Thursday, February 14, 2008

Petey Comes through Again


So Barry Bonds failed a drug test back in '01.

I haven't posted in a few days, mostly because I'm bored as hell with all of the 'roid stuff.

I watched the entire congressional when Mark McGwire got amnesia and Sammy Sosa flunked ESL, and have followed suit with every other major happening in the whole saga, including the Clemens show two days ago, and it's really gotten old.

The last hearing, in my eyes, didn't accomplish much beyond what we already knew, and I doubt at this point that Clemens will be further prosecuted. The overall summation: Clemens is lying, McNamee isn't the greatest guy on earth, and Pettitte is right there with them. It really frustrates me that Pettitte appears to be getting such a pass on all of this, as there is really no reason to assume that what he has already conceded to doing isn't just the tip of the iceberg. He was deeply immersed in a group of characters that were all clearly juicers, and went from initially saying he never used, to saying he did one time, to admitting one MORE time. Why on earth shouldn't anyone think he was doing it just as much as the rest of them, the whole time? Even if "Mac" doesn't recall other juicing by Pettitte, Andy could have easily acquired the stuff elsewhere. It looks like selective judgment by a bunch of people who don't want to group a "true Yankee" in with the mercenary Clemens and the yippy Knoblauch.

Anyhow, a lot of guys did this, they'll never catch all of them, and it is what it is, but what struck me today were the comments of Pedro Martinez, proud to have notched such slimmed-down ERA's in such a beefed-up era. More power to Petey for coming out and saying that, and it's certainly worth recognizing. He is in my book the best we've seen in decades and the best we will see for a long time, which leads me to a larger point:

The zeitgeist of the day has dictated that the bulk of the 1990's and the early 2000's be labeled the "Steroid Era", and I think that's unfair. Take the other major "eras" that have been labeled in baseball history. There is the dead-ball era vs. the post-dead-ball era, and there is the modern era vs. the era between dead-ball and the lowering of the pitcher's mound. There is the integration era, the expansion era, and the post-free agency era. Now, folks want add the steroid era to that list, but it is decidedly different. In the dead-ball era, the strategy of play was universally more geared towards small ball. The material of the ball itself was less live, and the same ball would be used for nearly an entire game. At most one would see 4-5 balls in 9 innings, creating dirty, lumpy balls that severely handicapped hitters. Thus, this effects of this era were ubiquitous, affecting all players and teams. The same can be said for the periods before and after the lowering of the mound, and further for the rest of the periods I listed above.

The "steroid era" is different because it was NOT universal, and that is why I see the term itself to be wholly unfair. It is unfair because while so many cheated, so many did not. The lead example is Pedro Martinez, but the list goes on: The entire Braves pitching staff during their run, Griffey, Gwynn, Puckett, I would hope Piazza, and on and on. Heck, I'll even give credit to someone I truly can't stand, Captain Smug himself, Derek Jeter. The whole strech of time can't have a vernacular asterisk attached, because it does not apply to so many who deserve appreciation in their own rite. some would say let the good ones be held up as becaons of light in the overall dark era, but I watched too much great baseball in that time to cast it away and make exceptions. Let the users be blacklisted, but let the rest of the game stay, I say.

After all of this, however, we have pitchers and catchers in Port St. Lucie, and I'll be thrilled to get past the reruns of baseball Law & Order and back to live, old-fashioned ball. I want to hate the Phillies, not criminals.

Next up: Preseason previews/picks.

No comments: