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11/25/07: He Put In His Thumb And Pulled Out A Blum

I know that Orlando Palmeiro really isn’t a particularly good baseball player and is at the end of his career. I know that the Astros HAVE to assemble some sort of bench. I know that I have complained about the leadness of Mark Loretta’s glove and that his bat fades in the second half of the year if too heavily used in the first half.

But for the life of me, I can NOT understand why this club is so eager to throw Mike Lamb out on his butt. All I can think is that they want new guys on the team because the guys on the team last year lost.

Ed Wade has signed ex-Astro, Geoff Blum, a 34 year old switch hitting utility infielder – almost all games played at second, short and third with a couple in the OF and at first. He was last on the team in 2003, when Jimy Williams had him (for some unknown reason) platooning with Mo Ensberg back when Mo was good, in fact, was incredibly better than Blum. He was traded at the end of that year for Brandon Backe – yet another great Gerry Hunsicker pick up.

Sigh

Anyway,since then, he has posted OPS of .614, .696., .656 and .685 which are OPS+ of 61, 72, 75 and 84. Or (according to Lee Sinins) RCAA of -11/478 PA, -12/252 PA, -11/299 PA and -8/370 PA. Or a lifetime line of .251/.312/.386/.699. His 162 game seasonal averages are 473 AB, 40 BB, 80 K, 26 doubles, 2 triples, 11 homers, 7-8 GIDP, 55 RBI and 55 runs scored. And fans are complaining about Everett????

Oh yeah
- batting righty, lifetime line – .233/.295/.380/.675
- batting lefty, lifetime line – .256/.317/.388/.709
Mark Loretta, a righty, had -6 RCAA/511 PA with a line of .287/.352/.372/.724 with 23 doubles and 5 homers, 52 RS and 41 RBI.
Mike Lamb, a lefty, had 10 RCAA over 355 PA, with a line of .289/.339/.427/.819 with 14 doubles, 3 triples and 11 homers with 36 BB and 41 K. Yes, I know he can only play third and first and yes I know that he hits leftys VERY well.

Now I will admit that both Lamb and Loretta are terrible gloves, but Blum is not even league average at any position with the glove. Yes, I know he’s a much cheaper substitute for Loretta + Lamb, but he’s basically Eric Bruntlett with a lesser glove and a smaller paycheck. We need SOMEbody on the bench who can hit. Besides, Wiggy SHOULD be platooned: .848 OPS against leftys, .749 against rightys. You notice that both numbers are greater than Blum’s, right?

The supposed party line from the Organization is that both Lamb and Loretta are looking for starting positions and multi-year contracts. I must have read a kabillion A-Rod/Miggy Cabrera/Mike Lowell columns over the past few months which discuss all of the other options that teams have for third basemen and not a single one has mentioned Mike Lamb as a possible starting third baseman. He’s been tabbed as a platoon guy/bench hitter and at his age, he’s not likely to shake that one off.

Loretta is basically a singles hitter who doesn’t strikeout very much, but he couldn’t get ANY starting job last year and that was coming off an ALL-STAR (oh that is SOOOOOOO meaningful, playing for the popular kids) season. So exactly who is it that is dying to give these guys these multi-year contracts for regular jobs?

Answer – NOBODY!!! This is just flat out cheapness, getting crappy guys for peanuts to reduce payroll to maximize profits for McLane, let’s be real here.

Neither the players nor the mainstream media writers are saying much of anything about the fact that MLB pulled in over six BILLION dollars in income this year, forcing Bud Selig to admit that MLB is doing well, and that the players are taking only 41% of that sum (unlike every other professional team sport, in which the players take home well over 50% of the total take) which you best believe Bud Selig isn’t talking about. Only 7 years ago, the players took home 56% of the take. All I hear are complaints about the greedy ballplayers and their enormous salaries – so why am I not hearing complaints about the greedy OWNERS who keep increasing ticket prices in spite of the fact that their increasing percent of the take is enabling them to make much more money???!!!

The local Houston reporters barely mentioned last year that the Astros lowered payroll and they have barely mentioned that they are lowering it again this year in spite of the fact that they are raising ticket prices.

With the exception of the Mets and Cubs, all the National League clubs have lowered payroll over the past 4 years, but it has happened without much of any mention in the media. It seems as if most of the clubs have decided that all they need to do is make the playoffs and that they can do that with 85 or so wins, so why bother to actually have a great club?

It’s all about screwing the players, my friends, and the MLBPA has taken a seriously bad hit with all the steroid stuff, not just because they didn’t pretend to have a drug policy, as the NFL does, but because they didn’t protest the appointment of George Mitchell, a career politician who is on the board of directors of both ESPN and the Red Sox, as the person who is supposed to ferret out all the horrible ballplayers since time immemorial (since the last strike, that is) who – shudder – used drugs. Well, anabolic steroids (even before it was against MLB rules to used them, instituted in 2005.) And Growth Hormone, let’s not forget that evil drug, which turns Mario Mendozas into Barry Lamar Himself.

Between finally indicting Barry Lamar, the only ballplayer who ever did steroids or HGH (so they say), the epitome of everything that is wrong with baseball (except for Scott Boras, who commits the unspeakable act of trying to fulfill his clients wishes of getting the biggest contract/endorsements they possibly can.) You don’t see anyone heaping the kinds of invective and abuse upon roids users who have actually been caught with positive tests such as Ryan Franklin and JC Romero, do you?

Why am I mentioning all this? For the simple reason that the owners have FINALLY figured out how to make the ballplayers look bad to the public so they can get away with paying them less and keeping more of the profit for themselves while continuing to raise ticket prices.

Me, I am hoping the MLBPA will have the good sense to try to seek out some of the more reasonable mainstreamers and provide figures showing that the owners are making more of the profit and they are making less, so perhaps the owners will have to wait a little bit before crying poverty and continuing to make tickets too expensive for all but the corporations and the very rich and blaming it on the very people who are providing the entertainment.

I hear tell that McLane is planning on lowering the payroll again this year to 80 mill (approximately) in spite of the fact that the Astros pulled in over 3 million fans last year and in spite of the fact that he’s raising ticket prices. Let’s start demanding to know why he won’t sign decent bench players for a couple mill instead of the Blums and Abercrombies of the world. Yes, I know we don’t have anyone to trade for Miggy Cabrera or even Tejada, so I’m not complaining about that. And yes I am GLAD we didn’t sign either Linebrink or Cordero.

But we can’t get rid of 2 of the 5 guys on the team (Luke Scott and Mike Lamb) who actually had positive RCAA and still expect to actually score runs.

And what makes me sad is all the people who feel optimistic because Ed Wade, unlike Purpura, is doing SOMEthing, ANYthing…

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43 Responses to “11/25/07: He Put In His Thumb And Pulled Out A Blum”

  1. Mark says:

    When it comes to people being optimistic because of Wade making moves when Purpura didn’t, it makes me more mad than sad. What he’s doing is dumb, and it’s better to do nothing than to do something dumb.
    A lot of Lamb’s reputation on defense is undeserved. He was rushed to the major leagues by the Rangers because they needed someone, anyone, who could hit, and Lamb wasn’t ready defensively, so he struggled. He has gotten better, and his defense always improves with regular playing time. He was featured on web gems several times last season. If I were the GM, he’d be signed and ready to start at 3rd next season. When you have Everett at short, you better have other guys who can hit.
    They need to have Loretta on the team as well. I’d take a guy who hits singles 30% of the time over all those guys that take called 3rd strikes with the bases loaded.

  2. wags says:

    Well, we booed Purpura to the happy hunting ground last August.
    Let’s put our heads together. What can we do to get Lamb and Loretta signed? Picket Minute Maid? An e-mail barrage to Wade? Phone calls? A horse’s head?

  3. Lisa Gray says:

    mark,
    unfortunately lamb’s defensive rep is NOT undeserved. i looked up the numbers, it’s not just my own eyes’ judgement. sigh. he DOES have a good and strong and accurate arm, no question. his problem is range.
    i know that a team needs good defense, but you have GOT to have a bench and your regulars have GOT to hit some. i got exactly zero idea why they want lamb off this team so bad.
    wags,
    i have been trying to find out for months why lamb and luke got no respect. i don’t have any idea except for the usual team propaganda…
    i find it VERY VERY hard to believe that either lamb or loretta is being considered as a full time player who deserves a multi year contract by ANY team

  4. wags says:

    If Lamb, Loretta, and Luke stay, we’d have an L of a team!

  5. Stephen says:

    While I share everyone’s sentiments about the absolute futility of signing Geoffery Blum, which in my mind equates to spending exactly $800,000 more than is necessary — because, we could bring up any minor-leaguer to play better than Blum — the hang up about Mike Lamb especially is irrelevant to the discussion of Blum. Geoff Blum signed for one year with a club option that I pray we don’t exercise unless Blum doesn’t continue to atrophy as expected. However, Mike Lamb will be seeking a multi-million, multi-year deal. It makes sense not to sign someone that kind of a deal if you are merely trying to stock the bench. I like Mike Lamb and Loretta. In fact I think that Loretta might end up back in Houston too, and I hope he does.
    I think it is a bit on the irrational side to immediately see a Geoff Blum signing and begin a crucification of not only an organization, but the league as well. First and foremost, there isn’t a significant correlation with the price of a ticket and the size of the contract that a player signs. Parks are expensive, they’re not just about the game they’re hosting, their about an entire experience that consists of layout, grand architectural undertakings, and selling you lots of crap. Franchises also make most of their money from media rights, etc. So what we should really be angry about, is not ticket prices, percentage of dollars that go to the players, etc., BUT instead, collusion with Direct TV, YES network’s ridiculous contract with the Yankees, etc., and finally and perhaps the most important: who is MLB and their franchise really targeting as their audience? Can the median family switch to Direct TV or spend $100 for a family outing to the ball-park?
    More later, school calls.

  6. Michael says:

    I understand concern on the part of fans who do not want to see Loretta and Lamb leave but one should think Smith and Wade not only have an understanding of how they’d like to construct the team but also the intentions and wishes of Loretta and Lamb.
    Has it not entered the minds of folks that Mark and Mike may not WANT to return to Houston?
    Seriously, if they were making overtures of wanting to return to the Astros as bench players doesn’t it seem likely their names would have been at least mentioned as possibilities by the organization or media who report on the team? Given they have not, it seems most logical that Loretta and Lamb are seeking opportunities elsewhere. Those opportunites may, ultimately, not materialize but we should not categorize McLane or SmithWade as cheap for a couple of free agents exercising their rights to look for work outside of Houston.

  7. Lisa Gray says:

    stephen,
    exactly right that using payroll as an excuse to raise ticket prices is bull. mlb is targeting rich corporations as their target. it is where the money is. and it is why the lower stands are full of people who don’t even know how many players should be on the field or what their positions are. except for 2fer tuesdays, it costs 60 bucks for cheap seats for my family. it’s not cheap. and it’s gonna be more this year.
    lets be real. even 10 years ago when i went to games the people in the stands actually were baseball fans and talked about the game. those days are mostly gone. also a lot because no one hardly even plays baseball any more. females aren’t allowed to. most schools don’t have teams or even play ball during PE.
    it’s not mostly about gambling like football, but i think more people are into fantasy ball than the actual game. i’ve talked baseball with people when i’ve gone and you wouldn’t believe how surprised most of them are and they say stuff like – well, you really like this game don’t you. and when i write in my scorebook, i get people asking me if i’m a scout, can you believe that? it’s not like i’m in drag or anything
    i heard from several sources that lamb WANTED to stay here. multi-year, multi mill contracts are not usually given to utility guys.pinch hitters/bench guys, which is what lamb is considered. and lorettta couldn’t get a multi year deal last year and he was younger then.
    and it was obvious by sept that the team was giving lamb the bum’s rush. he even said that the team didn’t talk to him about re-signing 2008.
    and i SERIOUSLY doubt that “any” minor leaguer would be better than blum…
    now it just might could be true that they don’t WANT to come back but i would rather hear it from them you know what i’m sayin

  8. Stephen says:

    Ok, further. The Barry Bonds stuff. Baseball has a joke of a drug policy and will continue to do so until there is enough popular pressure, etc. to force their hand. The thing to consider is: the MLBPA is really the road block to a legitimate drug policy. Barry Bonds should have been indicted. And for the most part, players should look bad. The MLBPA has stood firm in just about everything that has eroded this sport in the last 20 years. Have 13 short years made everyone forget the strike? To keep the ball rolling, hell yeah Scott Boras is a bad person. A baseball player should have an agent to hammer out the legalities of what his contract says and to pinch that extra million or two or year maybe. But no way in HELL should the contracts that are being signed today be signed. Its RIdiculous and Scott Boras, like Barry Bonds, is the poster child for whats wrong with a lot of the game today.
    Also, Mike Lamb will get multi-years and mills with the Rangers. Lorretta, I never alluded to getting such a deal. Not that I am defending any of it. Just pointing out more reasons that irrational disdain that have, PERHAPS, inclined us to stay away from Micheal and opt for **shudder** Geoffry — but, it will be nice to have a Jeff back on the team right?

  9. Joel B. says:

    I know they haven’t spent money. They’re taking in more and putting out less. i just don’t know were they “missed” an opportunity to spend money?
    Lamb? I think they will let him try and get his multi year deal and if he can’t they’ll welcome him back.
    Other than that they haven’t missed a meaningful; opportunity because of money.
    They have saved money not paying Lidge and Wheeler. They have Jennings, Palmeiro, Lamb, Loretta of the books. What were they at like 80-85MM? They’ll be at 65-70MM next year. Just a couple years ago they were over 100. Thats almost half of Lee’s contract over 2 years.
    They’ll be primed to sign somebody next year when hopefully something will be available.
    The whole idea of making public the contracts of players was genius, who ever started it. It makes them look like villains while protecting the owners. Fans shouldn’t care how much a player or owner makes. They should care that they are getting a quality product at a fair price.
    I don’t know if McLane is being cheap or smart or prudent. What we know is that the team is not as good as it was 2 years ago and it cost more to go to the game.
    What could have been done/What can be done to make this team significantly better for next year?
    I don’t think much.

  10. Austin says:

    “A lot of Lamb

  11. Michael says:

    Lisa,
    Perhaps I did not phrase my statement clearly. I did not mean to imply Lamb dislikes Houston or the organization by saying he may not want to stay with the Astros. By virtually all accounts the Astros are a great organization to play for and Houston has a lot to offer as a city.
    But Lamb is 32 years old and if he’s ever going to get a multi-year deal and a realistic shot at a starting position anywhere, it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. If he does not seek this kind of opportunity now, he’s not likely to get it later and all evidence points to Houston not being a place where he’s going to have his wishes fulfilled.
    So, he could want to remain in Houston but if doing so does not make sense given his desire for different working conditions he’d be foolish not to seek what he wants elsewhere while he can still do so.

  12. Joel B. says:

    Do you remember Willy during his first year?
    He got better. So defense can improve.
    Not that this relates much to Lamb.

  13. Lisa Gray says:

    stephen,
    you and i feel very different about the drug policy. i don’t have a problem with the ballplayers who did any drug before it was banned by the CBA. i just don’t.
    and i have a problem that barry lamar bonds is vilified for using and ryan franklin never hears a single thing.
    eroded the sport??? you must be kidding. baseball is pulling in 6 BILLION dollars a year, triple from just 2000. why shouldn’t the players get their fair share? why on earth should the owners make even more than their 30+ mill a year off the players and taxpayers? you can’t seriously think that they would for some reason refuse profits, do you? how do you think they got to be billionaires BEFORE they bought teams?
    and exactly what is wrong with boras? he does a very very good job. and he KNOWS that baseball is rolling in dough and he is trying to get his clients their fair share.

  14. Lisa Gray says:

    michael,
    i understand that lamb might could WANT a multi-year, multi mill contract, but hey, let’s be real.
    and i wouldn’t be real too surprised if his agent told him that he would be able to get a STARTING 3B job and a multi year, multi mill contract
    he might could get a few years as a PH/bench or even a DH/PH, but 3B?????

  15. lisa gray says:

    michael,
    about lamb – let me put it like this – he SHOULD try to get the best contract he can. but castillo is a second baseman, not a utility guy/PH.
    if they were giving multi-year contracts to guys like that, it would be different.
    and i should have said that about the payrolls that there has not been a consistent steady year to year increase in payrolls and that many teams’ payrolls peaked 2 or 3 years ago

  16. Stephen says:

    Boras is a bad person because he makes great players on available to small market teams. Because ticket prices and success — save post season appearances, but that is limited to 8 teams, and really you have to get out of the DS before its really profitable — have nothing to do with profits, there is no way for teams to afford BS contracts. Small market teams don’t get a lot of media rights deals that keep them competitive for Boras client talent. And the profit sharing and luxury tax scheme hardly makes things equitable, so yes Boras is a very, very, very bad man.
    $6 billion profit. I’d love to see a break down by team. The Astros are an exception I’m sure because Drayton is a, well for lack of a more efficient term, D-Bag. Otherwise, I’m sure that the Royals weren’t rolling in mega millions of profits, nor the Marlins, nor etc. Where as the Red Sox, Yanks, Braves, Cubs, etc. were. Hence, why Boras is a bad man.
    Finally, I’m gonna throw out there: I am appalled by your lack of caring whether or not drugs were used by players prior to it being officially illegal. I guess that you and I have differing conceptions of SPORT. Barry used drugs before and after it was illegal and then when given to opportunity to fess up and come clean before the United States, he arrogantly danced around the questions ad nauseum (read the indictment). Your correct in being upset that the Ryan Franklin’s of the world are swept under the rug, so to speak. However, such indignation on your part should not be used as justification for Barry Bonds’ arrogance and shaming of the sport.
    Drugs didn’t erode the game? I guess the pain of McGuire stammering on about the irrelevance of the past wasn’t very uncomfortable to you. Nor was Canseco making a spectale of his book. Further, how is not eroding to the sport to see huge power numbers for a player and immediately wonder: was it drugs? Unless baseball is truly just about the entertainment to you — which, given your defense of Bonds, perhaps it is — then there should be a certain level of indignation towards what drugs have done to fans perceptions. I mean saying it was OK for Canseco and Bonds to juice because it wasn’t illegal is enabling of a 16 trying to step up from JV to Varsity to justify some steroid use too. Take that one step further and out of sports and you get: I need to well on my SAT’s and its not against the College Board’s rules to take adderal to get through the test, I guess its ok. Justifying drug use as a means of enhancing ones abilities creates irrational expectations for everyone. The bar is raised and marginally excludes those who want to get going on inherent ability, not pharmaceutical wonders. But, Barry is just being picked?

  17. Austin says:

    First of all, I said defense can improve. But I also said that nobody goes from being a horrible defender to being a pretty good defender. Lamb has improved, but he’s still horrible. Willy went from mediocre to slightly above mediocre. But no defender goes from bad to good. You can’t blame the Rangers for Mike Lamb not being Mike Lowell out there.
    Secondly, I get tired of people saying that the substances Bonds was accused of taking weren’t banned. They were. They just recently banned them specifically, by name. However, steroids are illegal, and baseball had a policy against illegal drugs back then. These substances weren’t banned by name, but because MLB had a controlled substance policy in place, the steroids fell under that umbrella. They were already illegal in the baseball world.

  18. Lisa Gray says:

    stephen,
    first, boras
    - he does not MAKE his clients unavailable. his clients PICK HIM to be their agent. they didn’t get assigned against their will you know. his JOB is to get those people the most money from a baseball contract/endorsement. if the player didn’t want that then they wouldn’t pick him. those players WANT the money. they are ALL about the money.
    the 6 BILLION figure came from bud selig his own self. the teams lie, naturally, about their income and they hide it in a zillion ways, like the cubs do with their ticket re-sale business, for example. but the fact is that small market teams are making at LEAST 20-30 million a year – and those figures come from forbes. the money is not all going to the red-sox/yankees.
    forbes does a breakdown every year.
    and if you look at payrolls of NL teams you will see they have steadily gone DOWN in the last 4 years, not up (except for cubs and mets)
    the reason things won’t change is that a whole lot of owners have realized that even when they put a terrible product on the field year after year they will make a ton of profit, which is what they are all about. what on earth is the point of even trying to have a good team?
    and frankly i do NOT understand why you think the owners should be raking in all that money and that the players should not be given their fair share.
    next, drugs.
    it would be one thing if barry lamar was the guy who brought drugs into the sport. or the only one who used it. but fact is that he wasn’t, not by a long shot. (and by the way, for the sake of this argument, i am assuming he used.)
    the fact of the matter is that most of the major leaguers WERE using – me, i believe caminiti because he gave his story during the gotta confess everything to make things right phase of trying to be sober. AND they were using long before barry realized he’d darn well better use too, if that was the way the wind was blowing.
    the infamous memo that fay vincent released in 1991, which people wrongly point to to try to prove that MLB outlawed steroid use, PROVES that the owners and commissioner knew very well back then what was going on. they were not exactly helpless, you know, and in fact, could/should have used it against the players in the infamous court of public opinion to actually try to prevent the strike.
    but back to the point – the fact is that thousands of ballplayers at all levels have used drugs. everyone conveniently ignores this and points at barry bonds as “The Bad Guy.” his “crime” was no different than anyone else’s and it seriously pisses me off that he is taking ALL of the crap for it because of his personality. what on earth difference should it make if he is as saintly as lou gehrig or as sinful as ty cobb?
    i want to see the same amount of screams toward every single ballplayer who has been CAUGHT. there is like none. NONE. and THAT, my friend, is the REAL truth about fans perceptions for you. i will start having some respect for the “anti-roids” people when i hear screams of STEROIDSSTEROIDS whenever jc romero or ryan franklin pitch. i didn’t hear ONE word of protest written in the st louis papers when these KNOWN roid users were signed, did you?
    nobody gives one single solitary good goddamm if a ballplayer uses steroids unless his name is barry lamar bonds.
    as for me, i see huge power numbers and look at the itty bitty strike zone, harder, thinner bats, harder, slicker baseballs and itty bitty ballparks.
    it would be dead simple to get rid of the huge power numbers without worrying one second about drugs, but the fact is that home runs are actually what sell, both to the fans and the stat geek crowd, and they are NOT gonna raise the mound, enforce the rule book strike zone, outlaw the maple bats, etc and bring the offense numbers down.
    the pain of mcgwire stammering on? more like the pain of seeing congressmorons wasting time on crap when they should be spending time on much more important issues. i would have had a LOT more respect for mcgwire if he had stood up and denounced the congressmorons, grabbed his crotch and told them it was none of their effing business what he had/had not put in his body and they should be dealing with the serious problems in this country instead of demanding to know whether or not he had taken drugs.
    as for the question of young kids taking drugs – if you want drugs out of hs/college sports then make THEM take drug tests. and fact is that it is expected that the young football players take steroids, but you don’t hear about that, do you. because nobody gives a solitary damm.
    and as for performance enhancers in other parts of life – my mother told me that she and bout everyone else used speed back in the 60s to take tests, not much has changed, just better drugs.
    if you really want things to be “natural” back in the good old days, then you best get rid of 99% of operations, trainers and video. the “good old days” are ALL long gone. everything is different. from the ballparks to the umpires to even the natural size of the players WITHOUT drugs.
    i think it is strange that it is OK to give cortisone shots in joints to aid healing, but it is an act of evil to use GH shots to do the same.
    so i am not worried about whether or not wee willie keeler could have played on a 2008 team. i’m just not. that was then. this is now.
    shrug
    things change. and not always for the better. for example look at MTV. now when i was young it was great videos, all the time. get offn my lawn…..

  19. Lisa Gray says:

    austin,
    no MLB did NOT have any such policy in place. all policies HAVE to go through the CBA and this did NOT happen until 2005. memos from the commissioner mean the exact same as memos from you or me.
    this is why the arbitrators will side with anyone who the commissioner tries to punish from before 2005

  20. Michael says:

    Lisa,
    As I see it, and likely Lamb and his agents see it as well, reality is telling them Scott Linebrink got 4 years and $19 million and Luis Castillo got 4 years and $25 million. Those guys are the same age as Lamb. Why would/should he settle for a one-year or two-year, at best, deal with Houston when the possibility (probability?) exists for a multi-year deal elsewhere – regardless of position?
    Stephen,
    $6 billion in revenue, not profit. Big, big, big difference.
    Scott Boras is not a bad man for getting the best deal for his client. We live in a capitalist society and we have the right as individuals to try and maximize the amount of income we receive for our services. Unless you are arguing for complete revenue sharing for MLB like there is in the NFL, there will always be haves and have nots in baseball. Funny thing is, baseball has never had more parity than it has had over the last dozen years or so while the New England Patriots look likely to win their 4th Super Bowl in the last 7 years.
    Also, the paranoia about drug use in this country is puzzling. If there’s not a car commercial on TV the ad is likely pushing the latest miracle pill to cure everything from bad breath to erectile dysfunction – all with legal disclaimers about the possibility of heart attack, stroke, loss of vision, etc. Good stuff, huh?
    Face it, Americans have been acculturated to take drugs for any and all things that ail us while at the same time pretend there are a special class of “bad” drugs. Example for sports: To many fans, HGH and anabolic steroids are “evil” and “erode” the game, right? Why? Because they supposedly improve ones ability to perform athletically and there may be harmful side effects. Well, the magical drug cortisone also fits this description. Cortisone is a steroid and is routinely injected into athletes with the express intention of enhancing performance capability. Yet we do not cry “foul” in this instance because the federal government has decided not to place cortisone on some arbitrary list of “bad” drugs, despite the fact that cortisone is not entirely safe from side effects and must be administered by a physician or licensed trainer.
    Where is the logic in this?
    Also, Lisa does have a point about baseball and steroids. If you accept the argument that specific drugs are “bad” for the game then logically you must hold ownership accountable for the comparative delay in addressing the issue in their sport and not just the players who used the drugs.
    Finally, sport has different classifications. There are amateur sports and professional sports. Professionals are mercenaries, plying their trade for profit. Always have been, always will be. Some may find this distasteful but it’s clearly the case. The good news is, one does not have to buy into the rose-tinted view of pro sports and the fallacious “way it used to be” in order to appreciate the beauty and skill employed in the playing of the game. I don’t care if it’s my kids playing for free in Little League, college men pinging the ball with those metal bats in return for partial scholarships or my beloved Astros taking the field for millions of dollars. To me, baseball is baseball. Enjoy it for what it is, a great game. And for all the BS noise surrounding it, as my old friends Public Enemy used to say…
    Don’t believe the hype.

  21. Michael says:

    Lisa,
    “and if you look at payrolls of NL teams you will see they have steadily gone DOWN in the last 4 years, not up (except for cubs and mets)”
    This is just not true.
    Using figures obtained at usatoday.com and looking at only our own division, the NL Central, every single team’s payroll has increased over the period 2004-2007 – not decreased. And among those teams, the Cubs have seen only the 4th highest increase over that time:
    MIL – $43.6 million increase
    CIN – $23.3 million increase
    HOU – $13.4 million increase
    CHC – $9.1 million increase
    STL – $7.1 million increase
    PIT – $5.3 million increase

  22. Michael says:

    Lisa,
    We are in agreement about what Lamb should do for himself and his family.
    What I do not understand, though, and I’m not accusing you of this, is the venom directed at the Astros for not signing Lamb or Loretta when it’s not wholly within their control to do so. Players cannot be blackballed anymore… :-)
    One last thing… total payroll between 2000-2007 for the teams of the NL Central went from $283.9 million to $456.2 million – an increase of almost 61%. Far be it from me to defend the business practice of billionaires but that’s a heck of a lot of money and a pretty sharp increase.
    Some of the big market teams have really been shelling out over that time – the Yankees have doubled their payroll while the Red Sox have increased by 75%. But curiously they Mets (44%) and, especially, Dodgers (20%) are lagging a bit in comparison.

  23. Joel B. says:

    Enjoying baseball is partly about living vicariously through the players you root for. I wouldn’t want my kids (when i have some) rooting for guys that are juiced up on performance enhancing substances.
    I wouldn’t allow them to take drugs of that nature.
    For that matter I don’t like rooting for those guys myself because I was taught integrity.
    The public makes good guys and bad guys. Its easy for a mob to react if there are two clean sides. Thats why Bonds is picked on and Bagwell is ignored. Bonds is an ass and Bagwell is a nice guy. Its easier to side with the nice guy. Is that fair?
    maybe not but it shows that being positive has it’s benefits.
    Lisa, do you support the use of performance enhancing substances by players or do you just like defending your hero? Its a serious question, not being facetious.
    Sometimes I fell like “It doesn’t matter do what you want, its your body.” but I think its important to care for others. Its what makes life worth living.

  24. Lisa Gray says:

    joel b,
    i know what you mean about vicariously. it’s why i root for the shortest skinniest guys. because i like to pretend if they could do it i could do it. even if i couldn’t.
    as for how do i feel about performance enhancers?
    all the testesterone steroids -
    i don’t WANT the players to inject, snort, swallow anabolic steroids. i am GLAD they banned them in 2005. i wish to GAWD they had banned them years before when it was obvious that canseco was shooting up. i wish they mostly all had not decided that shooting that crap was a panacea or could make them what they were not. i wish the owners, players and commissioner had not decided that using that stuff was good, let alone no problem. i wish to GAWD that barry lamar had not decided to turn to drugs instead of fighting them and the players/owners and the Way Things Were.
    you have NO idea how much i hate drugs of abuse because i don’t know the words to describe that much hate. and yeah, testosterone can most definitely be a drug of abuse and the ballplayers were abusing testosterone, far as i’m concerned.
    but the facts are that i have had to accept that these people approved both openly and tacitly using those substances. i wish things were different. but wishing don’t make it so.
    check this
    http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071127/SPORTS/711270344/1002/SPORTS
    and i hate that this crap has ruined the life and career or the best ballplayer i have ever seen or will undoubtedly ever see.
    barry lamar is most certainly not my hero. he couldn’t bring himself to fight the fight he needed to and he couldn’t break free of his desperate need to have his fathers approval at absolutely ANY cost. if anything, to me, barry lamar is like the subject of one of those old tragedies, like othello.
    the public most certainly does create cardboard villians and heroes, which is a real shame. ballplayers are just people, just men, and like my mama always said, when it comes to men you gotta take the good with the bad. and the reason i say “cardboard” is because the truth is that no one knows what goes on beyone closed doors. and that smiling faces sometimes tell lies… and that there is no such thing as pure.
    and if we should find out that jeff bagwell used steroids? and it destroyed his shoulder and career, should we say that he is now a “bad guy?” should we blame cammy for introducing him to them? and what if we find out that biggio used too? is their sin any less than barry lamar’s? does it make them bad people, like barry?
    well, it does. in my book it does and that is why i demand that guillermo mota be as vilified as much as barry lamar
    as far as HGH,
    well, i think that if it really DOES speed healing, it should be used by team doctors just as cortisone is. and in fact from everything i’ve read, it is a lot less harmful. it sure as heck doesn’t do anything to performance enhance all by itself.
    as far as andro and anything that any person can buy off a grocery store shelf, then if a pregnant woman can use a substance, then well, i don’t care if any other person uses it….
    and as much as i might think that these professional adults have the right to mutilate their bodies, it makes me sadder than i know how to say that jim bouton was right, that guys would take something that would take 5 years off their lives if it would give them 5 MPH more on the FB. but it is true. because they don’t know how to stop competing or where to draw a line, or maybe they just can’t bring themselves to.

  25. Joel B. says:

    cool.
    i like this blog.

  26. Steve Schramm says:

    This is a fascinating discussion and I’m very much enjoying the back and forth. Many good points are being made. One of the reasons for the diversity of opinions and strength of emotion is that there aren’t specifically good guys and bad guys. Or at least different people view things differently. Everyone is out for their own good, and while you may find that distasteful or not especially entertaining, we all do this to some extent.
    It’s usually not very effective to apply your ethics and morals onto someone else — especially a public figure such as a sports star. We don’t know who these people really are, and we don’t know the full story behind their choices and actions. In many instances, we don’t really know what they’ve done at all in their private life.
    The more you invest yourself in the publicly perceived image of that person or team, the more you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed and frustrated. So as far as baseball goes, just enjoy the game and the performances, and hope that management puts a good product on the field.
    Because if management is just in it for money, we all lose. Just ask the people in Toronto. The Maple Leafs haven’t made it to the Stanley Cup for 40 years, but that franchise makes more money for its owners than any other NHL team — because all they do is put out a mediocre product and suck down the revenue sharing money. They really don’t care if they win or not.
    I suspect Drayton still does care, which is why he fired Phil and Tim. So let’s see what Wade puts together, and let’s see if our guys can stay healthy next year and perform well. It sure would be nice to root for a winner next year.

  27. Steve Schramm says:

    Oh, and as for steroids, I’m with Lisa — so many people were using that all players were under extreme pressure to keep up. It was worth millions; sometimes tens of millions to do so. And it was legal at the time.
    And before you all scream that you’d never do such a thing, think again. If you were a marginal middle reliever and had one chance to make five million dollars and all you had to do was take the drug, work out every day, and pitch for two years, would you? Knowing that if you don’t take it, you can’t make the team?
    Just two years. That’s it. Five million. That means you can live off the interest for the rest of your life. Do anything you want. Reduce world hunger and poverty. Work for world peace. Watch TV. Whatever. C’mon. Just two years. The side effects are controllable. You can stop as soon as you’re done. You really wouldn’t do it? Really? From what I’ve seen of people in my life, I’m not so sure…
    Maybe you really wouldn’t, but a lot of people would. Especially if they had no other way to make more than a modest living.

  28. Lisa Gray says:

    steve
    before i’d scream that i’d never do such a thing -
    well, ida know
    because you never know what you would or wouldn’t do in someone else’s shoes, or what exactly you would do with a difficult decision staring you in the face
    someone once asked me if i would take steroids if it absolutely guaranteed me that i would be able to play MLB. well, right now i would say no because i got NO idea what that stuff would do to my brain let alone my body and i don’t want to lose my husband.
    but if the devil had come to me before i got together with husband and offered me a deal – take these roids and it would turn me into a ML player for 10 years, but i would lose my body and health afterward, what would i say? i’m still not sure i would have said no. after all, i was just 19 and teenagers got no sense anyhow, and playing ML ball? and this is even without considering the question of money
    and now, heck 5 mill? even if i lost half of it with taxes that is enough to make sure my kidz can go to private skools and any college they can get into. and i could get husband a chair like barry lamar’s. and a bigger house and a bigger backyard too. i mean, it is an incredible amount of money. and i would be hurting only my own self, not someone else…
    so i try not to judge these people who decided to use drugs BEFORE they were against the rules.

  29. Austin says:

    Lisa, you know that I love you and I normally agree with you, but you’re just factually wrong on this. This memorandum on the league’s drug policy and prevention program was sent to all MLB clubs by Bud Selig in 1997.
    http://news.findlaw.com/legalnews/sports/drugs/policy/baseball/index.html
    A couple of excerpts:
    “The basic drug policy for the game is simply stated: There is no place for illegal drug use in Baseball. The use of illegal drugs by players, umpires, owners, front office, League or Commissioner’s office personnel, trainers or anyone else involved in the game cannot be condoned or tolerated.”
    “The possession, sale or use of any illegal drug or controlled substance by Major League players and personnel is strictly prohibited. Major League players or personnel involved in the possession, sale or use of any illegal drug or controlled substance are subject to discipline by the Commissioner and risk permanent expulsion from the game.”
    “This prohibition applies to all illegal drugs and controlled substances, including steroids or prescription drugs for which the individual in possession of the drug does not have a prescription.”

  30. Austin says:

    “and if we should find out that jeff bagwell used steroids? and it destroyed his shoulder and career, should we say that he is now a

  31. Austin says:

    Steve – I absolutely can say that I wouldn’t take steroids, but it’s not because I don’t know the side effects and it’s not because I want to preserve the integrity of the game. In the moment, that can get flushed down the tubes when everyone’s doing it.
    For me, I absolutely wouldn’t do it because I don’t touch non-medicinal drugs of any kind, ever. I’ve never drunk a sip of alcohol, never done any illegal drug, and never used any kind of tobacco. I firmly believe in taking care of myself by abstaining from drugs, and that would include steroids.
    I don’t say this to go on a holier-than-thou rant against baseball players. I just want to point out that there are actually some out there who mean it when they say they wouldn’t touch the stuff, because there are things in life (and the next) that are more important than a flash-in-the-pan career.

  32. Michael says:

    Austin,
    I appreciate your commitment to a healthy lifestyle and believe the whole country would be better off physically, emotionally and financially if we all lived our lives in a like manner. But you do realize that steroids ARE medicinal drugs, right? The very reason they and HGH were developed in the first place was to address medical/healing needs.
    My neice takes HGH because she has Turner’s Syndrome. Several of my family members have been prescribed anabolic steroids to treat medical issues and steroids been used this way since the 1930′s.
    As for the moral judgment about the most important things in life, I think there’s more grey area here. If I were from an extremely poor family and I had the opportunity to give them all a better chance at fulfilling their dreams and providing them financial security for life, I’m not so sure it’d be so easy to make such a high-minded call and not sacrifice, perhaps, a little of myself or my health for that of my family.
    As Chris Rock would say, “I’m not sayin’ it’s the right thing to do… but I understand!”

  33. lisa gray says:

    austin,
    ah luuuuvvvvv you too boy, but i know ALL about that memo. problem is that it applies to everyone EXCEPT for major league baseball players, no matter HOW it’s written. the ONLY way it could apply to them is if it was agreed to through the CBA. this has been the case since the 60s, so that the owners wouldn’t be able to change any rule they saw fit to at any time, the way they had done for a hundred years.
    bud selig can’t just write rules/policy that have not been bargained collectively. he could write a memo saying it was ML policy that the ballplayers had to dance naked in strip clubs (YEAH baby YEAH.) he could say they had to make speeches in favor of gay rights. it has ZERO meaning or enforceability.
    and what is great about that memo is that it PROVES that bud selig KNEW there was a steroids problem back then, even though he lied about it to congress. you don’t see HIM being prosecuted for perjury, do you?
    anyhow,
    i don’t think taking steroids makes a person a “bad guy”
    i don’t know what goes into their decisions, and different people are driven by different demons
    but i DO know that you reap what you sow, that what goes around comes around
    and i also know that often and unfortunately, people value least their qualities that they should value most…

  34. Austin says:

    Michael – I know that. I took growth hormone growing up. It wasn’t HGH, it was synthetic, but still…I took it for 12 years. Like many drugs, it’s medicinal depending on how it’s used. It was medicinal when your niece took it. If a baseball player takes it because he believes it enhances his performance, that’s abuse. It’s all in how you use it. If I didn’t have a medical purpose for taking these drugs, I wouldn’t take them.
    And Lisa – I guess this is the question I would ask. If Major League Baseball was clearly trying to set new drug policy back in 2007, as weak as it was without outlining specific punishments and by specifically stating that there would NOT be unannounced testing, why didn’t the CBA approve it?
    And I think it’s still important to point out that the league already had a banned substances policy. Were there not punishments handed out for players caught using illegal drugs in the ’90s? Why would the same rule not apply for using illegal performance-enhancing drugs?

  35. Austin says:

    And I just saw that we officially re-signed Brocail. God, Ed Wade’s making this team worse. What an unbelievable waste of $2.5 million.

  36. JDolla$ says:

    Has anyone else noticed that all three of our acquisitions have last names that start with the letter “B”? Bourn, Blum and Brocail. All signs point to the Astros brass being mentally… challenged (I used the PC word, but you all know what I was thinking).

  37. Austin says:

    You could have continued with the theme of words that start with “B” (no, not THAT word) and called them a bunch of braindead, bumfuddled old bats.

  38. Lisa Gray says:

    austin,
    you said -
    I guess this is the question I would ask. If Major League Baseball was clearly trying to set new drug policy back in 2007, as weak as it was without outlining specific punishments and by specifically stating that there would NOT be unannounced testing, why didn

  39. Austin says:

    The specific drugs don’t HAVE to be specified in the CBA if the league has rules in place to punish players for using illegal drugs. How did we come to the conclusion that baseball players weren’t breaking a MLB rule by using ILLEGAL steroids? They didn’t HAVE to be specified in the CBA, the same way that not every single drug is currently specified in the CBA. The MLB had the right then and has the right now to punish players for using illegal drugs.

  40. Steve Schramm says:

    Austin, I haven’t ever done illegal drugs or tobacco either (or coffee, for that matter), but I do drink alcohol in moderation and I like it. but my point wasn’t that EVERYONE would choose to take steroids if the rewards were high enough — only that a [possibly] surprising number of people would do so for money, fame & glory, for their family, for the thrill.
    And I’d even say that it’s easy for you to say you me to say we personally wouldn’t do it for the reasons you mentioned and others, but if you or your family were threatened due to poverty, health problems, or some other real life crisis, you’d most likely re-evaluate your options.

  41. Steve Schramm says:

    and what the hell is up with Ed Wade and middle relievers???
    Honestly!
    Middle relievers are a dime a dozen, and it’s hard to believe we can’t just pull up AAA and AA pitchers to pitch an inning or two here and there. MLB long time relief pitchers are notoriously inconsistent. You almost never see the same performance from year to year.
    oh well, whatever. without great starting pitching, defense and offense, middle relievers don’t matter. we’ll probably only spend about 5% of the budget on middle relievers, so who cares. Let’s see what we do for our real holes in the roster.

  42. Lisa Gray says:

    austin,
    “The specific drugs don

  43. Austin says:

    “Then we need to find another 3B who can run fast.”
    Well, we definitely got that in Geoff Blum.
    *snickers*