Saturday, December 22, 2007

Caps Can't Afford More Losses Like Thursday's

I woke up Friday still mad about Thursday night's Caps loss to the Habs, so I wrote a column about it for DC Sports Box. Here's the first few paragraphs. You'll have to click through for the rest:

Thursday night's Capitals vs. Canadiens game at Verizon Center was a chilling reminder of a script we've seen before: The Caps dominate a game in terms of shots but take too many penalties, give up a couple power play goals and lose.

Or, more accurately, they dominate the first period but go into the locker room tied or losing, then come out flat in the second period as they revert to a "scoring chances be damned, shoot from anywhere – even if it's right into the goalie's chest" strategy. Meanwhile they take bad penalties at inopportune times and give up power play goals, and despite seemingly dominating the game because of a lopsided shot total, they end up on the receiving end of a whooping. Then after the game we get fed stories about the bounces not going their way and running into the dreaded "hot goaltending."

It was an all-too-common scenario for the Caps before Glen Hanlon was fired on Thanksgiving Day, and it seemed like they had kicked that habit under interim coach Bruce Boudreau. But it's a rut the Caps cannot afford to fall into again.

Read the rest at DC Sports Box.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Blogging the Mitchell Report: Part 4 ... I'm DONE.

I'm done reading the Mitchell Report. I didn't finish it and I never will, and I'm not going to post the rest of the info here. Why? Because it's all a huge waste of time.

For one, exactly what I said would happen ended up happening. ESPN ran a full list of "named names" on their ticker, with no explanations, grouping in Brian Roberts with guys like Paul Lo Duca and David Segui, which is absolutely ridiculous. Roberts is only in there because Larry Bigbie said that Roberts told him he did it. Not quite the same as having scans of signed checks or sworn testimony to federal investigators. Meanwhile, it seems Segui and Lo Duca were the "hook up" everywhere they went.

But more than anything, at some point while reading the report I stopped feeling angry or even disappointed in the players whose names I was seeing. I just felt bad for them.

At first I couldn't really figure out why, but then it hit me. Out of THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of players who played during the "steroid era," all of 62 names were listed.

What portion of one percent of the players who are or were actually juicing do you suppose that represents?

I used to really hate the thought that guys I liked and rooted for might be on performance enhancers. But if the report did anything, it was make me realize once and for all that this is not just a few players. It's not a couple guys, or a couple teams, or a couple guys on each team. And it sure as hell is not just 62 players over the last 15 to 20 years.

The biggest thing I took away from the report is that, as much as the media plays up the outrage, it's not like these guys were running around in their little steroid cliques, shooting up in dark alleys so no one would see. It was out in the open. It was joked about in the clubhouse.

If I were named in the report, I'd be the first one demanding the best testing available. I'd be screaming for the implementation of daily piss tests for everyone in the league, because there's no way I'd let people go on assuming that I'm part of some tiny portion of the baseball playing world that is so unscrupulous as to take steroids. I'd be saying, "You've got 60 names? Great. Now let's get 1,000 so you can really start to see."

I'm done being outraged about specific players. I'm done listening to other people's outrage about Mr. ABC and Mr. XYZ and how "now there's proof!" Because the names in the Mitchell Report are meaningless.

The fans will relish this opportunity to shun the players that have been named.

You'll say, "Miguel Tejada's a dirty cheater! I KNEW Roger Clemens was a jerk! Brian Roberts and his squeaky clean image are DONE FOR," and then boo them and make signs and yell "CHEATER" every time they visit your team's ballpark.

But it's stupid.

Because the names listed are nothing more than a few fish hooked in an ocean of performance enhancing drug users, and you're blind if you think there aren't at least four or five on your favorite team. Even if none of the names made it into the Report or onto ESPN's ticker. That's the real lesson from the Mitchell Report.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Blogging the Mitchell Report: Part 3 ... Including Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada

You can get to a collection of all the posts in this series by clicking here.

Download a PDF of the full report here -- 6.5 MB, 409 pages.

I'm just now getting into the beefier part of the report, with some names you might not have heard (although you've probably read them on other sites by now). The report includes substantial evidence on these names provided by former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, including scans of signed checks from players.

Here's the list:

Lenny Dykstra:
Report page 149, PDF page 197
"After the Phillies lost the 1993 World Series, Dykstra called Radomski and asked whether Radomski could get Dykstra steroids. Although Radomski does not remember the exact time frame, he recalled providing Dykstra with Deca-Durabolin, Dianabol, and testosterone.
In order to provide Dykstra with information about these allegations and to give him an opportunity to respond, I asked him to meet with me; he never agreed to an interview."

David Segui again. With a scanned check.

Larry Bigbie (another former Oriole, and all incidents reported here are from his time with the O's):
Report page 152, PDF page 200:
"Radomski’s first contact with Bigbie was in 2003. Thereafter, Radomski sold a variety of performance enhancing substances to Bigbie on a number of occasions. Bigbie consistently paid by check. Because Bigbie was young and “not making that much money,” Radomski said he charged Bigbie no more than his cost for the substances.

Radomski retrieved from his banks three checks written by Bigbie.


Bigbie’s account of his use and interaction with Radomski was consistent with Radomski’s account."

I was fearing this one, and it's disappointing but not shocking. Also, in comparison to others listed in the Radomski section it's not too bad. There's no hard evidence, just Larry Bigbie's word, and even he wasn't very hard on B-Rob. Read on...

Brian Roberts (the first CURRENT Oriole to be named):
Report page 158, PDF page 206:
"Roberts and Larry Bigbie were both rookies in 2001. According to Bigbie, both he and Roberts lived in Segui’s house in the Baltimore area during the latter part of that season. When Bigbie and Segui used steroids in the house, Roberts did not participate.

According to Bigbie, however, in 2004 Roberts admitted to him that he had injected himself once or twice with steroids in 2003. Until this admission, Bigbie had never suspected Roberts of using steroids."

More from Radomski before I run out of time... These people are all included with pretty hard evidence in the report. I'll try to include more if I get the time later:

Jack Cust (former Oriole)
Tim Laker (former Oriole)
Josias Manzanillo
Todd Hundley
Mike Carreon
Hall Morris
Matt Franco
Rondell White
Roger Clemens
Andy Pettitte
Chuck Knoblauch
Jason Grimsley (again)
Gregg Zaun (former Oriole)
David Justice
F.P. Santangelo
Glenallen Hill
Mo Vaughn
Denny Neagle
Ron Villone
Ryan Franklin
Chris Donnels
Todd Williams (former Oriole)
Phil Hiatt
Todd Pratt
Kevin Young
Mike Lansing
Cody McKay
Kent Mercker (former Oriole)
Adam Piatt
MIGUEL TEJADA (for real this time ... with evidence)
Jason Christiansen
Mike Stanton (former National)
Stephen Randolph
Jerry Hairston Jr. (former Oriole)
Paul Lo Duca (brand new National)
Adam Riggs
Bart Miadich
Fernado Vina
Kevin Brown (former Oriole)
Eric Gagne
Mike Bell
Matt Herges
Gary Bennett Jr. (former National)
Jim Parque
Brendan Donnelly
Chad Allen
Jeff Williams
Howie Clark (former Oriole)
Nook Logan (current National)


Blogging the Mitchell Report: Part 2

You can get to a collection of all the posts in this series by clicking here.

Download a PDF of the full report here -- 6.5 MB, 409 pages.

What you've all been waiting for, but not as juicy as people thought it'd be...

Miguel Tejada (an Oriole until yesterday, this incident IS from when he was with the Orioles, stemming from the Palmeiro suspension): Report page 105, PDF page 153.
"Tejada told investigators that he generally brought injectable vitamin B12 with him to the United States when he returned each season from the Dominican Republic.
Larry Bigbie, a former Orioles player who we interviewed in our investigation, confirmed that he observed Tejada injecting himself with vitamin B12 in the clubhouse restroom. The report that four players on a major league team were self-administering an injectable substance should have been a cause of concern, even if the players said that the substance they were injecting into themselves was vitamin B12."
So not a whole lot on Tejada we didn't already know, and no clear evidence. Maybe there's more later in the report.

More real shockers...

Ken Caminiti and David Segui (another former Oriole) are in the report. They both admitted their steroid and HGH use, and the report acknowledges that.

Paxton Crawford (no-name Red Sox pitcher who made all of 15 appearances from 2000 to 2001): Report page 111, PDF page 159.
"Crawford admitted to using steroids and human growth hormone while with the Red Sox. He described an incident in which syringes he had wrapped in a towel were spilled onto the floor of the Red Sox clubhouse, which he said caused laughter among his teammates."
(Emphasis added.)

Outed of the raid of Balco:

Barry Bonds
Jason Giambi
Jeremy Giambi
Armando Rios
Garry Sheffield
Benito Santiago
Marvin Benard
Randy Velarde
Bobby Estalella:

Report page 113, PDF page 161.
"Among those baseball players brought to Balco by [Bonds trainer Greg] Anderson was Barry Bonds. Bonds has received 'the clear' and 'the cream' from Balco on a 'couple of occasions'. According to Valente, Bonds does not like how 'the clear' makes him feel.

Other players that Anderson has obtained 'the clear' and “the cream” for from Balco are Benito Santiago, Gary Sheffield, Marvin Benard, Jason Giambi and Randy Velarde. Sometime [sic] the substances are given to Anderson to give to the athletes and sometimes the athletes are given the substances directly. . . .
The Giambi brothers came to Balco and informed them that they had taken a steroid some time ago and wanted to see if it was still detectable in their systems. Valente recalled that the particular steroid they took can stay in a person’s system for up to 18 months. The urine that Balco collected and sent out for testing came back positive for steroids."
Those quotes are from federal investigator interviews of Balco Vice President Jim Valente. He has since denied saying what was attributed to him in the federal investigation reports.
"Anderson eventually admitted that he had supplied performance enhancing substances to Benard, Estalella, Rios, and Santiago. Anderson also stated that 'Barry Bonds never took any of the clear or the cream from Balco.' Anderson said that he provided Santiago with human growth hormone a few months before the interview and had sent that substance by FedEx 'in the past' to both Estalella and Rios. During their search of Anderson's home, agents found documentary evidence 'corroborating these admissions.'"

More to come...

Blogging the Mitchell Report: Part 1

So I'm reading through the Mitchell Report on steroid use in baseball, available to download in its entirety as a PDF on (download here -- 6.5 MB, 409 pages). And as I'm reading through the report and writing down the names, I realized I should be blogging as I'm reading. Not because I'm going to beat the media outlets, but more because I think the media outlets are just going to post a list of names named with no context. And from reading the first few pages, this is not a black-and-white "he clearly did it, he clearly did not" report.

I may have to break this up into multiple posts, but you can get to a collection of all the posts by clicking here.

So here's what I've come up with so far, with page citations from the report if you want to go check it out for yourself (note, the page numbers at the bottom of each page are not even close to the page numbers for the PDF, so I'm including both.):

Manny Alexander (former Oriole, the incident cited in the report was from when he was with Boston in 2000): Report page 91, PDF page 139.
"On June 30, 2000, a clubhouse employee of the Boston Red Sox, Carlos Cowart, and a friend of his were sitting in Manny Alexander’s parked sports utility vehicle when they were approached by Massachusetts state police officers. Alexander, then a utility infielder with the Red Sox, was away with the team. The officers suspected that the car had been stolen, but, in fact, Alexander had loaned it to Cowart while the team was away.
During a search of the vehicle, police discovered two hypodermic needles and a bottle of anabolic steroids in the glove compartment. At least one news report stated that the steroids were in an envelope addressed to Alexander, although we were not able to confirm that assertion. The police applied for two criminal complaints against Alexander, for possession of Class E anabolic steroids and for possession of hypodermic needles. Neither Cowart nor the friend who was with him was charged with any offense. On February 28, 2001, the charges against Alexander were dismissed for 'insufficient evidence having been presented after hearing.'"

Ricky Bones (another former Oriole, albeit only for a year, the incident cited in the report was from when he was with Florida in 2000): Report page 92, PDF page 140.
"In late June 2000, a clubhouse attendant with the Florida Marlins brought a paper bag to the club’s athletic trainers that had been found in the locker of Marlins pitcher Ricky Bones. The bag contained over two dozen syringes, six vials of injectable medications – stanozolol and nandrolone decanoate, two anabolic steroids that are sold under the names Winstrol and Deca-Durabolin, respectively – and a page of handwritten instructions on how to administer the drugs. Soon thereafter, the athletic trainers returned the bag and its contents to Bones at his request."

Alex Cabrera (from when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2000): Report page 94, PDF page 142.
"Sometime in mid-September 2000, a clubhouse employee with the Arizona
Diamondbacks discovered a bottle of anabolic steroids and several hundred pills in a package that had been mailed to the Diamondbacks’ ballpark in Phoenix. Clubhouse attendants knew that the package had been intended for Alex Cabrera, then a player on Arizona’s major league roster, who had been searching for the package for several days."

Juan Gonzalez (the first big name on the list, the incident was from when he was with the Cleveland Indians in 2001): Report page 95, PDF page 143.
"On the evening of October 4, 2001, Canadian Border Service officers working at Toronto’s international airport discovered steroids, syringes, and clenbuterol in an unmarked duffel bag during an airport search of luggage that had been unloaded from the Cleveland Indians flight from Kansas City. Ted Walsh, the Indians equipment and clubhouse manager who was present during the search, recognized the bag as one that had been sent down to be included with the luggage by Cleveland outfielder Juan Gonzalez when the Indians left Kansas City. On prior trips, Gonzalez had included bags for members of his entourage with his own bags, and Walsh had the impression that this was the case with some of the bags he sent down to be packed for the Toronto flight.
Thereafter, Davidson, Haynes, and other officials watched the luggage as Joshue Perez, a member of Juan Gonzalez’s entourage, claimed the duffel bag."

Rafael Palmeiro and Jason Grimsley for incidents you already knew about. I won't even bother to cite them because they were actually suspended by MLB, so it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that they showed up in the report, but there's another couple former Orioles.

More to come...