As we prepare to continue this series here is a review of numbers 7-10 of the list. Click on the titles to read the articles. Number 6 to appear soon.
10: Wimpy Pitchers
Random Commentary and Satire About Interesting and Sometimes Pathetic Stuff
Click here for the full report.
Here is the list of 88 players, active and retired:
Jerry Hairston Jr.
Paul Lo Duca
Gary Matthews Jr.
The U.S. sports scene has been providing a bumper crop of soap operas.
1. Barry Bonds: Finally indicted.
2. A-Rod: Mr. Not-October slinks back to New York.
3. O.J.: Is America ready for another trial?
4. Stephon Marbury: AWOL egoist pays.
5. Ricky Williams: Desperate Dolphins tap sober former-superstar.
Joe Glenn/Kyle Whittingham: Coaches prove they can be less mature than the students they coach. [story]
Michael Vick: Continuing saga.
Belichick/Patriots: The coach fans love to hate.
Barry Bonds has been indicted for multiple counts of perjury and obstruction of justice four years after his testimony before the grand jury that he did not knowingly take performance-enhancing drugs. The baseball world is wondering, Why now?
Did they wait for him to break the record? What do they suddenly have now that they didn’t have before?
Regardless, his career is certainly over. A debatable value as a DH, most likely in nearby Oakland for the A’s, Bonds has lost his options. No g.m. is going to want to add a circus to their 2008 schedule. And, of course, he may not be at liberty to play anyway.
It’s a sad day for baseball. Some fans, mostly in San Francisco, were holding out hope of his innocence. And while those hopes have not been entirely dashed—he could still be found innocent—most expect a guilty verdict to be inevitable.
Now we can look forward to months of news dominated by the Bonds and O.J. cases. Remember when sports were what mattered in the sports world?
Cheating would come in at No. 1 if I were currently doing a series on What’s Wrong With Football. And there would be something about Belichick and video tape. But baseball is far from being above the cheating fray. And it never has been. While Bill Belichick has taken cheating to a whole new level of sophistication, similar things have been done in baseball for a long time, though not quite in such a refined manner (e.g., binoculars in the scoreboard stealing signs).
The cheating that stands out right now … I mean right now … is steroids, and related substances. I really hope there is a way Paul Byrd can be found innocent. (See “Byrd Revelation Casts Pall Over Indians-Red Sox Game 7.”) Barry Bonds is still on the hook, though nothing has yet been proven. Then we have Giambi.
Perhaps the most disappointing is Mark McGwire, who has disappeared since his sworn testimony evaporated.
Let’s be honest about cheating. It has been part of the national pastime in more ways than can be enumerated from memory.
There was the out-in-the-open dirty play … Ty Cobb sliding into the bag with his spikes high.
Gamblers fixed games … whatever one believes about the Black Sox … perhaps the worst form of cheating.
There was one that was so universally used that they had to create a rule to prevent it … the spitter. Gaylord Perry, where are you now? We even hear about little edges that Hall-of-Fame greats like Whitey Ford used to get … digging a wedding ring into a ball, for example.
My goal is not to list all the types of cheating in baseball. You can stretch the whole ethics issue here. How about a catcher framing a pitch to try to fool the umpire? I remember once playing first base in a pick-up game. One of our infielders tossed me a ground ball, which arrived at about the same time as the runner, but clearly beat him. I had to come into the line to get the wide throw and the runner slammed into me. I went sprawling, tearing a brand-new pair of pants (in the days before rips became desirable).
The runner jumped off the ground. “He didn’t touch the bag,” he yelled repeatedly. Everyone considered him out. I was the only one who knew he was right. But I was ticked about the pants. I didn’t say I did touch the bag, but I didn’t say I didn’t either. So he was out. That was unethical … and now it’s finally off my chest.
My point is … even little forms of cheating, like trying to get an edge with the umps, are cheating.
We would all love it if we could free the game of the big cheats and forms of cheating. But how about we just expect adults who play baseball to be honest. Now, wouldn’t that be refreshing?
I have said that game sevens are heaven—seventh heaven if you will—for baseball fans. It is unfortunate when anything takes away from those magical games. But a blog called Sports and Ethics can’t ignore the current revelation about Cleveland starter Paul Byrd.
“Byrd, whose win in Game 4 of the ALCS moved the Indians within one victory of the World Series, bought nearly $25,000 worth of human growth hormone and syringes from 2002 to 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.” (Read the full report here.)
Baseball doesn’t need this. One normally associates steroids with power hitters, like the accusations against Barry Bonds. But a non-superstar-type player seems to have the most to gain from such use. Byrd has denied the accusations in the past. The timing of this revelation seems political, like something that would happen near election time. Game 7 is the closest to election time in baseball there is. It is a shame to see this now. It is even a worse shame if it is true.
No matter what happens, we will be hearing a lot more on this. If the Indians pull one out tonight, it will become front and center until the end of the World Series.
The designated hitter. Bob Costas: “Baseball is simply a better game without the DH.”
This will definitely not resonate with younger readers, who have never known an American League that played with real baseball rules, but it can if they will think hard about the differences in the National League and American League games. Joe Torre is getting a lot of sympathy for being offered a contract Steinbrenner knew he would turn down. A great manager gets the short end of the stick, right?
Not entirely. While I do think Torre is an excellent manager, should he choose to continue managing and end up in the National League, he would have to do a lot more managing, thinking, strategizing. The strategies surrounding a pitcher who hits, having to consider removing him when the need to pinch hit arises, double switches, etc., means NL managers simply think a lot more. Few of them nod off in the dugout.
And the game is better. There is no guarantee Torre could still think like a National Leaguer (he did spend his career there). Of course, he has had to do that in the World Series he has managed in, so he should be able to do it.
So the main reason the DH is bad for baseball is Bob Costas’ “Baseball is simply a better game without the DH. ”
There’s a second reason. Stats, though thrown together as major league stats, just don’t mean the same thing in the two leagues, especially for pitchers, who obviously, since they never get to pitch to pitchers, have higher ERAs in the AL. It’s mixing apples and oranges. Players’ career stats can’t really be compared. It’s even more of a mess since the introduction of inter-league play, which is clearly good for baseball.
The advantages of pitching to pitchers in the NL is somewhat offset by the fact that good pitchers get to pitch longer in the AL because they don’t get lifted as quickly. But fewer young pitchers get to develop this way. And this means that hitters have a disadvantage in the AL because they are facing good pitchers longer. The only hitters to gain an advantage in the AL are the aging guys who hang on for a few extra years because they don’t need to go into the field. (So where is Barry Bonds going to go?)
But it’s too late to rectify it on the stats end. And it’s too ingrained in the AL psyche to ever change. So I offer the #9 thing that’s wrong with baseball simply as food for thought. It’s never going to change, so we’ll live with it. And I’ll keep enjoying National League games more than American League games.