Results tagged ‘ Ichiro Suzuki ’

How to Handle the Steroids Era

Before I start officially blogging all about Spring Training, there is one very important issue I would like to address. Many of you know my opinions on steroids, but I haven’t talked about it in a while. Believe me, my opinion has not changed, but with Mark McGwire FINALLY admitting to have taken steroids throughout his career; I think that it is a necessary topic to address. 

The question is no longer “if” they did it. The question is what to do about it. Unfortunately, the majority of the 104 players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003 are still undisclosed. Actually, it’s hard for me to say whether or not that fact is unfortunate because the truth hurts. When all of the names finally come out, I know that some of the players I may consider “heroes” right now will be seen differently by many. 
Before I address what should be done about this issue, I would like to talk about the origins of this issue. I think that the catalyst was the implementation of the designated hitter rule in 1973. I do not like the designated hitter rule. It has severely disproportionated the two leagues, and it’s just not real baseball. Not only was it a catalyst for the steroids era, I also think it was a catalyst for the ridiculous contracts that have become a normalcy around Major League Baseball. My opinions on the possibility for a salary cap will be saved for another entry though. 
 I don’t know if the steroids era has an exact “starting point”, but arbitrarily speaking, I would say it was the last 20 years. No one is safe from suspicion, and the mentality has become “guilty until proven innocent”. There are people whom I believe to be clean such as Mike Lowell, Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols, and Derek Jeter among others. So back to the main question: what to do about it? 
There are three main approaches to this dilemma, which you are probably familiar with, but there is no clear answer. Can we erase an era of baseball?Can we put the players who have cheated next to the players who have attained their feats on pure and natural talent? Can we use asterisks? 
The first method would be to simply not admit any players guilty of having used steroids into the Hall of Fame. This seems appropriate because these players cheated. I suppose they didn’t break the rules because steroids weren’t technically illegal YET, they were just frowned upon. When other players have broken the rules, they were banned from baseball even though they were quite deserving of a spot in the Hall (Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose). This is an entire ERA of players who have broken the rules. Baseball is a game rich in its history, and history cannot and should not be erased. It would be a travesty to try and forget any era of baseball: good or bad. The Hall of Fame may serve to commemorate the greatest players of each era, but it is also the ultimate token of baseball’s history. 
The second method would be to admit all players “worthy” of enshrinement into the Hall freely. Like I mentioned earlier, when players used steroids in the 90′s, they were not yet illegal. Is it truly fair to punish a person for something that was not yet considered a crime? What they did was not right, but it wasn’t completely wrong from a legal standpoint. The main problem with this theory is that the players of this era did not achieve their fantastic numbers the same way of their predecessors. These players have ruined the integrity of the game. Baseball is a game about natural abilities, not the abilities achieved externally. Surely it would be a tragedy to erase an entire era in baseball’s history, but it would also be a tragedy if players from the steroids era were admitted before other players who have been banned for their comparably trivial mistakes. 
The third and final approach to this dilemma is what some call the “asterisk method”. This would entail admitting all of the “worthy” players of the era into the Hall of Fame. However, a metaphorical asterisk would be placed next to their name, denoting the fact that they used performance enhancing drugs. This would not only ensure their place in baseball history, but it would also separate them from the natural greats. It seems like a win-win situation, but a problem still remains. There is no asterisk next the 1919 World Series. The Cincinnati Reds are in the books as the winners, even though the Chicago White Sox threw the series. There is no asterisk next to Roger Maris’ (former) single-season home run record (the controversy was that he had 162 games to do it whereas Babe Ruth only had 154). There is no asterisk next to Gaylord Perry’s name for his use of the spitball, nor is there an asterisk next to the lesser scandals. If we were to put an asterisk next to the players of the steroids era, Major League Baseball would certainly have to put asterisks next to other controversies. 
If I had to choose one, I would choose the asterisk method. There may be flaws, but you do get the best of both worlds. I don’t know if I’ll be able to cast a vote for a player guilty of using steroids until I get Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson into the Hall of Fame. I will not allow a single player guilty of steroids into the Hall of Fame before those two men are in. Mark my words. 
Please let me know what you think. Shoot me an e-mail, comment, tweetformspring etc.

The Beauty of September Baseball

Right after Derek Jeter gets his historic hit, Ichiro takes the pen from Jeter to write his page in the eternal textbook of baseball, or maybe just continue his own chapter. Everyone knows who Ichiro Suzuki is, the hitting phenom from Japan, who happened to snag both the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in his rookie season. It’s not that he is underrated; I think that everyone respects and acknowledges what he has done, and what he continues to do. However, I kind of see him as the unsung hero of Major League Baseball. A man who always shines, yet remains in the shadows. 

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I wonder why it is that Suzuki has only won one MVP award, even though he has had over 200 hits and batted above .300 in all nine of his Major League seasons. In a way, I think baseball fans take advantage of Ichiro’s consistent skill. When do we take advantage of things in everyday life? When we know that they’re always there. I for one take advantage of electricity. It is always there, I expect it to be there, and I am surprised and annoyed when it is not. Ichiro is the same way for Major League Baseball: He has been around for a while, he is always present, we expect him to be there, and I for one would be surprised and annoyed if he was not. When it comes to MVP voting, I understand that the voters look for outstanding years, it’s only natural. But I think that Ichiro needs to be recognized a bit more often for an outstanding career. 
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September: the grind of the baseball season. It is considered to be the time where teams really kick it into gear. They try to retain their playoff spot, or they play their hearts out for a spot. It may just be the most enjoyable month of the season. However, when people say, “these are the games that count”, that kind of throws me off. Every single game counts just as much as the next one, and they all lead to the one collective goal for every single team: playoff berth. 
Nonetheless, September provides very enjoyable baseball. One of my favorite parts of it is the September call-ups. This is when my projects are called up, I get to see if my scouting reports from way back in March were right. It really warms my heart to see them out there because I know they’re excited. This is their chance to prove to the speculative world of Major League Baseball that they are the future, and that they can perform in the demanding September atmosphere. They are playing a part in steering the ship into the harbor, the harbor being the playoffs. 
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A couple of my projects have already been called up: Josh Reddick and Michael Bowden. I am really proud of how much Josh Reddick has progressed. I don’t think he was one of the original spring training invitees, but he really proved himself when he joined the squad at the beautiful City of Palms Park. He gained confidence in his swing, and as you may have noticed, he’s a great hitter. 
I know that Michael Bowden had a pretty terrible outing against the Yankees, but I think he redeemed himself in his last outing of relief. I really enjoy his delivery, and I think he will really grow as a pitcher during this month because he has so much potential. I had such a great time talking to him a few months ago, but I would love to be able to talk to him again, after this experience. 
The Red Sox start their series against the Angels tonight, and Dice-K is on the mound for the first time since June. It has been a while, and I am really hoping that all of his training has paid off. I don’t know who to blame for his terrible start to the season. Certainly not the organization, I think that they were quite surprised as well. I think what happened was that Dice-K overestimated the amount of stamina he had. He had just gotten through a rigorous and demanding season with the Red Sox, which included his second year of appearing in the playoffs. However, he was not eased into the season like the rest of the pitchers were. He was thrown into the mix of yet another playoff like atmosphere. The World Baseball Classic may not seem like the playoffs for some fans, but it really is. It was not the way to go into the season. 
Dice-K has had extensive training, and the Red Sox are confident in his abilities. I’m a bit afraid that June Dice-K is going to show up and give up lots of hits and runs. I’m also afraid that 2008 Dice-K is going to show up and be like me when it comes to my homework: inefficient. I think I speak for all Red Sox fans (excluding the masochistic ones) when I say that I’m hoping for the Dice-K that the Red Sox somewhat blindly invested money on. 
After a delightful series against the Rays, I am hoping for a just as delightful one against the Angels. It is essential that the Red Sox use that positive momentum from that series, and carry it over against the Angels, who may be our opponent in the ALDS (again!). I was especially pleased with our pitching staff over the weekend, specifically back to back gems from Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Clay has really turned it around this season, and I hope that Dice-K can follow in a similar fashion. 
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