Archive for July, 2013

Ryan Braun got off too easy

July 25, 2013

For Ryan Braun, a guy who lied so publicly and emphatically about his innocence after beating a positive drug test on a technicality, and who, we have to presume, was caught red-handed (or whatever the right term is for a positive urine or blood tests) – if not, why would he not persist with his denials? – being suspending for the final 65 games of a lost season is not enough.

For performance enhancing drug users, suspensions have to be in years – say two years or the length or their current contract, whichever is longer – and agents and clubs also have to be penalized. Require rebates to season ticket holders and half-price tickets (and no price increases) for a certain period of time. The idea is that everyone has an incentive to eliminate PEDs and no one has any incentive to tolerate them. Or just ban everyone for life for testing positive: one strike and you’re out.

It’s a bad joke that Melky Cabrera got caught using PEDs last year while a member of San Francisco Giants, set up a website to provide false evidence of his innocence, and wound up with a World Series ring and a raise, signing a contract for $16 million – more than nearly all of us will see in a lifetime – with the Toronto Blue Jays. The only good thing to say about the situation is that Cabrera has reverted to his apparent unenhanced form, providing the Jay with an extra-base hit about once every two weeks.

Let’s hope Major League Baseball throws the book at the next guy it catches using PEDs, whoever it may be. (All rooting for Alex Rodriguez, put on your rally caps.) And let’s hope the Hall of Fame voters continue their admirable record of shunning known PED users. Simply put, their achievements don’t count.

MLB also needs to state that recreational drugs are a legal, moral and, like alcohol, a conditioning matter. They’re different from PEDs which degrade the integrity of the game. What Tim Raines did, stealing bases with a vial of cocaine in his sock, is not equivalent to what Ryan Braun et al have done.

Finally, I think the PED punishments should bring to mind Pete Rose. I take a backseat to no one in my utter disdain for The Asshole. (Everybody knows Pete Rose blows!) But to give a guy the death penalty for gambling on the premise that even betting on your own team might influence the game on the field, yet not doing the same for doping that absolutely does influence the game on the field is the height of hypocrisy. I’m not saying pardon Rose – and I think his persistent lies have earned him extra lashes – but that PED users’ punishment has to be at least as severe.

Let the juiceheads roll.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer (and reforming baseball writer) Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

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Everybody up for the 7th inning kvetch

July 12, 2013

One beauty of baseball is its dynamic daily evolution. During the season, teams play virtually every day and when they don’t, their rivals do, along the guy your team’s guy is fighting for the league lead in home runs or strikeouts does. Daily box scores reveal sprout streams of details creating the ebb and flow of the season.

The All-Star break shatters that daily current, making it the worst three days of the season. Three days without your team’s box score and no movement in the standings is both brutal and pointless. In the infinite wisdom of the geniuses that moved the Astros to the American League to make interleague play – instituted as a special event – both necessary and commonplace, some teams get a four day break.

The other problem with the All-Star Game is the game itself. It’s not a real baseball game, where teams play to win, using the full range of strategies and the team’s best players. It’s a bad joke, like the difference between extra virgin olive oil and margarine. Determining World Series home advantage by the outcome of the All-Star Game compounds the error.

Consider the above the first pitch of what should become a far more satisfying baseball tradition: the seventh inning kvetch. For those not up to snuff on their Yiddish, kvetch means complain and can be used as a noun or verb. When have you watched a ballgame and not seen something to complain out? Nobody, no matter how many millions they’re paid, bats 1.000 or throws nothing but strikes.

My pal Dave Lapkin, Orange County’s insurer to the stars, wrote this song for the seventh inning kvetch: I think you can guess the tune.

Take me out to the ball game,
Ochen vey, such a crowd,
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack
30 minutes, 50 bucks, it set me back.
It’s root, root, root for the home team,
Even though I don’t know their names,
For it’s one, two, three bouts of gout,
At the old ball game.

Let’s all get up and belt it out for all the things that bother us over those lousy three (or four) days next week.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.


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