Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What to think of this World Series? I find myself wondering whether it would be as painful to watch the Red Sox in the World Series if the FOX Network weren't carrying the games. I've mentioned a time or two that I can't abide Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, nor do I know a single person (and I know some contrarian SOBs) who thinks they add any value to the viewing experience.

Maybe it's me, and if I were a Red Sox fan I'd think differently. Maybe the Red Sox relief pitchers forming some sort of one-third assed percussion ensemble routine as their team rallies is really clever and cute and wonderful. I don't know, but it drives me crazy, and I could do without seeing it. But as bad as that was, the good people at FOX had to go and mic the bullpen, so now one can hear it. It was worse than I imagined it to have been when I could only see it.

Now I'm not particularly musical, and the audio doesn't come in well enough for a person of my tonal sensibilities to tell, but I find myself wondering whether Eric Gagne is off beat when the bullpen does its thing. I think we need some intrepid soul to investigate this phenomenon.

In somewhat related matters, I have, in the few times I've mentioned him in this space, been less than kind to Ken Rosenthal, baseball guru of FOX Sports. Of course if he wrote more pieces like this one, calling to our attention the fact that the leader of the independent commission investigating the abuse of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball is a board member with the Boston Red Sox, I might be inclined to praise him.

First, I don't want to question the legitimacy of the Mitchell Commission. As far as I'm concerned, it's a total fraud, more in the line of an Easter Egg hunt than a witch hunt. Just think for a second how many superstars we firmly believe were using some sort of illicit substance to gain competitive advantage. And has any of the players suspended by the league been a household name? Hell, I bet some of them have close relatives who don't even know they were in the league.

Where an observer like Rosenthal errs is in assuming that because George Mitchell was, many years ago, Majority Leader of the US Senate that he is somehow above the fray and of such eminence that he can clean up the steroid culture instantly. Americans are always of two minds concerning elected officials. When they're in office and responsible for taxes and spending, they can't be trusted, but once they retire for a decade or so, they virtues which no one suspected they have suddenly become apparent.

Of course, we now have the added virtue that Mitchell was a Democrat and thanks to this administration, the Democrats now own integrity and honesty and general, overall moral excellence. Or at least they believe they do, and slightly less than half the nation agrees. That's why Mitchell can be trusted, but no one is mourning the retirement of Bill Frist and there are no ceremonial figurehead posts waiting for Trent Lott. But just wait until the Democrats get the White House and get a chance to create their own controversies, then people will miss Frist and Lott.

Most of the controversy surrounding Mitchell's position came out of the leaked story that Paul Byrd has taken HGH, particularly because of the timing, right before he was to start Game 7 of the ALCS. There are also some coincidences that are difficult to shrug off when one looks at them in this Mitchell mess. Mike Lowell comes to mind.

If you look at his career arc, Mike Lowell's stats dipped significantly from 2004-2005 when the heat was really on baseball. Congress was holding hearings, the media was investigating BALCO and it was the topic of the day. Now that these things have been shunted aside by the NFL and NBA grappling with player conduct issues, the NBA staggering from the Donaghy scandal and the NHL trying to come back from labor nightmares, who remembers that Mike Lowell is back from the statistical dead?

People have made much of the impact Dave Madagan has had on the batting technique of Mike Lowell and how that has turned him around at the plate. I might be overly suspicious by nature, but I'm not sure I buy it. I'm old enough to remember Dave Madagan baseball player, before he became Dave Madagan hitting guru to the mediocre. Madagan wasn't much of a hitter, in fact he was very, very, very, average. Perhaps it's a case of those who can't teach, but I'm not much on old sayings right now.

1 comment:

TheKobraKommander said...

Nice narrative about Lowell, too bad it's not true. I know you're jealous of his George-Clooney looks, but his batting average was at its highest yet in 2004. He did slump in 2005. On the other hand he also had about 100 fewer at bats that year, perhaps no one was hitting well on his team -- he seems to have a high correlation betwen at-bats and batting average, maybe he's a sunshine soldier. He has been steadily increasing performance in 2006 and 2007. He's only 33, so it's not like he's falling under the Marcellus Wallace theory of aging. In addition, as a testicular cancer survivor (he had one testicle removed in 1999), it's not likely that he'd take the risk of using steroids (which comprimise the immune system) or growth hormone (which also contributes to cancer growth). Plus, it's not like he's super-ripped.

Try again.