Mike Trout Declares A Hardline Punishment For PEDs

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How many 22-year-old sports commissioners are you aware of? Judges? Lawmakers? Political pundits? Editorialists?

None. That’s how many. This is the inherent problem with giving weight to Angels’ star Mike Trout’s opinion as to what should happen to players who use performance enhancing drugs in baseball. He thinks they should be banned for life. Trout shared his views with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton yesterday and it made moderate headlines because of his status as the new face of baseball and his emerging greatness. Without Trout being such a huge star, no one would pay attention to what he says. They definitely wouldn’t listen to him if he was just a run-of-the-mill 22-year-old making an uninformed statement without having the education or life experience to back them up.

This has nothing to do with age discrimination, but these are the kinds of things young people say from a position of self-anointed knowledge based on a misplaced, inexperienced view of life. Whether it’s due to the safety of not having many responsibilities; because the bulk of one’s life is still in front of him or her; or having been asked a question that was probably not appropriate to be answered by someone so young, the reply has to be put into the context of the person who’s giving it. Trout is not in a position that other people would be in when coming to a determination of an appropriate punishment.

When a player is this talented, he has a tunneled view of life in how it relates to him. It’s the conceit of youth. Trout was in the majors at 19, an MVP candidate at 20 and a superstar at 21. He seems to think that everyone should do it clean because he’s doing it clean. Life doesn’t work that way though. What Trout is saying that any player who is trying to keep his career, earn a paycheck and do what many others are doing to keep his job should be banished for life. It’s akin to chopping off a thief’s hand for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Players have failed tests due to over-the-counter supplements that they didn’t realize had banned substances in their ingredients. Should they be banned forever? What about a 15-year-old kid from the Dominican Republic who grew up without shoes and used a milk carton as a glove taking a pill not knowing what it is, going only on the advice of a middle-aged white guy telling him that it’ll send him to the big leagues in half the time? Does he get suspended for life?

When Trout is 30, then maybe he’ll understand that he’s not going to have all the energy in the world to play 162 games, run hard on every play and do things that most players only dream about and still be able to live the off-field life of a guy just out of his teens. Perhaps he’ll have an injury someday—someday soon—that makes him realize that his gifts are extremely fragile and they can be taken away in an instant. Then he might be willing to do whatever is necessary to get back on the field and perform.

Trout is still waiting for his mega contract. He’s making $510,000 this season. It’s a lot of money for anyone, especially a guy who’s 22. As far as athletes go, it’s not a lot of money. When factoring in his production, it’s nothing. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll get a $250-300 million contract when his free agency comes up. Trout received a significant bonus of $1.215 million when he was drafted by the Angels. Not every player can say that. Not every player has Trout’s abilities. It’s not a simplistic situation where there should be an across the line penalty regardless of the circumstances and that penalty certainly shouldn’t be decided upon by a guy who’s in his second full year in the big leagues, no matter how great he is.


I Dunno Whys From Francesa vs Barber

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Mike Francesa conducted a classic interview with former football star and mediocre broadcaster Tiki Barber yesterday on WFAN in New York. You can hear the entire interview here—CBS Audio; and the relevant (juicy) bit below.

It’s good to know that Francesa can still do a bit more than rant, rave and clumsily try and bolster pre-season predictions with self-justifying, after-the-fact “analysis”.

I’m still waiting for the “Joba Chamberlain is a Tommy John pitchuh!!!” bellow. But for now, we’ve got Tiki.

Rather than rehash the interview, I have a series of “I dunno whys” to toss into the air.

Let’s take a look.

I dunno why Barber’s agent, Mark Leipselter was on the line.

Nor do I know why Lepselter talks with a deep Brooklyn accent; I could swear he said “aks” when he meant to say “ask”.

Lepselter’s presence on the call put Barber and Francesa on adversarial ground and there was no need for it. That he kept jumping in to protect his client is part of his job, but all it did was antagonize Francesa. Barber could’ve handled himself without his agent; it’s not like he’s been accused of a crime and needed to be shielded from self-incrimination.

I dunno why Francesa was so shady in his allegations.

It may or may not be true that Francesa has spoken to people at NBC who ripped Barber on his way out the door, but to reference “people I’ve spoken to” and to say “I know all of them” was weak and typical.

It’s not as if Francesa has a sterling history of providing the full context of these adolescently embellished stories he tells.

Barber was right—it was a cowardly and cheap. What could Barber say to defend himself from invisible people who were criticizing him? Nothing.

As for Francesa saying Barber was “fired”, there’s a difference between not having one’s contract renewed and being fired. It can be traced to semantics, but there is a difference.

I dunno why Tiki’s broadcasting career didn’t work.

I never watched Tiki Barber on the Today Show, but I can say that when a former player is as heavily-promoted and allowed to step into a job such as that, he’s got to be perfect and he’s got to bring in the viewers.

I couldn’t help but think back to Boomer Esiason’s much ballyhooed exit from the football field to the Monday Night Football booth. When Boomer was interviewed during the waning days of his playing career—I remember one in particular with NBC’s Len Berman—there was always a session of “tell Boomer how great he’ll be as a broadcaster”; Boomer would sit there with a grin on his face and knowing nod that, while saying “thank you”, he actually meant “tell me something I don’t already know”.

Boomer was a train wreck on MNF and Al Michaels loathed him; Boomer blamed everyone but the man he should’ve blamed—Boomer—because he wasn’t good. Period.

I dunno why there’s a reluctance to tell the truth.

I haven’t seen the HBO piece that spurred this blitz of spin-doctoring on the part of Barber and his agent, but from what I can gather Barber appeared depressed about his current circumstances.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of in that if he’s having personal problems with finances and relationships. If he has to return to football because of money, so what? Would that be such a terrible thing to say? This whole, “I love football and wanna come back” at age 36 is a bit farfetched.

No, it’s a lot farfetched.

The pure honesty would’ve played better with the public and made Francesa look bad in his aggression.

Barber’s agent should’ve known that.

It was a skillful collateral attack from Francesa, great radio and a bit sad that Barber was reduced to essentially groveling and trying to parry shots for which there was no effective counter.

Barber would’ve been better served to go on the radio—sans agent—told his story and been done with it. It probably wouldn’t have been as engaging, but would’ve served the initial purpose.

Barber and his agent are undoubtedly trying to frame this positively as we speak, but there’s little that can be done now short of retrospectives and making the best of a bad, embarrassing situation.

Barber and his agent botched this terribly.