Aug 06

Legacies Of Alex Rodriguez And Bud Selig Permanently Linked

As we sift through the rubble of Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis scandal, we will find many things, including the tortured legacies of the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez and Commissioner Bud Selig.

Supremely gifted and talented, Rodriguez garnered three of the sport’s biggest contracts. The first was from the Texas Rangers, which was supposed to raise that franchise to prominence, but instead choked them to the point of having to trade him to the Yankees.

SELIG: Not smiling before Congress.

SELIG: Not smiling before Congress.

Rodriguez received two lucrative deals from the Yankees – the latter against the wishes of general manager Brian Cashman – for the intent of driving the club’s network YES with a record home run assault that could have shown us 800.

But, that was George Steinbrenner, whose high-rolling actions to get Rodriguez simply defined his place in baseball lore.

By his own admission, Rodriguez said he used steroids, but was accused of much more by Selig. Of what, we’ll know exactly in the coming months.

One thing he was accused of was attempting to purchase Biogenesis’ records. A despicable act if he had, but seemingly not so when done by MLB.

Rodriguez won’t get his 700 or 800 home runs. He will not break the career mark held by Hank Aaron. Barry Bonds does not hold the record for home runs, but for hitting balls over the fence. Real baseball fans know the difference.

Rodriguez’s memorabilia might see Cooperstown, but there won’t be a plaque of him, just as there won’t be one of Bonds, of Mark McGwire, of Rafael Palmeiro, of Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens. We will see their bats and gloves, just not their faces in bronze.

RODRIGUEZ: Not smiling either.

RODRIGUEZ: Not smiling either.

The Baseball Writers Association of America has taken some heat for its awards decisions, but should be proud of its current stand on players in the Steroids Era, the one ushered in by Selig.

Selig should be having mixed feelings today. He has to be happy with nailing 13 of 14 players, but privately must fear what will come down with Rodriguez’s appeal.

Then, he should feel angst because much of this was brought on by Selig, who as commissioner represents the owners more than he does the game.

It was Selig’s decision to play hardball with the Players Association in 1994 by demanding a salary cap and revenue sharing that forced the strike, and with it the cancellation of the World Series and advent of replacement players the following spring.

It must be remembered during this period the owners were found guilty of dealing in bad faith in court.

The sport took a severe financial hit, which it attempted to heal with the entry fees of the Tampa Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks in 1997. Attendance was down, but revived in 1998 with Cal Ripken’s honest pursuit of Lou Gehrig’s record; a dominating year by the Yankees; and, of course, the pursuit of McGwire and Sosa on Roger Maris’ honest record.

After nearly 40 years, both broke 61. Sosa did it three times. McGwire hit 70, but Bonds had 73. None of those numbers were achieved honestly, but with the tacit approval of Selig and the owners who looked the other way because the stands and their coffers were being filled again.

Selig is taking bows because baseball has sports’ toughest drug policy, but it was forced on him by Congress and the shame of the dishonest home run.

It is too much for me to expect Selig and the owners to admit their involvement, but if nothing else, I want to see a damn asterisk designating the Steroid Era.

Do that, and then take a bow.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Apr 15

Interesting Week Facing Mets

Not surprisingly, yesterday’s game at Minnesota was bagged by the weather, which doesn’t figure to be much better in Colorado this week.

I wrote last week Matt Harvey could pitch against Stephen Strasburg in the first game of the Washington series, and depending on possible postponements it could still pan out that way.

GEE: Goes tonight against Rockies.

GEE: Goes tonight against Rockies.

The Mets will have the back end of their rotation in the first three games of the Colorado series, with Dillon Gee, Aaron Laffey and Jeremy starting in the Coors Field bandbox. Who doesn’t believe the bullpen will get a lot of work?

Jon Niese is scheduled to start Thursday afternoon, where the temperatures could be in the teens.

It’s hard to hit in the cold, but might be more difficult to pitch as the ball is difficult to grip and the pitchers’ command is usually off.

In looking at the Rockies series, there are several things in addition to the Mets’ bullpen we should be curious in seeing:

* There’s the sizzling John Buck, who needed yesterday’s day off. Buck is the first player in history with 19 RBI in his first ten games with a new team. Buck is also one of four players with 19 RBI in his team’s first ten games, joining Lou Gehrig (1927 Yankees), Manny Ramirez (1999 Indians) and Chris Davis (this year’s Orioles).

Buck’s streak of homers in four straight games was snapped, but his six homers is more than Mets catchers hit last year (five).

* Marlon Byrd went deep yesterday to give the Mets a franchise-record 11 straight games with a homer to start a season. It’s the longest since the Rays homered in 12 straight in 2007.

* Whether Jordany Valdespin hits leadoff tonight. Despite their winning record, the Mets have not found a consistent leadoff hitter among the four they have used. Like him or not, Valdespin does generate a buzz.

* How long will Ike Davis’ slump last? He’s hitting .128 with a .244 on-base and .205 slugging percentage.  Coors Field was built to end slumps. Of all Davis’ poor numbers, 12 strikeouts and just five hits might be the most stunning.

* Will Daniel Murphy continue to sizzle? He’s hitting .381 with hits in seven of his last eight games. Murphy has 16 hits, with eight going for extra bases. He has a .413 on-base percentage and .690 slugging percentage.

* Will David Wright get his first homer? Coors Field has always been kind to Wright. He is a lifetime .385 hitter with a .461 on-base percentage, eight homers and 33 RBI in 29 games in the Rocky Mountains. In comparison, he has 14 homers and 35 RBI in 74 games at Turner Field, and seven homers and 41 RBI in 58 games at the Marlins’ old park.

The Mets return home Friday to start a three-game series with the suddenly vulnerable Nationals this weekend.

Sep 21

Bay’s Future in Doubt?

No one can say for certain if Boston poisoned Bay’s water before he ended up in a Mets’ uniform, but the once big-time slugger has experienced a falling off of monumental proportions this season. That’s not to say that some hasn’t been injury-induced; and any transplant from an AL lineup gets a season of doubt’s benefit. But in plain English, Bay simply didn’t pan out like the Mets had hoped.

Now it seems that the young ballplayer’s future may be hanging in the balance altogether after a July 22 concussion that Jason’s seemingly not recovering from.

Bay had left a game earlier this year due to leg problems, had taken a few off like a baby Manny for minor ailments and, after smacking into the wall at Dodger Stadium in late July, was eventually diagnosed with a “mild” concussion.

The Mets originally placed Bay on the 15-day DL due to his concussion, but now have moved that to 60 days. It’s an obvious move to give Bay time to heal properly in a season that went nowhere fast, but the interesting part in this is that Bay was also said to have been suffering from physical exertion.

On its surface, Bay’s odds of coming back at a full strength—and hopefully a lot more effective—next season are solid – a good 5:3. However, in light of recent scientific advancements on brain injuries and their link to long-term diseases, the odds that Bay will be “okay” in his later years are another story – maybe 20:1.

Sadly, you’ll find better odds playing online slots, and that’s tragic for Bay and every other player to suffer concussions and then not heal properly. It’s bad news, and there’s no getting around it.

Thanks to Chris Nowinski, his partners, and many volunteered brains of former athletes, the first major cause of—the ironically named in Bay’s or any other MLB player’s case—Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS, has been found.

In every brain submitted to Chris from an ALS patient, one factor was present – the brain displayed symptoms of concussions that did not heal properly and thus sent protein deposits into the spinal cord. After years of buildup, these young athletes contracted ALS.

The odds of suffering concussions and contracting ALS are slim on their own, about 1000:1 – better than you’d find on any online blackjack games to be sure. But concussions that don’t heal properly, and those with other complications, are another story. These are the concussions that produce the proteins, and these proteins can produce ALS.

In an investigation into Lou Gehrig’s personal history, HBO’s Real Sports’ host Bernie Goldberg found that Gehrig had suffered multiple concussions during his time on the field, some severe enough to leave him unconscious. And let’s not forget that Gehrig was Cal Ripken decades before there was a Cal Ripken – he was the Iron Horse, never missing a game.

Hopefully, Bay will heal just fine and won’t suffer the fate of the dreaded protein deposits from this concussion. And the Mets’ kid gloves approach really bodes well for his future. But knowing what we know now about the horrible disease and its cause, it truly makes you take a harder look at athletes and question how they’re “really” recovering from injuries.