Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy anniversary

Manny Ramirez's fifty game suspension for violating MLB's drug policy came as a surprise yesterday, but certainly not a shock. At this point, no one in the sport is above suspicion. Ramirez didn't particularly seem like an obvious steroid user, but his ridiculous explanation for how he wound up taking a female fertility drug makes about as much sense as Rafael Palmeiro's "tainted B-12 shot" or Floyd Landis's "I drank a couple of beers, and I'm just full of testosterone" excuses. The only two players I have any faith in being clean are Ken Griffey Jr. and Chipper Jones. The career arc of their numbers make sense, their physique never changed, and both have never been linked to anything while speaking out against PEDs. Everyone else might be innocent, but there's just no way to know. You might not care - if the guy playing for your team can hit it out of the park, what's the big deal to you if he'll have health problems one day? I can't buy into that way of thinking because no person in America should be forced to endanger their future and possibly break the law to stay employed. That's the position far too many players were put in over the past couple of decades - do you cheat to give yourself the best chance of staying in the game, or do you not and watch your spot get taken by someone who is? When some of this generation's MLB stars start dropping dead in their fifties like pro wrestlers, maybe everyone will understand why this stuff mattered.

How can fans express dismay over the state of MLB? There may be a way that would be satisfying to a lot of people for different reasons. There was already a budding movement to vote Lastings Milledge in as a National League All-Star outfield starter. Sure Milledge is in the minors and has been for several weeks, and he's been an underachieving disappointment throughout his career. That's all the more reason to vote him in! It would make a statement about how awful the Washington franchise is, but also draw extra attention to the fact Ramirez won't be in the outfield because of his transgression. Milledge for All-Star outfield in 09 - vote early and vote often!

I've argued for years that student athletes should have more control of their images than they do. It's ridiculous that Nike can benefit from their logo being prominently plastered on Tim Tebow, but if a sandwich place wants to give him money to say he eats there that would be unacceptable. Having said that, I don't quite understand Sam Keller's suit against the NCAA and EA Sports about the use of player images in the popular NCAA football video game. The former Arizona State and Nebraska QB is clearly right that the players in the game are direct representations of the actual players for their teams even though their names aren't used. My question is how will Keller show damages here? Someone may very well want to play College Football 2010 as Sam Bradford, but no one was saying "I get to be Sam Keller!" when they fired the game up a few years ago. Even if a character on one team out of more than a hundred in the game was modeled on him, what's that worth financially? This would be a much more difficult case for the NCAA to win if Tebow was the one pursuing it.

Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of this blog. I started it as a way to maintain contact with my Gainesville radio show audience after moving to a new city, but along the way others have begun to read it regularly as well. Deadspin's not in any danger of me passing them in hits anytime soon, but that's not really what I'm trying to achieve here. I'm still hoping to eventually expand to some other things like podcasting and posting photos when I'm on the road, but finding the right combo of available time and resources for that hasn't happened yet. It gives me something to strive for in year two. Thank you for taking a little bit of time out of your day to drop by.

We've seen a little good stuff - mostly Bulls/Celtics - during the NBA playoffs and we've seen some real dreck. The Hawks and Heat played the worst seven game series ever, and if Atlanta versus Cleveland was a fight the Hawks are Ricky Hatton to LeBron's Pacquiao right now. One thing I can promise you that this postseason can not possibly hope to touch is the magic of this Larry Bird/Rick Barry NBA catalog ad from 1987. That is some high caliber acting for your enjoyment - have a great weekend, happy Mother's Day and I'll see you back here Monday.

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