Monthly Archives: December 2009

AP WRITERS: “STEROIDS TOP SPORTS STORY OF 2009”

It’s interesting to see that the Associated Press’s writers and editors named steroids the biggest sports story of 2009:

http://sports.yahoo.com/top/news?slug=ap-storyoftheyear&prov=ap&type=lgns

The revelations about A-Rod’s past ‘roid use, Manny’s suspension for having a prescription for HCG, and Big Papi and Sosa’s names leaked from the 2003 list all kept the story prominent.  I know for my part that it continues to taint my feelings about baseball.  Once again, a major sport or personality, in this case baseball, needs to be reminded that addressing a scandal head-on (see Letterman, David) is far better p.r. than trying to stonewall it and pretend it never happened (see Woods, Tiger).

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Cadaco All-Star Baseball

When I was 12 years old, in 1969, I received a gift of Cadaco All-Star Baseball for Christmas, and my life changed.  It was a great simulation, played with round discs that represented the real-life stats of MLB ballplayers; you put the disk into a spinner, spun the needle, and it would tell you if the player had a single, ground-out, K, bb, etc.  Played out over 162 games, the stats were remarkably similar to real-life.  I had Lou Brock, Rico Petrocelli, George Scott, Bob Gibson, Mickey Lolich and 100 others, and I set up leagues and played maniacally.  I found a version of it on eBay a few years ago and snapped it up for myself, and now Joe has a modern version of the game with present-day ballplayers.

Cadaco All-Star Baseball

It’s good to see that people are still playing ASB, and of course, writing about it on the web:

http://www.joehagen.com/allstarbaseball/?p=1545

http://percontifamily.com/cadaco/

Joe and I played a memorable game a couple of years ago on a Holland America cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.  Babe Ruth hit a grand-slam in the bottom of the 10th for my team to beat Steve Carlton and overcome 3 HRs by Ted Williams.

Great game, and highly recommended.

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What to Do With Barry Bonds?

This story in the Miami Herald about Barry Bonds reminded me again how complicated and massively frustrating the steroids era has been on baseball fans like me and my son.  I LOVED watching Bonds hit in those early years of this decade, when he was by far the best hitter in the game and was doing things that nobody had ever come close to doing before.  Basically, if they pitched to him, he was likely to knock it out of the park.  His swing was short and fast, his power amazing.  When he hit the homer to break Aaron’s record and a reporter asked him if his totals were “tainted,” Bonds looked shocked and defiant when he said, “This record is not tainted at all.  Period.”

I wanted to believe him.  But now the best I can believe is that maybe Bonds really didn’t know that his body had bulked up so much, his head expanded, his chest thickened, from stuff his trainers gave him.  And HE DIDN’T KNOW (he claims) that it was steroids.  How this could be true is just awfully difficult to fathom, and that he got that big just from rubbing steroids cream on his legs defies credulity.

The bottom line for me is that Bonds has never come out and told my kid that taking drugs is wrong, whether he knew he was taking them or not, and playing ethically and within the rules is more important than bashing a lot of homers.

But boy, what a ballplayer he was.  We may not see a swing like that again for the rest of our lives.

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Baseball Books for Kids

Joe and I have been neck-deep in baseball books lately.  For a school project, he began to read the series by Dan Gutman that began with Honus & Me and continues with a whole bunch of books where a kid named Joe can magically

Testing the Ice, by Sharon Robinson

go back into time to interact with the likes of Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle.  I read a couple of them, and although it’s hard for me to get past a whopper of a children’s book device (“Mom, I’m going back in time.”  “Well make sure you bring some warm clothes and a sandwich!”), the historical details were great and the stories moved along.  Joe loves them.  Also just saw this review for “Testing the Ice,” a book by Jackie Robinson’s daughter Sharon, that talks about her dad’s fear of swimming and tells his story in a way that kids will enjoy.  Joe would like that one, too, and it might just wind up in his stocking.  He has gotten tons of mileage out of “Players of Cooperstown: Baseball’s Hall of Fame,” a big, oversized volume that we found at a garage sale that devotes two pages to every player inducted into the Hall of Fame until about 1998, with bios and stats that he memorizes.  And BoSox fans will enjoy “Fenway: A Biography in Words and Pictures” by Boston newspaper columnist Dan Shaughnessy, although the essays are more geared for adults.  Joe digs the pictures and the memories it brings of our own visit to Fenway.

Happy reading.

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