January 13, 2005 [LINK]

Getting tough on dope

Commissioner Selig's announcement that MLB and the players' association agreed to terms on a new drug testing policy is at least a step in the right direction. The automatic suspension for the first offense, coupled with the random testing, shows that the problem is finally being regarded as very serious. Such a screening program does cast a pall over the whole sport, but there really wasn't much choice, given the fact that the problem had become so widespread. Otherwise, the problem might get to the point of becoming "contagious," where a wavering clean player finally gives in if he figures that's his only chance to compete. Selig thanked President Bush for drawing public attention to the issue in last year's State of the Union address. (At the time, many people thought it was a strange thing to bring up, but Bush was perhaps a step ahead of the rest in this case.) I hope that these draconian measures don't become permanent, however. If baseball does not revive a culture of good sportsmanship without the necessity of heavy-handed policing, its role in our national culture will become further diminished.

Nationals update

Speaking of national culture, I was pleased to learn that Nationals catcher Brian Schneider has a leading role with the player's union. The Nationals are negotiating to acquire pitcher Carlos Loiaza, and are reportedly considering making an offer to ex-Reds infielder Barry Larkin, but only in a backup capacity. The thinking is that the team needs more veterans to guide the youngsters, and Vinny Castilla may need help in that mentoring role.

Sir Sidney no longer?

Sidney Ponson, who was supposed to be the Baltimore Orioles's ace pitcher but has performed below expectations, says he will no longer consider himself a resident of Aruba. That is a small island off the coast of Venezuela that became separated from the rest of the Netherlands Antilles in 1986. He was made a knight as a reward for the recognition he brought to the island, but has not acted like one. He was jailed for several days after assaulting someone in an altercation involving his jet ski. He expressed belated regret over the incident, and said that he was getting tired of all the attention from local folks wherever he went in Aruba. Tough life...

"After further review" of my various reference sources, I've corrected the new diagrams on the Milwaukee County Stadium page, and added a 1954 version.

EVENING UPDATE: Stadium fraud?

The report by Kevin Tibbles about baseball's new drug testing policy on NBC Nightly News tonight contained video clips of Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and several scenes of games being played -- in Milwaukee County Stadium, which NO LONGER EXISTS! (Quite a coincidence with my latest diagram revision, huh?) Pretty sloppy journalism, if you ask me. Not as blatantly bogus as the CBS "60 Minutes" report based on the fake memos last September, perhaps, but still pretty bad. Are NBC's standards eroding in the post-Tom Brokaw era?

The FOX hit TV show "OC" just started, and it reminds me about the Angels' identity crisis. Since Orange County has so much prestige attached to it, why not call the team the "Orange County Angels" instead of the absurd "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim"?