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?

Jake Arrieta almost quit baseball

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs scratches his beard as he walks back to the dugout at the end of sixth inning after giving up a three run home run to Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates (not pictured) at Wrigley Field on August 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner and author of two no-hitters, considered quitting baseball a few years ago when he was bounced up and down between the major leagues and the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.

At the time, Arrieta was having trouble living up to his potential as one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. He started on Opening Day in 2012, but finished the season with a 6.20 ERA and was very quickly moved back to Norfolk after four mediocre starts to begin the 2013 season.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Arrieta was considering quitting baseball so that his family could have a regular life.

We were at a point where I had other things that I could segue into and establish a career elsewhere. Not that I wanted that to happen, but I didn’t want to continue to go through the things we were going through and moving from place to place in the minor leagues at 25, 26 years old.

Baseball is something that I’ve loved to do since I was a little kid, but it’s not everything. I had to reevaluate some things. I knew I could always pitch this way, but there were times where it seemed like maybe I wasn’t going to get to that point.

It’s just part of life that we had to deal with.

Mooney also points out that Arrieta had a business background having gone to Texas Christian University and would have done something in that field if he had hung up the spikes.

This has been brought up because Arrieta’s teammate Tommy La Stella considered quitting baseball as well recently, as the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A. Though La Stella received a lot of criticism, Arrieta can relate to La Stella. The right-hander said, “I know that there were things that he was going through and dealing with (that) we may not agree with and understand.”

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

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There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.