So who's the Hall of Fame 'roider Tom Boswell mentioned last night?

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Note to Ken Burns and PBS: I’d be much more willing to watch “The Tenth Inning” if it wasn’t airing on a night when multiple games with playoff implications were going down. Thanks.

Second note to Ken Burns and PBS: if what my friends are saying is true and “The Tenth Inning” spends a bunch of time on the Jim Leyritz game of the 1996 World Series, I’m probably going to delete it from my DVR before I have a chance to watch it this weekend. Because, really, I never want to see that again. If a highlight that even looks like Jim Leyritz vs. Mark Wohlers comes on my TV I get nauseous as it is, so the last thing I want to do is watch George Will and Doris Kearns Goodwin and God knows who else waxing eloquently about it over some evocative mandolin music. Thanks again.

But some people are watching “The Tenth Inning,” including our friend lar from Wezen-Ball.  And he notes this morning that the most interesting thing from last night’s episode was when Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell said that he once saw a player — who is now in the Hall of Fame — drink something in the clubhouse which the player called “a Jose Canseco milkshake.” Which could have been Slim Fast and B vitamins for all we know, but since Boswell was talking about it during a segment about steroids, he clearly took it to mean that the thing was chock full of PED-ly goodness.

Based on the clues Boswell gave to the player’s identity — a guy who (a) is already in the Hall of Fame; and (b) who hit more home runs after Jose Canseco
arrived in the league than he ever had before — lar tries to figure out who it was.  I won’t give it away but his number one suspect is a guy about whom people have whispered in the past and whom would certainly have benefited from proximity to Jose Canseco.

But back to Boswell.  I recently spouted off about making evidence-free accusations of PED-use, and I stand by such spouting. But in this case, Boswell has apparently been sitting on evidence of a Hall of Famer using what Boswell believed to be PEDs for over 20 years.

I know that Boswell reported as early as 1988 that Jose Canseco used steroids — and his reports were basically ignored by all but a handful of booing fans that fall — but why haven’t we heard anything about this Hall of Fame player before now? Given all that has transpired in the past decade, wouldn’t information about a Hall of Famer’s PED use have been extremely relevant to the national discussion? I’m not saying Boswell just tell the mikshake story and leave it at that, but why not interview the player about it? Why not do some more reporting on it? Why wasn’t this out there before last night?

I won’t accept “what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse” as an answer here. Because if what everyone who goes on about steroids says is true, they damn nigh destroyed the national pastime. In such an instance a reporter seems more than justified — indeed, he seems obligated — to followup on what he saw in the clubhouse and get the story out there. If not in 1988, then certainly by 2002 when the steroid story broke big.

But that didn’t happen. What has happened, if what Boswell says is true, is that a PED user was elected to the Hall of Fame by baseball writers who currently believe that the world will end if a PED user is elected to the Hall of Fame. Mr. Milkshake has a plaque in Cooperstown, but because of the perceived need to keep the Hall of Fame pure, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire won’t get one anytime soon.

I don’t have a problem with PED users in the Hall of Fame and I wish Mr. Milkshake all the best. But I do have a problem with double standards. If what Boswell says is true, a steroid user is in the Hall. If it were widely known that a steroid user were in the Hall — and the world didn’t end because of it — it would necessarily change the way that other steroid users such as Bonds and company were treated when they came up for a vote. Or, at the very least, it would lay the hypocrisy of the electorate bare should it continue to bar the door to the Hall for those guys.

I don’t think we should out guys simply for the sake of outing them, but this seems important to me. People should know which member of the Hall of Fame was a PED user if, indeed, one is. Boswell should follow up on this or, maybe better, someone should follow up on this in his stead using Boswell as a source.  It’s not just a matter of journalism at this point. It’s a matter of history.

The 2017 Yankees are, somehow, plucky underdogs

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There’s a lot that has happened in the past year that I never, ever would’ve thought would or even could happen in America. Many of them are serious, some are not, some make me kinda happy and some make me terribly sad. I’m sure a lot of people have felt that way in this oddest of years.

There’s one thing in baseball, however, that still has me searching my feelings in a desperate effort to know what to feel: The New York Yankees are the postseason’s plucky underdogs.

This is not about them being lovable or likable — we touched on that last week — it’s more about the role they play in the grand postseason drama. A postseason they weren’t even supposed to be in.

None of the three writers of this website thought the Yankees would win the AL East or a Wild Card. ESPN had 35 “experts” make predictions back in March, and only one of them — Steve Wulf — thought the Yankees would make the postseason (he thought they’d win the division). I’m sure if you go over the plethora of professional prognosticator’s predictions a few would have the Yankees squeaking in to the postseason on the Wild Card, but that was nothing approaching a consensus view. Their 2017 regular season was a surprise to almost everyone, with the expectation of a solid, if unspectacular rebuilding year being greatly exceeded. To use a sports cliche, nobody believed in them.

Then came the playoffs. Most people figured the Yankees would beat the Twins in the Wild Card game and they did, but most figured they’d be cannon fodder for the Indians. And yep, they fell down early, losing the first two games of the series and shooting themselves in the foot in spectacular fashion in the process. Yet they came back, beating arguably the best team in baseball and certainly the best team in the American League in three straight games despite the fact that . . . nobody believed in them.

Now we’re in the ALCS. The Astros — the other choice for best team in the American League if you didn’t think the Indians were — jumped out to a 2-0 lead, quieting the Yankees’ powerful bats. While a lot of teams have come back from 0-2 holes in seven game series, the feel of this thing as late as Monday morning was that, even if the Yankees take a game at home, Houston was going to cruise into the World Series. Once again . . . nobody believed in them.

Yet, here we are on this late Wednesday morning, with the Yankees having tied things up 2-2. As I wrote this morning, you still have to like the Astros’ chances given that their aces, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, are set to go in Games 5 and 6. I’m sure a lot of people feel still like the Astros’ chances for that reason. So that leads us to this . . .

It’s one thing for no one to have, objectively, believed in the Yankees chances. It’s another thing, though, for the New York Yankees — the 27-time World Champions, the 40-time American League pennant winners, the richest team in the game, the house-at-the-casino, U.S. Steel and the Evil Empire all wrapped into one — to officially play the “nobody believed in us” card on their own account. That’s the stuff of underdogs. Of Davids facing Goliaths. Of The Little Guy, demanding respect that no one ever considered affording them. If you’re not one of those underdogs and you’re playing that card, you’re almost always doing it out of some weird self-motivational technique and no one else will ever take you seriously. And now you’re telling me the NEW YORK FRIGGIN’ YANKEES are playing that card?

Thing is: they’re right. They’ve totally earned the right to play it because, really, no one believed in them. Even tied 2-2, I presume most people still don’t, actually.

I don’t know how to process this. Nothing in my 40 years of baseball fandom has prepared me for the Yankees to be the David to someone else’s Goliath and to claim righteous entitlement to the whole “nobody believed in us” thing.

Which, as I said at the beginning, is nothing new in the year 2017. I just never thought it’d happen in baseball.