On the World Series, the Giants and Steroids

I’ve sort of lacked writing posts lately. If you’ve seen my other blog, you’ll know I’ve been sick. I hope you can forgive me.

I’ve been sort of formulating this post in my head for a few months now, and just got around to organizing some thoughts on the subject. And, let me be the first to admit that I am well aware that there are facets of this topic that even I don’t fully understand, but I have a basic idea and I think it’s enough.

It’s apparent that the steroid problem has not been fully eradicated since new rules were put into place in 2005. This year alone we saw 5 players suspended for the use of steroids. That was more than twice the suspensions in 2011 and half of the suspensions in 2005. It’s getting better, but there are still those who are refusing to adhere to the rules, or think they are above them.

Like I said, this season we saw 5 players suspended for steroids, Guillermo Mota, Freddy Galvis, Marlon Byrd, Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon. Melky Cabrera’s suspension has been highly publicized. Just when we though we had seen the end of the media attention  around his 50-day suspension, Cabrera himself asks Major League Baseball on September 21 to no longer consider him for the National League batting title. Personally, I found it absurd that someone who was proven to have used a banned substance would still be considered for the title. MLB complied with his request and removed him from the race. While MLB Commissioner Bud Selig called it a statement of regret, to some it was more like a cry to remain relevant.

My opinion: He’s only sorry because he got caught. It’s like a little kid.

Cabrera was suspended on August 15 which was more than halfway through the season. The Giants had spent some of the season second to the Dodgers, but at the time of Cabrera’s suspension (and I believe the rest of the season) they remained atop the NL West. We all know how the postseason went for the Giants. Winning elimination game after elimination game, and eventually winning the World Series last night.

Would the Giants have been in a postion to make it to the World Series had they not had Cabrera or had Cabrera not been using steroids? I don’t know that. I’m not a psychic (sorry to disappoint). It should be noted, however, that two of the suspended players were Giants. I will say they did definitively win the World Series, no questions asked. Jim Leyland was spot on last night when he said that the Giants beat them. That it wasn’t like this was game 7 and they got a fluke hit, they came out, they played and they won. The Giants got hot at a really good time.

Cabrera was the All-Star Game MVP after leading the NL to a win an home-field advantage for the World Series.

But, should steroid punishments be more strict? Should the league be doing more to eliminate the use completely? Could the league to more?

I think so.

Right now there is only minor accountability for their actions. Yea, players are suspended, but what does that really mean? They still have whatever contract they were on. It’s almost a slap on the funny bone (because, yea it hurts to hit your funny bone, but you survive it and are fine tomorrow morning).

The rules for steroids are much harsher in the Olympics than our pro-athletes. Interesting. According to the BBC, the first five finishers in any Olympic competition is tested. Also tested are two random competitors. These athletes are not allowed out of the venue, because the testing is done immediately after the competition. There is also random testing done throughout the Olympic Village during the entirety of the games. Athletes are given a chance to test a second sample which was taken at the same time as the first, and they can plead their case. If they IOC finds they did use a banned substance, they are thrown out of the games. There is no whining, no complaining of bias; it’s just part of the games.

In Major League Baseball, however, it results in suspensions: 50 days, then 100, and finally banned. Although technically the rule states 10 days, then 30, then 60, then a year before the Commissioner steps in. Either way, it takes a bit to get banned. It takes a bit to get more than a slap on the wrist. This season, all suspensions except Mota’s were 50-day suspensions.

What if we punished the entire team when a player is suspended? There’s accountability there, right? When I was playing sports, a lot of coaches had the same strategy: if one player makes an error, make everyone run except the player who made the error. We certainly didn’t want to run when someone else made an error, and after one or two runs, we were certainly putting the pressure on everyone to do well. If the league threatened to take wins away or some kind of punishment for the entire team when one is taking steroids, you can bet that players will at least be thinking twice before they “use a substance (they) should not have used,” as Cabrera explained it to the media after his suspension.

They would also be held more accountable by fans. How angry would San Francisco fans be right now had the league taken 20-30 wins from them. There would be fans in the streets for an entirely different reason, and we would most likely have a different World Series Champion. But right now we have a team who may or may not have gotten there thanks to his use of a knowingly banned substance. He didn’t care that he messed up; he cared what he could get out of it and hoped he didn’t get caught.

Even if MLB stepped up and placed a rule like this (not that I ever expect them to), it’s not going to entirely erase the issue. We’d be fooling ourselves if we thought that was ever possible. Let’s face it: there are some incredibly selfish people who really don’t care what happens to the rest of the team and are only out for themselves. But, it may reduce it even further.

Our responsibility as fans is exactly as I stated, we should be angry at whichever player chooses to use. If you’re a San Francisco fan, you should be angry at Cabrera because maybe you wouldn’t have had to win so many elimination games had he not been using a banned substance.

It’s just a thought.

 

(FYI: all suspension info came from http://www.baseball-almanac.com/legendary/steroids_baseball.shtml)

End of the season and a sad realization

Very last game I went to this season at Petco

Baseball season, for me, is officially over. I am going to watch the playoffs, obviously, but I have very little opinion on who I want to take it all- as long as it isn’t the Yankees.

The Padres ended in a similar fashion to how they started. It was almost as if the team collapsed at the end. There were some definite high points. We ended the season on a win against the Brewers. Everth Cabrera lead the NL in stolen bases. And, of course, Chase Headley lead the NL in RBI. That one is huge. We have only had one other player to do so- Dave Winfield in 1979. But, I realize I am not telling you anything you don’t already know.

I am really disappointed because I missed the last 4 games of the season, so I don’t have a proper gauge of how the boys were playing at the end. What I do know is that we lost more at the end than I would have expected based simply on how they had been playing the two months prior. I don’t know if it was because the Dodgers, Giants and Brewers really were that much better than us, or if playing fell apart. I don’t feel like they were, at least not the Brewers and Dodgers. It was disappointing as a fan to watch something brew and then fizzle away.

What was more disappointing? The way the Rangers season ended. That was depressing. Not only did they drop the AL West to the A’s, but then they dropped the wild card game to the Orioles. Those were the two Cinderella teams- the two biggest shockers this year. The only thing shocking about the Rangers was the fact that they imploded at the end. Rather, they self-destructed. That lineup needs to be examined. I sadly wasn’t able to watch as many games as I would have liked to, so I don’t have a good grasp on what exactly is wrong, but clearly something isn’t working.

I know there were some pitching injuries, and perhaps that strength just wasn’t there. It seems that was the common theme among my teams this year. Injury.

Whatever the cause was, I’m ready for the 2013 MLB season. I’ll be more of an outside spectator next year. I’m moving to Austin, Texas in about 3 months. I’ll be about 3 hours from Houston and 3 hours from Arlington (give or take). I won’t be anywhere near the Padres except for a few games. Saying that just made it real; I didn’t realize how sad that would be.

As a role, the Fox Sports Girls are offensive

I haven’t given up on writing, I swear. I’ve been so busy between school and an internship that writing doesn’t always sound appealing at the end of the day. I am, of course, still fervently keeping up with our boys and this awesome (but too late) turnaround. Had this team shown up in April, I honestly think we might be having a different discussion. Ahhh… the days of Hudson and Bartlett- I don’t miss those.

Then again, we have been spreading the pitching plague throughout the clubhouse this season. Our pitching rotation hasn’t been stable since… mid-May, I think? There is no way to recover when you’re constantly trying to find someone- anyone- to be a starter.

The end of this season is serving as a preview of next season. Barring some Latos-style trade in the offseason, I think that this team will have a real chance to be competitors next season… If the team stays healthy, and we find a strong rotation for all these pitchers we have now acquired.

I guess I should start the rest this post by saying that I’m probably going to anger some people, but it’s something I whole-heartedly believe in. That is the beauty of a blog, right?

I completely disagree with Fox Sports’s use of the so-called “Fox Sports (enter your city here) girls.” I’m unsure if ROOT Sports has them or not, y’all can inform me of that. I haven’t been able to figure out the purpose of their existence within the station. I don’t want this to sound like I don’t like the girls personally, or I am attacking them. I’m not. I met them a few months back and they were polite, but I still couldn’t figure out what exactly their job entails.

I’ve been told that they are ambassadors for the station. Why? Why does a station with nearly a stranglehold on the baseball industry in the US need ambassadors?

The girls have proven to have minimal knowledge of the game, while representing the team in a wanton fashion. The other day when the Padres were in Arizona, the game started at 12:40, yet as the end of the game neared, the girls took to Twitter and asked if everyone was ready for ‘tonight’s game’ (or something to that effect. I don’t really know because they unethically deleted the tweet- I’ll get to that part in a minute). When people corrected them on the fact that the game was nearly over, the response was “spent too long in the salon chair.”

 

As a journalist, I find this unprofessional. As a woman, I find this degrading. It is sending the wrong message. These girls are (portrayed) as ditzy, dumb and clueless. Whether they actually are, I have no idea. I am a strong, independent, smart woman who happens to love sports. What Fox Sports is telling me is that I am all wrong. I mean, I must be if they’re only showing women who seem to not fully understand the sport, right? They are sexualizing the game when it didn’t require it. If it has to be women, why can’t they be portrayed as smart? The way they are now, they’re literally adding nothing to the experience.

As  journalist, like I said, they are ridiculously unprofessional. I don’t know if they’re supposed to be considered journalists, because their roles aren’t clear, but they are a part of the station and should be classified as such. In that way, I don’t need to see pictures of their breakfasts, or know what they are wearing by the pool (adding to the sexualizing of it). Perhaps these girls should have their own personal Twitter account instead of using the mutual account from the station. Plus, whenever something is incorrect within the field of journalism, it is best that you issue a correction and not delete the error entirely. Now they have random replies floating out there. Either way, they need to behave in a professional manner. They are, after all, representing the station.

I know that some people are going to say that they want the chance to judge the roles of the women because they don’t even get Fox Sports San Diego. I know, that’s a whole other issue entirely. You’re not actually missing much. If I had another option to watch the games, I would. But, alas, like I said, they have a stranglehold on the majority of the market. At least, the markets that they want. I just hope they see this and begin to take people seriously.

Like I said, I know for a fact I’m going to be lambasted (at least, some people will be doing so in their heads). It’s your prerogative if you chose to like these women, but what if this were your daughter flaunting herself this way? What if this were your station, would you be doing this to women? Or would you actually have morals and be about the sport and the game, the way they claim to be?

Hope

There is a good chance that I am about to anger some people.

It’s not easy being a Padres fan. I’ve said it before, it’s rough when you consistently have a team that you know is going to underperform. We have spurts of greatness- 1998, 2005, 2006. Realistically, those have been just chance years. We can never expect to have a good season. We hold onto hope, we keep the faith, and the true fans cheer all season long. That’s what makes Padres fans great baseball fans. In fact, that’s what makes all fans of the consistently terrible teams such great fans. We punish ourselves by hoping every year for something different. I suppose that makes us insane. I call it hopeful.

Then there are fans of the good teams- the Yankees, for instance. The teams many consider the spoiled brats of the MLB. The teams that typically get what they want, when they want it. The owners’ pockets seem bottomless, and they have players making a higher salary than some entire teams’ budgets. The fans don’t suffer. Sure, they may have one or two off  years (which one can hardly define as “bad”), but ultimately, the fans don’t have to wonder. They know they will be great again in less than a year’s time. These teams don’t have slogans like “Keep the Faith,” because they never have to worry about losing it in the first place. I was reading that the Yankees slogan this year is “Heroes remembered, Legends born.” I think I just threw up a little. That made the franchise sound even more conceited than they already did. Why not just say, “our players are better, because we have the money.” It says the same thing.

I wonder what would happen if the Yankees came in dead last? As I type this, the Astros are 32 games back in the NL Central and 26 games back from the NL Wild Card. How would Yankees fans react? I’m sure some would hold onto the blind hope that we have, and think that there is still a chance (hint: there pretty much isn’t at this point). Most “fans” wouldn’t know how to handle it. They would complain, they would be angry, they would yell, and mostly they would stop coming to games until the team was returned to it’s former greatness- next season.

We have those fans in San Diego, but it’s a reality that San Diegans have coped with. We care more that the games cannot be seen on Time-Warner than the fact that we’d be watching a loss anways. We know our team is bad. But we still come, we still watch, we still cheer. We still hope.

Baseball-reference.com tells me that the Yankees have 17 retired numbers, including Jackie Robinson’s #42. The Padres have 6, including Jackie Robinson’s #42. Granted, the Yankees did become a team a full 68 years before the Padres, it’s still not the point. The Yankees have a full 27 World Championships to the Padres 0. But our fans hold on tight and hope that one day it will change.

The Padres are now the only team without a no-hitter. The Padres and the Marlins are the only team sans a cycle. But, that won’t last forever, we hope.

With every change, we tell ourselves, “This is it. That is what we needed.” It usually isn’t, but we still hope.

Now, with new owners waiting in the wings for the go-ahead to take over, we’re hoping again. We’re hoping that some money, some interest from our owners, even just a new face will be the refreshing change we need. I’m hopeful.

This isn’t a complaint about money. It’s a compliment to Padres’ (and all the painfully bad teams’) fans out there. We endure because it makes the wins and the great seasons feel so much better. It’s a nod to those fans who sit, and wait, and hope. This is not meant to bash the Yankees, those fans can’t help that their owners’ pockets are deeper than a crater on the moon. It is meant to show that there is another type of fan out there. A fan of the game, and not the money being thrown at it. A fan of the origin of the sport, before we had A-Rod and Jeter and Pujols making more money in a year than most people see in their lifetime. It’s proof that there is still hope found within the sport.

I know some people are probably thinking I’m jealous of the Yankees. I’m not at all, actually. The Yankees happened to be the first team that came to mind. I don’t think I could stand being a Yankees fan. I’ve never been taught to be entitled. I enjoy the ups and downs of the game. Not just the ups.

Go to Petco Park on a Tuesday night, you’ll see some fans with true heart. Heart for the game, and not simply a winning record. Those fans may even convince you to hold onto hope just a little while longer.

A possible half-hitter?

I didn’t think I would ever have praise for Edinson Volquez. Yet here I am, ready to pile it on.

Volquez became the first pitcher to throw a one-hitter against the Astros at Petco Park. To top that off, he only walked three while striking out five. Not only did he seem to have command, but his field was definitely behind him.

That field consisted of Logan Forsythe at second who, I think, saved the game. In the second inning, channeling his inner superhero, he leapt and snagged a ball slated for right field. He then tossed to Cabrera at second who threw to first. The triple play was missed by mere inches. That play saved at least one run.

The game really belongs to Volquez. It was his first complete game in his career. It was also a complete game shutout.

Warning: What I’m about to say may irritate some.

The only hit came in the fourth inning from Matt Downs. It was an infield single. Rather a “single.” Headley could have gotten Downs out, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is that Volquez booted the ball toward third. He then attempted to pick up the ball and dropped it. When he finally snagged the ball it was too late. I think it was an error. I’ve watched the play a few times now, and there is not much you can say to convince me that it wasn’t an error. Sure the play wasn’t an easy play, but it was possible. Add in the boot and dropping the ball, he ruined his own chances.

I’m going to make a bold statement here and say: This was the Padres’ first no-hitter. It won’t go on record. It won’t be notable in the future, but it was a no-hitter with two errors and 3 walks.

Since the history books will eventually beg to differ with that statement, I will say this is the closest we’ve ever come to a no-hitter. A half-hitter, if you will.

I won’t necessarily rescind the things I have said about Volquez as a pitcher, but after this performance it could happen soon. I will say this, he is a different pitcher than the guy who started opening day for us. I think this pitcher a lot better.

No matter what I say, we will still be the only team without a no-hitter when we wake up tomorrow morning. Eventually it will happen. It should have been tonight. That’s baseball ladies and gentlemen. You just never know.

Padres kick teams when they’re down

The authorities have been alerted that someone has stolen the Padres’ gear and uniforms, however they have chosen not to take action.

It appears the thieves are not making much effort to hide themselves nor the gear. It actually appears as though the thieves have kidnapped the team in an effort to gain notoriety by posing as the kidnapped players and participating in the team’s recent games. The authorities are impressed by the playing ability that they have decided to allow the fake players to continue.

Okay, I’m kidding. Obviously.

The Padres have won FIVE in a ROW! One- Two- Three- Four- FIVE! At a time when most teams falter and crash, the Padres have decided to take advantage of the downfalls. Kick ‘em when they’re down!

The rarely used and possibly mythological brooms came out of the closet today as the team swept the Diamondbacks under the rug. It was only the team’s second sweep of the season; they swept the Mariners a few weeks ago in Seattle. It appeared as though someone remembered the batteries for the bats on this road trip. We hit 14 homeruns on this trip! Keeping in mind we were in Colorado for some of that, but I still think that was incredible.

Starting with Grandal. Holy Rookie! I was very sad when I heard the news of Hundley being optioned to Tucson. I understand why. That backslide was something terrible. This was Grandal’s second trip up to the majors, but his first start. With his first major league hit, he proclaimed “you will NOT send me back down there again.” And he signed that proclamation in blood with his second hit. And with his third hit in the majors, he just wanted to make sure we remembered.

Jumping right on the homerun train was Amarista. Who knew the kid had power?! I refer to him as kid because he’s super short and younger than me. But first career homerun is a grand slam, ehh no big deal. He proceeded to do it again in Colorado- twice in one game.

I am a bit disheartened with the Cashner news. I guess I agree with a lot of people when they say at least it’s not his elbow. I just really have to wonder WHY all the pitchers continue to get hurt? I feel like a broken record. Something is obviously wrong.

I know better than to expect the homerun onslaught to continue at home, after all, we are at Petco. I do, however, hope that the playing continues. For the first time all season I saw smiles in the dugout- actual smiles! It’s nice to write about a team that is doing well. Can we keep this up, please?

Padres Pull of such an odd win with Cashner in command

Well then, I guess I am posting twice tonight. I felt like the last post needed to be it’s very own, and something about this crazy game.

It started with 6.33 hitless innings from the Astros, at the hands of Cashner. I never would have expected Cashner to come the closest to throwing a no-hitter so far this season. But it’s been a season of this sort of thing. Cashner finally lost his no hitter to Carlos Lee with one out in the 7th. It was promptly followed by a homerun. Pretty quickly we were down 3-1.

And thus it continued.

But then, in the 9th, Quentin is hit to WALK in the tying run. Still, there was only one out. And then, Alexi Amarista came through and hit his first Major League homerun- a grand slam! Suddenly it was 7-3 Padres. I haven’t seen the dugout look so excited and alive this entire season.

A quick bottom of the 9th and Padres tie the series. Nick Vincent (a Palomar Alum no less) was credited with the win for the night.

Cashner threw an incredible outing. He struck out 8, which is far more than I thought he would. I was not expecting to see such an incredible game from him yet. He is still transitioning to a starting role and his command is almost notoriously lacking. To see him come out with such confidence today was almost a relief. We’ve had so many issues on the mound this season that, if Cashner continues to do this well, we may have a star on our hands.

Let’s let this momentum carry into Colorado and get ourselves out of last place.

Talking about the fans, Cashner, and his (attempted) no-hitter

Baseball is a very superstitious sport. You have kids who won’t wash their socks until they lose, players who don’t wash their uniforms, and catchers who will only eat certain foods on game day. It’s only fitting that the fans are equally superstitious. So, when Cashner’s beard went for his no-hitter tonight in Houston against the Astros, the fans were split up the middle on whether it was okay to mention it or not.

I don’t think it was okay; it was a jinx when it started showing up on Twitter.

It’s something that, at least fans of the team, should not be mentioning. There is no real explanation for it other than we’re a very superstitious group.

What’s worse is mocking people for feeling that way about the superstition. Yes, your words do actually matter to us. It’s like being the big brother who picks on his younger siblings. When you’re a grown adult, what is the appeal? What is the point?

When you’re raised around a sport, you learn its intricacies. Any kid who has grown up around baseball knows that you don’t change things. If I wear a shirt to a game and we win, I won’t wash it between wins (yea, that turned out really terribly for me once). Mentioning the no-hitter was changing things. You let the pitcher go out and pitch one inning, one batter, one pitch at a time. You don’t mess with that.

If I have to shut up when I watch golf, then you don’t get to run your mouth when my pitcher is throwing a no-hitter.

This one’s for you AK, and seat upgrades

This one was for AK. Today, at the age of 50, Padres longtime bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds died. Before the game, Yonder Alonso and Anthony Bass both tweeted that this game was for AK. And it really was. The Padres pulled off a 2-0 win against the Mariners, clenching the series 2-1. This also moved the Vedder cup record this season to a final 5-1.

I bailed out of going to the game today. I was exhausted from this past week. I learned of the news through my friend Brandon, with whom I was originally supposed to attend the game. He texted me this photo of Joe Thatcher and Luke Gregerson carrying out AK’s jersey to the bullpen:

It was quite moving to see it on TV; I only wish I hadn’t bailed and was able to experience it in person.

Volquez went 6.2 innings and only allowed- get this- 3 walks. Kotsay went 3-3. This truly was for AK.

 

So, I have been to every homegame this homestand except today’s game. Yesterday’s game officially topped off my experience this season and I have no idea how I intend to top it. I happened to check Twitter just after Tom Garfinkel had posted that he had ticket upgrades to hand out to fans. My phone wasn’t responding very well, so I told Brandon to respond. Eventually, Garfinkel responded and Brandon got seat upgrades to the VIP Box. Front row, just feet from the players:

Oh and there was free food and alcohol too. The biggest disappointment was that I had already eaten like a pig last night. I feel like I wasted my money! But it’s okay, I still managed to make it worth it. Who knows when I will get to do that again.

RIP #48

Rangers sweep the Padres and I am not upset

I don’t even have words. This series was so much better than I ever imagined one series could be. I know epic is overused, but that is exactly what it was. The only thing that could have made this any better was to see the Josh Hamilton show take over Petco Park.

I am going to try to recap, but I don’t think it will all fit into one post.

I think today’s experience capped off the entire series for me. This is how it happened.

Monday night, I had far too much adrenaline pumping. I followed through on the bet and wore cutoffs. It doesn’t sound like a bad thing, except in California on the coast, it’s freezing. Thankfully, Kaity had a blanket. Anyways, there is this look that I am getting used to seeing. Any time someone (typically a guy) finds out that I not only understand baseball, but have more than a general knowledge of it, he gets this look of hidden shock. Like they don’t want to show me they’re surprised, but they’re obviously surprised. I got that look Monday night. The guy in front of me was shocked that I knew what was going on (I found out later that he discovered I knew what was going on when I mentioned the marine layer).

We quickly became quite the group, which also included Brandon and like four other people around us. We spent the entire game talking about our respective teams (we had almost every MLB team covered within our group). It was fun and entertaining and just a great experience. Well the guy that was sitting in front of me (the one who gave me The Look from above) noticed that I had been creeping on Robbie Ross. He asked me who he was and I told him. Dude yells to Ross to give me a ball. Robbie Ross held that ball for me the entire game and gave it to me after the game. I was excited enough as it was.

On Tuesday we had the same seats, and the same guy was sitting in front of us. He actually went out and bought a Rangers shirt before the game- I’m convinced I converted him. Ross actually recognized us from the night before. He was going to sign my ball, but he went in the game- that’s a little more important. The dude in front of me Monday, Joey, mentioned that he was going to be on the field for batting practice Wednesday. I don’t think I could have said “I hate you” any more. I had decided that I was going to today’s game, no matter what. I convinced Ashley to go to the game as well. We figured we would just buy cheap tickets and go sit with our new friends- they had better seats. At some point I had gotten his number so that I could find them when I got to the stadium so we could sit with them.

This morning I get a text, our new friend had called his ticket rep and we were going on the field with them for batting practice. I don’t even have words to describe how excited I was. There’s this thing that I’ve thought about a little bit, the Padres are so awesome because, due to the fact that they are so bad, they are so accesible to fans. But, when you have a team like the Rangers, it’s not even easy to get tickets to the games, let alone access the team. So the fact that I was on the field for Rangers batting practice was like unthinkable until this morning. The only caveat: I couldn’t wear Rangers gear on the field- bummer.

All I have to say is: the evidence of just how amazing I found this is in the pictures.

Ian Kinsler

 

David Murphy

 

The view from where we stood (please note: warning TRACK)

 

The Josh Hamilton Show

 

Nelson Cruuuuz

 

Ron Washington

 

And we met Mike Napoli!

 

I’ll write the rest later, including about Minivish and the actual games.

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