Thursday, July 25, 2013


I love living in a place where there are two baseball teams to watch. I have the Orioles game on, since the Reds play tonight and the Nats played today.

I was thinking about how I used to go to Orioles games during 2003 and 2004 before there was a team in DC. Prior to that I had no interest in the Orioles. I'm having a vague recollection of the foreign feeling I had when I'd open packs of baseball cards and got players on the Orioles and other American League teams. People who grew up with team cable packages and interleague play wouldn't get it - you never saw the American League in Southwest Ohio. Even when I was in sixth grade and wearing a mesh A's baseball cap for the Bash Brothers, I never really got to see them play. Once my grandparents took us to see them play the Indians in Cleveland at the old stadium. It was the time when they made Major League and the Indians were the joke of baseball and there was no one in the stadium. So I can say I saw Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire play when they were clean and everyone loved them and there was no Twitter for one of them to show his crazy.

The Orioles were the second team I rooted for when I lived somewhere other than Ohio. The first was the Giants when I lived in Monterey and could drive up to San Francisco on the weekends. That was when I had the good fortune to watch Barry Bonds become the best hitter who ever lived with or without PEDs. This was before MLB.TV so I watched Giants games on television since I couldn't see the Reds and if you saw him play day in and day out you'd forget about the PEDs and the fact that he was a jerk because when he came to bat it was magic. I saw Game 5 of the 2002 World Series at Pac Bell Park and they won and we all thought they'd win the World Series but then the magic ran out and they lost and I moved to Washington for the next baseball season.

The Orioles were awful during those two years before the Nationals came but the ballpark was so wonderful that I didn't mind the losing. The team sort of grew on me and I became something of a fan, though not like in San Francisco because there just wasn't that much to root for. But I've kept an eye on the team ever since and was really rooting for them last year despite Peter Angelos whose name should be Devilos. In Washington you get both Nationals and Orioles broadcasts so if the Nats aren't playing I can watch them on TV. They have wonderful announcers, not like those clowns in DC who are near the bottom of the pack when it comes to rating baseball broadcasters.

In 2003 they invented MLB.TV and in 2004 I got a subscription and have had one ever since except in 2008 when I lived in Ohio and didn't need it. It's strange to think about living in another place where I can't go to Reds games and not getting to watch them every day. We live in a strange time.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Here we go again

Arise, ye hypocrites.

Roids are back in the news, thanks to the Biogenesis scandal and the subsequent suspensions, and with them comes righteous indignation and faux outrage.

Ryan Braun is an asshole, not only because he cheated, but because he turned a guy’s life upside down with his lies, having the audacity to say he lived by honor, integrity, and dignity because he thought he got away with his transgression. Indeed, any athlete who uses PEDs is an asshole, plagued with the vileness of selfishness, greed, and an utter lack of integrity.

But what do you expect in our me, me, me society?

Steroids are not a baseball problem or a sports problem. Steroids are a symptom of a greater societal problem. We are taught early on in life that individual achievement is key - whether it is winning a race or scoring the highest on a paper. We have widespread inequality and a winner-take-all philosophy. Concepts like honor and integrity and community are unknown to far too many Americans; it’s all about getting what’s mine, regardless of who or what gets hurt in the process. Sports are but one industry where cheating occurs to get ahead, to be the best, and to get more money.

Take a look at Wall Street. Bankers brought the global economy to a halt by cheating.  One survey of 500 financial professionals found these sad results about the banking industry:

·         26 percent said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace.
·         39 percent believe that it’s likely that their competitors who have succeeded did so by bending or breaking the rules.
·         24 percent said they thought that the rules may need to be broken in order to be successful.
·         16 percent said they would commit insider trading in order to make $10 million if they could get away with it.

(Hell, bankers can’t even stay loyal to their spouses. This survey shows 72% of bankers commit adultery.)

Cheating is rampant in schools, both in high school and in college. It is an acceptable means of getting ahead to young people. According to many studies, 80 to 95 percent of high school students admitted to cheating at least once in a year. MBA students are the worst, with this study showing 56 percent of them have cheated, compared with 54 percent in engineering, 48 percent in education, and 45 percent in law school. Academics is a competitive realm; students have no problem using dishonest means to beat out their peers. Parents and teachers even encourage it. Along those lines, cheating is also prevalent among educators to improve their rankings and to meet standardized test expectations. It’s all about getting ahead.

This is not different than athletes cheating at sports. One study shows that cheating at sports starts at an early age, with parents encouraging their children to cheat. Yet we expect them to be saints when they become pros?

And Corporate America. Good lord. Enron. Worldcom. Halliburton. Need I say more?

Doctors take bounties to get patients into clinical trials. Journalists and writers plagiarize or publish fiction as truth. Overbilling is a standard practice in the legal profession.

So why the righteous indignation and faux outage at Braun and co? They’re typical Americans, cheating their way to getting ahead.

Still not convinced? Hey, David Callahan wrote a whole book about our cheating culture. And check out the website

We should use this opportunity as a society to take a look in the mirror. Chances are, you’re as guilty as Braun.