Thursday, February 7, 2008

Former Players Make Current News

David Cone
The former Yankee and Met was the quintessential gutty starting pitcher who could pitch seven scoreless innings even on days when his good stuff stayed in the bullpen. However, Cone's most valuable qualities remain his honesty and humility - traits which quickly made him a fan favorite in the Bronx.

Exemplifying these characteristics, it was no surprise to see Cone describe the plight of Major League Baseball as "embarrassing" and "humbling." Such regret stems from Cone's status as a MLBPA representative during the years in which steroids were most prevalent.

David Cone is taking part of the responsibility for baseball's steroids era.

The former pitcher was on the union's negotiating team during the 1994-95 strike, when management proposed drug testing and the players' association successfully fought it off.

"Certainly in retrospect, I think there's plenty of blame to go around. Certainly I share some of that blame as being involved with the players' association at that time," Cone said Wednesday. "It's something I'm not proud of. It's humbling. It's embarrassing."

Cone wants to believe the allegations against Clemens aren't true.

"We played on championship teams together. It affects our era," Cone said. "And certainly I'm in a position to want to defend that era. But at the same time I understand how people may look back a little differently depending on how history is going to be written on this particular issue."

Pete Rose
The master of sports gambling sat down for an exclusive interview with Sports Net Ontario?! Not exactly the New York Times, Pete.

Here are a few golden nuggets of journalistic brilliance:
"It's strange, it's one man, it's Bud Selig. You know Bud, get a life. You give everybody else a second chance, and to be honest, fans have given [Selig] another chance," said Rose. "All you hear now is he's gonna clean up all the steroids; well all the steroids started on his watch, so he should clean them up."

"The strange thing about my case is, I seem to be the only guy from America that can't get a second chance," Rose added. "It's sad to say this, but if I had been on drugs, I'd have gotten a second chance, if I had been an alcoholic, I'd have gotten a second chance, if I had been a spousal beater, I'd have gotten a second chance, but I chose the vice that baseball just can't stand, gambling."
Sure Charlie Hustle, you bet on your team to win every night. Or you could have bet your team to lose every night and bet big on the nights your centerfielder was hurt or your starting pitcher told you he was pitching through pain. Nah, that doesn't compromise the integrity of MLB.

Saying Rose does or does not belong in the Hall is one thing. Attempting to trivialize his massive blunders is a whole other ballgame. Then again, he does have a point on Selig. Just because Bud hired a Boston front office director and US Senator to police his own sport does not suddenly exonerate the Commish for years of ineptitude negligence.

· Bert Blyleven
The unworthy fringe Hall of Famer with a great curveball and a ton of strikeouts had a lovefest for Johan Santana via MSNBC. Also included was Blyleven scapegoating Santana's poor close to the 2007 season as a result of poor run-support.
As a Twins' broadcaster I didn't see one sign in Santana's pitching at any point last season that signaled to me he has lost any of his brilliance. Santana may not have pitched his best at points last year, but he was also hurt by a lack of run support. And early runs, which are such a big factor for starting pitchers, didn't come Santana's way very often last season.

He dropped to 15 wins after chalking up 19 victories in 2006, but most of his numbers were pretty much the same as they were in the three seasons previous to 2007 -- and in two of those years he won the AL Cy Young Award. So all the numbers were there last year for another 18-20 win season, but he just didn't get the support he needed offensively. No Santana hasn't slipped. He's still as good as he's ever been and Mets fans are going to find that out to their delight this season.

Lack of run-support may explain the mediocre win percentage [by Santana standards], but it does not account for a bloated ERA in the second half [by Santana standards] - or whispers that he was afraid to throw his slider.

Surely, Blyleven would not appreciate such insinuations, and probably would reenact his live broadcast of an F-Bomb barrage. In all seriousness, Santana will be an absolute beast in the National League and probably challenge for a Cy Young. But Bert still needs to lay off the Joahn Kool-Aid a bit.

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