Quote of the Day: Steve Phillips on steroids


Sirius/XM radio has what seems to be part of some continuing employment plan for former GMs, and the latest enrollee is former Mets’ GM Steve Phillips. Yes, the man who was fired from the Mets for poor performance, fired from ESPN for shtupping the help and who sat on the deck of AOL FanHouse as it sank below the water line has landed in satellite radio. Good for him!

Anyway, last week Phillips was discussing the Barry Bonds trial on his show, and he had this to say:

“Thank God for steroids. It brought the game back from extinction.”

Um, yeah.

Look, I’m not going to deny that the home run explosion of the late 90s-early oughts helped the game a bit. I think it’s safe to say it did. But really, extinction?  And does Phillips really think that the game wouldn’t have rebounded regardless?

In fact, I’ve seen multiple things cited for baseball’s post-strike comeback in the 1990s. The wild card, creating broader fan interest in pennant races. The return to prominence of the New York Yankees and the reinvigoration of their rivalry with Boston. Heck, some people even think that Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games record was the turning point.

Or maybe there wasn’t a turning point. To the contrary, it seems that attendance trends show that the labor strife in the mid-90s was really an interruption of already-rising attendance numbers which began in the late 80s. The strike brought a trough, but after it was over, the trend in attendance continued upward at more or less the same rate as seen before the strike.

But even if you don’t buy that, it’s safe to say that just as steroids don’t fully explain the power increase of the period — thank smaller ballparks, weight training, equipment advances, smaller strike zones, thinning pitching talent and perhaps even a livelier ball for it too — they don’t explain baseball’s increasing appeal over the past 20 years either.

But hey: it makes for great talk radio to claim otherwise.

(link via BTF)

Clayton Kershaw does not need back surgery

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers stands on the pitcher's mound in the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs during game two of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says thatClayton Kershaw is unlikely to need back surgery for the herniated disk that sidelined him for more than two months during the season.

Friedman says that Kershaw feels good and that he doesn’t anticipate surgery. It was unclear if that would be the case because, even as Kershaw came back in September and pitched deep into the playoffs, often on short rest, everyone was fairly tight-lipped about how Kershaw was feeling.

For what it’s worth, Kershaw looked sound mechanically, even if was up and down at times in October.

People are paying tens of thousands to get into the World Series

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24:  Chicago Cubs fans visit Wrigley Field on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs will face off against the Cleveland Indians in the World Series beginning tomorrow. This will be the Cubs first trip to the series since 1945. The Indians last trip to the series was 1948.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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Ticket prices for the World Series are always ridiculous, but this year things are heading to a whole new ridiculous level.

Now, to be clear, some of the figures you hear are not what will be paid for tickets. The Associated Press has the de rigueur story of ticket holders asking, like, a million dollars for their tickets and ticket seekers willing to give all kinds of in-kind goods and services for a chance to see the Cubs play in Wrigley. A lot of that noise will never amount to any real transaction and, in some cases, will likely end up with someone getting arrested. It’s crazy time, you know.

But even if those million dollar and sex-for-tickets stories end up being more smoke than fire, people will end up paying astronomical prices to get in. Some already are. ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports that someone paid $32,000 on StubHub for 4 seats in the front row by the Cubs visitors dugout for Game 2 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The prices in Wrigley Field for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5 will likely go higher. There’s a ton of pent-up demand on the part of both Cubs and Indians fans, after all.

Still: trying to imagine how an in-stadium experience, no matter how long someone has been waiting for it, is worth that kind of scratch. Guess it all depends on whether that kind of money constitutes that kind of scratch for a given person.