Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez Hits HR 661, Passes Willie Mays on All-Time List

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Folks, Alex Rodriguez has returned to his hitting ways with a vengeance.

After sitting out all of the 2014 season with an unprecedented 162-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, Rodriguez has come back to the New York Yankees revitalized. And it’s allowed him to first hit his 660th home run — tying Willie Mays on the all-time HR list — then his 661st last night.

Apparently, being away from baseball and able to heal completely from a number of nagging injuries has allowed Rodriguez (also known as A-Rod) to partially sip from the fountain of youth. And that’s why he’s hitting so much better than he has in years.

OK, OK. I’m being a bit fanciful. (Then again, I am a science fiction and fantasy writer by trade. Can you blame me?)

Truthfully, I don’t know why A-Rod is hitting so much better than he has in years. I do suspect that having to take time off and fully heal up has helped him. He’s also known as a “workout warrior,” much like Kobe Bryant — or before him, Nolan Ryan; sometimes being in such excellent physical condition allows a premiere athlete like A-Rod additional time in the sun.

(Doesn’t that explain such feats as Julio Franco’s extraordinary longevity in baseball? But I digress.)

Rodriguez has also been much different with regards to how he behaves in front of the media and how he behaves with the fans. A-Rod seems to have learned some humility in his year away from baseball, too. (Or perhaps a brilliant public relations person has whispered into his ear, and the message stuck.)

Now, all of a sudden, A-Rod seems to understand that being a baseball player is a privilege. Not a right.

Or at least that while he has enormous gifts for baseball (which should be celebrated), that doesn’t make him the best thing since sliced bread.

Look. I am on record as saying I don’t care about PEDs that much. I don’t think PEDs help you hit a baseball; I don’t think they make you that much better of a fielder; the only thing PEDs are proven to affect, as far as I can tell, are the skinny pitchers who can’t gain weight. (On PEDs, that scrawny guy can gain weight, which will allow him to have a higher MPH fastball, which might get him entrance to the majors. Maybe even keep him there.)

I’ve seen that with the Milwaukee Brewers, my own team, mind. Derrick Turnbow was an excellent closer for the Brewers, for a while. But he apparently was one of the Brewers “outed” by the Mitchell Report…when he had to start passing drug tests, all of a sudden he lost his effectiveness. Then he was out of baseball not too long after that.

I still don’t know for certain if Turnbow actually gained that much with PEDs. But I do know that for an elite athlete, confidence is everything. If he thinks that he’s taking something that’ll help, it will help…psychologically, anyway.

Whether it actually does anything physiologically is another story entirely.

And closers are particularly friable. They lose their confidence for whatever reason, and they aren’t able to regain it sometimes. It may be years, or never, before they regain their top form.

Baseball is funny that way.

At any rate, premiere hitters like Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds do not need PEDs to hit homers. They might need PEDs to stay on the field a few years longer, to somehow help with their physical conditioning.

But they were HR hitters before they took PEDs (if Bonds actually took anything; nothing was ever proven). That doesn’t change after you stop taking PEDs, as A-Rod is showing right now.

All I can say to Rodriguez is this: Good for you, Alex.

I’m glad you came back to the Yankees, and I’m glad you’re hitting homers again. You make baseball a more exciting game to watch.

Thank you for understanding that, and for being willing to work so hard to regain your top hitting form without the use of PEDs.

A-Rod, MLB, and PED Suspensions

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Folks, over the last week or so, I’ve been riveted by the current contretemps over Major League Baseball’s suspension of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (“A-Rod”) being upheld by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz . . . albeit not for the 211 games MLB wanted. Instead of 211 games, Horowitz reduced the suspension to 162 games — the length of a major league season — and further said that if the Yankees make the playoffs next year, Rodriguez would be ineligible for that as well.

I’ve written extensively in the past about Ryan Braun’s struggle with MLB over the same issues (go here, here and here for the three latest blogs on the subject), so if you’ve read my blog before, you know what I’m about to say.

But in case you haven’t, here goes:

I don’t approve of what MLB has done in paying off witnesses like Anthony “Tony” Bosch. I don’t approve of MLB purchasing stolen documents, either. And while I don’t approve of performance-enhancing drugs in the main, I think it’s wrong for MLB to go after one person — whether it’s Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, or anyone else — with so much vigor that they’re willing to do practically anything to “get their man.”

Stooping to the defense of “we’ll do anything necessary to stomp out PEDs” is not good enough.  It’s a witch hunt, just as Rodriguez has said on many occasions. And I think Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra was right when he said:

. . . I would not, if I were running Major League Baseball, have permitted my investigators to purchase the stolen Biogenesis documents. Maybe that costs me valuable information. Maybe that blows my case entirely. But I see no end result, including the possible failure to punish A-Rod, that is worth an organization under my command breaking the law, which I believe happened in this case. I also do my best to get better sourcing for the information my investigators obtained than guys named, simply, “Bobby.”

Even with the knowledge that Rodriguez could’ve and perhaps should’ve taken a much lesser suspension last spring (he apparently was offered a fifty-game suspension, this being the standard length for a first-time offender), I still believe that MLB’s actions were completely and utterly absurd — not to mention wrong.

That the World Anti-Doping Agency has come out in favor of the tactics behind the Rodriguez suspension only adds fuel to the fire.  As discussed in this article from A.J. Cassavell over at MLB.com:

“The ‘clear and convincing evidence’ found by arbitrator Horowitz in this case proves that non-analytical methods have an increasingly important role to play in uncovering those athletes who have breached anti-doping rules,” (WADA President) Reedie said. “Sharing information and intelligence is something WADA continues to encourage its own stakeholders to do in order to help protect the rights of the clean athlete.”

Um, even when “non-analytical methods” include intimidating and browbeating witnesses in the court of public opinion, then paying the very witnesses MLB just spent a fortune to vilify? Even when MLB is buying stolen documents of unknown veracity, then using them to back up their claims that the athlete in question — in this case, Alex Rodriguez — is guilty as sin of using PEDs?

How could any of those things ever be right, regardless of what Rodriguez actually did while a patron of Bosch’s Biogenesis clinic?

Granted, MLB wants to rid the game of PEDs — but why do it this way?

Because there is another way, and that way is called education. If you let all the players know exactly what these various banned substances do in the body — if they’re truly deleterious in their effects — that should take care of a good part of it.

And maybe that’s all MLB can do.  Because as broadcaster Keith Olbermann has said many times, there will never be a way to remove everything considered a “performance enhancer.” (KO has famously referred to an player who was known to have taken monkey testosterone — back in the 1890s.)

Years ago, baseball players took amphetamines to cope with the rigors of a 162-game season, and no one blinked an eye. Then, some players coped with the same rigors of a 162-game season by taking steroids — legal and illegal — because that was the only way they knew to keep their bodies in shape to play. (Note that the first player who admitted he took a steroid — a then-legal steroid called androstenedione — was Mark McGwire, who had well-known back problems.) Finally, some players — such as the recently-retired Andy Pettite — admitted using human growth hormone (HGH) in order to recover from injuries faster.

Now, all three of those substances are banned from baseball — though there are some workarounds for amphetamines in small doses with a doctor’s prescription. (For example, some baseball players have been approved to have Adderall to treat ADHD and/or narcolepsy; Adderall is a stimulant.)

Considering MLB’s current zeal and their scorched-earth philosophy when it comes to PEDs, will energy drinks that give players a natural “high” be banned next?

Don’t laugh. The World Baseball Classic banned albuterol because it helps asthmatic athletes breathe, so it obviously gives asthmatic athletes an unfair advantage. (I hope you can see my eye-roll from there.) And MLB has banned certain types of over-the-counter cold medicines, mostly because they contain a small dose of some form of stimulant.

All I know is this: Shaming people into doing something never works. MLB needs to educate the players in order to keep them away from PEDs, rather than shame them.

Maybe then, they’d actually get what they want — a PED-free game. And they’d not look so much like villains in the process.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 15, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Quick Writing Update (and Other Stuff)

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Folks, I’ve been working on a short story for an anthology this past week.  Between that and editing, I just haven’t had time to do anything else — no books got reviewed over at Shiny Book Review (SBR), no blogs got written since early last week, and even though I’ve had much to say as there have been plenty of targets (Wisconsin’s R Governor Scott Walker actually had the nerve to compare himself to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, if you can believe that), I just haven’t had the time or energy to spare for blogging.

However, as I have sent off my story to a friend for a quick read-over, I have enough time to comment very quickly on a few things.  So here goes:

I think it’s ridiculous that people are praising Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig for his “vision” and “good sense” in suspending a number of baseball players today, the most high profile player of the lot being Alex Rodriguez.  (The others include OF Nelson Cruz, SS Jhonny Peralta — yes, that’s how he really spells his name, it’s no misprint, and SS Everth Cabrera.)  As former Brewers pitcher (and current New York Met) LaTroy Hawkins said today on Twitter:

LaTroy Hawkins@LaTroyHawkins32 8h

PLEASE STOP PRAISING #BUD

And here’s my take on Bud Selig, again from Twitter:

Barb Caffrey@BarbCaffrey 6h

Already tired of people praising #BUDSELIG. He looked the other way when steroids drove baseball; he’s a hypocrite. #IHateHypocrisy

Otherwise, I’m keeping an eye on the national political scene, as per usual, even though nothing’s getting done as the House of Reps (not to mention the Senate as well) are on a five-week paid vacation right now.

My take on that?  Who the Hell else gets paid for doing absolutely nothing, then goes around telling people they’re “fighting Washington” as have the House Rs (or, if that doesn’t read well to you, the House GOP as led by Speaker John Boehner)?

I’m sorry.  If you are an elected public official, as John Boehner is, you’re not fighting Washington — you are a part of WashingtonThus, you are a part of Washington’s dysfunctional culture.  And you can either fix it, or not . . . but if you refuse, don’t be surprised when you’re thrown out the door next time around.  (Or if your own seat is saved, your position may not be — which is why Boehner is likely to be the minority leader of the House next time if his inaction and lack of leadership keeps up.)

Granted, the House Ds aren’t doing much of anything, either, save bloviating and grandstanding — but they have no power, as there are far too many Rs to make anything the Ds do worth the time.  Which is why I, personally, blame the Rs far more than I do the Ds.

Finally, I’m very glad that the current Wisconsin law as signed by Gov. Walker that restricts abortions has been placed in abeyance — that is, an injunction has been filed that blocks the law — by a federal court judge.  I think that law needs to be studied in depth before it’s implemented, if it ever is.  Because on its face, it’s yet another biased law by a bunch of people who, to be charitable, don’t seem to know what the Hell they’re talking about.

More blog updates when I have ’em . . . and thanks for reading, as always.