The party hasn't started until Canseco shows up

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I’m surprised it took him a day to find a microphone.  Anyway, you’ve been right more than you’ve been wrong about this Jose, so you’re probably entitled to a few minutes of the floor:

“I’ve got no problems with a few of the things he’s saying, but again,
it’s ironic and strange that Mark McGwire denies that I injected him
with steroids. He’s calling me a liar again.  I’ve defended Mark, I’ve said a lot of good things about him, but I can’t believe he just called me a liar. There is something very strange going on here, and I’m wondering what
it is. I even polygraphed that subject matter, that I injected him, and
passed it completely. So I want to challenge him on national TV to a
polygraph examination. I want to see him call me a liar under a
polygraph examination.”

Maybe Canseco is telling the truth about this, but allow me to ask: does anyone, even the most passionate anti-steroid crusader, care about the specific mode of injection?  I’m willing to live with a half-truth regarding one man injecting another in a bathroom stall. Aren’t you?  And I think Jose said too much with the national TV thing. His biggest weakness in all of his truth telling is that he’s been seen as being far more interested in making a buck and getting attention out of it than in doing what’s right for baseball.  He pretty much admits that here.

Canseco is also miffed at La Russa’s claim that he didn’t know McGwire did steroids until yesterday:

“That’s a blatant lie.  Tony La Russa was quoted as
saying that I was using steroids back then, and I was talking about it
in the clubhouse, openly. That’s a blatant lie. There are
some things here that are so ridiculous, and so disrespectful for the
public and the media to believe. I just can’t believe it. I’m in total
shock. These guys remind me of politicians that go up and just lie to
the public and expect to get elected.”

I’m with Canseco here. La Russa had one of the most steroid-happy locker rooms around, in two cities no less, with the most brazen user of them all in Canseco under his supervision.  He has always played dumb and no one has ever taken him to task over it.  If a manager is as ignorant about what goes on in his clubhouse as La Russa claims to have been he wouldn’t be able to fill out a lineup card because the players would be total strangers to him. Good for Canseco for saying this. I wish someone who wasn’t such a freakshow would repeat it.

Canseco also hates having to defend himself over all of the claims he has made:

“I’m tired of justifying what I’ve said. I’ve
polygraphed, I’ve proven that I’m 100 percent accurate. I never
exaggerated. I told it the way it actually happened. I’m the only one
who has told it the way it actually happened. Major League Baseball is
still trying to defend itself. It’s strange. All I have is the truth,
and I’ve proven that.”

To my knowledge, nothing Canseco has said has been proven wrong. At least nothing major, so he has a point.  Still, as all of today’s outrage over McGwire’s apology makes plain, to most of the media and to a certain vocal brand of fan, it’s not what you say, it’s how and why you say it.

McGwire catches hell for only apologizing because he wants a job and for not following the specific remorse regimen that the public allegedly demands. By the same token, Canseco only came out with his steroids stuff when he was at the end of his career, found himself in desperate financial straits and needed to make some money.  It’s a free country, so he can do what he wants along those lines, but he shouldn’t act surprised when he’s not embraced with open arms.

Finally, Canseco takes on the Hall of Fame:

“This is
far from over. There’s a list out there of [103] players. The last five
to eight years there may have been some players elected to the Hall of
Fame that were on that list. Nonetheless, if that list is not divulged,
there will continuously be players who are inducted into the Hall of
Fame who will probably be on that list.”

I wonder if this isn’t some backtracking on Canseco’s part. He has said in the past that there is definitely someone in the Hall of Fame who has used steroids. I agree that the odds favor a PED user in Cooperstown, but Canseco has always acted like he’s known the player’s name. Now it sounds like maybe he doesn’t.

Oh well. I think my headline is wrong here. Canseco showing up doesn’t represent the start of the party. At least not anymore. He’s now more like the fat lady singing. He may have hit the right notes a few times here — but it’s over. What else more is there to say?

Study: West teams at a disadvantage due to jet lag

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JULY 14:  A Delta airlines plane is seen as it comes in for a landing at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on July 14, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Delta Air Lines Inc. reported that their second quarter earnings rose a better-than-expected 4.1%, and also announced that they decided to reduce its United States to Britian capacity on its winter schedule because of foreign currency issues and the economic uncertainty from Brexit.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Every year, when the schedules are released, we often hear about the teams that have it worst. Almost always, those teams are West teams. According to MLB.com, teams in the West division of their respective leagues had the top eight most travel-heavy schedules in 2016. The full list:

Team League Division Miles
Mariners AL West 47,704
Angels AL West 44,945
Athletics AL West 42,119
Rangers AL West 41,128
Dodgers NL West 40,294
Giants NL West 39,341
Astros AL West 38,553
Padres NL West 37,363
Rays AL East 36,916
Red Sox AL East 36,896
D-Backs NL West 35,312
Yankees AL East 35,252
Marlins NL East 35,226
Rockies NL West 33,287
Blue Jays AL East 32,895
Orioles AL East 32,322
Braves NL East 29,236
Royals AL Central 29,077
Twins AL Central 28,948
Phillies NL East 28,351
Mets NL East 26,832
White Sox AL Central 26,538
Cardinals NL Central 26,451
Pirates NL Central 26,134
Brewers NL Central 25,620
Tigers AL Central 25,450
Indians AL Central 25,176
Reds NL Central 25,108
Nationals NL East 24,664
Cubs NL Central 24,271

The averages by division:

  • AL East: 34,856 miles
  • AL Central: 25,176
  • AL West: 42,890
  • NL East: 28,862
  • NL Central: 25,517
  • NL West: 37,119

The maps aren’t up for 2017 yet, but rest assured that West teams will once again have it worst. It’s easy to see why, taking a look at the map on MLB.com. If you draw a line to split Texas in half and go straight up through North Dakota, there are only eight teams to the left of that line, leaving the other 23 condensed on the right side. When West teams aren’t playing intra-division games, they are traveling. That’s often not the case for East and Central teams. The Phillies and Pirates, for example, don’t even have to leave the state to play each other.

As Gizmodo points out, a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a link between jet lag and performance. Sleep scientist Ravi Allada of Northwestern University analyzed 4,919 games, finding that teams that traveled East performed worse than those that traveled West. Allada and his colleagues adjusted for home field advantage and park effects.

Specifically, teams that traveled from the West to the East lost more often than East teams traveling West. They gave up more runs and scored less runs. They hit for a lower batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. They gave up more home runs, accounting for most of the decline in run prevention.

There was a peculiar finding. Allada found that jet lagged home teams performed worse than jet lagged visiting teams. He hypothesizes that “teams may be more cognizant of their schedules when traveling away, thus mitigating jet lag effects,” he told Gizmodo.

The Braves ask Cobb County for $14 million more

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The Braves’ new ballpark in Cobb County Georgia is the gift that keeps on taking.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have asked Cobb County for $14 million for roads, walkways and other pedestrian improvements around the stadium the team has already paid for but which it says the county is responsible. The county says it’s not responsible for them and that it has already paid nearly $70 million for transportation improvements around the ballpark, including on privately-owned property in the mixed-use development.

The reason this isn’t settled: at the time the deal between the county and the team was struck, there was a provision for the county to pay for $14 million for certain improvements. The Braves, this past September, told the county that it wants to be reimbursed for these projects under that provision and that the $70 million the county has already spent shouldn’t count. For reasons, I guess. It’s a bit complicated, but the AJC story lays it out pretty well. The upshot seems to be “why didn’t the Braves say they wanted the county to pay for these things long ago?”

The answer to that question, I suspect, is “because the Braves have been treated as entitled corporate welfare recipients since this deal was announced and they have learned that they can get away with almost anything.”