Monday, August 29, 2005

Giambi Deserves Our Cheers

Yesterday's Yankee hero in the team's 10-3 win was Jason Giambi, the team's comeback player of the year, and perhaps the league's. Though he has never publically and explicitly admitted it, we can operate under the assumption that the guy took steroids. But when anyone wearing your team's uniform goes 3-for-3 with two home runs and seven - count 'em, seven - RBI, you cheer him. As long as Jason Giambi keeps pumping out home runs, Yankee fans like me will keep rewarding him with praise and standing ovations.

I am as against steroid use as anyone. Steroids aren't natural, aren't fair, and they taint the game. Pretty simple. So when I went to my first Yankee game of the season, I didn't cheer Jason Giambi. (Admittedly, a good deal of my reaction had to do with the return of Tino Martinez, my favorite Yankee.) Giambi made an error and grounded out in a big spot, so booing him was easy. By my second game, though, late in July, I was content to cheer him when he performed well. After Giambi took a couple of walks in key situations when the Yanks needed a baserunner, I joined in the applause.

For those readers who thought I was a frontrunner once I said I was a Yankee fan, and are convinced now that I said I'd cheer Giambi only if he did well, I have a rebuttal. What Giambi did in the past was wrong. I'm not sure he'll have the numbers anyway, but he shouldn't be considered for election to the Hall of Fame. But the good that he can do for the game now will outweigh his wrongdoings. He's handled this well; in Spring Training, Giambi was the Yankees' most prolific autograph signer and, so far this season, he has taken the incessant boos in stride and played above them. Having to bear the brunt of the criticism for the entire steroid-using population this past winter, then hearing the jeers every night in Oakland, Boston, Detroit, and any other American League city you can name is punishment enough. Now that he's got well over 20 home runs and is seemingly as close to his old form as he'll get, Giambi is a lesson of a different sort. He's off the juice and he's performing. We all believe in second chances, don't we?


At 10:26 AM, Blogger wfoley said...

With his career at stake: Do you think if someone offered Giambi a steroid that is undetectable with current technology he would take it? Do you think it's possible he's on steroids now? Do you think he sees what he did was wrong, or did he just get caught? He says he's not on steroids, but does he have any credibility?

At 2:22 PM, Blogger Sam said...

That's a great series of questions, wfoley. I guess what you're getting at is Giambi's overall integrity.

The truth is that he's probably not such a great person. I think he'd do anything possible to perform better, and I don't think his character has changed since the revelations about his use. Still, the idea of him choosing to use any performance-enhancer at this point would probably spook him. This has been a tough stretch, even for a baseball player who learns to play through pressure, criticism, and jeering.

No, I don't think he's using steroids anymore. He's tested negative at least once and he knows that he'd be professionally damned for life if he got caught again. He hasn't gotten any smarter or more moral as a person, I don't think. Steroids have just become taboo for him.

At 2:28 PM, Blogger MyManMisterC said...

Yeah not only that but HGH is still undetectable in urine samples. As someone who uses sports suppliments and has used Andro in the past, it is possible for humans to pack on 15-20 pounds of muscle in a 6 or 7 month span. I have done it repeatedly. I have recently been using NO2 and CE2 - a creatine suppliment along with a A-AKG transport system, and have noticed great gains.

Is it possible that Giambi is using over the counter suppliments and still getting desirable results, yes. And just looking at him, he looks more vascular (lots of veins) than muscular.

However, you can't rule out HGH. He can still be cheating. He still can be using steroids that haven't been detected yet in the US. Also, look at the Palmerio case study. Palmerio was caught with a positive test result IN MAY. However, after going through arbitrators and the league, they decided to release his results in August. In that time, Palmeiro collected his 3,000th hit to compliment his 500 (almost 600) home runs.

This reeks of conspiracy, especially since MLB paid for full page ads in the Baltimore Sun and USA Today to congratulate Palmeiro, just to keep the game up and collect the revenues that Palmeiro's chase brought in. MLB did it in 98 with Sosa and McGwire, and with Bonds years later.

At 2:29 PM, Blogger MyManMisterC said...

Sam said:"No, I don't think he's using steroids anymore. He's tested negative at least once and he knows that he'd be professionally damned for life if he got caught again."

You still don't know that for sure, again look at the Palmeiro case.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Interesting perspective, Mr. C.

On the first reply, I think you're right in that Giambi could be using HGH and no one would have any idea. But that wouldn't agree with my suggestion that he's so completely spooked by the idea of actually getting caught (for real) that he won't touch anything remotely questionable. Giambi doesn't strike me as someone who's really going to test the system all that much at this point. But what, from this modest vantage point, do I know?

On the second point, that Giambi could possibly survive a true positive test, I disagree. There's little doubt he'd have his contract rescinded, as the Yankees were close to trying to get that done after the BALCO testimony was released. If they couldn't get the deal voided, I'm nearly positive they'd buy him out, as fan outcry would be tremendous. While McGwire, Canseco, Caminiti, and Dysktra, among others, have taken heat on the steroid issue, no active player has felt it like Giambi. Even Bonds' record-chasing garners him admiration, sympathy, and support. But everyone - everyone - was calling for Giambi's blood this past winter. I don't think that he could make it in this game if it came out, from Bud Selig's mouth, that Jason Giambi actually tested positive for using steroids. I think he's already running on thin ice.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger MyManMisterC said...

Hey, I heard a rumor from some pretty reliable sources that there is a list of players who tested positive. It is extensive, and it has some HUGE names on it. Pitchers and Fielders.

I think that the May tests proved to Bud that he has an enourmous problem on his hands and to think that Bud is competent enough to handle this is shortsighted. Should I bring up the All-Star Game Tie as an example of his "competence?"

There are many factors at work here, let's not forget, he doesn't want to lend credence to claims made in Canseco's book either, although it looks like Canseco is telling the truth, albeit for illgotten gains.

You argument could be valid about the Yankees rescinding his contract however, let's not forget, these are the Yankees. Not only the team with the highest payroll, but the team with the highest ticket gate and away attendance in the league. When the Yankees show up to town, teams that are 30 games below .500 draw more than their usual 5,876. And when those temas show up to Yankee Stadium, they get 30% through the league's market sharing agreements. So do you really think the league can survive if the Yankees aren't drawing more than 50,000 a night? Is the league really going to take a hard line against a Yankee?

I work in politics, I see this crap happen all the time, and we cannot think for a second that our national pastime is immune to these behind closed doors negotiations that could be happening.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Sam said...

Certainly baseball has an interest in the public image of its players, but right now I think the fans are viewing the players with a discerning eye. In a way, they want to see the big stars get caught just to prove that the system is working.

I heard that rumor about massive numbers of positive tests, too, but I haven't heard anything concrete. Major League Baseball was concerned enough by the rumors a couple of weeks ago that it released a strong statement denying that there were a whole slew of test results that hadn't been announced. Whether they were covering something up or not I have no idea.

You make a good point about baseball's particular interest in the Yankees, but do you really think that a positive test by Jason Giambi or Gary Sheffield (since, let's not forget, he used BALCO products in the past as well) would be covered up by Major League Baseball? A positive test by role model-type icons Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, maybe, but not someone like Giambi who is already a suspect.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger MyManMisterC said...

Hey first off, check out my site beacuse I reference your article, I think it is really well done.

Second, I don't know a lot about law or lawsuits, however, it may be possible that the BALCO trial has something to do with why Giambi or anyone involved with it may be EXEMPT from scrutiny. It could be possible that in the agreement among Giambi and the federal grand jury to cooperate in the trial that in order for him to testify, he is exempt from further testing. This could be a way way out there hypothesis, but anything is possible.

Major League Baseball learned a valuable lesson with the recent stike that it will take a lot to bring the fans back. I think they will do anything and everything to make sure something like that doesn't happen again.

Again, I can cite examples in the political world that would translate well with this. Governments will do anything they can to prevent businesses from leaving their states. Why wouldn't Major League Baseball do the same thing?

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Sam said...

Thanks a lot for the mention. I appreciate your compliments and your insight even though we have somewhat different views on the issue here.

I guess I'm just not so sure that players getting caught is bad for business. I'll speak for myself. When I heard the news about Palmeiro, I was legitimately saddened and disappointed. But Raffy's positive test wouldn't make me think twice about going to a baseball game in the future. Maybe the positive tests could have a greater effect on non-fans who may have come out to the ballpark for an afternoon, but decided against it after the positive test result because it made them think that the game wasn't "real." I'm not so sure about that, either, though.

The players look bad when positive tests are reported, but I don't know if baseball as a business does.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger MyManMisterC said...

Go back 10 years. Look what happened after the lockout. It took the 98 home run chase and Cal Ripken's streak to bring baseball back from the doldrums. Football's popularity and the structure of the league made it way more appealing than the national pasttime. With the free-agency salary cap system that football has in place, any team in any given year has a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl. It wasn't that way 10 years ago for baseball where the big market teams took the cake. Thus the lockout, and baseballs moved toward a league structure that resembled the NFL. And then the addition of the Wild Card. It took a lot of work, but baseball came back.

But Selig, the owners, and everyone else involved learned a valuable lesson, just like the NFL, you have to do whatver it takes to keeep the fans coming.

Taglibue learned that lesson from the NFL strike shortened season too. You remember SCAB Football? I remember watching the season-opener of the Patriots against the Jets and I could have been on the field playing those games. People don't want that. And the NFL's drug policy, are you familiar with the T-Limit? The policy is that players are not allow to have SIX TIMES the amount of testosterone in their bodies than the "natural" limit. 6 Times. You have to be pretty friggin dumb and/or reckless to fail the NFL's drug tests.

But they did this, the players got bigger, faster, the injuries became more prevailent, collisions became more violent. But it was all done for the good of the game.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Sam said...

I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens if these positive test results you heard about are ever released. Baseball is looking forward to what could be one of the most exciting ends to a regular season in years. Will Major League Baseball "risk" that by releasing these positive tests (assuming they exists) before October?

I'm assuming your source is more believeable than Mike and the Mad Dog, which happens to be my source for this news.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger MyManMisterC said...

Goooood Afternoon Everabadahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

You should peep Stephen A. on ESPN 1050. He's the man.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Sam said...

I can't stand Stephen A. when he's doing NBA studio work on TV, but on the radio, I find him to be a great listen. His excitement and his intensity translate a lot better over the radiowaves and he actually knows what he's talking about. Have you seen his new show on ESPN2 yet? I keep meaning to check it out, but the time (6:30) is inconvenient.

For general sports talk, though, there's no one like Mike and the Dog. Dog's laugh, Mike's Diet Cokes (I've heard he has seven per show), and both of their accents. They're true New Yorkers and, together, they're a heck of a team. Great stuff.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger MyManMisterC said...

It's great, think Centerstage with an edge. I'm putting you guys on as a member of the Doormatt Information Netwtork.


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