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The Top 5 Reasons you can't blame...


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Major League Baseball for allowing steroids into the game:

Before we get to the Top 5 reasons why you can’t blame Major League Baseball for allowing steroids into the game, let’s take a look at some reasons that didn’t make the cut. We call them “The Best of the Restâ€

The Black Sox – They threw the 1919 World Series for profit and damaged the game. It sowed the seeds for the evolution of the game and the coming of Babe Ruth.

The NFL – They’ve turned a blind eye to steroids for years and gotten away with it.

Babe Ruth – His home runs saved the game after the Black Sox scandal, but it created an insatiable hunger for home runs that has never abated.

Now that you’ve seen the “Best of the Rest†here we go with our countdown with #5:

5. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa – Their magical Home Run chase brought baseball back from the brink of financial ruin after the ’94 strike.

When the 1998 season started there was still a lot of residual anger left over from the ’94 strike that people had just not gotten over. All the giveaways and promotions that baseball tried to lure people back to the park notwithstanding, there was still a lot of resentment on the part of the fans towards baseball that the game itself was still in real trouble.

Then came 1998 and “The Chaseâ€.

Mark McGwire had been coming close to Roger Maris’ 61 home runs for several years before he was finally able to put it all together in ’98. In ’96 he hit 52, in ’97 with the Cardinals and the A’s he hit 58, and in ’99 the year after he had passed Roger Maris with 70 he hit 65. When you also consider the fact that he was now hitting in National League parks against unfamiliar pitching it makes what he did even more remarkable. The fact that Sammy was able to, at the same time, start his remarkable run of power to take some of the onus off of Mark made it even that much sweeter to watch.

Here you had these two guys who were going out to the yard every single day, and having fun with it. Mark started to get a little surley with all the attention the media was giving him, but then Sammy came along and acted like a pressure valve. To watch these two guys together was endearing to watch and it got everybody’s attention.

Baseball as a whole looked at this and said “Halleluiah, we’re saved! What, Mark’s doing andro? Who cares! Look at all of these people who are watching and caring about baseball again! The fans have come back, they’ve forgiven us! Who cares if these guys are doing andro or steroids or HGH or whatever! They are putting the asses back in the seats, and that’s what matters!â€

4. Darryl Strawberry and Steve Howe – all of their second chances sowed the seeds for baseball’s lax drug policy.

There is no more sadder story then the story of wasted potential, and the stories of Strawberry and Howe are the worst of all.

When Steve Howe came up with the Dodgers he was the left-handed closer that they had been looking for for years. However it all went to hell when he had checked into a re-hab center for cocaine addiction and kept having all of these re-lapses. So many in fact that the Dodgers finally released him after the ’85 season.

Howe had been suspended for the entire ’84 season by then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Howe would go on to receive seven drug-related suspensions in his career before finally being banned for life in 1992 by commissioner Fay Vincent. A ban that was later overturned.

Strawberry had all the tools to be the next Ted Williams, or so said Sports Illustrated in a feature on him when he was still at Crenshaw High in Los Angeles, California.

He seemed to be living up to those expectations when he started his career with the New York Mets in the mid-80’s. But it all fell apart when he checked himself in for rehab stints that didn’t hold up in the outside world.

The problem with Strawberry is that he is such a nice guy. If you talk with the people who played with him they’ll all tell you – “He’s a nice guy.†That’s what made his addiction that much more painful for the rest of us to watch.

He got so many second chances to get himself clean and get his life back together that when the end finally did come it came almost as a relief, not only for fans and the game but also for him. It was thought that if he stayed away from the game that the temptation wouldn’t follow him but unfortunately it did.

The fact that these two men got so many second, third and fourth chances told the rest of the world that baseball didn’t consider drug use to be so serious an issue. You could put cocaine up your nose, you could drink yourself into a stupor, you could put steroids into your veins to hit home runs and you will be forgiven.

Just don’t bet on baseball or take money to throw a game.

When you compare the two crimes it seemed like the message from baseball was “drug use won’t hurt the game, only the player.â€

3. The Players Union – They became too powerful and wouldn’t allow their members to be tested.

The argument that the Players Union always gave against testing of their membership for drugs was that it was an invasion of the players’ privacy. I always thought that was crap. If it’s potentially going to keep a player like Strawberry or a Steve Howe from hurting themselves or the reputation of the game, who cares about their privacy? If these guys are doing something to hurt themselves and hurt their performance on the field, who cares about privacy issues?

The problem was that the Players Union had developed into the strongest labor association in the United States. I would estimate that the Major League Players Association at one time had become more powerful than the Teamsters. That was the kind of power we are talking about here. The Players Union would tell the Owners to jump, and the Owners would say “how high?†The Players Union really had the Owners wrapped around their finger.

The person you would have to blame for that would be Donald Fehr. I know a lot of people will look at that and say “well what about Marvin Miller?†Well Marvin Miller was not out to do what was best for Marvin Miller’s power. Marvin Miller was out to do what was best for the power of the Major League Baseball Player. He got the reserve clause abolished, ushered in the free agency era and he also made great strides in bargaining for licensing and broadcast revenues on behalf of the players.

Miller stepped down in 1982 after seeing the Players through the 50-day 1981 strike that he called the "association's finest hour".

Then Donald Fehr came in and the blood feud started.

The power grab was ratcheted up ten-fold as the players went through a two-day strike in ’85, a lockout in ’90, and the scorched earth strike of ’94 that saw the cancellation of the World Series. In labor negotiation with the owners the players are 8-0, and don’t look to be on the losing side of the negotiating table any time soon.

So it takes an act of Congess (literally) to get the Players Union to accept drug testing for their membership. The players are on the field for only 2 ½ hours a night, the other 21 ½ hours they are out in the real world with us – the fans. If they don’t want us calling them cheaters or calling their accomplishments into question then they need to come clean – literally as well as figuratively.

The one entity that has always stood in the way of that has been Donald Fehr and the Players Union.

2. Fans dig the long ball – We all cheer when a slugger hits it out of the park.

Think about all of the plays in the game that are most remembered:

- Babe Ruth calling his shot.

- Bill Mazeroski.

- Carlton Fisk.

- Bucky F’ing Dent.

- Aaron F’ing Boone.

- Kirk Gibson.

What do they all have in common?

The Home Run.

That is the play that is most remembered in all of baseball, and as fans, we love it! We can’t get enough of them. There are videos dedicated to the best Home Runs of all time. You don’t see videos dedicated to the best doubles of all time or the best stolen bases. The Home Run is what puts the asses in the seats.

It is very rare in these days to see a single or a double cheered the way a Home Run is. I mean, what’s the most re-played piece of tape on Sportscenter? The Major League Home Run, that’s what!

Even though is was a magnificent accomplishment, Cal Ripken Jr.’s passing of Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak didn’t bring as many people back to the parks as McGwire and Sosa did. After the Black Sox scandal it wasn’t a base stealer like Ty Cobb or a singles hitter like George Sisler the fans came to see, they came out to see Babe Ruth.

When McGwire and Sosa had their run in ’98 the fans came back. That was all that baseball wanted, needed and cared about. So what if someone was using performance enhancers as long as the turnstiles were going?

1. The 1994 Strike – It angered so many fans that they didn’t return in ’95 and it nearly destroyed the game.

In ’95 there was so much animosity towards baseball. That whole year you could feel the anger in the stands towards the players, it was as if they wanted the players to fail somehow just so they could take out their anger on them. The symbol of the fans discontent that year had to be Brett Butler.

He was not only the player-rep for the Dodgers but he was also very vocal in condemning Mike Busch’s taking a roster spot. Busch was a minor leaguer who was going to be used by the Dodgers as a replacement player if it ever came to that. At one point early in the season Busch was called up to the show and Butler started mouthing off to the media. It got to the point where Butler was not only trying to get his teammates to ostracize Busch, but Butler was trying to get his wife to lead the other Dodger wives in a campaign to ostracize Mike Busch’s wife.

That’s when all hell broke loose and the Dodger fans let Brett Butler and his family know just how they felt about the whole situation. In fact when Butler was traded to the Mets later that season a lot of Dodger fans said “good riddance to bad rubbish.†Later when he came back to the Dodgers the next season and announced he had throat cancer, a lot of Dodger fans would not stand up and cheer for him when he made his comeback because they still hadn’t forgiven him. That should give you an idea of the amount of anger the fans still had two years later when they will not acknowledge a player who has come back from a life-threatening illness.

There was no Babe Ruth to bring baseball back from the brink in the ’95 season. The best baseball had to offer was…

…Cal Ripken?!?

Even though what Cal Ripken did in passing Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak was monumental, it was not nearly enough to satiate the fans’ anger. There were many fans across the country who had tuned in to ESPN to see him take his victory lap and that was the only baseball they had seen all year. Attendance at games were down by a tremendous margin, dangerously so in some cities and in fact this is what led to the first talks of contracting the majors by eliminating the Twins and Expos and/or the Marlins and the Devil Rays after the 2001 season. The Players Union was up in arms about the proposal while the fans reaction was “ah who cares. Just a bunch of selfish millionaires having to go out a get a ‘real job’ anyway. Let them flip burgers at McDonalds for minimum wage and see how they like it.â€

There was no sympathy for the players, the owners or for baseball’s troubles. Something had to happen to re-kindle the love affair that baseball once had with it’s fans.

That something was 1998.

1996 and ’97 saw increased production in home runs but they were just preludes to the main event that was to come.

When McGwire and Sosa went on their tear it just galvanized the entire country. Baseball was back and better than ever because of these two heroes who were able to accomplish what Ruth did. The prospect of steroids was brought up when a reporter saw a bottle of andro in McGwire’s locker and there was some talk of another asterisk. But people had had enough of that with Roger Maris so the idea was never taken seriously.

It took a while for the ramifications of the drug use by certain players to be felt in the game. The owners were just glad that people were buying tickets again and who cares if the players were using drugs? As long as the bottom line was being taken care of then that’s the only thing that mattered.

And the groundwork for baseball’s blind eye towards steroids was laid during the 1994 strike. The conditions were too perfect for steroids not to enter the game.

So did that change your mind? I hope that I gave you something else to think about that may give you a different perspective on the whole situation. I’m BigDaddyCool, thanks for reading.

In 2005, Congressional Hearings were held to inquire into the use of steroids in baseball. Among the players who were called to testify were Rafiel Palmerio, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.

Palmero was later found to have lied to Congress about his steroid use and was released by the Baltimore Orioles. His Hall of Fame credentials are now in question.

McGwire was evasive about whether he had used steroids and his reputation and Hall of Fame credentials are now tarnished.

Barry Bonds, who was not called to testify is the subject of a new book entitled ‘Game of Shadows’ which details his steroid use in his effort to break McGwires season home run record. He is now poised to break Henry Aaron’s career Home Run record of 755 in 2006

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  • 1 month later...

They've got a new one coming up this Tuesday:

The Top 5 Reasons you can't blame...

...Walter O'Malley for moving the Dodgers to Los Angeles.

Hmm, let me guess as to what those reasons might be and see how close I get:

5. The Braves - they moved from Boston to Milwaukee and attracted over 2,000,000 to the park

4. Ebbits Field - the stadium was old, falling apart and in the middle of a crime-riddled area. People were afraid to come to the park because of the neighborhood and they were not able to park their cars there. A huge consideration since the Dodger fans were now coming from the suburbs.

3. L.A. wanted a team - they wanted a team so badly that they even tried to get the St. Louis Browns to move West.

2. The New York City Fathers - They kept blocking O'Malley's attempts to get a new stadium. If they had done for the Dodgers what they later did for the Mets, the Dodgers never would have left.

1. O'Malley never wanted to leave - He had been trying to build a new stadium for the Dodgers for 10 years before L.A. came along with their offer.

I will be very intersted to see how close I get.

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I think it's more of another spin on whatever they might be talking about. We don't have to agree with them, but it does get us thinking.

Anyway, here's what they had to say on the subject of:

The Top 5 Reasons you can't blame...

Walter O'Malley for moving the Dodgers to Los Angeles

5. Horace Greeley's advice. It is now believed that the famed 19th Century New York newspaper publisher never said the famous phrase, "Go west, young man," but he was a believer in westward expansion. In 1957, the western United States was a huge untapped market, becoming accessible by better airline travel. The only teams in any of the four major sports west of Kansas City were the National Football League's Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. In calendar year 2006, the region holds 10 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams, 8 of 32 NFL teams, 12 of the 30 National Basketball Association teams, and 6 of the 24 National Hockey League teams in the U.S. (Three of the six Canadian teams are also west of Kansas City.) The problem with using the untapped Los Angeles market as an excuse is that expansion was coming to baseball, and the city did get a team in the American League in 1961, the Angels.

4. William Levitt. The real-estate developer's easily- and cheaply-built houses, aimed at returning veterans from World War II, turned Long Island, east of New York City, from a series of farms and a series of beach playgrounds for the rich into a modern suburb. Many of the formerly poor Jewish (and, to a lesser extent, Irish and Italian) families living in Brooklyn were able to take advantage and move to these new Long Island homes. Taking their places in the Brooklyn tenements were blacks and Hispanics, as yet too poor to regularly attend Dodger games at Ebbets Field. Whether O'Malley was dismayed by this for economic or prejudicial reasons is debatable. But the Dodger fans who moved to Long Island (as opposed to New Yorkers who moved to New Jersey and Connecticut, who seem to have tended more to root for the Yankees and Giants) needed their cars to get to Dodger games, and Ebbets Field had just 750 parking spaces. The plan to build a domed stadium in downtown Brooklyn meant building it at the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) terminal at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, meaning it would have commuter rail and subway access, eliminating the need for several thousand parking spaces. A parking deck would also have been built. But the abandonment of Brooklyn for the suburbs by the middle class meant that, even if O'Malley could have found a way for the Dodgers to stay in Brooklyn, Ebbets Field, though not in poor condition, was outdated, and a new stadium was needed.

3. The Milwaukee Braves. The Braves drew more fans in their first 13 home games of the 1953 season, their first at Milwaukee County Stadium, with its 43,000 seats (at the time) and its 12,000 parking spaces, than they had in the entire 1952 season, their last sharing Boston with the Red Sox. With the kind of revenue coming from all those tickets, concessions and parking, O'Malley was afraid that the Braves could buy a pennant nearly every season. Ironically (in that regard), the Braves did not clinch their first pennant in Milwaukee until September 23, 1957, exactly one day before the last Dodger game at Ebbets Field. O'Malley wanted the kind of stadium and parking facilities which, unlike the 31,497-seat Ebbets Field, would allow him to compete with the Braves' facilities. In a second irony, by the time Dodger Stadium opened its fifth season in 1966, the Braves had abandoned Milwaukee for Atlanta, and hadn't won a pennant since 1958, the Dodgers' first year in Los Angeles. In fact, in 1959, the teams had finished in a tie for the pennant, and the Dodgers won a playoff. The Braves would not win another pennant until 1991. In that same span, the Dodgers won nine -- although, from 1991 to 2005, the Braves won five pennants and the Dodgers none.

2. An offer he couldn't refuse. The offer that the city government of Los Angeles was too good for O'Malley to refuse: A market without any other teams in the region (unlike New York), and 300 acres on which to build a ballpark. The Angels soon arrived, but O'Malley was able to force Angels' owner Gene Autry, a legendary entertainer, to move down the freeway to Anaheim, taking the Orange County portion of the Southern California market away from the Dodgers.

1. Robert Moses. Perhaps the one person in New York in that time whose ego and lust for power surpassed O'Malley's, he refused to give O'Malley what he wanted, and also refused to take seriously O'Malley's threat to move the team. With the damage his projects did to Brooklyn and the Bronx, even the most devoted of Dodger fans had to see that Moses, rather than O'Malley, was the city's greatest villain in the latter half of the 20th Century.

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