Friday, December 17, 2004

SF Chronicle Reports LFR Curse

Did Nancy Gay's article in the San Francisco Chronicle unwittingly stumble upon my Doug Gabriel curse, December 16th?

Referring to Gabriel's lone highlight catch against the Steelers and the subsequent drought that followed:

"It was his greatest play this season. It also proved to be something of a curse."

Curse? Could she be possibly referring to my July 21, 2004 post entitled, "The Curse of the Portugee"? As much as I would love to take credit for ruining his season just as I put Yankees' second baseman, Chuck Knoblauch's career in shambles in 1997, I can't. Gabriel's quotes are somewhat disconcerning and fit the profile of the party animal that I know.

The article, in fact, reveals someone over-his-head as a starting wide receiver in the NFL, especially after the departure of Jerry Rice in October. Said Gabriel, "More plays. Different plays. Different routes. My book is little thicker now. Was he talking about his playbook or his little black book. Was, what I thought, a 3am booty call actually Doug practicing his receiving routes?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Leave The Game Barry

Sound the alarms. Our national pastime is near the point of irreparable harm.

We all could deduce that Jason Giambi like Gary Sheffield, Ken Caminiti, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco used steroids. Anyone could easily analyze the evidence logically. The sudden increase in production, the eventual increase in niggling injuries and the subsequent decrease in production and not to mention having accused steroid vendors as acquaintances.

This leads us to the apocalyptic question for the game. The question, that if answered positively, could only be rivaled in the damage it sustains on the game by the 1919 Black Sox scandal--Did Barry Bonds use steroids in his run-up to breaking the all-time home run record?

Barry Bonds must not be allowed to pass Babe Ruth’s 714 homeruns or break Henry Aaron’s Major League record 755 homers. These are hollowed records in baseball history. A ubiquitous asterisk must not be placed in the record books.

In practical terms, what can be done? Really, nothing. Bonds has neither admitted nor been formally accused of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs. All the circumstantial evidence points to him, though. It’s highly unlikely that Commissioner Bud Selig will intervene on the matter. He’s been complicit to the entire reworking of Bonds’ public persona during his run to 755. He’s chosen to ignore any steroid issue when it pertains to Bonds and will continue, at least, until the courts intervene.

A federal judge in San Francisco is contemplating holding evidentiary hearings on the four defendants involved in the BALCO case in January. This may be the arena where evidence of steroids use on Bonds’ behalf become known.

Could we imagine a scenario in the coming weeks where Bonds hangs up his cleats and settles for third on the all-time homers list? There are many convenient excuses that one could conjure. He’ s burned out. He’s old (he has already begun to use this line last season), maybe the fun isn’t in the game since his father died last year or the old “I want to spend more time with family” schtick.

Leave his records as they are now as long as he leaves the game today. It is about time that Barry Bonds is revealed as the most morally corrupt athlete of our time. Given that he is already vilified by nearly everyone but Giants’ fans, he has nevertheless been able to duck the criticism that he truly deserves.

He was already one of the game’s greatest power hitters. He needed more? He needed to obliterate all the game’s most famous marks and do it fraudulently? He’s nothing more than a greedy, petulant, egomaniacal Giant.

Be Wary of Jason Kendall

The A's traded spare parts in pitchers, Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes to acquire the Pirates rugged-faced catcher, Jason Kendall, last week.

My complaint with some of Billy Beane's acquisitions is that he never seems to acquire what I refer to as "Men". Players who play the game aggressively, get their uniform dirty and create a fiery atmosphere on the diamond. Boston has a load of these players. Guys like Trot Nixon, Jason Varitek and Kevin Millar and look what happened to the BoSox.

It isn't always about finances because none of these players mentioned command large salaries or are really all-stars caliber performers. Beane definitely added a large dose of grit to the 2005 A's with this deal.

Last season, Beane brought in some "Men" to the A's roster. Mark Kotsay and Damian Miller. Alas, the year that "Men" populated the roster was also the year the A's failed to make the playoffs for the first time in five years. What do I know.

Our friends at are falling over the idea of Kendall in green and gold, I think we should be wary of this type of praise for a guy who is never mentioned as one of the game's best catchers.

Regardless of what others think, you can pencil Kendall at the top of the order followed by Mark Kotsay. Kotsay has indicated that he feels more comfortable batting second.

It is true that Kendall will get himself on base at a high rate, while he isn't the most accomplished baserunner since hurting his ankle in 1999, he isn't required to tear up the basepaths in Oakland's inexact philosophy of station-to-station baseball.

Kendall's positives:
>>Good, spray-hitting contact hitter
>>High OBP
>>Hits consistently against LHP/RHP, Home/Away and 1st/2nd half of the season.
>>Strikes out infrequently
>>Overall, he should improve playing on a winner.
>>He's a "Man"

Kendall's negatives:
>>Average signal-caller
>>Average defensively
>>Catching duties beginning to erode once stellar basespeed
>>Trades power for contact
>>Might make a cute couple with Barry Zito

Many are focusing on the added offense that Kendall might bring to the A's, but last season's squad had few problems scoring runs and actually hit for the highest team average in Oakland history. Kendall average defensive abilities might be problematic over a long season.

I was never a huge fan of Ramon Hernandez. I saw him as the epitome of the feeble-minded A's that squandered playoff chances four straight years. You need your best baseball mind behind the plate. The catcher controls the game. Will Kendall, like Hernandez, be throwing outrageously wild throws to second at the most inopportune time or will his mental breakdowns be more subtle like that of the outgoing catcher, Damian Miller.

As for calling pitches, Kendall worries me again. Many faulted the decline of the A's pitching on pitching coach, Curt Young. The pitchers were very familiar with Young since he was a roving minor league instructor for the A's. They didn't know Damian Miller.

Overall, the key to maximizing Kendall might lie in whether Kotsay can replicate his stellar 2004 season. Both are similar players and should compliment each other at the top of the order. My gut says that Kotsay had a career year at the plate, but his near-Gold Glove worthy patrol of centerfied will still benefit the A's.

Let's not get too excited about Kendall. We need more heft in the middle of the order. Besides, he's been under the radar to many fans, so many have a limited knowledge of him. He's also been on the trading block in Pittsburgh for over two years. Lastly, Beane acquired him for two chumps and a six-pack of Molson.

I will cringe if someone coins the nickname, "J-Ken".

Correction to Torture Story

The fifth bullet posted below, referring to American soldiers snapping pornographic photos of prisoner occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad not Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay.

Also: Tuesday's main editorial in the New York Times Op/Ed section further condemned the U.S. interrogation policies in Cuba, but added that the report mentions the level of complaints dropped from 2003 to 2004. Why? Because starting this year female interrogators began exposing their breast to inmates and distributing pornography to gain information.

My guess is when chicks are flashing battle-hardened prisoners of war who haven't seen a woman in months, if not, years; you might gain too much information. I'm willing to bet drawings of Princess Jasmine from the movie Alladin would reveal the location of Osama in a second to these guys.

Joining al-Qaeda suddenly became very American.