Friday, February 18, 2005

Giambi, A-Rod, and the Curse of Ricky Bottalico

Chris, the proprietor of Red Sox blog From Back Bay to the Promised Land, had this to say about Jason Giambi earlier this week, in the comments section:
OK, so now that we've had a few days to chew on it, was it worth it for Giambi to show up last Thursday? I've tossed this around a bit on my blog, and with some convincing I can appreciate Giambi's need to protect his legal position. But if he can't say he's sorry, why should he be asking people for forgiveness? If he has nothing to give Yankee fans, he doesn't deserve jack shit in return.

Personally, I would go further to say that if he knowingly cheated the game, he doesn't deserve forgiveness even if he does properly ask for it. But that's just one Bostonian's opinion.

This, naturally, was in reaction to Jason Giambi's non-news conference last week, where he mysteriously apologized for wrongs he could not mention. The whole thing was kinda stupid and bizarre. Giambi's agent, Arn Tellem, was there to suggest that you could infer what Jason was talking about, even if he wasn't talking about it. Joe Torre was there to keep a straight face and lend an undeserved air of dignity to the proceedings. And Brian Cashman was there, I'm sure, to tear up Giambi's contract on the spot if the Giambino admitted to steroid use.

Didn't I warn everyone about this?

Was it worth it for Giambi to show up at this press conference? Sure. Jason got his first bit of public exposure out of the way, under very controled circumstances. Until last Thursday, Giambi was a guy that had "gone into hiding" after his grand jury testimony was leaked to the press. He was a coward, ducking the mighty New York media.

Now, he's gone on the record. Not that he's actually placed much on the record, but now the reporters know that he's not commenting on the grand jury story except to say that he told the grand jury the truth. (That's a really brave position to take, since the alternative is admitting you committed perjury.)

Still, this one silly, awkward appearance will pay dividends down the road. If some reporter tries to give him the Jim Gray treatment around the batting cage at Legends Field, Giambi can point out that he has apologized, and that he's not allowed to say anything further. It's not a solution to his problems, but it defuses the situation somewhat.

As for whether Giambi deserves forgiveness...not yet, anyway. Part of apologizing is acknowleging what you did wrong. Until Jason can tell us what the heck he's apologizing about, it's an empty gesture. Hitting some steroid-free home runs might also be a nice way of making amends, at least to Yankee fans.

Was being on the juice, pre-2003, cheating? MLB didn't have any rules against steroids, but they were, nonetheless, illegal drugs (on a lower restricted schedule than cocaine, if I recall correctly). Unlike the acclaimed chatterbox, Jose Canseco, you get the feeling from the leaked BALCO testimony that Giambi knew that what he was doing was wrong, when he was doing it. At the same time, Giambi seems to have received his punishment, in the form of tumors, patellar tendonitis, parasites, and staph infections of the eyes. So it's hard to sit in judgment.

Because of Giambi's non-apology last Thursday, the day of judgment has been postponed. We'll see what happens if Jason can ever admit what he's sorry for.


The off-season's big pasttime for Boston Red Sox players has been baiting the Yankees, and specifically Alex Rodriguez. First, Curt Schilling lit into Alex with some unprovoked negativity, and now Trot Nixon has gotten into the act.

It'd be easy to go into some rant on having class and acting like you've been there before. The fact is, I think that the Boys in Soxland have taken to picking on Alex because it's an easy applause line for their audience in the Red Sox Nation. In politics, they call this "pandering to your base."

Still, Trot's an odd choice to tear down A-Rod, particularly since Alex outhit him handily in the ALCS. At least Schilling had the whole "stigmata ankle" thing going, which pretty much entitles him to say whatever he pleases, no matter how silly it sounds, until the day of his retirement.

Just like with this rivalry after the Aaron F'ing Boone ALCS in 2003, some things, we'll just have to settle on the field. My advice to Rodriguez is to save the newspaper clippings, and take extra batting practice. Everyone talks big in February. We'll see where things stand in October.


Earlier, I posted with great pride a link to my PTP at Baseball Prospectus. Looking back, I see at least one detail that leaves me red-faced. In the Marlins section, comparing the 2005 Mets and the 2005 Marlins, I have Ricky Bottalico as the Mets' 3rd-best reliever.

That wouldn't be an undefendable proposition, if Bottalico hadn't signed with the Brewers in mid January.

We'll have to chalk this one up as E-10 (writer, bobble). Not the first, and certainly won't be the last.


Chris said...

Dude, thanks for the props. With another week's hindsight, I guess it was worth something to Giambi, because for some reason I can't understand people seem to think he really did apologize. Personally, I'm puzzled that the sacrosanct "Yankee Mystique" can be mollified by such empty gestures, but as they say, perception blah blah blah reality blah blah blah. We Sox folk do have the luxury of no mystique whatsoever. None. And though that only comes with a lot of losing, it makes life less complicated since nobody ever feels the need to apologize to the uniform.

BTW, I love your image of Cashman sitting in the wings, ready to tear up Giambi's deal as soon as the forbidden words are uttered!

Chris said...

p.s. Nobody in Sox land with a whit of sense wants to engage on this anti A-Rod sniping. I liked it for a day, when Nixon took umbrage at some of A-Rod's haughtier quotes, and even indulged on my blog, but it is SOOOO weary now. Thank god Tito ordered the team to shut up.