods, wc, 1630, Poelenburch, RPG-Mauritshuis; Canned-corn
Posted: 8.24.16 @ 2:17pm EST; Copyright © 2016

MLB16 Chin Music: Barry Bonds, Elections & Lies-by-Right

4 Mar

‘You knew but what’d ya’ll do?’

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!” Marmion, by Walter Scott (1808)

Webmaster Barry Bonds rejoined his “fraternity” last month to serve as hitting coach for the Miami Marlins as baseball‘s spring training got underway in the Cactus (AZ) and Grapefruit (FL) Leagues. As expected the official home run king was queried by reporters on the Cooperstown topic and his failure to win election. Bonds’ response: “God knows I’m a Hall of Famer.”

......Bonds.J.Accordino.wc.1993.thmbNearly everyone, excepting, if I recall right, Tom Boswell at Washington Post who speculated on steroid use in the late 80s, looked away, cheered wildly while Bonds and his brothers in bash appeared to be juicing with reckless abandon, some afraid of player backlash, some in hero-worship and others defending memorabilia cachets.

That fact poses a cultural conundrum: What do you, the BBWAA, do with a Cooperstown candidate whom you, and the majority, believe tainted himself, his marks and MLB by engaging in a PED-plan during his career while you sat on your pens? Leave Bonds, McGwire, Sosa and their ilk, some proven, some admitted, others strongly suspected PED‘ers, off of your ballots, even as you gave tacit approval, seems the answer.

Barry is the official, if not, publicly sanctioned holder of the two most cherished marks in the annals of baseball: Single-season (73) and career home run totals (762), yet, he pays a price for what appears to’ve been a career fueled by performance enhancers. His arrogant persona doesn’t help his case, though, younger voters seem to find it fascinating.

And what price do we the fans pay for letting the players, their union, formerly an agent for equity, embed steroids, HGH and the other cheat-drugs into our sports, at all levels, causing a cancer we have still not engaged with aggressive treatment (In pro ball “115 failed drug tests…since January 2015 (“Jenrry Mejia’s Free-fall” / 2.12 / SI / Verducci)”)?

......McGwire.wc.6.29.11.6m.K.Allison.thmAs Big Mac and Sammy were barreling over Maris’ mark (61) in ‘98, some of us were neither fooled nor pleased. One apologist at the time engaged me on the topic and made this sorry claim in their defense: ‘Even if they are using, steriods don’t improve performance.’ Yeah, that’s why they juiced, ‘cause they didn’t help. Like sticky-gloves (NFL), they wear ‘em ‘cause they look good, right? Oy vey.

Besides providing an unfair, unnatural aid in play, i.e., cheating, and, if used outside the supervision of a medical pro who administers in open practice, causing a slew of serious, long-term side effects, PEDs do add muscle mass which increases swing velocity and power. It‘s pretty simple.

That public complacency, along with the window of opportunity remaining open for PED cheats by an absence of mandated in-season blood draws for every MLB rosteree, are the 10,000 lbs elephants in the room everyone ignores.

And it is that complacency which is Barry’s best argument to persuade voters to back his enshrinement. Even in a mental state of deceit, how can one be said to be cheating if near everyone, though suspecting skullduggery, does not make serious statement to prevent the behavior until years later? Arguably, it‘s not.

.....Coperstown.Sign.7.26.8.O.Yamamoto.thm“To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men (Ella Wheeler Wilcox (JFK (‘91))).” If a tree falls in the forest to send campers dodging for cover who claim they did not see it crash, did it actually topple, did it make a sound and can we still use it for firewood? Hmmm.

Additionally, while steroids were banned by baseball in 1991, testing didn’t begin until 2003, then a ramped-up Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in 2006, one year before Mr. Bonds’ final year and spring blood draws finally instituted in 2014. That fact that it’s taken so long to even get to this point in the fight (and window of opportunity still ajar) must go to the issue of wrongfulness on Bonds’ part.

Barry & Co. would add that he never tested positive for steroids. But that’s not the hand he really wants to play. When you and your union (MLBPA) stave off for decades the best method to detect illicit drug use, i.e., timely blood draws, a player crowing that he never tested positive is a poor defense, indeed.

Martha Knows

But employing the complacency defense would of course require Barry come clean, admit to a knowing, intentional use of PEDs. Words toxic to his psyche.

Everyone already believes he juiced. The grotesque ballooning of his head alone is pretty persuasive sign. Now, he’s just seen by most as a stubborn, somewhat frightened man. Life can be scary, oh, boy, can it, but choosing the truth can help.

“One brave thing.”

That’s what Joseph Cotton (“Holly”) opted for as events came to a head in the great film, The Third Man (’49) set in post-war Vienna.

It might invite the feds back into his life stemming from the BALCO matter (2003-15) if not precluded by double jeopardy. His lawyers would give him the skinny on how the feds might proceed.

.....Stewart.wc.thm.D.Shankbone.9.21.9I’m not one but I can’t imagine such a show of courage would be met with anything less than a forward-thinking response by prosecutors (those that bungled the case), something to maintain perjury precedent and negotiate agreements on fines and maybe even a brief jail stay. Barry could do that standing on his head, even today’s smaller version.

Consider billionairess Martha Stewart. Today the Super Chef is groovin.’ She’s in a better place now than before she landed in the clink.

Coming clean would sway the court of public opinion, cloak Barry in garb of leadership and grant him bully-pulpit to argue for more stringent PED-prevention. Big dog Bonds could become a bridge between former users and guardians of the game in discussing a solution to how exactly baseball’s Elias record book might be revised.

What I fear is that younger voters who will soon be majority block of BBWAA, an age that watched in awe as Barry piled-up MVPs and they filled-up boxes of memorabilia, elect him before a progressive catharsis could ever take place.

In 2016 Bonds received roughly 44% of votes (75%), up considerably from the 35% he’d been receiving his first 3-years of eligibility. Barry and Roger Clemens both (45%) are now well positioned for future gains though they could just as easily get mired in the 40s.

Winning election to the Hall of Fame, however, will change little for Barry.

....Bonds.8.25.06.thm.K.Rushforth.wcWithout a doubt, taking up residence in Cooperstown validates one’s career and all appurtenant to it, i.e., titles, awards and records, like a wave from the magic wand of wonderful. Ting! Barry, however, he’s a special case.

The distrust that his name inspires among most fans, sustained by his aloofness which includes his failure to admit an apparent PED protocol, will keep that dark cloud stationary over head and probably Cooperstown as well if elected. And though he has his supporters, their children aren’t likely to carry Dad’s passion forward: Do the different is how it usually works in generational ways.

Coming clean presents a great opportunity for Bonds.

Yes, it’s an outrageous act that comes with risks, some dread. Great acts don’t come easy nor their results cheap. But when you admit to something most already believe to be true the effect can be cleansing, open up avenues to progress & pride that living the lie will never do, even with a bronze plaque.

Public ridicule, even hatred would intensify for a time, giving fodder to trogs who think through their digestive tracts. You prepare for that. In time, truth and the courage it took to express it become a bastion for baseball fans and the brave.

“A rose is rose is a rose”

And Barry best beware of those who’d dissuade by comparison to Rose’s mea culpas that won him no new fans nor a lift of his lifetime ban.

Firstly, most of us aren’t really sure Pete’s come completely clean anyway, and then don’t really care to know anymore.

....Rose.K.Junstorm.1.11.08.thm.LV.wcSecond, while druggies cheat the game like gamblers and both make themselves subject to blackmail by associates, the motives can be quite different. Roid-heads at least seek to enhance their play, win the game. Gamblers on the other hand, they use the game, sometimes in loss, to fuel their real motive, the chance habit.

Besides that, Rose violated a code well known since Black Sox (1920), entered a contract (‘89), waited too long to make public admission and even then left doubt as to veracity when he finally did, i.e., maybe playing to lose.

A concern for Barry comes from the same supporters who may soon elect him to the Hall. They might advise against any revelation of wrong-doing. Barry’s likely lie is their lie, too. Overnight they’d turn his harshest critics. Officially establish PED use through admission and Bonds’ collectible stock drops like a rock.

Giambi and McGwire came clean though Mark passed on his initial opportunity, coining one of the queerest quips ever uttered in testimony before Congress: “I’m not here to talk about the past (‘05).” ¡Ay, caramba! But in 2010, likely at urging of Cardinals’ brass, Big Mac confessed to using steriods in his MLB career though he took shelter in the now all too common recovery-from-injury excuse rather than performance boost.

Then there’s Canseco, Mark’s brother-in-bash during their salad days as A’s.

....Canseco.wc.5.14.11.B.Horowitz.thm.WorJose’s opted for cartoon figure, afraid to embrace his iconic status as a game-changing whistleblower. Some in his profession call him a rat. Like Count Dracula, cheats hate the light of day. The revelations (claims) made in his book “Juiced (‘05)” slapped us wise on the rampant use of PEDs in MLB and gave impetus to the on-going reclamation project with no end in sight.

But Barry’s the big dog. He holds, by hook, crook or natural talent, records and MVPs. His admission, full and heart-felt, would carry weight in the war on drugs.

That shouldn’t, however, punch his ticket to immortality (HoF).

MLB banned steroids in 1991. The honor-system (test-free), but a rule is a rule and PEDs do enhance production, substantially. That makes his marks unlikely the stuff of Ruth, Mays, Mathewson and Roberto.

A solution might be a separate wing for PED’ers, proven and suspected. A stigma would attach, a neo-segregation, of sorts, this one integrity-based. But it would offer a much needed compromise to a festering problem we all helped forge that works a black mark on our era that we must accept, must embrace: Recognize achievements but chances forgone and a cowardly greed that tarnished our time.

Bonds & Clemens side would say they never failed / tested positive for PEDs nor can be tied to reliable evidence of having engaged in doping behavior. And that statement could be compromised with credible information.

While both did as federal defendants essentially prevail in their trials, evidence did come to light that could lead a neutral-minded person to form the reasonable belief that both men did engage in the use of PEDs during their careers.

....Clemens.wc.thm.K.Allison.6.27.07Brian McNamee had been a personal trainer to Roger and did give what could be deemed compelling testimony and provided physical exhibits (syringe) he claimed to’ve used on Clemens, while federal prosecutors obtained BALCO files that included a set of linking documents on Bonds from November 2000. On one, Bonds’ name with a number that corresponded to the other containing the name “Barry B.” and positive test results for two anabolic steriods.

Bonds claims to have not knowingly taken PEDs.

You can choose to believe Barry but it’s not unreasonable to disbelieve, given his corresponding super surge in power numbers with the time feds claimed he was using enhancements, together with his BALCO association, known to’ve provided and administered the regimen. If it walks, quacks like a duck.

Even if you think neither baseball star can be tied to unethical supplementation when contemplating your imaginary ballot, strong suspicion can be sufficient to form a reasonable belief that both Bonds and Clemens cheated the game with PEDs based on their physical appearance and on-field performance patterns.

Your own standard of review need not conform to those required in a court venue where civil (C&C / PoE) or criminal (BRD) matters are adjudicated. Always Shepardize, so to speak, but no one’s liberty nor property are at issue when voting on a Cooperstown plaque.

Captain’s Courageous?

What is the best voting standard?

Informed, free of bias and prejudice, of course, and if a claim of wrong-doing may attach to a candidate, a standard analogous to that by which a magistrate would base issuance of a search warrant seems apropos: Reasonable suspicion.

As noted, MLBPA forestalled blood draws for years, the preferred method, only agreeing to a spring test in 2014. To argue on one hand ‘I never tested positive’ while on the other having collectively prevented yourself from being tested or only in the most cursory fashion (urine) during your career is a faulty premise.

...blood-test.wc.Vegasjon.9.11.14.thmHad a player been outspoken about instituting high-level or any testing in early days of PED signing (90s), that man should receive a consideration. But I don’t recall any such man having taken that stand (some White Sox in spring 2005 took a position, briefly (union)), certainly not Misters Bonds nor Clemens.

As it stands, Bonds the batter and Clemens the pitcher are symbols, PED sign-posts to two destinations: 1) Big boost in production, longevity & moolah ($), and 2) the state of disgrace if pulled over for violation or waving red flags.

A likely third destination for riders on the PED junket: Related health concerns in the immediate or future states such as a compromised immunity, candida and as serious as heart disease and stroke. The younger one begins, the greater the risk.

Enshrine Barry and Roger and the symbolism is destroyed.

Message to kids or anyone balancing risk vs gain on the PED call would tilt gain, given the financial rewards, MLB’s on-going promotion of power (HRD), pretty fair chance you won’t get busted with the window that remains open and that the ultimate accolade in Cooperstown can stay on the table.

Why then should Bonds come clean? Because it’s the right thing to do.

That reads kinda’ corny today. Bravery as cultural norm stopped being cool long ago. The lie is almost hip today. Fibs & fraud are hardly new, it’s been going on since we were fishes? How does a fish lie? Flat in the pan but that’s not the issue (♫ da-boom chh! ♫). Difference today is lies are done with impunity, obviousness, almost a taunt.

...Gandhi.wc.thm.pre1942In coming clean Barry would find tremendous satisfaction he’d never regret. It could also aid his health, everyone’s, as truth-telling is a stress reducing and a major contributor to maladies of the heart (See; “The Sinatra Solution: Metabolic Cardiology,” Basic Health Pub., 2007). Over time his favorability rating would rise.

Remember what Gandhi said: “Even if minority of one, the truth is the truth.” Substance does not need quantity. “The truth cannot be destroyed (O’Dea, Johnny Belinda (‘48)).” It can be hidden, Barryied from public eyes but it will always exist in some state, known by someone, somewhere.

Barry would keep his money and seasonal accolades (MVP) but forgo the Hall of Good ‘n Plenty and concede to a record book re-do. Sacred stuff, and numbers were never so big if somewhat suffocating (See; sabrmetrics (WAR, etc.)).

I don’t see either star finding the luminosity to shine bright. Self-denial is seen as ‘Un-American Activity’ in Consumer 2016. These guys grab with both hands.

“Greed is good.” America’s motto today. Trump is its face. Don has what McCain, even as hero, could never carry off: Maverickness. That can turn loose cannon. Clinton is sharp as a tack, doesn’t ruffle easy and will take at least 2 debates by her experience. She, however, is the face of appeasement. Strength’s a question. Both flag negatives like snow-belt springs pot-holes in March. We’re not doing well with Chiefs in DC these past 40 years. We are what we eat.

Roger and Barry will win election in the not too distant future. They’ll jump for joy and their rookie cards will rise in value. But over time they’ll fare worse in the court of public opinion, if that’s possible, drawing more resentment for arguably ‘getting away with it’ and helping tarnish the game’s sacrosanct Elias record book.

They’ve a great opportunity, a responsibility, in fact, as did Rose, being key cog in the Big Red Machine, arguably the best all-time. It’s in their hands.

Oh, where o’ where are the “Captain’s Courageous?”

...canned cornSteven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: B.Bonds, 7.21.07, guano, wc.cca; Bonds, wc, J.Accordino, 1993; M.McGwire, wc, 6.29.11, K.Allison; Cooperston.Signs, wc, 7.26.08, O.Yamamoto; M.Stewart, wc, D.Shankbone, 9.21.9; Bonds, wc, 8.25.06, K.Rushforth; P.Rose, wc, 1.11.08, K.Junstorm, LV; J.Canseco, wc, 5.14.11, B.Horowitz, Worcester; R.Clemens, wc, 6.27.07, K.Allison; blood-test, wc, 9.11.14, Vegasjon; M.Gandhi, wc, pre1942; canned-corn.
Posted: 3.4.16 @ 12:27p, edit (title) 10.22.16 @ 2:28p ET; Copyright © 2016

MLB15 Chin Music: Robby Red Flag

13 Feb

They are the cornerstones in the foundation upon which modern baseball was built and its legitimacy rests: the prohibitions on gambling, performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and a valuable stewardship over its historical record book of achievements.

..........Rose.K.Junstorm,08.thmb.wc

And in just a little over a month at the helm of America’s national pastime, MLB’s brand, spanking new Commissioner, Rob Manfred, has taken chisel & hammer to hands and appears ready and eager to begin breaking said cornerstones, filling the breach with mixture of one part appeasement, one part pandering and one part indifference.

Last week in appearing on ESPN radio’s Mike & Mike (2/6), Rob took to micro-phone to answer queries on the role he envisions in his new job (a promotion in-house) and various topics of curiosity, including Pete Rose case and PED’s effect on Hall of Fame voting.

Bloom Coming Back?

“I have heard from [Rose’s] lawyer, and I do anticipate having a conversation about that (Rose’s reinstatement to baseball)…it’s a conversation I’m willing to have (“Pete” / WCPO / Noble / 2-7-15).”

While a Rose reinstatement doesn’t assure his induction into Cooperstown by Veterans (“Expansion Era”) Committee vote, just by ending the ban, forgiving his misdeeds, would send a squishy message on gambling at the worst possible time, when sports betting is getting the big push (See; NJ & NBA’s Silver).

........Manfred.7.15.14.wc.fanfest.A.Pardavila.thmb

Rose’s lifetime ban was never punitive at its crux. It’s over-riding purpose has always been a standard of deterrent to those who’d contemplate the dangerous co-mingle of sport and gambling. On this point there can be no half-measures.

Is it possible the Commissioner is just working PR to give impression his office has a heart, though, not sure what’s hearty about it, and always “willing” to listen, not seriously contemplating a reinstatement? If yes, even flirting with possibility of Rose’s return to MLB-sanctioned events is a bad play, and no good for Pete.

An 8th-grader can recognize importance of finality in a rendered verdict. Legally, some rulings are made without prejudice, remaining open to review when certain criteria are met, while other rulings are with prejudice, forever final.

And that would be the clear message intended and widely supported when Cmsr. Bart Giamatti (d. ’89) negotiated a lifetime ban of Pete Rose in 1989.

Preserving the game’s integrity in keeping it free from illicit drugs and connections that lead to disastrous results like game-fixing (Black Sox), setting a standard for kids and players both, is far cry from the mawkish moralizing Rose campers would claim.

No one person, not Ruth, Jackie, Roberto, Sandy, not Ripken nor Rose is above the game, no matter their popularity or symbolism.

..........Landis.wc.underwood.Milw.Journal.11.15.20.Chicago.thmb

Celebrity sells, but it is the good name of the game itself, not the individuals, that give life to their fame. And I fear that Mr. Manfred, with the game in his hands, skates on thin ice in expressing “willing(ness)” to engage Rose for possible return to baseball.

What’s kept baseball free of the fix since 1919, so it appears, is the bright-line ban (life) which anyone connected to the pastime caught dirty on gambling, will receive.

If that line gets blurred with a Rose return, heaven help us, for if the corrupt co-mingle begins again (fix), we won’t hear about it this time around. Too costly.

And if you think Rose the manager never bet on his Reds team to lose (’84-89), you’re either not a baseball fan or pining for your Pete collectibles to regain that “rosy glow.”

That this betting “maroon,” who put his legacy, family, club, fan trust, MLB, all in peril by his self-obsessed, reckless behavior, would deviate from his gambling gorge to set a standard at which he’d not go below, is fairy-tale Brothers Grimm would’ve scoffed.

PED Clear

When holding court with ESPN reporters that same Thursday, the Hall of Fame topic again tested Manfred, this time concerning candidates denied election because they’re believed to’ve used PEDs, whether on “credible evidence,“ reasonably discerning use by observable facts & logic or “literally nothing (“Commish” / Stark / ESPN / 2-6).”

Rob believes it wrong to exclude an otherwise stat-savvy, typically Percheron-necked, Hall of Fame aspirant, on what the voter may “surmise” is a drug-enhanced record of performance.

Problem #1 with Manfred Mode: What to do with men like McGwire and Canseco who had wherewithal, for whatever reason(s), to admit they used PEDs?

That’s the “proof” of enhancement (confession) Rob requires, yet now they’ve failed his test, even though they’ve shown, if not good character, something closer to it than the plethora of former players still too selfish or shy or scared to come clean. But the Mum-Men keep ‘taking the 5th,’ so to speak, and come out heroes in Robby’s world.

.........Bonds.wc.cca.11.15.07.USMS.thmb

Problem #2: There’s good chance, when urine testing, you’d “never (have) failed PED tests,” considering HGH blood draws and BPP (biological passport program), WADA’s anti-doping stratagem, random form, anyway, didn’t begin in MLB until 2012, years after most the rejected-suspected candies had exited, i.e., Bagwell, Piazza, Bonds, Clemens.

Luck of the (no) draw, no doubt.

Having “evidence” before rendering a verdict on someone is a good thing, to state the obvious, in whatever venue of inquiry, be it legal, social or abstract. It’s fundamental to fairness: due process, Magna Carta and all that jazz.

Everyone’s been smeared, wrongly accused, one time or another, and it hurts.

But it’s an unbalanced scale of justice Manfred applies that demands customary proof to deny election (failed test), yet disregards two facts: 1) there was no reasonable means to acquire said “evidence” to ascertain player physical states w/ any degree of accuracy, pre 2012, discounting out-moded, random urine tests (‘03); and 2) It was players themselves, by their union (MLBPA), who stymied serious testing for over a decade, maybe longer.

That second point vitiates any argument that requires positive test “proof” to deny election on PED grounds, making reasonably discernable conclusions, not only permissibe, but the responsible manner by which Hall voters aught cast.

...........Clemens.wc.mx5tx.2005.thmb

If the players wanted clarity they could’ve gotten it by voting approval for blood draws in the 90s. They chose doubt & suspect and the pro-test, clean players were muscled out.

The chickens have come home to roost for all players, dirty and clean. It’s the bed they made and they can sleep in it. Manfred, for some reason ($$?), wants to make-up that bed, give ‘em new Spider-Man sheets with hospital corners, to boot. Bully for him.

That gets to problem #3 with Manfred’s “Bart Simpson” take.

Hall of Fame votes or record book lines, for that matter, are not Constitutionally protected rights, Congressionally mandated entitlements or issues of fact & law judged in common law jurisprudence where “innocent until someone proves you guilty” is courtroom motif.

A plaque in Cooperstown is like an MVP, it’s an honor, a gift, whose award or denial can be based upon a standard permitting reasonable deduction and not bridled by shifting mores, profit motive, genuflect to the number-god nor over-narrow definition of “proof.”

Baseball will always turn a tidy profit. That’s in stone.

No matter the inroads NFL makes into consumer hearts, rounders is so engrained in our culture, so presenced worldwide and, like its gridiron kin, a legally-sanctioned monopoly, it will never be wanting. The money spigot always gushes. At winter meetings it’s just a question of how much growth is acceptable. That’s where the greed comes into play.

...........Rose.2005.cleverswine.wc.thnb

What that means for the Commissioner is that he (maybe a she someday, especially if there’s a baseball version of Condoleezza Rice with dogged supporters, keen on the post) need only be concerned with one, simple task: securing the game’s integrity.

Maintain and amplify with crystal clarity the dead-serious prohibition on gambling and PEDs and the dire consequences that await any who arrogantly skirt the bolded rules.

Rather than change course, Manfred could take page out of Little League’s book.

On Monday (2/9), Stephen Keener, CEO of Little League International, a body overseeing sporting and business interests of over “7000” affiliates world-wide, announced that 2014 US champ Jackie Robinson West (Chicago), would vacate their title, giving runner-up Mt. Ridge (Las Vegas) the crown (S. Korea 2014 world champs), because of rule violations involving an active rostering of players outside acceptable boundary lines.

It was a hard decision, said Keener (ESPN 2.10), due largely to the kids, although, one must suspect some of the youngsters, on the cusp of manhood, had an idea of what was afoot and should not be entirely insulated from blame-attachment. We have seen similar before (age deflation, soap-box rigging, etc.).

Keener explained in simple terms why it had to be done: “To protect the integrity and uphold the standard.” Simple, strong, clear and brave.

But lonely are the brave and R. Manfred is today, in some circles, a popular man.

Steven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: P.Rose, K.Junstorm, wc.cca, 1.11.08, Las Vegas; Rose, K.Junstorm, wc.cca, 1.11.08, Las Vegas, thmb; Manfred, A.Pardavila, wc.cca, fanfest, 7.14.15; KM.Landis, wc.cca, Underwood, 11.15.20, Chicago, Milw-Journal; Ba.Bonds, wc.cca, 11.15.07, USMS; R.Clemens, wc.cca, mx5tx, 2005; P.Rose, wc.cca, cleverswine, 2005.
Posted: 2.13.15 @ 2:22pm; edit 5:49, 2.14 @ 12:24am EST