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George Mitchell's Great Charade

I don’t much believe in the investigatory power of private corporations. It’s hard to see how Major League Baseball’s team of yes-men could get to the bottom of the steroid scandal that plagued baseball for over a decade.

And apparently, it’s a shocker to some that the committee, led by Red Sox part-owner and former US Senator George Mitchell, has failed to bring anything new to the post-steroid party.

Mitchell was appointed by Bud Selig to investigate the degree to which illegal performance-enhancing drugs had permeated the game before our hero Bud cleaned up the sport. It might have been better titled “The Committee to Clear MLB of any Involvement in Anything.”

It’s a charade. Although some current players were obviously involved in steroid use, like Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi and Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, the committee has failed to punish anyone for their actions.

Estimations by former players and steroid users Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti pegged the amount of steroid users as much higher than two out of 750. So why has the steroid front appeared so quiet?

Were Caminiti and Canseco far off? Maybe. But it’s hard to think that former players like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro don’t have anything to add to the discussion. Maybe they don’t, if only because they fear self-incrimination.

So why has Mitchell announced nothing? The open-ended committee without a clear purpose was obviously an ill-fated effort at saving face. Are we ever going to find the dirty list that would clear up all questions from the era?

It comes from a strange notion that exists in baseball more so than in other fields. We don’t have a right to know. There is a large chunk of media resources devoted to celebrity gossip and finding out who’s dating whom. The federal government is always stalked by reporters hunting for corruption. The people have a right to know, because they pay the taxes that funds this corruption.

So, if Major League Baseball continues to receive the special treatment that it does from the government with its unique anti-trust exemption, shouldn’t the government, and by association, shouldn’t we have a right to know what’s going on in Major League Baseball?

Don’t the fans have a right to know what gets swept under the rug behind closed doors regarding our national pastime? Major League Baseball, as evidenced by the commish’s actions, has no interest in devoting major resources to policing itself.

So the league should be faced with two options. It should either lose its anti-trust exemption or willingly allow the government to police the sport. The fans should be offended that baseball has not reprimanded itself for endorsing the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Whether or not they intended to do so by honoring Mark McGwire’s and Barry Bonds’ separate chase for the single-season home run record is beside the point. They did, after all, elect to honor Rafael Palmeiro’s accomplishment of 3,000 hits last year even with full knowledge that the slugger had tested positive.

Baseball is sending mixed messages about drugs. On one hand, they have the anti-drug commercial filled with double entendres (yes, I’m talking about those shrinking balls) as well as the commercial with vanishing athletes. On another hand, they have the unreprimanded Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds. Both are worshiped in their home stadiums.

And when a fan threw a syringe at Bonds earlier this year, the fan was arrested and Bonds was provided with additional security. Think about the peculiarity of this from a legal standpoint. A man responsible for possession and use of illegal drugs as well as tax evasion goes free while a man who made a little mischief at a ballgame was arrested.

Bonds was not only unarrested, he goes without suspension to this point. Baseball’s brass needs to make a point by retroactively suspending Bonds and Giambi and furthering investigative efforts against Palmeiro and McGwire.

That burden falls squarely on the shoulders of George Mitchell and his band of merry yes-men. So, the steroid scandal will be swept under the rug in baseball as a period of darkness instead of earning its own wing in Cooperstown.

Rather, the only thing in Cooperstown will be the unprosecuted steroid users who weren’t caught as a result of Mitchell’s failures. Nice work. High fives all around.


In case you couldn't tell...

I'm on vacation until Monday night. That's mostly because we don't have SNY at the hotel.

Also, the posting schedule will be a little rough for this week, so I'll see you next week with something more regular.

Crosstown Rivals is sponsored by JustGreatTickets.com, your home for Chicago White Sox Tickets.


Just Who Are You Serving, Exactly?

I'm a baseball fan. A Mets fan above all other teams, sure.

But I enjoy watching baseball. So, it wasn't out of the ordinary to want to watch a clash of the AL's two best teams, the Yanks and the Tigers, on YES tonight. The Mets are in Colorado, so I'm not cheating at all.

The game's rained out. I shoulda figured, because, um, it's been raining all day.

But flipping over to SNY, I see a Mets Classics game (Game 3 of the 1986 NLCS) that has had about an hour of content cut from it.

And so, I decided to watch a Rangers-Devils game from this season on the network that currently employs Fran Healy. MSG. And I found it much more enjoyable.

This is the tip of the iceberg with my SNY frustration.

The network is horribly unoriginal. Rather than create something like the YES Network, they (Comcast, Time Warner, Wilpons)opted to create something more along the lines of the FoxSports networks and NESN.

Might I ask why?

The arrogance of the Yankees, typified by every ounce of programming on the YES network, drives me nuts. Even the promos feature stadium PA guy Bob Sheppard calling it "The Home of Champions."

It features programs like CenterStage, a talk show hosted by the insufferable Michael Kay, Yankeeography, a historical program about various Yankee figures voiced by the equally insufferable John Sterling and YES Road Trip, a show with fans going to every Yankees road game of the season.

It also features an hour-long pregame show (technically it's two shows) and an hour-long postgame show.

They also have programs which the Mets essentially ripped off in Kids On Deck and Yankees Magazine. They also carry Giants-related programming as well as Nets games.

The other local sports network, NESN, also Comcast-created, has a similar type of pitch from Boston, though it's a bit closer to SNY. They feature a ton of Red Sox stuff and the rest is mostly the type of riffraff you see on SNY. They also have an hour long pregame show (2 hours on Friday nights) and an hour-long postgame show.

The Mets have none of this. Half an hour of pregame (for night games only) and about a half an hour of postgame, provided the Mets aren't on the West Coast is all we get.

And I don't care for it at all.

Inexplicably, the SNY crew opted to generate a New York Sports Network. It exists. It's called ESPN. No network will ever be able to cut into the ESPN SportsCenter market share, especially with inferior talent that would make the SportsCenter weekend crew look like Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick at their primes.

The Mets Network decided they should cover the Yankees. And keep the Mets out of the name. I watch YES occasionally, and don't see anyone mention the Mets.

However, on shows like Daily News Live, A-Rod's struggles are the lead story. Why? If I want to watch coverage that is unbiased, I'll go to Fox News! Tell me about the Mets!

As a die-hard Mets fan, I would love nothing more than Metsographies or talk shows that somehow don't make the Yankees seem like a superior ballclub.

But from the SNY crew, that seems to be too much to ask. The staff hired appears to be a bunch of SportsCenter wannabes and one SportsCenter has-been (Steve Berthiaume). Why?

Why did I watch a SportsNite and find Kenny Choi pronouncing Chris Coste's last name Cah-stee for an entire episode? The worst part is that it meant he wasn't watching the game. Or at least he wasn't listening to it.

Matt Yallof seems to be the best of the bunch. As for Daily News Live, the conversation seems to be floating around all the time. And Gary Apple is a well-known Yankee hack.

Here's another shocker: Yankee fans don't watch SNY! It's a nice idea, in theory, but they're going to be watching YES or SportsCenter.

I had hoped for SNY to be the Mets equivalent of YES.

I had hoped there'd be a Mets Classic on for every snowy day. A new Mets classic.

I had hoped I'd finally get to see that Art Shamsky Metsography.

Instead, we got a network devoid of any Mets branding or recognizable Mets personalities except Darling, Cohen and Hernandez. And they only do pre- and post-game coverage in addition to calling the game. And Ralph comes around once a week.

The notion of a "by fans, for fans" network also appears to have been false. The best the fans get is mini-spots on Mets Weekly. SNY is devoted to the establishment. It's devoted to preserving the status quo of regional sporting networks. Why?

As far as I can tell, this network has been an overwhelming disappointment. It's time for SNY brass to change their tune and put together a Metscentric network. Otherwise, Mets fans are just gonna be stuck watching MSG an hour prior to gametime.


I'm very interested to know if any of you agree with this. Has SNY wronged Mets fans by covering the Yankees almost equally, or for that matter have they covered the Yankees too much at all?

Leave me a comment or send me an email. I'll post some responses in my next update.

Crosstown Rivals is sponsored by JustGreatTickets.com, your home for Chicago White Sox Tickets.


ummm what?

So... we've lost three in a row. How to put this delicately... I really could not care less. Listen. Our lead over the Boston Red Sox is 5.5 games. Please wake me up when there is a direct threat to our crown. Don't give me crap about A-Rod's now ESPN sactioned slump, and sure as hell don't tell me that this team is going in the wrong direction. Don't even tell me about Moose, I don't wanna hear. Just alert me from my slumber if the Sox have a chance. I'm having a flashback. A deep one. Last year. The Chicago White Sox nearly choke away their once insurmountable Central lead to the upstart Injuns, only to save house at the last minute, taking it to the Clevelanders in the final weekend.

Their morale was questioned. This team didnt have the right start heading into the playoffs, their mentality was way off. You can't do well in the postseason without a strong end to the regular season. Right? Notsomuch. Although most people don't remember (this was last year after all) the White Sox actually did win the World Series, (what, really?), mostly because they were playing the Astros. Oh my goodness. What a good punch line. Wait, what? They really were playing the Astros? Good God what has the NL come to?
Case and point, the South Siders didn't need a hot finish to succeed. They just needed a division win is all. Same applies this year folks. If they catch up, by all means tell me, until then, just put the car in neutral and let's coast home, ok?

In other news. Derek Jeter is not the MVP. Yes I am a Yankee fan don't question me. Listen we all know that he's the best all around SS in baseball, there's no arguing that unless you're an idiot who listens to BP and incorporates VORP into everyday coversations. But the power numbers are just not there. It's nice and all that he hits .335, leads this team, and plays above average D, but you can't honestly tell me you're going to give the MVP to a man who will probably not hit the 100 RBI plateau this year. His numbers are eerily similar to Mauer's, with Joe's BA obviously higher, and even though everyone wants to have puppies over this new kid in Minnesota, nobody's gonna give him this hardware. That's crazy talk. Give it to Dye, Morneau, (who is the best hitter of all time ever super duper serious he's like incredible) according to MLB pitchers, hell even give it to Papi, I love you DJ but this award is not yours. I hate those who talk about East Coast Bias (hereafter referred to as ECB) like it's some conspiracy, but this has gone a little far.
(0h and while you're at it put Wang up there with Santana and Halladay would you? Thank you kindly.)

In the other race, I really can't see how you don't give this award to Ryan Howard. Seriously even if the Phils miss the playoffs by 8 games, the guy is putting up absurd numbers. And let's be fair, without Howard, this Philly team is not even anywhere near the radar. Sounds pre-tty valuable to me. Let's face it, anything else but giving it to him would be a travesty at this point, leave it at that. (No. Down Mets Fan. No Beltran for you. NO! Bad Mets Fan!)
Speaking of Howard take it easy on Oliver Perez, or as I affectionately like to refer to him, O-Dawg, sorry Orlando. He's doing his best, no need to turn him into another VZ with Nady playing the roll of Kaz. Only without Nady succumbing to injury probs etc.

Oh and also, the Whiteys are pretty much down. Not out mind you, but most definitely down.
The Twins? Who saw that one coming? Put your hands down smart alecks, it was a trendy pick.

How good is Howie Kendrick? I mean it almost seems cliched at this point but goddamn can this boy hit a baseball. It'll be really nice to see him in Pinstripes you know?

OK I'm done for now. Tomorrow I'll be highlighting a few of the many important stories as we head into the stretch run of the '06 season. See you then faithful.

Oh, I was just kidding about that faithful stuff.

But do come back.
Crosstown Rivals is sponsored by JustGreatTickets.com, your home for Chicago White Sox Tickets.