THE JUICE IS LOOSEWhile snow continues to pound New England, the real storm hitting the nation this week was the long awaited Mitchell Report on steroids in Major League Baseball. The release of this report is a culmination of 21 months of research, and over $20 million of MLB money spent to determine the impact of performance enhancing drug use on the game. In short, Mitchell was put in place by commissioner, Bud Selig, to find out exactly how bad the drug problem was, who knew about it, and who stood by facilitated the use for their own personal gain. Make no mistake about it, this information did not need to be made public, rather Selig set it up so the information would be made public. It's not enough for him that he actually clean up the game, he needs to give the fans and the media evidence that he is fixing the problem. The only way to do that, is to give them names.
Now, what are we to make of these names? Well, I for one am not shocked by a single player I see on that list, nor would I expect any other reasonable fan to be shocked. The fact is, when steroid use in baseball was exposed by the likes of Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti, everyone, from the clubhouse attendants, to the players, to the general managers and owners, were immediately guilty by association. You knew that if guys were juicin', then other guys new about it, and other guys were enabling them to do it without being exposed. We're all guilty. We all sat back and lapped up the McGwire/Sosa home run race. We all went to the stadiums, filled the seats, and bought the hot dogs we swore off after the '94 strike. When I say everyone is to blame, I do mean everyone. If the fans were so disgusted by what they saw on the field, they would have stopped watching, stopped going, and they didn't. That's where it all starts, and while I'm not saying we as fans should be held to the same standard, we also can't sit back and rip the league, when many of us knew that a lot of this could be going on. These names, are no more than "evidence" for George Mitchell to prove that he actually did some work. Judge for yourself if you think the job he did was worth while right here, with the full report. I've also added some condensed material courtesy of Deadspin.com and espn.com...
Full Mitchell Report: http://assets.espn.go.com/media/pdf/071213/mitchell_report.pdf
Roger Clemens Section: http://deadspin.com/sports/key-pages-in-the-mitchell-report/roger-clemens-gets-an-ass-shot-333660.php
Complete List of Players: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3153646
*Funny names on list include: F.P Santangelo, Mo Vaughn, David Justice, Eric Gagne, Ron Villone, Nook Logan, Glenallen Hill, Chuck Knoblauch and Lenny Dykstra. Hey Mo, great publicity for your new car wash, eh buddy?
The immediate reaction to reading some of these names, especially Roger Clemens, is one of "well, what now?" Mitchell himself recommended that none of these players should be punished for their past discretion's, but I say dumping their names into this media circus is doing just that. Then, just when it seems Mitchell has passed the buck to Selig as far as retribution, Selig says there will be punishment, but that they will give it out based on a case by base basis. So, doesn't that suggest the possibility that nobody will be punished? OK, you gave me the names, but without an actual punishment already in place. What good did that do? My secondary reaction was, all the actual information Mitchell seems to have collected, either came from rats like former Yankee/Clemens/Pettitte trainer, Brian McNamee (who claims to have purchased and injected steroids into both Clemens and Pettitte), and former Mets clubhouse roid distributor, Kirk Radomski (who basically sold roids to anyone who was anyone in the pros over the past decade) or from Federal investigations involving current and former players (namely BALCO and the latest pharmacy bust in Albany). Both McNamee and Radomski are facing charges against them for roid peddling, and neither was under oath when giving information to Mitchell and his cronies, so how much stock can be taken in what they say? And if they can't be taken for their word, then what if anything did this report even prove? Another sketchy claim is the one against Baltimore Oriole, Brian Roberts, who got his name on the list because former roommate, Larry Bigby (also named in the report) told investigators that Roberts told him he had used steroids years before. You trying to tell me these sources would hold up in an actual court? You can't be serious. That doesn't mean these players aren't guilty, but to say this is the evidence that you gathered to prove it, and these canaries are your main witnesses, just doesn't make your case all that credible.
No matter, George Mitchell needed to produce names, so due process be damned, he's gonna drag these people through the mud. Wow, and I thought this thing was supposed to help give the game credibility, not make it look dirtier than a Mexican pay toilet.
So, now that we've got all these names, and Georgie Mitchell answered the $20 million question of "Is baseball dirty", with a resounding "Yes!", what do we do now? Do we punish players like Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Miguel Tejada with the same asterisks we threaten Bonds with? Or do they get passes because they didn't cheat on their wives, and taxes while at the same time cheating the game, as Bonds did? Forget on the field punishment like suspensions, I want to know how these guys are going to be treated in the court of public opinion. Me? I'm gonna fry 'em up in the same pan that I've had Barroid simmerin' in for the past decade, and I expect the rest of you to do the same or risk being labeled a racist or hypocrite. Make no mistake, if these charges are true, then Roger Clemens is the new Barry Bonds, and is just as culpable as Barry Bonds. He was a superstar, 3 time Cy Young Award winner and sure fire Hall of Famer before he reportedly ever picked up the needle, much like Bonds. And it seems the only reason he did steroids was to gain continued popularity, much like many speculate were Barry's motives. If Barry's guilty, then so is Roger, plain and simple. Mind you, I don't see this report alone as enough to prove anyone guilty, but should it's finding's lead to more information on certain players, then I'll feel even more justified for piling it on. Again, to me, this report isn't about the names, but I'll be damned if I'll let a guy like Clemens turning out to be a roid head (something I've speculated for years) pass through my mind without taking some serious cracks at him. These guys come off as holier than thou, and for something like this to tarnish their image, well I say they brought a whole lot of it on themselves.
What we learned from the Mitchell report, is that baseball is dirty and needs to be scrubbed from top to bottom before any reasonable progress can be made. What we'll remember about the Mitchell report, is the names that were in it, and in it's aftermath, the struggle of those men to attempt and clear their names.
I'm glad this investigation was conducted, but I wish Bud Selig kept the list of the names to himself, at least to start. Releasing this "list" comes off as self serving and will only do to distract people from the actual problem, the corrupt sport itself. If you can't punish these players, then why bother listing their names? I mean, I guess if there were already names out there, then it's OK to list them, but if the list isn't all inclusive (as opposed to if there was a league wide test), then I don't really see the good in releasing it at all. But since it has been released, and the damage has been done, then we're simply left to comment on the aftermath. Are all the records tainted? Is the game itself still a cesspool for drugs and scandal? These are questions that are about to be answered a million times in the coming days, weeks, months and years. With the release of this report, baseball may have caused one it's darkest days, while at the same making way for a bright future, but we're years away from knowing if that is truly the case. For now, it's time to sit back, and count the bodies, because it's gonna be a long time before we have them all tagged, bagged, and sent off the "morgue" that is social oblivion...
Well, I figure since we're already talking about cheating, and undermining the game, I might as well start off my picks this week with the New York Jets against the New England Patriots. It seems like years ago now, but it was just earlier this year that the Jets and their sphincter of a coach, Eric Mangina, turned the Pats into the NFL for cheating. Now, on the eve of what many are predicting to be the biggest revenge beat down since we nuked the Japanese, the Patriots are flipping the script, and claiming they caught the Jets performing "illegal filming" last year, and didn't turn them in to the NFL. What's good for the goose, eh Mr. Hoodie? No matter, the real deal in this one is the weather. With second part of the season's first Noreaster expected to dump a nice wintry mix up through the start of the game, it not only limits the expected offensive output, but it pretty much eliminates the Jets chances to score. I've heard the theory about how bad weather is a great equalizer, and I think it applies here. Problem for the Jets, is they are such an inferior squad, that even a storm created by Zeus himself isn't gonna save them from Captain Tom and the 24 point spread. Three touchdowns for Tom Terrific, one for the defense, and the Pats creep by the number, 28-0. Just another footnote to a legendary campaign boys. Time to step aside and let the real men do, what the real men do...
Wanna keep talkin' roids? We can do that. In the 2005 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers picked Shawne Merriman in the 1st round (suspended roid user) and Luis Castillo in the 2nd round (had tested positive for roids before the draft). Sure, Merriman may be out this week with a non roid related injury, but I was reaching for a seg way, I got one, and now I can get to the game. I like the Chargers against the Lions this week because both teams are moving in completely opposite directions. Since their loss to Kansas City in week 4, San Diego has gone 7-2, with their only losses @ Jacksonville and @ Minnesota. Detroit, meanwhile, has apparently run out of Jon Kitna's Jesus power, and are currently mired in a 5 game losing streak. Tack on the fact that the Lions are coming in fresh off a come-from-ahead tank job against the Cowboys, which probably all but ended any sort of play off chances they had, along with taking any lingering wind from their sails. We all saw this coming with Detroit, so I figure we might as well cash in on watching it happen. Look for LT to have a big week for both my fantasy team, and his actual team, and look for the Bolts to roll.
In the next game, I'm jumpin' back on the bandwagon, and takin' the Colts in a big way over the Raiders. Easily explained: The Colts seem to be back to playing like the Colts after their defiling of Baltimore last Sunday night, and the Raiders are going into the game with the plan to switch QB's on and off. Yeah, I can't say I like your chances, Raider nation. Jamarcus Russell might be the future, but for now, he just isn't ready for a defense like the Colts, and when he's in expect Indy to get at him and force a few turnovers. Don't look now, but Marvin Harrison is getting healthy, and the Colts are on a roll...
Now, if you told me at the start of the season that I would be picking the Browns/Bills game, I would have told you I must have been violating one of my cardinal rules when it comes to picking games. "Don't pick a winner in a game between two teams that suck" Well, to the surprise of nearly everyone, not only do these teams NOT suck, but they're both right in the hunt for one of the final AFC play off spots with only 3 weeks to go. The reason this game attracted me, is the fact that the Bills are the only team in the game with a serviceable defense, and they are getting nearly a touchdown. I know they are usually offensively inept, but I think Trent Edwards improved play, along with the return of Marshawn Lynch, should be just enough to keep pace with Derek Anderson and the Browns offense. Not totally buying the fact that Buffalo can win this thing, but I think it's a coin flip, with a high certainty that it will be close at the very least. Take the Bills at 6, but no lower than 4.5.....You know, just in case I'm scary right, and they lose by 5 on a last second TD...
With my final pick of this roid fueled week, I'm throwing all my chips in with David Garrard, MJD, Fred Taylor and the Jacksonville Jaguars. This pick is driven by two major emotions I feel. First, seeing as Garrard is my new fantasy quarterback, I want him to do as well as possible in this my semifinal weekend. Secondly, I hate the Steelers, and there's nothing I'd like to see more than watching Shittsburgh fall flat on their face a week after getting embarrassed by the Patriots. A few weeks ago, I would have had the Steelers above the Jags in the AFC power structure, but I think this game will go a long way towards proving who's playing better as the season winds down....
Week 15 Picks
New England Patriots (-23) vs New York Jets
San Diego Chargers (-10) vs Detroit Lions
Buffalo Bills (+6) @ Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis Colts (-10) @ Oakland Raiders
Jacksonville Jaguars (+4) @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Minnesota Vikings (-10) vs Chicago Bears
*Kyle Orton is going to be the starting QB for the Bears on Monday Night. That should be enough of an explanation of my pick...
Last Week: 3-4-0
Overall: 50-35-4 (.584)
It's beginning to become redundant, but I really haven't watched nearly enough college hoops for my liking so far this season, so I don't know how qualified any of my analysis really is. That being said, just one look at Gus Johnson, and I can't helped be excited for college hoops again. Woooo Eeeeee! Here's my updated top 10, with the same ten squads as last week. We're getting close to conference play, so expect some wild changes, but for now the ship is steady as she goes...
College Hoops Top 10
1. Memphis (7-0) 1
2. North Carolina (8-0) 2
3. Kansas (9-0) 3
4. Washington St. (9-0) 4
5. UCLA (8-1) 5
6. Georgetown (6-0) 6
7. Indiana (8-1) 8
8. Texas (9-0) 9
9. Duke (9-0) 10
10. Butler (8-1) 7
just missed: Marquette, Oregon, Tennessee, Xavier
As promised, I'm bringin' you at least one team each week that I will spotlight as a potential March Madness "sleeper" team. Don't be caught unprepared when it's time to fill out those brackets, people!
Holy Cross Crusaders (7-1) Patriot League
*When you're stuck in a weak conference, you have two options. Run out and play a bunch of high ranked teams in the pre season, much like Davidson (3-5), or go soft and build your team with sites set on winning your conference, like Holy Cross. When your biggest non conference wins are Hofstra, Fairfield and @ St. Josephs, you sure as Hades better win your conference if you want a shot at dancin', and that's what the Crusaders are aimin' to do. Led by 6'11" senior center, Tim Clifford (14.9 ppg / 5.0 rpg), the defending America East champs look to repeat, and better their first round knockout in last year's Big Dance, courtesy of Southern Illinois.
Finally, in what I'm deeming the most appropriate news story of the week, we have Paris Hilton doing an ad campaign in the nude for "champagne in a can". Something classy, made to look like something cheap. What an advertising match made in heaven. Oh well, at least she's pretty much naked. Wait, I've already seen her having sex on film...multiple times. Hell, toss me a 6 pack of champagne. I figure I'm gonna need at least that to get my mind of all this steroid talk...