USA Today collects some comments from five of the ten still-active Mitchell Report All-Stars. The most interesting quote comes from Matt Herges, who is clearly not part of the “steroids just help me stay in the lineup” camp:
“I know what steroids did for me. It made me
superhuman,” Herges said. “It made me an android, basically. Your body
shuts down, and the stuff takes over. You had guys throwing harder than
95 mph when they had barely touched 90 mph their whole life. It wasn’t
just that but the strength, the confidence it did for you. “The confidence, the feel, the results, is mentally addictive. It’s habit-forming to say the least.”
People always point to the offensive explosion of the Steroid Era, but I’ve always wondered if it wasn’t the relief pitchers like Herges who benefited the most from PEDs. They’re the closest thing to sprinters in baseball, doing one thing — throwing fire — in shorter bursts than anyone else on the field, and I suspect they more than anyone else would benefit from added chemical strength. Hitters still have to have good timing and a good eye. Starters need more stamina and a more nuanced mental approach given that they gotta face guys two or three times. With most relievers, gas makes the difference.
I won’t name the name because I’ve never seen him attached to steroids in print, but there was a Braves reliever who showed up one year in the bad old days throwing the ball approximately 249 miles per hour faster than he ever had earlier in his career. With each pitch I wondered whether his arm or the hitters’ bats would explode first. Turns out the arm did, but not after an uncharacteristically large number of strikeouts. Maybe it was steroids, maybe it wasn’t, but he certainly demonstrated what added velocity can do for a guy who makes his living one inning at a time.
Major League Baseball just announced the details for the ceremonial and off-field stuff in connection with Games 1 and 2 of the World Series. The one most people were wondering about was the ceremonial first pitch. Sorry, Charlie Sheen fans. Sorry fans of “Major League” in general. Two real baseball stars are handing first pitch duties: Kenny Lofton before Game 1, Carlos Baerga for Game 2.
Lofton needs no introduction. He should be a Hall of Famer but is criminally overlooked, perhaps because he bounced around to a lot of different clubs. He made his name in Cleveland, however, doing three separate tours with the Indians, leading the AL in stolen bases for five straight years early in his career and putting up a line of .300/.375/.426 in ten seasons on the shores of Lake Erie.
Baerga played for the Tribe between 1990 and 1996 and was, for a time, quite the superstar, even if people don’t talk about him much anymore. His career fell off pretty quickly in that way that often happens for second basemen and/or stars who end up on the Mets, but there was a time when he was perhaps the biggest star on some excellent Indians teams. People had “will Carlos Baerga be a Hall of Famer?” conversations and stuff. The mid-90s were a special time.
Beyond the first pitches, the National Anthem will be sung by Rachel Platten before Game 1 and by the group Locash before Game 2. As I am an old man out of touch with most things, I have no idea who they are, but I am sure their fans are passionate and their renditions of the Anthem will be fine and non-controversial. Fox, MLB and the folks at major record labels are pretty good about that sort of thing and everyone will be especially vigilant in light of what happened with that Canadian tenors group at the All-Star Game. If nothing else, I bet you pick up the check for the Anthem performance after the song, and not before these days.
I realize everyone is super excited about the Cubs being in the World Series for the first time since 1945, with the chance to win it for the first time since 1908. But you’d think folks would remember that it’s just the Cubs — and not Chicago as a whole — who have been away from the Fall Classic for so long.
I know their recent struggles makes it seem like a long, long time ago, but the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. They were in the World Series in 1959 too. You wouldn’t know that, though, if you looked at some prominent media outlets:
I understand the impulse to tell the “a whole city is coming together!” story every time stuff like this happens, but there are a lot of White Sox fans in Chicago. A good number of them don’t give a crap about the Cubs. Many even resent them for being the glory franchise in the city in the eyes of many. They certainly don’t feel like there’s a championship drought afoot, and I imagine they’re somewhat cranky about having their team’s glory plastered over like this.