St. Louis manager Tony Walnuts on Dave Duncan: ”It’s not personal. It’s business. Now get the fuck outta here.”
Joe Strauss of the Stl-Post Dispatch reports today some news that can only be seen as a silver lining, should it happen, to the North Side of Chicago. Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan missed the Astros opener last Tuesday for “personal business,” and may move on from St. Louis. Duncan has been with Cards mgr Tony La Russa since Tony Walnuts’ 1983 White Sox. While the two have succeeded where ever they’ve gone, Duncan has not been happy with Card GM John Mozeliak’s keeping the Cards minor league pitchers outside the loop of Duncan and his staff up top. There’s also the issue of Chris Duncan’s treatment by the STL media and fans over his work last year, which was brutal. Although Chris D had a great 2006 (the Cards last postseason year), 2007-2008 saw a drop in production that Cardinals fans and management did not forgive. It only came out post-season that Chris Duncan played 2007 with a double-hernia, and currently, other ailments.
Well, certainly Chris Duncan found that out. La Russa has a reputation (around here anyway) for pushing injured players into playing when they shouldn’t. Indeed, Cardinal casualty Scott Rolen currently warms the Reds bench due to post-concussion syndrome. Tony Walnuts’ comments below on Chris Duncan appear as willfully ignorant as his comments after Jose Canseco outted Mark McGwire’s steroid use (basically, HUH!?!? On my team?!?!?). That said, the Cardinals bad news is good for the Cubs. Hopefully Dave Duncan is eyeing an AL team. Who knows, maybe Duncan spent his first missed game in decades in Chicago to discuss the team’s new ownership and future. Joe Strauss reports the following:
After blasting 22 home runs in 280 at-bats in 2006, Duncan’s breakout start to 2007 was sabotaged by a double hernia that neither player nor team confirmed until the younger Duncan submitted to surgery that September.
The conspiracy of silence repeated itself last season when a herniated cervical disc left Duncan with excruciating pain in his neck and numbness in his right arm and hand. He required surgery to replace the defective disc with a prosthetic, a first-of-a-kind procedure on an American professional athlete.
When Duncan’s performance began to erode again this season, the club never acknowledged a physical issue.
However, Duncan was scheduled to leave the club in Houston to be examined by his St. Louis surgeon, Dr. Dan Riew, the day after learning of the trade. (Dave Duncan had pushed for the exam.) Fearing what an examination might reveal, the younger Duncan refused to attend the appointment.
Dave Duncan reacted harshly upon learning of the trade the night of July 21. While reporters were shooed from the Minute Maid Park visiting clubhouse, Duncan lashed out at the team’s training staff in front of players for its handling of his son.
Reminded that Chris consistently denied his injuries when queried by reporters, Duncan insisted, “At some point the club should protect those who don’t protect themselves. Chris didn’t protect himself. And no one else protected him either.”
La Russa says his understanding of Chris’ hernia and cervical condition was less than total.
“Until the end I didn’t know the pain he was in,” La Russa said. “I would have never played him if I thought the hernia would become a double hernia or if he was having trouble sleeping at night. (Chris) shares that (responsibility). But by doing that, my respect is magnified for him. He thought, ‘If I could walk, I’m going to go out there.’”
Thanks to Jason Cohen for fwd’ing Maury Brown’s analysis of the recent Federal ruling forcing the government to return illegally confiscated test results of Major League Baseball players. Unlike most of us, Brown read the whole thing. Thanks to him, we know it contains some news regarding CSTB’s favorite cub reporter, Michael Schmidt of The New York Times. Brown writes:
As Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the majority in yesterday™s ruling, the leaking of names from documents that were under court seal, has done harm to baseball™s drug testing policy.
“The risk to the players associated with disclosure, and with that the ability of the Players Association to obtain voluntary compliance with drug testing from its members in the future, is very high. Indeed, some players appear to have already suffered this very harm as a result of the government™s seizure.”
The ruling then points a direct finger at The New York Times, citing examples:
See, e.g., Michael S. Schmidt, Ortiz and Ramirez Said to Be on 2003 Doping List, N.Y. Times, July 31, 2009, at A1; Michael S. Schmidt, Sosa Is Said to Have Tested Positive in 2003, N.Y. Times, June 17, 2009, at B11; Michael S. Schmidt, Rodriguez Said to Test Positive in 2003, N.Y. Times, February 8, 2009¦
At the heart of Schmidt and Roberts™ stories are one or more individuals (Schmidt cited unnamed lawyers) that had access to the œlist created by a federal investigator believed to be Novitzky (the list was created from an illegally seized spreadsheet in a mountain of other documents in what has been labeled the œTracey directory). Those individuals will now become the focus, as opposed to the players. As Donald Fehr and Michael Weiner said in a joint statement after the Ninth™s ruling, œAnyone who leaks information purporting to contain those 2003 test results is committing a crime.
Me, I don’t disagree that Schmidt might be on the receiving end of some legal ballistics, not that I want reporters to go through that. Confidential sourcing is vital to whistle blowing stories that make very positive differences in people’s lives. That said, Schmidt’s stories appear to be nothing more than a mix of amoral ambition (his) and an embittered, failed prosecution (the Novitzky team, facing an Obama future). If they go after Schmidt, he’ll be elevated to a status of 1st Amendment freedom fighter, obscuring something else: The New York Times can’t back up anything he has said regarding Sosa or Ramirez. That is, a reporters rights story will overshadow his incompetence. The players union disputes Schmidt’s 104 list at the heart of his stories. Schmidt himself stated he has never seen any testing or evidence. Players Association lawyer Elliot Peters now states that the 104 list is nothing but a spread-sheet concocted by Federal investigator Jeff Novitzky himself. If Novitzky created it, it’s hard to see how the players union, informants at the testing labs, or any “lawyers” (as per Schmidt), could have leaked “the list,” except the people who created it. As stated here several times, Schmidt looks to have been played by his sources and their agenda. I will also ask again: why were the 2009 names “ Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez “ all Latino? Why did each leak happen after notable, and typically arrogant (or shall we say, “uppity”) behavior by Rodriguez, Sosa, and Ramirez? Right now, it looks like someone with some real issues was out to get these guys.
Jason and I were e-mailing about the Scooter Libby/Judith Miller parallelto this (in how the gov’t fed Miller stories to their own advantage to appear in The Times) as well as the Howell Raines/Jayson Blair factor of a young reporter pushed up the ladder too fast. While I don’t think Schmidt in any waysought to deceive like Blair, it’s just too familiar a scenario coming from the NY Times. Schmidt’s done real damage to people’s careers here. Hopefully any civil suits coming will be paid by the Times, as I doubt he has the resources to pay off Sosa, Ortiz, and Ramirez. Still, once Judith Miller did her jail stretch, theTimes went through her stories and bounced her. After Schmidt based so much of his reporting on Novitzky’s 104 “dirty names” spread sheet, I hope he gets the same thorough review.
Btw, my offer to The New York Times still stands: Out any member of the 2005 “world champion” White Sox as a steroid user, and all is forgiven.
[Bush's steroid investigator, Jeff Novitzky: the man who can't prove Barry Bonds used steroids.]
[Thanks to David Williams for the link.] While it’s nowhere near as serious as torture investigations, Katrina, or invading countries on false pretenses, it’s nice to see one aspect of Bush Era overreach undone. In this case, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the Federal Gov’t to return test results confiscated illegally from the players union. The tests, once thought to name 104 players for banned steroid use, were confiscated by the government before they could be destroyed in 2003, as players were promised they would be. Since falling into gov’t hands, the list has been the basis of steroid stories naming ballplayers who agreed to be tested anonymously. That same list is now strongly disputed by the union itself for two reasons, 1) the players union says substantially fewer than 104 players tested positive, and 2) that the results can even be called “positive,” since at least 13 players tested “inconclusive,” as David Ortiz did. 8 others tested positive for then-legal supplements, and the rest “ who knows? Still, the myth of 104 positive tests is what the NY TIMES Michael Schmidt based his now unsupportable accusations on against David Ortiz, Sammy Sosa, and Manny Ramirez as confirmed users of banned substances in 2003. The NY TIMES can’t confirm what they tested for “ but “outted” the players using information from credibility challenged prosecutors anyway. The Silicon Valley Mercury News’ Howard Mintz reports the following on yesterday’s decision:
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s ruling marked the latest legal twist in a long-running court fight over baseball’s drug-testing program. The 9th Circuit slammed Justice Department officials for being overzealous, noting that they seized records that went well beyond 10 major league players linked to BALCO, including testing data from hundreds of baseball players and athletes from 13 other sports.
“This was an obvious case of deliberate overreaching by the government in an effort to seize data as to which it lacked probable cause,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a 9-2 decision by a special 11-judge 9th Circuit panel.
Jack Gillund, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco, said prosecutors are reviewing the ruling and evaluating their options, which now appear limited to appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court or dropping the issue.
Attorneys for the players praised the ruling but expressed concern that the damage has already been done to some players whose names have been publicly linked to the list.
“The unfortunate thing is that people illegally leaked information that was unconstitutionally seized,” said San Francisco attorney Elliot Peters, who represents the Major League Baseball Players Association. “People’s reputations have been damaged because of that.”
The 9th Circuit ruling came in a government appeal of three lower-court rulings that also barred the use of the testing results, which involved the league’s 2003 anonymous testing program to determine the extent of steroid use in baseball. Federal investigators seized the drug-testing records in 2004 in connection with the probe into the Burlingame-based BALCO lab.
For no good reason at all, I offer this 1985 WGN profile of Dick the Bruiser hosted by Jack Brickhouse and Steve Stone. I especially like the Bruiser’s dismissal of his wife for daring to speak during the interview (even tho they obviously get their hair bleached at the same place), the Bruiser’s skills on his pool’s diving board, vintage 80s shorts, and that impressive car collection.
[A shirtless photo of Zambrano could not be found at press time, so a CSTB staffer was asked to pose (thank you Rob Warmowski!)]
‘”I’m going to show her my guns so that she can call me lazy again,” Zambrano recently huffed at the Sun-Times‘ Chris De Luca, in a quite sensible response to Carol Slezak’s recent complaints about Z. Indeed, the Cubs went on an all-out PR campaign this week to refute the outrageous charge that Zambrano is lazy made by, well, Zambrano himself. Cub GM Jim Hendry confidently announced this afternoon that he isn’t at all worried about Zambrano’s paper mache back or recent admission that he’s “lazy.” That said, Big La-Z-Boy got blown out 15-6 tonight by the apparently fearsome last place Washington Nationals. The good news “ the Cubs actually hit 6 runs in ONE game, one of them a Zambrano solo shot. Zambrano’s lazy days of summer interview has been fuel for the fire of the What Happened To The ’09 Cubs Blame Game. While I’ve been remiss in covering Big Z’s casual work ethic, one thing’s for sure “ he’s but one problem of many. The Carol Slezak column that got Z to the gym gives a nice cataloging of Cub faults, and while she gives props to the ladies bathrooms at Wrigley, that offers this fan little in the way of practical good news. Worse, she presents the Cubs a sterling role model “ the South Side. Chris De Luca of The Sun-Times gives a sympathetic ear to Zambrano here:
He was particularly upset by a Carol Slezak column in the Sun-Times this week that included this message: ”If I were running the Cubs, I’d be looking for a way to make this lazy pitcher somebody else’s problem.”
Zambrano’s response: ”That lady that says I was lazy, I want to see her on Tuesday. I want to be with no shirt so that she can see my body, and she can see what type of body I have. If I’m lazy, lazy people don’t have this body, so I’m going to show her my guns so that she can call me lazy again.
”I’m sorry, people get hurt. We are human, and we get hurt. … We are not machines.”
The same Chicago press corps worshipped Kerry Wood. Many adoringly called him ”Woody,” prompting manager Lou Piniella to ask during his first season, ”Who?” You would never hear the Chicago critics blasting Wood. My gosh, he once struck out 20 Houston Astros.
Zambrano? Run him out of town.
One writer proudly announced in June — after Zambrano lost to the White Sox — that the Cubs should just release him and eat the rest of his $91.5 million contract. The bankrupt Chicago Tribune, which still owns the Cubs, promoted this idea as pure genius.
Apparently, Sam Zell’s attempts to jack up the price during the banking and credit collapse over the last year dragged the process out for 30 months for his pre-crash dream of getting $1 billion for the 1908 champs. Considering the 5% stake he retains, it looks like Zell came in about 10-15% under the total $1B asking price (if my English major’s math is right). In today’s economy, not bad. Zell’s troubles have been tastefully documented by CSTB, and I’ll miss the little guy. But, that’s the past, and Trib retirees and nervous pensioners will now have to fend without me. Republican rule in the nation’s capitol ended this January. Now its last stranglehold stronghold, Wrigley Field, goes, too. With the founders of Ameritrade running the show, I don’t expect to see Mayor Daley on the field anytime soon, but who knows? At least ol’ Joe Ricketts probably didn’t lobby as hard as the Tribune to keep us out of WW II. I like Dick Tracy comics as much as the next guy, but the Trib has been short on good ideas since its 1931 debut. On hearing the Ricketts news, some of the locals noted:
“Hopefully the Rickettses will spend money on the team” for good players and rehabbing Wrigley Field, said Devon Vowman, 21, who works at a sports shop across from the stadium.
“It’ll be nice for a family to own the Cubs that cares about more than the bottom line,” said his co-worker, Alex Sheehan, 20.
Yeah, I dunno if I’d look to the Ameritrade family to look past the bottom line much Alex. Devon, all I can say is, how much money does it take? The Cubs have a sizable payroll. Is that what’s holding them back? Unfortunately, the feel good story coming out of Wrigley 2009 remains the relative good health of Ryan Dempster’s big toe. From Opening Day, it’s been a birther-friendly press blitz on Bradley, Zambrano’s temper tantrums, Aramis Ramirez and Geo Soto benched all year “ and the inability of the Cubs to hit for anything. The Town Hall tea-baggers in the press box flipped out the day Milton Bradley was signed. They’re not to blame for the mediocre-to-terrible play this year, of MB or the team, but it sure left a bitter taste to go along with the acrid smells around Wrigley in 2009. No matter how it ends up, this season has been a bummer to watch. That’s not a money problem.
I can’t stand the Trib Co., but I can’t blame it in the last few years for not trying. Getting a solid closer, a non-psyched out line-up, ok “ but they obviously wanted to pump up the value of the team and make it an NL Central powerhouse to increase the sale price. But this summer, it’s the Cards picking up Holliday and Smoltz for October and managing to go the whole season without a concussion. We can’t even get Aramis Ramirez off the bench for a few weeks straight. At the end of the day, the White Sox had more use for Jake Peavy than the 2009 Cubs. Where did the Sox get $60 mil in Cubmoney to get Peavy, btw? You know, I see a Sox fan in a Benz, I think, “drug dealer.” Anyway, could the Cubs close an 8 game gap with the Cards in 2009? I dunno, why couldn’t they score 3 runs against the Dodgers last night? What’s the point of a pricey arm holding down the opposition to 2 runs when you can’t score 1?
As for baseball’s love of putting a friendly face on team owners, preferring family ownership to corporations,well, whatever. I’m not sure what difference that makes yet with Americketts. I mean, I sure don’t prefer family run businesses like the Wrigleys (Phillip K’s reign, for sure) or Marge Schott’s or the Yawkeys or the Seligs, to the $$$ Tribco put into the Hendry/Piniella Cubs. The Trib had a reason to pay for a winner in recent years. When winning is a profit motive, winning happens.
Please note, the Cubs always turn a profit, win or lose, due to fans of Wrigely Field more than baseball “ some would pay $845 million just for the park. Will the Americketts have the same incentive as Zell post-sale? Or will the need to pay down their extended credit line on the Cubs in a lousy market and cut payroll? I’m sure Cub fans love the idea of a bleacher bum, who lived in Wrigleyville, and met his wife in the stands, buying the team. Do I really want a true blue Cub fan owning the Cubs? Someone in love with the Wrigley mistake mystique of goat curses, day games, who’ll fight any changes to Wrigley that might ruin his Harry Caray nostalgia? If Americketts reasons that paying for a winner means paying off their loan, I’m sure winning will happen.
[RT @TomJolly Who is Michael S. Schmidt? He's the NYT reporter who is breaking all the steroids stories - at age 25.]
Who knew The Daily Planet and The New York Times had so much in common? I found out only after reading John Kolbin’s glown’ NY Observer profile of the fair-haired boy currently outting ballplayers on hearsay: Michael S. Schmidt.
Indeed, there’s been so much national fan outrage, fury over privacy violations, and CSTB Schmidt fact-checking that the NY Times public editor Clark Hoyt stepped up to defend Schmidt in the Sunday Times. Hoyt mentions Tom Jolly’s comments here at CSTB obliquely: “If the steroids story seems drawn out, it is because it is hard to get. Tom Jolly, the sports editor, said nobody is slipping the list of those who used drugs under the door: it is taking old-fashioned digging to get each name.” Indeed, my favorite Hoyt defense cites former Bush Solicitor General Theodore Olson. Hoyt says, Olson “told me he has never been bashful about criticizing The Times. In this case, he said, the paper acted legally and ethically. ‘It™s your duty,’ he said. ‘We need to know what the players were doing.’
In Timesthink, if they can get a Republican to agree with them, they must be right! However, Schmidt based his claims against Sammy Sosa on the gov’t list of players obtained by the Bush Administration (see Schmidt blog post below), so you’ll excuse me if support from a former Bush solicitor general like Olson for overreaching Bush prosecutors doesn’t carry as much weight around here as the Public Editor’s desk. The government’s aggressive confiscation of private medical records, and the players union demanding them back, is at the center of why the court sealed the evidence list. The names only started leaking in February 2009 with A-Rod when the Federal case against Bond collapsed (pardon my conspiracy theory).
The NY Observer confirms something I wrote when Schmidt broke the story, that he’s been chasing Selena Roberts at Sports Illustrated ever since she broke the A-Rod story last February. Not only did the Times blow it, but Roberts is an ex-Times reporter. As Kolbin relates, beating her was Schmidt’s way to a by-line “ and imo, he’s recklessly smearing players to do it. According to the NYO‘s Kolbin:
The steroids story that has rocked the world more than any other”more than Bonds, more than Clemens”was when Selena Roberts of Sports Illustratedbroke the story that A-Rod tested positive in 2003. She discovered the existence of the so-called List. Terry McDonnell, the editor of Sports Illustrated, told us it was the biggest break he’s seen since he began editing the magazine.
And because she won, it meant that The Timeshad lost.
“I knew what was going on,” said Mr. Schmidt, who said that “mistakes” led him to lose.
Ms. Roberts told me a few days after her big break, “I respect Mike Schmidt™s work a ton. He™s had more than his share of big stories. On this one, it went our way. I™m sure next time, it™ll go his way.
It did. Since the A-Rod story, Mr. Schmidt broke the stories of Sosa, Ortiz and Manny”all players on the List.
Scoop is still making mistakes. Roberts had A-Rod confirm her story “ that’s why we know she was right. Sosa, Ortiz, and Ramirez haven’t done Schmidt that favor, and he has yet to confirm any of them as users of banned substances. Not one. Ortiz’s test results were “inconclusive,” and Sosa and Ramirez have refused comment. All Schmidt can claim, to the satisfaction of the Times, is that they appear on the government’s list. Unfortunately for his Sosa story, that list has now been discredited twice.
Worse, here is Wiener’s statement on the varying lists: “The Players Association made clear in its public statement today that there are substantial uncertainties and ambiguity surrounding the list of 104 names from the 2003 survey test. Indeed, there is even uncertainty about the number of players on this 2003 government list, whether it is 104, 96, 83, or less. Many of those uncertainties apparently relate to the use of then-legal nutritional supplements that were not banned by baseball.”
At this point, the Times has to answer for Schmidt’s Sosa story. What I see: an overzealous young reporter takes the word of overreaching prosecutors that their list of 104 names is, no-question, hard evidence of banned PED use. The MLBPA says 96 (minus 13 inconclusive and 8 over-the-counter supplements) “ meaning 75 hardcore PED users. One thing’s obvious: Schmidt has no source in the players union that knows anything, or he would not have cited 104 in the Sosa story. Meaning, it looks more and more like Schmidt took the prosecution’s word at face value. He did so after several blows to the government’s credibility: scathing comments from Judge Illston, the list’s weak value as evidence, and the government’s bully tactics in obtaining it. Schmidt then used their list to cite Sosa a PED user. Here’s a Schmidt blog post from last June:
In the wake of the disclosures that Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa are on the list of the 104 players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, a number of commentators have suggested that the remaining 102 names on the list should be made public.
The commentators™ numbers are a little off. The names of two lesser known players and one of the game™s biggest sluggers have already been tied to positive tests in 2003.
Yep, gotta get those numbers juuuuuuuust right. What I’d like to know: As of Saturday, how does the Times justify the assumption that everyone on the list is “dirty” when the union flatly contradicts them? The Ortiz press conference states he’s “inconclusive.” The Sosa story itself says no one Schmidt talked to knew what Sosa’s test revealed.
The Times needs to explain or correct their assertion that Sosa is a PED user, or retract it.
Controversy or no, Schmidt fights on. Monday he profiled Jack Smalling, an Iowa crop insurance salesman, who has collected the home address of every single living ballplayer. Yes, he’s tracked them all down. Criticize all you want, but Schmidt’s dream of violating the personal privacy of every ballplayer lives on.
In the supposedly anonymous and confidential testing conducted in 2003, there were only 83 failed tests, MLBPA general counsel Michael Weiner said. There were 13 other tests with “inconclusive” results. Weiner specified that these refer to test results, not players. It is possible that players may have tested positive twice.
“The number of players on the so-called ‘government list’ meaningfully exceeds the number of players agreed by the bargaining parties to have tested positive in 2003,” Weiner said in a statement. “Accordingly, the presence of a player’s name on any such list does not necessarily mean that the player used a prohibited substance or that the player tested positive under our collectively bargained program.”
With 13 inconclusive, we can also remove some 8 more results from the “prohibited” list. As Schmidt wrote in the Times yesterday: “Officials in the commissioner™s office and the players union have said they believe at least 8 of the roughly 100 players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003 were using the supplement 19-norandrostenedione, which was sold over the counter at the time and contained a powerful steroid.”
So, 96 tests make up the list: 83 positive, 13 inconclusive, and of the 83, 8 for legal-in-2003 19-norandrostenedione. So, 75 illegal users? Which list was Schmidt using? The much-publicized 104, the union’s 96, or his vague “roughly 100?“ Or all three? Obviously, players appear on one list but not on another “ why? Do substantially different lists of players make up the different lists? Confusing, sure, but don’t look to the Times for an answer.
If the union’s 96 is right, and they should know “ the gov’t took it from them, it sounds like the killer number here is 75 players for illegal, anabolic steroids with 8 legal users (83). Did Schmidt get his names from the confirmed 75 or not?
In my recent back and forth here with Schmidt’s editor at the Times, Tom Jolly, he pointed out to me that Ortiz a) admitted he “failed” the test, and b) “The point is that banned substances were found in the samples from Rodriguez, Sosa, Ramirez, Ortiz and David Segui.” Actually, Ortiz confirmed his name appeared on a list, but did not know why. 13 tests, we now know, came back inconclusive. Ortiz and his union say he’s one of those. It means that unless Schmidt can verify specifically what Ortiz or other players he outted tested positive for, if they did test positive, he’s reporting that being on the list alone is de facto proof of using banned substances (as per Tom Jolly’s statement above).
As of today, that’s a rather reckless assumption if only 75 players of the “roughly 100” are confirmed as unquestionably positive. Do Schmidt’s sources know which listed players did not test positive for banned substances? Schmidt sure doesn’t. Unless Sosa, Ramirez, or Ortiz pull an A-Rod confessional for Schmidt’s benefit, his stories are so much hearsay and rumor.
Ortiz claims he did not know his result came back positive. As one of the 13 or more inconclusive results, that makes sense because Ortiz’ name does not appear in The Mitchell Report. As Schmidt wrote yesterday, “All players who tested positive in 2003 were told that their tests had been seized by the government, according to the report presented to Major League Baseball by George J. Mitchell ….” The report never cites Sosa, Ramirez, or Ortiz “ maybe because they didn’t test positive. At any rate, that’s as plausible as Schmidt’s vague sources.
Yesterday, Schmidt started posturing. The headline of his analysis reads: “Ortiz’s Explanation Is Unlikely to Reveal Much.” This assumes Ortiz has something to reveal. Today, Schmidt’s assumptions have less credibility on this than Ortiz. In the first paragraph of his story, Schmidt writes:
Since it was first reported nine days ago that the Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was among the roughly 100 major league baseball players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, he has repeatedly said he would get more information about the test result so he could provide an explanation.
Again, more like 75, as I read it, substantially fewer than the “roughly 100,” or 104, Schmidt cites in different stories, both of which “meaningfully exceeds” the real results. “Repeatedly” is an odd word, too, as if Ortiz is a liar, rather than that he’s answered the question repeatedly asked of him. You’ll find no recognition whatsover from Schmidt that he based his claims on an exaggerated or varying lists, as he now apparently accepts Weiner’s word on the union 96 list without question or challenge. As Weiner noted of the Times reporting:
œThe result is that any union member alleged to have tested positive in 2003 because his name supposedly appears on some list ” most recently David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez ” finds himself in an extremely unfair position, Weiner said in the statement. œHis reputation has been threatened by a violation of the court™s orders, but respect for those orders now leaves him without access to the information that might permit him to restore his good name.
Indeed, violations that Schmidt sought/received from anonymous, unreliable sources, with agendas unknown. I’ve asked repeatedly why all four leaked player names (including A-Rod, outted in Sports Illustrated) are Latino players “ and repeatedly why all but Oritz are well known, grandstanding, arrogant divas appearing to get some kind of petty payback via these leaks. It’s only my opinion, or “analysis” as the Times might call it, but I believe Ortiz’ name was thrown to Schmidt along with Ramirez’ in order to make that story a headline. Ramirez’ name alone isn’t steroid news after his 50-game suspension this summer. I mean, 2003 results are a bit of a so-what in his case. Ortiz’ name makes it a Boston World Series headline, and a screamer at that.
Schmidt then offers some self-serving For the Good of Baseball, Please Fess Up tripe:
The court restrictions also mean that the Red Sox faithful, who largely adore Ortiz, may not get full disclosure. Ortiz was a fan favorite as he helped the franchise end an 86-year World Series championship drought and add another title three years later.
Knowing the exact substance that Ortiz tested positive for would shed significant light on what he might have put in his body in 2003. What his fans and peers think of him and his hitting feats could be influenced by what illicit substance he is linked to.
Yeah, if only David Ortiz came clean and verified your threadbare story admitted his sins, those poor suffering Boston fans could find some closure. Mr. Schmidt, here’s an idea, how about you report the rest of the story? You didn’t with Sosa or Ramirez, and now you want Ortiz to confirm what you couldn’t find out about him? Since the Times story that started all this is so much gossip, maybe full disclosure of Schmidt’s weak reporting is what the Boston faithful need.
In today’s press conference, Ortiz gave his side of it. It’s on Schmidt to dispute it. Schmidt has another problem, i.e., following up on his claims re Sosa and Ramirez. Are they in the 13 inconclusive or 8-possible-positives for legal-in-2003-but-not-now supplements? Tom Jolly would say “no,” if they’re on the list they used banned substances. But how does he know?
Finally, Schmidt reported one fact that at least narrows down somewhat who’s been leaking to him. He wrote: “In a statement Saturday morning, Major League Baseball said it did not possess the list of names of players who tested positive in 2003.“ If MLB itself doesn’t know who is on the list, the lawyers he refers to in the Sosa and Ramirez/Ortiz story seem to be from the players union or the government. Maybe there’s lawyers on the players union side with their own self-righteous crusade to save baseball. Or maybe it’s the gov’t “ whose case against Barry Bonds fell apart last February, just as A-Rod’s name somehow leaked. I still say Schmidt got played by his sources.
Did Ortiz juice hardcore, needles and all, a la Mrs. Roger Clemens? These days it wouldn’t surprise me if he did. Still, I can’t say “yes” based on anything Michael S. Schmidt wrote “ nor can Schmidt. Since it appeared in the Times, however, Ortiz has been vilified over Schmidt’s inconclusive half-story. Boston’s Ortiz had the guts to hold his press conference in Yankee Stadium. I hope Schmidt has the nerve to hold his at Fenway.
Times sports editor Tom Jolly wrote in to CSTB’s comments section, pointing out a fact that needed correcting in my story. In both my responses to the Ramirez/Ortiz and Sosa stories, I said that Schmidt based his reporting on evidence thrown out of Federal Court by Judge Susan Ilston in the Barry Bonds case. That was my basis for saying the Times based their stories on “discredited evidence.” I still say it’s discredited, or at least too weak to prove anything on its own. Jolly’s correction gives me different reasons to believe this.
As Jolly points out, Judge Ilston allowed the Bonds test results to remain as evidence. As I gleaned from this report, it’s the 104 names list she has problems with, as well as much of the evidence needed to corroborate the Bonds test results. I misread the report and took that she wants the 104 names list tossed out, which includes the Bonds original test, later retested by the Federal Govt, allegedly showing that he took designer steroids. It’s the retest she’s allowing as evidence. Confusing? Yes, but I should have gotten it right.
What was thrown out was a pile of evidence corroborating the Bonds test results needed to prove him guilty. That is, without corroboration, the admissible Bonds tests aren’t enough. The government case against Bonds collapsed in February. The prosecution currently scrambles to find a new way to nail the Sultan of Surly. The Bonds test, and anonymous lawyers quoting the players’ 2003 test result lists, are all The New York Times has on which to base the credibility of their Sosa, Ortiz, and Ramirez claims. That’s the evidence that gets you nowhere in court on its own. If not “discredited,” it’s at least too flimsy to mean anything by itself “ unless you’re The New York Times. Selena Roberts’ A-Rod story for Sports Illustrated has something the NYT still doesn’t have “ a confession from the named player, vindicating the reporter’s anonymous sourcing and accusations. I imagine it’s what the Federal Gov’t wishes they had from Bonds, too.
I definitely stand corrected on the fact of what got thrown out of court and what didn’t. My own ineptitude aside for the moment, you can decide for yourself on whether the government’s evidence looks even more discredited because Bonds’ tests are admissible and the case still collapsed “ or not. You can also read the same flimsy, in-need-of-corroboration evidence Schmidt uses, and decide on the Times case.
Fact Correction Acknowledged. I’m sorry Jolly didn’t address the bigger ethical problems of what the Times is doing to player reps on such evidence. It’s the reason I wrote the stories I did. Michael S. Schmidt, in this blogger’s opinion, is still getting played by someone with a creepy agenda. Here’s Jolly’s comments section note to me, and my response to him.
Two points about Barry Bonds™s drug tests from 2003:
1. The 2003 test list has not been discredited. Judge Ilston threw out positive tests seized from the Balco lab because she said the government cannot authenticate them without Greg Anderson™s testimony. The judge is is permitting the government to present the results of Bonds™s 2003 tests.
2. Unlike Ortiz, Ramirez, Rodriguez, Sosa and Segui, Bonds™s name is not on the anonymous list of those who tested positive in 2003 because he did not come up positive when MLB conducted the test. However, the sample was later seized by federal authorities, who retested it for the designer steroids that Balco used and that™s when it came up positive.
First, thanks for the gentlemanly level of restraint in your response, something I probably don™t deserve, but then, around here, am never expecting. Re your two points:
1) I™m assuming you mean the judge is allowing the gov™t to present both Bonds™ players union result (negative) and then the govt™s retest (positive) “ all from the same sample. The judge™s admission of the govt retest adds up to the same thing “ it isn™t enough to nail the Sultan of Surly for something we all œknow, or assume, he did “ take steroids. That requires more evidence, something the NYT stories don™t add to the 104 names list. That seems pretty discrediting to me re the Ilston decision, in that the positive results don™t prove anything in and of themselves. So why does it matter what it says about Sosa, Ortiz, etc?
What Schmidt™s stories argue is that Sosa, Ortiz, and Ramirez are on the 104 list. That™s it. Ok, but that list isn™t helped much by its standing in the Bonds case. Also, apparently, it tests for some steroids but not others. Do you know which steroids? I had an asthma medicine with steroid in it “ would that show up on the 2003 test? Has the NYT investigated the specific medical procedures of the test and which steroids it detects? If you want me to believe this list matters, I™d like to know some of that (more on this below).
2) well, that™s why I included Schmidt™s background stuff on the 2003 tests in my post, to point out that Bonds was positive on the retest, not the initial test.
Here™s some other stuff that™s come up since I posted this piece: Nomar Garciaparra™s interview, wherein he further questions the credibility of the 104 names list as false and rigged by players:
If Michael S. Schmidt is in the mood to make some calls, I hope NG is on his list. Garciaparra specifically states players from the White Sox lied and said they were positive. That™s a lead, right? A day later (the same day?) White Sox mgr. Ozzie Guillien said he wants the whole 104 list released instead of the drip-drip-drip list of names. As a Cubs fan, I definitely want to know which Sox are on the list and how many played for the 2005 WS championship team. I would forgive Schmidt everything on a purely partisan level if he publishes that list. Again, though, Nomar raises questions about the testing process “ what was it? How does a player just put himself down as œpositive? You could opt out of physical testing if you just put œpositive? Is that the list you want to damn these players with?
Secondly, here™s a timeline that bothers me: 1) the A-Rod/steroids story broke in SI as the gov™t™s case v. Bonds crumbled and A-Rod was on a long, off-season PR binge of Madonna, money, and sex workers. 2) When Sammy Sosa announced his retirement he smarmily said he planned to wait by the phone for his call from the Hall of Fame. A week later (?) Michael S. Schmidt ran his Sosa story, handing Sosa a timely comeuppance. 3) Manny Ramirez gets busted for steroids, does a 50-game suspension, and comes back to standing ovations from LA fans and seemingly no dent in his career. Within a month, Schmidt ran the Ramirez/Ortiz story. Why the coincidence of Ramirez/Ortiz™ names doled out at once, btw? That™s as nice a built-in an angle as the Sosa take down, as both were on the Curse Breaking Red Sox team. Nice of those anonymous lawyers to provide your angles, I guess.
Given the timing of all three stories, whose agenda is the NYT on? I realize you can™t reveal sources, but whoever leaks these stories sure has it in for smug, unapologetic players who your sources know to be on that 104 list. This is why I think Michael S. Schmidt looks like he™s being played (unless he™s calling the lawyers first in order to knock the players down a peg). After Garciaparra™s public statement, I fully expect Schmidt to get a call about him. Or, that the next player the NYT outs will have some similar recent public hubris some anonyous lawyer feels he needs to pay for. Are you at least confident that the lawyers familiar with the case aren™t all the lawyers on the same team with the same agenda? Schmidt looks like he™s taking dictation on these stories, and not asking around for information to balance anything beyond what™s given him. I mean, thanks for the press release, but does the NYT have anything to add to anonymous lawyers attacking players, or is a sensational leak really news enough? I think Schmidt™s stories serve people with a nasty, petty vendetta of some sort.
Why are all the 2009 stories about Latinos? I ask not because I believe the NYT has a problem with Latinos “ Selena Roberts wrote her A-Rod story for œSports Illustrated, not the NYT “ but who ever doles out the names for you has offered up only Latinos.
Finally, is Schmidt looking into which steroids these players tested positive for? So the players tested positive on this creaky list “ for what? how much? Is the test just +/- like Garciaparra says, or is there more detailed information that would give us a clear picture of abuse, severity, or possibly legitimate use of medicines prescribed by doctors (again, like my asthma medication). Players™ careers and reputations are getting permanently damaged by the NYT, so it™d at least be considerate to ask such questions or make clear some limitations on what you know “ adding context and the possibility that not all these players are dead to rights cheats because of a questionable list and shady leakers.
All in all, if Obama had me and Michael S. Schmidt over for a beer, I might not call him names, but I™d still have some real issues with how the NYT handles these stories. Thanks for writing in “ as a freelancer myself, I doff my hat to any editor who sticks up for his writers.
This is what a baseball reporter looks like, i.e., a working man. This is not Michael S. Schmidt.
If it can still be called news, word comes from The New York Times’ Michael S. Schmidt today of two more names added to the list of those who allegedly tested positive for steroids in 2003. Today, Yankee fans will be happy to see Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz’ from the World Series Curse Breaking Red Sox. Curt Schilling haters can now sneer that his World Series ring was won with a needle. Unfortunately for Bosox haters and those hoping to read a credible story, Schmidt continues to base his allegations on discredited evidence. Like his Sammy Sosa story a few months back, Schmidt relies on the evidence thrown out of Federal court as inconclusive in the Barry Bonds case. If a Federal Judge threw the Bonds results out, why are results from the same batch of results now conclusive for The New York Times re Sosa, Manny, or Ortiz? They’re not, and one guesses the attorneys who fed Schmidt these stories, and Schmidt himself, hopes for an A-Rod style confession as vindication. If it’s not forthcoming from Sosa, Ortiz, or Manny, then Schmidt actually has some reporting to do, besides waiting for his phone to ring. As steroid fans will recall, at no time could the results said to belong to Bonds from this same batch of tests actually be proven to be Bonds’ results “ it needed corroboration from his trainer, Greg Anderson, who refused to talk. It’s why the Federal case against Bonds fell apart in February ’09, and exactly when the names of the 104 started to leak to the public “ ie, February ’09. Chasing after Selena Roberts’ A-Rod admission of PED use, Schmidt continues to play mouthpiece to lawyers familiar with the case who taint player reputations with No Credible Evidence. If I read Schmidt’s story correctly, he has not personally seen any evidence, shows no sign of making the link Federal prosecutors failed to make, and he has no other sources.
What’s getting so pathetic about The New York Times’ sporting coverage comes down to three current/former NYT staffers: Michael S. Schmidt, Murray Chass, and Selena Roberts. Chass’ “backne” fiasco re allegations of Mike Piazza and PEDs, and Schmidt’s threadbare accusations against Sammy Sosa, are equally ludicrous at this point. Roberts took heat for her anonymous sourcing, a standard if imperfect journalism practice, but guess what “ she’s the only one proven correct. She certainly beat the Times out on this story, and Schmidt obviously hopes to catch up and score the same kind of admissions but with much weaker sourcing. There’s a difference between using anonymous sources and letting them use you. We’ll see if Ortiz or Sosa ever confess, as A-Rod did with Roberts, and save Schmidt’s rep from that of “backne” level journalism. Again, as I’ve said before, it wouldn’t surprise me these days if my three-year-old tested positive for steroids, much less a Sosa or Ortiz. Still, Michael S. Schmidt is getting played here. He needs to actually report something or forever look like what he is today, a shill.
As Schmidt relates here, his story is based on nothing but the following:
Baseball first tested for steroids in 2003, and the results from that season were supposed to remain anonymous. But for reasons that have never been made clear, the results were never destroyed and the first batch of positives has come to be known among fans and people in baseball as œthe list. The information was later seized by federal agents investigating the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes, and the test results remain the subject of litigation between the baseball players union and the government.
Five others have been tied to positive tests from that year: Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Jason Grimsley and David Segui. Bonds, baseball™s career home runs leader, was not on the original list, although federal agents seized his 2003 sample and had it retested. Those results showed the presence of steroids, according to court documents.
The information about Ramirez and Ortiz emerged through interviews with multiple lawyers and others connected to the pending litigation. The lawyers spoke anonymously because the testing information is under seal by a court order. The lawyers did not identify which drugs were detected.
If it happens to Bud Selig, it’s news. Just ask Selig, who turned his 75th birthday into an opportunity to “address the fans” and allow callers to celebrate Selig. Celebrating Bud, it’s the national pastime of the national pastime, and Bud has lots to boast about. This year, Selig recently beat back cancer, and while we wish him well, it’s also hoped that the every-three-months check-ups he receives will be available to everyone soon. So, while you may not have a job, healthcare, and fear of a black planet may have driven you to question whether your President is an American citizen, if he hates white people, or men actually walked on the moon, at least Selig is there for you to take some comfort in his success “ even when attendance is actually down. Here, Selig reminds us how much money baseball is making, a predicted $6.5 billion this year “ altho not how that might come back to fans whose towns pay tax breaks for new stadiums or endure high ticket prices. As for baseball’s drug policies, well, blame the unions entirely, of course.
“One of my proudest accomplishments has been watching this game grow to the heights that no one ever dreamed possible,” he said. “Attendance this season is down 5 percent, but if you take into account the reduced capacities of the two new ballparks in New York, it’s actually down only 3.8, 3.9 percent, which is amazing given the economy. I’ve had more people in the business world say to me, ‘You ought to announce that. What a dramatic story that is.’ You’re talking about other businesses that are off 30 percent to 40 percent. This may be our greatest year ever given the environment.”
As for the drug policy, Selig said: “We went through the cocaine era in 1980s, which was terribly significant. There were the Pittsburgh drug trials. Four people went to jail. They couldn’t get the Players Association to agree to a testing program. And [former union executive director] Marvin Miller says to this day that if he were still in charge, we wouldn’t have one. I’m proud of where we are. We’ve accomplished far more than anyone before me had ever done or anybody had any right to expect. This sport is being cleaned up. I understand the chemists are working hard on a test for human growth hormone. Believe me, once there is one, it will be there. We’ll put it in.”
Selig’s official MLB tenure began in 1970 when he headed an ownership group that bought the failing Pilots and moved the team from Seattle to his home town of Milwaukee just days before that season. He was named interim Commissioner in September 1992 and was elected by the owners permanently six years later.
Selig was slated to retire at the end of this season until the owners extended his contract last year through Dec. 31, 2012. As such he will outlast the heads of labor, the duo that made the MLB Players Association perhaps the toughest union in all of sports.
“That’s very interesting when you think about that,” Selig said.
[Piniella at the White House today, sensing ... destiny?]
Early this week, I delivered a Olbermann-intoned Special Comment on President Obama’s dimming popularity and his palling around with the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols at the 411th All Star Game. Obama, of course, did it in his ever-present 1980-era black satin Members Only Presidential White Sox jacket. The White House jumped on this political poison pill, immediately bringing Cubs manager Lou Piniella in for a five minute personal meeting today with the President (and lunch with token Cub fan advisor, David Axelrod). Naturally, Piniella was bowled over by the Obama charm offensive. Me, I’m not so forgiving of the All-Stain Game hug with Pujols. Will it save healthcare? I don’t know. It better.
That said, the Cubs ruined their former manager Jim Riggleman’s debut in a Nats uniform, beating the beltway national leaguers 6-2 behind Rich Harden. The Cubs did go out and sign yet another reliever for their bullpen over the break in the form of former Blue Jay, B. J. Ryan. Ryan will begin his Cub service in the minors at Mesa, AZ, then move up to AAA Iowa, with hopes he can help Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol out later this year. Ryan’s contract has $15 mil on it — and the Blue Jays still released this guy last July, with a 1-1 record and 6.53 ERA in 25 games. Talk about writing off a loss. The Cubs have turned other players around, most recently Jim Edmonds and “ ok, the jury’s still out — Fukudome, but at the very least his signing will enliven DC Cub fan Chris Lehmann’s repertoire of Cub tweets from “fuck you, Kevin Gregg” and “fuck you, Aaron Heilman” to something along those lines re B. J. Ryan.
[Sox fan Obama pals around with NL Central terror, the Cards' Albert Pujols “ could there be a more politically poisonous combo of teams?]
I haven’t had much time to cover the Cubs’ .500 first half of late much less the NL Central, but as Keith Olbermann would say, Events Insist. If you’ve read about President Obama’s dwindling popularity, on the verge of passing much needed healthcare reform thru Congress, the explanation is right here: a very public embrace of St. Louis’ Albert Pujols. If you thought Obama’s knowing Weatherman Underground member Bill Ayers was overblown political season hyperbole, there’s nothing Team Obama can do to deny this picture.
As Albert Brooks once pointed out, every baseball game in America starts with the National Anthem, and yet one team always loses. Today, I’d like to break with that tradition and post this poem, with fireworks, by St. Louis legend Jack Buck. This way, none of us are losers.
[Ozzie's moonwalk tribute to Michael Jackson, who is reportedly gravely ill as we go to press, at Saturday's game. If Bill Veeck isn't around to hire midget players, Sox fans at least get this.]
In a story that appeared here Sunday, I mistakenly paraphrased White Sox mgr Ozzie Guillien on the subject of Cubs mgr Lou Piniella, whom he sided with, when Piniella publicly disciplined OF Milton Bradley during Saturday’s game. Ozzie noted that players should police their own dugout, not the managers and coaches, which I took to mean that he thought not just Bradley, but all modern players, are shit. Then Lou noted that it takes a Cubs appearance at Sox Park to sell the park out, and Ozzie, the South Side’s ambassador to the United States, was asked why:
After Cubs manager Lou Piniella pointed out the spike in attendance from 22,000 when the Dodgers faced the White Sox last week to a full house when the Cubs visited U.S. Cellular Field this weekend, Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was asked why attendance was so low for the Dodgers series.
“Because our fans are not stupid like Cubs fans,” Guillen said. “They know we’re [expletive].”
Guillen said Cubs fans will watch any game at Wrigley Field because “Wrigley Field is just a bar.”
[Milton Bradley's slow burn, just before his Gatorade machine smackdown.]
When I got e-mail yesterday asking if I knew about the Lou v Mitlon dispute, I hoped it was a ribald steam room story about Lou Costello and Milton Berle with the punchline, “Come on Milton, just take out enough to win.” Nope, Boo Bradley, for whom I should be on retainer at this point, spent part of the Cubs 8-7 loss yesterday to the hated pale hose arguing with umpires. Bradley’s right, he does get handed a different set of rules from umpires. Lou’s also right, Bradley’s wasting his time and hurting his team by engaging in fights he’ll never win. Lou, who spent the off-season reading “psychology” books he bought off Amazon, laid into Bradley and called him a “piece of shit” in the dugout and sent him to the showers “ but not before Bradley went after the Cubs’ beleagured Gatorade machine. Well, the Sox’ s machine, as the Cubs’ Gatorade machine was removed for its own safety. Bradley sought solace in the local Chicago media, and Paul Sulliivan was only too happy to climb up on a chair to give Milton a shoulder to cry on, here. “If it’s a motivating tactic and he’s taking a different switch since people are saying he didn’t have fire, then I understand. I take a lot of heed in what he has to say. It matters. I take it to heart, and I’m better for it.” Glad to hear it. The Cubs then lost today, 6-0. Watching Lou lose his temper brought out some sympathy from the one man in Sox Park who knows a player beat down well, Ozzie Guillien. As Ozzie said:
“You know what™s funny, because players now, they™re scared to take charge because they might lose the relationship of his teammate,” Guillen said. They might lose a friendship. I remember when something was not right in the clubhouse or the dugout, players took care of that.
“Now, the manager and the coaches have got to be the guys to do it. I don™t think players now in baseball, they don™t have the guts to get on his teammates for something they do wrong. We™re missing that. I think that™s the reason Lou has to be the guy taking charge or me taking charge. I remember when players don™t like something about your teammate, they jump on your (rear) and get on it. If you like it, you like it. If you don™t, that™s the way we™re going to do stuff here. Now, the players are scared. I don™t say it™s respect. I think most of the time they™re scared about losing a relationship. I think the players don™t take charge anymore.
In other Cubs news, I’m officially voting for Geo Soto on my all-star ballot since Soto tested positive for a PID, performance inhibiting drug. ESPN reported Thursday that Soto tested + for marijuana during the World Baseball Classic (“claaaaaaaasic, dude!” he called it, while laughing stupidly), and has not served a day in jail. This news got tsunamied by another drug addict having a bad Thursday, so you may not have heard. Is there an asterisk for players who make their job harder? It should note that Soto’s BA .228 for the year, had he not been stoned, would be somehwere in the .260s right now. I hope the HOF judges keep that in mind while voting, is all I’m saying. Fans worried about his future can chill, as Soto says the dope has NOT killed his love of the game. “I am fully dedicated to the game of baseball and my teammates, and I apologize for any distraction and embarrassment this may cause them,” he said three times in a row.
*** Update 06/17/09: On rereading the NY Times story, there is no proof that Sammy Sosa tested positive for anything. The NYT only reports an accusation from an attorney Schmidt uses as a source. While it will come as no surprise if Sosa should actually test positive, Schmidt’s only source is someone familiar with the 2003 testing results “ the same results tossed out of Federal Court in the Bonds case because they are inconclusive. Schmidt offers nothing to bolster the 2003 testing results in his story. So, while I kid Obama, Sox fans, etc., I’d really like to ask the Times, what else have you got?***
The obvious attempt to demoralize the Cubs on the eve of this year’s North Side/South Side Chicago Civil War Reenactment fools no one, Mr. Obama. It smacks of Cub fan Rod Blagoevich’s fall from the grace as you ascended to the White House. A cheap shot, SIR*, and I hope Bobby Jenks gets bitten by a clubhouse rat tonight and Ozzie gets hit on the head by falling concrete in the Wrigley media room. [* nasty formality, borrowed from Keith Olbermann.]
In 2009, it’s a bigger surprise that Sosa announced his retirement than that he tested positive for, so far, unknown PEDs. In 2004, the Federal government confiscated 104 confidential drug tests of major league ballplayers that they had no jurisdiction to take. Since then, the once confidential tests have dribbled out one by one to nail a number of players “ most recently, A-Rod “ and today, Sammy Sosa. To no one’s surprise, Sosa failed a drug test during his stay with the Cubs. In true Cub fashion, Sosa managed to test postive for PEDs only in his rapid decline as a power hitter, when he hit 40 HRs after consecutive seasons in 98 and 99 when he hit 60 or more each. I mean, a Yankee takes PEDs, they win pennants. Us?
For the majority of sports media, Sammy the Dope Fiend is the story to cover, as they reexamine Sosa’s asterisk-bait records, his recent “retirement” from active player status, and his claim to “calmly wait” for his call to the Hall of Fame. My only question is how Sosa managed to test positive in 2003 and yet stay off the Mitchell Report which, apparently, did not have the 104 tests available to them. If the latter, it means anyone named on the Mitchell Report was done-so outside of the testing by MLB, so there’s much more evidence to come, and much more evidence out there than suspected if the Report did not need the 104 tests.
The other story, the one worth covering, is this: Illegal search and seizure, followed by the release of confidential medical records used to destroy private citizens careers and reputations, because some anonymous gov’t hater says so. And If you want to debate that players “deserve” this, please post those comments to Murray “backne” Chass’ blog. It’s irrelevant compared to the violation of basic Constitutional rights going on from the Bush Adminsitration up through, one assumes, Obama’s Justice Dept. Until last week, Sosa was history, a punchline everywhere but Vineline. Then his retirement brought him into the news and his positive medical records leak out to The New York Times’ Michael S. Schmidt. A-Rod was the last victim of the release of these records, and it coincided with his Ynkee media implosion via Sports Illustrated and ex-Times staffer Selene Roberts. A-Rod is always a headline,with off-season Page Six appearances, dvorce court, hooker dates, Madonna photo ops, and everything else that makes him a perfect target. Sosa’s arrogance last week cost him some apparatchik’s ire.
Today’s story brings us a little closer to at least knowing whose doing the damage, when Michael S. Schmidt tells us, “Sammy Sosa, who joined with Mark McGwire in 1998 in a celebrated pursuit of baseball™s single-season home run record, is among the players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, according to lawyers with knowledge of the drug-testing results from that year.” I’m just guessing, but I don’t see an obvious motive as to why an MLB Players Union attorney, currently fighting for the records to be returned, would want Sosa information leaked. Then again, I still don’t understand why the union never followed through on its promise to destroy the records in the first place. To my mind, that leaves the Feds who confiscated them. Schmidt’s story is here. Schmidt, of course, is bound to cover a story like this. It’s every other reporter’s job to find out if our government is currently using our tax dollars to destroy private citizens’ careers.
The 2003 test that ensnared Sosa was the first such test conducted by Major League Baseball. Under guidelines agreed upon with the players union, the test results were to remain anonymous but would lead to testing with penalties the next year if more than 5 percent of the results were positive.
That is indeed what occurred. But for reasons never made completely clear, the test results were not destroyed by the players union and the 104 positives were subsequently seized by federal agents on the West Coast investigating matters related to the distribution of drugs to athletes.
The union immediately filed court papers alleging that the agents had illegally seized the tests, and over the past six years judges at various levels of the federal court system have been weighing whether the government can keep them. An 11-judge panel in California is preparing to rule in the case, but regardless of its verdict, the losing side is expected to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
The lawyers who had knowledge of Sosa™s inclusion on the 2003 list did not know the substance for which Sosa tested positive. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified as discussing material that is sealed by a court order.
Naturally, as the legit single season HR king, Sosa now has his sites on the Hall of Fame. Given that Sosa a) has never been confirmed as a PED user or even named on the Mitchell Report, and b) he was a Cub, I’m all for this. The case for Sammy’s induction is of course based on his 609 home runs and his single-season HR records. Here’s a couple things we should also consider. In never being confirmed in a steroid scandal, Sosa never forced Hall of Famer Peter Gammons into the embarrassing, dignity-denying, reputation tarnishing role that A-Rod put Gammons’ in after the Selena Roberts story broke. So, you know he’s got PG’s vote in four years.
I’ll say this much, whatever the steroid reality of Sammy Sosa, 545 HRs as a Cub is a lot, and the Cubs got more for their money out of him than they ever got out of Mitchell Report all-stars Wood and Prior. The Cubs owe Sosa no matter what, if only for single-handedly bringing some dignity back to Wrigley, such as it is. The Trib‘s Paul Sullivan interviews Derreck Lee on Sosa’s Hall legitimacy here:
“I think he carried this franchise a long time,” Lee said. “I think it would be fitting. Obviously he has had the [steroid] allegations against him, but nothing has been proven. I think you have to do something for him. “The guy was the franchise for a long time, put up Hall of Fame numbers, and put fans in the seats.”
The Cubs have no current plans to honor Sosa. He left on a bad note after the 2004 season and was traded to Baltimore for Mike Fontenot and Jerry Hairston in 2005. Former Cubs President John McDonough ended the cold war between Sosa and the Cubs during spring training of ’07, but Sosa went back to being an invisible man upon McDonough’s exit, and he has had no recent contact with anyone in the organization. He didn’t play last season.
Lee believes Sosa will be brought back to Wrigley to be honored, though he’s not sure if it will occur while he’s still around.
Should Sosa be elected to the Hall of Fame in spite of the suspicions?
“His numbers [say so],” Lee said. “Nothing has been proven. I don’t think you can keep him out just on the assumption. I guess you have the corked bat stuff [from 2003], but that’s all you have that’s proven against him. I think if you look at the numbers, he’s easily a Hall of Famer.”
[Zambrano declares declares home plate the "people's plate" at Wrigley.]
Carlos Zambrano this afternoon offered the kind of Wrigley meltdown that Chicago sporting scribes have been predicting Lou Piniella would throw, and should throw, for three years running “ and that Milton Bradley would inevitably throw every day. Even MB himself commented that “It was on a Bradley level.” Umpire Mark Carlson called Pittsburgh’s Nyler Morgan safe after a wild pitch from Zambrano, which allowed Morgan to score from 3rd. Video backs up Justice Carlson on this, but Zambrano offered a dissenting opinion. Zambrano’s flare up got him kicked out of the game, which he quickly responded to by throwing Carlson out of the game, as seen here.
[Zambrano puts The Whole Damn System on trial.]
Paul Sullivan reports the game, and Z’s prodigal return to the North Side “ and even got a quote out of Milton Bradley, here:
Carlos Zambrano received the official Milton Bradley seal of approval after being ejected on Wednesday and throwing a temper tantrum for the ages in the Cubs 5-2 win over Pittsburgh.
“That was pretty impressive,” Bradley said. “It was on a Bradley level.”
That it was, and soon the Cubs will find out whether or not Zambrano’s tantrum will be grounds for suspension.
After arguing with plate umpire Mark Carlson after Nyjer Morgan stuck his left hand around Zambrano’s tag to score the tying run in the seventh inning, Zambrano made contact with Carlson, putting his shoulder into the umpire.
Zambrano could be suspended for as many as 10 games for his conduct, depending on the review of the umpire’s report to Major League Baseball.
“I’m a competitor and I think he was out, but that was his call,” Zambrano said. “I over-exaggerated after that play to throw the ball [into left-center field] and to do the other things. But hopefully MLB will review the play and we’ll see what happens.”
Zambrano would not discuss whether he made contact, though the Cubs insisted it was Carlson who initiated the contact.
“If you look at the film the umpire sort of walks in a little bit,” manager Lou Piniella said. “The league makes that determination, but you’ve got to be more careful than that.”
Carlson was not available after the game. Crew chief Tim Tschida confirmed a report was being sent to MLB, but declined to comment.
Cubs catcher Geovany Soto said he couldn’t keep Zambrano from getting into Carlson’s face.
“I was kind of far away,” he said. “I was disappointed at the call, and when I looked, he was already tossed.”
Even after his crazy routine with Carlson, where he pretended to be thumbing the umpire out of the game after he’d been ejected, Zambrano was not finished. No, in fact, he was just starting.
First he launched the ball towards the left field warning track.
“I was kind of disappointed,” Reed Johnson said. “I thought it was going to go up into the stands. The wind was blowing in today.”
That’s nonsense. Judge Sotomayor ruled on a NLRB petition seeking an injunction against the owner’s 1995 lockout of the players. As I noted at the time, the court hearing the matter would be making a straightforward ruling on labor law: and the owners were plainly in the wrong legally by their conduct in the labor negotiations. Any judge randomly assigned to the case would have made the same ruling. Indeed, a three judge panel of the Second Circuit, in an opinion by conservative Judge Ralph Winter, unanimously upheld Sotomayor’s grant of the injunction.
To say that the judge in the case saved baseball (or expressed sympathy for highly paid baseball players, as Kathryn snarks below) is making the very mistake that separates conservative viewpoints on the role of the judiciary from Obama’s view of the judiciary as activist. A judge acts as an umpire, making the calls of balls and strikes: neither the judge nor the umpire is supposed to decide that one party is more sympathetic than the other and deserves the benefit of the ruling.
Presidential hyperbole or not, 90% of life is showing up, and she made a competent ruling “ not to be taken lightly in post-Bush America “ so, yeah, she gets credit for moving the season forward.
I quote Frank, though, as yet another conservative making that tired umpires = Supreme Court Justice equation. They apparently have no idea what umpires do for a living. It’s the Court’s job to rule on the Constitutionality of laws — they invalidate or uphold them via decisions of lower courts. Umpires don’t invalidate or validate baseball rules “ they are the lower court. Umpires don’t strike down the infield fly rule or shift the score in a game to help a team disadvantaged by a smaller payroll over a big city team (except in the case of the Pirates and Cubs last night “ WTF!?!?!?). It wasn’t the umpires who invalidated “seperate but equal” in baseball and let Jackie Robinson play. It was the Court, in Brown v Board of Education, that desegregated schools. Umpires didn’t even decide the recent Milton Bradley 1-game suspension dispute. Disputed decisions are settled by MLB, a higher authority, that also determines which rules go into effect each season. Whatever you think of the “activist judge” debate, Justices are not umpires. It’s an intellectually dishonest argument, if politcally savvy, in the bumper sticker mentality of talk radio. Feh.
[MLB, you know what I mean, it's just an Anti-Bradley Machine ...]
MLB this week came down a day late (Tuesday), and an answer short, of why it merely reduced Bradley’s suspension from 2-games down to 1. If umpire Larry Vanover is correct, and Bradley made aggressive “contact” during a dispute over a called third strike on April 16, then give Bradley a 2-game benching. If Bradley is correct, and he’s been targeted for past offenses, and the “contact” of the bill of his cap brushing Vanover’s is an excuse to hand Bradley payback for past offenses, then reverse it. But a 1-game suspension? What’s that? He did it or he didn’t.
One possible explanation: baseball is in the awkward position of suspending Mets skipper Jerry Manuel for the exact same offense, but only for 1 game. That is, if Bradley gets a 2-game sit, shouldn’t Manuel? Or, if Bradley’s is reversed, why not Manuel’s, too? Bradley is pissed, because MLB has basically upheld his suspension no matter how minor and unintentional the contact. As far as the Cubs season goes, the delayed decision also means Bradley sits out the opener against Houston this weekend (ppd for today, meaning he sits out tomorrow). If it had come down earlier, the day would have been during the Padres series on the day Piniella rested him anyway. The Sun-Times’ resident Bradley-baiter, Gordon Wittnemyer, has the story here:
‘Figures,” said Bradley, describing his first reaction. ”Because I never get treated fairly. It’s just me. It’s exactly what I expected.
”I’m Milton Bradley. And you expect me to get crazy and throw stuff and do whatever. But I don’t do anything spur-of-the-moment, although it may seem like that. There’s a reason for everything, and things happen. And you move on.”
General manager Jim Hendry and teammates said they supported Bradley’s decision to appeal, even though it means losing him today when he’s healthy instead of having him serve the full two games last month when he wasn’t playing anyway because of a groin strain.
”Nobody feels like he should have been suspended,” teammate Ryan Dempster said. ”It was unfair.”
[Chicago police officers, tazers set on kill, await the Bradley verdict outside Trib Tower.]
From my vantage point in LA, it’s hard to determine what’s going on outside Tribune Tower this afternoon, as the city awaits the explosive verdict from Major League Baseball on Milton Bradley’s 2-game suspension. It arrives on the heels of a game-changing HR Bradley hit last night to pull the Cubs ahead of the Padres in a 6-2 win at Wrigley Field. Bradley has said repeatedly that he’ll accept whatever comes. No such promises of orderly behavior have come from the Trib staff should baseball reverse the Bradley suspension, thus invalidating four months of attacks on MB that refer to him as a “nut bag.” The Trib‘s beatdown of Bradley seems to be failing, as he received some of the first cheers of his career as a Cub last night. Irrational, unpopular, always complaining of imagined injustices, Bradley the Trib staff is a powder keg waiting to go off.
How bad has has the media been to Bradley? So bad a new word has been invented to describe their presence in the Cubs clubhouse. As Paul Sullivan writes of Bradley:
He appears much more comfortable on the road, where he’s not afflicted with “Cubstrophobia,” the fear of being trapped next to the Chicago media in the cramped Wrigley Field clubhouse.
Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.
I want to apologize to Mr. McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, Mr. Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization, and to the Dodger fans. LA is a special place to me and I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I’m sorry about this whole situation.