Results tagged ‘ Alex Rodriguez ’
We as a collective baseball world knew under no uncertain terms this cleat was to fall. That Alex Rodriguez would definitely pay some sort of penance for defying Major League Baseball, but none of us if it was to be an abbreviated sentence or seasonal exile. Now that we know the price ($25,000,000) and length (162 games + any possible 2014 post-season visit) such defiance will cost A-Rod, only time will tell if we have seen the last of the defiant one on any MLB diamond.
You can speculate anything you want right now, but when A Rod finishes his “sentence”, he would have been off any regular season diamond within the MLB for almost 2 years. He has already flaunted the idea to the masses he will try and roll into the New York Yankees Spring Training site in Tampa, Florida this February hoping to put some mind at ease on his entire shenanigans, but the reality is the Yankees and most importantly MLB has time between now and mid-February to not only forbid such an arrival, but possibly shut A Rod out of an y rehab, conditioning or even a slight eye glance towards their Tampa facilities.
Right now with A Rod saying he will strut into Spring Training, the ball is in the Yankees court firsthand to either welcome him with open arms, or a clenched fist. It is actually a bit of a double-edged swords for the Pinstripes. The Yankees brass already know that the upholding of A Rod’ suspension by the arbitrator in essence saved them $ 25 million this season and some might view A Rod’s arrival as him accepting that final verdict and wanting to get his legal, and professional ducks in a row for a possibly re-birth in the Spring of 2015.
Honestly I do not see a lot of olive branches and love being shown at this moment for Rodriguez, but there is almost 4 weeks between now and their report date for pitchers and catchers, so anything can happen…….and MLB could ultimately take any harmonious union between the team and A Rod firmly out of Rodriguez’s and the Yankees hands.
One serious roadblock besides the shunning of MLB upon any out-stretched hands to Rodriguez might be the simple fact A Rod will head to Tampa, Fl in about a month’s time with so much baggage you have wonder if the franchise really wants the spotlight off the 2014 team that will cross the chalk lines this April, or corral daily and with hesitation the impending the media circus that would definitely surround such an activity with the focus upon everything A Rod being in the crosshairs.
Such a move could be a blow to the formulation of a cohesive Spring chemistry of the Yankees squad as the focus would be squarely upon who mans the “hot corner” in any or all spring training games and if there is not a solid and viable candidate who can do so with defensive and offensive finesse, the media could end up baiting the Yankees to internally question someone or everyone above their pay grade.
In the end you have to wonder if any spring arrival by A Rod will be to boost team morale or be a last plea to stroke his ego and importance until he has to fade into the background and possibly find play outside the MLB norms. Right now would be a great time for the Minor League Baseball governing unit to stand behind the MLB and the arbitrator’s decision by not letting any Yankee affiliate use A Rod on any of their rosters, effectively showing a sense of solidarity from Rookie ball to the MLB-level.
Personally, I would not want a play who is facing such a negative circumstance aside me in the dugout. Rodriguez has no one to blame in this situation but himself and his legal commando squad. He could of admitted something, possibly gotten a reduced expulsion from the game, but right now him even showing up in Tampa, he would be a viable pariah and whose action could further burn both himself and the Yankees brass with any actions or unfounded counteractions. Best case scenario is either A Rod fades into the background for the 2014 season, licks his wounds and get physically in the best shape possible and make a return in 2015….or not at all. What Rodriguez ultimately decides over the next 4 weeks will say as much about his ego and not his lost paycheck.
But then again, the Yankees could release him and he would be someone else’s problem come spring 2015……Hopefully Rodriguez does what is best for himself, what’s left of his reputation and possibly hopes and prays the Yankees dump him sometime this season. I mean everyone loves an underdog situation, and if A Rod is team-less and free to roam to whoever needs his services, a change of attitude and scenery might be the best thing ever to happen to him.
Hope A Rod makes the right moves for everyone involved.
Before 2007, there might have been minimal discussions before the Tampa Bay Rays buckled down and ultimately decided to partake in a day/night doubleheader this Saturday with their bitter rival, the New York Yankees. In a move that shocked some within the Yankees organization, the Rays did an about face and rejected every intention and submission to “play two” for any reason on Saturday.
People forget that the Stuart Sternberg and Rays Vice-President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman have evolved this same Rays laughingstock into a more refined and calculated risk management based organization that does due diligence on every single minute detail. Such a double dose of baseball taxes an already tired and walking wounded Rays club heading into the All-Star break. It also put into play a few sinister and equally positive scenarios that could favor the Rays.
By vetoing a doubleheader, even in the traditional sense, the Rays can by-pass young hurler Jeremy Hellickson and instead position top pitchers David Price and James Shields to take the hill in the last 2 contests before the break. By sending their best arms into the fray, the Rays can possibly with 2 victories pull close to the Yankees, plus give themselves a great emotional cushion heading into the second half of the season.
Evan Longoria, one of the Rays who has seen more than his share of nagging pains this first half summed it up to the New York Times : “ As for as both teams go, it’s not real smart for us to play a doubleheader. It stretches guys out. It doesn’t give an opportunity for a couple of teams to rest those who are banged up and just play one game, and then another one.”
Sure the departure from usual Major League Baseball fiscal logic to get the games done might seemed a bit biased to the Rays side at this moment, but it actually might play into the Yankees court come September. With a proposed make-up date of Thursday, September 22, 2011, the Rays will already be in town after completing a 2-game set against the Bronx Bombers.
Lost in all the impending current drama plus pomp and circumstance surrounding Yankee Captain Derek Jeter’s “Quest for 3,000” is the fact the Yankees right now have their own “walking wounded situations. We all know of the recent plight of Jeter, but the Yankees Bullpen is currently not up to snuff with the revolving injury bug hitting from set-up guys to their closer.
The Rays might actually be giving the Yankees a hidden break by letting them “get healthy” instead of pushing their Bullpen through multiple game situations. With their late inning executioner Mariano Rivera watching from the bench, it would be the perfect time for the Rays to possibly “steal one” from the Yankees, but that is also not this new Rays regime’s style.
So as you Yankee fans are cursing out Rays Manager Joe Maddon and the Rays organization this weekend over possibly ruining the Jeter parade, remember it was the Rays who also used their pitching to delay Alex Rodriguez’s march to 500.
With the Rays refusing a day/night doubleheader, it ups the ante that Jeter will have to get his cherished hits in the next 2 contests against the Rays best pitchers. In hindsight, Jeter would possibly want to get it against 2 of the better hurlers in his division than wait until going into Rogers Centre against the Toronto Blue Jays after the break. By the way, after the Jays, the Yankees come into Tropicana Field.
This Rays franchise has grown a lot since the days of being the AL East doormat, and possibly this is another firm example of the type of team/organization this has become since former owner/founder Vince Namoli and ousted G M Chuck LaMar left the building. I actually think it was a stroke of subtle brilliance, and I give credit to Maddon and Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman.
Most M L B Clubs might have accepted the day/night duo of games without incident, but the Rays challenged the process and rejected the norm. Soon enough we will find out if the cards played in the Rays favor, or the Yankees.
But possibly the always thinking Maddon hit the real situation square on the head when he told the New York Times : “Where we are at right now, if I had my druthers about it, we would choose later. At this point in the first half guys are run down. I like the idea you have expanded rosters in September.”
Spoken like a true rebel to the norm….and I like it!
Did you know that some every day medications we as fans can personally purchase ourselves over-the-counter with or without a doctor’s script can mask a potential MLB positive drug result. With so many knock-offs of well-known medications, or off-brands on store shelves and register countertops, you could purchase a single medicine that could trigger a positive test without ever knowing the basic “banded” substance or masking agent was included in the product.
There are so many over-the counter drugs that can mask the elements of a player’s attempted level of drug deceit. The reality is that most of us, on a daily basis, would or could fail a MLB mandated test if we submitted our samples. But the high paced culture of life today doesn’t mandate an abstinence from these types of products, or warns us of their extra ordinary properties.
How many of us have really read through any of those medicine pamphlets the pharmacy gives us when you get a new medication? I know I usually only read the dosage and the possible side effects section then chuck it into the trash can. A majority of the drugs mentioned today can be obtained via a doctor’s script at any pharmacies throughout the world, or even online.
If these drugs were prescribed to you personally and you discovered their innate athletic performance advantages, would you still use them?
I am not implying here that you would use a scientific loophole provided by an over-the-counter medication to get an advantage, but if it can help give you an extra zip or punch without causing a bevy of red flags in a possible urine or blood tests, would you use it? Let’s dive right into this hidden OTC medicine cabinet.
The first one up is the literally hair raising drug known as Finasteride or known better as its brand name Propecia. Testosterone has a vital part in 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 but has a hidden medical kicker of helping eliminate hair loss and start new hair growth. But Propecia also contains a chemical that can be used to mask the use and effects of anabolic steroids in the body because of the overproduction 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. Curious?
The second medicine under the heat lamp is Sidenafil Citrate or better known as Viagra. Most men might use this mentioned medicine to help the ill effects of certain body function which helps dilate the body’s blood vessels to expand and take in more oxygen and rid the muscles of dangerous toxins.
Viagra is really helpful in participating in games at higher 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 and the decrease oxygen intake associated with these altitudes. It can give a short term advantage to athletes playing games in the Mountain time zone, then resort back to their normal breathing habits after the pill is gone from their system.
The third drug introduced today was developed to help the aging male population find relief from the ill effects of male pattern baldness. This drug also has been known to hide traces of steroids by masking the symptoms within it’s own chemical molecular bonds. Minoxidil or better known as Rogaine, is one of those drugs that is available right on our grocer’s shelf, and can be purchased with total anonymity.
Rogaine was first developed as a potential cure for hypertension, but its side advantages came to light when suffers began to see renewed growth in their hair follicles. It is important here to note that a common side effect of steroid use is hypertension, or a renewed state of anxiousness.
Rogaine can be used as a chemical mask to offset the hypertension as well as keep the hair follicles intact on the user during the duration of using the medication. This is also a drug that can be used in plain sight within the Clubhouse and most people around you will not give it a second thought.
Now onto a medication that was initially developed to help combat weight loss without throwing your body into a severe crash diet scenario. This Drug is Liothronine also known as Cytomel. The medication is a synthetic form of the thyroid hormone needed by the body to controls our metabolism. Cytomel can be used by a sly trainer/user to get fast results via a six-week cycle to help get body fat down quicker.
It also helps its regain 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 massive 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.
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 highly 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 which helps regulate the production of DHT, which is the main contributor to the formation of bacne.
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 because of that, it can give a secondary sight recognition to the possible steroid usage.
But there are also other medicines that are used by drug/steroid users to mask intent like Methylphenidate or Ritalin, which gives the user more focus and puts them “in-the-zone” quicker. It was amazing the when MLB banned the stimulant in 2006, the MLB’s drug exemption paperwork for usage therapeutically skyrocketed among players.
I did not post this to have people second guess or even try and investigate an MLB player’s medicine cabinet, then announce its content to the World. I wanted to show that even a person outside the game of baseball can produce or even hide a positive MLB drug test without actively knowing it. But they do not ban us from the ballpark…..yet.
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.
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?
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?
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.
With today bringing the 2009 All-Star game fan voting to an end, it is now time for people to try and predict, influence or even try and persuade some of the rest of the baseball world that their guys truly deserve a slot in the All-Star game in St. Louis on July 14. The official results will not be aired or known until at least this Sunday, but there is speculation and even rampant optimism that at least one star of your local team will grace the roster announced on Sunday during the 2009 MLB All Star Selection Show presented by Pepsi on Sunday on TBS at 1 pm.
The American baseball public has responded to cast 223.5 million votes from 17.8 million ballots to set a new record for the total number of ballots and votes cast in the fan balloting of the All Star game. Of course this is not the last time they will get a chance to vote for a member of the 2009 All Star squad. On Sunday during the telecast, the “last chance” voting opportunity also known as the “All Star Game Sprint Final Vote”. Wow, what a clever name for the contest. As we all know, the Rays Evan Longoria won that last selection vote in 2008, and so far has been the highest vote getter in the American League side of voting this season.
The All Star Managers, the National League’s Charlie Manuel and the American Leagues Joe Maddon will help select the five players to take part in the final vote. This voting will continue until next Tuesday at 4 pm EST when all electronic votes will be counted and submitted to MLB for final approval. MLB.com will announce the winner after 4 pm and they will represent their league in the 2009 All Star game.
Who will get that last slot this season? Could it be the guy who comes in fifth or sixth in the outfield, or maybe even a late bloomer like Texas Ranger shortstop Elvis Andrus. Since my team is located in the American League, I am going to try and make some predictions and logical choices to be considered for the 2009 A L side of the field. For me to even consider who might make it on the NL side of the equation might be more speculation than fact, and I will leave that to the bevy of ESPN columnists more qualified than me to know the National League. So without further ado, let me try and figure out the final 32 members of the AL squad I would expect and also select if I was in the AL Manager’s cleats.
For the Final vote, hmm, this might be a bit interesting this season. I am thinking that the Rays will again have a member on the five people selected for the Final Vote. This season it will be uber-utility player Ben Zobrist. I think Maddon wants to put him on the squad, but he might already have three players on the squad at that point and might leave it up to the voting public for the last slot. For what he has done in the first half of the season, he deserves it, but does the rest of the country agree with the Rays fans.
A second player I feel might be considered for the final vote will be Toronto Blue Jay shortstop Marcus Scutaro. Based on his defensive and offensive mastery in 2009, he should be an outside candidate to be included as the second shortstop on the squad. He is being a bit punished by New York Yankees long stay Derek Jeter taking the starting spot, and the Rays Jason Bartlett maybe taking the second slot. But this could change and they could also be swapped if the Jays do not place another player on the squad, but with Jays starter Roy Halladay now healthy, you have to consider him for your pitching staff.
I am also thinking that MLB and Maddon might let the fans decide if Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez deserves a slot on the team after his PED conversations and his recent emergence to again hitting like the old A-Rod. This might be the place for the general public to either voice their support or disgust for his actions. The Yankee star will not be voted into the starting line-up this season as Longoria is the probable starter at third base this season for the AL.
The fourth player that might find himself on the Final Vote will be Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter. This season with Jason Bay now on the AL-side of the voting, he has taken a usual spot taken by one of the trio of Hunter, the Rays Carl Crawford, and another former AL and NL All Star Seattle’s Ken Griffey Jr. Hunter has been a fixture on ESPN’s Sportscenter and also Baseball Tonight for his defensive web gems, and it might be the publics votes that get him into the event.
The last guy to be on the vote for the All Star Game Sprint Final Vote has been mentioned above. I am thinking that Maddon and MLB would both like to see Ken Griffey Jr. in the All-Star game again, this time on the AL side of the field. The guy has been the role model for my generation on how to play the game with style, grace and a smile during all 162 games. With his addition to this last vote, it would bring about a message that longevity and public persona do have a play in the classic event. The guy has given us great moments this year out of Seattle and deserves a shot at another All-Star selection.
So far this season, there have been some huge gains by player usually though of as back-ups or late additions to teams. There have also been some players who have sat at the top of their games have a few falls from grace moments and are trying to rebuild trust and their game. But no matter what happens, I still think this years AL squad looks as tough and as strong as the last 5 years. This is my personal selection for the final five to be considered for the All Star Game Sprint Final Vote.
This is not t mean a player like Toronto’s Aaron Hill, Twins slugger Justin Morneau, or even Indians catcher Victor Martinez will not be selected to the squads. I do not envy Maddon his job of getting all of the AL teams represented for the event. Every teams has a star who should attend the event, but also there are players who have already either sewn up a spot at that position, or might be involved in the last vote. We will not know what the country thinks until Tuesday evening, but starting on Sunday night e can again make our voices ring loud and clear and decide at least one member of the 2009 AL and NL All Star squads.
Am I the only one who is questioning the timing of Alex Rodriguez’s surgery now? Could I be the only guy who think he might have given up on his World Baseball classic teammates. Why is it now that he decided to forgo the entire first month of the 2009 season after a modest showing by his WBC team. Wouldn’t it have been more productive to just have gone under the knife in February and be back in time for a mid-April return. Here is a guy who says he was going to go through an entire season of pain in his hip region before having the surgery in the 2009 off season just two weeks ago. He told us of the cyst and torn labium that will require treatments and eventual surgery, but opted to play WBC ball instead. I still do not know how you go an entire off season in 2008 without wanting to take care of this situation before it comes out and people can blast and second guess you for your actions. But I guess the cow is out of the barn now, and we have to think about it all here.
Why now. Why is today or a month from now a better time than 6 months ago, or even 8 months from now? What is significant about the time frame of this surgery now rather than having off season surgery. Is he really thinking about his teammates and his style of game if he is going to leave them without his bat and his defense for an entire month in the season. Is the fact that New York was not an effective offensive weapon in 2008 a faint back light to the fact he could come back healthy and make an explosion on the field and bring the city and the team’s confidence sky high after his time away from the game. Could he plan a rebuilding of the A Rod legend after coming back from this surgery and leading his team to a division title. Or could there be another reason for the announcement now?
Could the media pressure have finally gotten to him and he needs a bit of time to regain and re-construct the A-Rod machine. You have to admit that the public relation hits he has taken in the last few months would have destroyed other athletes. Will the time mending both physically and rebuilding his persona on and off the field be effective. Could the constant pounding on the field be pale in comparison to the pounding he takes daily in the media. I actually think he finally cracked a bit and decided to get it over with to regroup himself mentally and physically. You have to believe that injury has become more a front item since all of the drama of the past few months. I know personally, I do not think I could have taken the beating he did and still have a smile for everyone. You have to also think that his psyche has taken a major blow, and the time away from the game to heal could do wonders in all phases of his life.
So A Rod might be taking a month off from the Yankees to get physically and mentally healthy for the season. He can get his hip surgically cleaned out and finally remove some of the pain, plus he gets some much needed time away from the game to gain his prospective again and come back full charged. But what effect will this have on his New York Yankees teammates? I have not heard a huge amount of worry out of the New York Yankee camp right now since Cody Ransom is already in the Yankee fold. Could he be the guy who can handle the pressure of stepping in for A Rod and contribute both on and off the field. Or will the Yankee brain trust not even trust the actions of Ransom on the field and bring in a heavy hitter for the time that A Rod is out of the fold. One solution that might not have hit the minds of the Yankee brass is that current Rays Spring invitee Morgan Ensberg is seeking a major league job. He will probably not make the teams 25-man roster, and is on a minor league contract but in the coming weeks might be looking for an alternative solution to staying in the minors for the season. This situation might just work right into his hands as a power bat, and a experienced third baseman. It might be a great short term solution for both the team and Ensberg.
If I was A Rod, I would have Ransom on my speed dial. Not to badger the kid, but to work with him a bit during the coming weeks. Pump up his confidence level right up to the first game of the year. The kid is a professional baseball player, but he is also stepping into an arena that could eat him alive if he doesn’t keep a healthy prospective on the entire affair. Even off the field A Rod can contribute by keeping this kids mentally on top of his game, and being a positive influence on him. That is the one thing I liked about Cliff Floyd last year with the Rays. He took Carl Crawford and B J Upton under his wing and just talked to them and made them see things they had never seen in a baseball game both from the mental and physical sides of the sport. A Rod can do the same for Ransom, if he desires.
The Yankees will be a different team without him in the lineup. They are not sure of the pressure they can put on Jorge Posada yet, but he will be ready to give 100 percent. Without A Rod, the team is missing a huge chunk of offensive firepower, and teams can use this to their advantage until he returns. The way the Yankee pitching staff works the first month of the season will decide the year end results for the team. They need to win those 3-2 games this year. Last year the Yankees were involved in 70 3-2 games, and did not always come out on top. So as A Rod heads off for his mental and physical operations, you have to feel for the Yankees. The season has not even started and already some fans have begun groaning and moaning and we have not even played one contest.
But the true nature of the Yankees will be tested in that first month. How good a bond does this team have, and can they use this to their advantage. Some teams rise to the occasion and actually play better when they are under the knife. But with Rodriguez now under the knife, can this team still lay claim to the top of the division? Or will they again be treading water in hopes their regular third baseman comes back early and take them back into the playoffs?
Photo credits today go to Getty Images and the Associated Press Photo Corps.
For years this team used to call Tropicana Field “Yankee Stadium South” when they into town for a series. But in the last few years, the Tampa Bay Rays have begun to take back their home stadium row by row until in 2008 you could hear both teams loud and proud in the stadium. So if you have not guessed by now, the third part of my review installment is on the” Evil Empire, the Bronx Bombers,” or simply “The Pinstripes” . Yes, it is time to try and review that team that everyone either loves or hates………the New York Yankees.
Part of that move back into greatness was to fully open the checkbook and get some of the players needed to dominate for years again. With some of the team aging, the Yankees needed to get the young stars who were about to either come out with a bang, or were currently the cream of the crop. After all was said and done, almost a half a billion dollars changed hands for a handful of budding superstars that could again take the pinstripes back to the playoff for the next 5 years. The three high priced free agents the team fought after did not come cheaply for the Yankees. With each player they had to trade and bid for their services again and again. But the Yankee mindset is not to lose at negotiations, and in the end, they got their players.
If you begin to write a review for 2009 for the Yankees, you have to start with their newly revised rotation. Now, who can argue that Carsten Charles Sabathia was the crown jewel of the Yankees’ off season pitching makeover. The man came with a price tag as big as his trousers, but he also came with the statistics to back it up. He will be the experienced ace of the Yankees revamped pitching staff, and might end up being the best investment the team has done in years. Sabathia is not just a power pitcher, but also an innings eater. His 253 innings in 2008 is not as impressive as his 251 strikeouts in those innings. To provide such a statistic that you have almost a strikeout an inning, and you pitched over 250+ innings is remarkable in any league. Sabathia throws three pitches effectively, and uses his change up, which breaks straight to fool hitters because of his great arm action.
Coming in at the number 2 slot for the Yankees is former Toronto pitcher A J Burnett. He also came to the Yankees after a bit of a battle, but decided to finally become a Yankee. His familiarity with the American League East hitters will be a premium for him in 2009. Because of his knowledge in the division, Burnett will already have a pitching style in place to combat each teams hitters. This will make his adjustment to the Yankees a bit easier. But Burnett also posted some great numbers in 2008. He pitched in 221 innings and struck out 231 batters last year. Burnett is mostly a power thrower, but his hard curve is his magic strike pitch. After an injury to his fingernail last year, he began to play more with his change-up, and got the pitch to sink and tail more throughout the season.
Coming back from an injury can bring with it loads of expectations and pressure. But Chien-Ming Wang has dealt with the pressure pretty well the last few season in New York. His injury, which caused him to miss the entire second half of the season played heavily on the Yankees failure to secure a playoff berth. Wang had been a consistent member of the pitching staff, but only was able to piece together 15 starts before his injury shelved him for the year. One of the greatest thing about Wang’s pitching style is that he relies on his sinkerball. His 2-seamer bores in on right-handers and sinks past lefties. His slider is average, but if thrown correctly can be a knee bender. He began to throw a splitter in 2008, and at times it looked like Jorge Posada was having difficulty with it. The pitch had a really late bite on the plate and made it a bit difficult in the last 3 feet to judge correctly all the time.
The top 3 pitchers in the staff have the experience starting games in the New York atmosphere either as a Yankee or a opponent. that will come in handy in 2009 when the new Yankee Stadium is opened and the roar of the crowd will seem to be a bit more focus towards the mound area. Joba Chamberlain did an effective job as one of the Yankees set-up men in 2007-2008. After two seasons of setting up for Mariano Rivera, he will take his spot in the rotation in 2009. Chamberlain appeared in 42 games last season, including 12 starts. The one question mark in my mind here is if the reliever can quickly adapt back to starting a game after two seasons in the Bullpen. Starting games has a different mentality than relieving, and will Chamberlain be able to make that transition smoothly before the season starts.
I think that he can become a great starter for the Yankees, but I will wait until the end of Spring Training to anoint him to the fourth spot. He seems to have the goods on the mound to transition without a hitch. In the last few years, he has used his fastball, which hits 95 mph and above to set up people for his unbelievable slider. Chamberlain has already been given a bit of a legend status as a pitcher even before he has effectively led the Yankees to the playoff promised land. Chamberlain used to use his change-up and curveball in the minors, but because of the dominance of his first two pitches, they are throw-in pitches to keep hitters honest at the plate.
Now we come to the fifth spot in the rotation. This player could also wind up in the fourth slot if Yankee Manager Joe Girardi wants to use him there. But in the fifth slot, he will face the opponents least experienced pitcher, which could play into a great Yankees mental game as they could dominate from the first pitch of the game. Yankee great Andy Pettitte is considered one of the great lefties to ever grace the mound. His 14-14 record last season is no indication of the magic he still can provide on the mound. He still tossed over 200 innings last year, and still has one of the best pick-off moves in the major leagues. Pettitte still relies heavily on his cutter, which resembles a slider and is effective in breaking bat when coming in on right-handers. His fastball is pretty straight, but his command of it can catch the corners at anytime. One of the pitches he has in his arsenal that if it is going great, he is almost unhittable is his curveball. It can take a nasty dip fast into the ground if it is popping at the right time for him that night.
The Yankees might have the luxury of keeping up Phil Hughes in 2009 as a long reliever and also an insurance policy if something should happen to a starter this season. Hughes, who will be throwing today against the Rays in Tampa, struggled with injuries himself last year. This might be the make it or break it year for Hughes, and a good Spring Training showing might get him a slot in the Bullpen as the long reliever for the team. The Bullpen will be the place where a majority of the Yankees game will be won or lost in 2009. Last season they were not the most effective Bullpen in the American League, and that might have cost them dearly before they got the ball to Rivera in the ninth inning.
Coming back in 2009 will be Damaso Marte, who has established himself as the Yankee leftie specialist in 2008, will be counted on more this season. Marte has always been a fastball/slider kind of pitcher and should see more action in 2009 with Chamberlain going to the rotation. Both David Robertson and Dan Giese will get chances early on to cement a spot in the Bullpen. Both pitchers throw mostly fastballs and curves, with Robertson having more velocity and a change-up to mix things up at times. Left-hander Phil Coke might be the guy to take Marte’s spot as the left-handed specialist in 2009. Coke throws a nice mid 90’s fastball and a slider that break heavy into the plate. Humberto Sanchez, who came back strong in 2008 after Tommy John’s surgery in 2007, should get a chance to again to sit in the Yankees Bullpen. Sanchez throws a nice moving fastball in the 90’s and has an effective 12-6 break curveball.
Jose Veras also might have a shot at making the Bullpen after a great 2008. Veras is a tall pitcher and uses his leverage to produce really good strikeout numbers as a professional. He also has a nice split-finger pitcher that tends to dip below bats. But his downfall might be that he is a high WHIP pitcher. Edwar Ramirez is another guy who might make a decision difficult for the Bullpen slots. Ramirez is basically only a two pitch guy, but he will occasionally mix in a tight slider to right-handers.
Jonathan Albaladejo is another right-hander who throws a great moving fastball and two breaking pitches. He has been great at mixing up his pitches, which includes a powerful boring fastball, and a slow bending curveball. His slider is his second breaking pitch, but in 2008, it stayed up in the strike zone too much. But the one guy who will not have to ever worry about a roster spot is closer Rivera. Even if he is approaching 40, the man is still one of the most effective closers in the game today. Was is more amazing is that he has basically thrown only the cutter in and out for most of his career. 85-90 percent of the time, you know you will see some sort of cutter to the plate. He does have a four-seam fastball that he uses up and in to right-handers. Simply put, if the game is on the line, you want this guy on the mound.
The Yankees outfield has taken a huge turn since the end of 2008. Left field will still be the home of trade deadline acquisition Xavier Nady who hit a solid .305 average with 25 homers and 97 RBI in 2008. This will be his first full season in the American League, and he is out to establish himself early on for his defense and throwing ability. Nady will occasionally share his position with Hideki Matsui, who had a wild injury plagued year and is looking to rebound in both the field and at Designated Hitter for the Yankees. Matsui had a down year with only 9 homers and 45 RBI last season. This year he reports to camp in shape and ready to play. Johnny Damon, who hit for a .303 average with 17 homers and 71 RBIs might be the man on the go this year.
Damon is actually expected to play at several positions during the season, which will include both first base and the outfield. But in center field, the Yankees will be holding their biggest battle for a spot in 2009. Melky Cabrera, who hit for .249 with 8 homers and 37 RBIs will be pushed heavily for his spot. Cabrera is trying to make the decision between him and Brett Gardner more difficult this spring. Gardner, who took over for a bit after Cabrera was sent to the minors, came on to hit only .228 in his 42 games up with the Yankees last season. These two players will be fighting it out as they are the only two who might be able to cover the massive outfield grasses of Yankee Stadium. There is a chance that Nick Swisher might be given a chance to take over right field for the Yankees since they signed Mark Teixeira to play first base. I think both him and Damon will get ample shots at manning the right corner in the new stadium this year. The outfield looks competitive with the rest of the American League East, but it is not the best athletic or most powerful in the division in 2009. They will get their licks in and might surprise you with their arm strength at times. But that might not stop the run happy teams in this division who tend to run on even good flamethrowers.
Coming into the infield, let start with the middle of the diamond. As we all know, Derek Jeter will again be manning the shortstop position for the Yankees. Last season he did not have a typical Jeter season, only hitting .300 average, with 11 homers and 69 RBI’s. Jeter’s defense has also slipped a notch in the last few years, but is still the cream of the crop in turning the double play and getting base runners out at second base on steal attempts. He is till considered the heart and soul of this team. And how he responds this year might be a good indicator of the Yankee mindset.There is talk of maybe seeking a younger shortstop in 2010 and Jeter maybe moving over to second base to make that position more solid for the team. But in the present time, Robinson Cano will be the man at second base for the Yankees, Cano hit .271 for the year with 14 homers and 72 RBIs. With the Yankee infield having such high expectations by fans, Cano seemed to take a small step back in 2008. It will be key to see him rebound this season and again post good number to even be considered for the spot in 2010.
On the corners is where the Yankees will store their power in 2009. Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez will see 162 games of critical opinions and cat calls, but should still put up monster numbers in 2009. Last season he did not produce as expected, but still hit .305 with 35 homers and 103 RBI’s. He is considered one of the sports best players, but will also be feeling the heat in 2009 after his steroid allegations and confession. The first few months should be a good barometer of how the pressure and the voices from the cheap seats bother Rodriguez. He might get out of the gate a bit slow, but as things die down, he will again dominate the right side of the infield both at the plate and on the field.
Coming into the Yankee fold after signing a huge off season contract is former Angel Mark Teixeira. He comes to the Bronx with the expectations of the team finally having another power alternative to Rodriguez. Texieira, who hit .302, with 35 homers and 103 RBI’s is considered one of the best first baseman in the game. As good as he is at the plate, Texieira has just as good reputation manning his defensive position. Texieira also bring into the Yankees fold the option of being a switch-hitter. This is something that the team has lack a lot of in the past few seasons.
But he is not the only switch hitter brought in for 2009. Nick Swisher will also see time at first base and maybe Designated Hitter. Swisher needs to improve on his average, which was only .219 last season, but he does have better than average power, and can be a pest on the base paths. In the area of catching, the Yankees hope that Jorge Posada’s shoulder is fully healed and he can get back to his 2007 form behind the plate. Another hot spot in 2008 was the absence of Posada behind the plate after he went down with a shoulder injury. He is getting up in age, and a move might be made in the next few years to get him time at D H or maybe first base, he has to cement the position for the Yankees in 2009. The team still has Jose Molina back in 2009, and with another year under his belt with the team, Molina’s biggest concern is to get better at bats and produce when he is in the game for the Yankees.
So there you have the possible members of the 2009 New York Yankees. Not only are they trying to reverse the trend of missing the playoffs for the first time last season, they will have to impress the fans in their new stadium. Add the pressure of the usual expectations and the increased vocal noise towards Rodriguez, this team will need to mesh fast and stay tight the entire year. A pretty injury-less season could be the key for this team. Even though their outfield and their Bullpen are not huge strengths this season. the infield corners and the starting pitching might be the difference this year. As I have stated all off season long, the American League East will be a war in 2009. With each team playing 18 times against each other in the season, the winner of the yearly series will probably have the hand-up for the division title. I can see this Yankees team win a minimum of 92 games if their starting pitching stay intact. It is now up to the Yankees to again either prove or fail in becoming one of the premier teams in the American League.
When Jose Canseco first came out with his book Juiced on February 14, 2005 “, we had no idea of the extent and the lengths that steroids and illegal drugs were being used in the MLB. We all knew of certain players that were suspected of use or under investigations, but nothing concrete was brought up to support any of Canseco’s claims at the time. With the recent revelation of Alex Rodriguez using PED’s during his 2001-2003 Texas Ranger days, it is finally showing just cause that Canseco might have been right the entire time> 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 revenge, or even a ” I told you so.” moment, he finally got the last laugh or justified response. In both of his books, Canseco was exploring the culture and trying to educate us as to the extent and the flagrant usage problems in baseball’s past. All this from a guy who was in the drivers seat of using himself, and has never denied the fact, to gain an edge in the competitive 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 prove him wrong, to say he was trying to extract revenge over the so-called “blackballing” of him out of the major leagues because of his outward voice towards the problem. And to this day, no one had proven him wrong yet.
I am not trying to paste Canseco up here as a saint in a room of devils, but he was right, and he has gained a huge amount of respect recently on the incidents he has written about, and the players he has been quoted about in both of his books. I know that 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 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 alleges in his new 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, whether Canseco really knows anything about the problem beyond his own use was viewed as opinion and total speculation at the 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 A-Rod fiasco, in which he might have truly come clean and began the healing process for himself and his team. But what about the holy integrity of baseball? Is the fact that since nothing in either of his books have been disproved, should we again read them both and look for other answers. Could there be other hidden facts and players within its pages that are still to be bought out into the light of day and discounted, or even shunned like Canseco has endured for so long. Or is the fact that the biggest star in the game today was caught be a indicator to others to come forward before they are also brought to light. That is the question before baseballs’ higher powers right now. Should the rest of the world know their business, that happened 6 years ago, or should we just let time and league handle the situation.
Here are a few passages taken from Canseco’s book Vindicated that talked directly about current Yankee Alex Rodriguez and former Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens 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.”
“I admitted to Mike ( Wallace, in 2005 ) that I had never seen Clemens shoot up, but that I had my suspicions. All those Cy Young Awards. The way he was throwing, hard and fast and steady, without seeming to break a sweat. The way he seemed to be getting stronger as he got older. What else could it be? Good genes? Hell, while most of Clemens’s peers were sitting on porches, in rocking chairs, with old dogs at their feet, he was still pitching rockets.”
Both the above quoted players by Canseco have been linked, or subjectively linked to steroids in the last few years. Clemens 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 in the next 9 years under his current New York Yankees contract. The other has been basically left in a lepers colony by baseball’s fraternity to fester and rot within his own misguided statements and falsehoods. 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 garners him a suspension or even public ridicule for years.
Canseco talked about both of these players in his books, and the last few months have shown that more and more he is correct on all counts concerning them. But will the baseball community ever acknowledge that he was right?, or will it just conclude that the truth came out and Canseco got lucky in his estimations and accusations. Will he ever get the due credit for trying to soften the blow that was the 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, and manipulated to see the evil in what Canseco was writing at the time, but now he is coming out smelling like a rose after years of badgering and misinformation by baseball and the media.
But the current fact that the 103 other players might be listed on a document obtained by Sports Illustrated. Should their names also be leaked to the media, or would that collapse the entire foundation of integrity of the game to its core. And will it’s leadership be able to rebuild it quickly to keeps its fans and sponsors happy and coming back to the ballparks. Canseco will never be known as a prophet, but he did try and 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. I know I am personally going to re-read both novels and see if I can gain more understanding, or even investigate for myself that the game at that time was not clean, but it had a dirty underbelly that now must be cleaned to save what is left of its purity.
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 it was his knowledge and his frank honesty about the rampant 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?
I believe in Jose Canseco. I saw him as a memeber 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 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. He also got us ready for the facts to finally come clean and the truth be known in baseball……………….that there will always be evil within all that is good with the game.
When I first wrote this on Saturday I was not aware of the recent revelation by Alex Rodriguez to his usage of the stimulant from 2001-2003. I do not condone this action by him, nor do I fully condemn him for it. I am not at liberty to know his personal struggles or mindset before he first injected a steroid into his body. But I do acknowledge the effort and the initial actions to coming clean on the past, and I respect the fact he is owning up to his errors in his past instead of hiding away until it dies down.
I have been thinking about this issue for a few days now, and either you will agree or disagree with me totally here. I really did not want to write anything pertaining to the Alex Rodriguez situation because I have been guilty of the same crime, and I was not proud of it at the time. I am not saying I am a steroid user for a long period of time, I only did it once like so many other athletes did in the mid 1980’s to just see what all the fuss was about. I did it like some teenagers try alcohol before they are 21, for the reason that it was not okay and to see what all the fuss was about with it. At the time it was not condemned yet in the NCAA or even the professional ranks and was lightly viewed as a bad thing.
I am not going to try and justify anything he did in the past, or even try and justify my usage. Mine was out of ignorance and not education at the time. In that period of my life I was looking for an edge, a advantage over my competitors. I tried it that one time and then decided to flush the rest of the vial down the toilet. It did not seem to me to be an advantage. It seemed more mental that physical. My addiction was for more speed. To be faster off the line and stay with that gazelles that were playing in my league at the time. I also decided that it would effect not only my on-field life, but harm my off the field life if I used it for any amount of time.
This is my blog to say I understand the pressure and the yearnings and wanting to be the best year in and year out. But it has always comes with a price. Alex Rodriguez is beginning to see that price in the headlines, blogs and the attention to everything he has done on the field since that 2003 positive test. I got lucky enough to stop myself before it got out of hand or was discovered, but A Rod now will have to weather a pretty heavy hailstone storm of controversy and accusations for a long time. I was not a MVP type of player by a long shot, but he is, and will suffer for many years for his mistakes and people will always question his ability because of it all.
The person, or persons who will be hurt most by this is not even A-Rod. It is the little kids or teenagers who have idolized the guy for years, or who want to play just like him. I hope they discover the fact that this man made a mistake and we can learn from it and not venture into the same realm of confusion and misguided intentions. But the reality is that some younger fans will find a justification for maybe trying them and then put themselves on a bad path to either ruin or major injury. The common fan has wanted to be like him for years, and with this positive test it brings with it a credibility for the choice to try, or even maintain a usage of the illegal drug.
The guy will not be the same after this, and he has no one to blame but himself. The youth of this country already have enough role models who have failed them, this is just another long line of athletes who wanted the top spot and took their chances. How many young girls idolized our female Olympic hero Marion Jones before she was found out to have enhanced her abilities by using steroids. Baseball has been plagued with this demon for a while now, and if you really think about it, who are the other 103 members who failed in 2003 also. Could some of them be the hero’s and stars that we looked up to and enjoyed watching play the game, and are they just as tarnished by their tests.
But will it all of this make a young kid think he needs it too. Will there again be a market in the lower levels of education that will sell and distribute these drugs to our kids. And will there be a justification now that steroids are the answer to playing at a top physical level?
I really hated writing this. More for the fact that I am exposing myself and the 80’s culture I grew up with as underlying confused people who tried to find an answer in a vial of unknown substances. I know the pain it has caused me to wonder if I did the right thing, and if I didn’t, would the world shun me for it. I have come to the reality that it was wrong long ago and consulted with my coaches’ back then for their opinion. It was told to me if that was the only time, then forgive myself and work harder to gain the edge the right way and things would even out in the long run. That by working hard the right way I would cleanse my mind and soul in the long run. That consultation now seems a bit weird and vague to me, but at the time I only wanted to get back on the right path.
But can A-Rod even be granted the same treatment. I think his location in New York city will be the worst location to even expose or come clean with this revelation. It is going to ruin whatever credibility he had with the local media and also destroy any hero worship he ever had with the young baseball fans in America. I have not heard the extent of his usage with the drug, and I do not want to know about it. I just hope that he can come clean and admit the mistakes, like Andy Pettitte, and hope for the mercy of the media and fans. No doubt there will be signs that say “A-Roid” up in the new Yankee Stadium on Opening Day this year, and he will have to cope with the rumors of the past.
It is for this reason I can not cast a stone at him. I have been in that situation once in my life, and because of it, I am guilty too. I can feel for the pain and misery he will feel in the next few months and into the season. But if he is true to himself and the world, he will again get back on track and be the best in the game. The worst part of all of this is even his years in Seattle as a young shortstop will be questioned. All the records and the accolades he has received during his career are all being cast in a shadow of doubt now. And you know even his Hall of Fame appointment might be rising and falling like a barometer right now………..with a low pressure right now because of the impending storm of controversy to hit him for a long, long time.
Pictures on today’s blog acquired from Getty Images and http://www.NewYorkYankee.com
When Jon Daniels signed Michael Young to a five-year, $80 million extension two years ago, he said he hoped it would help the Rangers keep his good friend Mark Teixeira. Big Tex is long gone. Michael Young could be on the way. Young revealed over the weekend that he asked to be traded after a breakfast with Daniels a few weeks ago turned ugly when, Young said, Daniels gave him an ultimatum to move to third base.
As a brand new third baseman, Young probably wouldn’t be the league’s best any time soon. And whereas Young committed 11 errors at shortstop in 2008, heir apparent to the shortstop position, Elvis Andrus committed 32 in the minors. Throw in second baseman Ian Kinsler’s error totals, and the Rangers might give up even more runs this year than they did in 2008.
I personally love it sometimes when great baseball players are asked to change from their All Star positions because they are blocking the path of some upstart rookie ( Elvis Andrus ) who is the future star of the franchise. But what is most upsetting in this situation is the fact that Young is being viewed as an afterthought even though he is one of the best at his position in the American League. I have heard a few people say that current Texas Ranger Michael Young is being a baby for complaining about moving further to the left in the infield and now playing third base for the team. Hey, the guy has established himself on a team that fights to hit .500 every year. He has moved before for a player, and might just consider it a way for the team to get him close to the dugout, then out the door in Arlington.
Now let me see here, the guy was an All Star at second base and he was holding up Ian Kinsler from being able to play in the major leagues, so he moved over to shortstop to make the transition and the second base spot opened up magically for Kinsler to move faster through the system to the majors. Now that is the sign of a great team-first attitude guy. He moved over to another position to get another big bat to the lineup. That is the kind of guy you want on your squad, right?
So here we are in 2009, and the Rangers are again trying to convince Young to move a little more to his left and become the team’s third baseman. Is this an indication that they are going to give up on the Hank Blalock at third experiment and hope that Young can find happiness at his third position while he has been in the majors. Now I agree that the first time he was a perfect gentleman in moving over “for the good of the team.” But it seems like this time he has every right to not want to move over for another guy again.
Something to take into consideration here, Young has played a total of 8 innings, not even an entire game at third base in his career. So by asking a player to switch his position just before the season, or a trade happens is rare, but in Texas there is a previous action that can be deemed for the move. People tend to forget that 8 years ago, when Alex Rodriguez agreed to switch to third base to be traded to the New York Yankees, he also was not familiar with the position for an extended time. Considering he was a better defensive shortstop that Derek Jeter, A-Rod did the team oriented thing and manned up and switched to the Hot Corner.
If you remember right, the Rangers kind of forced out Rodriguez late in the off season, and the Yankees made his position switch a prerequisite to the trade. Why would you move a guy who has been an All Star at his position for the last 5 years to another more skilled and reflex-oriented position and bring up a 20-year old rookie who has only played below double-A ball. Let’s not forget that when A-Rod was traded for Alphonso Soriano, it was thought that Soriano would be the Rangers everyday shortstop, and not go to the outfield. Because Young switched to shortstop at this moment makes the idea that he is not willing to move an inaccurate statement considering his history in the past. Or could it be that when Young signed that $ 80 million dollar extension, there were already seeds planted to make this move and were not brought up in the negotiations at all.
Come on, the guy is an All Star at his position and is considered one of the best shortstops both hitting and fielding in the American League. Put the fact that he finally got some real recognition this past season by getting his first Gold Glove and you want to move him? Are you serious here guys. You want to bring up a rookie and pop him into the shortstop position and are not aware of the growing pains you are going to place not only on your first baseman, but on your entire team concept.
Well, I have a solution for you Texas. Since you do not seem to know what you want to do with Mr. Young, why hot trade him to the Tampa Bay Rays for a few missing pieces in your lineup and pitching staff. I am here to offer you a starting pitcher who has already pitched at the major league level, a infielder who can play third base, and an outfielder to make the deal an all around success. Now with the starting pitcher, you have a nice selection of ex-Rice star Jeff Neimann, tall reliever/starter Jason Hammel, and Mitch Talbot.
All come with their own fantastic positives, but all have been to the big club level and need more appearances to make their presence know in this league. With your young staff, such a luxury of getting a young savvy starter would help Ranger G M Nolan Ryan move quickly to transform his rag tag pitching staff into a well oiled machine. I am willing to throw in a great up and coming infielder who I think will be a great star for you this season. Willy Aybar might be under arbitration right now, but the guy has pure upside and is one of the most underrated infielders in the league.
His ever increasing power and his ability to play the hot corner give you an instant solution to the “Young” situation, and he can play there for years until you develop or sign a young third baseman in the future. I do think tho, that Aybar could be your man for the next 5 years in that spot. And to round thing off, let’s include a young outfielder with a lot of intelligence and major league ability. Justin Ruggiano is a outstanding fielder who is currently stuck in his own logjam at the major league level with the Rays. By acquiring this young star, you can have an ample fourth outfielder who can play the corner positions without a problem.
If this is not enough, we might be able to include or exclude or even piece together the right package to get this deal done as soon as possible. Just be sure to let me know where your thinking is on the matter and we can respond accordingly.
Seriously here, this deal would be a total plus for the Rays. Hey, we might even be able to just give up a pitcher or Aybar and then give them current Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett as a throw in so they can trade him to Boston or another team looking long and hard for a able shortstop. This is not to say I think that Bartlett is not the shortstop for the Rays, but if you can make a major upgrade like this, in a year that will be faced with more pitfalls and holes than in 2008, then why not make the move.
To put an All Star like Young next to a young gun like Evan Longoria makes that side of the infield almost the Great Wall of Tampa Bay. The power solution is almost off the charts here too. Think about the offensive firepower of such a move. You could have 3 guys who could hit 30 homers in a season in 3 of your 4 infield positions in the tightest division in baseball. And you would not be paying New York Yankee prices to get that offensive firepower. Young is on the hook for $ 16 million a year, but wouldn’t the offensive fireworks be worth the effort?
And let’s not forget that Young would be flanked by Akinori Iwamura, who might just be coming into his own in 2009 at second base. After 1 season getting used to the position, Aki might just propel his defensive numbers again skyward and prove to be the next All Star for the Rays at his position. And combined with his speed and clutch hitting, makes a great pairing in the lineup.
But the biggest piece is that Gold Glover at first base for the Rays. Not only is he a offensive power, but he was a defensive marvel in 2008 to help Bartlett look even better on paper by leaning, jumping and blocking everything throw within range of him. Not only can Pena do it with his maple bat, but he is the best option at first base in the American League. Think of the nice defensive numbers Young could put up with a guy who sacrifices his body for the ball and will go above and beyond for the team and his team mates.
Seriously think about the possible firepower and the defensive grip such an infield could have on the American League East. Every team in our division has a solid third baseman, but non have a shortstop except for the Yankees who could even reach the potential of Young. He could come into a situation with this team to be a major winner in a short period of time. Young has never been to the postseason while with the Rangers. If this trade were to somehow manifest itself, could he be holding up a nice gleaming piece of hardware in October?
I know this is pure fantasy. The Rays have already committed about $ 60 million to their payroll for 2009. Such a trade would have to be a wish list offering by Andrew Friedman to owner Stu Sternberg as the final piece of the puzzle to repeat and take that next step in 2009. I can not see Friedman make that kind of request first off, but then again, he has pulled off a few under the radar trades that have been internal blockbusters to the Rays. In comparison, if they would pick up Young, the Rays would be paying him the almost the same as the combined salaries of left fielder Carl Crawford and Pena ( $ 16.25 million). But in all reality, Young might end up in the American League East, but not with the Rays. There are a few teams on the horizon who could scoop up Young without a problem with their 2009 payroll.
You have to know that by now, Red Sox G M Theo Epstein is burning up Nolan Ryan’s cellphone minutes offering what he can to fulfill a nice trade to bean town. But the fact might be that Young might not want to go to Boston. But the nice part of who ever gets Young is that he is signed until 2013. That give a huge amount of security to whoever takes his contract. It might mean a set $ 16 million is gone every year upfront, but it also gives you the stability to know what you payroll will be even after your last game in 2009 for the following year.
I would love to see such an infield in Tampa Bay, but I know that it is illogical for Friedman to pull off such a great trade. The money involved with Young would be the deal breaker, but just for a moment, think of the offensive juggernaut that would make the Rays coming into 2009. It would put the team firmly up there as the team to beat in 2009, even without consideration of their young and talented pitching staff.