Ichiro Is The Hit King America Deserves

I should start out by acknowledging that this comes from a place of total and complete bias.  I’m a huge Ichiro fan; I bought in from Day 1.  I know, I’m from the Seattle area, and you’d think it could be taken for granted that I’d be a huge Ichiro fan, but as many of you well know, there are PLENTY of local haters in the area.  Mariners fans who don’t understand Ichiro, who like him well enough but like to mock him just as often, or who simply dislike Ichiro and everything he stands for.  You’ll find plenty of Mariners fans who think Ichiro is a me-first prima donna – and maybe he was!  I have no idea.  All I know is that Ichiro is the greatest right fielder the Mariners have ever had – which is saying something, considering I was also a pretty huge Buhner fan.  Ichiro was a 10-time All Star in his first 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, a 10-time Gold Glover in the same period, a 3-time Silver Slugger, and an American League MVP and Rookie of the Year in the SAME SEASON.  If you took just his 11.5 seasons with the Mariners, right there you’ve got a Hall of Famer, discounting all that came before and all that’s come since.  How you couldn’t at least appreciate him for what he was, I’ll never understand.

He wasn’t Griffey.  He wasn’t some middle-of-the-order power hitter.  And, as a leadoff man, he didn’t even walk all that much.  But, he was (and, apparently still IS) a hitting machine, a guy who could steal you an elite number of bases (anywhere from 26-56 in his first 12 seasons), a guy who played flawless outfield defense, and oh yeah, a guy who also had a rocket arm.  The sheer number of runs he saved this team, by either chasing down balls, throwing runners out, or more importantly, preventing runners from advancing an extra base, has to be staggering.

Ichiro was the whole package, minus the power.  And, in an era where MLB contracts just started to get into the ridiculously staggering levels they are today, Ichiro never really felt like a burden financially.  He had 4 years with the Mariners where he averaged $17-18 million per season.  Over his entire Mariners career, he averaged approximately $12 million per season, which feels about right.  Hell, for a Hall of Famer, it feels like a BARGAIN!

On the All Time Mariners list, here are some of his ranks:

  • WAR – 3rd, behind Griffey & Edgar
  • Batting Average – 1st, at .322
  • OBP – 9th, at .366
  • Games Played – 2nd, at 1,844 (behind Edgar)
  • Runs Scored – 2nd, at 1,176 (behind Edgar)
  • Hits – 1st, at 2,533
  • Doubles – 3rd, at 295 (behind Edgar & Griffey)
  • Triples – 1st, at 79 (next highest has 48)
  • Stolen Bases – 1st, with 438 (next highest has 290)

I don’t care what anyone says, Ichiro in his prime was undeniably great.  And, now he’s back in the news.

Yesterday, he passed Pete Rose for most hits as a professional, with 4,257 and counting.  Pete Rose, famously, was known as the Hit King, with his 4,256 hits in the MLB.  Of course, to get Ichiro to his number, you have to include the 1,278 hits he accumulated in the Japanese professional league, which many like to denigrate as inferior.  I dunno.  Do they get paid to play the game of baseball?  Is that what they do for a living?

If we’re going to reduce the impact of hits in the Japanese league – likening it to hitting in AAA – then do we get to do the same to the era in which Pete Rose played?  I mean, come on!  Are you trying to tell me the pitchers and level of athlete in the 60s, 70s, and 80s were just as good as they are in the new Willennium millennium?  I’m afraid not, mon frere!  If I had to find an apt comparison for those bygone athletes who chain-smoked, drank religiously, hardly ever worked out, and couldn’t tell you what a “carb” was if their lives depended on it, I MIGHT be so bold and so insensitive as to compare their level of talent and athleticism to those playing in the Japanese league when Ichiro was over there getting his 1,278 hits (but, to be honest, that would be unfair to our overseas friends).

Look, I know these are meaningless numbers.  All of them.  Who cares who has the most professional hits?  If you care, then you’re doing it wrong.  The whole numbers thing with baseball is so pointless, I don’t even know why anyone talks about it anymore.  Didn’t Sosa and McGwire, and then Bonds and A-Rod already make a mockery of the whole thing with their steroids-fuelled abominations?  If you care enough to continue calling Pete Rose the Hit King, then you’re admitting that you condone Barry Bonds as the Home Run King and all that his numbers stand for.

If you’re going to get your panties in a bunch, then I’m afraid we’re just going to have to stop comparing different eras of baseball, because it’s really too much.  If you got in a time machine, pulled Pete Rose out of the 1960s, and had him start his playing career in Japan in the early 1990s, then had him follow a similar career trajectory as Ichiro, would he have become the animal he was in the 70s and 80s?  Or, would this generation’s level of talent and athleticism have overwhelmed him to the point where we’d never know the name Pete Rose?

Sorry ol’ Petey Pants, but I’m not buying it, and I’m not buying you as the Hit King anymore.  Ichiro’s my man!  Ichiro, the erstwhile 27 year old MLB rookie, who later this year is going to get his 3,000th MLB hit (21 away, as of this post), is the single greatest hit machine the sport of baseball has ever seen.  Granted, they may mostly be singles, and he may have a ton of the infield variety padding those stats, but no one said Ichiro is the greatest hitter.  Just like no one said Pete Rose was the game’s best hitter.  If that’s who you’re looking for, then you should probably go grab Ted Williams.  But, the Hit King is a different beast.  And today, that beast goes by the name Ichiro.

Look, America is swell, and it has a lot going for it.  But, America doesn’t need to be the best at EVERYTHING.  We don’t need to make every facet of our lives about who has the biggest cock, okay?  On this one, Japan gets to hold the record.  It’ll be all right!  America will still be good at other things!  Like mass gun murders!  And electing worthless, pieces of shit to be our political leaders!  And obesity, probably!

America:  All These Things & More! (just not the Hit King).

Ken Griffey Jr., Hall of Famer

I’ve made no secret about it:  I’m one of those insufferable assholes who originally jumped on the Seattle Mariners’ bandwagon during the closing few weeks of the 1995 season.  I would have been 14 years old at the time, which quite honestly is pretty late in the game, as far as getting into a new sport is concerned.  You normally develop those lifelong attachments to your sports teams in your childhood, in the 8-10 years old range.

Ken Griffey’s grotesquely swollen jaw …

At some point in the mid-to-late 80s (I want to say the 1987 range), I started getting into the Seahawks.  By 1988, I was on a 3 packs a week habit (football cards, Topps).  By 1989 and 1990, it was probably closer to 6 packs (Pro Set).  I joined my dad’s work’s NFL Pick ‘Em pool against all the adults and even won some weeks (at $5 per entry per week, that was a solid chunk of change for a kid under 10 years of age).  I was a football lifer, no doubt about it.

In 1993, I started getting heavily into the NBA and the Sonics.  So, maybe they were my gateway drug into other sports.  Regardless, baseball has always been my third sports love, and that’s probably the way it’s always going to be (even though I mostly ignore the NBA now and will continue to do so until Seattle gets a team again).

I was always aware of the Mariners existing, as a kid.  They were consistently losing, so I didn’t really see the point in paying attention.  I didn’t have a parent or other type of older person I looked up to who were baseball fans.  I come from a family of football fans, period.  Any other sports would have to be pursued on my own.

But, in 1995, the Mariners were surging in the standings, and drawing attention all across the nation.  FINALLY, Seattle had winning baseball, and the sports bandwagoners ate it up.

I was also generally aware of Ken Griffey Jr., but I don’t know if I could say he was a hero of mine or anything.  My first sports idol was Steve Largent.  My second and third were, in some order, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton.  By the time I started getting into the Mariners, Griffey was more national icon than simply a local superstar.  And, when I was that age, contrarian that I was in my know-it-all teens, I didn’t want to be some mope who went along with the crowd (even though that’s exactly who I was, jumping on the bandwagon when I did).  I was more of a Randy Johnson man, or a Jay Buhner man.

But, that’s not to say I disliked Griffey.  Indeed, I revered him as much as anyone in sports.  He was truly one of the best baseball players alive, and to have him on the Mariners was some sort of good fortune I just took for granted at the time.  With all the stars on the Sonics, and an all-time legend in Largent on the Seahawks, I just figured every team in every sport had at least one superstar and they always would.

Looking back on it now, I sort of wish I’d been a fan from the very beginning of his career.  It’s hard to appreciate the whole arc of his story, when I started somewhere in the middle.  By the time I was paying attention to Griffey, he was the best player on the planet.  So, all I’ve known of him has been the mythology, and the slow fall from grace.

I had about 4.25 good years as a fan of Ken Griffey Jr. before he forced his way out.  Obviously, there was the 1995 miracle finish that came JUST short of a World Series appearance.  At that point, we figured the sky was the limit for the Seattle Mariners, and there would be many MANY consecutive years of playoff appearances.  In 1996, we were cut down by Randy Johnson’s injury, and a pisspoor bullpen.  In 1997, we made it back to the playoffs, but we sold our soul to do it (the Lowe/Varitek trade & the Cruz trade).  And even then, we lost in the first round.  1998 & 1999 were essentially lost seasons, and the beginning of the end of those Mariners teams (it really started with the Tino Martinez trade, but continued with the Randy Johnson trade, and climaxed with the Griffey trade).

So much of being a Mariners fan is being jerked around by ownership and then hoping for the best.  It’s been that way since the very beginning.  In my formative years as a Mariners fan, it was endless penny-pinching by ownership.  We made all those trades in the mid-to-late 90s, one by one stripping this team of all its quality players and superstars, and yet there really wasn’t a noticeable penalty.  By 2000 and 2001, the Mariners were magically one of the best teams in baseball, and you can look at the guys we got in return from some of those trades (Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen, Mike Cameron) as real building blocks in our rise to prominence.  Those teams didn’t have the flash that the mid-90s teams had, but they were solid, and they got the job done in the regular season.

Yet, you can point to losing Randy Johnson (who would go on to win multiple Cy Young Awards), Tino Martinez & Jeff Nelson (who would go on to win multiple World Series titles with the Yankees), Ken Griffey Jr. (who went on to have moderate, injury-plagued success with the Reds), and later Alex Rodriguez (who took the biggest contract offer he could get, which obviously would never come from this Mariners organization), as the reason why this team never achieved any playoff success whatsoever.

If we focused on building around our stars, instead of shipping them off for adequate role players, maybe we wouldn’t have had some of the regular season successes we had in the early 2000’s, but a team with Randy, Tino, Nelson, Griffey, and A-Rod is sure as shit built for post-season glory.  It’s easy to look back on it now and say, “It’s so simple!”  But, at the time, with the Mariners rocking and rolling for the most part, it was understandable to think the good times would only continue.

When news hit of Griffey demanding a trade, I honestly don’t remember how I felt.  Disappointment, mostly.  I don’t think I really understood what was happening or why it was happening.  We were fed the line of Griffey wanting to be closer to home, closer to family, but I don’t think I entirely bought it then, and I still don’t think I entirely buy it now.  This Mariners organization has always been kind of a mess.  The product on the field always should have had better results.  But, the people in charge of personnel kept screwing things up at every possible turn, and the owners didn’t have the fortitude or the mental capacity to reward their very best players with contracts commensurate to their value on the open market.  On the one hand, you can laud the organization for getting SOMETHING in return for some of these players they shipped off; but on the other hand, God dammit!

My disappointment with the Griffey situation soured a bit when it became public knowledge that he ONLY wanted to be traded to the Reds, which severely limited our ability to negotiate the best possible deal.  Then again, knowing this organization’s track record in major trades, it’s highly probable that whoever they would have traded Griffey to would have seen a return on par with the bust of the century.  I think I let that rage subside when the Mariners managed to improve (helped in large part by Mike Cameron being a fan favorite), while the Reds never really did much.  In the end, I would come to feel sorry for Griffey, as it seemed he could never stay on the field for any prolonged stretch.  He had one quality year on par with his Mariners numbers, in his very first season with the Reds.  After 2000, you’ll see large gaps in his playing time due to injury.  By the time he managed to stay healthy for a full year again, it was 2007, his last All Star season.  In 2008, he was traded to the White Sox for their playoff run (losing in the ALDS), only his third appearance in the post-season (the other two, obviously, being with the Mariners).

In 2009, Jackie Z brought Griffey back on as our primary DH.  It was a way to see if he could prolong his career, while at the same time a nice gesture for the fans.  No one really expected much out of him or the team, but the Mariners managed a winning record against all odds, and Griffey himself had a decent campaign (19 homers in 117 games).  It would be the perfect end to a Hall of Fame career … until everyone got cute and tried to capture lightning in a bottle twice.  2010 was a definite black mark for everyone involved.  On the last day of May, Griffey had one hitless pinch hit at-bat in the 9th inning of a 5-4 loss to the Twins in Safeco Field.  This came after sitting on the bench for a full week, which was probably a sign of things to come.  Instead of milking out the last sour drops of his career, Griffey chose to retire on the spot, driving home to Florida and letting the team know via a phone call on the road.

Being a fan of Griffey was never dull, I’ll say that.  As a Mariner, he was the face of Major League Baseball for a decade; that was pretty cool.  He put up some crazy, insane, cartoon numbers as a hitter; he made some crazy, insane, cartoon plays in the outfield.  He was, without question, the greatest baseball player I’ve ever seen, and probably will ever see.  He has my utmost respect as an athlete, and I’ll always look back fondly on his Mariners career.

One of the great things you can point to with Griffey is that he did it the right way.  Meaning, he didn’t cheat.  He didn’t prolong his career and boost his numbers by ingesting illegal or immoral pharmaceuticals.  Of course, we don’t know that for sure, but I’m not going to sit here and try to make the argument that he might have.  What we know is that his name has never come up in any implications on the topic.  He’s never had the aura of suspicion like Bonds, Clemons, and Sosa.  He’s also never outright admitted it, like McGwire, A-Rod, Palmeiro and the like.  We do know that he saw most of the latter half of his career on the DL, as opposed to someone like Bonds, who not only saw most of the latter half of his career in perfect health, but putting up bonkers numbers he never even approached in the first half of his career.  If Bonds had chosen to stay clean, he most likey wouldn’t have broken the home run record, and he most likely wouldn’t have stayed as healthy as he did.  But, he would have been a Hall of Famer, and a first-ballot Hall of Famer at that.  Instead, he cheated, and he’s likely never getting in.

With Griffey, you can simply give him the ol’ eye test.  Knowing what we know – that he was never implicated, that he never admitted to doing anything illicit, that he found himself on the DL more often than not in the second decade of his career – you can watch him age through the years and put a pretty firm assumption down that he wasn’t doing anything wrong.  Griffey aged like a baseball player of his calibre SHOULD age.  He didn’t suddenly put on 40 pounds of muscle and start hitting 50-70 homers a year in his late 30s.  He put on however many pounds of fat, and was left to his natural born gifts to push him through to his 23 years in the Major Leagues.  That’s what it means by doing it the “right way”.  That’s why he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and why he received the highest percentage of votes for a first year nominee in the history of the Hall of Fame (all but 3 voters selecting Griffey).  In an era where the cheaters outnumbered the clean, Griffey stayed clean and STILL crushed everything in his path.

I don’t have a particular Griffey-centric moment that stands out above all others, except obviously I do, and it’s of him scoring the go-ahead run from first base against the New York Yankees in the fifth game of the ALDS in 1995.  It’s that, and obviously, it’s that iconic picture of him underneath Bob Wolcott and all the other Mariners mobbing him at home plate.  I don’t totally think it’s fair, though, because they call that moment “The Double” because that’s really Edgar’s moment more than it is Griffey’s or anyone else’s.  If I had to pick a moment that was just Griffey’s, I don’t think I could.  Because my memory has gone to shit, and because – again – I wasn’t a fan until that stretch run in 1995.  I didn’t see him play with his dad and hit back-to-back homers with Ken Griffey Sr.  I didn’t see him blossom into the superstar he would become.  Hell, I didn’t even see him break his hand while making that catch against the wall that kept him out of the majority of the 1995 season!

You know what weirdly stands out?  It’s not even a particular moment, per se.  But, in 1996, the Mariners were playing out a string of meaningless games, with no chance of making the playoffs.  There was a series in Cleveland, and one of the games was rained out (another had to be pushed back to a Day/Night Doubleheader).  In one of the rainout games, Griffey hit a homer, but since it was rained out and never finished (and since it didn’t go past the 5th inning), the game never counted.  The game was never made up, because it wouldn’t have made a difference for either team’s placement in the standings (the Mariners were out of it, and the Indians were so far ahead in their division that it didn’t matter).  So, essentially, the Mariners only played 161 games in 1996.  And, as a result of that game being rained out, taking away one of his home runs, Ken Griffey Jr. finished the season one homer shy of his first 50-homer season.  I remember thinking how much that SUCKED, as reaching that 50-homer plateau was truly meaningful to me back then.  Obviously, Griffey would go on to have back-to-back 56-homer seasons the next two years, but how cool would it have been to see him with three straight 50-homer seasons?

Ehh, maybe less cool, knowing what we know about that era and all the insane homer totals that were inflated by a bunch of cheating tools.  Nevertheless, Ken Griffey Jr. is our shining beacon of hope in an otherwise dark period for Major League Baseball.

The Seattle Mariners Have To Move In The Fences Next Season

Short and sweet, here we go.

That title is a little misleading, because it leads the reader to believe that’s my personal opinion on the matter.  In fact, if it were up to me, I’d leave them exactly the way they are.  I think one of the best things baseball has to offer is the fact that teams can have different-looking stadia, with different dimensions giving each home a different element.  Pitchers parks, hitters parks, adjusting your style to fit your location … I’m all for it!

I think Safeco is perfect the way it is.  I like watching low-scoring games.  I like pitchers duels.  I don’t need a bunch of home runs to make me happy at a baseball game.  I just need a scorecard and a Felix Hernandez on the hill.

But, last I checked, I wasn’t Most People.  Most People LIKE home runs!  They LIKE high-scoring contests!  Hell, they like going into a game and not having to worry if their team is going to be no-hit again!

For me, there’s nothing better than a tense, dramatic 1-0 game.  For Most People, they need to see batters running the bases.  Like, you know how most Americans “don’t get” soccer because there’s no scoring?  And then you’ve got those futbol snobs who look down on Americans who “don’t get” soccer?  I’m, I guess, some kind of baseball snob.  I’m able to derive enjoyment from a 1-0 game like a soccer fan is able to derive enjoyment from a 0-0 match.

Of course, at last count, I’ve been to exactly two home games this season.  So, I don’t really count, now do I?

The fans that go to these games have dwindled in size over the last four to five seasons because the Mariners have been losing so many games.  But, in spite of all the losses (with seemingly no hope in sight for a contender any time soon), the Mariners have still been able to draw surprisingly well.  I mean, on a random Monday or Tuesday night in June, when the Mariners are in last place in the AL West and near the bottom in all of baseball, they still manage to draw upwards of 17,000 people … that’s AMAZING to me!  By all rights, this team should be drawing no more than 5,000 fans per game for what they’ve been forced to sit and watch!  And I don’t mean just this year; I mean every year between now and 2008 (with the surprising exception of 2009 when the Mariners somehow contended through July).

But, I have to think that this hardcore group is going to start losing numbers in huge chunks if the Mariners don’t figure out a way to score more than zero runs.  Even if it means allowing other teams to come in here and score more than two runs.

There were some dog days in the 80s where the Kingdome drew dick.  I have to believe those days will be returning here to Safeco, if the Mariners don’t figure out a way to be more exciting to the vast majority of fairweather fans.  Those families who come out to one or two games a year, who are just looking for something fun and memorable for their children.  I guarantee you, no kids who have been to some of these dogs the Mariners have put out this season are creating any lasting memories other than utter boredom.

Hey Seattle Mariners, do you want to create a generation of baseball haters?  Keep doing what you’re doing!  By the time all these elderly folks die out, you’ll have nothing coming up the pike to replace them!

So, no, I don’t want Safeco Field to change its dimensions.  But, the Seattle Mariners have absolutely no choice.  The fans WILL stop showing up, that’s just a fact.  You know the motto, “Chicks Dig The Long Ball”.  Why do you think the Sammy Sosa/Mark McGwire home run chases did so much to breathe life back into MLB after the catastrophe of the 1994 strike and cancelled World Series?  Because scoring runs excites the rabble!

1-0 games just put the rabble to sleep.  I’m sorry to say it, but Safeco is going to have to change, otherwise the Mariners might as well give up right now and try to make it as a crosstown soccer rival to the Sounders.  They couldn’t be any worse at scoring soccer goals than they are scoring baseball runs!

Mariners Call Up Dustin Ackley

FINALLY!

It’s always exciting when new players are promoted from the minor leagues, especially when you’re a Not Very Good Team.  While the Mariners are currently 1 game over .500 and 1 game behind first place Texas, they’re still a Not Very Good Team.  They’re GOOD, but not Very Good.  Good teams don’t make the playoffs.

It’s even more exciting when new players are promoted from the minor leagues and start to show signs of real Major League success.  ESPECIALLY after a long string of failures (of which I’ll list but a few):

  • Michael Saunders
  • Matt Tuiasosopo
  • Wladimir Balentien
  • Jeff Clement
  • Bryan LaHair
  • Mike Morse
  • Jeremy Reed
  • Justin Leone
  • Bucky Jacobsen

This year, I would argue, we’ve promoted guys who are ALL better than the chumps I’ve just listed.  Guys like Carlos Peguero, Greg Halman, Michael Pineda, and I would even include Justin Smoak in that list, since he played primarily in Tacoma last season after we traded for him. 

The jury is still out on Peguero, but I think it’s very telling that he’s played in 30 games already and doesn’t look TOTALLY overwhelmed.  Granted, his batting average is only .223, and he’s averaging a little over a strikeout per game, but he doesn’t inspire the same sense of doom that guys like Balentien and Clement once did.  I honestly believe that on any given pitch, Peguero could hit one out of the park.

As for Halman, you’re looking at an even smaller sample size of 9 games, but the kid is showing an uncanny ability to hit the ball up the middle and the other way.  For a right-handed hitter in Safeco, that’s CRUCIAL to making it.  I hope he gets a chance to continue this run he’s on; I’d rather see Halman patrolling left field than Carp or Peguero.  And if that means Cust continues to ride pine, then so be it.

Mike Carp hasn’t made a tremendous impression since his call-up last week, but he’s limiting mistakes and that’s just as good for now.  I’d be more worried if his batting average were under .100 and he was striking out 2 of every 3 at bats.  But, he’s not doing those things, and the power will come as soon as he’s comfortable.  Or, it won’t, and he’ll be sent down; either way, he deserves at least a small modicum of our attention.

Justin Smoak, obviously, is our first baseman of the future, and he’s shown it this year.  For a guy who’s not quite a rookie anymore, but is still getting his first full season as the established first baseman under his belt, I’ll take .250/.350/.450 every damn time.  The sky is the limit for this kid; I firmly believe it’s only Up from here.

Of course, aside from Pineda, the most anticipated call-up of 2011 has surely been Dustin Ackley.  He hit .303, with a .421 on-base percentage and an OPS of .908 down in Tacoma.  That’s as a second baseman!  I’m not expecting him to do that for the Mariners this year, but I’m also not putting it past him.  Either way, I have to expect those are the kinds of numbers he’s CAPABLE of producing, at some point in the future.  And now, FINALLY, we get to see him in action.  Real action.  Life or death action.

You know what I want to see?  I want to see this lineup:

  1. Ichiro – RF
  2. Ryan – SS
  3. Smoak – 1B
  4. Peguero – DH
  5. Olivo – C
  6. Kennedy – 3B
  7. Gutierrez – CF
  8. Ackley – 2B
  9. Halman – LF

That’s what I want to see, at least once this weekend.  And eventually, if everything I wish for turns to gold – with every single one of these prospects realizing their full potential – I’d like to see THIS lineup:

  1. Ichiro – RF
  2. Ackley – 2B
  3. Halman – LF
  4. Smoak – 1B
  5. Peguero – DH
  6. Olivo – C
  7. Gutierrez – CF
  8. Ryan – SS
  9. Figgins/Kennedy/Other – 3B

Wouldn’t that be somethin’?  Huh?  Ackley lookin’ like a left-handed Derek Jeter.  Halman lookin’ like A-Rod with a personality.  Smoak lookin’ like a switch-hitting Mark McGwire (minus the bacne & ‘roid rage).  Peguero lookin’ like a left-handed Jay Buhner.  Olivo, Ryan, and Figgins/Kennedy down in the order where they belong …

I love days off after a thrilling win.  I love days when hot shot prospects are called up and let us dream about a future filled with World Series banners.  I love living in total and complete denial, if only for a few hours before reality comes crashing down.

Roger Clemens Is A Big Fat Asshole

Allegedly.  I’m pretty sure I heard someone say that somewhere.  If pressed to come in and speak under oath, I could probably come up with one or two witnesses to back me up.

I don’t like Roger Clemens.  I think he’s kind of a dick and a dirty fucking cheater.  Not really something I have the time or capability to try and back up with fact-finding; that’s just my opinion.  Which is fine and obviously I’m entitled to it.  Roger Clemens doesn’t care if I think he’s a dick OR a dirty fucking cheater.

Of course, the problem lies in that a LOT of other people out there – fans of the game and whatnot – they ALSO think he’s a dirty fucking cheater (saying nothing of his possible dick-like qualities).  When it goes from one man’s cuckoo theory to widespread belief, then it hardly even matters if you did the things we think you did or not.  Get the government involved, and the justice system, and you’ve got the stink of Guilty all over you before anyone’s even given his opening statement.

As a Mariners fan, I think I’ve gotten past most of the aggravation of the Steroids Era.  I could sit here and say, “Well, if so-and-so had never taken steroids, then so-and-so probably wouldn’t have 1-hit us in the pivotal Game 4 of the 2000 ALCS, because he would’ve been such a broken-down shell of a human being that he would’ve been forced into retirement years before,” I COULD sit here and say that, but where would it get me?  Let’s face it, at this point I’m ready to believe every baseball player known to man was taking SOMETHING to enhance his performance.  Levelling the playing field in that regard, it’s still going to come down to the actual performance on the field, we still got beat, and that’s the end of it.

Regardless, I still hope Clemens goes to jail.  If for nothing else than his last couple of years where he’d waltz into the clubhouse in mid-May and command some rediculous amount of money to play for just a couple of months.  Like I said, I think he’s a dick!  Yes they deserve to die and I hope they burn in hell!

You brought this all on yourself Clemens.  In some bizarre quest to “Clear Your Name”.  I mean, you’ve got to be kidding me!  Just go away quietly, stay away from the press, and in a few years we’ll let you be a coach or something like Mark McGwire is in St. Louis.  Does taking steroids shrink your brain like it does your testes?  It’s not that complicated:  you’ve been implicated in one of the biggest disgraces in sports history … that’s not just going to go away because you’ve imagined some rationalization about ears growing out of your forehead!  You’re going to need evidence that you’ve NEVER taken them. 

Oh sure, legally speaking the onus might be on the government to have to prove without a shadow of a doubt that you DID take steroids or HGH or whatever, but winning that case just keeps you from prison.  It won’t prove – in that almighty Court Of Public Opinion – that you’re totally and 100% innocent.  The people will still believe you did it.  We know it was you, Fredo.  And we’re never going to let you forget we know.

Now go.  Go rot in Baseball Purgatory with Pete Rose and Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro.