We don’t go easy on ballplayers who use PEDs because they’re “our heroes.” Quite the opposite

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I linked to Jeff Pearlman’s radio interview and post about how he feels Mark McGwire should be banned from baseball because he took PEDs back in the 90s and early 2000s when he was playing. There has been considerable reaction to his thoughts on that, mostly negative.

Pearlman responds to that at his blog. He’s quite upset that people aren’t as upset about it. And he thinks he knows why: fans worship athletes and let them get away with murder.

He says that McGwire and Bonds unconscionably destroyed records but “[t]o the athlete worshiper, none of that matters.” He goes on to say that even though sports is a fun diversion, “kids are watching” and “accountability means something” and for that reason “heroes can be called out, even if it hurts.”

I disagree with the very premise. As I said the other day, the idea that athletes are or should be heroes is simply foreign to me. Thus the notion that I and those who think like me go easy on PED users because we’re star struck or because we worship athletes is totally wrong. I get less outraged than most on the topic specifically because they are not heroes. Because they are ordinary people with ordinary human flaws.

This does not excuse them. If there are punishments rightfully due to them, they should receive them. But it does render moral outrage at their failings to be inapt, to say the least.

About those punishments and sanctions: Pearlman says this:

Stephen Glass never worked in journalism again. Myriad accountants and lawyers and doctors—once found guilty of violating serious professional bylaws—are done. Yet, in sports, coaches always say, “In America, we give second chances.” Yeah, if you hit home runs.

Yes. But that’s because The New Republic and journalism as a whole was very clear to Mr. Glass before he started working that plagiarism and fabrication was a fireable and, essentially, banishable offense. Lawyers and doctors have specifically set-out bylaws that detail the rules to be followed and the punishment to which they will be subject if they do not. It’s very, very clear.

Pearlman, on the other hand, would banish McGwire for conforming to norms of his profession at the time. Norms that, however odious they may seem to us now, existed and were strongly reinforced by the system in which he played when he did so. And even now, when those norms no longer apply, there are specifically set-out penalties for violating the rules. They do not include banishment for life unless someone has three offenses and they in no way apply retroactively. His comparison, then, is totally out to lunch.

But back to McGwire: No matter how angry he makes some people, he does not mean anything more to me than any other entertainer or celebrity does. The home run record is a statistic, not a sacred thing. Others may disagree with that, which is their right, but that’s on them. For my part, my lack of outrage on the subject is not because I believe them to be special or untouchable. It’s quite the opposite.

Red Sox opening as betting favorites vs. Dodgers

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Series prices could fluctuate wildly in a World Series matchup between two legacy franchises on opposite coasts. The Boston Red Sox are an opening -165 favorite with the Los Angeles Dodgers coming back as a +135 betting-line underdog on the World Series odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Red Sox, who host Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven series at Fenway Park on Tuesday and Wednesday, are attempting to become the sixth team in the last 24 seasons to win the World Series after having the best record in the regular season. The Dodgers are the 28th team to return to the World Series after losing the previous one and those teams are 15-12 all-time.

For Game 1, the Red Sox, with left-hander Chris Sale starting, are a -148 betting favorite while the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw are a +128 underdog and the total is at 7.5 runs. The total has gone OVER in Sale’s last three home starts and the total has also gone OVER in five of Kershaw’s last six starts on the road.

The Dodgers had the shorter turnaround – two days to the Red Sox’s five – after the league championship series and also had 17 fewer regular-season wins. However, they played at a nearly 100-win clip over the final three-quarters of the regular season (75-46 in the final 121 games).

Los Angeles offers higher-reward, higher-risk betting value, as its deep starting staff of Kershaw, Rich Hill Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler and its bullpen, anchored by Kenley Jansen, will try to stymie baseball’s best offense. The Dodgers bullpen had a 1.45 earned run average over 31 innings during their most recent series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Hitting-wise, the Dodgers are not as deep as the Red Sox and will need the likes of Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig to carry them.

Boston, paced by right fielder Mookie Betts, led MLB in runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage and has shown little sign of cooling off against October pitching.

The Red Sox’ series price will only go deeper into minus money if they overcome Kershaw in the opener, or take a 2-0 lead after Game 2. Speculators looking for more immediate value with Boston might want to bet a more specific outcome such as Red Sox in five games or six. There are reports that Betts will move to second base so that designated hitter J.D. Martinez can start during the games at Dodger Stadium, where National League rules will be used.

Boston has had consistent starting pitching for most of the playoffs from Sale, fellow lefty David Price and right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello. While there has been a great deal of hand-wringing about Boston’s bullpen, specifically closer Craig Kimbrel (7.11 ERA in the playoffs), middle relievers Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly have thrived at protecting leads.

Game 2 on Wednesday is also an all-lefty pitching matchup, with Hyun-Jin Ryu starting for the Dodgers while David Price starts for the Red Sox.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.