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Friday, August 07, 2009

The Man Behind The Muppet: The Real Villain In MLB's Steroid Scandal


Greetings and salutations, good friends. I know I haven't been frequenting the virtual world as often this Summer, but a good dose of hard work, good times, and a change in thinking have gotten me doing things a little differently this time around...

Now there's no need to fret. My hiatus has nothing do do with my love for sports and all the drama that surrounds them diminishing at all. Matter of fact, it's mostly been me taking the time to look at things a little longer, a little harder, before scrambling to my computer to throw the day's "story du jour" together with a smattering of accusations, assumptions and off color one-liners. Is it me getting older, getting wiser? Nah, at least that's not how I'm choosing to look at it...

Ask any of my friends, and they'll tell you. I love stories. It's what's always attracted me to sports. Well, I guess in the beginning it was a combination of the camaraderie, the physicality and the competitiveness, but when my playing days (ha-ha-ha) were done, it was the stories that kept me glued to my TV and searching the Intraweb for updates and insight...

What my friends will also tell you, is that while I do love both listening to (or in the case of movies and TV "watching") and telling stories, I'm also about as big of a critic as you're going to find. I'm not sure whether it's a result of growing up the offspring of two teachers, but I can't help but look at or listen to a story without constantly dissecting it. Dissecting it to see if it holds water, makes sense and dissecting it to see if it's actually worthwhile and entertaining. Unlike a lot of so-called "critics", I won't make a snap judgement based on things I've liked or disliked in the past, and I won't look for an end game of a particular story when I've only been given a portion of the facts. I'm always looking for more, looking more into how and why a person told a story. Getting behind their true goals and motives. Sounds idealistic, I know, but if it's one thing I like to stick to, it's my morals and ideals...

So why does this matter, you ask? How do my unattainable standards relate to the current goings on in the world of sports?

Two words.

THE LIST

That's right, MLB's now infamous list of player's that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in the "anonymous" testing of 2003...

One by one, the names are being leaked out. And one by one, the players on said list are all following the same course. They get dragged through the media mud pit, forgiven by their fans, and spit out of the rapid fire news cycle faster than a lemonade dipped bun cruises down Joey Chestnut's esophagus...

What's being missed in all of this sensationalism, is the proverbial "big picture". The actual "interesting part" of this whole perverted equation. Should the names on the list really be all that interesting? What, like there's a name on there that's really going to shock the system? Please. The names are merely window dressing, or to quote Mr. X in JFK "a parlor game to keep the public guessing". Besides, that test, and no test since, has even tested for the use of HGH! Matter of fact, unless things have recently changed, there still isn't even a lab in this country capable of properly testing for it! Now if memory serves, HGH was right in the middle of this whole scandal when Barry Bonds was involved, wasn't it? But what about now? Now nobody gives two shits about BALCO, and HGH has been tossed to the side, written off as the lesser of the two evils in comparison to anabolic steroids. A side effect that I gotta believe MLB is pretty pumped about...

Long story short, it doesn't matter who was on the list. That's something for the owners and the Hall of Fame voters to worry about. Sure it's newsworthy when another big name hits the front page, but with each new offender, does anything really change? Truth is, the list is only going to validate what we educated and realistic fans already know, and leave us with the same pessimistic view of the sport's overall testing policy. Without a viable test for HGH, and with the common perception that dedicated cheaters are always going to be one step ahead, no list, no matter how long, is going to come close to ending all the speculation. All that should matter is who is in possession of the list, how they obtained it, who stands to benefit most from the names being leaked out in such a slow and arduous manner and who has the power to cover up their involvement..

We should also be asking, in wake of David Ortiz and his odd silence on the matter, who is giving these players advice on whether or not to come out and comment on their possible inclusion? According to those with knowledge of the list and familiarity with the inner workings of the system (Buster Olney, Theo Epstein, Tim Kurkjian), every player that appears on THE LIST was informed of their inclusion at the time of the testing. So why the continued silence? And not just from Papi, but from everyone!

Pettitte, A-Rod, Giambi, Manny, etc. They've all come out, admitted they did wrong, and have been instantly forgiven. Hell, some of them haven't even said what they did wrong, exactly, and yet were still welcomed back with open arms and open check books. You gotta think, if you know you're on the list, and you know you're going to be found out eventually, why not come out and apologize on your own terms? You get in front of a mic bank, say you're sorry, shed a tear or two, tell the kids you're sorry you let them down, and the next thing you know you're yesterday's news. Or you can wait, and take the chance that maybe your name won't be leaked. Then when you're found out, not only do you look like a cheater, but a liar and a coward to boot. Not man enough to admit you were wrong, and not smart enough to stay one step ahead of the media...

So what's with all the cloak and dagger, all the 'waiting games'? Who is this whole mess of an awkward situation benefiting?

This time. It's gonna take 3 words...

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.



Think about it. It makes perfect sense that Bud Selig and his creepy cronies have gotten their hands on THE LIST, and in typical MLB fashion, their revealing the results one agonizing name at a time. If someone in the Player's Union had the list, they would have destroyed it to save their member's all this trouble, or at the very least prepared the players before the entire list was released. If a rogue media member or court house official had it, they'd likely have already been turned on by one of their reporter buddies. Ya know, they approach the wrong person and the next thing they know they're sitting in front of a grand jury?

But no. The list exists. So we know the Union doesn't have it. And the fact that nobody has been arrested for obtaining secret documents? That tells us that the media doesn't have it. Not only does that logically only leave Selig and the arrogant gate keepers at MLB's front offices, but the way the names have been leaked out is even further evidence that they're the one's pulling the strings...

For years I've commented on how Major League Baseball takes forever to hand out their post season awards. Instead of doing both MVP's and both Cy Young's on the same day, they turn it into a month long event, letting one winner out every 4-5 days. Why? For maximum exposure, what else?! They're a business, a damn good one, and they specialize in public relations...

So why is it in their best interest to keep these names trickling out? Well while it might seem on the surface that each name released taints the game a little more, it also has a very powerful, double-sided, positive effect. It keeps the game in the news and it makes the fans feel as if the powers that be are weeding out all of the cheaters. You know, any publicity is good publicity, right? And what's gonna make the fans feel like the game is getting "cleaned up" more than the proof that some of the game's biggest stars were on the sauce? You say they are tearing down their own well crafted image, I say they're sending the message that no one is untouchable. They want the average fan to know that they're willing to clean up the game, at any cost!...

And I'm willing to bet that creepy muppet Selig and his boys have a few "newspaper men on the payroll" (classic line from The Godfather) that are both helping them leak out the names, and making sure to keep a Jack-Ruby-like distance between themselves and their paymasters. I'll even go as far as to say that THE LIST that Major League Baseball has in it's possession isn't even the same one that the Player's Union failed to destroy, but that since the Union failed to destroy the original list, MLB is free to claim that's the reason why the list is still making the rounds...

That's right, kiddos, it's a flat out conspiracy. And this one stretches to the highest level of the sport. Do I have any real proof? No, but that wouldn't make it nearly as interesting a proclamation now, would it? But the fact remains, when you look at the story within the story, or the story "behind" the story if you will, it's fairly clear that there's someone powerful and manipulative pulling the strings on this one...

The sad part, is that Selig and friends probably still think they're doing this for the "good of the game". Whether they're trying to "get even" with the players for using performance enhancers in the first place, or just selfishly trying to make themselves look smart and diligent, I don't know. What I do know, is that they're the one's behind the curtain on this one...

And that, my friends, is the interesting part of this particular story. It's what will some day turn this whole mess into a great movie starring Martin Landau, and it's a cover up that might eventually make the steroid scandal itself look small and insignificant in comparison...

You say you want to see the list? I say give me the men who're responsilbe for leaking the names...

Maybe it's the critic in me looking too deep and finding stuff that's not even there. But it takes a critical eye to catch a deviant mastermind...Even if he does wear an adult diaper and look like the bastard child of Kermit the Frog and a tube of Silly Putty...

If I'm right, this won't be over until each name has been drolled out one by one, or until he and his henchmen are exposed. The former being the most likely...

Until that day. I say long live baseball. Long live the truth. And long live those who have the brain enough to realize that they aren't one in the same...

That was corny, but you know it's true...

Have a great weekend...

I'm outta here...

100...

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