No surprises here

It’s ridiculous, frankly. All of the hand wringing and dramatic anger about a report of a flunked drug test by one of baseball’s biggest names is beyond silly. It’s really as schlocky as the overwrought acting in a soap opera.

Call it Dynasty with A-Roid.

Or maybe “Dynasty” is the wrong soap for Alex Rodriguez to star in considering his teams have never won jack.

Anyway, perhaps it’s beyond cynical to not be surprised that the reports of a famous athlete allegedly tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Even guys who try to cultivate their image yet still make it so hard to for folks to like them like A-Rod fail to surprise. When the Sports Illustrated story surfaced reporting Rodriguez failed a drug test during his 2003 MVP season with the Texas Rangers, I almost yawned. Then again, who doesn’t slow down in traffic when passing a car crash? That’s certainly what we had here.

Yet A-Rod isn’t the typical wreck, apparently. Bob Costas doesn’t breathlessly indulge scribes on the tee-vee like he did on the MLB Network on Saturday for a fender bender. A-Rod mixed with methenolone, reportedly the same drug Barry Bonds tested positive for, is big news.

So why the cynicism?

Easy. It’s easy. They make it easy. When we’ve all been burned by the truth way too many times, cynicism might be the only ride left.

It’s kind of like the time when I was a teenager and spent two weeks during a summer working in one of my grandfather’s restaurants. I would never eat there, I told people, because “I saw what went on in the kitchen.” Though, to be fair, the place was ridiculously clean, it’s just that the basic act of food preparation is, in its essence, messy.

Continue reading this story…

It fits!

Brad LidgeJust one time I’d like to see a player try on a jersey that doesn’t fit during those ceremonial press conferences for newly signed players. Like say for instance the Phillies signed Barry Bonds and trotted him out with the whole jersey thing, but when he tries to slip his arms in it goes nowhere because it’s one of Jimmy Rollins’ shirts.

That would be funny to me.

The Phillies did their little dog-and-pony show with Brad Lidge yesterday where they made him fly to Philadelphia to answer a few questions and try on a shirt. Then maybe he had dinner, watched a little TV in the hotel before flying back home. Apparently everything fit and checked out fine for Lidge and the Phillies. The shirt looked good.

While all of that was going on in Philadelphia, the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez (sans agent Scott Boras) were working on a new deal that would give him a small percentage of a raise and bonuses for breaking records (more on that in a moment). Apparently, A-Rod and the Yanks are just crossing the Is and dotting the Ts on a 10-year contract. Rodriguez, of course, is the player that opted out the last three years of his current deal that was paying him more than $25 million for a shade more than 162 games. It’s just a shade more than 162 games because unlike ex-Yankee third basemen like Charlie Hayes, Scott Brosius or Graig Nettles, A-Rod has never made it to the World Series.

Better yet, any person who willingly opts out of a contract in excess of $25 million for 180 days of work is an [bleep]hole. I wish I could be a little more graceful, but I can’t. Seriously. Worse, there will be people going on and on about how A-Rod did the right thing because he got more money and more years by opting out… yeah, well, so. Does that much money matter anymore or is just about his ego? It’s kind of like the time we were all together talking about the shoddy work of a well-paid media type when someone butted in with a, “Yeah, but he’s making six-figures…” You know, as if that were impressive enough to change opinion. After a second or so, someone countered with, “Yeah, he might make six-figures but he’s still a bleeping hack.”

In other words, A-Rod might make all the money in the world but he still hasn’t played an inning of a World Series game.

But one of the more interesting elements of A-Rod’s new contract is that he will get a hefty bonus if he breaks the all-time home run record. Actually, according to Big Stein’s son, Li’l Hanky Steinbrenner, the Yankees are working on a “marketing plan” for A-Rod’s climb up the all-time charts.

“These are not incentive bonuses,” Steinbrenner said. “For lack of a better term, they really are historic-achievement bonuses. It’s a horse of a different color.”

But the color is still green. And here’s the thing – whose home run record does A-Rod have to break to get his horse? Will Major League Baseball still consider Barry Bonds the Sultan of Shots or will he get the big historical asterisk next to his name after yesterday’s indictment came down at around the time Lidge was trying on a shirt?

And we all know the Feds never get indictments for cases they could lose. They like to make it look like the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals…

Perhaps more interestingly, Bonds’ federal indictment for lying to a grand jury comes after commissioner Bud Selig announced that MLB’s revenues crossed over $6 billion. And, a day after The Washington Post offered readers a front-page story in which leaders in the anti-doping movement are convinced that getting indictments and launching investigations is a better tact than spending money to develop full-proof drug tests.

It looks like they got a really big fish.

More: The Bonds indictment (pdf)

The new dynasty?

Red SoxSo we live in a world where the Red Sox have won two of the last four World Series. Meanwhile, the White Sox, a club that had not won the Series since 1917, took the one of those titles during the Red Sox current “dynasty.”

What’s next? Will the Cubs finally win a World Series?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Anyway, two out of the last four counts for a pretty good dynasty these days. Though Major League Baseball does not have parity like the anti-American NFL, generally any team can win the World Series if they follow the Sox and Yankees’ formula. Since the institution of the Division Series in 1995, three teams have won the World Series more than once (the Yankees; the Marlins; and the Red Sox). That means any team can do it at least once… or at least get there. Only four teams (all of them expansion) haven’t won a pennant: the Mariners, Devil Rays, Rangers and the Nationals.

Of that four, one team clearly is not interested in winning.

The Red Sox second World Series title since 2004 makes one wonder what the hell they were doing for the 86 seasons between 1918 and 2004. No, there was no curse and people who believe in curses and jinxes in sports should put on their pink hat, untuck their jersey, sit down quietly in the club box seat, ask the waitress for another “Lite” beer and wait for the wave to come around again.

The real reason it took the Red Sox 86 seasons to win the World Series? They were stupid.

What’s the Phillies’ excuse? It approaching three decades since the Phillies’ last (and only) title, which would be worrisome if the Pirates had won since 1979, the Giants since 1954, the Indians since 1948, and, of course, the Cubs since ’08.

Ty Cobb was in his second full big-league season when the Cubs last won the World Series.

So how can the Phillies do what the Red Sox have done? Do they have to clean house of all the old-time thinking and get some new, fresh ideas like the Red Sox did? Do have to continue to build the team around their offense and the uber-cozy confines of their home ballpark? Hey, if the Rockies can win with good pitching at Coors Field, why can’t the Phillies do the same thing at Coors East?

Or do they need a manager like that Terry Francona who seems to always push the right buttons for the Red Sox over the last four seasons? Why can’t the Phillies ever get a guy like that?

***
Mike LowellAs the World Series entered the late innings last night, whipper-snapper sideline dude, Ken Rosenthal, announced that Alex Rodriguez had opted out of his contract with the Yankees and will become a free agent.

No surprise there.

Some say the Phillies could take a big step at building a World Series contender by signing Alex Rodriguez as the team’s new third baseman. In theory, this is a nice idea, but for one season of A-Rod, the Phillies would likely have to pay him 30 times what they paid Ryan Howard in 2007. Besides, if I had to bet, A-Rod will not be playing third base in 2008… he’ll be playing shortstop for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox third baseman will likely remain Mike Lowell, who priced himself out of the Phillies’ budget last night by being named MVP of the World Series. If I had to guess, the Red Sox other free agent on the Phillies’ radar, Curt Schilling, will likely return to Boston for one more run, too.

Schilling and Lowell would (could?) fit in nicely with the Phillies, but maybe Joe Crede could fit in nicely at third base as well? As far as starting pitchers go, free agents Livan Hernandez, Bartolo Colon and Carlos Silva will cost more than $10 million per season. Is that out of the Phillies’ budget? If it is, perhaps Randy Wolf would be a bargain at $8 million or so?

Better yet, maybe the Phillies can work on a trade.

Next: The Trials are four days away, which means we will have all sorts of running stuff coming this week.

This past weekend I watched the Centennial Conference cross-country championships, which (damn-near literally) took place in my back yard. If there were such a thing as a cross country video game, the designers should have pixelized Baker Field. That’s because the rain on Friday and Saturday morning turned the course into the quintessential mess, featuring standing water, slippery mounds and mud so deep in spots that when I ran the course on Saturday afternoon, my foot was buried up to my calf.

Though the World Series is over and the baseball season has come to an end until the middle of February, we will continue to write about baseball here. I’d write about sports outside of my realm (baseball, running, cycling, etc.), but I’m not so interested and I’m not good at faking it.