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Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Today is a Day of Great Sadness…

The Mitchell Report was officially unveiled today.  This document is the result of a year-and-a-half long investigation into the performance enhancing drug culture in baseball.  The report – which relies heavily of the testimonies of weight trainers, conditioners, suppliers, and some former players – attempts to show the widespread nature of the problem, as well as provides recommendations for how to stop it.  But of course the real juicy part is that it names names.  Eighty-six of them, to be exact.  Some of the names were practically expected, such as Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi.  However, there were a few surprises.  Some big names players – Multiple Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, MVP Miguel Tejada, Andy Pettitte, Gary Sheffield, and Eric Gagne, to name a few – managed to find their way into the list,  adding to the ranks of star players shrouded in skepticism.  But the shocking part for me was reading through some of the names of players that are now retired: Lenny Dykstra, Mo VaughnChuck Knoblauch, Glenallen Hill, and Denny Neagle.  These are all players I watched growing up as a kid; I have several baseball cards for every single one of these players.  However, as sad as all of this is for me, there is one name on the list that just plain broke my heart:

Matt Williams

Matt Williams.

Matt was my absolute favorite player when I was a kid.  He played third base for the Giants (and then later for the Indians and Diamondbacks), and in his career, he managed to rack up 5 All Stars, 4 Golden Gloves and a Home Rune top spot in 1994.  It was that year that baseball was cut short by a strike, and when the season prematurely ended, Williams was on pace to beat the home record a decade before Sosa and McGwire ever took a shot at it.  He never got the chance to play it out, but I was always confident he could do it.  I once wrote him a letter asking for his autograph, and he sent me back a poster and four baseball cards, all bearing his signature.  I still have those in my closet.

So, to see Matt Williams name on that list is nothing short of heartbreaking.  A childhood icon is now lost to the evil that is steroids.

Click here to see the complete list of players named, and here to view the full Mitchell Report.

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For those of you who don’t keep up with Central Valley sports, click here for the story.

And here’s the short version.  Franklin High School in Stockton was barred from their division playoffs until 2011 for playing ineligible players that were recruited from Samoa.  Altogether there were 54 violations of division rules.  However, the coach decided that these sanctions were unfair, so at the next game, he played all the ineligible players anyway, which was basically his way of giving everyone the finger.  The result – Franklin High was banned from having a football program until 2010.

I understand that what the coach did was immoral and wrong, though he will never admit it, but what’s also wrong is that the kids at Franklin are paying the price for a mistake that wasn’t theirs.  The mistakes were made by the coaches, so obsessed with winning that they completely disregarded the rules and played by their own, and here the kids are punished.  Some of these kids may have been counting on playing football in college, a possibility which is all but impossible now for anyone not a senior, and many of the others probably had a genuine love of the sport, which they can no longer enjoy.

It’s sad to see people take advantage of kids and not bear the responsibility of doing so.

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Football Victory

This is an awesome play. Good to see someone really utilizing the lateral.

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Thanks, Barry!

Barry swingingOn Wednesday night I got a last minute invitation to go to the last game of the season at AT&T Park in San Francisco with my boss’s tickets (which are, I assure you, AMAZING). It was a momentous night not only because it was the last home game of the season, but because it was Barry Bonds’s last game as a Giant.

Now I am well aware that a good majority of baseball fans, and probably a good majority of non-baseball fans, hate Barry. He is, critics would argue, a cheater, a cheater that has smashed numerous records held for decades my honest, hard-working, non-juiced ball players. I can understand that position. I can understand why many believe him to be the worst thing that’s ever happened to baseball. However, I don’t think that branding his accomplishments with asterisks is deserved, and I think that this dark shadow tends to keep people from realizing that juice or no juice, Barry Bonds is a great baseball player.

The obvious rebuttal you’ll get from any Giant’s fan is that all accusations of steroids against Bonds are just that – accusations. There is no conclusive beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt evidence that Bonds took steroids. Given the circumstances, however, it seems likely to many, as well as too myself, that he probably took some things he wasn’t supposed to, resulting in more splash hits night after night. But if Bonds is guilty, it doesn’t stop with him. Steroids is a problem that has seeped its way into every dugout and every position. Thanks to baseball’s very lax drug policy, there’s no way to really know how big the problem is, but every player who’s come forward about the issue assures us it’s big. Real big. Estimates from these players range from 25-85% of all major league players, meaning that in all likelihood a majority of the players on the field are getting a little performance boost, and it’s not from Wheaties.

Bonds hittingSo with all this I ask the question that a lot of Giant’s fans are asking: “Why Barry?” All of the blame for the steroids problem in baseball is being thrown onto the player that seems to be getting the most success out of it. But is it right to condemn one person for using steroids to do better when everyone around him is doing the same thing? I’m not saying that his (alleged) steroid was by any means honorable, but it is no less honorable than the steroids used by Ken Caminiti in 1996 when he won the National League MVP. But there is no asterisk by Caminiti’s name, and no award has been revoked.

Bonds suffers persecution because his level of success has surpassed anyone in recent memory. It’s easy to look at the accomplishments of the past few seasons and totally discount him as a player, but the truth is Bonds has always been great. Before his (alleged) steroid use, Bonds had already tied the record for most MVP awards (3), received 8 Golden Gloves, been selected to 8 All-Star Games, won 7 Silver Slugger Awards, and he was, and still is, the lone member of the 400-400 club. Oh, and he bats with a lifetime average of .298. If he had retired in 2000, he would still have made it to the Hall of Fame. So, for everyone to get upset at his high numbers in a time when the league is flooded with high numbers makes no sense to me. Instead of being angry with the league, or with the players as a whole, all the anger, mistrust, and cynicism in hurled onto Barry. He bears the burden of these bad times and, unfortunately, his records will be tossed aside and his career will be forever clouded in skepticism.

So, amidst all of the controversy and allegations, I was proud to see Barry off that night. I think that it’s best for the team for him to go elsewhere, but it’s still sad to see him go. The man has done a lot for the sport and the Giants, and I can only hope that history will be kind to a great all-around player, who truly deserves to be honored as the best player of our time.

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