Posted By Jeff Fletcher on March 24, 2011 10:23 am
Yeah, I’ve been gone for a bit, but I have a good excuse. Anyway, while I’ve been out I’ve spent a lot of time following what’s been happening with the A’s, Giants and our old friend Barry Bonds. So, here go a few thoughts:
SI’s Joe Posnanski, one of the best writers in the country, wrote a great piece on how he feels about this Bonds trial. His point, with which I agree 100 percent, is that this is a bad bad thing because we aren’t going to happy with either result. Either baseball’s all-time home run king is going to be convicted of perjury, and officially proven to have knowingly cheated the game, or the federal government is to going to lose and show that they’ve pretty much wasted a lot of time and money over the past seven years. Seven years!
Posnanski also makes a somewhat tangential point that I love. I am one of those guys who just votes for everyone for the Hall of Fame if their on-field performance was worthy. I deduct some points if I think a guy used steroids, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me. My thinking is that these guys are professional athletes and, by their nature, they will do whatever they can get away with doing. Posnanski writes…
So the steroid era is not really out of character for baseball history, no matter how many old-time players say it is. Players found that using steroids could make them stronger. Baseball did not test for it — which was like an open invitation to use whatever you wanted. Baseball was coming off a devastating strike and pro football had long before surpassed baseball as America’s pastime and everyone wanted — needed — the games to be more exciting than ever before. Players from every single era, given those circumstances, would have widely used steroids. I believe that wholeheartedly. As the ultra-honest Buck O’Neil said: “The reason we didn’t use steroids is because we didn’t have them.”
So I’m not really looking for any big answers out of this. I already believe Barry Bonds took steroids, just like hundreds of other players. And I already don’t care.
By the way, the best way to follow the Bonds trail is through Mark Fainaru-Wada’s twitter account.
The injuries to Brian Wilson and Cody Ross are the first examples of why teams don’t repeat. In order to win the World Series, a lot has to go right. If you’re a Giants fan, you can find the half-empty perspective on a few things that happened last year (Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey’s missing two months, Tim Lincecum’s August) and believe: “We’ll be even better this year.” I think that ignores the fact that a lot more stuff went surprisingly right than surprisingly wrong, starting with a lack of injuries. The most significant injury the Giants suffered all season may have been Jeremy Affeldt’s, and even that worked out because his absence forced the Giants to get Javier Lopez, who probably pitched better than a healthy Affeldt anyway.
I’m not trying to dog the Giants or say that they won’t be good. I’m only saying that there is a lot of luck involved in winning the World Series, and it’s hard to count on luck again. (What if the Padres hadn’t lost 10 in a row in September?) Now, the Giants are already tasting a little bad luck, in the Wilson and Ross injuries. These may be small and they may not matter, but I’m putting my money on more things going wrong between now and October than went wrong in 2010. Just because.
As for the A’s, sure was nice of Bob Geren to let us know, here on Mar. 24, that the guy who had the best season among his starters last year would, indeed, be the opening day starter in 2011. Geren is a little silly that way. He doesn’t like to make any proclamations because — egad — what if circumstances change? Seriously, if Geren had announced Cahill as the opening day starter on Feb. 1, and then Cahill got hurt in spring training, does he really think we’d be calling him a liar or ripping him for starting someone else.