January 2010

Drugs That Make You go Hmmm….Part 2

 

                   
                            nomilk.blogspot.com

So here we are starting part two of my little series on the drugs that can be used to get an advantage during the game of sports. As you might have noticed in the last segment, I have not used the word athlete once in connection to any of the chemicals or explanations in this short series. It is quite simple why I have not done this, because I feel you lose that title of athlete the minute you try and find a shortcut to the finish line or to get an edge through chemicals.

This is not to mean that a guy who gets his advantage through technology like Lasik seurgery to correct eye problems or a multi-levels workout tailored to his body type or conditioning requirements is chaeting or getting an unfair advantage. If the technology is availiable to everyone, and you do not use the various resources availiable, then you are a fool, not a person trying to take an unfait advantage.

With that in mind, the majority of these drugs being discussed today actually can be obtained via a doctor’s script at most pharmacies throughout the world. If these drugs were prescribed to you and you discovered the advantages, then it is a plus of medicine. But some people have also used this scientific loophole of Over-the-Counter medications to get advantages that will not show up as red flags in urine or blood tests.

These medicines were made to help suffers of many types of cancers, digestive problems and a variety of other illnesses and not for their properties to help your circulation or even muscle mass as a player. So let’s get into this second installment and see what OTC medications have been known to be abused by our stars, and what advantages they have gotten from such moves in sports.

The first one up today will be the hair raising drug know as Finasteride or better known for its medical name Propecia. As we all know, testosterone is a vital part of helping the body produce muscle mass, and this pill actually helps the body produce an enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). 

The pill is commonly used as a treatment for prostate cancer, the added bonus of helping to eliminate hair loss and help start new hair growth was a nice side result of the medication. But it is also a chemical that can be used to further mask the use and effects of anabolic steroids in the body because of the production of DHT. For some reason, this medication was removed from the World Doping Agency list in 2009 and is not considered a banned substance anymore, but once a cheating substance, always a cheating substance in my book.

The second chemical under the hot lamp today is also another male-generated drug to combat  a growing segment of the male population. It is Sidenafil Citrate or also know by its commercial name Viagra. Of course most users can always use a variety of the drugs discussed today on a “personal” level and we might not even think twice about the medications, but because they can be used to mask and add the usage of anabolic steroids without instant positive tests.

People who use today’s medicines for  the common man’s ailments for hiding place for their cheating ways via a sports-themed advantage is a bit less of a role model in my book than Barry Bonds. Viagra, as we all know is commonly used to help the ill effects of certain body functions by helping the bodys blood vessels expand and take in more oxygen and minerals. This is really helpful with playing games in high elevations as it will dilate the blood vessels for the duration of the drug and make it easier for the body to adjust to the higher altitudes.

It might be more isolated to the mountainous regions of the country, but it can give a short term advantage to teams playing games in the Mountain time zone, then resort back to their normal breathing habits after the pill is long gone from their system.

My third drug to bring up today also was introduced to help the aging population of males in this country find a bit of relief of the male pattern baldness, but also has been found to hide traces of steroids by masking the syptoms within the chemical. This is of course Minoxidil or know better as Rogaine. And this is one of the drugs that is avialiable right on our grocery shelves that can be purchased with total security and used by a large percentage of the male population. 

The drug was first developed as a cure for hypertension, but its side advantages also came to light when suffers began to restore hair follices while using the product. The reson this is important because a common side effect from steroid use is hypertension or a renewed state of anxiousness in the user. The Rogaine can be used as a chemical mask to offset the hypertension as well as keep the hair follices intact on the user during the duration of using the medication. 

Also, this is one of those drugs that could be in plain sight in the Clubhouse in your locker and most people will not give it a second look. but if you are a reporter who might be a little knowledgable about steroids or even the masking agents used, then it would send up a red flag to you unless it is doctor prescribed for the user. As I said before, just becuase a drug was developed to help the common man, it was not developed for a cheater to use as a “beard” to come down or take themselves off steroids.


Pharmacytimes.com

Now hitting number four on our countdown of medications that could be found on any bathroom countertop in America, but can be a masking agent for steroids is…Metformin Hydrochloride, which is also better known as Glumetza on the pharmacy shelf. This medication has been known to be a great additive to get extra carbs into your bodies system without detection. 

This pills is a nice addtive to get those extra pounds on and to also mask the usuage of anabolic steroids by masking or diluting their properties because of the high carbo loading by your body. This medication actually helps people with type 2 diabetes get the glucose into their systems faster and helps improve their blood sugar control. The pill can also lead to kidney problems if abused by people who do not need regulation of their blood sugar, and could result in other parts of your body also suffering extreme damage if used in correctly.

Now it onto a chemical that was initially developed to help combat weight loss without throwing your body into a crash diet scenario. The Drug being discussed here is Liothronine or also known as Cytomel. The medication is a synthetic form of the throid horomone needed by the human body, which controls our normal metablosim functions.  But it also has a secondary basis to help a user.

This medication can be used by a sly trainer or user to also get fast results via a six-week cycle to help a user get body fat loss quicker while regaining muscle mass so they can effectively hide any transformation by not gaining excess or bulky weight distinguished by an adverse gain in size and weight.  This drug has also been known to be mixed with HGH as a cocktail to help induce massice changes within a small period of time. This medication can also be taken before a game to bring about a instant rush of energy without the side effects of a positive drug test.



Pharmil.com

And last, but not least today will be the medication Dutasteride or known better as Avodart. This is a true masking agent because it is effective in hiding some of the side effects of using anabolic steroids like the unsightly bacne. This medication can be taken in a cocktail also with Propecia listed above because of the production of DHT is the main contributor to the essence of bacne. 

The Avodart acts as a masking agent to dilute the DHT enzyme and creates a buffer to eliminate this tell-tale sign of steroid usage or coming off a steroid cycle. But this is also two-fold as the medication also has a nice side effect of making certain body parts, well shrink in transition to its usage. And becuase of that, it  can give a secondary sight recognition to the possible steroid usage
and a reputation with the ladies.

All six of the medications listed above can be prescribed or bought over-thecounter in a multitude of locations in this country or online with total invisibility. But the true fact that using these medications doesn’t instantly click to most people as drug masking agents only helps in the coverup of any wrongdoings by the user. It old adage “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover” is sure true in refernce to this medications.


www.prescription..Rehab.com


But there are also other medicines that are used by drug/steroid users to mask intent like Methylphenidate(Ritalin) which gives a user more focus and put them “in-the-zone” quicker. It was amzing the when MLB banned stimulants in 2006, the MLB’s exemption paperwork for this medication as a theraputical-usage skyrocketed.

Another medication that is not widely used, but can be seen as another masking agent is Fentanyl, which is mostly a painkiller that is used after a marathon lifting session to mask the ill effects of pain and the body’s nature combat to pain. The have been a high number of deaths from this medication, but it is not a usual product used by steroid users because of the adverse effects.

Drug usage or the application od OTC medications to mask and also attribute to steroid usage have been around for a long time. Most of the medications were devised for the good of mankind, and not to translate as an agent to hide the effects or the usage of unfair chemicals by some users. Tomorrow I am going to end the series with a product that I in fact sold for the last ten years as a saleman for a large beverage company.

I am finding its usage climbing into extreme numbers with members of many sports, and I think it needs to be regulated within the confines of the clubhouse. I do feel a bit of guilt now knowing some of the ill effects of this item, but will dig deeper into my concerns and also some remedies tomorrow. But I do want to stress that even if your favorite athlete has some of the above six drugs in his medicine cabinet doesn’t automatically thrown him into a “steroid” suspection to me. Some people do need these medications for personal use, but it is sad that others abuse the system by using them to put even a hint of suspicion on people who use the products correctly and for the right reasons.

  

Drugs That Make You go Hmmm! Part 1

 


Www.ChicagoTribune.com

With all the wild and rambling chatter both for and against the use of any form of Performance Enhancing Drugs making their side effects and silent advantages known throughout the alleys and byways of the Internet, I came to the conclusion that most people might be like me and only have a very limited exposure or set of ideas as to the types and uses for these PEDs by their users.
 

And with that, I have decided to do a three part series over the next several days to try and throw a little more light onto the total subject and to expose a little more knowledge and insight into the types of PEDs currently “Banned by most sports”, ” Still legal to use in competition” or even the types still “under banishment in “official competitions”.

There is a plethora of information just at our little fingertips among the many files and annuals of the Internet for us to begin to grasp a better understanding of what these “magical pills” can do to even heighten personal workouts and even create an edge without setting off red flags and alarm signals from here to China and back. And all of this hit me about a few minutes after the conclusion of the Bob Costas interview with former slugger Mark McGwire on the MLB Network channel.

So as you can tell, this is going to be a series of blog posts that have taken me a few days to check and double check with various websites and even drug company informational material furnished online to try and get some added intelligence out here for the average fan. So I am going to start this first installment with the drugs that are currently totally banned by most sports organization throughout the world, and especially Major League Baseball.


Boston.barstoolsports.com

The first one I am going to discuss is the drug Human Choronic Gonadotropin (HCG). This substance is generally used by an athlete when he is about to finish a steroid-type cycle of another manmade chemical substance. So this drug can sometimes be also “piggy-backed” while coming down off another substance to try and mask any chemical fingerprints or traces of the user taking unnatural means to get results during participation in a sport.

Sometimes when a user abuses his body a bit in a drug cycle by pumping himself full of a synthetic product, his body can actually start to cut-back or even eliminate its natural reaction to produce testostrone. This is mostly a female fertility used drug that can make the body restart the process of testotrone production. Unfortunately for Los Angeles Dodger Manny Ramirez, this was the nice little surprise additive to his body that earned him a 50-game vacation from the game in 2009.

High levels of HCG are usually the chemical that set off most of the home pregnancy testing kits we currently purchase in the stores. Most users do take HCG in connection with their usual Anabolic Androgenic Steroid (AAS) cycles. This drug can be used for weight loss, but generally it is considered a bit unconventional for use to jump start a ultra low calorie weight loss program due to its unsafe nature.


www.edrugnet.com

The second drug of choice by some users is called Furosemide or by one of it’s better known drug company names, Lasix, which is short for “last six hours”. Seriously, this is a diuretic usually used for a certain type of performer, but they run on four legs instead of two like we do. The drug was actually developed to stop nosebleeds in throughbred horses. The World Doping Agency has officially banned this substance because it can sometimes mask the chemical evidence of other drugs in a user’s system.

The drug does have human applications, but it is mostly for heart failure, cirrhosis,renal impairment and some forms of hypertension.  But it is a drug that can cuase side effects like dehydration, electrolyte  imbalance becuase it robs the body of potassium,calcium, sodium and magnesium and these side effects are severly amplified in humans using them. Some people might remember that several female weightlifters from Mayanmar(China) and Uzbekistan failed drugs tests during the Asian Games and were stripped of their medals.

The third drug that could produce an instant positive test is Clenbuterol, or sometimes just known as Bute. This drug might not set off the bells and whistles for most people unless they use a high stress swimming program during the cold winter months to try and speed up some muscle mass or even get some of that extra poundage off fast and furious.  It can also be used to give a lifter an edge of extra oxygen for an extended workout by opening constricted airways.

But some users can get medical clearance for this item due to their high asthma in the form of Clenbuterol hydrochloride in a bronchodialator. This drug has also been making the rounds on Internet sites as a quick weight loss wonder drug aka dietary supplement and some uneducated personal trainers have been known to include it in a users intake to produce a quick lean and “cut” look to muscles. Most trainers introduce it not as an illegal drug, but as a weight loss advantage during the off season. 


www.elite.rma.co.uk/

The fourth chemical I am going to introduce you to is Tri-Test 300 which has been known to known to have lasting steroid effects depending on your dosage and your cycle length. It is another form of synthetic testostrone that can be used as a quick fix after staying inactive an extra amount of time in the off season. This is also a drug that might go undetected in a sport that has a weak drug testing system for this type of steroid. 

It is very fast-acting substance that can bring about remarkable physical changes in as little as three weeks usage.  It has a habit of almost time-releasing itself to expolde in your system, then another segment blasts off about five days later, then the long lasting effects kick in a bit later to give you an extra groove to work hard in the least amount of time. Major League Baseball’s drug testing system is not outfitted at this time to find low does of thi
s chemical in their player’s system.

The fifth nice little fast acting chemical I am going to introduce to you is Oxandrolone/Oxandrin(Anavar) which is considered by many to be the beginner’s level to introduction to a chemical that can sometimes go undetected by some tests. The first appearance of this drug was mostly as an anti-aging pill given out by doctors because of its low list of side effects. 

But this is also a nice little advantage that baseball players could use to develop muscle mass without triggering weight loss. It has been a great interactive drug to combat osteoporosis in women without a huge dose of estrogen being delivered quickly to the body. But it is an anabolic steroid that can be detected in the system if the user did abuse the medication, or if the user goes off a cycle too close to his testing date. This could produce a ticking timebomb positive test result.


eurodrugstore.eu
  

The sixth chemical that a user can use actually might produce a pair of easy steroid detection bodily disformation if you look closely for them. It is the drug Letrozole/ Femara. This drug can actually make it easier for the journalist and the fellow players on your team to automatically throw assumption out the window when you come into the clubhouse with a new set of enlarged breats, which are a usual indicator of this chemical in your system. 

Femara was first developed as a estrogen-inhibiting drug for post-menopausal women for use as an anti-cancer inhibitor. It has been used as a treatment option after breast cancer surgery. The drug is beneficial to users who want to get rid of extensive water retention and can be used to mask  the formation of gynecomastia, which is a side effect of anabolic steroids. 

Lucky number seven on my list is an item each of us males need to keep our masculinity intact, but sometimes with age and other complications, the body can not keep up the high demand. Of course I am talking about Testosterone. In the sporting areans, this can be obtained by a bevy of products both injectible and topical. So let’s start with the topical ones since that is one of the items Mr. McGwire used to have out in the open in his locker in St. Louis.


Ironmagazine.com


The form of topical Big Mac had on his self of course was Androgel. But there is another item called Testim that also helps with the production of testostrone, but can be flushed from the body within a period of a few days. Some people say that this drug can be used to taper off a tad without completely eliminating the steroid cycle and get your body tuned up for a potential drug test. This could be a quick fix for a player trying to mask coming down from a cycle right before training camp opens after a long off season.

But then we also have the injectable type of testostrone which has probably been a gym favorite for as long as we all have lived. It is a fast acting muscle growth chemical that has greatly reduce a workout’s recovery time. This is one of the main drugs that have been thought to have been used in endurance races like the Tour de France.  In the 1940′s it was being touted as an anti-aging drug, but most people know the name from the U.S. Congress including it as a “controlled substance”  during the Anabolic Steroid Control Act in 1990.

And the last one I am going to talk about today is the granddaddy of them all. The one that people seem to know the most about, and fear the least at times. I am talking about Human Growth Horomone (HGH), which can also go by the name Somatropin. This has been the basis of steroid cocktails for years, and throws an instant fix when combined with another chemical to induce your muscle building by smacking your insulin growth facotr in the behind and sets it off at high speed.

This has seemed to be the chemical of choice in recent years because before recently, it has been pretty much invisible to most drug testing systems. But because of the high profile anti-aging properties and its claim to be  a great weight management stimulant for the body. Traditional urine tests have been known to complete be fooled by the drug,but a blood test will set off instant red flags and alarms.  One huge future side effect of this chemical could be the faster development of diabetes in some subjects.

So here we go with the first level of highly regarded and outlawed possible cheating chemicals list. I am not forgetting some of the newly developed ways by smugglers to dupe the system by soaking ricepaper in anabolic steroids then cutting them into small blotter pieces almost like some drug dealers did in the 1960′s with LSD.

These Paperbol,Papervar,PaperDrol items being on paper doesn’t mask a dog or even a wet surface from accidently activating the chemicals, but it also doesn’t make them any more legal either.

Tomorrow I will bring out a short list of about six items that are not on any drug testing systems “banned list, but can promote some of the same results as anabolic steroids, but are over-the-counter medication like Viagra. Common medication that each of us could get at a doctors office can also increase some performance levels in sports dues to the extended properties of these medications. So until tomorrow, please look before you pop that pill in your mouth or take that liquid medication…….It could cost you a positive drug result!


      

 

McGwire, A-Rod and Canseco……Oh My!

 

 

                    
                      FoxNews.com
 

When former Tampa Bay D-Rays player Jose Canseco came out with his book  Juiced  on February 14, 2005, no one in the baseball community knew what to expect out of the allegations and the extent and lengths that steroids and illegal drugs were being used in the MLB even before the Major League Baseball brass had decided to include testing for steroids or Human Growth Hormones (HGH).

We all personally had our little mental lists of certain players in the league that could be suspected of illegal use or  might be under the umbrella of investigations, but no accurate information was in hand at that point in time in 2005 to provide concrete evidence or even a hint of a “failed drug test list” controversy to support any of Canseco’s claims at that time. With the recent MLB Network’s interview with former slugger Mark McGwire finally shedding light on his extra injectable “helpers” during his Home Run barrage of 1998, it seems most of us have finally gotten some measure of closure on an explanation years past due.

And even with these recent McGwire remorse and vocal tales of his transgressions, it seems more and more that the subculture of baseball before the beginning of MLB testing in 2003 might just begin to unravel with McGwire’s testimonial leading the way for others to admit and seek forgiveness for their past deeds. We all still have fresh in our minds the revelations of the knowledge that current New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez used PED’s during his 2001-2003 Texas Ranger days.

Mixed into this same drug cocktail is the recent admissions and failed drug test results evidence of Boston Red Sox players Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz back  during the Red Sox World Series season of 2004.  And we are far from over in this revolving door of names being slowly leaked out into the open about players who have failed tests back during that 2003 MLB season. It is becoming more and more plausable that Canseco might have been right the entire time, and we were fooled by the shiny lights and twirling balls by the players. And maybe it was the American baseball fans that were the ones naive to the entire extent of the steroid scene.
 

 



If Jose Canseco was seeking  a personal level of revenge, or even a ” I told you so.” moment, he can finally get that long overdue last laugh or justified response to his past allegations. With both of his books, Canseco was taking us on a journey into the heart of the baseball clubhouse culture and was actually trying to educate us as to the level of deceit and the unknowing extent and usage problems in baseball’s  not so distant past.

All this from a guy who was in the drivers seat of using these same stimulants and drugs himself, and Canseco has never denied the fact of his usage, or lied about trying to gain that ‘competitive edge” in the ever swirling arena of professional baseball. How enlightening it is to me right now that for years people in the media and in the high ranks in baseball have tried to shut him up and went beyond normal means to prove him wrong, to say he was trying to extract revenge over the so-called “blackballing” of him out of Major League Baseball because of his vocal noise about the scandal and his willingness to address the problem in the public eyesight.

 

                
                 Amazon.com 
 

I am not trying to paste Canseco up here as the patron Saint of America’s Pasttime within a room full of devils and serpents, but Canseco was right, and he has gained a huge amount of respect recently on the “so-called” incidents he wrote about in both of his books.  I know when Amazon.com reviewed his book back in 2005, and called it the ” Ball Four” for the new millennium. Canseco’s Juiced  was intentionally written to show the rampant use of performance-enhancing substances in baseball (with steroids replacing the amphetamines of Bouton’s day). 

Canseco is a self admitted steroid devotee since his 20′s, and he goes beyond admitting his own usage to claim that he acted as baseball’s ambassador of steroids and is therefore indirectly responsible for “saving” the game. Canseco admittedly says he was nice enough to educate Alex Rodriguez about steroids and even introduced him to a friendly steroids dealer in the late 1990s, but A-Rod returned the favor by trying to bed his wife, the former Bash Brother alleged in his book, Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars and the Battle to Save Baseball. Whatever his motivation, Canseco writes that he is “confident” the Yankees star and three-time MVP used steroids and stated it in his book published in  March 2008. “I did everything but inject the guy myself,” Canseco says in the book. Canseco said he introduced the future Yankee to a trainer named “Max.” 
 

 

 

But despite the headline-grabbing claims in his  first book, and whether Canseco really knows anything about the problem beyond his own use was viewed as opinion and total speculation at that time. He was viewed as a ” teller of tales”, and with no one coming forth to back him up, or even claim “off the record” of steroid usage in the majors, he was discounted as a bitter former player looking for his last series of hurrah’s. 

Most shocking at the time of both of the books release dates  that Canseco remains an unabashed booster of steroids, claiming they’ll one day be used safely under medical supervision to propel humans to better health and great feats. Doctors disagree, and it should be noted that doctors did not administer Canseco’s steroid use. “Is it cheating,” Canseco asks in a revealing moment of moral relativism, “to do what everyone wants you to do?” If that very question were asked by a Little Leaguer, its answer could not be more obvious. 

 

 

So here we are a few days removed from the latest Mark McGwire confessional after finally letting both the Ramirez and Ortiz transgressions fade to black along with A-Rod’s own media fiasco. But at what extent has this begun to tarnish the good spit and polish image of the game of baseball? Is the fact that since nothing in either of Canseco’s books have been disproven, should we again read them both and look for other answers before we are confronted with future demons coming to the surface?

Could there be other hidden facts and players within its pages that are still to be bought out into the light of day and  coffed at and discounted, or even shunned like Canseco has endured for so long. Or is the fact that the biggest stars in the game today and yesterday have either been caught or admitted usage of these drugs be an indicator to others  to come forward before they are also brought to light.

You can bet with the MLBPA’s agreement coming to a close soon that these drug issues and even some of the past trangressions might be a huge question mark being considered by Major League Baseballs’ higher powers right now. Should the rest of the world know their internal struggles and business in this issue?

 
 

 


Amazon.com
 

 

Here are a few passages taken from Canseco’s book Vindicated  that talked directly about the Yankee Alex Rodriguez with Canseco’s personal observations on their careers and steriods :
 


“I’m confident it was the ‘roids ( that made A-Rod buff ). I believed it then, and I believe it now. I’ve been down this road too many times with too many guys. I know my ( stuff ), and I know the way it works. I may not have seen ( A-Rod ) do the deed, but I set the whole thing up for him, just like he wanted. I saw the changes in his body in a short time. Hell, if you ask me, I did everything but inject the guy myself.”

And Canseco is being put on the hot seat again by McGwire and current St. Louis Cardinals and former Oakland A’s Manger Tony LaRussa about his tales of steroid usage and administration in connection with him and McGwire in the past. McGwire admitted Monday that he used steroids for a decade, including when he hit 70 homers in 1998, but denied Canseco’s claims that he injected himself and McGwire with steroids in bathroom stalls.


“I’ve defended Mark, I know a lot of good things about him,” Canseco told ESPN 1000 Radio in Chicago on Tuesday. “I
can’t believe he just called me a a liar. Umm, there’s something very strange going on here. “I even polygraphed that I injected him, and I passed it completely. So I want to challenge him on national TV to a polygraph examination. I want to see him call me a liar under a polygraph examination.” 

 
 

 

 

Both the above quoted players by Canseco have been linked, or subjectively linked to steroids in the last few years. McGwire is currently fighting for his Hall of Fame career life among allegations and evidence that he has either used, or lied under oath about his past usage. The only difference in these two gentlemen is that one knows that by admitting it now, he can still regain some of his credibility, while the other might always be mired in the thoughts of mistrust and lost opportunities to be honest to the fans who admired them. 

Right now it seems that McGwire will be basically left in a lepers colony by baseball’s fraternity to fester and rot within his own misguided statements and falsehoods. McGwire has gained some supporters in his Hall of Fame selection over the past two years, but could this new revelation push even those devoted believers to shun him and save his redemption for the Veteran’s Committee in the future?

I give Alex Rodriguez a lot of credit for coming clean and admitting and showing his true nature by not dodging the issue, but taking it head on, even if it garnered him a shower of public ridicule for years to come. Canseco has talked about both of these players in his books, and the last few months have shown that more and more Canseco is becoming more credible on all counts concerning these accusations. But will the baseball community ever acknowledge that he was right?
 

Will his legacy be that Canseco just got lucky in his MLB usage estimations and player accusations. Will Canseco ever get the true credit due to him for trying to soften the blow of the honest extent of the steroid scandal and its short-lived era. Isn’t it about time that we all wised up to the fact that we were lied to right to our faces, and even manipulated to see the evil intent of what Canseco was writing about at the time.

But now it seems like Canseco might come out of all of this smelling like a rose after years of badgering and misinformation by baseball and the media. Canseco will never be known as a prophet among the legions of baseball fans, but he did educate us to the darker side of the game that we did not want to see, or even realize until a  top tier player’s name got put out there for everyone to see firsthand.

So will this recent reveal make people again take notice of his two novels. Canseco is not a trying to be a poster boy for baseball. To the contrary, he is the one player who had admitted and showed no remorse in his choices to use performance enhancing drugs to better himself and his abilities in baseball. Not unlike a pitcher who relied on spitballs and scuffed balls in the past to produce movement on the ball coming into batters, Canseco found and edge and used it to its fullest.

But  was it his personal knowledge and his frank honesty about the rampant drug usage throughout the Major Leagues that condemned him for years. I am not saying that he should be given a chance for the Hall of Fame.  We all know the actions he took to get that edge will condemn him to baseball purgatory, but could his upfront honestly and revelations at least gain him some respect now with baseball fans?

 

                          
RRCollections
 

 

I believe Jose Canseco’s statements. I saw him play here in Tampa Bay as a member of the Rays highly touted ” Hit Show” in the late 90′s. He did garner some great moments in a Rays jersey, but the fact that he also tainted those multi-colored jerseys by using PED’s in that sacred clubhouse takes him off my Rays favorite player list. I admire him more today knowing that he tried to warn us of a storm that was brewing off our bows. Canseco got us all ready for the facts to finally come clean and the truth to be finally known in and around baseball……………….that there will always be evil within all that is good with the game.
 
 
 

Renegade fends off a Cyber Attack

 

                          
                            Macnn.com

I have to admit, sometimes I hate this thing we embrace at times call “technology”. Over the last 9 days it has been the realms of “technology” that has boggled and warped my mind into a quagmire of lumpy chocolate pudding, and has even made me question the idea of a warm and fuzzy Kumbya secure serenity we all seem to envision and cherish within confines the Internet.

I learned firsthand recently just how quick and without provocation the constant evil outside the secure systems like AVG, Norton and McAfee  that constantly stalks and sponges on a weakness or a small byte of unused refuge space to impregnate their demon spawns to filter throughout our systems and wreck havoc without an alarm or even a sound of “Danger, Danger Will Robinson” to give us notification of our immediate and impending doom.

It can fester from within and take down an entire computer operating system within nano seconds by just a few simple keystrokes or a backslash or two. For some reason, I have always seemed to have lived in this long enduring segment of unexpected drama that has been festering around my personal space, but I have been able to fight them off until January 2nd at about 3 am. For some weird reason, I went online to check out the status of one of my daily Fantasy games on ESPN, and checked my Yahoo! mailbag before calling it a night.
 

I instantly heard the warning signal and saw the visual warning about a virus or malware that had seeped through a hole somewhere in my protective layer and was seeping uncontrolled into my operating system freezing keys and computer applications. I could easily imagine seeing the culprit slowly emersing itself as one with my laptop’s motherboard and became a frozen bystander to the horror of watching my system starting to eat itself from within.

Of course being the dumb consumer that I am, I opted quickly for the “Alt, Ctrl, Del ” keys thinking that if I shut down the system in time, this  whole episode might eventually be just a nightmare and my system would be fine in the morning. But of course being the curious soul that I am, I instantly opened the laptop back up and hit the “on” button to  beghin the processes to open my computer to the familiar Window Vista background. I was instantly feeling more secure seeing the computer loading up as usual, but I did not know of the hidden dangers lurking upon my next key punch upon the keyboard. 

I tried to open the IE and Mozilla  browser application, but they refused to load or even pop up at all. They came up instantly as “read only” files and I was getting more and more anxious and worried if I might have done more damage by instantly turning the laptop back on that night. I popped open the file system and clicked on a few of my so-called “protected” picture files and they too showed as only “read only” files.  I was sweating now in the 30 degree temperatures and felt a bit woosy on my feet.

I was beginning to totally internally freak out knowing that two  entire Rays seasons worth of photos and video files might be totally lost  and might have turned into cyber dust because I pushed back efforts to find time to copy them to DVD’s or CD every month, or even store them on a portable external hard drive. My laptop screen suddenly went black and with that, I started to become a dark shade of unmanageable hysteria sitting in my car in a vacant McDonald’s parking lot trying to repair instantly this situation. My computer had somehow magically reconfigured itself into a 10 pound piece of junk right now in my mitts. 


Plancksconstant.org

As it would not simply reboot or even show signs of life after another few hours of stressful, sleepless tossing and turning, I was extremely anxious to see the clock hit 10 am so I could maybe get some sort of answer, or make some sort of burial arrangements for my now dying laptop. For once in my dumb luck life, I was smart enough to have bought the warranty for this dang thing. Because without that extra cost at the check-out line two years ago, this laptop would have just been another electronic piece of junk in the far corner of my storage unit.

I took it back to the electronics supermarket that teased me into buying this great laptop and I was still worried that I might have lost everything I had either downloaded or saved since the Tampa Bay Rays 2008 season.  Included on the hard drive were hundreds of blogs entries (almost 700) that I was archiving to be both printed and downloaded onto an external hard drive for future use.
 

Even as I sat there nervously pacing in front of the computer tech at the shop, he was not sure if anything might have made it through the flashpoint of the infection, or if anything could be salvaged from the laptop’s harddrive/memory. I was going to have to contend in a state of heightened cyber limbo until the unit got back from the Texas repair center, and was made extra nervous after being informed of the potential extended damage or file loss during shipping associated with sending something through the mail (trained monkey) system in 2010.

I was about a inch from totall implosion from a high state of stress associated with the idea of additional delays and the airport security troubles combined with the recent cold rush of air from Canada that was delaying even small commuter flights from flying the friendly skies. I almost volunteered to personally drive the laptop to Texas myself to end the unreal thoughts of piracy or envisioning my laptop burning in the afterglow of a potential disaster enroute to the Lone Star state.  I even became instantly worried about the new fangled “puffer” scanners used at airports that might single out my box because of the faint smell of the internal byte death within the confines of the laptop.

I was freaking out more and more with my imagination overloading on utterly wild scenarios. But I tried to take my mind off all of this by remembering I had a few books (“Confessions of a She-Fan”) I had forgotten to read during the 2009 year, and decided to tackle them while waiting for news or a death summons about my unit. I went through three days of cyber withdrawl without a hint of a human calling me about the laptop. I did finally get some great news about the unit leaving the Texas center on Friday night and instantly trakced the package with my cellphone application of the UPS Tracking system that showed the package had arr
iving at 3 am ( what is it about 3 am?) into Tampa Bay.

I instantly wanted to call the electronic store, but it was 3 am, so I intintively knew that the package was not even in the sorting bin yet at the local UPS depot. But I was so anxious I even thought of calling a friend working at UPS with the package tracking number and having them pull it and pick it up at 9 am when the UPS depot accepted anxious people like me. But I did not do this because I thought of the potential red flags and possible warning signals it would send up since it had my name on the package, but it also had the electronic stores address on the label.

The poor computer tech working on my laptop situation will have to go on an entended vacation after my 30-minute intervals of calling his desk wondering if the item was “in-house” yet. I was curious if all was going to be right again in the Rays Renegade universe after we turned the laptop on for the first time after the repair. To make a long story short here, the unit did come in that Sat afternoon, but it was left in the receiving bay by an absent-minded dock worker before my computer tech walked back there and noticed it on the reciever’s desk.

So he called me first thing on Sunday morning to let me know the unit was there, and the computer company had done a FREE computer “tune-up” and gave me a top notch virus software system at no charge. I arrived to the store and was instantly jittery and pacing back and forth like an expectant parent until it was my time to run up to the counter. I even freaked out the poor tech on duty looking like a addict that was about to attack him for a “fix”.

He quickly plugged the unit into a wall outlet and turned it on. We saw all the usual start up programs hitting their marks and finally I saw my Tropicana Field desktop photo come on the small screen.  I was nervous and shaking as I clicked on the Mozilla icon and it came up “read only” again. The guy saw my face lose all its color and instantly turned the laptop away from my line of vision and hit one button and the screen flickered, then came back to the screen without the Internet browser. I did not even ask him what he did I was in a state of shock, or suffering a slight case of post partem at the moment.

He told me to click on a picture file so we could see if his slight adjustment had done anything. Instantly the file showed “read only”, but then the screen flickered again and the file retuned again as a photo file. He had me click it, and on came the photo of myself and J P Howell taken in August 2009 at the Rays Gamesworks party. I asked him what he did, and he said there was a small note in the box about the last key function that needed to be done  in house the minute we turned the system on at the store.


Neoteccomputer.com

Got to tell you it was a wild 9 days, and even a wilder time in my overly imaginary mind thinking about the possibilities that I might have lost a ton of great memories illustrating in those photos of the fun and excitement of being a Rays fan during the past two seasons. I instantly asked the guy if he could hold onto the computer for a few minutes while I went and got about 100 discs and a Lexmark printer cartridge to get these files duplicated before this danger rears it ugly head again. The tech made sure to tell me before I left with the laptop that millions of online viruses and trojans are developed every day, and if there is an update for my system, I should immediately download it to get an extra level of security for my system.

Some lessions in life are learned through hard work and watching how and what you do in this world. But online, we do not have the same visual reference points and  warning signs we see every day in our lives that help us stamp out danger and see pitfalls. I guess the one great lesson learned here is that you can not let your guard down for a moment online. One click of a keypad, or even a backstroke could send you through the same byte of cyber trouble I have had to endure over the last 9 days. But thanks to some quick repair options by some awesome computer people, you can read me again starting tomorrow. Maybe I should buy another desktop? I am not sure I could stand missing and writing for another 9 days again. But, it might be better to be safe than sorry. You know,just in case.

Do the “Unwritten Rules” need revising?

 

 
             
              www.bernsteinbooks.com


Back in June 2009 while the Tampa Bay Rays were playing a series at home against the Cleveland Indians, the Indians starting catcher at the time,Victor Martinez took an exception to the Tampa Bay Rays base theft B J Upton stealing third base with his team up 9-0. Martinez voiced the opinion that such an action was against the “Unwritten Rules of Baseball” to condone or attempt such an action when your team is so far ahead, or in command of a game.

After the Sunday afternoon  series ending game against the two squads Rays Manager Joe Maddon thought  that maybe those same “Unwritten Rules” needed to be revised since the game had become a lot faster and more powerful then the older version of baseball. We sometimes forget that this simple game of baseball is a actually a complex game built upon the old traditions and viewpoints set forth by the overseers’ of the game over 150 years ago.

Everyone has heard about the unspoken “Code” or “Unwritten Rules” of baseball. They might have been passed down to you by a coach, your father or grandfather , or maybe another player on your squad if you played baseball beyond the High School ranks. While the code has been around for a long, long time, it is still a taboo subject to even be mentioned in the clubhouse by some still playing in the game.

In fact, some players are pretty uneasy to even chat openly about them “on the record” to reporters or even bloggers. For if they even talked about a set of parameters or even rules of conduct within the scope of baseball, and most of them do admit there is a set of rules. This might be the real  life version of the fable of Pandora’s box we read and were scared about as young kids.

The code seems to be built more on the game within the game concept. It can be viewed as a system of intimidation, retaliation and retribution between the hitters and the opposing pitchers.  It main goal seems centered on keeping the game on an even playing field, with no see-sawing of emotions or  out of character action within the finely defined scope of the contest.

Some say that the “rules” have their true basis in the basic emotion of fear, or the fear of pain upon a transgressor of the rules. I have to admit, when I was in college and a 95 mph fastball would come in close on my shoulder or near my knees, it took everything I had in me to stand tall and not bail out from the plate some nights.  For me, the fear of injury or a life after baseball filled with constant pain was a fear basis to play by the code and not tease fate or risk the penalty for abusing the code or trying to circumvent the unwritten rules.

But who is really right here?  Who out of these two self-proclaimed “defenders of the game” was in the right during that Rays/Indians meltdown? Actually, they both seemed to have great cause for their vocal opinions to be the supreme guidance that day. The unwritten bible from baseball infant stage to probably 1950 was envisioned because of the low scoring contests and a more gentlemanly aspect of the game. And in that manner, Martinez might be right.
 

Just as in life, baseball at that time seemed to be based on the puritan aspect of the game, and not the aggressive natures of some players to make an offensive explosion of the contest or put extra pressure on the opposing teams defensive unit. In a sense, Maddon is also correct here. Some of the rules put in place long ago have to be revised or dropped simply because the offensive nature of the game has changed ramatically today.

My generation was taught from an early age to “never give up” or ” fight until the last out.”  While some of the local youth baseball leagues now do not even keep score, and everyone gets to play in the games. And that is fine at the grass roots level, but not in a professional environment such as Major League Baseball. So looking at the game in the retrospect of the past, then some of the rules seem a bit too restrictive and have no sort of wiggle room for sideways interpretation.

It might seem odd to me now for Martinez to scream about an older baseball rule that was based more in the era of 5-6 runs scored during earlier stages of the Major League games compared to the recent run producing blasts of  averaging sometimes over 21 runs a game. Maddon make a good point that some of the games “Unwritten Rules” do need a bit of revision or tweaking. But who if anyone can take on this task and provide a suitable alternative solution to the ever expanding rules and social commentary of the game of baseball? 

                             
                              www.pauldickson.com


So here we are in a no-win situational duel between the physical player and the situational manager battling it out in mind and body during every game. Who is ultimately right? Or are they both wrong in their assessments of the current rule system?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they are both  are partially right. Martinez is using the older set of rules he learned coming up in a storied system like the Indians and used this opportunity to basically foster up a sense of noble entitlement over his actions during the weekend series against the Rays. While on the other hand, Maddon was trying to instill a new aggressive set of offensive based parameters for his own team that currently might at times go against the grain of some of the older rules and standards.

So where do we draw the line? Where is it that we can make the needed changes or even attempt to even bring to light some of the outdated and antiquated rules that seem to beg for a extreme makeover. First let’s take a gander at some of these older established “unwritten rules” and you can be your own judge, jury and executioner on if they are in fact in need of a little twisting or restructuring ( I am not putting the rules in any order, just going to throw out a few for your viewing pleasure).

Unwritten Rule:
Do not steal a base late in a game that isn’t competitive.


This might be the rule
that Martinez was referring to when he accosted Upton about his stealing of both second and third in the sixth inning of a 9-0 game. But what is really the basis of this rule is the “winning squad” doesn’t partake in additional embarrassment, not the team trying to get some runs and make the game competitive.
If your team is winning by a lot of runs, so many that it looks like the game is pretty much over then stealing a base is just rubbing it in.

Unfortunately since it’s an unwritten rule nobody is clear on the modern interpretation of this simple rule. How big of a lead is too big in the modern game? How late in the game is considered “too late” is established by both parties playing in the contest, not by a lone participant in the game. In his scenario and interpretation of this unwritten rule, I think Martinez was grasping for straws and should have just let it go, but bitterness can be a bitter pill to swallow, even for an All Star catcher.


Rienhold Matay / AP

Unwritten Rule:
Always back up your teammates in a fight.

This rule also came into effect during that same Rays vs. Indians series. But what is more concerning is the fact that before the benches did clear, that Martinez was verbally accosting Maddon with profanity and comments that do not ever get voiced to an authority figure off the field, or a team’s Manager. Martinez seemed to have failed in this attempt to fight for his version of the “Unwritten Rules”. Some say baseball teams are like gangs. When a fight starts they all run out and each take a side and face-off.  

Unfortunately the posturing is suppose to be the “united front” effect here, not the actual throwing of punches or gang-tackling that some brawls evolve into during the bench clearing incidents in baseball. 
 

A great example is the Rays Pat Burrell running to look for a pair of baseball pants and a team B P jersey  to wear as he stepped on the field during the bench clearing incident. Burrell was on the training table, deep in the Rays clubhouse getting treatment for his neck injury and came out onto the field in his B P  jersey since he could not find his game jersey at the time. Burrell showed regard for the unspoken rule that you always have your teammates backs in a situation.

Unwritten Rule:
Never bunt to break up a no-hitter. 

 
If an opposing pitcher just has your number that day and can even get to a magical point, or that once-in-a-lifetime level of perfection against your team, you should honor that event, not try and throw it under the bus to establish your own agenda. I’ve never understood this unwritten rule. What if there is not a no-hitter and the score is 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning and the team at bat tries to bunt? Isn’t it considered a viable option for the team to try and win that contest at any cost, but then bunting in a no-hitter situation is thought of as a cheap way to end a no-hitter? 

I do see the respect and the aspect of preserving the integrity of the pitching duel, so I would also consider it a disgrace to try and bunt to end a no-hitter by another pitcher. But then again, I still wish Chicago centerfielder Dewayne Wise had not caught that hard hit ball by Gabe Kapler high up on the centerfield wall during Mark Buhrle’s no-hitter during the 2009 season.

Unwritten Rule :
Do not show up the pitcher after hitting a home run.

I think that this rule is going to get more and more intense in the next few years. As relievers and pitcher also  are adjusting to their own emotional outbursts on the mound, the actions of the batters have been deemed to stay consistent and not provoke a  retaliation or bean ball or even a well placed intentional pitch high and inside at another hitter. This unwritten rule could also be known as the “Don’t do what Sammy Sosa used to do after a dinger” rule.

When a batter hits a home run it is considered rude to jump up and down and celebrate or to watch and admire your homer.  Some say tossing your helmet either towards a dugout or give eye contact to the opposing team before crossing the plate in a “Walk-off” situation is also considered taboo. I  can understand this rule in the game, but if it is a game-winner, You have to consider the rush of emotions that will explode within a players as he rounds those bases. I think I could take a bit of a breather knowing it is a classic event and let the batter slide a bit on it as long as it is not a long linger and a comment or look towards the mound after the ball clears the wall.


Reinhold Matay / AP

Unwritten Rule:
If the opposing pitcher hits one of your batters then you must retaliate and hit one of their batters.

Sometimes there is a reason for a pitcher to take offense to a hitter at the plate. Plucking a hitter has always been a part of the game. And most hitters know when it is going to happen to them in their career no matter if they are respectful or not, it will always be a part of “respecting the game”. Most of the time, a hitter knows it is coming, but sometimes pitchers can take an isolated hitting incident from the far reaches of leftfield and run the situation into a personal vendetta against a hitter. Basically saying that “the other team has insulted us now we’ll show them!”

Major League Pitchers are accurate, sometimes to within millimeters of their targets. Most pitchers intinctively know that they can place the baseball with pinpoint precision exactly where they want it. If a player gets hit in a certain spot, and the situation is ripe for payback, then there is no doubt as to whether or not a bean ball is just that, versus a mis-thrown wild pitch.

That’s the ballplayer’s intuition, or sixth sense, taking over. And here is another thing: If a batter gets nailed with a 95 mph fastball on the fleshy part of his thigh, he had better not act like a baby and start rubbing it. No way. He should suck it up and be a man by simply “walking it off” on his way to first base. Period.

A batter can never let a pitcher know that he hurt him with a pitch, that would be a psychological advantage and a clear sign of weakness. The code forbids it unless he is knocked unconscious or bleeding bad enough to warrant some medical
attention.

So here we have listed a few of the “Unwritten Rules” that most of the fans of this great game might already know. There are really tons of pages of antiquated and outdated rules that do need to be readdressed and potentially modernized to support the current pace and future aspects of the game. But it is not my place to sport the revolution of the rules .

That has to be done within the confines of the sport itself.  Either by the members of the teams, their managers, the Major League umpires, or even the guy who lines and grade the turf and clay for each game at your ballpark. Isn’t it a grand notion to know that a set of rules ,or a simple code is  still alive and well and permanently in place to keep the respect and the admiration of the game within guideline for all of us to enjoy in the stands every season.
 

But if I had to put a quick personal summarization of the code, it would be a simple fact of respect for the essence of the game of baseball. A level of respect for the players, the history of the game and the hopeful promise of good sportsmanship by the opposition. In a true one sentence line, it is the players’ sacrificing personal glory for the good of the team and the game.

Sunday Rewind: “Options for Broadcast Changes to the Home Run Derby”

 

 
Blogger’s Note:

As it has been my custom this off season to pry the rusty hinges of my archives and troll fror some of the better stuff I have written during 2009, this installment was first posted on July 14,2009 right after I ended the chaos of watching the “ESPN Baseball Three Stooges” do their thing boring and completely putting to sleep the audience during another State Farm Home Run Derby telecast.

The ideas might be filled with an ocean of controversy for MLB or even ESPN to promote change within the structure of the broadcast seats during this telecast, but I would rather watch this event with the sound off than hear one more Joe Morgan “back in the Day” reference about how the “Old Timer’s” did it.  And Chris Berman, I love you dude, but there are only so many “back…Back..Back..” moments I can hear in a broadcast before my ears bleed. 

Here we go again people, eight hours until all the fun surrounding the 2009 All Star game starts all over again. But hopefully tonight’s game will not have that rambling and totaly brain numbing feel of last night’s State Farm Home Run Derby. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching a home run as much as the rest of you, but it did not have the same flavor and thrill for me anymore for some reason.

Not to say there were no majestic swats into the outfield caverns encompassing Busch Stadium during that event.  There were a few blasts that evoked a realistic awe factor from me watching from my couch peering in HD at my big screen, but for some weird reason, the thrill of the event, the anxious anticipation of watching one go deep into the night sky and the true spectacle of  seeing a power display all seemed a bit subdued  and dull for some reason.

I sat there and tried to wander back into the caverns of my mind and seek an answer to why I felt this way. But it wasn’t until I heard the shriek of  “Back…Back…Back!” surrounding me as it thundered over the living room from my television screen by ESPN legend Chris Berman. It was then that it all finally began to click and fall into place. The  thrill and magestic power displayed during this event was not falling by the wayside for me, it was the stale and predictable audio coming out of the mouth of  the “Three Stooges” clones/commentating of Berman, MLB Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, and former Met GM Steve Phillips.

For some reason, during every participants at bats the trio made sure to fill our brains with great information and thrilling backstories into the player’s rise to this level of the game. But it was instantly ruined by the cliche’s and all around locker room banter that should be reserved for pre and post game discussions, not for a four hour event during Prime Time. Sometimes I wish that the head honchos’ at MLB notice this air of bad breath during the game and decide collectively to maybe select as commentators’ some of the great voices  from parks around the Major Leagues to come out and broadcast the Home Run Derby as a tribute to their announcing chops. and expand their own fanbase.

Locally here with the Tampa Bay Rays, we have been blessed with a pretty good broadcast crew on both the television and the radio over our short history. But then again every city has  been blessed at some time in their history with that same distinction. Maybe MLB can regenerate that anticipation and excitement for the Home Run Derby again by instituting a much needed vocal change in the on-the-field staff covering the event.

By including a renowned or even Hall of Fame level broadcaster into the mix, it would bring a local flavor to the event that most of the 29 MLB teams never get to experience during that club’s 81 home games. Not that I would not love to see  St. Louis Cardinals and Fox broadcaster Joe Buck pop down there like he did last night, but  there is such a treasure trove of talent speaking into mics all around baseball during the regular season.
 

I  am all for a wild idea like maybe one of the radio or television voices from the hosting stadium’s broadcast team to pop down there even for a few hitters to break up the stagnant flow of garbage that sometimes filters during this contest. I mean, anyone, even the Hot Dog vendor up in the Upper Deck would make more sense at times than Phillips, and I bet he would do a better job just by simply sitting down in the chair.

I hear too much of Phillips wishy-washy mentality just during his “ESPN Baseball Tonight” telecasts, do I have to be subjected to him again during a fun and exciting event like the Home Run Derby?  So with that in mind, even thought the event is now over for this season, I would have loved to hear some banter from St. Louis broadcaster and baseball legend Al Hrabosky during that four hour span. He is not only a St. Louis folk legend and former Cardinal player, but a pretty entertaining and informed broadcaster in his own right. Plus, he has played in this style of game and knows what might be going on behind-the-scenes with better clarity than the present trio. 

Hrabosky has been up in the television booth for  13 straight seasons for the Cardinals doing the telecasts for FSN-Midwest. He started his broadcasting chops back in 1985 for the Cardinals doing telecasts on several different venues before finally finding his home on FSN-Midwest.  “The Mad Hungarian” would have been a instant hit for the fans watching at home who used to watch his antics on and behind the pitching mound during his playing career.

But also of note would have been the telling of stories by fathers and grandfathers watching the event parlaying tales of Hrabosky during his pitching career to their kids or grand kids watching this great  reliever legend relive the game with us.

That would bring a spark to the Home Run Derby. To bring a local broadcasting iconic figure into the broadcast team for the entire event would bring a new light of the game to other fans. Bringing baseball’s golden voices to the mic would be a great dramatic gesture to engulp us again in the pride and legends of the game with their additional stories and ad libs that would keep the audience interested even during a lull in the action at the plate.

Do not fret Phillips, I do not instantly dislike your mindless banter on this aged panel, but I want to All Star game to be about special instances and  great situations, not  about the tales I can hear from a guy I get to listen to, and ignore for 162 games a year on ESPN.

My picking of Hrabosky is no slight to the other broadcasters like Mike Shannon in the radio booth ,or even Jay Rudolph or Dan McLaughlin who are also great figures for the Cards. I am only trying to find the diamond-in-the-rough that will get people glued to the television, plus give the nation an opportunity to hear other broadcasters during the Home Run Derby.

Who knows, maybe in the 2010 event hosted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim we can get ex-player Rex Hudler or Mark Gubicza to come on board and bring some special Angels flavor to the Home Run Derby panel. 

And Joe Morgan, I love your stories…. sometimes, but maybe we need to hear someone else for a while who can keep me entertained and interested in the broadcast instead of me doing re-tweets and hoping for a commercial break so we can see something more exciting like a commercial instead of your constant re-hashing and speculations about each of the Derby hitters. I am beginning to see a pattern in your sight observations on the hitters. I have heard the same lines, but tweaked a bit left or right about hitters for the last few years by you on the ESPN Sunday Night games, and it is growing very old and tiresome to me.

So my idea to replace Morgan might be the best one yet.
You see, I am not voting for myself or another fan to replace Morgan, that would be too easy, but maybe MLB, which is spending millions of dollars on this 3-day festival can get ESPN to bend their rules a bit from their current mundane announcers to let maybe another MLB legend, or newcomer take the reins from Morgan for awhile. I am going to use the Rays Dewayne Staats as my example because I have some familiarity with his broadcast persona.

He is someone who will be the in the broadcaster wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame before his career is all said and done, and would be a  exciting breath of fresh air not only for the fans viewing the event, but to hear a voice that has called some of the most remarkable and memorable games during his long career.

To let the younger viewers, or even the older generation like me enjoy some of the voice around the league at that table would be an true All Star experience. Maybe if not Staats, then Seattle M’s  great voice Dave Niehaus, who was admitted into the broadcasters wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.  He is a voice that people on the east coast of the United States do not get to hear at all, and his booming voice would bring more energy and substance to the game knowing it is their national spotlight to shine and shoiw why they are one of the best ever to announce a MLB contest.

That is not to say I would not like to hear other new voices like Arizona’s Daron Sutton, who is in only his third year with the Diamondbacks. Each of these guys, even at their opposite points in their careers would be another taste of the MLB for each of the fans to savor during the All Star week. To bring about the change where the MLB audience gets to hear some of the voices and charisma that fans throughout the league get to hear each night might be a great influx of new energy and enthusiasm at the broadcast table during the Home Run Derby.

They are voices that do not get to be heard unless it is below a clip on the Internet or ESPN now. Or their voices get echoed around the playoff times for substantial calls or historic moments.

 
I have loved hearing Berman call games and events for year and years, but in that same statement, there lies the problem. Years and years….. I have also heard the same phrases rolled over and over until they should have a toe tag attached to them and delivered to a crematorium for burning. How many time last night did Berman try and elevate Albert Pujols to cult status during the broadcast even though he was involved in a 3-way tie in the first round. I mean come on, he was the home town favorite….How much pumping up do you really have to do to get the crowd involved…….Duh! 

But in comparison, in 2008 during this same event, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton last deserved that level of praise. Players like Bobby Abreu also garnered that respect and attention a few years ago in the Home Run Derby, but Pujols was not the giant that night. After his first round 11 home runs, you really did not get the feeling the panel really was going for Prince Fielder until his semi-final round was complete. But the worst thing about last night was the odd comments or “fillers” being thrown around left and right by the enitre panel to fill air time.

There could have been better stories about players like the Rays Carlos Pena or even Ranger slugger Nelson Cruz that would have made you want to root for them. Like the fact Pena had a dream before the end of his first Spring Training with the Rays back in 2007, (he was a non-roster invitee) about getting on the team’s charter pflight for the trip to New York with his fellow Rays teammates for that first series against the Yankees.

Or maybe they could have brought up the pure fact about how an injury in the last Spring Training game to Rays DH Greg Norton opened the door wide for Pena to hit 101 Home runs since that moment in the major leagues. Or maybe  the panel could have dug a bit deeper and seen that Pena went from a non-issue minor leaguer with the New York Yankees system in 2006 to parlay his time with Rays into the 2007 Comeback Player of the Season, or how he escalated his game in 2008 and won the Silver Slugger award at First Base in the American League, or even boost his reputation more by winning a Gold Glove. The elevation of his game was the reason for his All Star selection, not just his current home run total. It was the mythical rise of the phoenix of his career from the bottom to the top.

Heck, I even got a few people tweeting I should do the broadcasting of the Derby. First off, I am honored, and I did take a aptitude test back at Eckerd College in 1976 that told me my two vocations that stressed my strengths was law and radio in that ord
er. But that is another chapter to discuss at another time. I have some ideas to maybe invite some fellow fans who love to broadcast to maybe be invited to participate in the on-air duties during the Taco bell celebrity and athletes softball game to give it a different flavor. Maybe that is the stage for me to  see the MLB break out of the norm and have a good time with it all.

I have to admit, I did have more fun watching rapper Nellie making his diving catches and seeing gymnast Shawn Johnson doing her rendition of Ozzie Smith’s flip during that game’s broadcast. It made me want to watch the annual softball game again next season. And that is new for me. I usually watch about 10 minutes of it all then click to something else, but last night I got interested. And no, it was not because I fell in visual lust/love again with Jenna Fisher from “The Office”.

The Home Run Derby was based on a 1959 show with the same title. That show evolved into the present day model we see during the All Star game. For this fan popular event to evolve more might take some hard stances by MLB with their broadcast partners, but for one night shouldn’t the event be about the broadcasters of the MLB and their premier hitters. A combining of the two forces both vocal and physical could bring about a renewed interest in the viewing of the Home Run Derby.

The All Star game will always be the focal point of the three days, but to elevate the Home Run Derby a bit would only bring more money and more exposure to other facets of the MLB. By letting other MLB broadcasters showcase their talents during the event would make someone in San Diego or even another country outisde the United States want to hear another game called by Boston Red Sox’s Jerry Remy or maybe even the Chicago White Sox’s Ken Harrelson. It would mean more revenue for the MLB through the MLB.TV packages, and also retain some interest of fans outside their current markets to maybe attend away games and boost attendance in some manner.

To expand the minds of baseball fans is not always an easy task, but for us to enjoy hearing some of the legends and growing talent around the league maybe call the Home Run Derby would be a deep, deep shot into the night and would be a solo shot for everyone involved with baseball.

It is now your choice MLB. You can take this advice and use it as your own, or you can just let the Derby stagnate until the viewership goes down and you do not know why. It is time for a change, and here I listed a few easy solutions, the rest is up to you. Do it for the fans. Do it for the International viewers. Do it for the expansion of the sport around the globe. Or like Nike loves to say………”Just Do it!”

Looking Back on my 2009 Rays Resolutions

 


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Sorry I have been able to post anything since New Year’s Eve, but things have been a little upside down in my little slice of the world. Not going to get into it, but if you know me, you know the restricted economical parameters of my lone wolf existence.

I was thinking last night about turning the pages back to my post back on January 1,2009 where I listed my  2009 New Year’s Rays Resolutions blog and see if my quarter-tossing guesses and totally dillusional dreams for the Tampa Bay Rays had either mysteriously evaporated or suddenly materialized for the team.

We all know just how difficult it is sometimes to partition our post-baseball lives  to readjust back into our normal lifestyles with the absence of games nightly. And with my 2009 resolutions coming just a few months off the heels of the Rays first playoff push in team history, I am more than a bit curious to see if now those resolutions might have been a bit over zealous, or might have struck true center and be totally in line with the team’s seasonal performance.

But even if I did get a bit over excited and tranform my hopes and dreams into slight misguided illusions, isn’t that within the vein of the competitive spirit of the fan, who always  wants to see the birght side of life in regards to their team?  We all want to trust and believe that bigger and better things are always on the horizon for our squads, even as the skies turn suddenly dark and the wind begins to howl.  You want to believe in solidarity of the true existence of the team dream. 

You have to actively possess that unrelentless faith that the “much needed” team weapons will somehow materialize like that weird frost upon your car windshield in the morning, or that the Bullpen will again be a brickwall to your team’s lofty and ever-rising ride of success. So lets take a short jaunt back about 365 days and formally check out my bubble-headed prognostications to see if any of my 2009 resolutions for the Rays might have actually had some merit to them, or the whole thing was just dust in the wind.


Mike Carlson / AP 

2009 Resolution 1:

Find a right-handed bat that can help the offense take it to the next level.

Wow! This resolution could go a few different directions at the same time. But the true fact is that it might all actually depend on if you want to throw Pat Burrell’s 2009 fiasco into the pot here. I have thrown Burrell under the bus enough times during 2009 for this resolution to actually take on water and headed for the briny deep waters near Egmont Key.

But lost in the shuffle was  the fact to totally look at the last two prior Rays season performances at the Designated Hitter spot and seeing that Burrell’s stats were really about average for the Rays. But that pure instance doesn’t get him out of Elvis’s locker room doghouse because Burrell was brought onto this squad to boost a sagging offense and  was paid hansomely for his efforts.

I am willing to give him a slight partial pass here due to his neck situation that might have thrown a confidence and concentration monkey wrench into his “game shape” for 2009. Burrell did show some offensive firepower, but we are starving to see it on a more consistent basis, and it will be demanded of him in 2010.  Not lost in all of this negativity is the fact he did produce 14 homers in the season, but they were all hit against right-handers, so Burrell definitely needs to readjust and refocus this off season to come in and conquer in 2010, or he will be considered a huge bust maybe in the company of Vinny Castilla.

Resolution 2:

Find a southpaw reliever to compliment the Bullpen.

This simple resolution might have actually been achieved by the Rays stockpiling a few left-handed  experienced relievers at the Triple-A level prior to the team’s 2009 Opening Day. We did have southpaw lefty-specialist Brian Shouse primarily on the 25-man roster as a leftie specialist, but like Burrell, Shouse had his own series of ups and down via the injury bug in 2009  amd might not be considered a totally successful signing by the team.

And because the Rays hide a few options in their minor league system, when Shouse was put on the diasabled list on May 25th with a left elbow strain, it opened the door for a former Yankee reliever to come up and dramatically change the late inning game from the left-side of the mound. Randy Choate seemed at times to be a man on a mission and gained more and more confidence as the Rays 2009 season progressed. You can not discount his  stellar .141 batting average against left-handers, or even his 5-for-5 perfect mark in save possibilities for the Rays this past season. 

Just when the Rays  were craving a clutch performer after a few unforeseen blown save situations, and a quickly downward spiraling in relief performances, Choate came up to appear in 61 of the Rays final 114 games. To throw a huge exclamation point on Choate’s 2009 performances, before  his call-up by the team in 2009, Choate had appeared in 196 games and had never produced a save. Choate definitely did not choke for the Rays in 2009.


Mike Carlson/ AP

Resolution 3:


Get 1 of the 2 best young players on your team a contract extension.

This was one of the 2009 resolutions that I thought would  definitely get some extreme attention by the Rays front office at some moment in the 2009 season. With the team stressing they are “borrowing on tomorrow” right now with their increasing payroll demands, you thought Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman might chart a clear map on this one as a top priority to supplant a possible unforeseen huge arbitration dollar figure, or a series of multiple arbitration seasons by a number of players to substancially see a rise of ever increasing salary demands without a solid prediction for the Rays future payrolls.

I thought for sure the Rays first comfirmed target here would be to entice Rays starting pitcher Matt Garza  to a contract extension for “services rendered”, and to reward him now for the huge upside he could provide the Rays in the next three years. Sure everyone wants to bring up moments with his emotional and temper situations as fodder to not extend him, but lost in that mumbo jumbo shuffle might be the pure fact he has the ability to be the first pitcher to post a no-hitter for the Rays.

As of today, there is no sign of this evolving into a multi-year scenario before he goes for his 2010 arbitration hearing. Garza’s abilities on the mound in 2009 could easily boost his salary from his $ 433,300. in 2009, to an estimation of $ 3.5 million through arbitration. And you would have thought it prudent and responsible of a money conscious Rays to maybe nip this escalation in the bud and give him a deal comparible to the contract James Shields signed in 2008, but there are no clear signs of that happening any time soon for Garza. And Garza is only the first in a ever increasing line that includes centerfielder B J Upton and reliever J P Howell to secure some financial stability over the next three seasons for the team.

Resolution 4:

Sign Jason Giambi already.

I actually thought Giambi might have been a great addition to the Rays, and we know this whole scenario never materialized, so this might be a short resolution explanation. Even though Giambi did go on to play over 102 games in Oakland before heading onto the Rockies post season roster, the “Giambino” had a subpar season and actually did not even hit the low average plateau achieved  by Burrell with the Rays in 2009.

It is actually funny to think Giambi hit worse than Pat “The Bat” Burrell, but then again, both did do a few mis-timed stints on the disabled list this season and neither seemed to get into a solid flow at the plate. In hindsight, 2009 might actually turn out to be Giambi’s last chance to play full-time with a potential off-the-bench position staring him in the face for 2010 and beyond.



RRCollections

Resolution 5: 


Keep the team chemistry up high and the success will come again.

Here is another resolution that might totally be up to your own personal interpretation on the Rays 2009 season. We all know the stories of Rays Manager Joe Maddon’s great inspirational speeches and motivational quotes that are meant to boost and inflate confidence like a balloon, but this Rays team did seem to miss a huge chunk of clubhouse chemistry in 2009.

Some say it was the departure of type-A personalities like Eric Hinske, Cliff Floyd and Johnny Gomes took a huge presence and electric feel out of the clubhouse. But even with the two bigger than life cartoon characters of Gomes and Hinske gone, there still was the increasing confidence and emotional moment stature of “El Presidente” Carlos Pena. And  you have to admire the guy for trying to step it up a few notches trying to fill those big shoes left by the trio, but Pena was only one guy, and could only beat the drum so loud in 2009.

Most of Pena’s teammates seemed to be relying on themselves and their close knit groups formed within the team to boost their confidence and act as support systems throughout the season. The Bullpen definitely had their own “vibe” in the clubhouse, and the Rays starters seemed to have their own “inside jokes” throughout the season. Dioner Navarro took the role of the “shaving cream pie” bandit in 2009, and even got Madddon during one post-game interview on television.

And the Rays did try and promote their road trips like a Carnival cruise night with events like the “White Party” and “Cowboy Up” during roadtrips.  Some had great success, and a few might have been better left in the closet. One idea did seem to backfire a bit on the Rays. Maddon, being a huge Johnny Cash fan, had the inspirational idea of the “Ring of Fire” all-black traveling party during the Rays push towards the playoff in 2009. But from the first moment Maddon came out of his Manager’s office in the Rays clubhouse sporting that jet black hair, the idea seemed headed quickly like lemmings to the cliff.

Not sure why the idea ended up backfiring to produce a loss spiral that quickly deflated the Rays playoff hopes like a lead balloon. The Rays ended up losing 11 out of their first 13 games in September. Adding insult to injury was the disasterious timing of imploding against their American League East foes for the rest of the season. From the first dark-haired moment on August 19th by Maddon,the Rays posted only 3 wins against Boston and New York in their 13 games during September/October.
 

I actually think I went 1-4 in my quest to throw some early logical explanation into 2009 prior to the season. Sure we all want to think that  as fans, we truly have such an underlying persona that we can make people hit the ball or even throw a bit harder, but in reality, we can only encourage and become louder in the stands hoping that more positive results take root on the field.


Chris O’Meara / AP

Even if my 2009 resolutions did fall on hard times, the Rays season was filled with great unexpected moments and showed  more than a few times those glimpses of unforeseen promise that makes you proud to follow the team. Even the best at “predicting” seem to get it wrong most of the time, so my first dive into the resolution pool did not produce a total failure, but did produce a few questions. For we got to see baseball played again in the Tampa Bay area during 2009. We got to again gather as an extended family to root, boo and even console each other after some great games in 2009. 

I have always been one of those firm believers in that you “win some, and you lose some” mentality both inside and outside of the sporting world. I mean if I really believed everything that has been written about teams just in our own division, then I would pack it up after April 1st and throw out that immortal Chicago Cubs line, “We will get ‘em next year!” But I go into day like this first one in 2010 thinking we have as good a chance as the other 30 Major League Baseball teams to hoist that golden trophy to the heavens this October. And who knows……….

 

 

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