Baseball’s Steroid Era has engendered two opposed responses. The first is from reporters, who write with hand clasping, mouth drooling, tsk-tsking eagerness to expose and condemn every possible violator of baseball’s substance abuse policy. The second is from fans, who don’t care a whit about steroids, don’t care who used what, and, yawn, wish the reporters would just stop their blathering.
But out of this mess, it suddenly occurs to me that we have before us a “juicy” opportunity to take this steroid debacle and put it to good use. And that good use is to obliterate the artificial and fake import attached to the annual All-Star game. Yes, let’s put the the delight of exhibition back into what was and should be an exhibition game, a game for fun, without the fake and silly Selig rule that usurps the importance of achievement throughout an entire season.
So, how do we do that? By selecting an All-Star team composed of admitted and alleged users of banned substances and an opposing team , composed of “clean” players, clean meaning that either those players have not cheated or just haven’t been caught yet. Just think about it: The First Annual Admitted and Alleged All BS (Banned Substance) Users Team (FAAAABSUT) vs. a Clean Team. We’ll give the game a new subtitle: Users vs. Cleanies.
No longer will the Selig’s of the world be left to arbitrarily invent such preposterous nonsense as to make an exhibition game actually count for something important. Now, we’d have a game with clear implications: that non-users can beat the users. It would be kind of like the “Miracle on Ice” Olympic game between the USA and the Soviet Union. You’d have “good guys” and “bad guys,” though which was which would depend on your political persuasion.
The game would be hard-fought. The Cleanies would be out to prove they are the better team, a winning team without the need to inject, rub, apply, or swallow performance-enhancing drugs. And opposing them, the Users would be just as determined to show they are a winning team, that their tainted consumption actually works, that all the acne and anger and exploding head sizes was worth the trouble.
Just to move the idea along, I have made a 25-man roster of Users – those who have either admitted to or been suspected of using PED’s. I don’t claim that my team will be the best of the worst abusers, and I’d be happy to have your suggestions as to who should be on the squad. Oh, by the way, please don’t take issue with the fact that some of my selections have long ago retired. I plan to pump them full of the latest pharmaceuticals to get them in tip-top playing shape.
OF – Barry Bonds (Team Captain), Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield, Juan Gonzalez, Lenny Dykstra, David Justice
1B – Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero, David Ortiz
2B – Brett Boone, Brian Roberts
SS – Miguel Tejada
3B -Alex Rodriguez, Troy Glaus
C – Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez
Pitchers – Roger Clemens (Starter), Andy Pettitte, Eric Gagne, Paul Byrd, Ryan Franklin, Mike Stanton, JC Romero, John Rocker
Finally, since this is my list, I’m going to add a “Commissioner’s Choice,” and pick a 26th man. Who else but Jose Canseco?
P.S. New information necessitates a worthy addition to the “Users” club: Bronson (I’ll Ingest Anything) Arroyo – Batting Practice Pitcher.
I haven’t made a post in over a year, but I can’t suffer anymore. I have to massage the pain out of my system. Phillies television broadcasts have been rotten for the last four years – I’m talking about the announce team – but now, with the passing of our beloved Harry, the only pleasure of watching/listening to a game on TV is gone.
My thesis is that a World Champion team deserves a world champion-level television broadcast. So here it is: An Open Letter to Dave Montgomery, President of the Philadelphia Phillies. Oh, before I start, I should mention that Rob Brooks is the man who hires announcers and assigns their broadcast roles.
Dear Mr. Montgomery,
The time has come to fire Gary Matthews and to demote, reassign, or fire Rob Brooks. For the past four years, the television broadcast quality of games has been, in order, substandard to awful to finally, incomprehensible.
The timing couldn’t be more crucial because of the sad, sad passing of our beloved Harry. The next television broadcasting decisions are the most important since Bill Giles hired Harry in the 1970’s. They will define the next epoch of Phillies announcing.
Why fire Matthews? Because he has only imperceptivity improved from an innocuous start three years ago, and remains in the basement of television analysts. He’s just awful.
Gary Matthews is an ignorant man. That sounds harsh, but I believe it to be true. The difference between stupid and ignorant is determinant: stupid refers to someone who simply can’t learn, while ignorant refers to someone who will not put in the time to learn and improve. The first is a condition, the second a choice. Matthews has clearly made that choice.
Matthews’ calling cards are to state the obvious and belabor it to death, or to make unintelligible, poppycock ramblings that go nowhere, and illuminate nothing. Oh, I almost forgot, there’s the Matthews “I don’t know what I’m saying, but I have to say something shtick.” In one recent game, he described a Raul Ibanez home run this way: “That’s got a little more distance than it’s goin’.” Oh, really.
And, oh, by the way, baseball is a game that sometimes needs to breathe, to speak for itself. But with Matthews, we are forced to endure his never ending banalities after almost every single pitch.
Dear Lord, have mercy.
This brings me to Rob Brooks, who, in my opinion, has made a flock of failed decisions in the choice of announcers and in the way he organizes their use.
Hiring Scott Graham was such an obvious mistake that he was terminated after one painful year of announcing. Then came Brooks’s Matthews debacle. First, Brooks put three men in the booth – Harry, Wheels, Matthews – and the clunking was painful for nine innings every game.
Then Brooks brought in Tom McCarthy and made yet another decision at the expense of clear and commanding broadcasting. This time he only put two men in the both, but rotated them with a game of musical broadcasters. There was never a chance for the game to have a flow.
To get McCarthy, I’m guessing Brooks promised him those “in game” reports which only served to take attention away from the game itself. Those reports were often ‘fillers’ where nothing of importance was said. Worse yet, they intruded on some great game action —- like a game winning Ryan Howard home run. While McCarthy was running around with his innocuous blather, Howard was running around the bases. Whoops. How grand (and timely!) it would have been to have heard another Harry, “It’s Outta Here.”
So, we had Harry and Wheels, and then, McCarthy and Matthews, and then McCarthy and Wheels, and finally, Harry and Wheels again. How do you fit all of those pairings into nine innings and not get broadcasting mush? What a fiasco!
This year was a little better, with Harry and Wheels doing innings 1-3, and 7-9, while McCarthy and Matthews did 4-7. Regardless of how horrible Matthews’ work remains, at least their was a flow to the broadcasts.
But now, where are we? Now we have McCarthy for nine full innings. I understand that. But McCarthy is, barely, an average announcer, a middle-three innings man. Next year, a new lead announcer should be hired and along with Matthews’ firing, you have a chance to build a broadcast team worthy of our world champions, a team we loyal fans deserve.
The question is whether you will take a hard and clear look at the broadcast decisions of the last four years, and see how crucial it is to fix the mess, to make a winning decision. Matthews must go. Brooks must go. A truly talented lead announcer, a word-weaver, needs to be hired.
I want to assure you of this: I love the Phillies. They are my team. I’m counting on you.