Bonds feigns innocence
The steroid scandal turned into a full-blown storm today, as the San Francisco Chroncicle (www.sfgate.com) reported that Bonds "told a federal grand jury that he used a clear substance and a cream supplied by the Burlingame laboratory now enmeshed in a sports doping scandal, but he said he never thought they were steroids." This revelation came one day short of a year after his testimony, and the circumstances by which the information was released remains cloudy. His lawyer Michael Rains complained about this, and tried to portray Bonds as a guileless victim, stretching credulity to the maximum. See sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Hardly anyone expects baseball players to be paragons of virtue, but fans have every reason to expect that they will at least accept responsibilities for their actions in an adult way. Whether baseball's reputation is deeply damaged for years to come, or only lightly scratched for a while, now depends on how the probable dope users respond. Bonds' statements remind me of a certain former president who half-admitted to past drug use by saying, "I didn't inhale." Really.
MLB approves Expos relocation
All but one of the 29 Major League franchise owners voted to approve the relocation of the Montreal Expos to Washington next year, but this is "subject to all conditions set forth in the Baseball Stadium Agreement" which was signed on September 29. In other words, the D.C. City Council can forget about having Mayor Tony Williams renegotiate the deal. No dice. Who was the lone dissenter in today's vote? Why, none other than Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos. All those lengthy, patient negotiations in which Bob DuPuy tried to placate his fears of a financial loss came to nothing. What is disturbing is that Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich (a Republican) recently hinted that legal action on behalf of the Orioles may be necessary. (Since when did the Democrat Angelos start making friends across party lines, I wonder?) See sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Personally, I thought it was a waste of time for MLB officials to bend over backward so far just to get Angelos to go along with the relocation for the sake of unanimity. He proved long ago beyond any shadow of a doubt how unreasonable he is. In the vicious world of corporate lawyering, however, such a nasty reputation can be used to very good effect, bringing in millions of extra dollars from adversaries who would rather not endure an ugly, drawn-out fight. It looks like that's what the Nationals have in store as they prepare to settle in to Our Nation's Capital. The dead-end rejectionist attitude of Angelos reminds one of George Wallace, Lester Maddux, and other leaders of "massive resistance" to racial desegregation in the South during the 1960s. Contrast that with the friendly welcome mat laid out for the Orioles when they moved from St. Louis to Baltimore in 1954:
Senators owner Clark ... Griffith relented and in some ways even supported Baltimore's bid. When the team finally arrived in Baltimore, Griffith attended a citywide parade, welcoming a new baseball team to the area. All he received was a small monetary payment that came through television sponsorship. [SOURCE: Washington Post, Sept. 30, 2004]
Meanwhile, there is a flurry of negotiations with free agent pitchers such as Carl Pavano and Pedro Martinez, who used to pitch for the Expos. Thanks to the delays caused by Linda Cropp, however, the Nationals franchise is not likely to be sold until next year, which means the team's "interim" general manager, Jim Bowden, is still on a shoestring budget and therefore won't be able to acquire as much pitching talent as he would like. Booo!
D.C. stadium vote aftermath
In Thursday's washingtonpost.com, columnist Marc Fisher really ripped into some of the D.C. City Council members, especially Chairperson Linda Cropp, for cowardly abstaining in the big vote on Tuesday. He also showed a sense of balance, however, in discussing the stadium bill's leading opponents:
Adrian Fenty (Ward 4) and David Catania (At Large), deserve credit for their principled agitation on behalf of the view that the stadium deal is fiscally irresponsible. ...
Then he patiently explained the obvious economic benefits from drawing in all the suburbanite cash into the District, as well as the more nebulous psychological benefits:
So even if you don't believe that the Capitol Street corridor will blossom as a result of the stadium development, this deal is sweet. That a majority of the D.C. Council lacked the courage to say so is shameful. That three members were so derelict as to take no position is unforgivable.
Exactly! Fisher has been a consistently avid booster of D.C. baseball on the Post staff, and I agree wholeheartedly with his honest and forthright conclusions. Meanwhile, hot-headed anti-stadium activist Adam Eidinger has apparently taken a vacation in France, one week after disrupting the announcement of the Nationals name and logo. Finally, the Anomalous stadiums and RFK stadium pages have been updated to reflect the virtual certainty that the Washington Nationals will play in RFK Stadium next year. Revisions to other pages are still pending...
Jason Giambi confesses
So Jason Giambi has admitted to using steroids in testimony to a grand jury. Was there ever any doubt, really? Those enormous biceps (until this year, that is, when "going clean" apparently came back into fashion) looked like something from a comic book superhero. Dittos for ... well, you know. The records books in the future may have a lot of asterisks for sluggers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I try to avoid being too judgmental, but I've certainly never believed in the ethical relativism of "so what, everybody does it." I just hope Giambi hasn't caused permanent damage to his body, and I pray that this doping scandal doesn't end up ruining all the public goodwill that baseball has managed to recover since the 1994 strike. In sportsillustrated.cnn.com, Tom Verducci says the Yankees will "definitely look into the possibility of voiding the contract," which has four years to go. Poor Mr. Steinbrenner.