Archive for December, 2004

No Astros News is Good/Bad News 12/29/04

Tuesday, December 28th, 2004

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted in a week – family problems.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t really been any Astros news. Which, I suppose yall might could say is good/bad. Good because we haven’t done anything really stupid. Bad because we haven’t done anything at ALL except to not offer much of a contract to Wade Miller, arm status unknown at this time, who went to the Red Sox. It is, of course possible, that the team has some information that hasn’t been released, and they “know” that the probability that he can pitch well without major surgery is very low.

But…
Where are they gonna get 2 more starting pitchers? Why haven’t they at least contacted Odalis Perez, who no one seems to want? I’m sure as shootin not betting on Roger coming back…

I don’t know if it’s true that they offered Carlos Beltran 96 mill for 6 years. But even if he accepted it, is McLane gonna cry that he doesn’t have any more money to buy the pitchers and outfielders we need? Why would Carlos want to join a team that won’t spend to get the pieces we need when he CAN go to one of the NY teams that will spend more?!

And speaking of Mohr, (Dustan) he accepted a 950K one year deal with the Rockies. He’s a decent hitter and good fielder – certainly better than Biggio, and the Stros, who are supposed to be a better team than Colorado, couldn’t even offer him THAT much? He’s certainly not gonna play full time there, either. So who’s left? Burnitz? Magglio Ordonez (yeah, sure, with that bad knee and Boras?) Juan Gonzalez (God, no, PLEASE??!!)

Yall have any ideas? Cuz I’m clean out.

SO…
What about the rest of the NL central?
-Pirates? Well, let’s just say that I feel almost sorrier for their fans than I do for us.
-Brewers? Well, Melvin didn’t do anything really stupid that I can think of, except maybe getting rid of Podsednik’s glove and Ginter’s bat. They’re gonna be at least .500, especially with 2 good starting pitchers.
-Reds? Well, Lindner FINALLY decides to spend a little something on pitching and he gets Eric Milton, 8 mill a year or so for 3 years based on all those wins (who cares about high ERA or lots of HR, right?) Maybe as high as 500??
-Cubs? All wrapped up in the Sammy Saga full of breathless drama. Basically done nothing except lose Matt Clement and not get a closer. But their pitching is good (duh) and they’re replacing Moises Alou and his lead glove/RBIs with Todd Hollandsworth. So, still a dangerous team.
- Cards – replaced Woody Williams with Mark Mulder (upgrade if he’s healthy) and Renteria with David Eckstein (short guys ROOL and Eckstein has a better glove than you think. Dumped Tony Womack (no great loss) for ??? Don’t have ANY idea how we’re gonna beat these guys. Sighhhhhhhhh…

I just wish I could get SOME idea of what Purpura is up to – HOW he is gonna get a winning team.
12/29/04 – by the way, Michael Hurta, who blogs on Home Plate in Space wrote a nice review on Wade Miller. Check it out.

12/21/04: Wade-ing Thru The (Miller) Mess

Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

Well, Wade Miller was non-tendered. This means that the Astros did not offer him a decent contract, even one with incentive clauses. I understand refusing to go to arbitration – he earned 3.4 mill last year for a 7 – 7 record and only 15 GS, and he couldn’t be paid less than 20% of that, and probably wouldn’t. And who can be sure that his shoulder will hold up any better this year?

BUT – Miller has been a decent pitcher since he came up in 1999 – 3.87 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP in spite of time off for injuries – the only year he pitched at least 200 innings was 2001, with 212. Do the Astros REALLY think that not a single other team out there will offer him a decent contract? Does Purpura actually think that we have pitchers in the minors who are ready to be major league starters? Does he think that decent starters grow on trees? Or does he REALLY think that Munro, Hernandez, Redding, Buchholz, Duckworthless, etc are just as good but just cheaper?

Well, I sure nuff would worry that Carlos Beltran, who he seems to be waiting for, is gonna take a good look at the team, see that we have only 3 decent (Oswalt, Pettite and Backe) starting pitchers, a bullpen that sucks except for Qualls and Lidge, and 1 decent starting outfielder (Jason Lane, pleeeeeeeease Lord) – I say only 1 because it’s unsure exactly when Lance will be able to start after his offseason knee surgery and there are no obvious replacements waiting in the minors. (Taveras? Puhleeeeeeease!!!)

Anyway, Carlos maybe gonna think that the Mets, whose owner is obviously willing to spend (even if sometimes he doesn’t engage brains before opening wallet or mouth) look awful darn good. Or even (choke, gag, the Yankees). I doubt Cubs because Sammy ain’t budging and the Trib ain’t spending. And the Tigers/ Orioles ain’t winning. So we will have spent these months re-signing Viz and Palmeiro (yawn) and not even bothering to try to improve the glaring holes, let alone plug them.

I know that some of yall are reading this and thinking, that chick crazy, wants us to do SOMETHING, anything. Nope. Not ANY ol thing. BUT – I see an almost empty farm system. I don’t see or hear that Purpura is actually out there trying to find players, even if they’re not Boras clients, to plug the gaping holes in this team. I don’t have the slightest bit of evidence that we even have some plan. And waiting until the last second to plug holes with the rubbish that will be left after all the good stuff is gone isn’t real too swift, unless you don’t particularly care how the team does. And I don’t care if Carlos is great – even Barry Bonds can’t do it alone….

Astros’ Stove Is Cold December 2004

Sunday, December 19th, 2004

Well yall, seems like every other team in the majors has been busy lately. I have not heard so much as a whisper of a rumor that Purpura has even discussed anything with the other GMs at the winter meetings. So we have lost Woody Williams to San Diego – I understand that we would not make an offer even though he has always wanted to play for his hometown team.

We have lost AA pitcher DJ Houlton to the Rule 5 draft.

We have not made any effort whatsoever, to my knowledge, to try to find anyone for the rotation, the bullpen or the outfield, besides some loose talk about Jose Cruz, Jr. and Jeromy Burnitz that hasn’t gone anywhere.

No word of contract negotiations for Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt or Adam Everett. I don’t know what they’re doing. All the Roger/Andy talk last year kept the Stros in the papers during the winter and added excitement – AND increased ticket sales. If Drayton McLean really thinks that he will have the same sort of sales this year without a good team who just might could win, that dude is just plain loco…..

I have, of course, asked Santa for Carlos Beltran. Among other things.

Go Stros!!!!!!

I do wish yall a Merry Christmas, for those of yall who celebrate it, Happy Winter Soltice Holidays for those of yall who celebrate it, and a good work break for everyone who gets one. Good health and happiness to everyone!!!!!!

12/15/04: Steroids, Rules, Cheating, Ethics, Morals and Hide-n-go-Seek

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

Lately, there has been a LOT of talk about the use of steroids. As yall know REAL well. Before 2003, it was NOT against the MLB rules to use steroids, although it was certainly against the LAW unless prescibed by a doctor.

There is no chemical I know of that will turn a person who can’t play baseball into a person who can. The real question is, is there anything that can make a baseball player a better baseball player?

What makes a good ballplayer?
1) hitting
well…..
FIRST, you have to be able to look at the baseball coming toward you, know what KIND of pitch it is, how fast it is, and if it will be a strike or ball. That takes judgement, experience and plain ol talent. Oh yes. And eyesight. What can “enhance your performance?” Well, experience, videos, scouting and eye surgery (lasik.) And of course, stimulants like speed or tobacco to improve concentration.
SECOND, you have to be able to swing the bat and hit the pitch. Duh. So what can “enhance your performance?” Well, practice, of course, duh. Videos of opposing pitchers, so you can study him and look for certain motions, kinds of pitches. You can train to strengthen your wrists to improve bat speed, exercise to strengthen your back, shoulder and leg muscles to help with speed of reacting and strength of hitting…
THIRD, in this modern game, you are paid for home runs, not quantity of hits, so you need to hit more homeruns to get more money (you disbelieve me, look at all the people who think Ichiro can’t be considered a top ballplayer, even if he hits over .350, steals 30 bases, almost never GIDP and has an OBP of over .400 – great for a leadoff hitter… but still barely spit-worthy.) To hit HR, you have to have strike zone judgement, a good swing, AND be strong enough to hit a line drive over 325 feet. If you ain’t strong enough to hit a ball hard enough to go out, forget the big paycheck, even if you hit .400, field like Ozzie and steal like Rickey. Perfecting strike zone judgement? Well, you can get eye surgery, watch videos, take drugs or tobacco to improve concentration and that’s about it. Getting stronger? Well, here’s the BIG problem. Roids DO make you stronger whether you exercise or not. So if you exercise AND do roids, you will certainly be stronger than if you don’t….

2) catching the ball – well, you have to have a good instinct for where the ball will go off the bat and react quickly. Instinct is purely talent (you know, the word Barry used that got him in so much trouble…) Quick reaction? Well, roids DO make you faster – check out the track stars… and let’s not forget stimulants, which allow you to have more energy and concentrate better.

3) throwing – well, you have to be strong enough to throw the ball to the place you want it to go, so again, roids do make you stronger, and you have to be accurate – I guess greenies to the rescue again. Also, remember to hit the cutoff man (yes Evelyn, I’m talkin to you) and greenies again for concentration. Note – roids did NOT help Giambis or Canseco with throwing…..

4) running – speed and timing. Speed sure nuff can be helped by roids (what happened to the Giambis) as well as stimulants. Timing, good baserunning techniques, well, that’s practice and more practice – greenies to give energy, and oh yeah, talent.

Let’s think of all the things ballplayers have always done to “enhance performance”:
-practice
-take tobacco (and later, speed) to improve concentration
-spitballs, scuffballs, stealing signs like the 51 Giants, etc etc etc etc…..
and maybe
-take cocaine to improve “confidence” – not sure how well that works….

Now, let’s think of all the things ballplayers do to enhance performance that wasn’t available to ballplayers before like 25 – 30 years ago:
-watch videos
-exercising instead of working at other jobs in the offseason
-hire cooks and nutritionists to eat healthy food
-get operations to enhance vision
-lift weights to get stronger
-hire private coaches to help with various parts of their game
-use lighter, harder bats
-take vitamins, herbs, “supplements” found legally in any health food store
-massage, psychotherapy, hypnosis, accupuncture, chiropractice and other legal alternative medicines
- get operations on bones, tendons and joints

Please note that you very seldom hear complaints about any of these things having effects on the breaking of “sacred” records…
Roids – well, they do make you stronger – bigger muscles, and I guess, heal faster from injuries and workouts.
Do they help increase bat speed?
Do they help you get from home to first faster?
Do they improve strike zone judgement?
Do they help improve instincts about catching the ball?
Do they help you throw the ball harder and more accurately, say, from right field to third?
Do they help with baserunning instincts? Or even make basestealing easier because you’re faster?
Do they have any effect on BABIP?
Do they give you the strength to hit a ball the extra 10 – 20 feet you need to turn a line drive into a homerun?

Answer, good questions and I’m glad you asked. I think that everyone believes the last one is true – so for a suspected player, you should see a decrease in linedrive outs, singles and doubles that translates into an increease in home runs. I guess.

But what really interests me the very most is that all the people who are upset about “cheating” are ONLY upset about roids (and HGH.)
Un – ethical
Un – moral (moral??????)
Un – something else that means breaking “unwritten” rules or using unfair advantages.

Why is there nothing wrong with anything else?
Answer, because, in my opinion, there is this THING about large size = better. Read about how pitchers are hyped because of their size. If roids affected something besides the HR record, say, baserunning judgement, you think we’d be hearing a thing?

I haven’t heard how Tony Gwynn should get * besides his records or be banned from the Hall or be called a cheater because he used video to study pitchers and everyone else didn’t – unfair advantage?

It sure as heck ain’t a question of legal – I don’t hear 2 words about greenies, although it is known that these illegal chemicals most certainly DO increase concentration and stamina. And the more of that you have, the better you play.

But you know, this weekend, we had a lot of people over for our weekly BBQ and a bunch of kids of all ages were playing hide-n-go seek in the backyard. Now, that isn’t a “level playing field” because a 9 year old kid is faster and smarter than a 5 year old. But I watched these kids make up rules as they went along, and change the rules when there were too many complaints about the 6 year old “cheating” and it made me think about baseball. Naturally. Because I won’t agree that you can “cheat” if there is no rule against something.

BUT, if too many people who are playing a game want a new rule because they don’t like what happens when there is no rule against it, well, time to make a new rule. Because there is no such thing as a game without rules.

So if people think that roids should be banned, whether or not they really do have a positive effect on the player’s performance, fine. But let’s not call previous roid use “cheating…” And if a baseball players is supposed to be the best he CAN be, let’s not say one specific thing he does is cheating and the others aren’t unless IT’S AGAINST THE RULES….

11/11/04: Astros News (Not Good News)

Saturday, December 11th, 2004

Briefly,
Tim Purpura said on the record in the Chronicle today that Biggio will NOT be a super sub, but will play full time either at second (too bad for “superprospect” Chris Burke, hunh) or in the OF (too bad for Astros fans.) Might could this have had anything to do with Gerry Hunsicker, uh, um, “resigning”?

The rumors that we trying to obtain Jose Cruz, Jr, from the DRays will not die. He’s a heck of a lot better fielder than Biggio, fer sher, but there hasta be a reason that teams keep getting rid of him….

Next,
as yall know, the Angels have signed 40 year old Steve Finley to play center for 2 years, so they are NOT in the market for Carlos Beltran. Which, as far as I can tell, means that it is us, the Yankees and the Cubs (if they can toss Sammy in someone else’s trash can.) I still don’t think George, or anyone else, is gonna give Carlos 10 years. So we’ll hafta see…..

I am not feeling real too positive about us being serious about signing Carlos – I think the game plan is to pretend to try, then let George grab him, say he cost too much money and George has more, just use Cruz (or some other cheapo guy like Burnitz) in right, and a combo (shudder) of Lance, Biggio and Taveras. McLean is seriously underestimating how angry the fans are gonna be with that strategy, ESPECIALLY with the newly increased ticket prices….

12/10/04: There’s Never Enough Pitching – Part 3: Why The High Failure Rate?

Friday, December 10th, 2004

Continuing the story of never enough pitching: (FINALLY!!!!)
Part 1 – looked at what we need on a roster and our 40 man roster
Part 2 – looked at what’s available in our AAA and AA teams (future starters?)
TINSTAAP (there is no such thing as a pitching prospect…..)

I was thinking the other day that our ace, Roy Oswalt, one of the 10 best pitchers in the NL 4 years running, was a 23rd round draft pick in 1996. Funny, isn’t it? And Wade Miller was picked 3 rounds earlier.

That year, our first round pitcher was Mark Johnson (who?), 2nd round John Huber (who?), 4th round Bryan Braswell (who?).

In 1996, the first round pitchers were, in order, Kris Benson (now being ridiculously overpaid by the Mets), Braden Looper (same), Billy Koch, John Patterson, Seth Greisinger, Matt White, Adam Eaton (better than you think), Bobby Seay, Todd Noel, RA Dickey, Eric Milton (about to be ridiculously overpaid by the MFY), Jake Westbrook, Gil Meche, Sam Marsonek, Josh Garrett, Nick Bierbrodt, Corey Lee, Matt McClendon, Chris Reitsma and Jason Marquis.

Roy is better than anyone on that list. Not even “arguably.” Hands down.
How do you (scouting people, GMs, etc.) pick out a pitching prospect?
1) Well, he’s gotta be tall. Because guys like Pedro, Roy, Mike Hampton and Billy Wagner can’t possibly succeed in the bigs. And guys like Ryan Anderson sure nuff will.
2) He’s gotta have a “pitcher’s body” (I think that means big beefy ass) - you note that guys like Julian Tavarez, Pedro, Juan Cruz, Roy, Big Unit etc can’t pitch in the bigs with their skinny legs and tiny butts..
3) He’s gotta have velocity. You see that guys like Wakefield, Maddux, Moyer and Glavine can’t succeed in the bigs. And guys like Colt Griffin and Matt Anderson sure nuff will. You can always teach control, right?

But seriously, a ML starting pitcher has to have excellent command of the fastball, both inside and out, a slider/change (fastball look alike at a slower speed) or a forkball/curve, throw them for strikes and be able to get guys out when pitching from the stretch. AND he should be able to pitch at LEAST 5 innings (100 pitches/start.) A reliever, on the other hand, only needs 2 pitches. So I think that a prospect should be able to show good command of the fastball - you can always teach him another pitch. And most guys do learn another pitch in the minors.

Let’s take a look at the Stros drafts of pitchers from 92 – 02 (won’t be no one up from 03 or 04 yet) and see how we’ve done. Stats courtest of the Baseball Cube.
(by the way, we will ignore all non-drafted FA like Johan Santana - thinking about how we let him get away makes me feel absolutely sick, even though I can understand why no one thought real too much of him at the time, seeing as how it was the Twins who helped him develop that changeup.)

(Pitchers only – draft picks in 1-5 and others who made it to MLB)
1992 – #2 Kendall Rhine (who ), #4 Chris Holt (did well for us for a few years) and #13 Hector Mercado (pitched for Reds in 2000)
1993 – #1 – Billy Wagner (in fact this year, only one other guy, #44 – Bryant Nelson even made it to MLB)
1994 – #2 – Scott Elarton, #2 – Dan Locke (who), #4 – Paul O’Malley (who), #5 – Mike Gunderson (who) and #23 – John Halama
1995 – #1 – Tony McKnight (looked like he was gonna be a star – traded to Pitt for relief and he sank like a stone – wonder what happened) #2 – Eric Ireland (AA) #4 – Brian Sikorski (who) and #24 – Jeriome Robertson (didn’t do well at the Indians AAA club this year poor guy. After that good record and 5. something ERA in 03, too…)
1996 #1 – Mark Johnson (now at AAA LA) John Huber (who), Brandon Byrd (who), Bryan Braswell (AA) and of course, Wade Miller #20 and Roy #23.
1997 – no pitchers 1-5, #20 -Tim Redding
1998 – #1 – Brad Lidge (guess that worked out), #2 – Mike Nannini (still stuck in AAA for the As) #3 – Brad Busbin (A)
1999 – #3 – Travis Anderson (AA at Col) #4 – Jimmy Barrett (A) and #6 – Mike Gallo
2000 – #2 – Chad Qualls, #3 – Anthony Pluta (A) and #30 – Mike Burns (AA Astros)
2001 – #3 – Kirk Saarloos (now with the A’s), #4 – Phillip Barzilla (AAA)
2002 – #1 -Derrick Grigsby (A), #2 – Mitchell Talbot (A), #3 – Rory Shortell (A), #4 – Mark McLemore (on our 40 man roster) and 16th – Jared Gothreaux (on our 40 man roster)

Conclusion:
For each year from 92 to 01, we have at least one pitcher from each draft (11 total) who contributed to the Astros big league club – let’s see the draft ranks:
4,1,2,1,24,20,23,20,1,6,2 – interesting that all 3 #1 draft picks were relievers.

And so, I still wanna know, how do you pick out a prospect and WHY did only 6 of 23 round 1-5 prospects make it to the majors? WHY do these highly rated guys fail? Maybe if we knew why they were so highly regarded in the first place and compared it to why they didn’t get anywhere.

I do know that there is a personality factor involved, but still…..

I wrote most of this column 2 weeks ago – I stopped because I thought I should be able to give some sort of answer to the question I asked – WHY do so many of these highly rated players fail?

I had absolutely no idea what to say until I got an email about my blog from an “English teacher” who ripped me a new one – I had the wrong grammar (or something) and didn’t write well and my sentences were all wrong. Or something. Who the hell did I think I was? Well, I THOUGHT I was a high school dropout who finally learned to read and write (as best I can) AFTER I dropped out, by the way, and got the courage (from Dave Pinto, who ROOLZ) to write down my opinions. I remembered, after reading the “helpful” teacher’s email, why I had flunked for so many years and finally quit, realizing I was a stupid, hopeless retard who couldn’t ever do anything right. I remembered why one of the happiest days of my life was my 16th birthday, when I could finally get out of jail, finally get away from all the teachers, whose goal in life, it seemed to me, was to hurt as many peoples’ feelings as possible so they could celebrate when they finally hurt someone so bad they finally agreed they wasn’t no damn good, wasn’t ever gonna amount to squat and they up and quit.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, baseball players aren’t like football or hockey or basketball players – they don’t come out of school ready for the pros – they need years of TEACHING in the minor leagues. I wonder if they fail because they run into a few too many “English teacher” like – people who only seem to want to show them how they ain’t no damn good and spend all their time putting them down and happily pointing only to failures and mistakes. I know that a lot of people think that ballplayers are just a thing, an object, a card full of statistics, but they are really human beings, people, and maybe after being told they ain’t no damn good or can’t do nothin right for too long, they either start to believe it, or, worse, refuse to listen to someone who actually might could be different and is trying to HELP them because they have been defending themselves for so long against so many “teachers” who are trying to put them down.

I know that there are some people, like Barry Bonds, who seem to respond best to criticism and contempt, but there are many others who do better with help and encouragement – maybe the minor league clubs need to hire BOTH kinds of instructors – unless their real goal is not to produce as many quality major leaguers as possible, but to produce major leaguers who either produce in SPITE of hostility, contempt and criticism or because of it…..

Astros News Items 12/8/04

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

Well, in “exciting” Astros News -
1) Jose Vizcaino was re-signed at 1.25 mill/year
- well, guess Eric Bruntlett can go rot in AAA cuz we need that “veteran presence.” Especially because we re-signed Biggio and we hardly need three utility infielders. Actually, we’re probably gonna play Biggio in left again. Sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
2) Resigned Orlando Palmeiro for 800K.
- This I’m fine with, as long as he doesn’t take a spot from Jason Lane. We need outfield help fer sher.
3) Offered salary arbitration for Carlos Beltran and Roger Clemens. Note that Jeff Kent was NOT offered arbitration. (He was offered 7 mill for a one year contract with an option, but he wanted a no-trade clause and would accept less money for that and it went over like the famous lead balloon – guess no-trade clauses are gonna go the way of the dinosaur….)

Like duhhhhhhhhhhh. Carlos is most positively gonna get a nice fat contract from SOMEBODY and we sure do need our draft picks (unlike the Giants, who think draft picks are so much expensive trash) and Roger will either retire THIS time, or we will resign him, arbitration or not. So good ideas.

As for Jeff Kent – well, I know that he was NOT one of the players that Carlos Beltran specified in interviews that he wanted to see re-signed before he would consider returning. I have absolutely NO idea what Kent is really like as a person or like to work with as a teammate, but I do know that the Houston media, who seldom goes outside the party line, carefully describes Kent as a loner and surly as well as, uh, rude and intimidating to the young players. However much he demanded in salary, the no-trade clause demand made it obviously more than management wanted to pay. So I guess we will see Chris Burke or a combination or Burke/Viz/Biggio and possibly Bruntlett at second this year….

And that’s it for news. Probably for a very long while.

12/6/04: Last Word on Roids

Monday, December 6th, 2004

After reading all the complaints about “cheating” and comments that Barry and Giambi should give their money back because of this terrible, terrible thing they have done to the trusting (hahahahahahahaha) public, who is shocked SHOCKED, that an athlete might could be using drugs to improve performance, I have one last comment (yeah, like you believe a grrrrl will EVER have ONE last comment…)

I think that basically no one of the SHOCKED public is anti-roids because of the health risks, but just because of the stupid home run record. Which is like being against 12 year old girls getting raped because the rape might injure them so much they won’t be able to have kids which would bother some man to get stuck with a useless female. Or something like that.

No one cares about what really matters….

12/4/04: Attorneys Breaking The Law: Steroids, The Controversy

Saturday, December 4th, 2004

Parts of a transcript of “leaked” supposed to be secret grand jury testimony was published a few days ago, as yall know. In the published parts, Jason Giambi actually admits to using steroids and Barry Bonds says he was given some substances by Greg Anderson which might could resemble steroid-like substances, but stated that he didn’t use anything he KNEW were steroids.

Three points here that need to be discussed:
1) First, the minor point – Giambi (and possibly Bonds) used steroids BEFORE, or was it after they were banned by MLB.
If the use was BEFORE it was banned, then it is NOT against the rules and was NOT cheating. If the use was AFTER the ban, then it most certainly was. But comparing users of illegal drugs to Pete Rose, who bet on baseball when he was a major league manager?!
2) Second – a LOT of people are demanding that MLB, although there are written rules in the CBA for dealing with those players who test positive, make public the names of those players who tested positive for steroids and banish them from baseball or actually remove every stat they have from the ML record and even refund all monies paid to them from a MLB team. And ban them from the Hall of Fame. (So far, they haven’t demanded horsewhipping or tar and feathers, but I’d bet that’s coming…) Funny I’m not hearing this about Gaylord Perry, an ADMITTED cheater, or Paul Molitor, who ADMITTED to using cocaine, an illegal and performance enhancing drug. Could it be because Perry doesn’t hold any of the all time pitching records and Molitor didn’t hit many home runs? Nahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

But none of these things is particularly important to me. What IS, and what is being overlooked by almost everybody, is that SECRET GRAND JURY TESTIMONY WAS GIVEN TO THE NEWSPAPERS BY A LAWYER, MOST LIKELY A PROSECUTOR!!! This is THE major point!!!

To say this is really bad is the understatement of the year. It seems obvious to me that a prosecuting attorney must have committed this serious felony (which, by the way, is also an offense that would result in disbarrment) because he/she realized that the long witchhunt against Barry Bonds would never result in any criminal conviction. So this person decided that outing steroid users was FAR more important than upholding the law. And remember that lawyers are considered officers of the court and SUPPOSED to uphold the law, just as cops and judges are. What this lawyer did was as serious a crime as doctor deliberately giving the wrong medicine to a patient for his/her own private reasons. For some reason, no one seems to care. I don’t see any vigorous effort to hunt this felon and punish him/her. How can any witness in any high profile case give testimony that he/she cannot be sure will be kept secret?

And why is the newspaper not being prosecuted for receiving stolen goods (or whatever this is called legally?) It is NOT legal for a paper to print whatever it wishes. But no one takes this seriously. What do you think would happen if a newspaper published, say, supposed to be secret lab data from the patent files for everyone to see? Well, you might say that it is different, and I’ll agree – it isn’t as serious. But that newspaper would be in serious trouble. So where are the federal attorneys? Not gonna see them – it’s more important to out steroid users, isn’t it?

Now I know that some of you are thinking, so what if the prosecuting attorney committed a felony and should be disbarred and sent to jail. What he/she did is good because outing steroid users is MUCH more important that upholding the law. Do you REALLY want lawyers or cops to be above the law? Just in THIS case. Yeah, that’s good.

AND, do you think for one minute that the players’ union is going to agree to any sort of testing when it has been made MORE than clear that the results will not be confidential? (Remembering the government seizing the MLB urine drug records of the lab testing company, supposedly to help presecute BALCO? Yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrre…..)

And do you think THAT’S OK because after all, outing steroid (note I said steroid, because no one seems to care about any other sort of illegal drug) is more important that anything else, like the right to privacy? Well, let me ask you this – do YOU want your medical records to be made public? Do YOU want the results of YOUR drug tests to be published in the paper and ALSO if you have a positive result, to be banned from your job for the rest of your life and to also have to repay ALL the money your company has ever paid you? Oh, you’re think you’re different because they’re rich and privileged and you’re not? You start saying that one group of people should be denied basic rights and all that will do is give groups with power to remove YOUR rights.

So if you REALLY wanna remove steroids from baseball, this doublecross was just about the stupidest thing possible to do….

But if your REAL secret agenda was to give the finger to the law and courts and sockitto Barry in the court of public opinion, way to go…

You’ve noticed, of course, how upset I seem that ballplayers are using roids. Yeah. I will get upset the exact same day that I see the same amount of upset about ALL illegal chemicals used by ballplayers, as well as alcohol and, especially, spit tobacco. The ONLY reason I care about ballplayers using roids is that it may be physically harmful to them.

You’ve noticed, of course, how upset I seem about the “sanctity of records.” Look people – ballplayers are different than they were 100 years ago. They are larger (all Americans are larger) and have expert training and nutrition. They are rich and don’t have to work selling shoes in the offseason, but they train year round. If you want to look at absolute numbers, instead of comparing players from different eras, you will have to put those little * by the numbers of any pitcher who had ligament transplant surgery and prolonged his career, added to his win total and so passed by some old timer who retired because of injury. You will hafta put that little * by the name of any batter who had lasix surgery, recovered his fading eyesight and therefore passed the batting stats of some old timer who couldn’t see. And so on.

And just as I look at the careers of the dead ball pitchers differently from the careers of modern pitchers in the homer happy era, we should look at the steroid -era pitchers and hitters differently from the other eras. But too many people only care about the totals. I don’t and I won’t.

But I do care about the serious violation of the law by an officer of the court. And I care that almost no one cares about that.

Astro Fans, Want To Evaluate Fielders For Tando Tiger’s Fans’ Scouting Report?

Thursday, December 2nd, 2004

Have you ever thought that we Astros fans, who are the ones who actually WATCH the games and the players all year long, should have some say about evaluation of their fielding abilities? Especially because some fielding statistics seem to overrate some players and under rate others? (From out viewpoint, anyway?)

Well, a famous statistician, Tango Tiger, has posted an evaluation form on his website for us fans to evaluate fielders. Click here. He is still acquiring data and so far, only 12 or 13 people have evaluated Astro players and he would appreciate input. You can also evaluate any player on any of the MLB teams listed, by the way…