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Off Base

This is Your Brain on Drugs

June 13, 2006


So, let me see if I have this straight. In what seems like minutes, Jason Grimsley is arrested and in do-do about as deep as a man can be, and Jim Leyritz comes out of the medicine closet, tail between his legs, waving his hand and screaming, “me too, me too, me, me, me, me, me.”

(For more information on helping addicts, check this out: HowtoHelpaDrugAddict.com.And gee, another New York Yankee. What a surprise.

Let’s go to the videotape, shall we. Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Matt Lawton, Jason Grimsley and Jim Leyritz. Drug abusers slash pinstripers. Like, duh. That took a lot of thought. And btw, rather than list them alphabetically or in descending order of their baseball abilities, I thought I’d just lay them out in order of their bustings.

I’m not about to say that drugs in baseball is a New York problem. You could certainly say that and not get much of an argument, but it’s beside the point. Kinda.

About some things all of Major League Baseball is clueless. Some things, little things, like oh I don’t know, minority hiring, collective bargaining, All-Star Games that end in a tie, fake grass, regular season play in the state of Florida, and the epidemic use of dangerous substances by athletes. Androstenedione, Ephedra, greenies, HGH, steroids, and coffee pots in locker rooms, labeled “leaded” and “unleaded, for with amphetamines or without. You know, little things.

Remember the scary old image of a drug dealer? Remember the image of that guy, when we used to them “pushers.” Unkempt long hair, the smoke-filled room, maybe a lava lamp, and definitely a beaker over a hot flame. Now that guy looks like Jason Grimsley.

Look, these are really bad drugs we’re talking about here. Really, really bad. And these are really bad guys. Forget home run records. We’re going to see heart attacks and strokes and cancer and unexplained early death.

This kind of BS from people like ESPN’s Steve Phillips simply has no place at this point in time: “When players point fingers at other players, it tears apart the fabric of the team.” This from the man who went into business with Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Roger Cedeno, Mike Hampton and Mo Vaughn, on purpose.

Rather than debate the merit of the former G.M's statement, let’s stipulate; fine, players ratting on players leads to friction in the clubhouse. Fine, say Steve Phillips is a bleeping genius, and nothing can possibly be more important than team chemistry. Pun intended. Then there’s no way management can continue to turn the other cheek. Pun intended.

Besides, “tearing apart the fabric” is a bunch of burlap. A single player, with a thimble-full of a conscience and a specimen cup of courage, can contact management anonymously and blow the whistle in the blink of an eye. Even with the eye blinking furiously from the Speed, how hard is that? Take it to management and let someone in a leadership position actually lead.

Kevin Towers admitted to having had an idea about Ken Caminiti. He did nothing, and he waited until the man was dead, but he had an idea. Tony La Russa is universally hailed as a thoughtful manager, and even I, when pressed, will concede that La Russa is a pretty bright guy, the pitcher batting eighth notwithstanding.

Given the man’s obvious intelligence and keen sense of observation; he has a law degree, after all; it's reasonable to assume La Russa had an inkling about either Mark McGwire or Jose Canseco, if not both. And surely Joe Torre saw something amiss in all those Yankee crackhouses, uh, clubhouses.

If he didn't, he should have. Either way, these skippers are responsible, as management, and as leaders of men. Unless, as George Allen said, "winning isn’t the most important thing, it's the only thing."

It’s time for all parties to take responsibility. All parties, OK, all parties. That means MLB, club owners, former and current general managers and managers, trainers, the union, and the ball players. You people have got to get your bleep together. Right bleeping now…

Talkback: Your comments, as always, are encouraged…

On a happier note, Jeff Kent actually does have a license to drive a motorcycle, and the Dodgers have turned Eric Gagne into Kerry Wood…

Word Association: When I hear the name, Moe Drabowsky, I think “Moe Moes Down 11,” and the 1967 Topps World Series card below. Mention the 1966 World Series, and I go straight to that baseball card, and to the image of Frank Robinson, beginning his home run trot, as Don Drysdale kicks the dirt in front of the Dodger Stadium mound…

Book Recommendation: Check out Sports Publications new book, “Tales from the Dodger Dugout,” by Rick Monday and Ken Gurnick. Gurnick is one of our old favorites, and we wish him all the best with his first book. He covers the Dodgers for MLB.com these days, and has written beautifully about baseball for the old Los Angeles Herald Examiner, the National, the Orange County Register, and worked as the West Coast baseball correspondent for the New York Times…

Oh, good. A Diamondbacks - Snakebit reference from ESPN.com. To my knowledge, Friday's "D-Backs Snakebit" headline is the first sighting of its kind this year. And it's a good thing too, because we really couldn't go three months in a calendar year without the Diamondbacks are snakebit play-on-words. Thank you, ESPN.com, for the clever headline…

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Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Personal Note: While preparing this column on Saturday, I received word of the death of young family member. Drugs and alcohol. And she wasn’t the first. With a few days to consider whether to tone down or crank the volume on my draft, or scrap it all together, I decided to go with the unhappy medium. Let’s just say I was in no mood to cut anyone in or around baseball even the slightest big of slack, given what I know can and will happen. And for that, I am responsible.

Remember, glove conquers all….




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