McGwire and steroids: Won't somebody think of the children?

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The New York Daily News’ Denis Hamill wants you to think of the children. His own, who allegedly had this conversation in the back seat of his car on the way to basketball practice the other day:

These kids, who will be playing on the same Little League team in a few
months, were representative of the trickle-down effect on this boy’s
game of another baseball giant admitting he’s a lowdown fraud . . . “I always thought McGwire used steroids,” said Liam. “After A-Rod [Alex
Rodriguez], Manny [Ramirez] and Big Papi [David Ortiz] last year, I
don’t trust any of them. I think Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard are
dirty.”

“The worst is Barry Bonds, who topped Hank Aaron’s lifetime homer
record,” said Peter. “On juice. How do you think that makes Hank Aaron
feel? I read about Hank Aaron. He hit all those home runs by using his
wrist power. Bonds beat him by cheating with juice.”

Liam said, “As far as I’m concerned, Roger Maris still has the most
homers in a single season. He hit 61 in 1961. McGwire broke that with
70. Then Bonds hit 73. Both of them were on juice, so they don’t
count.”

How fortunate for Hamill that his kids are able to speak in such narrative-propelling, context-supplying language like that. And that Hamill was able to jot them down as exact quotes despite the fact this conversation was happening as he was “driving the kids to basketball practice.”

And how about that Liam and Peter!  The two future little leaguers — which makes them somewhere between 11 and 13 years old — “always thought McGwire used steroids.” I wish my own kids were able to form such strong opinions when they were between two and four years old, which is what Liam and Peter were when McGwire retired. My poor dumb kids couldn’t even calculate a simple batting average at that age.

And their takes on Maris and Aaron?  Hamill must be so proud that his children, unlike any pre-teen I’ve ever met, revere the players of their fathers’ youth rather than that of their own.  How wonderful for Hamil and his story!

Unless of course . . .no, couldn’t be.  Forget I even thought it. I mean, if a writer for a major daily newspaper simply invented a conversation like that in an effort to communicate some tired and hacky ideas in a fresh new way he’d probably be disciplined.

Yoenis Cespedes says he does not plan to opt out of his contract

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 04: Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets reacts after he hit a two run double in the eighth inning inning against the Miami Marlins during a game at Citi Field on July 4, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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Yoenis Cespedes is in the first year of a three-year, $75 million deal with the Mets that includes an opt-out clause leading into 2017. It’s a great situation for him. If he was hurt or ineffective this year, hey, he still gets $75 million. If he rakes he can go back out on the free agent market this November and see if he can’t do better than the two years and $50 million he’ll have left.

Cespedes said today, however, that he does not plan to exercise his opt-out this winter:

Speaking through an interpreter, Cespedes stayed on message, saying his focus is on “helping the team win so we can hopefully make it to the playoffs.”

When asked by The Record’s Matt Ehalt if he intended to honor all three years of his current $75 million contract, without opting out, Cespedes flatly said, “Yes.”

The beautiful thing about baseball contracts is that the Bergen Record is not a party to them and thus statements made to them about the contract are not legally binding. Cespedes can most certainly change his mind on the matter — or just lie to the press even if he fully intends to opt-out — and nothing can be done to him. At least nothing apart from having someone write bad things about him, but that’s gonna happen anyway. The guy can’t play golf without someone who has no idea how to Cespedes’ job say that he “just doesn’t get it.”

So, will Cespedes opt-out? He’s certainly making a case that it’d be a wise thing to do purely on financial terms. He’s hitting .295/.365/.570 with 25 homers in 98 games. And those numbers are dragged down a bit by the fact that the Mets kept playing him through an injury for the second half of July.

Maybe Cespedes just likes New York and maybe he’s happy with his two-year, $50 million guarantee and won’t opt out. Maybe he doesn’t want to deal with the drama and uncertainty of free agency again, even if he would have no trouble finding a job. Maybe he thinks that he’ll fall short of the $25 million average annual value he’s looking at for 2017 and 2018 if he opts out, even if he does get a longer deal as a result.

We have no idea and we have no say. But it’s not hard to imagine that, if he keeps hitting and especially if he helps the Mets get into the playoffs, he’d be leaving a ton of money on the table if he doesn’t test the market once again.

Oakland A’s officials taking a tour of a possible waterfront ballpark site

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 19:  A Maersk Line container ship sits docked in a berth  at the Port of Oakland on February 19, 2015 in Oakland, California. International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) longshoremen at the Port of Oakland took the day shift off today to attend a union meeting amidst ongoing contract negotiations between dockworkers and terminal operators at west coast ports. The port closure, the seventh one this month, has left 12 container ships stuck at the dock with no workers to load and unload them. The ILWU members at 29 West Coast ports have been without a contract for 9 months. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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The Oakland Athletics’ ballpark saga has gone on for years now, with false starts in Fremont and San Jose, lawsuits and seemingly interminable talks with the City of Oakland over a new place on the current Coliseum site. That’s all complicated, of course, by the presence of the Raiders, on whose address — be it Oakland, Las Vegas or someplace else — the A’s future is still largely contingent.

The city has tried to get the A’s interested in a waterfront site for several years now. There are a lot of problems with that due mostly to zoning and regulatory matters, as well as proximity to transit and other practical concerns. The artist’s renderings are often pretty, but it takes more than artist’s renderings to make a good ballpark plan.

But no one is giving up on that and, it seems, even the A’s are willing to at least listen to such proposals now:

Oakland A’s co-owner John Fisher is expected to join officials Thursday for a hush-hush tour of the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal, a cargo-loading area near Jack London Square that Mayor Libby Schaaf tirelessly promotes as “a fantastic site for a ballpark.”

Guess it ain’t so “hush-hush” anymore. As with all Oakland ballpark stories, however, feel free to continue snoozing until someone gives us a real reason to wake up.

Note: The above photo is from the Port of Oakland. I have no idea what the proximity of the working part of the city’s port is to where they’d build a ballpark, but I used this picture because I love the story about how George Lucas spotted those things from an airplane as he was leaving Oakland or San Francisco or whatever and used them as inspiration for the AT-AT Imperial Walkers in “Empire Strikes Back.” Which may be a totally aprocyphal story, but one I love so much that I told it to my kids when we flew in to Oakland back in June and will choose to believe despite whatever evidence you provide.