2-18-09: Mailbag

Hello again everybody...

It's mid-week time again. Time for the downhill slog to the weekend. I don't know about you, but it can't come soon enough for me. I should've known coming into the last couple of weeks - but it unfortunately failed to occur to me - that 5 hours a day of "fill-in" hosts (2 hours of 12-3 applicants, and 3 hours of "Don for a Day") would end up being quite the grind. One learns quickly to appreciate experience in a host, and the ability to quickly get in a groove.

But I'm looking forward to the weekend for more than just getting away from the grind. Saturday's a big day. Not only do the Wild host the Detroit Red Wings (look for the first ever "dual" Running Game Commentary on Monday), but Saturday also marks the 20th edition of the MONDO Juggling Festival.

Now, I know that those of you who aren't already familiar with this festival are thinking: "A juggling festival?!" Yes, a juggling festival. I wish I knew how many years ago I first started attending this as a birthday present to one of my closest friends. But suffice it to say that it's been many years, and it's still some of the most fascinating people-watching that I've ever seen. And yes, over the course of the years, I've actually managed to learn to juggle. Well, sort of. I won't proclaim myself an expert, but I do okay. Put it this way, my 5-year-old nephew loves it when Uncle Dan starts juggling and then drops stuff. Simple entertainment. You can't beat it.

So yeah, I'm looking forward to the weekend!

But before we get there, I've got a couple of columns to bang out. And today, it's another edition of the Sports Take Mailbag. I put out a plea for Mailbag questions last week and got approximately 3276 questions about Alex Rodriguez. So I apologize if I don't get to all of them, but I'll try to encompass most of them with today's question. Off we go!

"When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice."
- Marquis de la Grange (1639-1692)

I can't find any biographical information on this guy. But trust me, the quote connects to the column.

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It's time once again to dip into the Sports Take Mailbag. Remember, if you've got a question about the wonder or the absurdity of sports, drop me an email at:, and I'll do what I can to satisfy your curiosity. As always, there are no dumb questions, just questions that will hopefully prompt entertaining answers on my part! Emphasis on: hopefully!

Today's question (or actually "series of questions") comes from David in Milwaukee:

Should MLB release the names of the 103 other players tested in '03? What about the 500 or so that came back clean? Does A-Rod's situation differ from McGwire and/or Bonds when considering Hall credentials? Who is this mysterious "cousin" of A-Rod's? Why is the sky blue? Why does that guy in Milwaukee keep asking questions?

Now that's a mailbag entry I can sink my teeth into! Thanks David!

First of all, let me state that I hate that I'm writing a second column about A-Roid, and I'm going to hate it when I write several more. But it's the story in sports these days, especially with his press conference yesterday. It annoys me to feel like I have to comment on it. But I'm hoping that by commenting on it, I'll manage to work through my annoyance. Does that make any sense?

First off, "should MLB release the names of the 103 other players tested in '03?"

My answer here is twofold: yes, I think those names need to come out, but no, MLB shouldn't be the ones to do it.

As I mentioned in a previous column MLB had a specific agreement with the Players Union that the results of those 2003 tests would be strictly confidential. And the union had promised their membership that those results would, in fact, be destroyed. That's the only way the agreement for testing was reached in the first place.

Those results weren't destroyed thanks to the federal case against Barry Bonds, and now an intrepid reporter has obtained at least A-Roid's name. And if someone was able to leak his name, it's presumable that someone, somewhere has the rest of the list as well.

So I don't think MLB should be the one releasing the rest of those names, as that would violate the terms of their initial agreement with the players. But I do think it's only fair that the other 103 names on that list be made to pay the same price as A-Roid is paying. And given the nature of investigative reporting today, it'll surprise me quite a bit if those names aren't brought to light sooner than later.

"What about the 500 or so that came back clean?"

We've seen a little bit of this, but if it was me, and I knew that I hadn't taken anything and hadn't ever tested positive? I'd be out in front of every camera and microphone I could find proclaiming my innocence. Players like Jamie Moyer and Roy Oswalt have come out firing at A-Roid. Not only were they proclaiming their innocence, but they were also taking shots at Rodriguez's Hall of Fame possibilities, and what the effect of his performance was on their numbers.

I'm not so sure this is the angle I'd take if I were them. I'm not saying they're wrong. But I don't think bitterness and anger sounds genuine from guys who kept their mouth shut throughout most of the era itself. If these guys were so concerned with what was going on, where were they 10 years ago, hell, 5 years ago when "chicks were digging the longball"?

I like guys coming out and saying, "I didn't do this and I don't want to be lumped in with the guys who did." But taking cheap shots at the guys who did now, when you kept your mouth shut before? I can't get with that.

"Does A-Rod's situation differ from McGwire/Bonds in terms of Hall of Fame credentials?"

Yes, it differs, but not in the way you might think.

Neither Mark McGwire, nor Barry Bonds have admitted to knowingly using any form of performance enhancing drugs. And yet, McGwire hasn't come close to being voted into the Hall in his two years of eligibility, and the conventional wisdom is that Bonds won't either, even though their numbers would certainly qualify them.

Whether one believes that A-Roid has been honest with the details surrounding his use or not, he's come forth with something resembling an admission and that could change the way in which he's viewed when his entrance to the Hall is up for consideration.

But I need to stress the word could. We're in foreign territory here. With Pete Rose's gambling, MLB passed a rule specifically banning him from eligibility for the Hall, so baseball writers weren't allowed to even consider him. Now, they're finding themselves in a position to decide whether they should be considering a player's ethics and morality when it comes to voting for the Hall.

The other major difference between Rodriguez and McGwire/Bonds and I guess we can throw Roger Clemens in there, since it's likely he'll be treated the same, is that the A-Roid revelation came in the prime of his career. With those other guys, all the talk of PED's came either towards the end of their career or after they'd retired.

That's an important distinction because A-Roid will have time on the field to overcome that nickname, while the rest of these guys can only rehab their image through interviews. If Alex can continue to put up numbers while being tested regularly, then he helps make his case that he deserves admission despite his PED usage. The other guys don't have that chance.

"Who is this mysterious 'cousin' of A-Rod's?"

This is where the quote connects! For those of you who didn't see Rodriguez's press conference yesterday, Alex claimed that it was his "cousin" who procured the illegal substance that Alex took. Apparently this was an "over the counter" drug in the Dominican Republic, and this "cousin" was able to purchase it there and bring it to the States for he and Alex to take.

First of all, let me declare right now, that if I ever get in a jam, I promise to all my cousins that I won't throw them under the bus in order to mitigate the heat I'm taking. Secondly, boy I sure hope that Alex's "cousin" knew this was coming. Because I guarantee you he's currently dodging a thousand different media organizations who are all trying to get "exclusive" photos and interviews with him. Sound fun to you? I didn't think so.

So I don't know who this guy is. But I do know that we'll be finding out in the next few days as everybody from ESPN to the Sun Sentinel will be trying to nail down everything anybody ever didn't want to know about him.

Finally, "why is the sky blue and why does this guy from Milwaukee keep asking questions?"

The sky is blue because of the chemical composition of the atmosphere and the manner in which it refracts the sun's light... or something like that.

This guy in Milwaukee was my freshman roommate in college and one hell of a supportive friend. And I hope he keeps asking questions because it makes writing these things a lot more fun for me!

So that's the latest on the A-Roid debacle. I hope that answered most of the questions I received. If you're still unclear on any of it and have nowhere else to turn, then I beseech you to drop me an email and you too can participate in the wonder of the Sports Take Mailbag!

That's all for today. Friday is time for another DFTU column. The Badgers are streaking in a good way finally as they take on Indiana Thursday night, I'll have an update on Friday! The Wild? Yeah, I'll have a Badger update on Friday! Until then, stay safe and thanks for reading!


  1. And maybe you could bring your nephew to Mondo and he could learn to juggle too. I'm sure he would love it!

  2. That's an excellent idea. Probably won't work this year, but I'll definitely keep it in mind for the future!

  3. I have no idea how long you've been coming, either. But...Unicycle Hockey! You didn't say ANYTHING about the Unicycle Hockey!

  4. I know. And that's probably an oversight on my part.

    But there are so many things to see, that I figured I'd just throw out "people watching" and cover them all in one shot.

    Besides, I knew I had people like you that would point them out!