Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

Hi, everybody!

I’ve been running like crazy this holiday season—just got back to California from our new house in Seattle (no, we have not officially moved yet), and I’m on my way to Connecticut to visit the family for Thanksgiving. While I was up in Washington, I see that Barry Bonds went and got himself indicted. Boo hoo! Since Ed masterfully covered the specifics in his last post, I thought I’d just put up this opinion piece from last Friday by George Vescey of the New York Times. What a great piece! I especially like the part about A-Rod. (Nice to see that Scott Boras finally screwed one of his own clients royally!) Even though I don’t like A-Rod much myself, I, too, would root for him to break Bonds’s home run record any day—at least until there is evidence that the Mighty Rodriguez himself used something illegal! (Not that I’m saying he did….)

So, enjoy!

The Truth Could Have Set Bonds Free

by George Vecsey

This day never had to come for Barry Bonds. He could have avoided yesterday’s indictment by parceling out just enough truth to satisfy a grand jury.

Back when the first grand jury was convened in 2003, Bonds could have quivered a bit and said he had been a bad slugger by going for the quick fix and deceiving the American public. He could have promised to never do it again. And he could have walked, free to break Babe Ruth’s record and Henry Aaron’s record without this infamy hanging over him. Americans love a good confession.

But the truth is not in Barry Bonds, who is so far outside the limits of reality that he did not see the advantage to a little show of humility, a little flash of honesty.

Instead, he put a spin on his connection with the notorious Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. Now he has been indicted, not for using performance-enhancing drugs, but on four counts of perjury involving his testimony to a grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice.

Right now it is not clear if this grand jury will take up the suspicions raised in The San Francisco Chronicle about Bonds’s possible liability for tax evasion for over $80,000 in cash income. That could be a separate case.

At the moment, Bonds is in more trouble for lying than for whatever he used from the chemists at Balco. Despite the visual evidence that players were bulking up, baseball did not get around to imposing testing and penalties for performance-enhancing drugs until Bonds’s home run totals were as swollen as his cap size and his shirt size.

He is stuck on 762, unlikely to ever get another job offer. The ludicrous joke here is that Alex Rodriguez, who on Wednesday was baseball’s No. 1 egomaniac, groveling back to the Yankees, has now become baseball’s great clean hope.

After allowing his agent to publicly stiff the Yankees during the World Series, Rodriguez is apparently close to agreeing to a new contract that would include a hefty bonus for breaking the career home run record of the aforementioned Barry Bonds.

A-Rod is not the only Yankee who reeks of contradiction. The Yankees also own the services of a shell of a player named Jason Giambi, who set the public example to Bonds of how to flick away the aura of guilt.

Appearing before the original Balco grand jury, on Dec. 11, 2003, Giambi testified that he had taken steroids, human growth hormone and testosterone, and for apparently testifying truthfully he was granted immunity.

The grand jury was not after Giambi. It probably was not even after Bonds, even though Bonds (and the few supporters he has left) contend that the Balco investigation was always about getting him. This only shows how detached he is from reality.

“You use the consumer to build your case against the manufacturer,” Travis T. Tygart of the United States Anti-Doping Agency said last March, before he became chief executive of that agency. The hope is to keep harmful and illegal drugs from impressionable children and adults who are trying to emulate negative role models like Giambi and Bonds.

Giambi, the son of a banker, is a reasonable person. He understood that he would harm himself if he lied to a grand jury. He took some public criticism for a short time and then settled into his continual decline. Bonds strutted and denied and blustered and bullied, as he has done to most people around him all his life.

Probably Bonds’s greatest victim was Greg Anderson, his trainer, who went to jail because of his refusal to testify about Bonds’s involvement with Balco. Yesterday, shortly after Bonds was indicted, Anderson was ordered released from jail. It is not apparent whether Anderson finally sang or whether he had no more value to the investigators. The odds are heavy that Bonds will never make it up to Anderson for stalling the investigation.

Bonds surely has money salted away, but his prospects for employment are not great. The San Francisco Giants let him go after the season, having sold tickets for his miserable trudge toward Aaron’s record. Who would hire a 43-year-old lead-legged slugger facing five felony charges?

He could get off. Indictment does not mean conviction. But this process will make him a pariah in the free-agent market. Any team that would dream of hiring him would be doing it as a spectacle.

Everything is tainted. His image. His record. The ball he hit for No. 756. Never mind the debate over sticking an asterisk on the ball in the Hall of Fame. Baseball has no business putting an asterisk on Barry Bonds. The asterisk belongs on Major League Baseball, for allowing the players union to bully it into avoiding testing and penalties.

Now, baseball is tottering along, waiting for George J. Mitchell’s investigation to produce the astonishing revelation that performance-enhancing drugs were prevalent in the past generation. Jason Giambi has already testified to that, but Barry Bonds couldn’t go that far. Now baseball roots for good old A-Rod. Only 245 to break the record, and not a moment too soon.

SEASONINGS: Yeah, yeah, Dallas is definitely the best team in the NFC—the Cowboys proved it by taking it to the Giants last week for the season sweep. But they (or whichever NFC team makes it to the Big Dance) will still get their clocks cleaned by the Patriots or whoever represents the AFC in the Super Bowl, so all you Dallas fans might as well stop celebrating already! No one ever remembers who came in second!

Friday, November 16, 2007

BONDS INDICTED! (finally.)

Barry Bonds was indicted on federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice yesterday, striking a blow against baseball's all-time home run leader in his ongoing struggle against allegations of steroid use. The indictment, which many people felt was fading fast and would never happen, is finally here.
This is not just local or regional news, this is a report that has taken a spot on the worldwide stage. President Bush even issued a statement yesterday about the indictment. When was the last time you heard a U.S. President comment about a baseball-related incident? This is big, no doubt about it!
Bonds, 43, was charged with four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction by federal prosecutors at a California District Court in San Francisco. These are serious charges and even more severe than many people anticipated.
Each of the perjury charges carries a jail sentence of up to five years, while the obstruction charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. (Maybe he and O.J. will be sharing a cell in a prison’s “Hall of Shame” athlete’s wing.)
The charges mark the end of a four-year investigation into whether the former San Francisco Giants slugger lied under oath to a grand jury probing the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
It certainly constitutes a devastating end to what had been a magical year for Bonds, who passed Hank Aaron to become baseball's all-time home run scorer on August 7.
According to the indictment, Bonds allegedly lied when he claimed he did not knowingly take steroids issued to him by personal trainer Greg Anderson, who served three months in prison after pleading guilty to steroid distribution. Anderson, who’ll be forever remembered as a stand up guy for not ratting out his friend, was released from jail yesterday.
"During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds and other professional athletes," the indictment read.
A seven-time National League MVP, Bonds is the most central figure linked with grand jury investigations launched in 2002 against Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative - known popularly as BALCO.
Allegations and speculation of steroid use have followed Bonds for the last five years, questioning the legitimacy of the all-time records he currently owns.
Aside from his career homer record of 762, Bonds also holds the single-season record of 73 - a mark he established in 2001.
"This is a very sad day," the Giants said in a statement.
"For many years, Barry Bonds was an important member of our team and is one of the most talented baseball players of his era.
These are serious charges.
Now that the judicial process has begun, we look forward to this matter being resolved in a court of law."
According to the indictment, Bonds allegedly lied when he claimed he did not knowingly take steroids issued to him by personal trainer Greg Anderson, who was sentenced to prison for contempt of court on refusing to testify against Bonds.
According to a report on ESPN on Thursday, a federal judge ordered Anderson released to prison.
"During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds and other professional athletes," the indictment read.
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement early Thursday evening regarding the federal prosecutors' decision.
"I have yet to see the details of this indictment and while everyone in America is considered innocent until proven guilty, I take this indictment very seriously and will follow its progress closely," the statement read.
"It is important that the facts regarding steroid use in baseball be known, which is why I asked Senator Mitchell to investigate the issue.
"I look forward to receiving his report and findings so that we can openly address any issue associated with past steroid use.
"We currently have a testing program that is as good as any in professional sports, and the program is working.
We continue to fund research to find an efficacious test for HGH and have banned amphetamines from our sport.
We will continue to work diligently to eradicate the use of all illegal performance-enhancing substances from the game."
MLB Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr also released a statement addressing the indictment.
"I was saddened to learn this afternoon of the indictment of Barry Bonds," Fehr said in the statement.
"However, we must remember, as the U.S. Attorney stated in his press release today, that an indictment contains only allegations, and in this country every defendant, including Barry Bonds, is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until such time as he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
Parts of this report were taken from and

Thursday, November 15, 2007

$168 Million? No One Wants to Be Like Mike Right Now!

Michael Jordan got taken to the hoop and slammed on like never before this week when his ex-wife Juanita scored a $168 million dollar settlement. Jordan made history on the basketball court and has now done it again in a different court. A winner in life but obviously a loser in the game of love, MJ erred when he evidently didn’t make Juanita sign a pre-nuptial agreement back when the couple tied the night in 1984.

What are these athletes and celebrities thinking about when they fail to get pre-nups? Are they crazy or just duped into thinking that their significant others won’t try to take them for everything they possibly can once the music stops? Haven’t they learned anything from the long list of victims?

And why on earth did this woman get so much? I never saw her playing for the Chicago Bulls, or doing all of the endorsements or making all the really bad animated films! I’m sorry – and I know a lot of women will disagree with me – but how is she in any way entitled to $168 million? To say that she helped him earn his money throughout the course of their marriage is laughable.

I’m not saying that Michael shouldn’t give her anything. Maybe $5 million and the house, that should be enough. But, $168 million? That’s ludicrous! And do you know who will be getting approximately 33% of that money? That’s right – the attorneys. What a joke.

Every man in the world is hurting for you right now, Michael. But, you brought this on yourself. Any chance of coming out of retirement or taking up baseball again, because I don’t think anyone is interested in making Space Jam II.

This appeared yesterday on Celebrity Stink at

Considered to be one of basketball’s greatest players ever, NBA legend Michael Jordan has agreed to pay his ex-wife Juanita, over $168 million as part of their divorce settlement, the costliest on record. It outsizes the former record-setting $156 million settlement singer Neil Diamond paid to his ex and puts the potential $64 million payoff in the Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce stranded in the nosebleed seats. Jordan and his ex are still friends since separating in September 2006. The couple married in 1984 and had three children together. For such a potential financial bombshell, the couple kept their split relatively quiet. After attempting to reconcile, they finally agreed to divorce. She has custody of their children and continues to live on their estate outside Chicago. Even with this payoff, she is still only receiving about one third of Jordan’s entire wealth. Jordan has held the NBA record with 10 all-time scoring records, six NBA MVP awards and six NBA championships. Even though he has not held a basketball in over four years, he continues to wow marketers with his remarkable staying power as a selling icon, catapulting him into the financial stratosphere. Other astronomical divorce paydays have been Steven Speilberg’s divorce from actress Amy Irving with a $100 million settlement. Billionaire Revlon CEO Ron Perelman just keeps paying it out every time he changes wives: Wife No. 1 only got $8 million, but Wife No. 2, journalist Claudia Cohen $80 million, Wife No. 3 Patricia Duff $30 million and Wife No. 4, actress Ellen Barkin, $60 million. Actor Michael Douglas paid his –ex Diandra, $45 million and Titanic director James Cameron sunk Linda Hamilton with a $50 million settlement.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

Gee, thanks for the overwhelming response on my last column, people! Anyone out there reading this? I’d still love opinions on whether people would stick with their old teams or adopt the hometown ones upon moving out of state, if anyone would care to expostulate.

If not, I’m not bitter. I’ll move on.…

SEASONINGS: Congratulations to the Red Sox for winning the World Series again. They’re starting to be more like the Yankees than the Yankees. And truth to tell, their fans are starting to bug me even more than the entitled Yankees fans who, once upon a time, accepted winning a championship every year as their birthright. C’mon now, Boston fans! Just because the Patriots are undefeated and the Celtics look like they are the new Beasts of the East doesn’t mean that you have to drill it into everyone’s face how great your teams are! Everyone hates a poor loser, but a bad winner is worse. Show some class and try to remember that it’s just a game, folks! If your teams are the only thing you have to brag about, maybe you should get out more.

Even though Boston is supposedly the center of the sports universe these days, could the Yankees have found more ways to make the news? With the Joe Torre and A-Rod sagas, the apparent passing of the ownership torch from George Steinbrenner to the two little Bosses, his sons Hank and Hal, and the need to sign the free agents who have been the lifeblood of the team since the 1990s, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, it seems like post-Word Series baseball news around the country has been all Yankees, all the time.

What about A-Rod? How selfish can you get? I hope Scott Boras gets run over by a truck for his audacity in trying to steal the spotlight from the Red Sox with his A-Rod opt-out announcement before the last game of the Series was over. Please, please, please, I pray that all the baseball owners have the guts to tell A-Rod to take a hike, along with his $350 million demands. Wouldn’t it be great if he couldn’t find a job unless he took a pay cut? This guy obviously cares way less about his place in the game than his place as the #1 money-maker of all time. So what’s his Hall of Fame plaque going to say? “A-Rod had a huge ego and was dysfunctional as a teammate and a person. Although he broke Barry Bonds’s all-time home run record and made more money than any player in history, he had a propensity for disappearing in big games in the postseason and never played in, let alone won, a World Series game.” Woo-hoo!

Over in the NFL, is there even a reason to watch anymore? Now that the Patriots have defeated the Colts, anyone else is just meat tenderizer. What’s to stop the Belichick-Brady juggernaut as it chugs toward the first perfect season since the league went to a 16-game format? Nothing, as far as I can see. But let’s remember that anything can happen—that’s why they play the game. I remember in 1998, the 13–0 Broncos played the 5–8 Giants in the Meadowlands, and John Elway’s team was defeated by a last-second TD from QB Kent Graham (who?) to Amani Toomer (now the Giants’ all-time receptions leader). The Patriots still may have a loss or two in the regular season if they have injuries. Plus, every team will get up to play them even harder now, and the Pats players will all start to feel the mounting pressure as they near the end of the season without a defeat.

I have to admit that I still think the Colts might have a chance in the postseason if they meet the Pats again. Remember, they were without Marvin Harrison and a couple of others last weekend. If Indianapolis can play New England at full strength, they might have a better shot at a win. After all, the game in Indianapolis last week was no blowout. Then again, the injury factor is the wild card in all this. If the Patriots lose any key players, the dream could be over—but that’s the case anywhere in the league.

Yet again, I’ll say what we all know and have known since the start of the season: Whoever represents the NFC in the Super Bowl will lose to the Pats or Colts. (Does anyone get tired of hearing this already?)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

More MLB Players Added to "Unnaturals" List

The MLB steroids scandal is growing faster than Barry Bonds’ head. Now it has been revealed that other prominent major leaguers, who up to now weren’t suspected of any wrongdoing, took performance enhancing drugs as far back as 2002. The allegations keep coming to light as more and more of these steroid peddlers are getting caught.
I have a feeling that this situation is going to get worse before it gets better -- as we learn more about who took steroids and when they took them. It may finally reach a point where all baseball records broken between 1996 and 2005 (to be known throughout history as the “steroid era”) will be erased from the books, because no one can be sure which records are tainted and which ones are legitimate.
It’s a dark period in major league baseball, there’s no doubt about it. Pretty soon, the question won’t be about who took steroids, but rather about who didn’t. Baseball should take these most recent allegations to heart and start being even tougher on steroids. If the problem isn’t checked once and for all, it could surely ruin this great game forever.
This appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning and was featured as a front page story:
Former major leaguers Matt Williams and Ismael Valdez also purchased performance-enhancing drugs, in 2002, from a Florida anti-aging clinic that was raided in February as part of an investigation by the Albany, N.Y., district attorney into alleged illegal drug sales, the newspaper said.
Major League Baseball began testing for steroids in 2003. HGH was banned in January 2005.
Power-hitting outfielder Jose Guillen bought nearly $20,000 worth of steroids and human growth hormone from 2003-05, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.
The Chronicle received details of the players' orders in records from a source the newspaper didn't identify. Those records contained shipping and purchase orders, payment information, Social Security numbers and customers' birthdates, the paper said.
Guillen, 31, spent last season with the Seattle Mariners, batting .290 with 23 homers and 99 RBI. He split the 2003 season between Cincinnati and Oakland, and the Chronicle said business records indicate he had some of the drugs shipped to the Oakland Coliseum that year. He played for the Anaheim Angels in 2004 and Washington Nationals in 2005. Attempts by the Associated Press to reach him via cell phone were unsuccessful Tuesday.
Last week, the Mariners declined their $9 million option on Guillen's contract for next season. He has until Wednesday to decide if he wants to exercise his part of the mutual option at $5 million. If he does, the club can void the deal and pay him a $500,000 buyout. That would make Guillen a free agent.
Mariners president Chuck Armstrong told the AP the team remains interested in keeping Guillen.
"We thought he was an outstanding teammate. We were happy to have him. We know nothing about what happened in the past," Armstrong said. "I continue to admire and respect him greatly.
"Before I feel anything negative about Jose, I need to see something tangible or real."
Armstrong also said if Guillen exercises his option, the Mariners would need to investigate the allegations.
"I for sure would have to talk to Jose about this," Armstrong said.
Guillen just completed his 11th season in the majors. Records show he ordered more than $19,000 worth of drugs -- three kinds of human growth hormone, two types of testosterone and the steroids stanozolol and nandrolone -- from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center between May 2002 and June 2005, the Chronicle said.
Williams was a five-time All-Star during his 17-year major league career with San Francisco, Cleveland and Arizona. He was playing for the Diamondbacks in 2002 when records indicate he purchased $11,600 worth of growth hormone, steroids and other drugs, the Chronicle reported.