The Double-Standard Towards PEDs In Sports

Frank Giasone discusses the double standard of the attitude towards PEDs in football compared to baseball

I’ll admit, when the Sports Illustrated report regarding Ray Lewis’ alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs surfaced, my curiosity was instantly piqued. I wasn’t especially curious if the iconic middle linebacker actually used the illegal drugs in question. And I wasn’t even all that concerned with his comments following the allegations. What I really wanted to know was, what kind of outcry would this report instigate throughout sports world?

As it turned out (and as I suspected), it was no more than a blip for Lewis and the NFL, as Major League Baseball–once again–was thrust into the forefront of the PED scandal. Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun headed a list of players reportedly linked to HGH use and the story immediately took flight, offering the NFL another chance to sneak by virtually unscathed.

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NFL Week 5 Smart Bets: And The Yankees Post-Mortem

Yikes. Well my Week 4 picks didn’t go so well, thanks to two athletes who are quite similar, Tony Romo and Alex Rodriguez. We’ll get to the Week 5 NFL picks in a little bit, but if you recall one of my bets last week was the Yankees beating the Tigers in the ALDS. I also proclaimed that Jose Valverde’s consecutive saves streak would come to and end, and while it nearly did, well, it didn’t.

So what happened to the 2011 New York Yankees? We’ve had a little time to digest the Yanks’ postseason failure, and I’m going to take what will probably be a very unpopular view on this. This Yankees team actually overachieved. By a lot.

Yeah, it’s possible for a team with the highest payroll in the sport to overachieve.

Heading into the season, all the “experts” had the Red Sox winning the AL East and going to the World Series. And for good reason. Who wouldn’t have picked the BoSox with their rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, a bullpen with the second best closer in the game (I think so at least), and a lineup that is stacked with multiple MVP candidates? If in February you would have told me that the Yankees would lose Alex Rodriguez for about half the season, Mark Teixeira would hit under .250, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon (it is 2011!!!) would start 51 games combined, Derek Jeter would have a DL stint, A.J. Burnett would have an ERA in the fives and Rafael Soriano would pitch only 39 innings – and with all that the Yankees would win 97 games and win the division by six games, I probably would have told you to check into rehab immediately.

The fact of the matter is is that the Yankees were gritty and gutted their way through 162 games. Sure, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson had MVP-type seasons, with the latter putting up otherworldy numbers. Teixeria had good power numbers but let’s face it, it was a down year for him. Throw in all the Jorge Posada drama, and it wasn’t an easy task winning 97 games by any stretch. This season should go down as a good one for the Yankees. You can’t win it every year.

But in Yankees Universe we have to dissect the playoff meltdowns, and it really doesn’t get much easier than looking at the middle of the lineup. The Yankees simply needed much, much more out of their four, five and six hitters. A-Rod hasn’t been A-Rod all year, but he was vintage postseason A-Rod this year, and he’s starting to prove that his gargantuan 2009 playoff performance was an aberration. Rodriguez will be around for six more years, and thank goodness there is no salary cap in baseball. Additionally, it might be time for the Yankees to try something else in right field. Nick Swisher is a good player, seems like a great guy and teammate, and the fans like him. But man, how much more deer-in-the-headlights could you get than Swisher in the postseason?  Is it really worth the solid regular seasons if he’s going to be an automatic out in October? There are plenty of other players who could play a good right field with a solid bat and have a better approach at the plate in a big situation.

And I think Joe Girardi had a really rough time this postseason. Yanking Ivan Nova so early in Game 5 sent a message to the whole team that he was in panic mode. The Yankees can spin “forearm tightness” for Nova all they want. Girardi freaked out and pulled Nova. He also mismanaged the end of Game 2 by essentially giving away a run by bringing in Luis Ayala, a run that proved not costly but surely important. Girardi doesn’t need to be fired or anything, but he needs to learn from his poor managing the past two postseasons.

The future isn’t dark for the Yankees. Offensively they’ll be built around Cano and Granderson for the next few seasons, with Rodriguez and Teixiera of course capable of putting up big numbers. The pitching may lend itself to a youth movement, with Nova joining Sabathia and Phil Hughes in the rotation full time without the fear of being sent down (although maybe Girardi will pull him every time he gives up a few runs in the first two innings). Burnett will be back (it is what it is), and the Yankees can look to their youth with Dellin Betances or Hector Noesi for the fifth spot. The bullpen will be good as long as Rivera is around.

The Yankees are home early, and any first round loss stings. But fans should take a step back and look at the whole season, and realize that it could have been much, much worse.

And now, on to the picks –

Eagles -3 at Bills

The Eagles are a talented team and they are desperate. The Bills are a nice story, but I don’t think many people see them being a serious playoff threat. The Eagles won’t go 1-4. If they do, Andy Reid better walk around Cheesesteak Town in disguise.

Atlanta +6 vs Green Bay

I’m taking six points with Matt Ryan/Mike Smith at home. I think the Packers could very well win the game, but it will be close. One of the better games of the weekend.

Steelers -3 vs. Titans

I’ll take the Steelers at home off a bad loss. I know the Steelers are banged up, and very much like the Jets, look a little slow and old. But I think Mike Tomlin rallies the team, and at home, they don’t lose to a team quarterbacked by Matt Hasselbeck.

Saints -6.5 at Carolina

No spread is too high for the Saints these days. It could be a shootout, but I think the Saints put up a ton of points.

Non-Football Bonus Bet of the Week

NBA Playing entire season: 8-5

Yes, you can actually bet on this. Things sound a little uplifting recently, with David Stern caving a bit and offering the players close to 50% in revenue. Too much at stake for both sides, I think they get it done.

Top 10 National TV Sports Theme Songs

TOJ would like to welcome our second new writer in as many days, Chris Celletti, who is also featured at SB Nation NY and can be followed on Twitter. Welcome aboard! – JC

For this blogger who cares way too much about the useless things in sports (announcers, uniforms, stadiums, etc.) nothing gets me more amped up than a great TV sports theme song. I thought I’d take the time to rank some of the current (keyword current) National TV sports themes:

1. NFL on CBS

How can I put this ahead of the NFL on Fox theme song? Because I’m a Jet fan, that’s why. No song gets me more pumped up for watching a sporting event on TV than this one, especially when they play it right after kickoff as they’re going over starting lineups and Greg Gumbel runs down the stats for Mark San-CHEZ (I’ll never
understand why anyone pronounces his name this way).

2. NFL on FOX

This song has been around for so long now. I don’t really have any memories tied to it, since every time the Giants trudge through a riveting 13-9 win I’m usually fast asleep by mid-first quarter, yet it belongs up here because of its longevity and popularity.

3. NCAA Basketball on CBS

Definitely a classic; the problem is that it’s just so underused since the college hoops season is so short. Although, for those three weeks in March, there isn’t any other song that gets stuck in your head so easily. Anytime I hear it, (and every now and then I’ll just YouTube it for the hell of it) it brings me back to scratching away at my bracket after getting every 8/9 and 7/10 game wrong – yes, this has happened to me before.

4. NBA on TNT

The NBA always has good TV theme songs. Nothing will ever, ever be as good as the NBA on NBC theme (the absolute hands down best TV sports theme of all time as we’ll get to later), but TNT’s is solid. It is usually followed, unfortunately, by the voice of Ernie Johnson, but it is a classy tune.

5. NBA on ABC/ESPN

There’s actually two versions of this theme, the faster one that they play when opening a show, or the slower one that’s used when going to or coming back from a break. I particularly like the slower one, especially late in the fourth quarter of a playoff game.

6. NHL on NBC

Something very hockey about this one. Just works well with clips of guys smashing into the boards and Alex Ovechkin having a heart attack celebrating a goal in Feburary against the Bruins. But it has a classic sports sound to it, with a pretty recognizable hook.

7. MLB on ESPN

This is basically the Sunday Night Baseball theme song, and it ranks lower because who the hell watches Sunday Night Baseball unless your team is playing? It’s not a bad song by any means and is a classic at this point. Beyond that, since they dumped Joe Morgan, Sunday Night Baseball is definitely a better place.

8. Golf on CBS

This is the perfect golf theme song, and I don’t know why. It sets the tone for Jim Nantz coming on air and painting the scene of a terrible tournament – “Here live from picturesque TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, it’s the third round of the Travelers Championship. Steve Marino is leading the way with Nick Watney and Brandt Jobe right on his heels…” – Strap in for three-plus hours of
awesomeness!

9. NHL on Versus

This is the worst damn theme song in the history of American professional sports. Their older one from 2008 was pretty good, but this past year it is just a repeating, awful tune that has zero pump-up factor for a big game. Thank goodness NBC is taking over operations over there – they’ll probably just use their standard
hockey theme.

10. Monday Night Football

Iconic, yes. But also incredibly lame.

Let’s also not forget to pay homage to the gift that John Tesh brought the world, the NBA on NBC theme…Best sports theme of all time.

A Trip To Yankee Stadium: A Brief Encounter With History

“Yankee Stadium is one of the few places in America that can feel alive on a Monday Night”
– Anonymous

I walked out of the grand concourse subway station. I was not supposed to get off there. I was supposed to get off at Yankee Stadium, but because I drank two small nips of Southern Comfort on the subway ride uptown, I forgot I was supposed to get off at Grand Central and transfer from the 4 to the 5. Someone was apparently trying to close what seemed like a very large post office right outside the subway stairs. People were protesting. They were not happy. When 25% of The Bronx is underemployed, people do not take that walk from some work to no work lightly. And why should they? The financial district should have been arrested and forced into manual labor after the mess they created.

I got past the crowd and started walking down River avenue, which had the hills of a San Francisco slum. I couldn’t quite tell the burnt red factor buildings apart, but I was supposed to go in one and walk up to the 5th floor.
On the 5th floor I couldn’t quite tell the small grey cars apart but I finally approached one that looked friendly. The trunk had a cooler full of bud light. This would most definitely be a Monday night to forget.

The walk to the stadium was something unlike I had ever been a part of. You walk under the subway for a while, passing dump after dump until there it is, this gleaming tan colossus, lit up like Vegas on a Friday night. You get so caught up in staring at it that you forget you have two very busy streets to cross. Once across you see the entrance, and luckily, because we were doing our best impression of Miami Heat fans, we got to the stadium about 40 minutes after first pitch.

Perhaps here was the point that I should have had the good sense to stop drinking. There was no need to consume any more, especially because I was under the influence of a prescription medication for my rather weak night vision. But no, I was going to gleefully pay $12 for a beer, yes, in fact, give me two. I would be the king of the bleacher creatures, no price too high!

Now, I am of course a gentleman, so instead of waiting for a female acquaintance to buy her own beer, I decided to buy one for her. Except I soon found out that at $22 for two bud lights, chivalry can send you to the poor house rather quickly.

At a certain point, like all fans of baseball games, you are asked kindly to leave once the game is over. Apparently I did leave under my own power, smiling and tipping my cap to NYPD on our exit. I then proceeded to prance down the street until we reached the parking garage. Everything past that is fuzzy, right until 8:45 the next morning when I woke up and realized something was very much wrong.

What i was supposed to do, was get up at 6:45, wake my sister up, and get to the train station to take the 7:10 to Manhattan, which would get me into Penn about 8:30 with enough time to get to work by 9am. This did not go as planned. As soon as I turned my head, I felt everything sloshing around like someone hit me up side the head with a bat and poured vodka down my unconscious throat. Which may have happened. I have hired a private investigator to look into it.

I did in fact make it to work that day, and felt like dying at various points throughout the day. It was wonderful, that feeling like at any point you could throw up sausage, peppers, red bull, bud light, bud light, jolly ranchers?

Postscript: Baseball

Considering there are 81 home games to 8, you can understand the chance of seeing something at a football game that you have 9 more games to wait for in baseball. Which is why most people show up in the 3rd inning. To be honest, I have had a love/hate relationship with baseball my whole life. I played little league, but as I found the intricacies in sports like football and basketball, baseball seemed like a relic. It’s boxing and slow dances. Sunday drives and dinner with the family. We move faster now, we think faster, (for good or ill) and for all our advancement it remains the same as it’s always been. Chess for old men. But there is beautiful music made that people play chess to.