Apr 29, 2006 

The Forgiving of Steve Howe

Steve Howe is dead
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.

The story of Steve Howe is one told without the glory of fame and fortune throughout America.

Steve Howe died yesterday. Prognosticators a decade or more ago would have set high odds that the cause of death would have been cocaine or alcohol instead of the fatal car crash that took his life.

The tragedy of Steve Howe's life is that he wasn't famous for his dazzling fastball that should of led him to being one of the top relievers of the 80's and 90's. Instead, Howe will forever be known as the man whose addiction to drugs and alcohol ruined his shot at immortality not just once, but seven times.

According to the New York Times' Murray Chass, most of Howe's rehab during those seven banishments from baseball did little to help him. In fact, Howe's final reinstatement was won by his lawyer's successful claim that his client suffered from attention deficit disorder.

Today, it seems completely confounding that a man with God-given ability playing a child's game be forgiven a mere one times instead of seven, but maybe we should be more forgiving as a society.

People make mistakes, some huge, some minor. That Steve Howe was one of the chosen and miniscule talented enough to play professional baseball or whether he squandered away a good union job on the docks; it's immaterial.

Howe had a substance abuse problem that where he submitted himself a known seven times to cure. There was an attempt to rid himself of the demons. Can that be said of other baseball players who, by society's account, may not be suffering ofaddicitons of priority, but abuse of drugs like steroids and performance-enhancing drugs that like cocaine and alcohol can kill.

Would Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa be forgiven if they came clean? Would people give Barry Bonds some compassion if he came clean? Would he be given a second chance? Of course.

Undoubtedly, Steve Howe is a metaphor for a wasted gift; a wasted life of fame and fortune, maybe, instead it should be a story about a society willing to forgive not just once, but seven times.

Apr 28, 2006 

Dear Al Davis: If You May Pick Vince Young


The stars are lined up for the Raiders to pick Vince Young in next week's NFL Draft, if only the old man can be cajoled into meeting the rest of the football world in the 21st century.

The large and athletic Vince Young turned in one of the greatest individual efforts in a title game in the history of North American sports when he single-handedly won the national championship for the University of Texas last January.

Not only are the Raiders positioned themselves as the likely destination for Young, but they seem like the logical fit for him. The signing of QB Aaron Brooks is not only a stopgap until Young is ready to take over, but will allow the Raiders to slowly lift their outdated ideology of lengthening the field with the long ball.

The Raiders are ridiculed throughout the NFL for this refusal to conform (and win) within the league. It's probably the main reason why so many head coaching candidates and free-agent laughed off the Raiders, in some cases, for less money.

Forget that Vince Young might be dumb. The Wonderlic test that he flunked may be important, but know this: the Raiders routinely rank among the smartest collective squads according to the test. Obviously, intelligence and winning have no correlation in the NFL.

If the Al Davis is willing to sign a mobile quarterback like Brooks, he may actually be acquiescing to the idea that the Raider Way of throwing the ball deep went out of style with Cliff Branch. If he isn't, then drafting the fleet-footed Young and corralling his evasiveness and playmaking abilities will only hurt both parties. If left to grow, Young could dominate in much the way most people thought Michael Vick would when he was drafted number one.

There's another reason why Young is the perfect choice to wear silver and black: he's African-American. Al Davis may be vilified throughout Oakland, Los Angeles, Irwindale and the NFL headquarters in New York City, but there is little doubt that he belongs among this country's greatest purveyors of social equality in the workplace.

He's the first owner to hire an African-American head coach in the NFL (did it twice, now) and the first in professional sports to hire a female top executive. It's time that he adds to that resume an African-American starting quarterback and the new face of da Raidahs.

Apr 27, 2006 

Bonds's Stroke Is Long Gone


Barry Bonds's power stroke is gone. No big revelation there. Just look at the stats: .244 batting average, three homers in 41 at-bats. Within those stats is the possible foreshadowing of events to come.

Bonds's three homeruns this season have come off an average velocity pitcher, a junkballer and a bonafide flamethrower. On all three occasions Bonds has deposited the ball in the left-center stands, which for a lefthanded hitter like Bonds would be less than typical. What it means is that Bonds can no longer turn on a pitch; he can't pull the ball, which means his bat speed is not quick enough to get in front of a pitch of even mild Major League velocity.

When Bonds hit his homer to left last Wednesday against the Mets' hardthrowing stopper, Billy Wagner, having a lethargic bat is all relative when he routinely hits 100 mph on the radar gun. Few are quick enough to pull his stuff. But, how do you explain not being able to catch up with Aaron Cook's fastball and more astonishingly the off-speed junk of the Mets' Steve Trachsel.

Whether its the weaning off of performance-enhancing drugs and the side-effect of finally dealing with the normal aging of an athletic body or Bonds has just lost his ability, the inability of to pull the ball is a telling symptom of a player amidst a steep decline in performance.

Nobody is saying it out loud and even some National League manager's continue to intentionally walk Bonds on the strength of his past performance, but come June, a consensus will emerge that Bonds is done and it will be noticed in the fact that more manager's will elect to pitch to Bonds even with a base open.

Apr 22, 2006 

Gordo Chavez: 'I'm Lovin' It'


Why can't we teach our kids that good ol' fashioned hard work will equal success? Knuckleheads like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds have been knocked down several notches for their cheating ways with performance-enhancing drugs.

Now, we have Eric Chavez attributing his uncommonly fast start this April to heavy helpings of gut grenades and super-sized fast food.

If eating double cheeseburgers and large fries made kids hit a baseball better, then fatties all over the nation would be looking like the second comings (helpings) of Kirby Puckett and our national team would have won the World Baseball Classic instead of the low-fat eating Japanese.

It sounds harmless that Chavez would freely chirp about his success after binging on unhealthy food in the off-season, but it makes little sense to extrapolate such a conclusion. What he isn't saying is that he ate a high fat and protein diet while working out extra hard, thereby building more muscle.

Chavez has never been known to say the smart thing in public and his comments may be the within the party atmosphere of the Oakland clubhouse, but the cuteness of the tale is forgotten when so many young children are unhealthy at near epidemic proportions in America.

Apr 21, 2006 

Ominous Sign: Preds Outhustle Sharkies


More than any postseason, the Stanley Cup playoffs are about sheer fortitude and hustle. That's why Game 1 of the Sharks Western Conference quarterfinals were so disconcerting.

The fact that the Sharks struck first with a goal at four minutes of the first period by Mark Smith might have actually awaken the sleeping Predators. For the next 56 minutes the Nashville illustrated all the hallmarks of a team "taking it" to the Sharks.

The Predators controlled the face-off circle, 58-42 and scored on an unconscionable 4-of-7 on the power play. If you couple that with numerous odd-man Sharks turnovers deep in the their own end and the annual playoff disappearance of Joe Thornton, then Los Tiburones have quite a problem on their hands.

In fact, it won't matter if Thornton and Cheechoo knockout a hat trick every game in this series, if the Predators' power play continues to score on the power play so dominately and efficiently.

It's definitely not fair to say that possible MVP candidate, Joe Thornton, has resumed his infamous playoff choke, but aside from an assist on Nils Ekman's goal in the 2nd, but Big Joe's line wasn't much of a factor in Game 1. Zero shots and more importantly five empty shots from his cohort Jonathan Cheechoo.

Criticism and jeering will continue to rain from Boston to San Jose until Big Joe thoroughly dominates in the playoffs in the same way he does during the regular season. Unfortunately, this type of labels sticks and unfairly perpetuate themselves, except, save Barry Bonds's postseason chokes. He doesn't count, though.

Because the Sharks were outhustled in Game 1 doesn't mean this will continue through the rest of this series. Goaltender Vesa Toskala made some key saves and the Sharks offense was just a tad off.

During the frantic third period, the Sharks were precariously within point-blank range of Nashville's Chris Mason. If they continue to put that much pressure directly in front of the net, the incredibly unproven back-up goalie will undoubtedly crumble. This is the Stanley Cup playoffs and, while they are littered with unsung rookie goalies dazzling in the spotlight; Mason is not Patrick Roy by a long shot.

Apr 4, 2006 



Fans imflame Bonds


Nice Try: Bonds Takes Aim At Fans


Barry Bonds is adding the fans to the list of people he's belligerent with on a daily basis.

When he labeled the object thrown on the field during yesterday's opening day in San Diego a "syringe" it became a potential buzzword for fans as a whole as out of control.

Except, it wasn't a syringe with the imagery of a thin, sharp needle, nor was it the turkey baster that Padres GM Sandy Alderson called it, but something along the lines of a device used to irrigate a wound or dental work.

Along with the numerous funny and bizarre signs and the angry boos, the syringe toss is a bad omen for things to come.

The intense heat of the steroid scandal and Bonds's march to 714 (and 755) is going to hurt him way before his elderly athletics body does.

Earlier, today, the Associated Press reported that Bonds's aunt, former Olympian, Rosie Kriedler was recently living out of her car and now living with public assistance. Whether Bonds knew of this and offer no help is of no consequence, but likely to get more personal and intrusive.


Crosby Nearing "Soft" Label

People use to say that Hall of Famer Robin Yount's propensity for getting hurt was because he played the game exceptional hard.

How do explain Oakland's Bobby Crosby? He's been injured on two successive Opening Day's in dubious fashion. Now, he's out with a boo-boo on his finger when the Yankees' Robinson Cano stepped on his glove and gashed his index finger.

There is no question that Crosby is the glue that holds the A's together much in the way Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada before him, but public opinion can be whimsical. Just as easy as someone like Yount can be pegged as a gamer who often times gets hurt, so can a player be labeled as soft.

How's that 47.25 ERA looking on Barry Zito. No matter what anyone says, the befuddling look Zito's face is flashed too often for a number one starter. If the A's go anywhere it's behind a near Cy Young performance from the fireballing Canadian Rich Harden.....As predicted, the gaudy upperdeck green tarp looks like a fashion disaster. The two-thousand foot "Home of the Oakland Athletics" across the former 300 level only makes a bad situation worse......Of course, A's announcers Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse fawned over the new look to McAfee Coliseum. Said Fosse, "It looks very good. The green really blends in well with the stadium." Fosse finished his ass-kissing by saying it was a good situation for the A's. Sure, but not for the fans.