"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


The news broke during the game and it came from ESPN’s Outside the Lines. Big names Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, along with 18 other big leaguers, will reportedly be suspended by MLB. For more, check out this quick analysis from Matthew Poullet. There will be much more in the days to come from apologists, moralists, conspiracy theorists, and amateur satirists. Buckle up.

Meanwhile, the ballgame. The Yanks held a tidy 4-0 lead going into the 7th inning. Dave Phelps was more like himself. Even when two men got on to start the 5th, he didn’t panic and got out of the inning without allowing a run. He doesn’t had overwhelming stuff but he’s a poor man’s Mike Mussina. There is an effective blandness about him, both in his performance and his appearance.

Mark Teixeira hit a 3-run homer, this one coming right-handed, Ichiro had an RBI base hit, and there was the 4-0 lead. But with two men on and two out in the 8th, Joba Chamberlain could not get the third strike against Drew Stubbs who poked a line drive over the wall in right. The Yanks loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning, Robinson Cano was at the plate, an ideal spot. But he got on top of a high fastball and pounded into the ground right at the second baseman who turned the 4-6-3 double play.

Tidy? The big hit? No Sir.

Instead David Robinson walked the lead off man in the 8th. Then Michael Brantley dropped the bat head down on a misplaced fastball and lined it to left for a base hit. That brought Nick Swisher to the plate and a feeling that the game was about the slip away for the Yanks. Swisher took a ball, swung over a curve ball and then nailed a fastball, hitting a low line drive. Ah, Fate. It was right at Jayson Nix, who flipped the ball to Reid Brignac, standing on second base to double off the runner.

And sometimes the sun shines out of a dog’s ass even at night in the Bronx. A harmless ground ball by Carlos Santana ended the inning and the threat.

In the 9th, Mariano Rivera entered the game and this is how it went down.

Mark Reynolds: Cutter, low and away, 1-0. Another cutter, lower and further away, 2-0. Fastball, high and outside, Reynolds waves at it. I feel the breeze all the way in Riverdale. Fastball outside corner, perfect, 2-2. Fastball right down the pike, moving in, Reynolds swings through it.

One out.

Giambo: Fastball paints the outside corner, 0-1. Cutter way inside, 1-1. Cutter, up, doesn’t get in enough, but it’s got enough movement for Giambi to just foul it back. Fastball, trying to paint the outside corner again, Giambi pokes it foul. He wasn’t surprised. Cutter, inside and up, almost hits Giambi in the hands, 2-2. Same pitch, high and out of the zone just not as far inside, and Giambi swings through it.

Two out.

Mike Aviles: Fastball high, check swing. Bounces off Chris Stewart’s glove, 1-0. But Tony Randazzo the home plate ump says it’s a foul tip, so 0-1. Cutter low and away, 1-1. Cutter popped to right, Ichiro makes the catch. Ballgame.  Aviles barks at Randazzo as he trots off the field as the Yankees shake hands.

It takes a cool hand. Little bit of luck never hurts.

Final Score: Yanks 4, Indians 3.

[Illustrations by Greg Guillemin]


1 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jun 4, 2013 9:37 pm

Shocking and pathetic how MLB will cut a deal with a drug dealer to try and ruin guys who only want to play better baseball. The whole thing is just infuriating as MLB turns a blind eye to drunk drivers and corporate welfare thieves. Sigh...

2 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Jun 4, 2013 9:44 pm

[1] I want to be a better person by robbing banks and giving the proceeds to the poor.

Enough, when does no mean no? Why can't the best natural players play the game? How desperate it seems.

3 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jun 4, 2013 9:49 pm

[2] Is it 'natural' to have a ligament from your leg taken out and put into your arm?
The gap in anger between steroids (still unproven to help performance) and people like Loria in Miami is just astounding. And sadly, all too typical in America right now.

4 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Jun 4, 2013 9:57 pm

[3] Your point is valid, but on the scale of outrage, steroids in baseball (and Loria's methods) is far down the list to most. It's easy to be critical as an ex-pat.

5 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jun 4, 2013 10:08 pm

(4) In the WWW era I fail to see how being an expat means lack of knowledge or knowing he pulse. I've yet to read or hear about anyone under the age of 40 giving a damn about steroids. And if the DO ahead of sports welfare, they are willfully uninformed.

6 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Jun 4, 2013 10:27 pm

[5] This is a blog about baseball, not national affairs. The perception that steroids in baseball is more important to the nation than other issues is natural here, but after all this is only a diversion. Find other places on the WWW to determine what is typical in America now, but is the WWW a true reality to actual experience. Eating horsemeat sushi can shade your opinions. And yes, most people under 40 could give a damn about steroids, especially the majority who don't give a damn about baseball.

7 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jun 4, 2013 10:33 pm

[5] Well, this is getting very close to breaking the 'no politics' rule Banter Rule but the fact the our elected Congress has spent plenty money & time to investigate this makes it more than a mere 'perception'.

I'll ignore your horsemeat comment which is pointless to avoid engaging in pointless insults!

8 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Jun 4, 2013 10:43 pm

[7] I didn't mean to insult, and I'm sorry if I did. I'm actually envious, and would like to experience a life outside the country.

I might have felt a little insulted because you made your comment about America's typical hollow concerns in reaction to my entry.

9 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jun 4, 2013 10:47 pm

[8] No worries! I actually think I misunderstood your comment in [4] anyways and my relpies were unclear. (Hard to articulate blog comments while eating lunch and watching this at the same time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0jV_kNs2p0&list=PLi70flcQkwNu5AF7ZG41bQtVC2a-KYue6&index=24

I guess my main point is: it seems to me and many others that 'possible' steroid use isn't really the biggest problem MLB should be addressing. Yet they are obsessed... Anyways, back to MLB Classics on YouTube!

10 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jun 4, 2013 11:11 pm

[8] Oh yeah, life in another country sometimes tough and infuriating but ultimately rewarding. And I get to eat dried squid and drink whiskey at all the baseball stadiums! (They also have cup noodle vending machines, and cute girls wearing mini-kegs of beer on their back. J baseball is the best :)

11 Boatzilla   ~  Jun 4, 2013 11:12 pm

[8] When you come out for a visit, make sure you ask me to take you out for dinner. "Mikey" Jazz focuses all his taste (what little he has) on music. ;>)

I am inclined to agree with him on steroids, though. I say the more drugs the better. Baseball is entertainment. Imagine if Robert Downey Jr. got a 100 movie suspension? No Tony Stark!

[0] Alex, enjoyed the report thoroughly. I believe it was David Adams who started that DP in the 8th, oddly enough.

12 Boatzilla   ~  Jun 4, 2013 11:16 pm

[10] Tough and infuriating? Yeah, I hate the way Japanese girls walk around Tokyo nearly naked all summer. All that flesh really brings me down. I also hate how they always wear heels and have perfectly coiffed hair and nails....and 80% of them have perfect asses. It's a real drag living here.

13 Chris   ~  Jun 4, 2013 11:31 pm

Alex, this may be your best game recap yet.

As for the PED issue, the majority of people want it out of baseball and see a bright line. Sometimes is sucks to be in the minority. But the bottom line is that these players knew that they were breaking the rules, so no one should complain about seeing stupidity punished. I have a feeling that's what Jeter would say if he could. And that's assuming that the allegations/reports are proven true, of course.

14 thelarmis   ~  Jun 4, 2013 11:40 pm

I love baseball, but...

Music is the BEST!!! (-Frank Zappa)

: )

15 Boatzilla   ~  Jun 4, 2013 11:42 pm

[13] I was being more than a little playful before. I'm not looking for us to go back to the 90s. Honestly though, there is a testing system in place. If a player fails a test, I agree they should do the time, pay the penalty, whatever.

However, this latest investigation is nothing more than a witch hunt. A-Rod has not failed any test. His name was on a list. The other guys have either loop-holed out of their crimes or done the time already. Calling Senator McCarthy to the floor.

16 randym77   ~  Jun 5, 2013 5:26 am

It sounds like those who "did time" already are looking at more. MLB wants to get them on a "second offense" for lying about their connection to Bosch. This would affect Melky, and even A-Rod.

Cano is the most worrisome. A-Rod and Cervelli are injured anyway. But Cano...man, that would be a huge loss.

17 monkeypants   ~  Jun 5, 2013 5:42 am

[1] You gotta retire that silly argument. MLB is (ostensibly) concerned about steroids because it affects the (alleged goal of) fairness of play. The league---any league---establishes a set of rules that govern on-field activities by which players agree to abide. Players break the rules, players get punished.

While drunk driving, et al are certainly more serious in a broader societal sense, they have little bearing on the rules of conduct of the game itself, and so the league is less "concerned" about it. Really, it's that simple.

So, if one wants to argue that PEDs in baseball is not a big deal, or that the punishments are now too harsh, or the means of enforcement and investigation unfair, go right ahead. But comparing steroid use to drunk driving within the context of the leagues rules for what players are allowed to do is a total red herring.

18 RIYank   ~  Jun 5, 2013 6:11 am


As for the PED issue, the majority of people want it out of baseball and see a bright line.

I doubt the majority see a bright line. I'm sure there is no particular bright line the majority of people see -- I suppose there might be a lot of lines, each thought bright by different people.

I hardly care whether A-Rod is suspended, but I can't stand the moralizing. It's nauseating.

19 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jun 5, 2013 7:48 am

[17] Do not agree. MLB is a business obsessed with it's image, yet ignores repeated high profile incidents of a very dangerous crime (drunk driving). But, it suspends players for smoking weed (now legal in many states) and now is cutting a deal with a very shady character in order to suspend its star players, despite them not failing any tests! It's crazy.

20 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 5, 2013 7:55 am


21 Boatzilla   ~  Jun 5, 2013 7:56 am

[19] It is outside the lines, and you can be sure the players union is not going to take this sitting down.

Of course, you can be "legally" killed in the USA just for being suspected of terrorism. Makes the MLB seem tame by comparison.

22 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 5, 2013 8:00 am

Mr OK and Ken...just want to say you did get into the political, which I try to avoid, but then you were aware of it and absolutely civil to each other which is what it's all about. Thanks for keeping the conversation elevated.

23 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jun 5, 2013 8:07 am

[22] I love getting gold stars from the teacher. :)

Speaking of civil discourse..I saw there is a documentary out now about Morton Downey Jr.! Long live Channel 9!!

24 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 5, 2013 8:24 am

23) I heard about that. Man, seems like a long time ago.

25 cult of basebaal   ~  Jun 5, 2013 8:30 am

The league---any league---establishes a set of rules that govern on-field activities by which players agree to abide. Players break the rules, players get punished.

There were other rules established in the CBA. Rules about due process and the explicit guarantee of privacy during the process and appeal of any suspected violation of the banned substence policy.

MLB has shown itself to be SO negligent in upholding the stated expectation of privacy during the process (like in this very story) (and has shown absolutely NO interest in pursuing the identity of the persons responsible for the leaking) that a reasonable person can only conclude that they are, at best, utterly, and consciously indifferent to the breaking of the rules of the CBA.

And when the rules are followed and the process respected and the neutral, 3rd party arbitrator's outcome isn't the GUILTY verdict that MLB had already predetermined it should be? Well, then, just fire the arbitrator (which, though within the rules, makes it obvious that the Commissioner's sole concern is with meting out punishment as they see fit, rather than respect of rules and process).

And what are we to make of the madness contained within this current leak story, that MLB has unilaterly decided that they can assess an additional punishment upon a player for denying their guilt to MLB investigators, even though there is nothing within the current CBA that even begins to imply that the Commissioner has that right within the rules of the current process.

Though, I imagine, after MLB gets slapped down by an abitrator in the inevitable grievence that will be filed by the MLBPA, they'll just fire the arbitrator again. After all, what matters for rules and process and procedure, when the righteous hand seeks to punish the wicked ...

26 cult of basebaal   ~  Jun 5, 2013 8:41 am

To add to that, the real kicker in the OTL piece isn't that the Commissioner wants to add in an extra punishment for those players that "lied" to the MLB investigators, it's that Selig wants that punishment to be as if the player's had failed a SECOND PED test. When most of them haven't ever failed a FIRST.

It would be laughable, it if weren't so obnoxious ...

27 Shaun P.   ~  Jun 5, 2013 8:55 am

[19] "I hardly care whether A-Rod is suspended, but I can't stand the moralizing. It's nauseating."

This, and [25], and [26]. And Craig Calcaterra's piece from early this morning.

[0] Excellent game recap and another nice win for the Yanks. I particularly enjoyed Mo closing it out, because . . . just for kicks, I watched the last inning of Game 6 of the '96 Serious last night on YouTube (MLB is doing something right). 17 years of Mo's calm efficiency had made me completely forget how nerve-wracking and infuriating watching John Wetteland close out a win was, to say nothing of the biggest and most important win of my life to that point.

28 Capital Yank   ~  Jun 5, 2013 9:56 am

[25] Well put.

[22] This, among other reasons, is why the Banter is the best of the best. Aside from the Banter's daily offering of an eclectic mix of music, art, and literature I'd probably not see otherwise, as well as providing me with my fill of Yanks news, the Banter commentary pretty much never debases into the vitriolic pissing matches found in so many other Yankees blogs. Kudos to Mr. Belth for cultivating such a wonderful place and to the Banter family for the constant civility.

29 monkeypants   ~  Jun 5, 2013 10:34 am

[25] YOu seem to think that I am arguing that this particular investigation is justified. I am not.

As I argued, or tried to, if one wants to point out that this particular investigation is unjust within the context of the rules established for PED investigations/punishments, that's fine. But to compare punishing players for PED use (which involves the rules of the league, designed theoretically to regulate the fairness of play of the game) with crimes and/or immoral activities by players outside of the game (e.g. drunken driving) is unjustified. They are apples and oranges.

[19] OK, now you are making a subtly different argument: that baseball as a business should do a better job of safeguarding its brand image, which includes trying to regulate off-field activities as well as rules violations that presumably hurt the leagues image by compromising the fans' perception of fairness of play.

I could see pursuing this argument. On the other hand, the "promote the brand image" position is what leads to things like jingoistic displays and camouflage uniforms on Memorial Day, right? I mean, it's simply a marketing ploy to convince the audience, many of whom dig that sort of thing, that MLB is all patriotic and stuff.

But we can have that discussion. In fact, what you call crazy can be explained easily enough by the appeal to market forces: most fans are more upset by PEDs (rightly or not) than they are about DUI. The fault, I think, lies clearly with the fans---it is they who are crazy, not the MLB business managers who simply respond to what the market wants.

30 Evil Empire   ~  Jun 5, 2013 11:30 am

[3] If roids are unproven to improve performance then why are so many players lining up to break federal laws and risking suspensions to take them.

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the stats: look at McGwire and Bonds homerun record seasons. Two juicers hitting homers at historic levels. That's good circumstantial evidence.

31 Shaun P.   ~  Jun 5, 2013 11:44 am

[29] "In fact, what you call crazy can be explained easily enough by the appeal to market forces: most fans are more upset by PEDs (rightly or not) than they are about DUI. The fault, I think, lies clearly with the fans---it is they who are crazy, not the MLB business managers who simply respond to what the market wants."

How do we measure what the market wants in this case? Because, to me, attendance is up, revenues are up, subscriptions to MLB.TV etc. are up - everything is up up up since Verducci's article on Caminiti, since Canseco, since the Mitchell Report, since whatever. I have yet to see any evidence of negative impact on MLB's bottom line due to PEDs.

What I do see in the marketplace is a large number of articles and TV and radio commentary by sports columnists, TV talking heads, and others that are sanctimonious and moralizing at its worst on this topic. You can bet even the terrible half-hour nightly news programs on the big 3 networks will mention this. There will be no mention of the lengths MLB has gone to, to obtain this information; no discussion of the due process required; no nothing. Just another witch hunt. Of course, when NFL players are found to use PEDs, there is the same amount of . . . wait, wait, no, there's not.

So I am not sure how much blame can really be put on the fans, and how much is due to what most fans are reading/hearing and then repeating. Because if one tries to measure the impact by dollars alone, one finds no impact.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver