Sports Opinion & Analysis

Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

How The MLB Can Kill The Juice (And How They Need To)

In MLB on July 23, 2013 at 10:58 am

By Jonathan Danielson

In case you missed it, yesterday Milwaukee Brewers outfielder, Ryan Braun, became the Lance Armstrong of Major League Baseball. After getting caught taking PED’s two years ago (then getting off on a technicality), Braun went on a vigilant  campaign of denials, lies, more denials, and then vengeful attacks on the credibility of people threatening to hold him accountable.

Braun lied to the league, his fans, baseball fans in general, and  single-handedly ruined the life of the poor bastard responsible for taking his urine test.


However, because of MLB’s PED policy, Braun, like others before him, only proved one thing: In the MLB, cheaters do prosper.

For all the cheating, lying, then more lying, Braun only received a 65 game suspension without pay. From his standpoint, it was a no brainer; by confessing to cheating and taking the suspension now, he doesn’t have to take it next year, where he certainly would have received a 100 game ban. Instead, Braun only misses out on the $3.85 million he was due for the rest of the season rather than nearly the ten million it would have cost him in 2014. He gets to sit back and rest his hurt hand while his team continues tanking for better draft picks. Oh, and did I mention he’s still going to make nearly $10 million next year, even after everything he did?

That would almost be criminal, if there weren’t other circumstances to compare it with.


“I crap ten million dollars.”

The MLB needs to do something to not just catch cheaters after they cheat , but discourage them before a needle over goes into a butt cheek. They need to stop the cancer before it spreads, because let’s be real, right now their current policy of

[Let out horses. Close gate.] 

isn’t cutting it. Instead, there needs to be a hard rule and no exceptions. A rule  every player knows, from little league until the day they get drafted until the day they get called up to the big boys. A rule with no and’s, if’s, or but’s.

The MLB needs to establish a “One-And-Done” zero tolerance program. Simply put, you get caught taking PED’s,  congratulations, you’re banned from baseball. Your contract is void, you owe the team everything  from the offending year, and that’s it.

Granted, will “One-And-Done” fix all the seasons a player probably cheated before getting caught? Nope, nothing will. However, if a player is banned, at least the league, the clean players, and the fans get to wipe their hands clean and move forward. Because of baseball’s guaranteed contracts, at least the cheating player won’t still make the $100 million dollars left on their contract when they come back.

Unfortunately, the MLB doesn’t have the cojones to implement such a plan, especially when they’d be fighting the most powerful mafia player union in the world to implement it. While “One-And-Done” might sound logical, fair, and sound, it simply won’t make it in the current landscape. Concessions will need to be made.

Instead of “One-And-Done,” maybe the MLB could take these four humble options into consideration:

1. Eliminate 50 game suspension for first offense, 100 games for second offense, lifetime for third. Exchange with one calendar year suspension for first offense, lifetime ban for second offense. 

2. No more guaranteed money, and allow teams to “option-out” of contract with suspended player. If a contract is negotiated when a player is hitting a juiced up .315, and 40 homers, that contract was negotiated under false pretenses. A team should have the right to terminate that contract and have first right to renegotiate.   

3. Lifetime ban from the Hall-of-Fame after first offense. You cheat, you don’t get a bust. 

4. Cheating player has to repay all money earned during season which PED abuse occurred.   

Now aren’t these new rules perfect? Aren’t they so much more strict and will stop everyone from cheating?

Because everyone always follows the rules.

Because everyone always follows the rules.

These rules won’t do anything, just as the current rules aren’t doing anything. They’re a joke, and even after implementing them, more Ryan Brauns would only slip through the cracks and continue to steal unearned MVP’s from players who followed the rules.

Let’s face it, cheating players will always pay the fees for that competitive edge, to hell with a 50-game ban or not. It’s no big deal to them, because even after they’re caught, they’ll still get paid or just get another contract somewhere else. They’ll just keep playing and making more money, and they’ll use all that money to wipe their tears away after their feelings are hurt from everyone booing them.

"I again just want to apologize for making so much money."

“I again just want to apologize for signing a $16 million a year deal.”

While “One-And-Done” won’t solve everything, and won’t fix the records or awards a player earned while cheating, it at least  won’t let a cheating player continue making the amount of cash they possibly would have if they continued playing  baseball. They won’t be able to profit from it with big league contracts waiting at the end of suspensions. Instead, they’ll just make Pete Rose-type money from constantly signing balls in Vegas for drunk tourists. While that might still be a lot to you and me, it’s nowhere near the amount they’d be making if they were still in the league, and it wouldn’t be worth the same risk of taking PED’s. There would be no more guaranteed dollars at the end of only two months at home.

“One-And-Done” isn’t perfect, but let’s face it, a measly 50 games (or in Braun’s case, 65)  isn’t doing anything at all. And until the MLB wants to get serious about cheating, Braun and other players will keep laughing all the way to the bank.


Hall of Fame DH?

In MLB on July 12, 2013 at 10:30 am

By Chris Hallenbrook

With the Designated Hitter having now existed in the American League for 40 years, it is evident that it is not some passing fancy that baseball purists like Crash Davis can simply wish away. Since the position is here to stay, David Ortiz breaking the all-time record for hits by a DH raises the question: is there such thing as a Hall of Fame DH?

For the sake of reference, let’s begin by laying out the resumes of the two best everyday DHs the game has seen, Edgar Martinez, who this year received only 35.9% of the vote for the Hall of Fame this year, and David Ortiz. (Slash lines are batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage.)

Edgar Martinez was so good as an everyday DH that after he won five Outstanding Designated Hitter Awards, Major League Baseball threw up its hands and named the award after him. His career numbers: .312/.418/.515, 309 HR, 1,261 RBI (Stats junkies claim RBIs are overrated, but for a DH, driving in runs is the primary job. As a result, RBIs are as important to this analysis as any other accomplishment.) and 2,247 hits.

David Ortiz .287/.381/.551, 420 HR, 1,391 RBI and 1,953 hits (statistics are as of the end of day on July 10, 2013)

This first hurdle for arguing that either of them are Hall worthy is the worn-out old claim that since DHs don’t field, they only play half the game and therefore cannot ever rank among the game’s all-time greats. Interestingly enough, one never hears it said of American League pitchers that since they don’t hit they only play half the game and therefore shouldn’t be eligible for the Hall. Now there is not perfect symmetry to those claims, but I hope it shows something of the absurdity of diminishing a player’s accomplishments at their primary task due to rules that they don’t control. More seriously, let’s consider the case of Brooklyn Dodgers catcher and deserving Hall of Famer Roy Campanella. With career totals of .276/.360/.500, 242 HR, 856 RBI and 1,161 hits, Campanella didn’t make Cooperstown on his bat. It is of course necessary to remember that his MLB career started at the age of 26 due to the color barrier (he joined the Dodgers the year after Jackie Robinson did), but the point is that he is a Hall of Fame defensive catcher, not a Hall of Fame hitter. One doesn’t have to be an all-time great both offensively and defensively to be an all-time great.

So on principle an everyday DH should be able to join the immortals in Cooperstown, but do either Martinez or Ortiz meet the threshold? Let’s compare them to some other Hall of Famers. Legendary Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew hardly generated controversy by entering the Hall with totals of .256/.376/.509, 573 HR, 1,584 RBI and 2,086 hits. Both Martinez and Ortiz have much better slash lines than Killebrew, with Martinez having over 150 more hits and Ortiz likely to pass Killebrew’s hits total by this time next year. Martinez’s hit total also stacks up nicely with other no-doubt Hall of Famers, including Eddie Mathews (2,315).

A more recent player whose best know skills are quite apt for this discussion is Jim Rice. Jim Ed is in the Hall of Fame primary based on being a fearsome slugger who dominated his era and whom Commissioner Giamatti called “the Hammer of God sent to scourge the Yankees.” His stats? .298/.352/.502, 382 HR, 1,451 RBI and 2,452 hits. Both DHs under consideration can compete with his slash line (Martinez beats it on all counts), Papi has more homers and will likely surpass Rice’s RBI total in 2014, while Martinez ended his career only 205 hits shy of Rice’s mark.

Now some challenge whether Rice, elected in his final year of eligibility after a major push by the Red Sox organization to convince voters that his accomplishments measured up with those already in the Hall, should have been put in the Hall. Personally, I don’t think that matters as at the end of the day he is in the Hall. But to assuage those critics, let’s turn to Reggie Jackson, who we all agree is a no-doubt Hall of Famer. He’s in Cooperstown with a slash line of .262/.356/.490 that is inferior to both Ortiz and Martinez on all counts (albeit with 563 HR, 1,702 RBI and 2,584 hits, all of which dwarf both DHs). What is particularly telling is where Jackson made his nickname. When Mister October played in October the totals were 77 games, .278/.358/.527, 18 HR, 48 RBI, 78 hits (1.01 per game) and 2 World Series rings. For Señor October it is 66 games, .283/.388/.520, 12 HR, 47 RBI (that is one fewer RBI in 11 fewer games), 69 hits (1.05 per game) and 2 World Series rings. Ortiz’s postseason numbers thus compare very favorably with the most famous postseason performer in the history of the game, a fact that cannot be ignored in any Hall of Fame debate.

I could keep the examples coming all day to show that Martinez and Ortiz, who has a legitimate chance of joining the 500 home run club in the next few years, stack up with guys already in the Hall, but I don’t want to belabor the point. The bottom line is that calling a DH half a baseball player doesn’t make sense. The position is part of the fabric of the game now. It is time for the voters to wake up to the fact that this is the 21st century and vote in the man from whom the Most Outstanding DH Award is named for, and brace themselves for the fact that a second everyday DH, perhaps even better than the first, is getting ready to slug down Cooperstown’s doors.

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

In NBA on July 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm

By Chris Hallenbrook 

Those of you who read my last post know I think that the Celtics are doing the right thing by blowing it up and rebuilding through the draft. Accordingly, this time I’ll steer clear of the business side of basketball and speak with the heart of a fan, a fan who bleeds green.

This one hurts folks, it really does. Paul Pierce has been around this team for so long that I don’t remember what life was like in this town before the Celtics drafted him. He’s given his entire NBA career to this franchise and this city. He played his heart out for the Celtics and their fans for 15 years. As a result, he is the second highest scorer in Celtics history behind only John Havlicek, as well as 3rd in games played, 3rd in minutes, 4th in assists, 7th in rebounds, 1st in free throws made, 1st in steals and 4th in blocks. But Pierce’s place in franchise history, and fans’ hearts, transcends the numbers. He was one of the last players the franchise had who knew the legendary Red Auerbach, and the last one who was close to the King of the Basketball Gods. At the beginning of the horrendous 2006-2007 season, on the night that the Celtics observed the passing of Red and dedicated the season to his memory, an emotional Pierce took the microphone and proceeded to dedicate every moment of every game of the rest of his Celtics career to the memory of the Celtics’ legendary patriarch. There isn’t a Celtics fan alive who doesn’t wish Pierce had ended his career as a Celtics lifer.

Garnett may have only played six seasons in Boston, but he has forever carved out a place in Celtics history. His intensity and defensive presence are at home with the greats, as evidenced by his fast friendship with the incomparable Bill Russell. The stares, the blocks, the 18 foot jumpers, and especially tossing Pau Gasol around like a rag doll in the ’08 Finals will always play over and over again in the minds of Boston fans, inexorable parts of Banner 17.

So while my head may know this trade will further the rebuilding process, my heart doesn’t want to come to terms with the fact that The Big Ticket and The Truth won’t be coming out of the tunnel in green anymore. No matter what happens going forward, no matter whose jersey they wear, they will always be Celtics in my heart and in my memory. If I were to have the opportunity to say just one thing to them as they leave it would be this: “You’ll be welcome back in this town any time KG. Paul, there won’t be a dry eye in the house the night we raise 34 to its rightful place in the rafters.”

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