Monday, March 28, 2005

Random 2005 Preseason Thoughts by Lisa Alcock

As I write this, pitchers and catchers are due to report in three days, 22 hours and 14 minutes, according to I am excited for the season to begin. I am anxious to see a Mets spring training game on Fox. So many stories popped into my head while I was attempting to focus on just one subject for this article. And, since I couldn’t choose just one item, I’ll take the liberty of mentioning all of them here.

It was a long, cold winter, or so it seemed to me without hockey. I felt aimless without my Detroit Red Wings and a winter sport to watch. It must have been the blustery wind coming off the East River that made my brain freeze and had me temporarily thinking that the Red Sox had beaten the Yankees in the World Series. (In a way, it kinda felt like they did; their triumphant comeback from the dead, completely shutting down the Yankees and watching the Pinstripes collapse in the Bronx). Then I snapped back into reality and realized the Sox had actually beaten the Cardinals. To be honest, I really thought the Cardinals would have put up more of a fight. Despite the freezing temps here in NYC, I will say that the one thing that kept me warm inside (except, obviously, my temporary brain freeze) and grinning for months was the Red Sox World Series win. I hate to quote a commercial, but dammit, that win was priceless. I couldn’t get enough of the anti-Yankees jokes and those “choking” comics. No more “1918” chants at Yankee Stadium!! The new anti-Yankee chant has to be “2000!!” And, true to my superstitious nature, I didn’t once mention any of this or display my glee to my Yankee friends.

Moving on, Omar Minaya has built up a solid Mets team, hoping they'll be able to compete this year and do better than their 71-91 record of last year. With Willie Randolph as manager and several new faces I am hoping Randolph can guide this new Mets team to a winning direction. (Oh, and if I have to hear fellow Zisk writer Kip Yates complain about Carlos Beltran leaving Houston one more time...I’m going to have to punch him in the arm). I hope Pedro is the winning Pedro of years past.

An aside—in my fantasy world, I was really hoping that the Mets would have picked up Rickey Henderson and John Olerud. I mean, why go after Delgado when you can get Olerud? I know John is older, but so what. I guess I miss the Ventura-Ordonez-Fonzie-Olerud infield days. (Remember when they were on the cover of SI with the caption: “Best Infield Ever?”) And why couldn’t we get Rickey? The man needs to be in the majors, rather than playing for the Newark Bears, or sitting out like he did last season. Let Rickey continue to add to his SB record, and maybe he can surpass Bonds’ record for walks, as he’s currently only 112 back. But hey, instead, the Mets signed Doug Mientkiewicz (I know I’m going to garble his name all season, so I’ll call him Dougie M., which I’m sure he’d appreciate). I think he’ll be pretty solid at first. I’m hoping he can improve his hitting production as well. I’m sure Boston won’t really miss him what, with that whole, “I want to keep that World Series baseball as a souvenir.” And one final Mets note, I will miss Al Leiter. He was my favorite pitcher and a good leader in the clubhouse. I hope he's content in Florida.

Next up—the steroids issue. I just don’t understand why any athlete would inject or ingest these drugs. What could be more unsatisfying than knowing you have an unfair advantage over fellow ballplayers? I feel like Nancy Reagan in her “Just Say No” campaign. But seriously, why isn’t having a good personal trainer, a consistent gym routine and eating healthy good enough to compete? Now, this isn’t a personal attack on Barry Bonds or Jason Giambi—I’m sure they’re smart men…but they made a stupid decision to take steroids. Jim Thome, one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen, can smack a ball over 400 feet into the right field stands and he doesn’t need steroids (mind you, I have no proof he’s not taken steroids, but I’m hopeful he has not). Hank Aaron didn’t need steroids. Neither did Ted Williams. What has changed in baseball since those earlier times? Is it the focus on the long ball that has athletes wanting to take steroids? Is it individual selfishness for wanting bigger contracts and the need to secure a place in the record books? Or, is it owners who can be blamed for pressuring players because they (the owners) want to draw the masses back into the ballparks so they can see homeruns and high scoring games? The new drug testing policy went into effect March 3rd. According to, each player on a 40-man roster will be tested at least once each season beginning in spring training. “The program calls for year-round testing for steroids use and stricter penalties for a player who initially tests positive, a 10-day suspension without pay, and the public revelation of that player’s name.” Also, if the player tests positive a second time, they’re suspended for 30 days, 60 days for a third time offense, and a year for the fourth time.

Steroid use is definitely not going to go away (though statistics say that usage has declined since 2003) and is not an issue that we can just sweep under the rug. Baseball isn’t perfect, I realize even minus the steroid issue, not all players begin on an even field, so to speak. But this issue makes it worse by having some players at an unfair advantage over others. In the end, those who take steroids only end up hurting themselves and their fans. And, as Larry Beil of Sports Illustrated said, “You can start putting asterisks next to every hitting record in the last decade.”

And, last but not least, I would be remiss if I didn’t have anything to say about Roger Clemens. My award for “Crybaby of the Decade” goes to Roger Clemens who, in an article that I read a few days ago on Yahoo, stated that his decision to come back and pitch for Houston this year was “very heart wrenching.” Are you kidding me? I’d kill for an annual salary of $18 million. What a jerk, er, excuse me, what a wiener. Sorry buddy, I don't see how anyone can feel sorry for you. You’re the highest paid pitcher to date. I still think you should have stayed retired and spent time with your family. I'm sure you could survive on your wife’s earnings from her website (

So, that about wraps it up. Here’s to all the fans that have awoken from a winter slumber to a new baseball season. Here is to the warm summer evenings sitting with your friends in your home team’s ballpark. Here’s to overpriced beer, “not” dogs, knishes and pretzels. Yay! Baseball has returned!

Lisa Alcock has never taken steroids. Hell, it’s hard enough for her to remember to take her daily multi vitamin. She is very much looking forward to going to more than two Mets games this season.

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