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Midweek Musings

From the “Don’t They Have Anything Better To Do?” department: Congress has subpoenaed seven current and former baseball players to testify before a panel about ‘roids, which is pretty much the latest ridiculous development in what I’m officially dubbing “The Great Witch Hunt of the 2000’s.”

I’m on record as saying that I really don’t care if athletes take steroids. While I agree with the masses that it’s a hazardous spiral that needs to be stopped, it’s baseball’s problem to deal with, and everyone else – Congress especially – would be doing everybody a favor if they’d butt out. Most of you know that I think this notion of placing asterisks next to or completely removing home run records set by suspected juicers is ridiculous; we just don’t know who did and who didn’t yet. And even if Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire were proven to have used performance-enhancing substances, how could we possibly know which particular home runs wouldn’t have left the park in their record-setting seasons?

Anyway, upon hearing of Capitol Hill’s great interest in this case, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the court scene in The Majestic – one of the most underrated movies of the last ten years – in which Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) is forced to purge himself of his “Communist ties” before a government panel, a room of reporters, and the rest of the free world watching on television. The problem, however, is that Appleton wasn’t actually a Communist; he just unknowingly attended a Communist meeting in college to impress a girl. The government found a way to blacklist him from his Hollywood writing career, therefore forcing his hand in admitting to something that wasn’t actually true. When Appleton told the panel that what they were doing was wrong and that he wasn’t what they said he was, he was damn near thrown in jail for telling the truth.

I think there’s a comparison to be made here, because the attitudes in Carrey’s movie that was based on The Red Scare and the attitudes being displayed by Congress, the media, and baseball fans in the present are almost exactly the same. Just as the psychos during the 1950s convicted almost everybody of something only a few people were a part of, there’s a modern day desire to believe that if Bonds used, then most everyone else used. In other words, the thinking is that there’s just no way a person can hit a ton of home runs because of technique and hard work in the weight room. Certain people just won't even hear that possibility because they already have their minds made up: everybody's under suspicion even without any valid data suggesting such a thing, so when Bonds, the poster boy of this hunt, even suggests that the controversy is overblown, he's ridiculed. He’s telling the media what they don’t want to hear, refusing to give them the "correct" answer, so he’s being demonized for it. I think it’s sad that this is the opinion of most everybody out there. As Joe Sheehan wrote in a Premium article on BaseballProspectus.com, the rationale baseball fans are using to throw their heroes (but mostly Bonds) under the bus is “Well, he's a jerk, and he got bigger, and he hit a bunch of home runs, so he did it.” That isn’t good enough for Mr. Sheehan, and it certainly isn’t good enough for me.

So while it’s important to keep discussing this issue until it’s resolved, I think it needs to be kept on the backburner. Steroid use isn’t nearly as big a deal as it’s being made out to be by the media and now Washington D.C., and it would help greatly if we as a society would just let it rest, and play ball. It doesn’t affect the lives of anybody but Major Leaguers, it doesn’t affect the health of anybody but Major Leaguers, and the geezers running this country straight into the ground have bigger fish to fry. Folks, either accept the answers players are willing to give you, or stop listening. This problem isn’t going to go away by sweeping it under the rug, but it’s only getting worse with our McCarthyesque attitudes.

Other stuff…

  • One of my favorite things to do every day is checking my site statistics, which allows me to see how many people have visited my page, how they got here, and how much time they spent here after arriving. Yesterday, I noticed that somebody got to KRB from a USATODAY.com link, which is very, very exciting because it’s such a big, national publication. Turns out that I was linked on a feature called “March Blogness,” which is a blog maintained by USA TODAY staff members who scour the web, looking for interesting articles from sports bloggers such as myself.

    After frantically scrolling up and down the page, trying to find where “Kevin’s Royals Blog” was printed, I finally came upon this vindicating boldfaced type about halfway down the page:

    Calculating risk, Calvin Pickering edition

    As if it wasn’t enough that my page is continuing to gain notoriety by being noticed by staff members at USA freaking TODAY, the fact that my campaign to FREE CALVIN PICKERING! is gathering steam as we head into the middle part of spring training is particularly exciting. It’s going to happen, guys. Keep the faith, spread the word, and we’ll get Picko in the lineup on Opening Day.

  • It was a good first outing for Runelvys Hernandez, as he allowed just one run and four hits in three innings of work. He also struck out two batters, walked nobody, and generally had a pretty uneventful day. No news is good news with Hernandez, who apparently had no problems with his surgically repaired elbow. He did, however, bust out a cool new clown perm. Bartolo Colon would be proud.

  • The Royals shipped six players to their minor league camp yesterday, one of them being righthanded pitcher Jonah Bayliss. Bayliss isn’t a prospect, but it’s interesting that he went to high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. Apparently the kid’s pretty smart; Phillips is an Ivy League pipeline that produced the following individuals:

    George H.W. Bush
    George W. Bush
    Jeb Bush
    John F. Kennedy, Jr.
    Humphrey Bogart
    Peter Sellars
    Bill Belechick
    Bill Veeck

    The list of famous people goes on and on. Suddenly, I don’t feel so cool for graduating from Brad Pitt’s high school.

  • I posted a short little article on Royals Court on Sunday, but nobody could read it because of some pretty serious server problems the good folks at MVN were having over the weekend. I’ll have more original material up on the weekends, and anything I post during the week will be a reprint of something Royals-related you read here, only with, perhaps, a few edits here and there.

  • The Chiefs were able to sign linebacker Kendrell Bell to a seven-year contract on Tuesday, but lost out on cornerbacks Fred Smoot (who signed with the Vikings) and Samari Rolle (who chose the Ravens). Earlier, linebacker Jeremiah Trotter spurned their offer to take less money with the Eagles. As it stands now, the Chiefs still need a starting cornerback, and because they’ve resisted Miami’s trade ransom for Patrick Surtain, making an impressive sales pitch to Ty Law becomes that much more important.

    I’m no football expert (does anyone out there understand how the salary cap works?), but it seems that the Chiefs have 2005 to have a successful run in the playoffs before this particular group of players is blown up. That means making massive improvements on the defensive side of the ball, and I’m not confident that Bell’s good enough to make a dynamite difference in the linebacking corp. Chime in with some opinions on the signing if you want. This Chiefs fan would like to hear ‘em.

  • By every story I’ve read so far, new Royals pitching Guy Hansen’s been making a monumental impact on Royals pitchers in spring training, fixing deliveries, mindsets, arm slots, and attitudes, all in the hope of making the Kansas City staff one of the American League’s best in 2005. I don’t want to dampen everyone’s spirits, but there are far too many similarities between this situation and the one Gunther Cunningham inherited prior to the Chiefs’ season. Even great coaches can’t take terrible football/baseball/basketball players and turn them into productive pieces of a winning team.

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