News and Notes

An Interview with Terry Pluto. Steve Marantz, Sport Media Guide

The main thrust of the interview was about Pluto's  column following the Byrd HGH announcement, and Pluto's reflections on that column are very interesting:

We found out when [Byrd] had an arm injury he was using HGH. It was very hard for me to imagine. You never would have guessed - it shows how pervasive the stuff is. He's a guy I e-mail with and am somewhat friendly - he's like a guy from down the street or from your church or someone you work with. This came from a paper trail from a guy who was a dentist but who no longer is a dentist - not someone likely to be treating a pituitary. I want to believe Paul on the pituitary thing but I couldn't ignore that.

Byrd seemed the last guy to suspect of being on performance-enhancing drugs, if you're basing suspicion on physical attributes. Byrd probably has the slowest fastball of any right-hander in the majors, and has learned to get by with it. He shouldn't need that extra edge, right?

But Byrd didn't take the drugs to get an extra edge on the field; he took them while recovering from a serious arm injury. At that time, there was a possibility he might not make it back. He didn't know if his arm could physically handle the rigors of pitching in the majors again. That fear, Pluto says, is what probably drove Byrd to do what he normally wouldn't have done:

I wish Paul had done what Matt Lawton did when he got caught with the Yankees. He said he knew he was wrong but he was desperate to keep his career going and he did it. People appreciate that kind of honesty more than some of the other stories we've heard.

Beyond the headliner cases (Bonds, Clemens, Giambi, McGwire, etc) are a lot of marginal and minor-league players. It isn't just the successful players who want to take their game to the next level; it's the player on the cusp or a guy recovering from an injury. The lure of PEDs is there for every athlete, and will remain there as long as competitive sports exist. That doesn't mean we should pretend the problem doesn't exist, but at the same time, it shouldn't irreparably mar the game.

Guys get suspended a lot for steroids in the NFL - they do four games and come back and play and it's hardly mentioned. Some people don't understand what steroids are - others feel like they flunked a science class. It's hard enough raising kids and keeping a job - you're thinking about those things all the time. When you come to sports you don't want to go into that big closet of skeletons. You just want to watch the game. Most fans just want to talk about who should be traded or who should be coach. Sport is soap opera for males.

I'd like there to be some assurance that baseball has "solved" the PED problem, but at the same time, PEDs aren't going to destroy my love for the game. Just put a good testing program in place, act like you're committed to it, and let it go at that. The NFL has done that, and even as several of their better players have tested positive for steroids, the outcry over PEDs in that sport has been relatively mild.

Schumer: Syracuse Can Get Mets. Mark Weiner, Syracuse Post-Standard

This story is relevant to the Indians in that the Mets going to Syracuse could set off a chain of AAA affiliate changes after this season. Syracuse is currently Toronto's affiliate. Columbus' new downtown stadium will open for the 2009 season, and their contract with the Nationals also expires after this season. As does the contract between Cleveland and the Buffalo Bisons, which creates a tempting opportunity for the Indians. The current relationship with Buffalo is very good; the team draws well, and it's only a three-hour drive to Cleveland. But moving the affiliation to Columbus would make a lot of sense; the drive is a bit shorter, Columbus is a split Indians/Reds town, and they'd be opening up a new stadium.  

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