Thursday, April 14, 2011

Welcome back, FJM!

Rather than start a blog called Fire Howard Bryant, I'm going to point out some of the myriad problems with this article. It is only that I feel comfortable that my blog will not generate more than three or four hits on this piece of garbage that I can do so in good conscience. (In true FJM style, his words are in italics, mine are not.)

Barry Bonds, baseball's all-time home run leader and from 2000 to 2004 easily the most dominant player since Babe Ruth, will wake up Thursday as a convicted felon.

Or a cockroach, if Kafka was onto something. Maybe even a porpoise. That'd be totally cool.

A San Franciso [sic] jury convicted him of obstruction of justice.

If only they'd been given rice-a-roni.  It was not a San Francisco jury.  He was tried in the Northern District of California, so that means there were people in the jury panel from Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Salinas, Oakland, Eureka, San Jose.  But, obviously, the jury's potential residence in a large city makes it very different. If this were one of those god-forsaken Petaluma juries, they'd just be off their rocker and Bonds would be an untainted legend of the game.

Roger Clemens, arguably the game's greatest pitcher, faces the possibility of a similar fate.

I think if you argue that Clemens is the game's greatest pitcher, you are arguably an idiot, but fine, he was a great pitcher. 

Seven times a Cy Young Award winner, Clemens will go on trial this summer for lying to Congress.

Once, twice, three times a Cy Young winner...uh...this sentence has been brought to you by the Commodores.

And Manny Ramirez, one of the featured faces of the crowning moment of this millennium -- the Boston Red Sox finally winning the World Series in 2004 for the first time since 1918 -- retired from baseball last week rather than accept a 100-game suspension for being caught using performance-enhancing drugs again.

As you know, Manny Ramirez played a large role in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, cleaned up the BP oil spill, completed the human genome project or produced those Progressive commercials with Flo in them. One of those has to be the crowning achievement of the millennium, right? Oh. No. I forgot, a team with the second highest payroll in baseball beat the completely surmountable odds (and the team with the 11th highest payroll in baseball) and won the World Series. It's possible that someone's discovered a cure for all cancer in the last 10 years, but compared to the Sawx, it'd hardly be worth mentioning.

Despite fierce but unsuccessful attempts by fans, writers, players and management to soften the devastating and embarrassing effects of the steroid era, baseball's greatest fears are coming true.

Man, were those attempts fierce.  These attempts were so vicious, they need not be recounted or described. But they couldn't ward off baseball's greatest fear: clowns.  As you may know, baseball, a game, an outline of rules for playing a sport, is terrified of clowns.  And by devastating and embarrassing effects of the steroid era, I can only assume he means shrunken testicles.

Wednesday's verdict . . . reinforces baseball's terrible truth: the steroid era is the most discredited period in the history of American professional sports.

Keep in mind, he said "American professional sports", because otherwise the most discredited period in sports would be Caster Menenya's. (rim shot).  But, alas, it's very discredited. That's why we don't consider records of that era when we compile lists of records, like, say, all of professional baseball before 1901. 

The apologists will continue to try to laugh the era off as hyperbole, suggesting that players have been looking for an edge since there were eight balls in an at-bat and pitchers threw underhand . . . or . . . try to use the nonsensical argument that players who used uppers in the 1960s were no different than the players injecting themselves with female fertility drugs.

The best way to make an argument sound nonsensical is to make a nonsensical argument and accuse other people of making it. Well done. There isn't anything in common with Willie Mays reportedly using amphetamines and Manny Ramirez using female fertility drugs in a supposed attempt to mask his use of performance-enhancing drugs.  There is, however, a one-to-one correspondence with Willie Mays reportedly using amphetamines to enhance his ability to recover from exhaustion and boost his performance level (at a time when amphetamines had not been banned in baseball) and Manny Ramirez using performance-enhancing drugs to enhance his performance (at a time when steroids had not been banned in baseball).  While Manny managed to test positive after drug testing was implemented and it's more like cheating, you may have forgotten, you're writing about BARRY BONDS, who never tested positive for anything except being a cuddle bear.

Of course, there is a difference. The difference is in the collateral damage, the real collateral damage.

This is a very violent article -- collateral damage? Did Barry Bonds declare war on America? So what's the collateral damage?

Bonds and Miguel Tejada, the two MVPs in 2002, have now both been convicted in PED-related cases.

Oh. That's it? I'd forgotten about Tejada entirely, and Bonds' conviction has had the legacy of about 8 hours, during which you wrote this garbage.  So obviously, Bonds has harmed mankind, but only as an accessory before the fact.

Rafael Palmeiro, despite 569 home runs and 3,000 hits, received only 11 percent of the available votes for the Hall of Fame this winter. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998 and finished his career with 583, but received less than 20 percent of the votes.

So, collateral damage...bodies. Corpses. Serious harm.  We gonna get there? Because I've got work to do.  All you've shown me is that hall of fame voters are, depending on your point of view, defending the honor of steroid-free players like Barry Larkin (ok, well, that argument fell apart in a hurry) or they are snotty holier-than-thou pricks who sit in judgment based on facts they don't know (like how much work Jeff Bagwell put in at the weight room). Given that Rickey Henderson only got 94.8% of the vote for the Hall of Fame, that didn't exactly warrant an article.

Jason Giambi, the fun-loving 2000 American League MVP, was never the same player or the same celebrity after he admitted to PED use.

Fun-loving (WTF?) Jason Giambi admitted PED use at the age of 32.  You know who else wasn't the same player after they turned 32? Every player. By my quick analysis, three players got better: Jamie Moyer, Raul Ibanez, and Barry Bonds (who, again, was supposed to be the subject of this article).  Pretty much everyone else got worse.  Ken Griffey Jr. was never the same player after he was traded from the Mariners.  Clearly, the collateral damage of being traded from the Mariners destroyed the game. Better retire now, Cliff Lee. 

There is not another American sport where so many of the elite have been disgraced.

Unless we're counting superbike racing, there are not very many American sports. And even at that, I don't know. LeBron is a pariah, Kobe's a gay-bashing accused rapist, and that's all the players half the adult population in the US can name in the NBA.  The NFL is a sport without a meaningful history, no real pride in the game, and because most of the population that consumes the NFL like ravenous animals still don't know players for long, since the shelf life of even non-Favre/Manning/Brady stars in the NFL is a matter of a few years, Shawne Merriman using steroids meant nothing to anyone.  They also have a drug testing program that's about as rigorous as a character and fitness exam for admission to the bar.

Perhaps only the segregation era shamed the game as much as performance-enhancing drugs have. But segregation was a societal issue, and few individual players (even highly publicized racists such as Ty Cobb or Cap Anson) suffered the disintegration of their professional reputations that has come with being associated with steroids.

Andy Pettitte can hardly show his face without ... receiving adulation.  Alex Rodriguez gets booed...exactly as much as he did before. You know, maybe people just don't like Barry Bonds.  People didn't like Albert Belle.

But the Bonds case, and the Clemens case to follow, are only partly about performance-enhancing drugs.
They're also about the belief among players that they could lie to a federal grand jury or to Congress.

Actually, the latter? That's entirely what they're supposed to be about. So the real shame is that the government is complicit in these charades.

to you. And the game's general managers, owners and commissioner believed they could do the same, and did until the entire card house came crashing down starting with the famous Congressional hearings on March 17, 2005.

Aside from Manny Ramirez, players already lie to us.  Derek Jeter would have you believe he wants to win as much as every fan in the stands.  But he doesn't, because Derek Jeter has some sense. Every fan in the stands would say they'd crash into the wall to win the game for their team every day.  Bobby Abreu didn't, because he recognized that crashing into a wall might mean he's out of work at the age of 30.  In a lot of ways, Manny's the only honest player, because he made it look like he didn't give a shit.

Wednesday's guilty verdict is further evidence that the collapse is ongoing.

No doubt. After that verdict, which probably changed the public opinion about whether Barry Bonds used steroids less than 1%, Barry Bonds will never play Major League Baseball again. TIMBER!

Bud Selig, who became the richest commissioner in baseball history during the steroid era, issued a statement that did not mention Bonds by name, as if he had never played the game, had never impacted its record books, its history, culture or that the game would endure beyond scandal.

I hate Bud Selig. I think he is a genuinely bad person who has done serious harm to the game with some of his ridiculous decisions. But there have been ... what, eight commissioners of baseball? He became the richest of 8 people?  Is this inflation-adjusted?  I'm pretty sure he was already the richest from day one, but maybe Peter Ueberroth was a member of the Barbary Pirates or something. Anyway, screw you, William Eckert. You're dead AND poorer than Selig.

He then gets paid by the column inch by reproducing a lengthy quote from Selig that lauds baseball's drug testing program.

Contrast Selig's words to those spoken by another commissioner, A. Bartlett Giamatti, on Aug. 24, 1989, about his banishment of Pete Rose for gambling. Giamatti understood that the players also make the game, by their talent, their names and the wonder of their skills. Giamatti mentioned Rose by name, for responsible effect, to show that the game had been wounded by one of its greatest sons, an admission Selig could not make.

"The matter of Mr. Rose is now closed," Giamatti said that day. "It will be debated and discussed. Let no one think that it did not hurt baseball. That hurt will pass, however, as the great glory of the game asserts itself and a resilient institution goes forward. Let it also be clear that no individual is superior to the game."

That's great.  Giamatti was talking about things HE did, he wasn't commenting on something that was completely unrelated to himself. In order to explain his decision to ban Rose, he had to say it was harmful to the game -- it's in the Major League Agreement that the Commission could "investigate, either upon complaint or upon his own initiative, an act, transaction or practice, charged, alleged or suspected to be detrimental to the best interest of the national game of baseball, (and to determine and take) any remedial, preventive or punitive action (he deemed appropriate)." 

And, for that matter, what else would Giamatti say? It wasn't about a larger issue, it was about one guy gambling.  You know how you were saying there was no comparison between the two? Well, you're getting a lot closer to it here, Howard.

When a trial ends, it is supposed to provide closure.

It says so right in Article III of the Constitution.  And in the Bill of Rights! As I recall, the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury concludes by saying "so you can get some sleep at night, for Christ's sake".

The Bonds trial did not, but it did shift the steroid era into its second phase, its deadliest phase for baseball.

"The Deadliest Phase" is currently slated to debut with a 13-week run on the Discovery Channel in summer of 2011.  I will anxiously await what Howard Bryant has likened to the horrors of the Japanese earthquakes, Hurricane Katrina...and it's...Manny Ramirez not getting into the Hall of Fame.

It's where the greatest of a generation, the men at the top of the record books, are erased by a game that is just as guilty as its players.

Cursed Jenga -- you're as guilty as those poor souls that you lure into building and destroying the tower. And curse Bud Selig's oily hide. He's the one keeping Barry Bonds out of the Hall of Fame. He let down baseball, he singlehandedly kept Bonds injecting himself, he injected Palmeiro, he singlehandedly cast less than 30% of the votes for the Hall of Fame for Mark McGwire.

It's just a shame there isn't some sort of organization of sportswriters who could vote for the Hall of Fame. Sure, they wrote a ton of stories glorifying McGwire and Sosa in their home run chase (let's be honest, the Bonds thing was pretty underwhelming after that -- the record was already a joke), but they know who really belongs in the Hall of Fame and they didn't let steroids happen on their watch.

Oh. Really? The BBWAA, of which you, Howard Bryant, are apparently a member determines who gets in the hall of fame. Not the god of baseball. Or the fans.  Hm. All right, well, then Howard Bryant is an idiot.

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