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There’s More Than What’s In Mitchell’s Report

I don’t think anybody is foolish enough to think that the players named in the Mitchell Report is the definitive list of all players who have used steroids or HGH in baseball. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Surely there have been more than 83 players. These names came from basically 3 or 4 sources. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that there are more than 3 or 4 sources of steroids for players. Whenever the other “trainers” start to get busted then more names will come out. My opinion is that it’s been pretty much an even playing field and that the number of players who did not juice pales in comparison to the number of players who have. And when you see some of the names in the Mitchell Report it makes you wonder how much of an impact it really has. One thing I think it did prove is that if you don’t have talent all the steroids in the world aren’t going to help. Mike Bell? First of all which Mike Bell? It doesn’t matter they both were blips on the baseball radar. Chad Allen, Gary Bennett, Larry Bigbie. Mike Judd? At first I thought they busted the Beavis and Butthead/King of the Hill guy, too. I think the most embarrassing thing for Nook Logan is that now everybody knows his name is Exavier. Cody McKay is not that surprising when you think about who his dad is. Dave had to be the Charles Atlas of first base coaches. I don’t remember him like that as a player. Can they test coaches?

All of this was done without breaking any of baseball’s rules. Of course a lot of law breaking took place and perhaps some of these players will face consequences. But I don’t think suspensions can be given for anything unless it can be proven that the offenses took place after the performance enhancing drug policy was put in place. All this talk about asterisks and stripping of records and awards is nonsense. Baseball has nobody to blame but themselves. Everybody knew it was happening and they didn’t seem to care until pressured by Congress. Are we going to take away all of Gaylord Perry’s accomplishments and boot him from the HOF? What about the cocaine guys of the 70’s and 80’s? How about Ferguson Jenkins? Heck, Doc Ellis threw a no-hitter on LSD. Are we going to take that away? I bet if anybody knew at the time he was on acid there would have been other pitchers to try the same thing! Anyway I think that what’s done is done and there’s really not much baseball can do. It’s time to move on.

Sanchez’ Title Almost Didn’t Happen

Congratulations to Freddy Sanchez on winning the NL batting title. He’s the first Bucco since Bill “Mad Dog” Madlock in 1983 to capture the crown. Nobody could have predicted this before the season since the Pirates themselves weren’t even convinced that Sanchez had the tools to be an everyday player. It was by pure luck the he became an everyday player in 2006. Despite the fact that in his first full season he hit .295 and he was the player they wanted badly when trading Jeff Suppan to the Red Sox the Pirates inexplicably went out in the winter of 2005-06 and signed an aging Joe Randa. The ironic thing is that the Pirates traded for Randa in 1996 in the last of the fire sales dumping Jay Bell and Jeff King to KC. All Randa did was hit .302 that season but for some reason the Pirates didn’t re-sign him that winter and he left for Detroit. If Randa didn’t get hurt early this season the NL batting champ would have spent the season on the bench. And for those who think that Freddy’s title was a fluke here’s a look at how he has fared against some of the best in the game in his brief career (the following chart is from the Pirates MLB.com website).

Brandon Webb: 2-for-6
John Smotlz: 3-for-10
Mark Buehrle: 2-for-6
Jose Contreras: 2-for-3
Bronson Arroyo: 2-for-5
Dontrelle Willis: 6-for-10
Roger Clemens: 4-for-10
Roy Oswalt: 6-for-18
Andy Pettitte: 7-for-20
Greg Maddux: 6-for-11
Chris Capuano: 8-for-18
Johan Santana: 2-for-3
Pedro Martinez: 2-for-4
Chris Carpenter: 6-for-17

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Random Thoughts From a Weekend at the Dome

I took in the 3-game series at the Metrodome this weekend between the defending champs and the Twins. Just some thoughts from the weekend.

My tickets for the 3 games cost a total of $18 – parking cost $45… Most people put ketchup not only on their hot dogs but also on bratwursts. That’s just not right… The Twins fans are very knowledgeable and they cheered a ground ball to the right side to move a runner to third with no out just as enthusiastically as they did a homer. They also don’t like AJ. He was booed very loudly all weekend. I think they should give him a standing ovation every time. After all if it wasn’t for him they wouldn’t have Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser… The White Sox seem complacent. I didn’t see the fire that I saw last year. I also noticed a few of them dogging it on ground balls… Joe Crede plays an awesome third base… Brian Anderson swings at the first pitch too often. I wouldn’t throw him anything good on the first pitch… Johan Santana may just be the best lefty in the game… It dawned on me that a generation of Twins fans have not seen a Twins home game outside. And many have not seen the Twins play outside except on TV. That will change in 2010 when they open their new park… The Twins are a fun team to watch. The have a bunch of scrappy players who play hard for 9 innings. Their speed and aggressiveness really pressured the White Sox defense and made them look bad… Pablo Ozuna is not a major league outfielder. His poor judgment in trying to throw out Luis Castillo at third on a hit run opened the door for a big inning by the Twins in Sunday’s game… Jose Uribe still thinks he has to swing at every pitch like he’s going to hit it 500 feet… Jason Tyner throws funny. He pauses to skip his left foot at the top of his motion. When throws on the run he does the foot thing and then throws… The Twins do a great job of promoting youth baseball. They had youth baseball promotions all weekend. There was a group they honored today that builds “Miracle Fields”. This group builds baseball fields for the physically challenged so that they can play the game and participate in a team sport… I noticed that there doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgement that the Twins franchise started in Washington D.C. as the Senators. There’s no mention of the AL or WS championships won by the Senators on the banners hanging in the dome. And not to beat the Hometown Heroes thing again, but shouldn’t Walter Johnson be a nominee for this franchise? I think so… And no article about the Metrodome and the Twins would be complete without mentioning Kirby Puckett. Kirby by far is the most popular Twin. It’s very evident by the number of 34 Twins jerseys that are worn at every game. His passing was a big loss for the organization and the Twins fans. During the 7th inning stretch right after the singing of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”, they play a moving video montage accompanied by Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World” honoring Puckett. And his number 34 is painted along both the first and third base foul lines… I’ve ripped the Metrodome in the past but after watching 5 games there this year I guess it’s not all that bad.

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MLB Swings and Misses With Hometown Heroes

Major League Baseball has fanned once again in an attempt to promote the great history of the game. Their latest promotional attempt is called Hometown Heroes. Five players are nominated for each of the 30 current teams and you get to vote for one. It looks like there may have been an attempt to mix in the present with the past and for franchises that have been in multiple cities to represent each location. I don’t know who nominated the players or how they were chosen but some of the choices are real head scratchers. Some guys appear for more than one team. You can only wear one hat on the HOF plaque so you should only be able to be nominated for one team.

Conspicuously missing from the ballot are Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro. I can see McGwire not making it since the A’s have a solid set of nominees although they have some glaring omissions as well as I note later. And he didn’t play very long for St. Louis. Sammy Sosa, the only player with three 60+ homer seasons didn’t make it for the Cubs. I’m not sure who doesn’t make it in his place but he should have been a selection. Rafael Palmeiro got beat out by Rusty Greer, Mark Teixeira and Jim Sundberg. I guess since Raffy got busted baseball doesn’t want to acknowledge his accomplishments. Barry’s on the ballot, however.

I’m not going to analyze every team because some are no brainers like the Yankees and some just don’t have heroes like the Devil Rays. Here are a few that I think could be different. Let’s start with the Los Angeles, California, Anaheim, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Their nominees are Jim Abbot, Don Baylor, Rod Carew, Chuck Finley and Tim Salmon. Jim Abbot over Nolan Ryan? You’ve got to be kidding me. But Noley wasn’t left off the ballot completely. He shows up twice – for the Astros and the Rangers. His selection for the Astros apparently kept Cesar Cedeno off the ballot. And Larry Dierker was chosen ahead of J.R. Richard. The Indians or whoever nominated their players must feel that they haven’t had a good player in 47 years. The most recent player of their group is Larry Doby who retired in 1959. Where’s Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton or Jim Thome?

The Philadelphia, Kansas City, Oakland A’s have an interesting choice of players – Dennis Eckersley, Lefty Grove, Rickey Henderson, Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson. All great and four of the five are HOFers with Rickey a sure bet to be inducted. However, I don’t know if any of them are considered the greatest Athletic of all-time. How about Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons? Surely there has to be a spot for one them?

Whoever selected the Braves nominees obviously was high or just plain ignorant of baseball history. There’s no way Eddie Mathews should have to take a backseat to Chipper Jones. That’s an insult to one of the greatest third baseman of all-time. And where’s Greg Maddux? He only won 3 Cy Young Awards for the Braves.

The team that takes the cake for the most ridiculous and harebrained nominations is the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. Certainly Andre Dawson and Tim Raines are nominated. Wait, did I miss read the ballot? I don’t see them. I see Gary Carter, Rusty Staub, Jose Vidro, Livan Hernandez and Brian Schneider. Brian Schneider? Who does he have pictures of? His 6 year career numbers don’t even match Hack Wilson’s 1930 numbers. This is the most ridiculous nomination since Ross Perot selected James Stockdale as his running mate in 1992.

This promotion was designed to get the casual fan to take interest in baseball not to honor the greats of the game. The nominees obviously were selected based on name recognition for the younger generation of fans (except for the Indians.)

Some fans last night at the Metrodome made good use of the ballots by making paper airplanes and landing them on the field. One nosedived and stuck in the turf (the ballot, not the fan) just to the left of White Sox centerfielder Brian Anderson. Others took the time to select their heroes. One guy asked me whom I thought he should vote for on the White Sox. I said, “Are you kidding? Frank, without a doubt!” I watched over the guy’s shoulder in front of me as he made his selections. As he neared the Pirates my heart was racing to see who he’d select and much to my delight he selected none other than Captain Will. I was so moved that I almost bought the guy a beer.

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All-Star No Shows

I was listening to Mike and Mike this morning on the Deuce and Dick Vitale was a guest. Dicky V., as everybody knows is very opinionated and this morning went on a rant about Manny Ramirez opting out of the All-Star game. Vitale came up with a plan to penalize all-star no shows by not letting them play the last game before the break and the first game after the break. This is ludicrous in my opinion. If a player doesn’t want to go then that’s their choice. Personally, I don’t like it when a healthy player who was voted in by the fans doesn’t play. If he’s injured then that’s a different story.

But I do think that perhaps players who opt out should be penalized in some way. What do you think will happen if players with bonus clauses in their contracts for making the All-Star team (another sore spot of mine) actually have to show up at the festivities and the game to collect? I bet Manny would be in the visitor’s locker room at PNC right now figuring out which bat he was going to use for the HR derby tonight. Perhaps another penalty could be to leave them off of the ballot the following year. Or maybe the fans should take matters into their own hands and just not vote for players who opt out in subsequent years. But we all know fans have short memories for these kinds of things.

Tom Glavine, who is not injured, opted out since he’s not able to pitch after starting on Sunday. He’s still making the trip to the ‘burgh. Glavine’s decision, at least on the surface, appears to be for the good of the NL and the Mets. Since the game now has some meaning (another point I can rant about) and as it looks today Glavine’s Mets may be a benefactor of a NL win, he decided to step aside and give Phil Garner another option. A class move by a class guy.

Manny is not the first player to no-show and he won’t be the last. But until players face repercussions there will continue to be dead beat All-Stars.

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Barry and the Babe

Since when do we celebrate second place when it comes to baseball records? Why is everybody making a big deal about MLB not celebrating Barry Bonds’ 714th and/or 715th home runs? I’ve actually heard media people say it’s a travesty that MLB won’t celebrate Barry’s breaking of Babe Ruth’s record. What record? Babe Ruth’s daughter and grandkids say they won’t participate in any celebration. Do we really care? No offense but the Babe is SECOND! Last time I checked Hank Aaron has the record for lifetime homeruns. I don’t remember much fanfare when Pete Rose moved into second place on the all-time hit list. Does the casual fan even know who is now third? When Nolan Ryan moved into second place on the all-time strikeout list did they stop the game and have a celebration? There was probably an announcement made on the scoreboard and a nice round of applause from those in attendance. MLB is correct in it’s decision not to celebrate Barry’s next two homers. If he breaks Aaron’s record (which I don’t think is going to happen) then MLB should have a celebration worthy of that accomplishment. As for those who think the record will be tainted well too bad. He was not the only player who was juiced and he should not be singled out. There’s no doubt that there is a double standard when it comes to Bonds. It’s funny how during the summer of Mark and Sammy they were feted like no other players in history even though there was little doubt and much speculation about their increased body mass. When a bottle of Andro was found in McGwire’s locker the spin was that it wasn’t banned by baseball. Well neither were steroids. And everybody chuckled when Sammy talked about getting strong by taking Flinstones vitamins. Heck, they were even credited for “saving” baseball after the strike. Now here we are 8 years later and baseball decides to launch a steroid investigation but it really seems like a Barry Bonds investigation. Can we really even take any investigation commissioned by MLB seriously? All I know is that Barry Bonds is the best player I’ve ever seen play and I’m pulling for him to break the record – the real record of 755.

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Erase Palmeiro’s Stats?

Frank Robinson said in an interview yesterday that all of Rafael Palmeiro’s stats should be erased because he failed a drug test. This is absurd. So, let’s see, MLB is going to have to go back through every single game that Palmeiro played and remove him from the boxscore. Then they have to determine if any hits, RBI’s or even “productive outs” had an effect on the games. Then I guess if any of his at-bats resulted in the winning or eventual winning run then they have to go back and replay the games (they could use APBA since some guys may be dead) or they could just award wins to the other team. And then based on that the standings will have to be revised and of course the post seasons will have to be replayed and I guess Mitch Williams’ stats will have to be altered as well because you can’t trade somebody that doesn’t exist (you can only trade for somebody that doesn’t exist. See Cubs-Cardinals trade of Lou Brock and Ernie Brogglio). Then perhaps we can give the Phillies the World Series in ’93 because they’d have probably played the Rangers that year since Williams would have saved 70 games for them and instead of Joe Carter hitting a series ending homer of off the ‘Wild Thing’ it would have been Lenny Dykstra. But wait, I think Lenny would have failed a steroid test so he’d have to be erased as well so the Rangers win in ’93 over the Giants because they’d have won 2 more games over the Phillies that season to beat the Braves by a game. Nope, that won’t work either because Barry Bonds was on the Giants and we have to erase him too because of his flaxseed oil and arthritis cream possibly being tainted. Holy cow, where does it end?

What I don’t understand is how come everybody is so bent on calling the Palmeiro’s of the game “cheaters”? I know the definition of cheating can be applied but what baseball rule or policy did they violate? Especially if the majority of players were doing it? If anybody doubts that steroid users were in the minority in baseball up until a year or two ago then I think you’ve got your head in the sand. Why doesn’t anybody get upset about Gaylord Perry? I mean this guys ADMITTED to cheating and he’s proud of it! And he’s in the Hall of Fame! What’s wrong with that picture? Also, I hope I don’t hear Fergie Jenkins, Paul Molitor or Orlando Cepeda chirping about banning steroid users from the Hall. They all have drug histories. Do we toss them? Nobody seems to think we need to toss out stats from the late ’80s when baseball juiced the balls.

I think we need to just step back, relax and let the new policy work. It seems to be doing the trick. I agree that the penalties need to be increased and it looks like they will. It’s just another era in baseball that hopefully has passed.

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8/6 Linescore of the Day – David Dellucci

David Dellucci, Texas Rangers

5 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 4 RBI, 1HR

David Dellucci hit his 19th homer of the season last night in leading Texas over the hapless Orioles. Dellucci is having his best all around season. His OPS is over .900 this year. He’s finally been given a chance to play regularly and he’s made the most of the chance.

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8/5 Linescore of the Day – Olmedo Saenz

Olmedo Saenz, Los Angeles Dodgers

5 ab, 1 r, 3 h, 6 rbi, 1 double, 1 HR

The Pirates’ pitching proved to be the cure for yet another poor offensive team last night as the Dodgers lead by Saenz pounded the Buccos. Saenz came into the game in a 1 for 11 slump and broke out of it in a big way. Olmedo’s performance overshadowed the first career homer for Pirates rookie Brad “Big Country” Eldred.

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8/4 Linescore of the Day – John Patterson

John Patterson, Washington Nationals

9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 K’s (Win)

John Patterson continued to impress Thursday. After struggling for most of the previous 3 seasons the lanky 27 year old Texan seems to have found his stride this season in DC.

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