I read the articles so you don’t have to

The September issue of Playboy has an article about Jose Canseco’s ex-wife Jessica, to go along with some photographs of her in which she’s wearing ballet shoes but seems to have forgotten to put on her tutu, or her leotard, or anything else a ballerina might wear. Actually, I take that back — she’s wearing leg warmers in a couple of the photos.

Anyway, the article is chock full of fascinating facts. For example, Jose met her at a Hooters in Cleveland, where she was only in her third day on the job — and the very next night, Jose made blooper-reel history with the home-run-bouncing-off-his-head incident. She says he likes his women “meaty,” so he often encouraged her to eat more. Also, she claims to have had sex with him in Fenway Park. And, yes, she reports that there was a lot of steroid-related testicular shrinkage, but since he was also taking human growth hormone, the other part of the frank-‘n’-beans combo was larger than normal. (They did have a daughter together, so everything was apparently working well enough.)

Things went badly once she realized he was cheating on her; she found such items as Jose’s private cell phone (she cracked the voice mail password and found messages from four women) and a little black book in which Jose had made copious notes about physical descriptions of various women so he could remember who was who. Her last-ditch effort to save the relationship was a menage a trois involving her, Jose, and a friend of hers, but it didn’t work.

Elsewhere in this issue of Playboy, we learn that “when you’re Hef, every day is an adventure,” as we have been learning in Playboy for over 50 years now. (I mean the royal “we,” obviously.)

Actually, there was some useful information in this Playboy, although it’s not baseball-related: I learned of the existence of this upcoming Rhino box set, although I’m a little dubious about the August 30th date, since it’s listed on neither Amazon.com nor rhino.com (although rhino.com only lists their releases for the 16th and 23rd).


Well, we’ve found out what it takes to get Congressmen pissed off about being lied to under oath these days: .289/.371/.516, with 569 home runs, 1834 RBI, and 3018 hits. The chair of the House Committee on Government Reform, Tom Davis III, has asked for information from MLB about Rafael Palmeiro’s positive steroids test. The committee is expected, says Congressional Quarterly, “to pay close attention to the timeline in baseball records” to determine whether the juice might have been responsible for the convincing bristle in Palmeiro’s mustache as he denied ever having been juiced.

Us ordinary folk, we just have to settle for writing a letter to the editor when we’re outraged. Congress is special. They can do something! They can order Palmeiro to shave that mustache and let them test every hair if they get a mind to.

You close followers of Congress in the audience will note that this is the first time Congress has paid close attention to anything since their surprisingly close interest in Mary Carey’s gubernatorial campaign.

And it’s the first time Congress has been outraged over possible perjury since the good ol’ innocent days in the summer of 1998, when, so a reliable source tells me, the most-searched terms of the online posting of the Starr Report at a certain major daily newspaper were “Sosa” and “anal.”

Too bad Palmeiro can’t be impeached! Think of the lesson that would teach America’s children about the seriousness with which Congress takes their duty to . . . uh . . . do whatever it is they do. Has the White House issued marching orders on Palmeiro yet?

Then again, if it does turn out that Palmeiro lied brazenly to Congress, then surely Karl Rove won’t waste any time before hiring him. After all, lying smoothly under oath is a skill that could come in mighty handy at the White House as Patrick Fitzgerald’s Amazin’ Prosecutin’ Machine keeps rolling.

10 innings

Acting as if I’m a real columnist having a lazy day, I present a “News and Notes” column!

1) Headline in the Sun-Times following the Palmeiro news: Caught ‘roid-handed. Another good headline this week, despite not being baseball-related, was the Trib’s headline announcing the appointment of a federal monitor to watch the city’s hiring practices: City gets a Hall monitor. I imagine the headline writers are all staying up late these days practicing their headlines in the hopes of Daley being indicted. Me, I’m just practicing my gleeful chortle. Maybe I’ll get to warm it up chortling over Rove.

2) Palmeiro and Sandberg are linked yet again, this time in Sandberg’s Fire Sermon in Cooperstown on Sunday being followed so closely by Palmeiro essentially giving back his “Redeem in five years” ticket to the Hall. Those of you up on Cubs gossip will know how they were linked before, but if you need a refresher, contact me in some way that enables me to tell you the story while not being sued for libel.

3) Albert Pujols has stolen 11 bases this season without being caught. Next up for Prince Albert: some work in the offseason on his change-up so he can pick up some innings out of the bullpen.

4) Speaking of running, poor Lenny Harris, in legging out a three-run double against the Cardinals the other night in Florida, catapulted himself to the top of my list of worst baserunners in the game. He’s been a slow runner for years, plagued by leg and weight problems, but these days, his build is Kruk-like and he runs as if he’s on two peglegs. If this were a backyard whiffleball game, everyone would agree on special slowness rules for his ghost runner.

5) TV Guide is changing its format to not have nearly so many listings. How will I ever know when Scooter’s going to grace my television? I guess I’ll have to go to Jeanniezelasko.com to find out. I wonder if Jim has any thought about the changes to TV Guide?

6) In a discussion at work the other day about how to encourage bloggers who have written about our products, the idea of just contacting them with a thank-you came up. Or maybe we should send them minor-league baseball tickets?

7) After the Sox/Tigers game I attended recently at Comiskey, I was walking out next to a girl who said to a friend, “There’s my bus, gotta go.” She looked up to the ballpark, blew a kiss, and said, “Love ya, Comiskey.”

8) After today, there’s a third of the season left, and Ken Griffey Jr. has still not visited the DL.

9) For a while a few weeks back, an image search for Johnny Damon brought up a certain pumpkin as the fourth response. It’s fallen back to ninth lately. Get to work, readers!

10) The Post-Dispatch reports today that the Cardinals are, after all, leaving KMOX and buying 550 AM KTRS. I think it’s a big mistake, as do many other Cards fans, and I’m sad to hear about it. KMOX was the Cardinals for me for my childhood. But this is really a topic that deserves its own post soon.

Some things gold can stay

To distract you all from the rat and pony show going on in DC today*, here’s a bit of good news passed on by BRPA reader Becky:
Five Red Sox players (Varitek, Millar, Mirabelli, Wakefield**, and our own Johnny Damon) will soon appear on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, but Johnny Damon has refused to cut his hair for the show. His reason? Because of his forthcoming book, he’s contractually obligated to keep it long! What a great idea! If anyone can get Craig Wilson to sign such a contract, please do. And while you’re at it, maybe get Matt Morris to sign something promising to shave that fungus off his chin?

*Excuse me if I can’t get worked up about publicity-hungry Congressmen feigning outrage over what Mark McGwire might have jabbed in his ass. Once our esteemed representatives can bother to get themselves worked up enough about, say, the fact that our troops were sent, ill-equipped and without a plan into a war of choice, then I’ll perk up when they want to grandstand about how baseball is harming our kids.

**Is being a knuckleballer the closest thing, in baseball terms, to being gay?

Original comments…

Jason: Were our representatives ever esteemed?

Jim: Similar sentiments were expressed on “The Daily Show” this week with regard to the steroid hearings, but I’m pretty sure Levi doesn’t watch “TDS” (it’s too hard if you don’t have a subscription for your TiVo), so this post was wholly original, not just the part about Craig Wilson.

Toby: Levi, Nice reference to the Robert Frost poem (which is also somewhat a reference to the Stevie Wonder song, “Stay Gold”) in the header. And yes, I believe being a knuckleballer is… (I laughed out loud when I read that)

thatbob: I think that now, more than ever, being gay in baseball is probably the closest thing to being gay in baseball. But being a knuckleballer might be the closest thing to being, say, a practicing Zoroastrian in baseball. (I was going to say being a practicing Zen Buddhist philosopher in baseball, but then I remembered Yogi Berra was a catcher.)

Levi: Yeah, I should clarify what I meant: clearly, the closest thing to being gay in baseball is being gay. But, since baseball is self-defined as macho–and straight–but the knuckleball is both not macho and not generally trusted, by non-knuckleballers, pitching coaches, and teammates, I think the grudging acceptance of a good knuckleballer by his teammates–i.e., “He’s on our side, so he’s okay, I guess.”–would be, I posit, kind of similar to the way a clubhouse would, after an adjustment period, deal with a teammate whom the team members learned was gay.

Bonds and Steroids

Given the illegal leaks from the trial last month of that shady character Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi were hanging out with, it’s become more difficult to believe that Bonds has not used steroids. I remain in the innocent until proven guilty camp (a camp that, along with great s’mores, boasts the absence of both our former and our soon-to-be Attorneys General), but assuming the testimony is accurate as reported, then Bonds is either dumb, which anyone who’s watched him play knows he’s not, or he used some steroids that his shady trainer gave him.

So say Bonds used steroids. How does that make me feel about his accomplishments, since I’ve spent the last few years in the “Bonds is probably the greatest player ever” camp? King Kaufman gave his take on it at Salon: Bonds has fallen, in Kaufman’s estimation, from best player ever to one of the best ever.

I still wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Then one day, it hit me. I realize this isn’t by any means a perfectly analagous situation, but I feel a lot about Bonds probably using steroids as I do about Bill Clinton getting blown in the Oval Office: I honestly don’t really much care about the act itself, but I am irritated that either man would be so dumb as to do what he did, knowing the tremendous, irreparable damage it would do to his overall achievements if it came out.

As I said: not exactly analagous. For example, while there’s no rule against getting Oval Office action, there is a rule against using steroids while playing Major League Baseball. And while the damage to Bonds’s reputation is sad for me as a baseball fan (and as a champion of players of this era as, overall, the best ever), the damage to the country from Clinton’s public gelding at the hands of Ken Starr’s inquisition is much, much worse. Bonds’s possible cheating was unfair to those who played by the rules, while Clinton’s definite cheating was only unfair to his family.

But other than that, I find I can’t get all worked up about it. Sure, I wish Bonds definitely hadn’t used steroids. I wish Clinton hadn’t unzipped. But that doesn’t fundamentally change what I saw. With Bonds, I saw the best batting eye I’ve ever seen coupled with baseball smarts, a fierce competitveness, and a punishing work ethic. Without steroids, I firmly believe he would still have been the best player of his generation–he was well on that path way back when he was still skinnny. With Clinton, I saw the best politician of our lifetimes, who, while frequently frustrating me on particular issues, left our country in much better shape than it was when he took office. The fact that the Democrats were unable subsequently to capitalize on that, though partially his fault, doesn’t change my perception of Clinton’s gifts.

We’re less than six weeks away from pitchers and catchers.

Original comments…

Dan: One small point, though… Steriod use was illegal only from the beginning of 2003 (I think), which makes him “legal” for certain for at least 613 of his homers.

Sure, if he was using it, it was an unfair advantage, from the standpoint that he used it and the pitchers (that we know of) didn’t. But it was within the rules, on a very technical level. And all those pitchers could have used the same drugs to enhance their performance, too, during the same period.

All that said, the greatest player of all time remains Howard Johnson. With Barry Bonds and Melvin Mora “among the best.”


Toby: In my opinion, he’s not even the best Giants player ever (Willie Mays) or the best Pirates player ever (Roberto Clemente). Of course that could be a little biased since he left the Pirates (and made no secret he was going to…

I just want to point this out for posterity: right now, as I’m looking at this blog, the two related-to-the-text-of-the-page “Ads by Google” at the top are headlined “Steroids For Sale” and “Buy Steroids Online.”

And then the “Related Searches” in the small print below the ads are “minor league baseball” and “Barry Bonds.”

Julio Franco just keeps getting better!

Yesterday or the day before, Andy Van Slyke, well-known for running his mouth*, accused Julio Franco of using steroids, saying, basically: Look at him–he’s like a hundred years old and still playing. He’s got to be on the juice.

To which Franco replied, “I am on the juice. The juice of Jesus of Nazareth.” What the hell he means, I have no idea, but I’ll go with it. Franco is now the first baseman on my team of entertaining goofballs. Let’s see: Doug Glanville in center, Julio Franco at first, Joaquin Andujar on the mound, Jim Bouton in the pen.

I guess my team still has some roster spots to fill. Suggestions?

*It’s amazing how much of the “Barry Bonds is an asshole teammate” line comes from Van Slyke and Jeff Kent, who, by all appearances, are assholes.

Oh, sovaldi sale and to explain the previous post: I had just been talking with someone here at the office about steroids and baseball and how the image of steroid abuse would be hanging over the whole season. So I wrote a post that was kind of continuing that conversation, the problem being that no one reading the post had been privy to the conversation.

Anyway, I promise this is my last word on the issue, unless Rabbi Klein is found to have been taking steroids during the heyday of the Diamond Kings.

30 days until Opening Day!

First off: I don’t much care about the steroids question, in part because we won’t ever know the truth. I do think maybe it’s time for the union to just give it up and offer a real testing plan. Not that I think they _ought_ to, or should feel ethically obligated to. I just think maybe they should consider it just to get all the chattering sportswriters and their disappointed eight-year-old souls to shut up.

One last thing for today, which I think I can promise on both of our behalfs: Jim and I will not be taking steroids before our trip, despite all the shady characters we will probably be associating with.

Bush dodges important issue

I have many thoughts on Bush’s press conference last night. But since most of those thoughts aren’t family-friendly, I’ll stick to this one:

What happened to the scourge of steroids? Aren’t they–along with gay marriage–ravaging our youth? Aren’t they shattering our trust in our sports heroes? It was just three months ago that they were important to include in the State of the Union address. Now, despite the prime-time slot, they rate nary a mention.

Maybe we’ve defeated them? After all, Barry Bonds only has three home runs so far this season, so clearly he’s off the ‘roids.

Maybe that can be Bush’s campaign slogan: “Vote Bush. At least he defeated steroids. Maybe.”

Back to baseball later. I promise. I’m just waiting to hear what Rickey Henderson‘s up to these days.