Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Confessions of Cheater.. Why Mark McGuire hasn't really confessed and Barry Bonds is a Gangsta

I admit that title isn't the king's english but you'll get the point when I'm done. Big Mac's tearful "confession" was about as sincere as when men lie to their wives about being fat. And you thought there was no crying in baseball? Apparently lying is in baseball. Scandal is also in baseball too. Most hardcore baseball fans know about the eight players that were banned for life for intentionally throwing games in the 1919 world series.

Ask a baseball fan about how some pitchers used what was known as the spitball. Officially banned after the 1920 season, pitchers could use substances to help with the drop speed of their pitches. As late as 1959, Bob Gibson once said that pitchers would always use spitballs. The tears of a clown were more believable than McGuire's public display of emotion during his interview with Bob Costas.

Jose Canseco is a hero and very few media pundits ever give him any props. Call him what you want but the guy has been spot on. McGuire apologist love to trash Canseco as an opportunistic ambulance chaser that made a few bucks for snitching. Canseco is more of a prophet than a whistle blower. Remember when the media jumped all over the stop snitching campaign associated with Carmello Anthony? Where were these guys when the Androstenedione was found in McGuire's locker in 1998 by an obscure Associated Press reporter.

The baseball media of 1998 were hell bent on helping baseball recover from the 1994 strike. The fans desperately wanted to fall in love with the game again at the expense of one of baseball's most hallowed records. When people questioned whether or not Big Mac was a cheat after the news surfaced about McGuire's Andro usage, his defenders said that the substance was legal because baseball didn't have a steroid policy. The medical community knew that "Andro" was a precursor to steroids. Baseball insiders were aware of this to. The game was hot again so everyone turned a blind eye.

How's does this relate to Bonds? I'm glad you asked! Bonds like any competitor wanted the notoriety that Sosa and McGuire were receiving. Plus he was probably privy to the underground culture of steroids. Childhood friend Greg Anderson and Victor Conte, founder of Balco were God sends to an ultra competitive guy like Bonds who relished the role of anti-hero. Bonds had an accomplished career before he started to juice. Cheating for him was like being able to add more horsepower to a sports car. McGuire's juicing mad a mediocre guy more consistent.

What other factor besides glory sparked the players to cheat? Could it be that it was apart the climate of the game and its unspoken pressure to produce superhuman statistics season after season? What about the pressure to be included in the conversation when the baseball writers discuss those meaningless records that baseball nerds spew in their beer fueled arguments about who should be inducted into the hall of fame?

It's estimated that over 70 percent of the league were card carrying members of the cheaters club that existed at the height of the steroid era. Another untapped culprit in this probe is the players at high school, minor league and college levels. What was their culture like? Its believed that many of these younger players have been taking steroids for their shot at getting into the professional and major college ranks. One could only imagine.

Barry's defiance is correct because it sticks to the code. McGuire wants back into baseball and he wants a punchers chance to get in the hall of fame. His ill fated confession was worse than his congressional testimony. Bonds reminded us that we all had skeletons during a press conference during the summer of 2003. He dared us to clean our own closets before we demanded he clean his. Point well taken Barry. Its no crime for being a jerk and being right. Its also no crime to plead the fifth either. No court in America can convict him for being a malcontent.

What baseball would have the fans to believe is that the Mitchell Report sums up the extent of the so called "steroid era". Especially since their original patsy (Bonds) eluded them. A few big names were released as sacrificial lambs to extinguish the interest of the public. Never mind that over 100 names of guilty players are still concealed from public knowledge. The strategy of gradual disclosure has worked like a charm. After the congressional hearings, McGuire disappeared into the night, Sosa bleached his skin and took a few English courses. Barry Bonds avoided jail with the help of Anderson and has been ostracized from playing the game.

A tell all book was written entitled "Game of Shadows" about Bonds. The baseball writers poked and prodded Bonds for a confession, only to get the same cold stare of defiance coupled with 762 home runs. This book was meant to assist major league baseball in its attempt to make Barry the lone gunman of the steroid era. Barry, in classic James Dean (Gangsta) fashion went on playing the game at a high level en route to surpassing Babe Ruth and the classy Henry Aaron.

Bonds knew that his hall of fame worthy career would be defined in a variety of ways. McGuire on the other hand is only a slugger with a great smile. By all accounts McGuire was a model teammate while Bonds never was accepted as one of the guys. (most of that was his choice)

McGuire's "confession" isn't about telling baseball fans the truth.(He'll leave that to Canseco) Its about taking a page from Pete Rose, accept he's not going to wait 25 years to tell us what really happened . Instead he's waited five to continue to lie as he did during the congressional hearings. This new lie disguised as a confession, is a public relations ploy to satisfy his an old employer. Who else would touch McGuire right now? He's trying to keep the code while getting back in the good graces of baseball. Several players have gone on record to refute McGuire's claims of steroids not inducing player performance.

The Cardinals and McGuire would have the public to believe that the performance enhancing drugs didn't help him hit 70 home runs. If they didn't help him then why call the Maris family to apologize? Did Rodger Maris use steroids? Did the Maris family befriend him first or did he sell them on his good guy image for publicity? See the pattern? That's what those tears were really about.

Those tears were meant to misdirect us from an ugly truth that we already know. Baseball is a game full of cheaters. Its a rogue league with a history of deceitful practices that would make old west gamblers step their cheating game up.

Those tears were about appealing to the public memory of how great a guy he is and how great baseball really is wink wink. Its about selling us on why McGuire should reenter baseball. He's set the bar pretty high for other legends who've been linked to steroids. No tears, no job!!! Barry Bonds will never do this because he knows he's guilty.

He knows that he isn't interested in rekindling a relationship with a game that tried to use him as the scapegoat. His attempt to play again was about putting his record out of the reach of A-Roid. By all accounts of Barry Bonds insiders, that theory is the most credible reason why Bonds wouldn't want to share any of his knowledge of the game as a coach. His hitting secrets are uniquely his. He'd tell you to #$% off and do it on your own.

Bud Selig and his cronies haven't stood up to the criticism of the public so why should the players. The baseball media doesn't have a leg to stand on because they drank the kool aid too. The Yankees were won their 27th world title last fall led by another scandal hound (Alex Rodriguez) but the story wasn't about his dicey history. The story was how he finally produced in the playoffs. Confession isn't good for the soul. Its good for business......

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Paper Champions, Why College football needs a playoff.

Alabama has just claimed its 13th national championship. Some in the national press refute those claims by reducing the 13 to 8 citing that only three of the titles were consensus both by the AP and the Coaches Poll. That's not a knock against Bama. Sports shouldn't resemble a beauty pageant or a flawed political system. Sadly when dealing with college football, our political system and how a national champion is decided are identical twins. All of the lower level divisions in college football have a playoff. The excitement among the fan bases is off the charts and most importantly a champion is decided on the field.

Traditions in America die hard. University Presidents, (some) college coaches, boosters and bowl administrators are comfortable with letting the gray area decide a "champion" Its safer because that gray area can over rate the appearance of greatness being sold to alumni and their fans. Most of the bowls that on national networks are brand new bowls. The Meineke Car care bowl isn't as old as the Rose, Orange, Cotton and Peach bowls. New bowls sponsors have popped up like a new shopping malls in an old suburb.

It's an insult to the intelligence of the national fan base of major college football fans. Every major NCAA sport has a championed crowned without dispute. Alabama is the champ but their is still a small window of doubt without a playoff. The Cowboys were better than the Eagles but they still played the games to prove it.(Eagles lost three times to the Boys) Wouldn't it be great to see if Bama and Florida mix it up again during the college playoffs? Sure most of us agree that Boise State would get hammered by Alabama. But shouldn't that be decided on the field? Deep down all of those Boise State kids want a shot at Apollo Creed. The big difference is that these kids want to do more than go the distance. Boise believes they can play with anybody.

An eight team playoff system could easily be created in conjunction with the bowl system. A college Superbowl can be played the first week of January. One loss teams and undefeated teams from every major division I conference could have their shot to settle on the field who's really the best team without all of the hoopla that surrounds college football.

Conference champions (that means MAN UP Big Ten and create a conference championship) can all be seeded 1 through 8. That way one loss teams like Florida isn't left out of the equation. Wild card weekend is much more exciting than the pageantry of college football. The fiasco of Auburn and Utah not getting an opportunity to compete for the championship in 2004 speaks to the need for a playoff. What about the year that a Shaun King led Tulane team was left undefeated?

College football could take a page from the NFL. The couple of superbowl seemed hopeless for the AFL until the New York Jets broke through with the improbable upset of the Baltimore Colts behind the guarantee of Joe Namath. Bosie State gave a us a glimpse of this in 2007 in their dramatic win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Utah beat up on Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl by two touchdowns.

The bowl demigods made sure to not schedule either TCU or Boise State against another power conference team. Cincinnati had an opportunity to carry the torch for the little guy but couldn't get it done. It's safe to assume that if Nebraska would have prevailed against Texas, Cincinnati would've gotten beat down but at least its decided on the field.

The BCS is a step in the right direction. Several times in college football history, the AP and coaches poll selected different national champions. The BCS still includes the opinions of writers and numerous unseen forces that determine who "deserves" to play for the silver egg. College football in most regions scores higher ratings than their NFL brethren. The college world series doesn't interfere with the fall classic. The Final Four is still a unique event and towers over the NBA finals in popularity.

There's enough room on the block to keep tradition and appease the rabid fan base of both football spectrum's at the pro and college level. America is fascinated with the game of football. Much like the NCAA basketball tournament, the drama of an 8th seeded Villanova winning it all over Georgetown in the 1985 final four, can be duplicated in college football.

A college Superbowl could give us the drama of a New York Jets like upset. Where's the Pete Rozelle of College football? All of those meaningless bowl games are only watched by the fan bases of those teams. What about capturing the imagination of the casual fan? The NFL Superbowl captivates people who'd rather go to a movie during the season but catch the commercials during the big game.

Imagine the shared revenue that all of the power conferences would generate. That's what the college administrators are after anyway! Is there a back room deal not to create more buzz which would effect the NFL's bottom line? Conspiracy theory like question but else are we to assume as fans. There's been talk of government getting involved. Why not get ahead of that and just make it happen? Unsolved Mysteries... Is that show still on television?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Truth about the Image Problem of the NBA

Gilbert Arenas has just joined Plaxico Burress in the exclusive fraternity of athletes making unwise decisions with dangerous firearms. Jason Williams, the embattled former NBA star would gladly trade places with Agent Dumbo. As an NBA fan, its been hard to defend certain aspects of the culture of the Hip hop generation. Every generation contributes something to society that will be marked in history. Some of those things will be very good and in true human form inherently evil. Modern corporations love market and profit from certain aspects of culture until the side effects of the latter rears its ugly. That's the dichotomy of the marriage of Hip Hop and the NBA Brand.

The "gangsta" culture didn't originate from hip hop culture. It began from the machine gun era gangsters(pay attention class) that Hollywood glorified. Hip Hop culture has followed in the footsteps of this tradition, even making its way up to the ranks of the rich and famous. If you're under 45 and you're reading this, you probably can appreciate the complexity this culture breeds. On one side you have the beauty of creativity, expression, fashion, language and community. On the other one can see the violence, poverty ignorance, and overblown machismo that creates its own code of ethics.

There's a stunning element that most NBA detractors will never acknowledge. When reconciling this perceived image problem, I couldn't help but notice how other sportz leagues can recover a lot easier and faster than the NBA can. Other professional leagues are able to survive scandals better than Marion Barry.

The image of Nascar has gotten better but some people in select regions will never lose the image of a toothless fans screaming at the top of his lungs for their favorite driver. Nascar quietly settled a lawsuit with Mauricia Grant in 2008 for sexual harassment along with the racial slurs she endured everyday. When the story first broke Nascar's P.R. machine sold the public on its ongoing commitment to diversity. The media moved on and so did the fan base of Nascar and Ms. Grant got a nice undisclosed amount to go away.

Baseball has survived multiple P.R. disasters throughout its history. The steroid era yielded some shocking discoveries of a cheating sub culture that challenged the integrity of the game. Alex Rodriguez, easily the game's biggest star and highest paid player looked America right in the eyeballs and lied about his steroid use. After facing the music, he defiantly led the Yankees to another world championship. Where's the righteous indignation from the baseball purist now? Steroid era be damned right? When are those other names going to be released from the Mitchell Report. The P.R. machine of major league baseball has made John Q fan forget that his favorite sportz league is a cheater. I'm not hating the player and this case I won't even hate the game.

What about the bad boys of the NFL. Matt Jones the crackhead didn't inspire any fans to cancel their season passes or Sunday ticket with their local and national cable providers. Pac-man Jones got a million second chances and LP field was still filled to capacity. Mike Vick went way for about 20 months and is now back in the fold. Mark Chumura once kicked it at an underage party. Brett Farve was once addicted to pain killers and loved his share of last call.

Did public ever really got a credible explanation about Spygate? Outside of a hefty fine, the loss of draft picks and an unenthused apology from Bill Belicheat, the Patriots mad out like fat rats. Nixon would be proud of Goodell got rid of the evidence. The American sportz public didn't bat an eye. How many of the national media campaigned for Belicheat to miss any games? How many games did Tank Johnson, Chris Henry (R.I.P) and Adam Jones miss? They gave us the sacrifical lambs of the player but allowed executive privilege to rear its ugly head. In this case I hate both the player and the game.

So why can't the critics of the NBA admit that they just hate the league? Gilbert Arenas and Jarvis Crittenton aren't even marquee players. Arenas is an overpaid former all star that most casual basketball fans wouldn't recognize instantly. Okay you'd notice he's tall. Maybe you'd ask him in the supermarket during casual conversation if he played in college.

Crittenton spent one year at Georgia Tech. The only reason I know that is because I'm a rabid sportz fan who happens to write a sportz blog. Lebron James, Dewayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, and Carmello Anthony headline a very talented league. Sure Anthony and Bryant aren't squeaky clean but they've recovered quite nicely. Up and coming young stars like Kevin Durant, Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings will be unfairly associated with the gangsta culture by some of the public. .

Jemelle Hill of ESPN.com wrote a very articulate argument about why Arenas should be suspended indefinitely. (She got her wish) She went on to say that the Wizards should void the rest of his contract. No disrespect to one of my favorite columnist but that's complete hogwash. Does Elliot Spitzer have to apologize for Mark Sanford's political transgressions? Is it fair to assume that every politician lives a secret life as these two gentleman? So if the answer is no then why does the NBA have to make an example out of one guy? Is it because some casual basketball fans believe that every NBA player behaves just as irresponsibly as Gilbert Arenas did? I'll take a YES for a thousand Alex.

Ask most NBA detractors why the hate the NBA and like college basketball better. Ask them why they'd rather see top tier talent stay three years but in the same vein forget that child actors, baseball players and European basketball leagues employ players as young as fifteen. The Malice in the Palace participants got off pretty lightly considering the horrible scene that was displayed all over the airwaves. Arenas and Crittenton's altercation was in an NBA locker room behind closed doors seen by just the employees of the Wizards. Consider the fact that Sebastian Telefair only received a three game suspension for trying to carry a firearm on an airplane. What was Steven Jackson's punishment for shooting off a gun at a night club in Indianapolis?

Jackson was subsequently traded and had to sit out seven games. In comparison to his track record how many people of national media called for Jackson to have his contract voided? Where they asleep at the wheel or did this story not make it to the national hype machine. Why are we being sheep here? The media is telling us yet again who to like and who to hate. Telefair and Jackson's transgressions are just has ignorant, if not worse than Arenas's blunder. Quite Frankly Jackson's track record is far worse. Yes Arenas brought a gun in a place where guns are prohibited. That's the easy part to punish but to strip away his livelihood in the name cleaning up an image to appeal to a casual fan base is ludicrous. The NBA has been a global phenomenon dating back to the early nineties.

Do we still view them through the tainted image of perception and prejudice? Yes we do. Its unfair to convict a man for what could have happened instead of for what actually occurred. Arenas should have his day in court and should face all consequences for his irrational behavior. David Stern finally caved under the public pressure to suspend Arenas indefinitely. The talk of voiding his contract by most people in the national media is really ridiculous. Seriously, did anyone in the media fraternity advocate Harold Reynolds or Marv Albert not getting a job ever again?(In case you didn't know these guys had some nasty sex scandals happen at one time that was detrimental to their image)

You didn't think for one moment that a photo and a few loose words had anything to do with Stern finally pulled the trigger on suspending Agent Dumbo did you? He cracked under the P.R. pressure. We've got tons of people who play mafia wars on Facebook, consume some of the most violent images that Hollywood as to offer and applaud the vigilante style justice that gun play perpetuates in entertainment. Surprisingly these are the same people who seem to find it in their intellect to be upset with a guy who didn't even shoot or point the gun at anyone.

For some, the thought of young black males with guns is much more sinister than Timothy McVeigh owning one. Or what about the guy that just went on a wild rampage in Las Vegas. I'd bet the farm that he probably was "licensed" to carry a gun at some point. I'm sure most people know that McVeigh once served our country in the military. Please save the argument of registered gun users versus unlicensed ones. Not unless you're prepared to discuss the myriad of loopholes that contribute to guns getting into the"unlicensed" hands. Let's have a discussion on how gun reform is always misrepresented as trying to confiscate guns from people who are licensed.

Cultures around the world are past many of the conceptual dogmas that still exist in America. Entire societies have been transformed by the words, imagery and example of people who have worked their entire lives to stop violence, prejudice, hate and ignorance. How can we still categorize "urban" youth as the only culprit for violent behavior? Some may view this story as a time to revisit the violence that young black males perpetuate in neighborhoods that rival war zones. While that may be a noble gesture it undermines the work that grass root activists are already doing. They get less face time and rarely get any financial help from the general public.

This type of bigotry diverts the attention of society at large from taking inventory on our violent culture. The question is are we willing to address the "image" problem of our country around the world? Will we continue to segregate this problem like most of our other ones? Will the image of one guy who did something dumb be the rallying cry for "what's really wrong with America" Or will we just move to the next story that is sure to kidnapped by the under current of agenda based media outlets. You should already which one my money's on.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Was 2K9 the year of the coach behaving badly?

Is it me or did some very prominent coaches fall of the wagon this year? The high school ranks even contributed to the madness. High school coach David Stinson was acquitted for the "accidental" death of a young player in the state of Kentucky.(Max Gilpin was the student lost is life due to heat exhaustion)

It's not like coach Stinson didn't have other examples to go on. I'm sure the widow of the late Corey Stringer could attest to how coach's have some responsibility in making sure players keep their bodies hydrated in such intense heat. Also coaches are responsible for having people on staff that monitor when a coach can't tell the difference between preparing his team and crossing the line. I can appreciate the pressure to win but is winning really the only thing Vince Lombardi? Here's some of the prime suspects of 2k9.

1. Michigan's Rich Rodgriguez

Rich Rodriguez danced around his abuse of the "twenty hour" rule by poorly justifying why he broke the rule in the first place. The players balked at the notion of more practice time considering their other duties like class and some sort of college life. Winning wasn't a by product of this idiotic behavior. Michigan hasn't seen a winning season yet under Rodriguez. If he flops in year three (which is a real possibility) look for a Michigan man(Jim Harbaugh) to be brought in to stop the bleeding. Still full of doubt? Check out Exhibit B.

2. Former Kansas Coach Mark Mangino

According to ESPN.com's Joe Shad, Mangino once scolded a player by using his brothers recent shooting death. The exact words from Mangino after an exchange with the player was "if you don't shut up I'm going to send you back to St. Louis so you can get shot up with the rest of your homies". I wish I was making this up but I'm not. This clown even had the nerve to try and defend his coaching style.

Kansas decided after an "investigation" it was time to part ways with Mangino. Isn't it fair to assume that this mess was happening when Mangino led them to a school record 12 wins in 2007? There are facts that point to his over as far back as 1996 when he was the running backs coach. This guy still managed to move up the ranks with this type of behavior. Is this one of the key components to why Turner Gill got the job at Kansas? Just one of those things that make you go hmmmm.

3. Texas Tech's Mike Leach

Exhibit C starts with the firing of Mike Leach at Texas Tech. I'm sure if enough "investigating" was done this guy could have been fired for silly antics like this a long time ago. Much like any other desperate program, Athletic Directors will sell their children to please the boosters and alumni by delivering wins on Saturday. Ego maniacs aren't born last night but at night. For every Tony Dungy and Bobby Bowden, theirs probably 15 Mark Mangino's and Mike Leach's.

Sure say I'm painting with a broad brush if you want but I'm willing to bet that there's a lot of adults who played for some abusive coaches on all levels. These people probably suffered in silence because what would we as a sportz public tell them? Suck it up! You're not disciplined enough. You're lazy! This is why I believe this problem is more prevalent than what any journalist will dare research and uncover.

As a sportz public we love to see the hammer dropped on the players. When authority figures behave badly we are more likely to defend them than loathe their behavior. Bob Knight got a lengthy pass because of his three national championships. The Indiana A.D. had no choice after the truth about Knight's violent behavior was caught on video. I do recognize that there's always a valiant minority that speak out on these issues but do we listen?

Some national media analyst, former players of Texas Tech ,and columnist even defended Leach by disclosing the kids practice habits as sub par. A guy is recovering from a concussion and the coach and not a Doctor tells your athletic trainer to put this kid in isolated room because it will help him recover faster? Is Leach qualified to prescribe this as a treatment to the concussion symptoms the young man was having? Or was this a case of another egomaniac "cracking the whip"? I'll take egomaniac for a thousand Alex.

Like Don Imus, the firing of Leach wasn't about the incident in question. It is about the bad publicity, the ongoing feud between the administration and Leach, and saving themselves from having to payout an enormous bonus. Nothing worse than having to keep your word to someone you can't stand. Look for Leach and Mangino to have jobs in three years or less. Rumors are already swirling that Leach could replace Mike Tyson, I mean Tom Cable in Oakland.

ESPN or some other major media network will do a follow up story on Mangino in about a year. This fluff piece will attempt to remake the image of a guy who's probably still bad. I know some of the peanut gallery will still say I'm reaching but why is it that Kobe, Ray Lewis, John Daly and Mike Phelps aren't public enemies anymore. For exhibit C do I have to bring up Slick Rick? (not the rapper and not the Nature Boy) Should the fighting pride of Oakland California step up to the podium? Rick Pitino and Tom Cable got off like fat rats. See the pattern yet?

Outside of the state of Kentucky did Slick Rick cause a public outcry for getting some "dessert" at his friend's restaurant? What's wrong with getting some at your friend's restaurant. Yes pervs I'm still talking about dessert. Did Tom Cable's imitation of Mike Tyson's punch out cause much stink outside of Oakland? The answer is no. Much like Pavlov's experiment, the sportz fan can be told virtually what to love, hate and cheer for. So here's to a new season of us accepting the same junk in favor of more wins and less losses. Here's to a new year of the Sportzfam calling it like we see it. Should be a wild ride!!!