Welcome to Monday, everyone, as well as the second day of a brand new week – yippee!
It is a VERY rainy day today here in Boston, so please make sure to stay inside, play a game (if you can) and do some reading. And also, start your day with a walk down memory lane with a brand new ‘On This Date in History.’
Be well, stay safe, and remember to smile, everyone!
1997: Tiger Woods won his first major championship on the final day of the 61st Masters Tournament by defeating runner-up Tom Kite by twelve strokes.
2004: Barry Bonds hit his 661st career home run – the long ball occurred off a pitch from Ben Ford of the Milwaukee Brewers.
2019: The Boston Bruins evened their opening-round postseason series with the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 4-1. Boston, as most fans know, would go onto win the series ten days later before advancing to the Stanley Cup weeks later.
Once Monday’s news was announced about Roger Clemens, it became quite easy to realize that government and sports don’t coincide.
Clemens, who was acquitted of charges toward lying about steroids and human growth hormones to Congress in 2008, was officially sent out of a Washington courtroom as a “free man” on Monday.
And while many are continuing to scratch their heads over this particular case, it certainly emphasizes the fact that an athlete is more powerful than a group of non-baseball fans, ahem…the jury.
Of course, he will certainly be remembered as one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game.
The Rocket spent 24-years in the big leagues, and walked away with a record of 354-184 on the bump. He appeared in 11 All-Star Games, earned seven Cy Young Awards, paced the American League with the most wins by a flame-thrower in ’86, ’87, ’97, and ’98, and was awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1986.
Yet, excluding those various credentials, it’s unlikely that his name will ever be scratched from the so-called, “steroids era.”
Baseball has become a game of cheaters. Players seem more focused on their various accolades than winning a World Series, and the same could possibly be said for Clemens, right?
Clemens will certainly be remembered as a cheater, as well as someone who maneuvered his way forward with various performance enhancement drugs to extend his career, and one example could be seen when he joined the Toronto Blue Jays for a two-year stint in ’97-’98.
The right-hander hadn’t earned 20 wins or more since the 1980’s, and after a few up-and-down seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Clemens’ numbers skyrocketed in Canada, as he won 41 of 54 games. He also earned two back-to-back Cy Young Awards, too.
So, did the government strike out or did Clemens earn himself another win for the record books?
Well, according to the New York Times, this particular trial was a so-called, “waste of government time, and money.” Clemens became the second Major Leaguer to sneak through the cracks — the first was Barry Bonds, who was sentenced to one month of house arrest after a seven-year investigation in April of 2011. And while Bonds was convicted on one of four charges, (obstructing justice) he still managed to walk out of the courtroom.
Clemens avoided 10 years in federal prison, but will now be faced with the difficult task of convincing the baseball writers that he deserves a spot in the Cooperstown, (he’ll need 75 percent of the ballots to earn a spot).
All in all, I believe that he cheated. Clemens, Bonds and others turned America’s Pastime into a game that’s no longer linked to the days of Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and others.
Will baseball ever resort back to the “good ole days?”
I’m not sure, but once again, the government failed to send a message to all baseball fans and players that cheating is not allowed in a game and life.
Move over Bernie Mac because we’ve officially witnessed the newest member of the 3,000 club, Derek Jeter.
Jeter connected on his 3,000th hit on Saturday afternoon in the Bronx against Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price. Yet, this particular “hit” was certainly special, since it didn’t land in the outfield or infield grass, but instead, the bleachers.
Fans pushed and shoved one another to get their paws on a piece of history, while the Yankees players and coaches rushed the field to meet their captain at the plate with high-fives, hugs and smiles.
Yet, what exactly does this accomplishment mean, especially in the wacky world of the MLB?
Well, I guess it’s fair to say that despite all the cheating or doping, as well as franchises going under due to economic woes, (thank you, Frank McCourt), it’s a special moment that allows even the more relaxed fan to say, “wow, I just witnessed history!”
Hey, this is Derek Jeter we’re talking about, the true poster boy for the New York Yankees, so of course, it’s special and important, right?
Although, does this particular at-bat remind anyone of Mark McGwire’s 70th home run?
Could Jeter’s 3,000th hit have any parallels to Barry Bonds‘s 756th home run?
In all honesty, there’s so many moments that one could compare this particular event too, but seriously, I’m very happy to see that Jeter earned this glorious moment because he definitely deserved it.
In fact, it’s refreshing news, especially after spending the past week reading about Roger Clemens’s trial.
Manny Ramirez always finds a way to be in the news. Last week he was informed that he failed a drug test that had been taken during Spring Training and the punishment would be a 100-game suspension.
At the age of 38, Manny probably realized that it would be too difficult to return after missing half a season from suspension, and therefore decided simply, and abruptly, to call his career.
It has not been made public which drug he tested positive for — with Manny’s reputation it may have been marijuana as opposed to a second steroid-related positive test — but the news of pending consequences has ended the career of arguably the best right-handed hitter of the last 20 years.
As Red Sox fans, we never wanted to believe that Manny was on anything. He didn’t look like he was juicing; he looked like he could just as easily be on his couch watching baseball rather than playing it. Manny had a smooth swing and everything just looked easy. He was never a homerun hitter, but rather a pure gap hitter that could slap the ball so well that it went over the fence.
Someone so carefree couldn’t be on steroids, right? As I mentioned, the only drugs that people expected he could be on would be those of the recreational variety. However, as “Manny being Manny” became more extreme and his production so drastically dropped off after his first suspension — minus that month or so immediately following — it became more believable that Manny’s skill could not all be natural.
So how will Manny be remembered?
As a top 10 all-time in Slugging and a top 15 all-time in Home Runs?
Most people, I’m assuming, would lean toward the latter, with Manny being a goofball. Most wouldn’t dispute that he was a great hitter, but just that his ability is now tainted.
Manny’s antics are indisputable and will never be forgotten. He certainly acted dumb at times and had poor judgment in his role, doing things that no one else could get away with. But he was just “Manny being Manny”.
People will look at his positive tests and crazy shenanigans before they even think about his actual playing ability. And that will cost him a spot in the Hall of Fame. In a time that nobody accepts any tomfoolery on the part of professional athletes, two positive drug tests is a nothing short of a blow.
But this opens up another debate.
It is becoming more and more difficult to find Hall of Fame-worthy players from that last 25 years that can be proven to be absolutely clean? Where does this leave Major League Baseball?
MLB has two choices: either continue to shun everyone who is mentioned in the same sentence as steroids, or just understand that steroid use was just another era of baseball and it should be treated as such.
The main issue is that there is no way to go back and determine who was using performance enhancers and who wasn’t. Testing was not as good 15 to 20 years ago and a lot of athletes who were using could have escaped a positive test.
This is why I take the other side.
MLB and the Baseball Writers of America need to get off their moral high horses and let players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and future Hall of Famers like Manny and Alex Rodriguez have their rightful places in Cooperstown.
If MLB really had an issue with rampant steroid use then they would have punished people when they were playing and as they were using. Instead, MLB took full advantage of the spectacle and took every cent that it produced. Only when use started to die down and the public started caring about steroid use did they go back and shun those individuals that used steroids.
As things stand today, Manny Ramirez has forever tarnished his legacy and has no chance at Cooperstown. But, that doesn’t change the fact that he was a great hitter, a great entertainer and a huge part of MLB teams that brought the World Series back to Boston.