August 24, 2012
ESPN's Bayless calls out Jeter as a potential steroid cheat
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
Could Derek Jeter really be guilty of taking Human Growth Hormone?
Next thing you know, Lance Armstrong will be called a cheat and stripped of his Tour de France triumphs.
Oh, never mind.
You have to hand it to ESPN’s Skip Bayless, however, as he sure got tongues wagging and keyboards pounding with indignation over his queries on his program First Take the other day.
Thanks to Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon being caught and suspended for being steroids cheats over the past week, Bayless, at his self-promoting best, wondered aloud about the great season being posted by Jeter.
Despite being 38 and just over a year removed from the start of a season that was so dreary that everybody was writing him off, Jeter is posting MVP-type numbers as he leads the major leagues with 169 hits while batting .324 with 13 home runs.
If last season’s first-half was a slump that few predicted, this year’s renaissance was hardly on anybody’s chart as well. At least not to the level that Jeter is posting.
So, knowing full well of the hornet’s nest that he was shaking, Bayless opined:
“You would have to have your head in the sand or your head somewhere else not to at least wonder, ‘How is he doing this?’” Bayless said on Wednesday.
But he didn’t stop there.
“I would have to be sight and hearing impaired not to at least wonder, because there is no HGH test in the sport of baseball,” Bayless said. “They do not blood test. They do it one time in spring training for HGH, not again the rest of the year. How could I not wonder is he using something? If you’re Derek Jeter, would you think about using HGH right now because I would. How would you not? Would you not think about it?”
Bayless has since been pounded for bringing up the subject and attaching it to Saint Derek, who in New York is treated like a deity.
“I’m seeing a whole new guy this year,” Bayless said. “No way I could see he would be an MVP candidate, that he would be hitting .324 in 2012 as he now goes on age 39. Are you kidding me?”
Forget for a minute that Bayless was being provocative for its sake, that he was seeking a ratings boost for his program.
In this day and age when a great season pops up out of nowhere — and given Jeter’s age that fits — questions are raised.
Just think back to 2010 and Jose Bautista and his 54 home run season and the whispers that production brought.
These are the times when heroes have proven to be built of clay and scrutiny comes with the territory.
Even Jeter appeared to acknowledge that.
“This is a first for me, man. I don’t know what to tell you,” Jeter said when asked about Bayless on Thursday. “One of the things is that now you have everybody questioning everything. That’s the unfortunate thing. Maybe Skip should be tested.”
Well, at least he still has his sense of humour.
As for why he’s having so much success this season, Jeter is at a loss to explain it.
“I try not to think about age,” he said. “As you get a little older, people talk about your age. I don’t go out there and think about being 30-something years old, I just think about trying to perform.
“You got to get here a little earlier and stay a little longer. I’m sure that applies to most people who are standing here right now. I think that’s normal, that’s for everyone. My fifth year wasn’t like my first year, just like this year isn’t like five years ago.”
Nor does he have an answer to the slow start to his 2011 season, one that fell flat of his high standards.
“I hit .270, man. You know? Sorry,” Jeter said. “One time I hit .270 and it’s like it was the end of my career. I think every player probably at some point in their careers had a year where they weren’t satisfied. I had a lot more than just one that I haven’t been satisfied with. I know that year has gotten a lot of attention, but you still have to have confidence that you can play.”
And play he has.
Contrary to Bayless and his random thoughts, the drum beats in New York are calling for Jeter to be a MVP candidate, an award he has never won.
“I’ve thought about it when seasons were over because you get close,” Jeter said. “You ask any player in baseball, they would like to win an award like that. But I don’t think you can allow yourself to think about that.”
He probably never thought he’d have to answer questions about HGH use either.
Strange days indeed.
MANY RED SOX NO-SHOW PESKY FUNERAL
There is seemingly no bottom to how far the Boston Red Sox have cratered this season.
Be it injuries, the Sideshow Bob circus surrounding manager Bobby Valentine to their lowly record, it has been a Red Sox season most New Englanders would rather forget.
Somehow, though, the Red Sox managed to hit a new low this season when on Monday at the funeral for Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky, just four active members of the team too the time to show up. The four players were David Ortiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Vicente Padilla and Clay Buchholz.
To make matters worse, the Boston Herald reported that the club had arranged for the players to be bused to and from the funeral mass and still the embarrassing low total.
In wake of last season’s collapse, the beer-and-chicken scandal and the front office turnover you would have thought that the players would have made a collective effort to not be perceived as over indulged, self-absorbed jerks.
Instead, they have just four players bother to show up for the funeral on an off day.
Buchholz attempted to make excuses for the no-shows.
“Nobody really found out until we got here at 3:30 in the morning (after their flight from New York),” Buchholz said. “It was an off day the next day, so I’m sure a lot of guys had family stuff planned. I think there would’ve been a lot more people showing up if everybody would’ve known when it was, like if they would’ve told us the day before when we were on the road.”
That excuse, though, is paper thin.
Naturally, the organization was in spin control the day after the stories appeared in the Boston papers.
“There was a tremendous turnout at the Johnny Pesky’s funeral,” club president Larry Lucchino said. “We had over a 100 people there in terms of ownership, front office, current players, staff, former players. It was a very impressive turnout. I think the people who knew Johnny best had came to it. Our players (had) a chance on Tuesday night to participate in a ceremony on the field — they all willingly and enthusiastically participated on that date — and then there’s going to be another memorial service. So I think it’s unnecessary to focus on that issue.”
It was a collective lack of class.
COLON ‘PRETTY DUMB’
Time will tell whether Bartolo Colon helped flush his team down the toilet after he received a 50-game suspension for testing positive for testosterone.
Aided by Colon’s fine season in the rotation, the Oakland A’s had been one of the feel-good stories in baseball as they were hanging tough in the chase for the AL West crown as well as a wild-card slot. But now, all those positive vibes have been scattered.
As for the best player reaction, that was supplied by Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox.
“It’s kind of how dumb do you have to be?” Dunn told the Chicago Tribune. “You guys see how many times the drug test guys are here. I feel like they’re here at least once a homestand.
“I don’t want to call you stupid, but you kind of look yourself in the mirror and it’s pretty dumb.”
MORE THAN LONGORIA
The Tampa Bay Rays are currently on a terrific run having won 14 of their past 17 games to close to within 2 1/2 games of the New York Yankees heading into Friday night’s action.
Starting pitching has been the key, the main key for their run. But it is not their only key.
On Aug. 7 the Rays received a boost in confidence with the return of Evan Longoria to the lineup. The Rays’ everyday third baseman, Longoria broke back as a designated hitter and returned to third just the other day.
His presence can not be overstated. The Rays are a team that struggles and scratches for runs and the return of the most potent bat in their lineup has added an uplifting missing element. When Longoria is in the lineup, the Rays are a different team, a better team.
Prior to his injury on April 30 — a partially torn left hamstring — the Rays had started 15-8. When he was on the shelf they went 41-44. Now that he is back, they have gone 12-3. Coincidence? Hardly.
“I’m really happy to be back and hopefully I’m able to change the complexion of the lineup, maybe not go out and hit two home runs a night, but maybe allow some other guys to see some better pitches and allow them an opportunity to get going,” Longoria said upon his return. “Hopefully I can provide some kind of spark and get the offence going.”
Manager Joe Maddon’s remarks back then were also right on the money.
“Part of it is just by being in the lineup, everybody else around him may get pitched at a little different, may see something better, and that’s a good thing,” Maddon said.
Since his return Longoria is hitting .255 with two homers and 10 RBIs. He isn’t yet lighting it up, but he has lit a spark.
ASTROS WANT CLEMENS?
As if the Houston Astros season hasn’t been enough of an embarrassment, here comes the news that their owner Jim Crane is contemplating bringing Roger Clemens back for a game or two.
We kid you not.
On Saturday, Clemens will suit up and appear in a professional game for the first time since 2007 when he pitches for the Sugar Land Skeeters against the Bridgeport Bluefish in an Atlantic League game.
After that, it could be the Astros.
In an interview with a local FOX TV channel, Crane stressed it wouldn’t be some sort of “publicity stunt.”
“If it goes alright and he comes to us, we’ll talk to baseball about it at length,” Crane told FOX 26 Sports. “The only thing we don’t want to do is make it a publicity stunt. If we did it, I want to try and take it and turn it into a positive, which would be Roger’s doing it for the good of baseball. The extra proceeds on the game might go to the (Astros’) community charity deal to build (baseball) fields, do something positive out of it.
“I think the fans might like it. It might be fun and certainly get a few people in the ballpark. I don’t see anything negative about that, but the Astros wouldn’t want to do it for the money, the extra gate or anything like that.”
This is an idea that ranks right up with former Atlanta owner Ted Turner managing the Braves for one game back in 1977. Turner sent his manager Dave Bristol out on a scouting trip and took over while leading is team to a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh. After the game National League president Chub Feeney put the kibosh on further appearances.
Houston, we have a problem.
SPACEMAN TRUMPS ROCKET
To close out a wacky week in baseball, on Thursday night, Bill (Spaceman) Lee stole a little thunder from Roger Clemens, who is pitching in an Atlantic League game Saturday night, by suiting up and pitching for the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent North American League.
The 65-year-old left-hander not only won the game to become the oldest man to earn a win in a professional game, but he went the distance, notching a complete game in the 9-4 victory over the Maui Na Koa Ikaika of Hawaii. He allowed four runs on eight hits.
Manager of San Rafael is none other than former big-league outfielder and former Dodger Mike Marshall.
“Taking everything into consideration, that might have been the greatest performance I’ve ever seen on a baseball field,” Marshall told reporters. “I’m stunned. I can’t believe what I just saw.”
“He threw 100 pitches in batting practice on Wednesday. He’s the only guy the whole season to go all nine, and the rest of these guys are in their 20s.”
Lee took it all in stride.
“I just solidified myself as the best old guy on the planet,” he said.