When it comes to performance enhancing drugs, Romney beats Obama

66 Comments

Because the election season hasn’t been long or tortuous enough, Mitt Romney and President Obama were interviewed by Chris Berman on Monday Night Football last night. Which seems like a waste of time, because if you’re still an undecided voter on the evening of November 5 you’re probably unlikely to have the proper cognitive skills to operate your car to get you to the polls this morning anyway. But hey, they talked about sports, so that’s fun.

I don’t really care what Obama thinks about the Chicago Bears or the college football playoff thing, and I don’t really care what Romney thinks of the Red Sox and Patriots. We all have our rah-rahs. But this answer from Romney about what he thinks is the biggest issue in sports was interesting:

“It has to be the specter of drugs — and performance enhancing drugs of all kinds,” he said. “We have to continue to battle that. We have to make sure that our technology keeps up with the people that are trying to skirt around the law. … We’re going to have to change the culture that says to people, using performance enhancing drugs is acceptable. It is simply not.”

Obama didn’t touch that last night, but in October 2008, as a challenger, he sure did during a radio appearance:

“As a father and an avid sports fan, I understand the dangers that performance enhancing drugs pose for athletes, as well as the teenagers who seek to emulate them, not to mention the effect that these drugs have on the integrity of sports. As president, I would use the bully pulpit of my office to warn Americans about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs, and I would put greater resources into enforcement of existing drug laws. I would also convene a summit of the commissioners of the professional sports leagues, as well as university presidents, to explore options for decreasing the use of these drugs.”

Greater resources into enforcement? Thanks, dude. While it isn’t of extreme importance compared to most of what happens in government, the DOJ’s show trials of PED users is one of the dumbest and more pointless things the government has done in the past four years.

I’m gonna vote later today and based on stuff I’ve written before you probably know how I’m gonna vote. But I will freely admit that I would much prefer it if the government’s involvement in sports controversies was more akin to Romney’s “working to change the culture” talk than Obama’s “putting greater resources into enforcement” jazz.  Government has enough to do without increasing the intensity of its increasingly feckless war on drugs,* let alone the singularly feckless PED battles within that war.

*No, I’m not under any delusion that Romney would ratchet back the overall war on drugs anymore than Obama would. When it comes to that stuff the major parties seem to be in similar, idiotic lockstep.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

Getty Images
9 Comments

Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

Getty Images
2 Comments

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.