Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Retirement

It is my sad duty to announce that I am retiring from the blogosphere.

The good news is that we can fast forward immediately to the part where I un-retire and start blogging for another site.

So, yes, it is true that the blog formerly known as You Suck Coco Crisp is no more. But don't panic. A newer, better, fancier blog has emerged to take its place, thanks to the good people at

It's called Struck Out Looking, and you can access the site directly by going to or via the website.

Other than the name and location, it will be pretty much business as usual. Baseball, the Bronx and, of course, the eternal question: How did Brett Favre trick us into ignoring the disparity between the spelling and pronunciation of his last name?

I want to thank those of you who have been my faithful readers. YSCC has been one of the greatest joys in my life, and I couldn't have done it without you. Well, I could have. But I have low self-esteem, so I probably wouldn't have for long.

So, to send this thing off in style, I think we all know what we need to do. Once more, in unison, for old time's sake, and with a heavy heart: You Suck Coco Crisp.

Talkin' Blago-ball

Well, if you thought that we had finally hit rock bottom—that things could only get better in the world of baseball by virtue of the fact that there was no human way imaginable that they could ever get worse, think again.

Apparently, the Joliet Jackhammers, an unaffiliated Illinois baseball team in the Northern League have offered former Governor Rod Blahblahblahgoveich a contract.

Yeah, like to play baseball.

When I first read about it, I thought, “Now, don’t be cynical, Melanie. Just because this has all the appearances of a really tacky publicity stunt, you shouldn’t assume that it is. Give the good people of Joliet a little credit. After all, they are from the Midwest. Maybe they just really thought this particular forty-two year old with no experience in the sport looked like a good prospect.”

But then I read about "Bobble-Hair Night."

And that’s not the only clever promotional idea the marketing team at the Jackhammers has come up with. They will also be selling special "Golden" seats and have dubbed the whole concept as "pay him to play."

Congratulations, Jackhammers. You’ve found a way to capitalize on both the sad state of your local political system and your sport all in one shot. Not to mention that you are in direction violation of the principle of separation of sports and state.

As a lover of baseball and Midwestern values, all I have to say in response to this shameful mockery is that I will be cheering for the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks for the duration of the Northern League season. Previously, I hadn’t planned on following this season at all because I hadn’t heard of the league, but whatever. I’m flexible.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More Fun Than Steroids

With pitchers and catchers reporting at the end of the week, I’ve been desperately searching for some kind of feel good baseball story on which I could focus.

I know; good luck.

Literally every single headline on is about A-Roid. Before that, it was the Torre book. Then, of course, there’s the Tejada thing. To be honest, it’s been getting me down.

Then someone sent me this video.

No, it’s not baseball. But it what was just what I needed to remind me why sports are worth all the crapelbon we put up with as fans.

If nothing else, it sure as hell beats talking about Frost-Tip.

A-Lawdy, Lawdy

So, after a couple of days of listening to us all say that the best thing that A-Roid could possibly do at this point was confess, he confessed. I mean, duh. He saw how we received those who did (Giambi and Pettitte) as compared to how we shunned those who didn’t (Palmeiro and Clemens). After all, the only thing we hate more than a cheat, is a liar and a cheat.

A-Rod’s Mea culpa came in the form of a hard-hitting interview by ESPN’s Peter Gammons, a guy who isn’t afraid to ask the easy questions in a nice tone of voice. A-Rod wore blue. To bring out the color of his eyes.

All in all, it was extremely informative. And by informative, I mean wasteful of everyone’s time. Here are some gems from the transcript along with my commentary.

PETER GAMMONS: What kind of substances were you taking?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: Peter, that's the thing. Again, it was such a loosey-goosey era. I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking all the right questions. And to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using.

I don’t get this. At all. Why would anyone ever think that it worked in his favor to act as though he didn’t know exactly what he was taking? ( Something I don’t believe for a second, by the way.) I mean, it was the act of knowingly taking any banned substance that put A-Rod on shaky moral ground. If he really didn’t know specifically which ones he was using—well, that just makes us question his intelligence as well as his values.

PETER GAMMONS: Where did you originally get the substance?
Again, at the time, you know, you have nutritionists, you have doctors, you have trainers. That's the right question today: Where did you get it? We're in the era of BALCO ... Back then, it was just about what.

That’s funny. Because I thought that back then, and I quote, “I don’t know exactly what substance I was guilty of using.”

There's many things that you can take that are banned substances. I mean, there's things that have been removed from GNC today that would trigger a positive test.

Oh, I see. He pretended not to know “what” in order to trick us into thinking it was something that might have come from GNC. Now I get it.

PETER GAMMONS: You're saying that the time period was 2001, '2 and '3?
That's pretty accurate, yes.

“Pretty accurate?” I like that. Open to interpretation. Loosey-goosey, even. Like the steroids era.

PETER GAMMONS: How much of the culture -- how prevalent was this culture in Texas at that time?
You know, I've always been a guy that raced my own race. And I don't like to look left, I don't like to look right. You just feel there's an energy. To say only Texas, that wouldn't be fair. But overall, you felt that there was -- I felt a tremendous pressure to play and play really well. I felt like I was going up against the whole world. I just signed this enormous contract. I got unbelievable negative press, for lack of a better term, for [Rangers owner] Tom Hicks and I teaming up together...

So I felt that I needed something, without over-investigating what I was taking, to get me to the next level.

Huh? So he races his own race and isn’t influenced by the people to his right or to his left. But…he IS influenced by the energy. And the negative press. And the culture. Oh, OK. Now I understand.

PETER GAMMONS: How long was it before you found out that what you were doing was actually illegal?
Again, at the time of that culture, there was no illegal or legal. It was just -- you have to understand the time. To take you back there, again, people were taking a number of different things, from GNC, to whatever.

Uh, yeah. I’m pretty sure that there was a legal and illegal. And, again, pretty sure that nothing that could be found at GNC made A-Rod fail his pee test.

PETER GAMMONS: Now, you mentioned the Katie Couric interview. You were asked if you ever used steroids, human growth hormones or other performance-enhancing substances. You said no, flat-out no. In your mind, that wasn't a lie?
At the time, Peter, I wasn't even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with Katie or CBS?

Congratulations, A-Rod. Best excuse for lying ever.

PETER GAMMONS: Now, Jose Canseco talked a lot in his books about you. He claimed in his last book that he hooked you up with a guy that was very well acquainted with performance-enhancing drugs here in Miami. Is that true?
That couldn't be more false. That's a hundred percent not true.

Or…is this just one of those times when A-Rod’s not being truthful with us because he’s not being truthful with himself?

PETER GAMMONS: You were tested during the WBC [World Baseball Classic] in 2006, is that correct?
Correct. I got tested in 2006. And also this year when I go down to Puerto Rico, I'm sure I'll get tested again in 2009.

Prior to Texas, I really had -- at that time in Seattle, I had never even heard of a player taking a substance, a steroid of any kind in my Seattle days. I mean, I know this lady from Sports Illustrated, Selena Roberts, is trying to throw things out there that in high school I tried steroids. I mean, that's the biggest bunch of baloney I've ever heard in my life.

I mean, what makes me upset is that Sports Illustrated pays this lady, Selena Roberts, to stalk me. This lady has been thrown out of my apartment in New York City. This lady has five days ago just been thrown out of the University of Miami police for trespassing. And four days ago she tried to break into my house where my girls are up there sleeping, and got cited by the Miami Beach police. I have the paper here. This lady is coming out with all these allegations, all these lies because she's writing an article for Sports Illustrated and she's coming out with a book in May.

Not only does A-Rod’s rant bear little-to-no relation to the question, but I would say that shooting the messenger is an extremely ill-advised tactic for a man in the middle of an admission of guilt. Leaving aside the fact that everything he says about Selena Roberts is unverified, by accusing his accuser, he sort of kills that whole contrite man in the blue sweater thing he has going.

PETER GAMMONS: Given the opportunity, would you like to go to Major League Baseball and say, "OK, what can I do to help kids across the country?"
100 percent.

Wow. Talk about gotcha journalism.

In case anyone’s interested in what I think A-Rod should have said, it would have been more like, “At the time, I knew what I was doing was wrong, and I knew it was illegal; I did anyway. I have no excuses and no one to blame but myself. Oh, and I lied to Katie Couric. Obviously.”

Do I think the stuff about being young and feeling pressure was probably true? Sure. Do I think you say any of that stuff in an apology? No. I think apologies never involve excuses. And just because someone says, “There are no excuses,” it doesn’t mean we don’t register all the excuses he makes when he makes a bunch of them.

So, all in all, I thought it was pretty weak.

I don’t think that A-Rod is faking the humiliation. I mean, it’s humiliating. And despite what A-Rod said about the race and looking to the right, this is a guy who is deeply invested in public opinion. So I do think that he sincerely feels bad. It’s just that I think he feels bad about the fact that people think bad things about him rather than about his actions. In short, I don’t think he regrets what he did so much as that I think that he regrets that he got busted.

But one thing's for sure; next time I get caught in a lie, I’m totally saying, “At the time, I wasn’t even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with you?”

Either A-Rod’s more clever than I thought, or he got a hand from the likes of hip hopera artist R. Kelly with that one.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pinstripe Patterned Glasses

I would like to take a moment to respond to what a couple of my readers had to say about my post, “A Schilling For Your Thoughts.”

My reader, Josh, wrote, “In principle, I agree with Schilling. The fans deserve full disclosure from the Union. And the players who didn't use deserve to be vindicated.”

Blindbejeezus commented, “Don't let those pinstripe patterned glasses make you hate curt for saying something good. Screw what is possible and what is not, is there another player out there saying what is PLAINLY obvious at this point: The power currently wielded by the MLBPA has been bad for baseball ($$$ aside). The union has screwed the sport. I'm ready to bring collusion back.”

I want to make an important distinction.

I agree with both Josh and Jeez on one point: I think that the MLBPA does a major disservice to all of the players who aren’t juiced by covering up for the ones who are. Moreover, I think that part of the MLBPA's obligation as a union is to create a fair and safe working environment for everyone in baseball—an environment which obviously can’t exist as long as steroids are such a huge part of the game. This was, in fact, the subject of my piece, “Nothing Against A-Roid.”

So, in short: Do I think that the MLBPA should have agreed to the confidentiality terms of that collective bargaining agreement? No. Do I think they could have done more in the past to put an end to all this nonsense? Absolutely. Is there more they could and should be doing now? Obviously.

However, it doesn’t change the fact that the terms of that agreement were binding. Case closed. End of story. And just because we WANT to be able to know the names of those 104 players, we can’t demand that those terms be nullified. It’s simply not how the law works.

Here’s the problem: While the corruption in this case may be obvious enough for the breach of confidentiality to seem warranted, where do we draw the line? Maybe I’m just nostalgic for those two months I spent in law school, but you get into dangerous terrain when you talk about rewriting the law under certain circumstance when morality deems it reasonable.

So, while I think there’s nothing to be done with those tests that were taken in confidence—except wait for more of the names to be leaked—I do agree with both of you that the MLBPA needs to start getting its act together and cracking down on this situation like now. If the MLBPA and MLB combined forces and made a sincere effort to get steroids out of the sport, you wouldn’t eliminate them entirely, but you’d come a hell of a lot closer.

On another note, for those of you who haven’t already, you should check out Josh’s blog—Jews in Baseball. It’s about, well, exactly what you think it would be about, and it’s always a delightful read.

I'm Waiting For My Man(ny)

In a recent interview with the La Times about his failure to negotiate a deal with anyone as of yet, Manny Ramirez said, “We're in the seventh inning and I'm waiting for my pitch.”


But here’s the thing about that: When you’re 0-2, you can’t exactly afford to wait for your pitch.

Manny has said of his stint in LA, "I enjoyed the time I spent there. The reporters treated me well. They treated me with respect. When I needed my 15 minutes to go to the cages, they gave it to me. I felt really comfortable there. Everyone treated me well, all of the guys."

Given all that and the fact that the Dodgers are the only team that have officially made Manny an offer, what seems to be the problem?

I know you want a four-year deal, Manny. And I want to be the princess of an island nation in the tropics and to have a staff position at the New Yorker. But that doesn’t mean that I would turn down a trip to Trinidad and freelance job at New York Magazine.

But, whatever. According to Manny, he has no say in the matter. He claims that “it's in God's hands.” While I think it’s pretty unlikely that God cares all that much about where Manny play baseball, it’s not impossible that God cares more than Scott Boras. That guy doesn’t seem to care at all. I just hope that after God makes this decision, Manny knows that he will have to be the one to actually show up to sign the contract.

A Schilling For Your Thoughts

Curt Schilling wrote a post for his blog a couple days ago entitled, “Shocked? You Just Can’t Be Anymore.” (Awesome title, by the way, Curt.) In his piece about the recent A-Roid scandal, Schilling said, “I’d be all for the 104 positives being named, and the game moving on if that is at all possible. In my opinion, if you don’t do that, then the other 600-700 players are going to be guilty by association, forever.”

Here’s the problem with that: It’s not at all possible. Sure, I agree with the sentiment, but under the collective bargaining agreement, those tests were to be confidential. Period. And even though I don’t support the use of steroids—at all—a deal’s a deal. Now, a leak is one thing, but you can’t just decide that because someone leaked one piece of confidential information, you’re going to blow the whole agreement to smithereens. But, whatever. Unless you’re Curt Schilling, I’m assuming that this is obvious.

In fact, for those other 103 juicers on the list; take heart. Baseball COO Bob DuPuy assures us that there is no need to lose faith in the confidentiality of the testing, saying, “I am comfortable [the] program is operated currently as it should be."

Seriously, Bob? Did your subscription to Sports Illustrated lapse, or are you just living in the Lake House?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Nothing Against A-Roid

Well, it looks like A-Rod’s hair isn’t the only thing he’s been chemically enhancing.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard by now that Sports Illustrated printed a story revealing that Frost-Tip tested positive for steroids in 2003.

Wait a second. That’s funny. I feel like A-Rod did something else of note that year. But what the hell was it? Oh, right. Win AL MVP and the league home run championship.

What a coincidence.

But believe it or not, I’m not going to take this opportunity to rag on A-Roid. (Though obviously he has a new nickname for life.) I mean, you all know how I feel about the guy. This doesn’t really change that. And whatever. If someone somewhere is doing something morally compromising, I just assume that Frost-Tip is involved. So it’s not a surprise or a disappointment. Tell me Bernie Williams tested positive, that’s a different discussion.

My issue right now is actually with the MLB Player’s Association.

Yeah, I said it.

I believe in unions. Screw the man and all that. But Adam the Bull made an interesting point today on WFAN. (Not interesting enough to forgive the name, but I’ll address that another time.) He said that, while, on the one hand, it’s the MLBPA’s responsibility to protect the players who have been busted for violating the steroid rules, it should also be its obligation to protect those players who haven’t. The ones who are struggling to compete in an industry in which people have gone outside the system to give themselves an unfair advantage. So, when Gene Orza, the COO of the player’s union, warns players about upcoming drug tests, he may think that he’s only sticking it to the people at MLB. But not so.

By enabling the guys who are juicing to keep on juicing, he’s kind of sticking it to all the players who aren’t. And by keeping all of this under such a veil of secrecy, the people at the MLBPA end up tarnishing the names of everyone in the sport. Until someone decides to just bust this thing wide open, every player is a suspect. And that hardly seems like a way to protect whatever members of the union are within regulations. And those would seem, to me, to be the members most deserving of the union’s protection.

But not so fast, MLB. You’re not exactly exempt either. This whole thing only got so out of control in the first place because you let it. By treating our bitterness over a strike with a steroids-fueled home run frenzy. Patently imbecilic.

Basically, it would be as though your kid had a weight problem, and you were worried because all the other kids were teasing him. So when he started smoking crack and got thin and made friends, you decided not to say anything. Obviously he was going to eventually start robbing gas stations and having paranoid delusions, but for the moment, the problem was addressed.

Well, guess what? That’s obviously the dumbest way to deal with a problem ever. My analogy may be a little far-fetched, but seriously. Your kid is fat, you put him on a diet. You don’t let him smoke crack. People don’t like baseball? You do more promotions, have players do more community outreach, do more personal interest stories. I don’t know. Ever heard of marketing? I thought the whole reason advertising was everywhere was that we were all stupid enough to buy into it. But whatever you do, you don’t turn a blind eye as a steroid epidemic of unbelievable proportions takes over your sport because the effect that it’s having is working to your advantage. That’s lazy, and it’s immoral, and for salaries of up to $18 million a year, I would expect the guys over at baseball to be doing more than just calling it in.

So, here’s a revolutionary idea. Maybe the people at MLB and the MLBPA can see this as possibly the one opportunity they’re ever going to have to share a common goal—the total elimination of steroids from the sport.

It could happen.

And Coco Crisp could just wake up one morning and realize that, somehow, miraculously, he doesn’t suck anymore.

(Don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten.)

Friday, February 6, 2009

A H-O-R-S-E By Any Other Name

In case anyone wasn’t totally clear on just how bad things were going in the economy, let me paint a picture.

This year’s NBA All-Star weekend is going to feature a game of H-O-R-S-E—something that’s long been fantasized about by many. Only it’s not going to be H-O-R-S-E. Because it’s going to be G-E-I-C-O.

No, you read that right. Like, instead of an “H,” it’ll be a “G,” and instead of an “O,” it’ll be an “E,” and so on. I totally get why no one buys fiction anymore. I mean, the stuff that actually happens is truly amazing.

Now, we’re obviously all totally inured to advertising at this point. We go to the movies and see advertising for sodas, we buy cans of sodas and see advertising for movies. It’s everywhere, shamelessly woven into the fabric of our lives, and you know what? We deal with it. That is, however, until it subsumes the event that it is supposed to be merely sponsoring. That’s when we decide to get annoyed.

And by we, I, of course, mean me.

H-O-R-S-E is a game that reminds people of their youth, which is why it was such an appealing idea to bring it to the All-Star Game. Seeing as that H-O-R-S-E is such a classic game and that its name is integral to the actual playing of it, it’s going to irritate people when they find out that the good people at NBA had the gall to actually sell the naming rights. Like they owned them.

I mean, it’s not a total surprise. I’m guessing that the genius who thought of this figured that we’d all think it was insanely clever and adorable. Like everyone seems to think that gecko is. Everyone except me. What can I say? I’m just not a huge fan of those Geico commercials. Yeah, I know; I’m the only one. But A) Australian accents make me insane, B) Talking animals remind me of mascots, and C) I don’t get what’s so goddamn funny about a caveman.

Leaving aside my feelings about cavemen and Australian accents, the bottom line is that there was a semi-tasteful way to do this. Like to have it be H-O-R-S-E—sponsored by Geico. That I could have lived with. But this leaves me with the unsettled feeling that the only derby I’ll be watching this July will be the Exxon Derby.

But maybe I’m just being bitter. My friend Josh seems to think that we should capitalize on the advertising frenzy and is actually working on a deal with Google in which every fifth word he speaks will be Google. I’m currently trying to work out a similar arrangement with Snuggie.

You’d be surprised, but for people who walk around wearing blanket-robes, they’re kind of a bunch of hard-nosed pricks.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Leave Michael Phelps Alone

In a recent article entitled, “Michael Phelps Betrays Himself and His Admirers,” David Ramsey wrote that Phelps “fills us with shame.”

Because he took a bong hit.

And Ramsey isn’t the only one up in arms. Elisabeth Hasselbeck of “The View” and countless others have been making a stink about Phelps and his degeneracy, expressing their disappointment in his failure to act as a proper role model, even going so far as to demand that he serve time for his crime.

I’m sorry. Maybe I missed all the news coverage on this one, but did Michael Phelps kill a prostitute and burn an American flag after he finished smoking that bong hit?

I’ve never been a huge Michael Phelps groupie. I mean, much respect for all those medals and everything, but as soon as someone starts to have a following, that’s kind of where they lose me. Naturally, though, now that the world’s turned its back on him, I’ve obviously come to love him.

Sure, smoking pot is juvenile and silly and whatever. But you want to know what else is juvenile and silly and whatever? 23-year-old dudes. And you know what? Even though he has weird super strength and some kind of magical hidden retractable fins and is more famous than most of us will ever be, at the end of the day, Michael Phelps is just a 23-year-old dude. So I don’t get the expectation that he’d do anything other than act like a 23-year-old dude.

I understand that what he did was illegal. It’s just hard for me to take seriously that people are so up in arms about this when we live in a culture that turns a blind eye to the excessive consumption of alcohol by its young people. And legal or not, alcohol is the most toxic drug there is.


Too much alcohol can literally kill people. Too much pot makes people eat too much and laugh at dumb crap. Again, detox from alcohol can literally kill people. Detox from pot makes people get jobs and haircuts.

But what about his DUI in 2004, people will ask. Isn’t this a pattern? Well, a DUI is a heinous offense. I will admit that. I have no tolerance for that kind of idiocy. But it’s not impossible that the only pattern it was a part of was the pattern that dictates that dumb teenage boys will act like dumb teenage boys. Phelps lives his life under a microscope, so we just get to bear witness to every dumb thing he does.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that these behaviors are indicative of some kind of issue with substance abuse. It seems a little weird that our reaction would be to demand his head on platter rather than to express our concern. If the guy’s got a problem, he deserves our sympathy and support—not our censure.

In any event, I think it’s a little early to make that kind of assessment. For now, all we’ve got on our hands is the case of a 23-year-old kid who smoked weed at a party. And if that 23-year-old kid isn’t an Olympic medalist, this story sure as hell ain’t making headlines.

Oh, and speaking of which, State of South Carolina, I’m sorry but what? Criminal charges? For photos of someone taking a bong hit? I mean, really South Carolina. You already have John Edwards and those accents working against you. Is the goal to just eliminate any doubt from our minds that you are not a state to be taken seriously?

Well, don’t worry. I’m sold.