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Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

Minnesota Twins: Playoffs? Not This Year

August 11, 2009 1 comment

The Minnesota Twins blew yet another opportunity this past weekend in Detroit when they lost the rubber match on Sunday 8-7 in a game where they led 3-0 with their hottest starter, Scott Baker, on the mound and looking good, until the 4th inning. The Twins made a comeback attempt, tying the game at 6 late, only to relinquish the lead in the next half inning.

This was just the latest disappointment in a season full of failing to meet expectations. Overall, what was thought to be the rock of the team, the starting pitching, has collectively underwhelmed throughout the season. Individually, Baker, Blackburn, Slowey (until injury) had shown glimpses of dominance. When they would pitch well, we had a over-matched bullpen ready to blow a lead of any amount, except for Joe Nathan, unless the opponent is a division leader in the Angels or Yankees, then he becomes a mere mortal. Liriano has the look and sound of a pitcher that has no idea what to do. The Twins need to get him out of the rotation and put him in the bullpen. One shutout inning at a time as a reliever will do wonders for him in the long run.

Our offense has surpassed expectations so far in 2009. Sparked by a season of power not seen in Minnesota since 1988, the Twins have already surpassed their 2008 home run total, have four guys who will have over 20 home runs in Kubel, Cuddyer, Mauer (already at a career high 20), and Morneau (already at 28); possibly five with Joe Crede, currently with 14 in only 78 games of his injury riddled season. The Twins have a deceiving +9 in the runs scored v. runs allowed category, which rivals wins and losses as one of the more irrelevant statistics in baseball. Morneau leads the AL in RBI with 91, Mauer leads the MLB in batting average at .365, and Morneau is second in the AL in home runs; a near ‘teammate triple crown’.

Despite all that, the Minnesota Twins enter Tuesday only five games back of the division lead, currently held by Detroit. That alone is a miracle.

In yesterday’s Star Tribune, there was a great article highlighting some statistics relating to the chances of the Twins making the playoffs. The most glaring scenario brought up: if the Tigers go .500 the rest of the season, the Twins will have to go 32-19 to surpass Detroit and hope that Chicago falters as well. Chicago faltering seems unlikely, as they are being aggressive in trading for Jake Peavy and claiming Alex Rios off waivers.

These are the types of moves that the Twins need to start making. Hoarding prospects as they have usually done is not going to work, not if they want to become a championship caliber team. Usually, moves and changes are made when a team fails. I thought last year would bring change. The only change came when the team decided to go with retro jerseys for Saturday home games. The Twins didn’t change because they thought there was no change needed. Remember, they were one swing of the bat away from the playoffs. Being so close, what possibly could they change? Dumb thought process there.

If you want to see an improved team for the 2010 season, hope that the Twins not only miss the playoffs, but miss by a long shot. Pressure from the fan base will mount on the front office led by Bill Smith to make a couple significant moves. Pressure will also come from Joe Mauer, who’s contract expires after the 2010 season, who has said that he wants to see that the team is committed to winning.

We will know soon enough if the October 4 game vs. Kansas City will be the last Twins game in the Metrodome. I hope it is. 2010 is the one opportunity for a fresh start for everyone.

~Jason Douglas

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Alex Rodriguez, You Still Have My Vote

February 11, 2009 2 comments

Yes, Alex Rodriguez was screwed by undisclosed sources, Selena Roberts of Sports Illustrated, and the MLBPA union on Saturday, February 7th, 2009.

That date will be considered by some as when baseball died.  How is this the case?  Is Alex Rodriguez the first player to admit steriod use?  Was he ever considered ‘the savior’ to the game?  Since Saturday, it seems like he was the first player to admit his usage, and he was the savior to baseball, a game that is thriving in this economy.

When Jose Canseco wrote his book , Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big, mentioning Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero, Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, and Juan Gonzalez; people thought he was nuts.  Giambi late admitted that he used steroids, Palmiero was caught and suspended for testing positive, McGwire is considered guilty in the court of public opinion, Gonzalez was listed in the Mitchell Report, and (Ivan) Rodriguez had denied all accusations.

That led the way for Vindicated, the sequel to Canseco’s first book.  This one implicated Alex Rodriguez and Albert Belle.  Vindication occurred this past Saturday.

Why should we care?

Only Palmiero ever tested for a banned substance.  The other players either tested positive or admitted use of substances that are now banned by MLB prior to the drugs being banned.  What these players did or are accused of doing was not wrong within MLB’s rules at the time.

Let’s mention one of the larger injustices of this story: the test that Alex Rodriguez was involved in was a ‘survey’ that MLB wanted done to see if there was a steroids issue within the game.   The players tested were promised complete anonimity.

In 2003, when the tests were given, assuming 25 players per team, there were 750 players in MLB; 104 tested positive for steroids.  This means 13.86% of baseball was ‘jucing’.   Does that sound like steroids were rampant throughout MLB?  This was a high enough number where MLB and the MLBPA decided to ban certain substances beginning in 2005.  Everyone in 2003 would be in the clear, since they were not doing anything wrong.

If no one was doing anything wrong, why are we treating people like Alex Rodriguez like criminals?

I can see why in an interview with Katie Couric, Rodriguez denies using steriods.  Yes, he was lying.  Who would have ever known that he was?  His positive test was sealed, confidential, to be destroyed, and never to be heard about again.  The test results were received by the union on November 11, 2003, finalized two days later, and players were notified the following day.

According to MLBPA union leader Donald Fehr, “promptly thereafter, the first steps were taken to begin the process of destruction of the testing materials and records.  On November 19, however, we leardned that the government had issued a subpoena.  Upon learning this, we concluded, of course, that it would be improper to proceed with the destruction of the materials.”  The government wanted the test results as part of the BALCO investigation into performance-enhancing drugs.

Fehr also said there was only an ‘eight-day span between receipt of the test results and notice that a federal grand jury was seeking the results’, which did not give the union enough time to destroy the test results.

How is eight days not enough time to destroy documents, test results, samples, and any other evidence that would implicate its players?

Because of the current fallout on Alex Rodriguez, and the potential fallout on the other 103 players that may follow, and the ‘guarantee’ of anonimity that was promised and not followed through on, good luck on getting the MLB players to agree to anything that is promised as anonymous ever again.

The whole steroids and PED fiasco that has been a part of baseball for the last decade, to some, has tainted the game.  Many Hall-of-Fame voters have said that they would not vote in anyone involved in the steroid cheating scandal.  Cheaters in the past have been punished: ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson and his ‘Black Sox’ teammates and Pete Rose are the most prominent names.  The glaring difference between the ‘Black Sox’ and Rose,  and Alex Rodriguez, the ‘Black Sox’ and Rose broke existing rules of MLB.  What do we do about players that admit using drugs/PED’s that are now banned?

Mike Schmidt, hall-of-fame third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies is a member of the 500 hr club, and on the All-Century team.  Since his retirement in 1988, Schmidt has come out and admitted his use of ‘greenies’ otherwise known as amphetamines (speed).  A trial in the 1980’s implicated Willie Stargell (hall-of-famer), teammate Bill Madlock, and Willie Mays (hall-of-famer).  The use of amphetamines in baseball has been common for decades, and was made notorious in Jim Bouton’s 1970 tell-all “Ball Four,” in which Bouton described how players had easy access to the green-colored speed pills.  Greenies were banned by MLB in 2006, with the first positive test resulting in a warning ans the second positive test bringing a 25-game suspension.

What do amphetamines do for a baseball player?  MLB teams play 162 games in roughly 180 days.  No matter how in shape a player is, the body breaks down.  Some players felt that if they don’t play, they may lose their job.  The green pills keep the body going for short periods of time, allowing players to keep up with the demanding schedule.  And people wonder why Cal Ripken Junior’s consecutive games streak of 2,632 was so amazing.

If we are willing to punish players that tested positive for steroids or PED’s when they were not banned in MLB by not voting them into the Hall-of-Fame, shouldn’t we remove players that have admitted past use?  If that does not happen, people need to get over the last decade.  Do not add an asterisk to any records set in this era; we do not know what really happened in the 80’s, 70’s, 60’s, and prior.

I am still a fan of baseball, and still a fan of Alex Rodriguez.  If he breaks Bonds’ career homerun total of 762, he will be the rightful owner of that record.  After his career is done, hopefully he will join Barry Bonds, all the other greats with questionable backgrounds in the Hall-of-Fame.  Rodriguez has my vote… if I ever get one.

~Jason Douglas

twitter: @jasondouglas