Sunday, August 07, 2016

of hit-by-pitches and primadonnas: a final look at Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez.

what can be said, when his name, ALONE, sparks reaction...

it's been said in every great drama, there must be a great villain. the world of baseball, that villain has more-or-less been the New York Yankees...

and...where would the greatest villain of all of Major League Baseball just to happen to belong? but, of course, with the New York Yankees.

love him or hate him, cheater or prodigal son, Alex Rodriguez has defied many labels and expectations. perpetually elusive in all manners of life, he has confounded both critics and fans, alike, and never seemed personally impacted by any of it.

it was just some boring Monday in February and i was at work. my mind was nowhere near the subject of baseball and my boss blurted out to me (with a HUGE smile on his face), "HEYYYYY! I SEE THE YANKEES GOT AAAAAAAAROD....."

i guess part of me should have KNOWN why his emotive level was so high...but i distinctly remember thinking, "whoa. wait. that guy? why???..."

i gotta admit, in the beginning i was annoyed with all the Arod hype. i saw this guy out there, pretty much acting like a primadonna and i grew to endure his presence...much like the resignation a spouse might have in a loveless marriage...

i remained silent over confrontations from fans of other teams (or outright Yankee haters) and tried to hope he would simply find a way to either blend in or make his presence a good thing...

after several years of grit-your-teeth annoyance of his presence, i found myself stopped in my tracks one winter eve in 2007...

when i was crunching the career stats of Andruw Jones. for whatever reason my mind had returned to the postseason rivalries of the Braves and Yankees many years prior, and i found myself pouring over the accomplishments of Jones. i compared Jones to the greats...checking his numbers against players like Mickey Mantle and the Babe and thought "that's why players like Mickey Mantle and the Babe are who they"

then...for GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT reason, i decided to compare their numbers against Alex Rodriguez.

and that's when my mouth dropped.

i didn't know what to do with what i was looking at. had he really accomplished ALL THAT? how? when? every time i ever saw the guy in the box, he seemed to be GRINDING INTO DOUBLE PLAYS...

nonetheless, his number stood as a fact. an undeniable fact. the guy has truly accomplished the unimaginable compared to the majority of Major League Players, in their careers.

i guess the suspension and all that was one of those things that kinda stands out in my mind. it was what it was. did he cheat? sure. is he alone? no. does it matter? sure. what i do know is this, however: until MLB has more definitive and thorough testing in place for substance use, it's policy and findings are subject to criticism and seem to fuel a level of "politics" contributing toward WHO is caught and WHO is not...

and WHEN...

and...while the merry-go-round of PED use may continue within Major League one knows FOR SURE how broad it's use is, nor how politically-oriented it's objective is...

in other words: let he who is without sin cast the first fastball..


my favorite Arod moment? hmmmm. dunno. clearly my emotions surrounding him have been many. however, i must recall that hit-by-pitch received by him at Fenway from the hands of Dempster.

i'll never forget the tone of that moment. and, truth be told, it wasn't enough that the Fenway faithful were boo-ing Arod and despising his very presence... it wasn't enough that the tension in the air couldn't even be cut with a chainsaw... the hatred... the overt desire of the masses to see Arod suffer...

and then, with the Red Sox leading by a score of 2-0 in the top of the second, bases empty, none out, Dempster hauls off and throws at Alex Rodriguez's left knee, to the delight and merriment of the masses...
caving in to the appetite of further pleasing the masses, Dempster showed his lack of character and respect for the Game by sealing the deal on ball four, delivering a solid hit-by-pitch to the left shoulder of Arod...while the masses chanted "You're a cheater."

i guess it was at THAT moment, watching how the Game, itself...the fans...the umpire...the the PEOPLE who claim to LOVE and REPRESENT the they were setting an example... and example of disgusting degradation...of becoming Judge and Jury over this man... of how the "politics" of the Game were defining the direction the Game was being allowed to go...

and i hated Bud Selig all over again, afresh.

that inning left more of a negative impression on me than any other inning of Major League Baseball i have ever beheld. and i remember truly feeling like my heart was that child i once was, who revered the Game, who spent years of winters yearning for the Game, was being confronted with a part of the Game i never imagined existed

and there it was. it had happened. and what had happened was acceptable. Dempster threw his first pitch at Arods knee and it was overlooked. three close-misses later, Dempster finally actually hits the guy and people are thrilled.

no thanks. my respect for what this kind of Game represents is officially gone. sure Arod may have cheated...or he did cheat. okay. so did Braun. and Bonds. and McGwire and Sosa and Selig and where does it stop? sincerely, where does "absolute blame" get assigned? jus sayin.

nonetheless, Alex Rodriguez found his way through that game with Dempster remaining on the mound, and clocked a solo shot off Dempster in the 6th inning, as well as going 3 for 4 and bringing in 2 RBI. the Yankees defeated the scumbag Red Sox on August 18, 2013 by a score of 9 to 6...

and Ryan Dempster's career would end ten games later. Alex Rodriguez would take 2014 off and return in 2015 with one of the best seasons he's played since 2009.

and something i got to learn through the career of Alex Rodriguez is this: the Game of baseball is not defined by it's players. neither is it confined by the sum of it's parts. the Game of baseball is greater, richer, grander, and far more surpassing than the errors, flaws, and even egregious mistakes of it's players. no one can limit this Game. no one.

and for that, i am grateful.


Monday, June 09, 2014

my Alex Jones perspective on the NHL, the Commissioner, and the evil L.A. Kings

i got a comment a lil bit ago.  it was in regard to my overt outrage at this year's Stanley Cup seeming NHL FIX.

said comment:  "Yeah.... Clearly the sport is rigged when major sports markets like Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Anaheim have won the Cup.... I wonder how long both teams worked to get the timing for that last second goal down, lol."

my retort?

under Commissioner Gary Bettman, the NHL expanded the League from their 21-team era, to include (among others) the Tampa Bay Lightning in 92, the Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, and the Anaheim Ducks in 1993.  under Bettman, the League focused on expansion and relocation thru the 90's, with it's primary focus on expanding the South.

stay with me now...

there was exceeding upset in Canada with Bettman expanding away from traditional hockey markets...until...Bettman created the Canadian Assistance Plan:  a revenue sharing agreement that gave money to the four small-market Canadian teams – Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Vancouver – throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.

thus...Southern teams win...EVERYBODY CASHES IN.

so.  isn't it interesting how the Colorado Avalanche played the Florida Panthers in 1996 for the Cup??

then the DALLAS STARS come in and win in 99. (i think they were probably supposed to win in 2000, also, but they didn't.  heheh...) then the Avalanche win once again in 2001.

Tampa Bay won in 2003-04.  NHL lockout again, 2004-05.  Carolina Hurricane win 2005-06...Anaheim Ducks win 2006-07.

i mean.  when you consider that Bettman was once the right-hand-man to the commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, and you peruse the Stanley Cup Champions since he took on the role of Commissioner, you see some really interesting things.  basically, since 1993, Bettman has done JUST what he has set out to do:  sell the game, expand the League, rake in the dough, and abolish the "old guard" owners and their mentality.
for...prior to 93, take a look at who won Cups.

then take a look at who has won them SINCE.  it's a healthy combination of ORIGINAL SIX, ORIGINAL SIX, NEWBIE, NEWBIE, ORIGINAL SIX, ORIGINAL SIX, NEWBIE, NEWBIE, and so on and so forth...(considering the 1974 expansion period teams are newbies compared to the 1967 expansion).

in my opinion...i think that whole World Hockey Association dealio really spoke volumes to Bettman...and for all intents and purposes, the last thing he wants in the league are dynasties.  rather, the Cup must be won by NEWBIE, southern teams.  California not excluded.

(especially with a gazillion dollars residing in LA, alone, if hockey could reeeeally get noticed there....)

so.  that brings us to recent rocky NHL history.  2012. the League was looking at another lockout.  (the third in less than ten seasons with Bettman as Commissioner, i might add)  time to make one last ditch effort to expand interest and gain revenue before the lockout: KINGS win.  next season, said lockout reduces the season to merely 48 games, time to go back to capturing the interest of the old guard, the ORIGINAL SIX, Chicago v. Bruins.  and this season, omg.  we have a literal potpourri of newbies and O.S. teams vying for the Cup.  but yes.  the market BEGS for the LA dollars.  give it to them.  after all, maybe next season an Original Sixer can cash in...that's assuming the Florida Panthers don't need a little NHL help  :P

in the words of the Commissioner himself, just days ago:

 "This will be our 15th consecutive year without a repeat champion, which is also a testimony to the NHL's unparalleled competitive balance."

it's also a testimony to the NHL's agenda:  sell the game, expand the League, and rake in the dough...

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

of Underdogs and Overtime...

the popular media (and Vegas odds) have gone to great lengths to inform the world of how exceedingly dominant the Kings would be over the Rangers in this Stanley Cup Final series for 2014.

hmmm.  jus sayin.  let's look at some interesting facts regarding the alleged Underdogs.

the Rangers took two of their Playoff Series' to 7 games, one to 6.

of course, we know the Kings went 7 games each in all three of their previous Series'.

however, as for tonight -- Game One -- the alleged "Underdog" Rangers did some fairly interesting things through their 64 minutes and 36 seconds on the ice amidst their opponent, the allegedly Dominant L.A. Kings:  the Rangers managed to find their way to the puck, especially when it was in the Kings possession.

the Kings had six Takeaways (two from Kopitar, who's kind of a big deal with the Kings)...the Rangers only had the puck taken away ONE TIME.

skip ahead to Giveaways.  (this would indicate somewhat BAD PASSING and, perhaps, being rushed into making mistakes).  the Kings had GIVEAWAYS from ALL BUT SEVEN of their 19 players used tonight,  including their goaltender Quick. of the 12 Kings players giving the puck away to the Rangers, each had anywhere between 1 and 2 Giveaways,  18 total.

(blame four giveaways on Willie Mitchell alone).

where is this obscene dominance, again?

i mean, i get it.  the Kings won the game.

but, remember, we're talking about dominance and underdogs, right?

and. if what the popular media, NBC announcers, and Vegas are alleging is true, then how in the WORLD did the underdogs take the dominant into Overtime??

for, aside from a fluky bounce-in goal with Drew Doughty in the 2nd (which tied the score), the Kings would wind up massively assaulting the Rangers' netminder with (get this now) 43 shots on goal.

(but only 3 got in?)

(this is Dominance??)

the Rangers, yeah, they finished the game with merely 27 shots on goal -- two of which had such a dynamic impact upon the game, that the game was taken into Overtime on those two shots alone (the ones that found their way to the back of the net, of course).

interestingly, the Rangers only took three shots on goal in the 3rd period.

the Kings took 20.

defense?  lack of offense?  either way you want to dissect the 3rd period, the fact remains:  the game went into Overtime. 

( actuality...with the Corsi and Fenwick being literally 1% difference between the two teams in the entire game, the winner could have been either team.)

thus...Dominance?  Underdog?

imagine what might happen in Games 2, 3, 4, if the Rangers were to take 13 shots on goal each period, like they did in the 1st period tonight...

if tonight's game is any indication of the dynamics or propensity of aptitude for each team within this Stanley Cup Finals -- and their respective possible consequences for Giveaways, Takeaways, defense, shots on goal and such --  i do believe the Kings are in for more than a 4-game sweep of the alleged Ranger "Underdogs."

Vegas may want to reconsider their points, odds, and assumptions toward the Dominant and Underdog... lest a fraction of hockey betters cash in HUGE when all is said and done.

ask anyone who laid down cold, hard cash on the Bruins.  jus sayin.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Hold Your Head Up

I'll never forget that moment.  The moment Derek Jeter stepped into the batters box, Game 4, 2001 World Series, 10th inning, Yankee Stadium:

It was November.

With the Yankees being behind the Diamondbacks, two games to one, bottom of the felt like do or die.

Byung Hyun Kim wound up throwing 59 pitches in relief prior to his final pitch of that game:  a walk off home run by Jeter.  Driven deep into the frenzied stands of the Old Stadium, Kim granted Jeter and the Yankees the opportunity to even the series, and gleefully advance toward Game 5 with confidence and momentum.

Skip ahead, Game 5.  Once again:  Kim in relief.

It truly felt like Deja Vu all over again.  Scott Brosius came up to batters box, and before you could say WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST SEE HAPPEN, he, too, crushed a game-tying two-run homer into the frenzied stands of the Old Stadium.   Once again, Kim was granting the Yankees quite an opportunity.

The thing is...the moment Brosius cracked that homer and tied the score, Bob Brenly, manager for the Diamondbacks, came out to the mound and told Kim something I'll never forget.

With Kim clutching the sides of his head, dropping to his knees on the mound...Brenly confidently walked out to the mound and, as Kim slowly began to stand before his Skipper, he told Kim, "Hold your head up!  Keep your head up!"

All things said and done, the Arizona Diamondbacks had every reason to believe the mystique and magic that had so often visited the Yankees was the very force they had come to confront, and no amount of "holding one's head up," could defeat THAT.

The Arizona Diamondbacks won that series.

With the score 2-2 going into the 9th of a Game 7, the Arizona Diamondbacks found a way to forge the most important inning of the entire series:  the last one.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, having lost crucial Games 4 & 5, defeated the New York Yankees in 7 games.  They defeated the mystique, the magic, the frenzied stands...

Today, I heard that song by Argent, Hold Your Head Up, and thought about the unimaginable obstacles within life.  I thought of times when life seems to hand us moments of abject failure and hopeless despair.  And I thought of how odd it seems to hold your head up during those times...

I thought about how odd it must have seemed for teams like the Diamondbacks, the 2004 Red Sox, the 2014 L.A. Kings to hold their heads up...amidst such unthinkable odds.  Amidst the scrutiny, the media, the fans...amidst their own frustration, fears, and inability to know for certain that fighting-to-see-another-day would amount to much.

...It amounted to everything.

...It amounted to forging history.

Often times losing momentum, crushing defeat, and seeming collapse signal the need to hold your head up... 

In the end, Kim would be the winner of that World Series ring, not Jeter, and not Brosius.  And, perhaps he had no reason to "feel" as though he had reason or courage to stand tall and conduct himself like the winner he would become...

...But what we see is, winners are often cloaked in the disguise of hopeless failures...just moments before their unthinkable victory is earned...

There is something to be said about fighting the good fight til the end.  There is something to be said for never accepting defeat as a reality... until, and if, it actually becomes a reality.  There is something to be said for wins that are fleeting and temporary...compared to wins that forge unimaginable historic victories.

...There is something to be said for holding your head up...

Sunday, May 04, 2014

love remains the same

i was gonna write, but i don't wanna write.  i mean, write write.  like some long thing that i share with the world, but im not there yet.  so, i figured i would write you, cause, well, you said you want to know me better.

so yeah.  a little about me today?  alright, here it is.  you know like when you hit your shin on something in the middle of the night and you think HOLY FUCK, THAT'S REALLY GONNA HURT LATER...

yeah.  well, i am reminded, no matter how much i think i have things under control...there's always later.

right now is later.

remember when i said i cried when those evil kings killed my sharks last year?

well, no.  im not crying.  but its in me.  i can feel it in my chest.  it's like right there.  and yesterday hurt a little more than the day before and today hurts a little more than then.  tomorrow ...well...maybe this is as bad as it will get. 

i doubt it though.

i fucking hate loss.  i hate to lose sooo much.  especially when i know i have it within me to win.  especially when my opponent isn't really out of my reach.  i don't love to win to prove im a winner to anyone.  i love to win because the goal is to fucking win.  and im gonna be that person who won't take on a challenge unless i know i can pull that shit off.  and when i win, or succeed at something, it's cool, it is.  but it only makes me want to try something harder and push past my limits...and win some more.

there's no room for losing in that mix.

losing.  stopping.  ending.  over.  i fucking hate that idea.  i hate finality.  i always believe impossible things are possible.  and when it's over, it limits me.  and i hate limits.  i hate the end.

i miss my sharks.  and i hate those kings.  but i hate that the sharks had the chance and didn't seize it more.  no, wait.  i still have my fantasies about finding jonathan quick in a dark alley and ive got an aluminum baseball bat and no one can hear him scream...


yeah yeah yeah:  do no harm.  yeah yeah, im a pacifistic.  but damnit, im also vehemently opposed to waste.  and my sharks bailing on me too early...i wasn't ready.  i wanted this.  i wanted more.  i wanted them to win.  and they had what it takes to win.  and they could have really had a chance at finally winning it all...

but it's over.  the impossible never happened.  and we are on the other side of the end.

and it's like a death.  and yes, we can look forward to the future, but you know what?  FUCK THE FUTURE.  I WANTED THIS NOW...


"we should have had the sun...could have been inside...instead we're over here.
half the time the world is ending...truth is, i am done pretending...
here i am without you...

drink to all we have lost.  mistakes we have made.
everything will change.  i, oh i, i wish this could last forever.  as if...we could last forever?
love remains the same."

Friday, March 28, 2014

how can i explain what's in my heart?  how can i possibly try to convey concepts that seem to elude most people?

i dunno.  there's like this gateway to my heart and soul.  few are those who walk that path, and little is that which sinks into my core...  but when the doors open, my entire being embraces them.

i heard bruno mars song "locked out of heaven," today and thought about the first time i heard it and how i was stressing the ending of the Sharks season last year and worried about the playoffs.  and it hit me.  i was the girl totally immersed in baseball.  what was happening to me with regard to this thing known as hockey?

and i realized.  baseball is ...oh my god, i love it. is heaven.  it is.  and all these years of loving baseball have been groovy...but hockey...oh my...there was something so much deeper in me that just loved it even more.

and i...i had been locked out of heaven...for too long.

like being in love.  you wake up and the one you love is the first one on your mind.  all day long you think of your moments obsess over thought after another.  and people around you can see how fulfilled you are because of this...

and...i had truly fallen deeply in love with hockey.

this year, it's my all.  every single Sharks game, i have seen.  every single morning when i woke up, i smiled and wondered about them...and i missed seeing them and couldn't wait to see them again...

and anyone who did them wrong, i wanted to see suffer.

and in my heart, i know the end is coming.  i know, even if they were to win it all, the season will end.  but that's not right now.

and i am enjoying laying my heart and hopes on the line for these boys i have spent the last couple of years with...hands over eyes, jumping off the couch in screams of joy...calling friends and talking hockey...seeing a sea of Sharks fans last night...draped in their jerseys...coming to see the boys i love...the team i love...the team that thrills me..

and sometimes i wonder if its normal to feel this much passion about a game...a team...

but you know, ive been fairly abnormal most of my life, and damnit, i can love what i want to love.

and tomorrow i will wake up and check the standings.  and i will be on my knees praying.  and i will be amazed when they do something phenomenal...eyes wide open, smiling, laughing.  i will drink from this cup of love deeply...

for...just like the passion we share with the one we love...none of it seems to make sense at the time...but the joy...the moments...the fulfillment...the pure's why you put everything in it.

me?  hockey?  consider me all in.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Steroid Era is Over? Hardly.

Victor Conte, former BALCO founder is one of the smartest minds in all of sports, not only when it comes to steroids, but also training and nutrition, had some bold things to say about Performance Enhancing Drugs within Major League Baseball, Biogenesis, Bud Selig, and 50 percent of the League:

"I'm not going to name names," Conte said, "but I've talked to a lot of top players in Major League Baseball, and they tell me this is what they're doing. There is rampant use of synthetic testosterone in Major League Baseball."

Conte's comments, of course, stem from this present Biogenesis scandal --  Needless to say, MLB disagrees with Conte's estimates.

"There is no way that Victor Conte would have information that would allow him to have any basis on that," MLB vice president Rob Manfred said. "He's just making that up. It's a guess. We use the very best, most sophisticated methodologies that are available.''

Let’s put these numbers into perspective. There are probably 1,000 baseball players. The contract that Major League Baseball has says that they can test up to 375 players a year during the off-season. That would be 37.5% of 1,000 players, right?

If you look at the actual numbers that they tested in 2008, 2009 and 2010, it’s about an average of 60 players. So if you’ve got the right and the ability, and you’re serious about drug testing and reducing the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, why would you not test 37.5% of the players? Why are you only testing 6%?

Conte said that testosterone has become the PED of choice, as designer or stealth steroids are now detectable and have fallen out of use.

"(The players have gone) old-school, (and have gone) back (to using) fast-acting testosterone, like your body produces. The only way to (detect synthetic testosterone) is using this CIR testing, for $400 bucks a pop.  And they’re (just routine urine testing) these guys, on the average in baseball, twice a year.  Here’s what my understanding is:  They test in Spring Training, then shortly after training camp, early in May.
Damn!  These high-profile players get tested again, and in most cases, what does that mean? Green light, open season, “I’ve had both tests!”

Conte affirms the only way of truly nabbing a doper is to bypass the simple urine test, and target samples with Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry analysis test instead.  The Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry analysis (CIR test) will only take place if a specimen varies substantially from a player's baseline testosterone/epitestosterone ratio. The CIR test actually confirms what percent of elevated testosterone is actually synthetic.

"They need to implement the Carbon Isotope Ratio test for testosterone randomly," Conte said. "Currently a player can go home or to the hotel after a game, use a testosterone cream, gel or patch, and it will be undetectable by the time he goes to the ballpark the next day. The CIR test can detect it for up to two weeks.

"I think these guys are using testosterone every single day of the week."

Conte knows Biogenesis relied heavily upon the sale and distribution of "Troches."

"Troches are like Life Savers, and they have 30 different flavors.  You want raspberry, you want bubblegum, you want cinnamon...typically these have 75 milligrams of testosterone, and somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of it gets absorbed.  It’s my understanding that the guys were popping a couple of these per day. And what that means is, say you absorb on average 10 percent, well that’s a total of 150 milligrams (total), so you would absorb about 15 milligrams per day. A healthy male produces about eight milligrams per day, so you can double and even triple your testosterone level."

"But it’s the timing. . .When you take this stuff, it peaks at about four hours, and by six hours after you take it, you’re back down below the (allowable) 4-to-1 T-E ratio. So all they gotta do is, after a game, even if they finish at 10 o’clock, they take it, and by the time they wake up they already have a normal T-E ratio."

The CIR test costs about $450, roughly the same as the blood test for HGH.

"The blood test is a waste because HGH doesn't enhance performance nearly as much as testosterone," Conte said. "Take the same $400 and do CIR testing. Why spend money on HGH when testosterone is the real problem? They are plugging the wrong hole."

"The players know that the testing is inept. You have to be dumber than dumb to get caught (by test) using testosterone."

"The second problem, and probably even a bigger loophole, is off-season testing. They can test up to 375 players, or about 30 percent of MLB, and they only test about 5o players, or less than 5 percent. If you’ve got a genuine interest in busting people, you put your hook and line in the pond when you know the fish are biting. They’re not doing that. So a lot of this, I believe, is propaganda. They’re out there promoting, “We’re doing this and we’re doing that, the toughest testing in American sports,” but I believe it’s all a joke."

"If they’re going to give you that (loophole), and you know other guys are doing (steroids), you calculate the risk-to-return. What (punishment) are you going to get, 50 games? The incentive is too great and the consequences too minimal."

"What’s the biggest lie of all? It’s Bud Selig saying, 'The steroid era is over.'”

Major League Baseball and Bud Selig may be attempting to make a statement over this whole Biogenesis scandal -- targeting players like Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, specifically; in addition to Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz, Everth Cabrera, and Jhonny Peralta.

But the statement that they are making isn't exactly how much they are "cleaning up," the Game; Rather, the statement is how completely inept MLB PED testing is.  And how, without the help from outside sources like Victor Conte or Anthony Bosch, we may have never known that PED use is happy and healthy in Major League Baseball.

For, this assault upon the Game wasn't due to a series of failed tests.  It was due to criminals coming forward and leaking the truth to the Press.  What truth?  That our Commissioner and MLB's stellar testing is a facade, which not only turns a blind eye to PED use within the Game, but refuses to address it's rampant proliferation.  Hell, had Porter Fischer never come forward, we would only be left with a season of baseball -- one where 20+ alleged PED users prevailed, and one where 20+ MLB PED tests never detected one damned thing...

~kat gill