The day the long ball died

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET

By no means would I ever defend the use of steroids by elite athletes or even not-so-elite ones.

Performance-enhancing drugs are for cheaters and their effects on sports are completely unfair to those athletes smart and decent enough not to use them.

It's sure going to take a while to get used to this "clean" baseball.

Scoring is way down in baseball (three-homer, 10-RBI games from A-Rod notwithstanding).

Get this: there have been nine 1-0 games in April and five of those have gone to extra innings. Another 10 times, there has been no scoring until at least the eighth inning. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the only time that happened over the last five years was during a rainout.

The pitchers must be loving this stuff. Chicks who dig the long ball must be drooling over John Daly.

This is not one of life's great mysteries, like where Osama is hiding or where that Wendy's chili scammer got the severed finger.

This one's pretty obvious.

Although some experts attribute the sudden power outage to umpires calling a bigger strike zone, that seems like a convenient story.

What's more likely is a lot of baseball players are afraid of getting exposed as frauds and have gone off the juice.

At the same time an unprecedented era of power baseball has died.

MOOSE MANIA: Gotta admit, after suggesting last week that there was no excitement about the Manitoba Moose in the playoffs, the team did attract some pretty decent and enthusiastic crowds to the MTS Centre this week. I mean, what were we expecting? A white-out? ... It was a major bonus that Winnipeggers got to watch AHL playoff games on Leafs TV, but have you ever heard a bigger homer than that St. John's announcer? Must be a Newfoundland tradition, because guess where Bob Cole is from? ... If there seems to be more interest than usual in the WHL playoffs this year around these parts, there's good reason. Aside from the obvious fact that many of the games have been on TV, there's also this: The Brandon Wheat Kings have 15 Manitobans on their team and there are 11 other Manitobans playing with the Prince Albert Raiders, Kootenay Ice and Kelowna Rockets, all semifinalists. Among those are the two nominees for WHL player of the year: Brandon's Eric Fehr (Winkler) and Kootenay's Nigel Dawes (Winnipeg). Put your hands together for the minor hockey system in this province.

NOT EXACTLY FLAWLESS: Saw a Canadian Press story this week suggesting that infamous Quebec anthem singer Caroline Marcil put in a "flawless" performance when given a chance to croon the Star Spangled Banner on Good Morning America. Well, she did actually screw up the words, so I guess by "flawless" they mean she didn't fall on her butt ... After Marcil, the biggest thing to come out of Quebec since Celine Dion (and a far sight more entertaining), made appearances on Good Morning America and The Tonight Show this week, rumour has it no-talent anthem singers everywhere are practising their pratfalls ... NHL players who couldn't be bothered suiting up in the world hockey championship because they are too busy working on their short game, or are too out of shape after training on Doritos all winter, should be ashamed. This world championship promised to be the one saving grace for top hockey players in the darkest of seasons and many of the brightest stars fizzled out ... The most startling stat about all the positive drug tests in baseball is the one that shows almost half the suspended players so far have been pitchers. Must be all those speedballs ... The most recent drug bust featured a great name for a steroid user: Seattle farmhand Jamal Strong ... First Texas Rangers pitcher Frank Francisco found out he's getting sued for throwing an object in the stands and hitting a woman last year, then the next day he had season-ending Tommy John surgery. The only good news is, with his arm in a cast, he won't be able to toss his chair at the judge ... Anyone who watched the 1993 World Series would not be surprised to hear Lenny Dykstra (who hit four homers in six games against Toronto) is now accused of being a steroid abuser. At the time, we referred to him as the World's Smallest Juicer ... Now that he and his brother have been found liable in a lawsuit and ordered to pay a million bucks, isn't it about time Jose Canseco retired to Florida and started a search for the real steroid-enraged bar fighters ... Anyway, things weren't all bad for Canseco on the day he lost in court. At least a ball didn't bounce off his head for a home run.

Got a note, quote or anecdote? Send it to thehitparade@wpgsun.com or phone 632-2786.


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