Last Build Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2008 11:47:25 -0500Copyright: Copyright 2008
Mon, 03 Mar 2008 11:47:25 -0500
Looks like I picked a great week to put the Steele Press on hiatus.
If ever there was a week, or a morning, to crank out a blog entry and sit back and let the comments flow in, this is the one. Clemson 73, Maryland 70. I got a text message after the game (to be precise, after leaving Comcast Center, thanks to the lousy cell reception in there) from an alumnus and regular attendee who wasn't at the game, but watched at home, and it read, simply, "NIT it is.''
Got a call this morning from another alumnus, and a regular blog contributor, who turned the game off when Maryland was up by 20, and thus wasn't sure what all the agony and forehead-slapping he was hearing and seeing this morning was about.
In the comments section of my column this morning, blame is being spread among Gary Williams, Greivis Vasquez, all the other players and the program in general. This is one of the uglier days in Terps men's basketball history - not up there with the ultimate, undisputable ugliest day (June 19, 1986), but a lot of folks are really ticked off.
(One thought that just crossed my mind: if your graduation rate is 0 percent, you'd better be coasting into the tournament every year. If you're neither educating the kids nor making the field of 65, then what's the point of any of this?)
Over on "Tracking the Terps,'' beat writer Don Markus is asking if this is the worst home loss in Maryland history, and invokes the Duke game in 2001. That, in the long run, didn't cost Maryland anything except some national embarrassment. This one is less national embarrassment, more postseason impact.
In the midst of all that, though, I say goodbye, for now.
Catching a bug immediately after the Super Bowl and being laid out for two weeks did the traffic on Steele Press no favors, and neither, in general, does the fact that knocking out columns all week and dropping blog items daily, or multiple times daily, is a hard pace to keep up. Not that I ever disrespected bloggers as too many of my colleagues in the business have - how can you make a living writing and scoff at others who do the same thing for no pay? - my respect level has increased from the amount of copy they've got to produce.
Still, this blog will be re-worked and re-imagined (maybe even re-named) in the next month or so and, hopefully, started up again, because when I'm not expelling massive quantities of phlegm, I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity blogging provides me to expand on topics I feel strongly about which can't be contained in three or four columns a week. And, believe it or not, I enjoy the feedback, even the nasty, mean-spirited, racist type.
Thanks to everybody for hanging in there and fueling the fire, and I'm sorry I couldn't keep it going the way I'd hoped. I'll still be in the paper, of course. I'll also still be on WNST's Comcast Morning Show with Drew Forrester at 9 every Tuesday (possibly moving to Wednesdays, but I'll let you know), and on The Sports Groove with Mark Gray on WOL every Thursday at 8:37 p.m.
And (one final, important plug), you can still buy Silent Gesture: The Autobiography of Tommie Smith in hardcover; it comes out in paperback sometime in May.
But for what's now called the Steele Press, it's off to hibernation. I'll do better next time.
Maybe Maryland will, too.
Mon, 28 Jan 2008 21:01:53 -0500
Thanks for hanging in there while my fingers thawed from my trip to Green Bay last week. I will be posting occasionally on my own blog this week while I'm in Phoenix for the Super Bowl, and posting regularly on our Sports Special Events blog, too. It's better this way, because it's not like the world stopped spinning everywhere else but here this week.
Particularly back home. A glance at a media credential with "Baltimore'' on it here means a conversation, short or long, about what's going on with the Ravens. Last week at the NFC championship, the weekend John Harbaugh was hired, the questions came steady: "John Harbaugh? Where did that come from?''
This week, similar requests, particularly about why Rex Ryan didn't get a serious look by the Ravens and Falcons. Many found it interesting that Ryan acknowledged that he might have turned the Falcons off in his interview. Many also believe that keeping Ryan and bringing Cam Cameron into run the offense reflects well on Harbaugh, for making experience and now continuity a priority with his coordinators.
Then again, one observer pointed out that this entire week might have a different vibe about it but for one huge moment in the regular season. The Patriots, it was pointed out, might not be perfect right now had Ryan not called that infamous time-out on fourth down in the Monday Night game at M&T Bank Stadium.
Fri, 18 Jan 2008 20:49:57 -0500
It's amazing how far back you have to go to know why the death of Georgia Frontiere earlier today has relevance in Baltimore. It pretty much illustrates the damage done by the Colts moving. But this isn't the time or place to rehash that story, especially on the day of her passing, and on one of the most significant days in Ravens history.
OK, maybe it is the time and place.
Georgia Frontiere owned the St. Louis Rams. She moved the Rams from Los Angeles in 1995. She became owner of the Rams in 1979 when her husband drowned. Her husband, Carroll Rosenbloom, who she married in 1966, became owner of the Rams in 1972 ...
... when Rosenbloom - original owner of the Colts team that became the legends, owner during the Unitas glory years, the '58 and '59 championship years, even the excruciating Super Bowl III year - traded franchises with Bob Irsay. You know the rest of the story.
It's convoluted, but Georgia Frontiere is part of the story. Check this out from 2005, from Tony Lombardi, creator of the Ravens 24x7 website, who threw out this theory, probably not the first to think of it: if that one act, Rosenbloom swapping with Irsay Colts-for-Rams, hadn't happened, the Colts might still be here, maybe playing in a different stadium, and owned by ... Georgia Frontiere.
Rest in peace.
Fri, 18 Jan 2008 12:54:47 -0500
Good afternoon from Green Bay, where it was 3 degrees when I woke up this morning. Of course, it's warmed up a lot since then -- to 8. Which is still tropical compared to what they're talking about for Sunday's 5:42 p.m. CT kickoff.
More pressing matter are going on back home, apparently. Clearly, if the stories from around the country are any indication, the Ravens' job is being lumped in with the Falcons' gig as ones that should be avoided like it comes with a daily injection of ebola. How did that happen? It can't be because Jason Garrett used the Ravens to get his pay jacked up to head-coaching level without having to take on the actual responsibilities of the job, and to stay in his nice, warm cocoon and remain the people's choice in Dallas every time the Cowboys lose and the heat turns up on Wade Phillips.
That makes the Ravens a bad organization to coach for? That reflects more on Garrett than on the Ravens, I think. And lobbing in the other candidates who declined to be considered can't possibly count against them. This is a poor excuse for a franchise because Bill Cowher passed (he passed on everybody)? Kirk Ferentz (same thing)? Rod Chudzinski? At least he didn't lead Bisciotti and Co. along, like certain golden-child candidates we know.
And this is not to come off like some kind of purple and black shill. It's more about how Garrett played two franchises for his own gain. He gets rewarded for his selfishness and insincerity, but the Ravens get the bad national rep. They sure shouldn't be put in the same category as the Falcons, who really are a sad sack, with an owner who appears more clueless by the day.
My guess? The Ravens don't have a coach yet because they haven't interviewed the right people yet. Just one very wrong one.
* Still no progress on Rex Ryan's quest to be a head coach somewhere. Now you have to wonder what the problem really is.
* Is it possible to send a more mixed message about what kind of coach, and team, the Ravens want than to consider John Harbaugh and Marty Schottenheimer?
* The two coaches here at the frozen tundra are proof positive that you just never know when or how good candidates can surface. For three years and well into this season, Tom Coughlin came off as the wrong man in the wrong place, and when the Giants caught fire, it was perceived by many that his hard-line, gruff approach was finally justified. Wrong -- according to this week's Sports Illustrated, Coughlin softened his stance considerably, made himself more approachable to his players, and is now reaping the rewards. Kind of reminds us of Brian Billick's owner-ordered alterations last year, which worked -- last year. Meanwhile, few candidates looked worse two years ago than Mike McCarthy, offensive coordinator for the 49ers, who were last in the NFL in offense that season. The Packers' offense isn't the worst in the league now, it's safe to say, and it ain't just because Brett Favre has risen from the dead. In fact, it's more the other way around, the offense has revived him.
* Long item to short. What if this time, it really isn't Randy Moss' fault? Of course, this is not to take sides or present every aspect of his case with the woman in Florida, but here is Moss' side, from his agent, sent to the Boston Globe. Not flattering to the accuser. But it is only one side.(image)
Wed, 16 Jan 2008 09:23:39 -0500There's plenty of time to get to the Ravens' coaching search. So before we do ... how did this story get past everybody?The same Albany, N.Y., police investigation that uncovered the Signature Pharmacy performance-enhancing drug scandal that caught Jay Gibbons, Rick Ankeil, Rodney Harrison and other athletes, reportedly has also unveiled involvement by ... big-name musicians and other performers. Including 50 Cent, Wyclef Jean and Mary J. Blige.It sounds absolutely insane, even ridiculous. The image of a Brian McNamee-type sticking a needle in the rear end of, say, Tyler Perry (who name is also mentioned), is a bit much to digest this early in the morning.But read enough into the story, reported in the Albany Times-Union Sunday, and you realize that we, as the public, have become conditioned to think that steroids are for athletes only. Well, the sports-loving public has, and we're routinely guilty of being totally clueless about the rest of the world. Apparently, this is common knowledge outside of our little cocoon, the one that still can't think past Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, that still believes baseball is the national pastime and that still believes that there are no "role models'' in our society except famous athletes.But think about it: way more people, especially young ones, are familiar with 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige than with A-Rod and Derek Jeter. Relate to them more, Get more wrapped up in their lives. Invest more of their time, money and emotion in them. Probably try to mimic their lives, since a lot more people think they can sing than know they can play pro ball. There's a reason "American Idol'' is an institution and "American Baseball Tryout'' isn't.If some kid thinks that the difference between hitting the big time in music and crashing before anyone ever hears about him is taking hGH, like the rapper he looks up to who came from his same circumstances, then what do you think he'll do? The same thing the young ballplayer trying to stay in this country from the Dominican Republic might do. Heck, apparently the star entertainers use the stuff for much the same reason ballplayers do: to extend their careers, to feel younger, to handle the rigors of the business, to make more money for a longer time. This isn't exactly an idea restricted solely to one group of performers in one sport. As the story reminds us, Sylvester Stallone got busted for trying to get hGH through customs last year.More than that, there are constantly stories coming out about youngsters who don't play sports (or sing or act) but who use steroids anyway, because it makes them look good and boosts their self-esteem. There's evidence all over the place that baseball and its so-called sacred records are the tiniest, most minute part of the steroid problem.You'd think this all is something Congress would be aware of, and might consider adding those names to the list of witnesses in the next round of steroid hearings. Which means that seeing a parade of stars from that business, or the company execs and agents and the rest of that crowd, on Capitol Hill might be a lot more interesting and, in the long run, more beneficial, than seeing Bud Selig and Donald Fehr every six months. In fact, you'd figure that Congress might appreciate being hoodwinked by a different crowd every once in a while.The sheer entertainment value of having 50 Cent speaking to Congress would be worth it. Or, to take it to the Selig-Fehr level, Simon Cowell, or the head of some record label or the CEO of Disney or Time Warner, or Carson Daly or whoever hosts the big MTV shows these days.As for the fans, do they take the next step and start bringing asterisk signs to concerts? Big banners saying how Run-DMC and Doug E. Fresh did it clean? Do the music writers get on TV and insist that they'll never vote them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Does Mike Wallace grill one of them on 60 Minutes and ask him, "Swear?'' Will we se[...]
Tue, 15 Jan 2008 11:24:01 -0500
The two most interesting moments at the Congressional hearings on the Mitchell report so far (and so far, Sen. George Mitchell, the first witness, is still speaking):
* Some 20 minutes ago - nearly two hours into the hearing - D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton finally addressed the elephant in the room, Roger Clemens. She asked, basically, a two-part question: what was the process of assuring the accuracy of the testimony Mitchell got before naming names, and why did he feel comfortable believing trainer/accuser Brian McNamee? From here, it appeared Mitchell gave a good answer, and the most clear, concise one we've heard from him so far. He explained the whole agreement McNamee had with the feds and broke down how many times they talked to him, who was present, the penalties for him lying to them, and how, just before releasing the report, they went back to him to run everything by him one more time and remind him again of the punishment for lying. He had no "incentive'' to lie, Mitchell said. That, of course, doesn't mean McNamee didn't lie and run the risk of going to jail for a long, long time - but it sure supports his claim to credibility.
* Earlier - and, full disclosure, during a time I was only listening and not watching - a Congressman grilled Mitchell on an interesting absence in the report: the timing of Rafael Palmeiro's 2005 positive drug test as it related to his 3,000th hit. The Congressman did keep referring to him as "Palmeri,'' but he also kept pressing on a critical but long-forgotten question: did baseball cover up the test result until after the historic hit? Very significantly, Mitchell did not know, acknowledging that it wasn't covered in the report - but also that, yes, the positive test came before the hit. Which raises this question: wasn't that part of the reason the report was done in the first place, for information exactly like that, to see how and when Major League Baseball was complicit in enabling the steroid problem for its own benefit? Unfortunately, the questioner's time ran out before Mitchell could hem and haw some more. And, not being highly-qualified journalists, none of the questioners since has asked a follow-up, sticking to their own issues (or making their own speeches, or their own lame jokes, like the one by the Congressman from Kentucky calling the Louisville Slugger a "performance-enhancer'') instead.
Mon, 14 Jan 2008 09:50:01 -0500It seems that this morning's column about what a letdown it is to have the Chargers, instead of the Colts, face the Patriots next weekend touched a few nerves. Before making a few final points about last weekend's NFL playoff games, I feel that I should clarify some things from that column in case anything in it was misunderstood:The Chargers aren't that damn good. They have no chance of beating New England, outside of a severe intestinal flu running through the Patriots' locker room Sunday morning. (See, Kelly Tilghman, that's how you tell a there's-no-way-he-can-lose joke. Stupid.) They have even less of a chance if LT, Gates and Phillip Rivers can't play or aren't at full strength. The Patriots aren't going to look past them, they're not going to get rattled by late scores or backups playing over their heads or adrenaline rushes or anything else. The matchup of Bill Belichick and Norv Turner actually makes me physically ill. Indy should be ashamed to have lost to them. This is depressing. I don't even expect a competitive game. I have visions of that 51-7 game from the early '90s, Buffalo over the Raiders. They might have to put a "TV-MA'' ratings bug in the corner of the screen.Hope that clears things up a little. Anyway ...Bill Ordine beat me to the thought, that maybe we heard a little too much about what a genius Jason Garrett was and how he was such a sure thing to be a brilliant young head coach. That leads to a bigger-picture thought about the Cowboys. Granted, they earned the title "America's Team'' long ago, but they've been riding on fumes for a long time, with the whole business of not having won a playoff game in 11 years. They had a great regular season, but long before it was over, hype swallowed them up, and yesterday brought the predictable results. One of these days, we'll all learn that regular-season reps and results are one thing, postseason is another.There was actually a debate late in the year about whether Bill Parcells should be getting more credit for "building'' the powerhouse we were now viewing, before quitting on it after last season. Anybody want to fight for credit today?Think about the rewards being flung around: Garrett being moved to the top of virtually every coaching wish list, yet his offense scored all of 17 points at home against a Giants team it had beaten twice already.Tony Sparano, assistant head coach, line coach and heir-apparent in Miami with Parcells ready to plug him in, even though his line not only couldn't protect the quarterback in the fourth quarter yesterday, it couldn't even snap the ball cleanly to him.And, of course, Tony Romo himself. Certain bye-week getaways are of absolutely no concern here. What is of concern is the rush to anoint. A Pro Bowl berth last season even though he hadn't even started the entire season. A $67.5-million contract extension last October, even though he had barely reached a full season's worth of starts and had yet to win a playoff game. And now, 0-2 in the playoffs, ending those games with, respectively, a fumbled field-goal snap and an end-zone interception in situations where the Cowboys could have tied or won.At least Michael Vick had played full seasons and won playoff games before he got his outrageous deal. In fact, if you compare the public perception and actual meaningful productivity of both - this is, of course, before anyone knew about the dogfighting - you'd be confused as to who was who.In fact, if any of this underachieving were going on someplace besides Dallas, it's very likely none of this would be happening - the overhyping of the QB, the grasping for credit for departed coaches, the gushing over assistants. It's all very Yankee-like. In fact, in hindsight, it's not surprising that ESPN has led its reports since last night not with the loss by the defending Super Bowl champs, but by the Cowboys' defeat. See, it's not just an East Coast[...]
Tue, 08 Jan 2008 10:30:32 -0500
I've got a little more time off coming, with plans to return this weekend, but how can anyone pass up a news flash like this: Joe Gibbs Retires?
Especially since now, there are two NFL head-coaching openings 40 miles apart. This is the first time the Ravens and Redskins have had to hire head coaches at the same time. Both are extremely high-profile franchises and attractive jobs for any candidate -- in fact, out of the four openings, these are the two juiciest, definitely better than Atlanta and several notches higher than Miami, which, let's not forget, just went 1-15, might be up for sale and has career nomad Bill Parcells running it.
Which is the better gig, though? And how do you judge it? If you're a big-time coach -- say, the ones the Ravens are interested in, and a few who are still in the public discussion, like Bill Cowher -- for whom would you rather work, and why?
Do you go based on the owner - Steve Bisciotti or Dan Snyder?
The management team and structure -- Ozzie Newsome or ... uh ... Vinny Cerrato, Snyder and Gibbs, in some combination?
The team you inherit -- a playoff team that was 10 minutes away from reaching the second round, or a team that lost nine in a row, including one to aforementioned Miami?
The quarterback you inherit -- two goods ones in D.C., or maybe one good one in Baltimore if you put all three of them together?
The facilities -- Redskins Park in Ashburn (pretty top-notch) and FedEx Field (a dump), or The Castle (top-notch) and M&T Bank (also top-notch)?
The fan base -- the one in place for 75 years and off-the-chain crazy, or the one that's crazy but bitterly divided in its loyalties, to this team, to the old Colts, to the idea that not bleeding purple and black 24 hours a day will force the Ravens to abandon the city the way the Colts did?
The city itself -- not even gonna touch that one.
The deciding factor, of course, will be what it always is: the money. Snyder and Bisciotti both have plenty. Or it might all become a moot point if the Redskins simply promote defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
But besides that ... which is the better job?
See you in a few days. But I do want to leave with this parting thought: Roger Clemens is a weasel.(image)
Mon, 31 Dec 2007 21:48:35 -0500
As of this posting, eight hours have passed since news broke of Brian Billick's firing, and it's about time we started indiscriminately and irresponsibly throwing names around as potential replacements.
Well, not all irresponsibly. Not to scoop my own column in tomorrow's paper, but I voted for Rex Ryan.
Other names tossed around in various venues include:
* Bill Cowher
* Marty Schottenheimer
* Jason Garrett
* Mike Singletary
* Kirk Ferentz
* Charlie Weis - ha ha! Just kidding.
Seriously, throw your own suggestions in. Or say who you prefer from the names mentioned above.
Have a happy and safe new year. See you and the Ravens' new coach in 2008.
Thu, 27 Dec 2007 11:01:08 -0500
Before we commence this tirade about the NFL Network, let's pause to be thankful that on days like this, with world leaders being assassinated and tigers mauling people at the zoo (the zoo across town from where I'm staying for the Emerald Bowl), we can go on tirades about safe, relatively trivial subjects like the NFL Network.
Now ... do we DirecTV customers get refunds for Saturday's Patriots-Giants game?
That didn't cross my mind until this morning, but it's a worthwhile question. Believe me, I didn't get DirecTV because I enjoy watching a screen that's completely blank except for the notation "Searching for signal ...'' whenever a storm blows through, which has happened way too often in the past year. (Note to Verizon Fios: what's the deal with not having NBA League Pass? You're losing a customer on that one.) I didn't necessarily get it for the NFL Network, either, but that was a nice perk.
I could look at it as the NFL's version of the free Showtime weekends, planned specifically to attract possible subscribers, and the NFL is trying to spin it in much that way. However, there are plenty of other movie channels I could choose to pay for. There is only one place you can get that slate of NFL games every season. You make the sacrifice, whatever sacrifice it might be, to get the network, and then they give it away for free at the last second, giving away the exclusivity we grudgingly pay for, whether it's financially in paying for a higher sports tier, or getting a satellite that can be unreliable, and that doesn't have On Demand, which killed any chance for me to catch up on last season's The Wire.
Not that everybody shouldn't have regular access to the games. The NFL shouldn't be forcing its fans to make those kinds of choices. It was a stupid, arrogant plan to begin with, albeit perfectly suited to what's still the most arrogant sports league around (amazing with the continued existence of Major League Baseball). If the NFL wants to make people jump through hoops for its programming the rest of the year, fine. If you're that much of a fanatic that you'll pay a premium for combine coverage and live minicamps and, you know, cheerleading competitions, then you ought to be able to. NBA fans do it, with both NBA TV and League Pass. They know what they're getting, they know what they're paying for, they've made a conscious choice.
But this whole idea of withholding a product that was smartly and fairly distributed for the last several decades - yes, including to ESPN, which has been on basic cable forever and has blocked out a far, far smaller percentage of the audience - and try to flip the blame onto the cable companies and tell the fans to leave them alone and go complain to Comcast or whoever? That's so brazen, so obnoxious, so greedy, that the NFL deserves to pay mightily and for a long time for trying it.
That includes not only caving in and giving the game away to two major networks (wonder why Fox was left out - possibly because Fox and DirecTV are both owned by the same company) but also refunding whatever extra subscribers to all the systems carrying the game had to pay for the network strictly to see the restricted games.
I got holiday bills to pay. I expect my refund check ASAP.
Sun, 23 Dec 2007 16:08:28 -0500
Welcome to not-as-rainy-as-earlier-today Seattle, where kickoff is minutes away, as long as they clear the field of the snoke from the pregame intros. Thanks for being patient, and sorry for leaving you so long with that Arthur Blank fried-chicken comment. Not a good way to freeze the blog.
No one expects this to be a good game. The Seattle papers this weekend are full of stories of how the Seahawks fell on their faces last week against Carolina, and how they either have no running game, or Mike Holmgren apparently hates using the running game. We know what there is to watch from the Ravens' side: Troy.
Here's the problem. The rest of the NFL is unwatchable, too. So far: the Browns, with a chance to keep pace with the Steelers, just gagged against Cincinnati. So the Steelers clinch the AFC North, but they have to go the rest of the way without Willie Parker.
The Cowboys may have lost T.O. for God knows how long, so they're suddenly vulnerable. Door's open for the Packers, right? Nope, they just got shellacked in Chicago by the Bears, who, as we all know, really stink. The Sportsman of the Year threw two picks, one that got returned 85 yards by Brian Urlacher for a TD, and totaled 153 yards. So the Packers have to go through Dallas, if they get there. And if Dallas gets there.
And last but not least, the Saints turned back into the Saints at home, losing to the Eagles handily. They're pretty much out.
This all continues to reduce the prospects of a postseason that follows a pretty pathetic regular season to what it had seemed to be from the beginning: the Patriots-Colts AFC championship game. The elite in the NFC aren't so elite anymore: you can't trust the Cowboys without T.O., and you can't trust the Packers on the road. In the AFC, the Steelers are weakened and the Browns aren't quite the team of destiny yet. Jacksonville, you say? They drilled the Raiders at home, but that doesn't prove anything.
Nope, we're back to a one-game postseason, and that game isn't even the Super Bowl.
Oh well, at least there's Maryland basketball to look forward to. I mean ... uh ... never mind.
Tue, 11 Dec 2007 10:41:19 -0500
OK, I wasn't going to say anything else about the Michael Vick situation, honestly I wasn't. Then I saw and heard this YouTube clip from last night's Falcons-Saints game, featuring Falcons owner Arthur Blank speaking on whether Vick would ever play again.
What Blank said was: "If he doesn't watch himself and eat a lot of fried chicken and fries in prison and come out at 215 pounds, he's not going to be the same athlete he was.''
Now I'm done for the week.(image)
Tue, 11 Dec 2007 09:15:16 -0500Before I get started, I want to let readers know that I have a few days off coming, so I likely will not post again after today until this weekend, around the time the Ravens play in Miami. I'll bring the laptop to the beach. (Maybe.)Anyway ... as much as I'd love to tear off another piece of the Michael Vick story, and slap him around for all the things he did to get himself such a long sentence and for his bizarre definition of "accepting responsibility'' ... and wonder aloud what Ravens fans would say if the team was in the same dire straits at quarterback in 2010 and Vick came out of jail and became available ... and ask whether people really do care more about dogs getting killed than people getting killed (comparing the continued round-the-clock debate about Vick to the total abandonment, just two weeks later, of the Sean Taylor story) ...... I'd rather pore over David Segui's comments in this morning's Sun and how it bodes poorly for the Mitchell report.Think about this: Segui has been out of baseball for three years, and clearly he still maintains the clubhouse loyalty from his playing days. He said in the article that he didn't speak to the Mitchell people at all, not about himself and not about any of his fellow players. Or even about Jason Grimsley or Kirk Radomski, even though he talked about both of them to this paper in the past year-plus.We already knew that the Mitchell people were having a hard time getting current players to cooperate. The group had no subpoena power, the union was advising everybody not to talk, and players in general didn't have to be reminded not to snitch. (Yes, there's a Stop Snitching policy in places other than West Baltimore.) Unless you were like Jason Giambi and were given immunity in exchange for talking, you had to figure Mitchell was left milking ex-players for info. In fact, some of their leaked info two summers ago involved ex-players.Now, Segui's comments make you wonder what other ex-players turned Mitchell down. Who else said, in essence, I have nothing to hide, but I'm not going to rat out the guys I shared the life with. He wouldn't even turn on Radomski; in the story, he more or less defended him, making him out to be just a guy hustling a little in the clubhouse to make an extra buck. Never mind that it's the same rationale the mobsters used in Goodfellas and what Denzel used in American Gangster.In fact, the entire tone of Segui's comments is, "Hey, I did it, so sue me.''All of which raises the question: After all this buildup, and the anticipation growing with the speculation that the report will come out this week, is it even going to be worth the paper it's printed on? Not only won't it move the issue forward, it won't even move it backward. Maybe I've been naive all along, or just a garden-variety sucker, or someone only hearing what I want to hear, but I'm no longer buying the propaganda about the "big names'' in the report. Segui really soured me on that prospect.I've lost a lot of faith in the idea that this report will solve anything, fix anything, even embarrass anyone into making major change, or convince anyone that baseball has this under control. All it's going to do it start a raging cycle of debates, commentaries, reactions and vacant speculation that can't be substantiated, just like with every other sports story lately (see Vick, above). Not a thing will be resolved. Probably, when it's all wrung out, we'll just be back to blaming everything on Barry Bonds.Of course, it's my own fault for having any faith in it in the first place.Have a great week, and I'll check in again this weekend. (Unless something really crazy happens in the meantime.)[...]
Fri, 07 Dec 2007 09:47:55 -0500This has not been a sterling week for the concept of full disclosure.Between the fudging of facts, the sins of omission and the outright lying, we're once again, as that Sports Illustrated writer once famously said about Bob Irsay, fighting a losing battle with the truth.I'm not sure if I'm more tired of Jay Gibbons, who couldn't even come convincingly clean in his big admission/apology yesterday, or Samari Rolle, who duped me and a lot of other people into backing his "boy'' claims by leaving out a particular detail of the argument with the official -- that he started it.He sparked it all in the final seconds of Monday's game by griping to Phil McKinnely that he "never played the game.'' He was incorrect. He was unnecessarily antagonistic. And he didn't mention that in the locker room the night of the game, only a day later, after the firestorm had blown up and the debate had begun. Neither did the other players who picked up on that theme. They took that word out of its real context, and then went further and shoved it into a different context (based on the timeline of when everything actually happened, Bart Scott hurling the flag into the stands had no connection whatsoever with the Rolle-McKinnely confrontation).The NFL backed McKinnely and the crew. The league should never have been in the position to have to back them on the so-called controversial calls; every game is full of them, but every game doesn't end with players on the losing team insisting, in essence, that the games are fixed. As the NBA's David Stern has said throughout the years of accusations about his league, by doing that, you're charging him with a crime.As for the Rolle-McKinnely confrontation, I still say refs have to be above that, and belittling Rolle with such a personal, loaded response is out of line. On the other hand, can these guys grow up at some point and stop resorting to name-calling when they don't like the way things are going? Oh, and can they also tell the whole truth next time they try to publicly bury somebody and his reputation?Gibbons? There's nothing else to say about him except, "You're completely full of you-know-what.''The chronology of lies laid out by Rick Maese this morning was priceless. Here are two further reasons why everyone should be sick to death of Gibbons: All the previous denials had to do with failing drug tests and using steroids. Well, Fibbons (er, Gibbons) was using hGH, not steroids, and testing was not a factor.Then, in his statement, he played the injury-rehab card. Oooh, good one. I've never heard that one before. Hey, it was all on the up-and-up, which is why he made sure he didn't tell anybody about it and carefully worded every response over the years to avoid mentioning anything about it. You do that all the time when you take meds to get over injuries. Besides, doesn't everybody get help with recovering from an injury by getting a prescription from a doctor they don't know, going online to an out-of-state pharmacy and using a credit card? I did the same thing when I hurt my shoulder a couple of years ago, except it was the exact opposite.Of course, if you're a ballplayer like him, why not lie? As long as you don't do it in front of a grand jury, you're pretty much in the clear (pun intended). Then again, he eventually told the truth, way after the fact, after he got busted, and didn't snarl at any reporters while doing it, so I guess we can all move on. His cap size never grew, his numbers never grew, he didn't challenge any hallowed records, so what's the big deal?OK, so the entire premise of this item, about our athletes needing to be honest? Uh, never mind.[...]
Tue, 04 Dec 2007 10:45:54 -0500Rick Maese broke it down for you in a column posted on the Web site about a half-hour ago. The Ravens committed some unconscionable mistakes at the end of last night's game. And afterward, they heaped a lot of abuse on the officials about the critical calls, on Jamaine Winborn and on Jabar Gaffney's touchdown. As I said in my late-edition column, those were the right calls. And if that's all that was involved last night, then the Ravens need to stop the conspiracy talk.Except the "boy'' allegations are involved, too.Go ahead, say the Ravens should have ignored that, or been stronger mentally than that, and played through that. But even if you take the raging emotion of the situation out of it -- even with the dire consequences that came with Bart Scott exploding in rage -- how on earth can you put yourself in the shoes of a man like Samari Rolle, and teammates like Scott and Derrick Mason, and say they had no cause to react that way? True, opposing players yell things, fans yell things, sometimes coaches yell things, all worse and more vile than "boy.'' Game officials saying things like that, though, is another story entirely. There isn't even remotely, under any circumstances, an acceptable reason for that.(Brief disclaimer: because of approaching deadlines last night, the last word I heard on what Scott did before I had to submit my final column, came from Brian Billick in his press conference, the comment about doing "dumb'' things. When our other reporters emerged from the locker room with the "boy'' complaints, it was too late to substantially change the column. It happens sometimes.)It's easy, of course, for a lot of readers out there to say how they'd react to such a slur, or how the Ravens' players should have reacted -- if they've never had to deal with an insult like that, or their fathers or grandfathers or uncles or ancestors or anyone that looks like them. Loaded words like that, of course, are more loaded for some groups than for others. I think we know what we're talking about here.Now, take the weight of a demeaning word like that and impose it onto the charges of favoritism flung around in the locker room last night. Without it, they sound petty and childish. With it, you now have to say, "Whoa, what was the deal with those calls, and maybe some others, and maybe a few more that weren't made?''In other words, if what Rolle says the official said to him is true (and what Mason said about what else was being said by the refs to the players), it calls into question the integrity of him and the crew, and the integrity of the game they called. It becomes personal, completely unnecessarily so. And if the Ravens' charges are confirmed, there is no penalty severe enough for the officials to have to pay.Let's not forget how quickly everybody condemned Milton Bradley after his run-in with an umpire late in the baseball season, and then how it turned out that the ump not only stepped over the line, but relieved himself all over it, and got properly punished for it. Bradley's reputation preceded him, as does the Ravens', and that affects the public reaction. But when you're right, you're right.Composure and discipline are paramount, and the Ravens have lost either or both enough times to make them deserve the record they have. But you can only suppress your humanity so much. They haven't figured out how to play the game with robots yet.What a rotten final chapter to this game this might turn out to be.[...]