Friday, March 18, 2005
So I'm checking the website fleet, as one does, and I'm a bit behind on the articles because of the art school kicking my ass (ha ha ha, whee, metals! God I hate soldering) and general insanity (including last night, which involved glowsticks, green hair dye, and painstakingly drawn anatomical renderings on the face of a certain amphibious commentor on this site, who was quite unconscious at the time).
There's plenty going on in Tigerland, as Alex Sanchez (see appropriately goofy photo above) was cut due to either his defensive failings or the possibility to save a lot of money, depending on who you're listening to. It's good for both reasons, in my view: it's less likely now that every routine pop fly to center will result in a harrowing adventure as the fielder peers confusedly at the clouds instead of tracking the ball, and the Tigs save some cash by releasing him now, according to the Detroit Tigers Weblog. In any event, it lead to lots of speculation about who the Tigs are going to stick in center field now. Will it be Craig Monroe, who has more bat than glove but in any event can't be worse than Sanchez? Nook Logan, he of the occasionally Manny-level insane hair? And will former Tiger (and former Texas teammate of Pudge) Dean Palmer now make the team, possibly over the head of old-time Tiger and creepy bugger Bobby Higginson?
I've no idea, but it's fun to think about the Tigers during spring training with something other than complete despair, even if their minor league system is deep in the slimy basement of Major League baseball minor league systems, according to John Sickels, who would know. Boston, by the by, is pretty well rated, not fantastic but definitely good, and should get better with more Theo-run drafts in the future.
Speaking of Boston...
Reading through the official Red Sox site, I come across the news that Johnny Damon will be out for a little bit with cellulitis, which is a skin infection, on his leg and groin. Jere quipped that "Johnny Damon forgot to wash his crotch," which besides making me snicker made me wonder just how one got cellulitis. Can you really get it from not washing enough?*
Since this is the internet, and all manner of wonderful information can be found thereon, I went looking for it. WebMD seems to indicate that you can indeed get cellulitis by way of uncleanliness-- they say that at-risk people include "people who handle fish, meat, poultry, or soil without using gloves." They also note that "One study found that inflammation caused by toes rubbing together (toe-web intertrigo) is often a cause of cellulitis in the leg," which could certainly have happened to Damon-- those damn cleats, perhaps? You're also more likely to get it if you have a wound in the area, and Damon apparently had a cut on his ankle that could have been exposed to bacteria in the water, as he's been fishing, so he very easily could have gotten it that way. The doctors seem to think that this is in fact the likely cause.
For the heck of it, I checked out emedicine, which I've found is usually somewhat more scientific and less, well, dumbed-down than WebMD sometimes is. It had pretty much the same stuff to say as WebMD on the subject of cellulitis, until my eye snagged on a little bullet-point second from the bottom of its 'Causes' list:
"Chronic steroid use increases the risk of cellulitis."
Now, no need to panic, as I don't think Damon is on steroids, and there's absolutely no reason to think that he is. Even the Yankee fans haven't floated his name, and the most doleful of east coast media pundits haven't seen a reason to suspect him. His biggest physical changes have been of a hirsute, not muscular nature. His laidback personality is perhaps the opposite of 'roid rage. I'd easily believe lots of things about Johnny... wildly drunken partying, pot smoking, dirty monkey sex with his recently married wife... plenty of stuff to get the Jesus-for-real-not-Johnny-as-Jesus crowd in a tizzy, but steroids? Nah. Everything says that he's squeaky clean.**
I just hate, hate, hate that something like this even has to cross my mind, no matter how fleetingly, no matter how immediately chased away by every bit of evidence available to a fan. The sad fact of the matter is that baseball and steroids are inextricably linked by now, and any player illness that's even the slightest bit out of line with complete normalcy will plant a little question mark in someone's mind.
I didn't get to see the congressional hearings in their entirety because I was in class all day (literally, all day... left the dorm at 8 am, got back to the dorm around 9:30 pm). ESPN showed quite a bit of it on Sportscenter, though, which was probably boring and annoying for everyone who'd seen some of it during the day, but was nice for those of us who haven't got a speck of TV time during the diurnal hours. If you're like me and didn't get to see it, Will Carroll did a nice liveblog of the hearings, which you can read in two parts: Part I and Part II.
The bits that ESPN showed were mostly of the players. From what I saw, Canseco looked ridiculous, like he had pillows stuffed into the shoulders of his suit jacket, and with not much more substance in his comments. The guy who came out and advocated steroid use like mad suddenly doing an about-face and saying it needs to be banned? Way to go, Jose, everyone believes you now. Sosa looked like he hardly talked at all, and Palmeiro looked well-spoken for the bits I watched. Schilling definitely came out the most articulate, or at least he was the most willing to talk. Both Palmeiro and Schilling actually looked up from their papers to address the crowd during their prepared statements, which a lot of people didn't do, and it may be a small thing but they looked much better for it. Schill spoke very quickly but very smoothly-- he sounded very much like a politician. Which, given what I know about his political and religious leanings, ugh. I love the guy, but I sure as hell would never vote for him if he ran for a public office.
Pretty much everyone has already commented on McGwire's weird breakdown and refusal to answer to his use (or lack of use) of steroids in a straightforward fashion. I guess he could have just been refusing to be a party to the whole thing, refusing to comment one way or the other in protest, but would it have been so bad to just say he hadn't used them? He claimed that if he said 'yes' he would be villified and if he said 'no' no one would believe him, but he could've just looked around-- Palmeiro said he never used steroids, Sammy said he never used steroids, they were sitting right down the table from him, it's not like he would've been taking a stand and making a statement on his own.
It just smacks of an unwillingness to deny use in fear of perjuring himself. I guess there's no way to know what the real story is right now, and like David Wells reminds us, it's 'innocent until proven guilty'. But McGwire didn't help himself with any of that, not his refusal to answer, not his delightfully intelligent "steroids is bad" quote, not his wire-rim glasses and wobbly almost-jowls, which just made him look old.
Something that I did not see, but Carroll made a quick, throwaway mention of in his blog, was this very worrying apparent fact:
"Insulin is on the big poster of substances that this committee thinks needs to be added to the banned list."
Um, what? I mean, is insulin a substance that's regularly abused by athletes? And cripes, what about Tiger pitcher Jason Johnson, who is diabetic and wears an insulin pump on his uniform belt? OMG guys, better slap an asterisk on that lifetime-low 4.09 ERA in 2001! And how could baseball let this happen? I mean, he's wearing the pump right there on the mound, Trammell's gotta know about his insulin use, he can't pretend that he doesn't know what's going on. How does he allow such immorality to occur under his very nose? The shame for baseball, the shame.
Also as per Carroll, someone in the hearings was claiming that "1 in 16 kids has used steroids". OK, OK, not to be unprofessional about that, but what the fuck? I'm not that far removed from high school, and I'm pretty damn certain that 1 in 16 is not accurate. There was that whole thing with a couple morons on our football team getting sick from using rancid horse steroids (not kidding-- they were too dumb to realize that they were a) horse steroids and b) no longer even viable horse steroids), but at the time I got the impression that this was more an ill-conceived experiment gone wrong than a long-term thing suddenly exposed.
Now, maybe you could say that college kids who are in highly competitive athletics programs are more likely to use steroids, but if you look at the whole damn college I'd still think you couldn't say 1 in 16 of everyone. I mean, not 1 in 16 kids here are athletes, and let's face it, you're dumb if you use steroids in the first place-- if you're not on any teams and you're using them, I'm not sure there are any words for how dumb you are.
In any event, the fact that there are even congressional hearings on this is ridiculous. Kids have died from using steroids, and kids have been influenced by steroid use of their favorite ball players, but this can't be the most worrying thing they have to attack. I don't know the numbers, but I'd be more than willing to bet that WAY more kids die from alcohol-related incidents every year than steroid-related ones. Athletes drink too. Why not a witch hunt to eliminate alchohol use from the public eye, as it so obviously is more dangerous to the precious youth of today?
Hmm, guess those old congressmen haven't used steroids, so it's a nice safe topic for them to rail against. Bet they wouldn't like if you told them that, for the good of the kids, they'd have to give up their brandy.
On a completely unrelated note, the sports blogging world is connected to the real-life one, something that is easy to forget as we all communicate through the magical interweb. A few instances of this have brought it more forcibly to my attention lately. Kristen has distinguished herself as one of the best people to ever sportsblog, ever by sending me an entire boxful of homemade chocolate chip cookies, ostensibly for doing the graphic design over at Bring Back the Bullpen Car!, but mostly just because she is awesome. Kristen=cookies. Cookies=awesome. Kristen=awesome. Got that? And the fact that sportsblogging on the internet has netted me actual cookies in real life? I don't think that there has ever been anything more fantastic to come out of sportsblogging.
Ian from Fried Rice Thoughts was recently in Ann Arbor and the other day emailed me to say that he had actually bothered to go down to the WORK Gallery and check out my wonky tiger sculpture. Wow, thanks Ian! Sportsblogging: it gives you Culture!***
Da Kine, a regular commentor over at the Soxaholix, was recently involved in a terrible accident while transporting military materials on assignment in Kuwait. He had a number of immediate surgeries to deal with the damage and is currently recovering. I think I won't be remiss in saying that everyone in RSN wishes him the best.
Come home soon, Da Kine, and come home safe.
*Something that, for the record, I believe Damon to be completely capable of. Johnny Damon, not regularly cleaning himself-- this is entirely plausible. I've no sense of numbers, but I'm willing to say it's about 94.67% more likely that he's lax about showers than that he's on steroids.
**On the steroids front. Apparently not on the personal hygiene front. You know.
***Albeit bad, undergraduate art levels of Culture. Still, it's something.