Archives for: 2009, week 07

02/20/09

MLB: All Star 'Roids Team

Permalink 02:06:10 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

Players and coaches have been arriving at team training facilities as only a few days remain before the official opening of MLB Spring Training. Steroids chatter has picked up a new tail wind with ARod's admissions and Barry Bonds perjury trial on the way.

I've assembled my All Star 'Roids team based on players under suspicion or implicated in performing enhancing drug usage.

SP - Roger Clemens: Former AL MVP and 7 time Cy Young winner made a mockery denying his involvement faces perjury charges.
C - Ivan Rodriguez: MLB's greatest defensive catcher ever? Former MVP and 14 time All Star can't find a team for '09.
1B - Rafael Palmeiro: Famous finger waving denial before investigative committee (lied). 589 career HR's.
2B - Chuck Knoblauch: Perhaps beefing up was why this former Twins/Yank 2B couldn't throw to first.
3B - Ken Caminiti: Admitted he used steroids during his 1996 NL MVP season. One of the earliest players to speak publicly. Statements ignored by MLB as steroids era entered full swing.
SS - Alex Rodriguez: ARod, AFraud and now ARoid. Created media circus trying to come clean. Problem, each confession reveals more non-truths.
LF - Barry Bonds: Baseball's single season and career home run king cheated. On trial for perjury. Was center of BALCO investigation.
CF - Lenny Dykstra: Former scrappy Met CF bulked up big time before joining Phillies. Led them to WS, found sudden power stroke with new physique.
RF - Sammy Sosa: Famously battled McGwire in homer race to break Roger Maris single season 61. Was termed the season which saved baseball... only now, we all know the joke was on us.
DH - Mark McGwire: Testified "I'm not here to discuss my past" before committee. Non-denial denials from one of baseball's biggest men. Broke Maris single season record, only to be surpassed by a heavily juiced Bonds.
Manager - Jose Canseco: Openly admitted usage. Named named in his own book from ARod to McGwire. Players all denied... only to prove Jose was right all along. Baseball tried silencing Jose, now they owe him an apology he'll never receive.
Agent - Don Fehr: MLBPA Chief was instrumental in blocking any sort of testing requirements from the players collective bargaining agreements. One of the chief conspirators to keep steroids abuse silent.
Trainer - BALCO: Exposed by book "Game of Shadows" which detailed how BALCO masked human growth hormones and distributed to some of the worlds most famous athletes.
Commissioner - Bud Selig: Publicly denied for years presence of steroids/hgh. Slow to respond and hampered investigations. MLB executive from Commissioners off alleged to have tipped off players before drug testing. Selig is now miraculously states ridding baseball of controlled substances was main objective as commissioner. Amazing how figure heads often attempt to re-write history.

*(not all names listed have been proven guilty... all under suspicion of using various growth hormones or steroids).

PGA: Tiger's Back!

Permalink 05:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

The world's greatest golfer announced he's fit and ready to resume competing on the links. Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour for next week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. Tiger had been sidelined since June 2008 recovering from knee surgery. Now, he's ready. He's back. Look out golfers, the games greatest ball striker is ready and hungry for more trophies!

Wood's last competitive stroke won the US Open in sudden death. He later called the victory one of his greatest ever due to playing injured. PGA Tour tv ratings have plummeted since he's been away. PGA is now banking Tiger's return to competitive action propels ratings back to where they were over 250 days ago.

I don't think there has even been a single athlete who has single handily transformed a sport the way Tiger has for golf. Golf's popularity skyrocketed once Woods began his professional career (stats). Sheer talent. The best ever. Tiger's been slapped with many titles, awards, accolades. He's earned them all. Not since Babe Ruth has any player dominated their sport in such a manner.

Woods return to competitive golf couldn't come at a better time for the sport, and possibly to inject some positive emotions into the sporting community... even if it's only temporary. Keep an eye on the reception he receives when introduced... and then again on the 18th. Many question whether or not he's healthy enough to return. With this guy, if he wasn't ready to dominate... he wouldn't be coming back at this juncture. Tiger's ready! And, so are golfing fans around the world.

02/19/09

Old Time Hockey

Permalink 05:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

NHL '08-09 has been an action packed season. Three teams have dominated rinks from city to city (Boston, San Jose, Detroit). The Boston Bruins are back. I used to be a big Bruins and Rangers fan growing up (odd combo... rival teams).

The game has changed from generation to generation. Back in the late 60's early 70's pounding physical play dominated games. Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, Rangers, Chicago, Buffalo, Vancouver, and probably a few others left off, were the rough house teams. After the Bobby Orr/Phil Esposito era in Boston things shifted to the Terry O'Reilly, Peter McNabb, Rick Middleton, Ray Bourque era. Great teams, hard hitting play but slow. Slow skating skills doomed them during playoff finals vs speedskating Montreal and later on in the 90's vs Gretzky's Oilers. Classic Bruins Playoff fights included a Terry O'Reilly triple header vs Islanders. He fought Gillies twice (draw) and then was induced into a 3rd by Garry Howatt (auto game ejection).

Rangers vs Islanders always seem to play classic games. Late 70's, early 80's were tops. Many of hockey's greats skated in these matchups. New York vs Philadelphia left plenty of rinks discolored. Chicago vs Vancouver were known to set a few penalty records.

Hockey has produced many mini-dynasties. Montreal Canadiens have won more Stanley Cups than any other. Their successes began back in 1918. Detroit is another super organization fielding Championship calibur teams and Hall of Famers.

Baseball does a great job replaying old classic games. Not enough old NHL games are rebroadcast. There were some great Finals and even better early round matches. Toronto vs Islanders quarters in '78 was one of my all time favorites. 1979 it was Montreal in game 7 OT vs Boston (Semi's). 1994 Rangers/Devils epic 7 game thriller (3 OT's including 7th). 1979 Challenge Cup Series (NHL All Stars vs USSR). Washington vs Islanders kept many fans awake during wee hours watching double and triple OT thillers. Plenty of others series which would be too cumbersome to list here.

This season, Boston vs Detroit for all the marbles would make a great Finals. Two storied franchises going toe to toe. Bruins have two great goalies in Thomas and Fernandez. Offense and defense have been firing on all cylinders. Detroit keeps cranking out great team after great team. Wings D is a bit shaky this year but they keep winning. San Jose is probably the only NHL team capable of taking Boston in a deep series. Only 8 losses and won't lose many more.

Hockey is one sport which hasn't had too many Hollywood hits. Miracle (USA Olympic story) and Slap Shot (comedy) are the only two coming to mind. Mystery, Alaska was a good movie but far from a box office hit. There's plenty of untold old time hockey stories which could make great sports flicks. Maybe in years to come?

02/17/09

Foul Ball: Rodriguez Press Conference

Permalink 04:00:43 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

Baseball's various steroid stories aren't going away time soon. Sports Illustrated reignited this firestorm a couple of weeks ago by naming Alex Rodriguez as a steroid user. ARod then quickly sat down for an interview with ESPN's baseball guru Peter Gammons and admitted previous wrong doing.

Today, Alex was back in front of microphones holding a midday news conference. ARod claimed to be "young and stupid" and not knowing what effect, if any, his wrong doing (steroids) had on his body or performance. ARod is asking to put this all behind him, for a second chance, to be tested at any time etc. Squarely placed blame on himself for past actions. Unfortunately for ARod and baseball, today's latest attempt to right a past wrong was nothing more than a long foul ball opening the door to further questions and disbelief.

Here's my short list of what doesn't fly with ARod's reasoning:

Topping my list... this is not ARod's first interview. A sit down with Katie Couric turned out to be full of non-truths. His sit down with Gammons contained further non-truths. So did today's little circus.

1st, he was clearly implicated in Jose Canseco's book as approaching fellow Texas Rangers players who juiced inquiring of how to's. Today, ARod stated he never saw other players using. This just isn't true. The Rangers were one of baseball's teams where steroid usuage was a common bond. Canseco clearly stated ARod was another teammate using.

2nd, ARod tried to imply when using in years 2001-03 it may or may not have helped performance. He went on record today stating his "best" years were in pre/post using days. Funny how Alex forgot to mention he led baseball in many offensive categories during the years he admits to.

3rd, I just don't buy he quit in 2003. There's no credibility behind many statements being tossed around. He has a history of failing to come clean from his private life to professional life. Since joining the Yankees here's a guy surrounded in steroid controversy, spotted leaving illegal gambling establishments, allegedly caught cheating on his wife with strippers, hookers and Madonna. And now, fresh rounds of coming clean? Cleaner yes, clean no.

4th, if he doesn't think juicing was cheating then why cover it up? Why come clean now? It's part of self denial. I think most players convinced themselves it was ok since no one seemed to care who was or wasn't. Big dollars rewarded the games top slugging juicers. Money money money.

His statements today did contain a bit of denial and plenty of self induced ignorance. I was young and dumb only goes so far. I know he didn't want to rat out former/current teammates he saw or knew of using.. but his flat out denial was lying. This is the problem with throwing yourself a news conference to "come clean" and tell the "truth". In order to tell truth's he injected non-truths. In the process he also admitted to using some sort of over the counter pep pill which was later added to baseball's banned list.

ARod is now the latest poster child for baseball's steroids. I'm in complete disgust with how Commissioner Bud Selig threw Rodriguez under a bus after the ESPN interview. Selig is still in denial and now takes great "offense" to not doing enough to curb performance enhancing drug usage which spread throughout Major League Baseball. Selig has been and remains a central figure covering up this issue. It's been reported an executive officer in MLB has been squarely accused of tipping off players when "random" tests were given. A former NL MVP, the late Ken Caminiti, admitted he used 'roids during his 1996 award winning season. Countless sports reporters wrote articles back in the 1990's suggesing usage was on the rise. Selig and owners turned a blind "public" eye. There's no way they couldn't at least be suspicious of activity. Instead, it's my belief owners and Commissioner's Office all knew and encouraged further usage by doing nothing. Revenues flourished, so there was no reason for any action taken.

Baseball keeps getting self inflicted black eyes. This list is long and dates back over 100 years. Problem is always in how officials attempt to coverup many wrong doings. No exception here. I'm curious as to when there will be perjury investigations of Bud Selig's sworn testimony. Roger Clemens has taken plenty of heat. Why not dig into baseball's $17M front man Bud Selig? It'll never happen since baseball owners are heavy political contributors.

As for ARod, the 2009 baseball season can't come quick enough. He desperately wants everything his past put to rest while focusing on future events. I can't help thinking he's in a lose lose situation for quite some time. Every attempt to come clean invites further scrutiny. He'll be jeered in every city outside of NY. When he slumps, New Yorker's will howl. If he hits 60 homers, reporters will tear him apart and then questions of validity for records broken by juicers comes back into play. This event will haunt ARod for the rest of his playing days.

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