Thursday, January 10, 2008

Integrity

Let's talk about integrity, friends. I am going to lecture you all about integrity. I feel that as some guy who searches the internet for bad sports writing and mercilessly bashes the somewhat-innocent writers of the pieces, I am mega-qualified to tell people the value of integrity.

Oh fuck it, I'm burning in hell. Let's let someone good, with high morals, like Jay Mariotti tell you why integrity is so important.

Bad time to acquire a juicer
Leadoff hitter could be perfect addition to awesome lineup, but admitted user of performance-enhancing drugs also would kill club’s integrity


I have never seen a worse subtitle in my entire life!

Let me correct that first clause real quick. It should say "leadoff hitter could be good addition to awesomely overrated and flawed lineup." (Soriano is just....not that good, folks! And I don't care what Soto did last year on a small sample either!)

Now, for the second, blatantly more wrong, blatantly more irrelevant, blatantly more completely idiotic part.

but admitted user of performance-enhancing drugs also would kill club’s integrity

Admitted user. Brian Roberts admitted to taking steroids. He publicly came clean. Admitting when you have done something wrong is a SIGN of integrity, not a detractor from it! How would he "kill club's integrity?" He's not juicing now! You, on the other hand, once lied and said Torii Hunter was better than Nick Swisher, just to try to make your for-some-reason archrival Kenny Willaims look bad. Who has more integrity, Brian Roberts, or Jay Mariotti?

Is it possible a man can use steroids only once? Does he feel a needle pierce the hide of his buttocks and realize, right then and there, that he has violated his conscience and made a grievous mistake? Are we really expected to believe someone smokes weed only once, drinks and drives only once and embezzles an employer only once before suddenly finding religion?

Jay, those things happen all the time! I know tons of people who have smoked weed only once and said "hey man, that's not for me." Some people drink and drive, then remember just how dangerous it is and don't do it again! Some people don't feel how wrong an action is, like embezzling an employer, until they actually do it! Did you really just write that? Really? Then again, you once said that John Paxson should be fired and the Bulls nucleus dismantled after continued improvement in 4 straight seasons. So maybe we shouldn't take what you say to heart too much.

Such is the claim of Brian Roberts, who could be a Cub by the time you read this. Last month, Roberts was named as a steroids user on Page 158 of George Mitchell's report probing baseball's juice era. He didn't comment immediately, waiting a full five days before revealing he'd used performance-enhancers.

That FIEND! He kept the nation guessing for 5 FUCKING DAYS before coming clean! I bet you waited less time than that to write an entire "sports" column about how Rick Morrissey is stalking you.

Only once, of course.

``In 2003, when I took one shot of steroids, I immediately realized that this was not what I stood for or anything that I wanted to continue doing,'' Roberts said. ``I never used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing drugs prior to or since that single incident. I can honestly say before God, myself, my family and all of my fans, that steroids or any performance-enhancing drugs have never had any effect on what I have worked so hard to accomplish in the game of baseball."


A very open confession. Given no hard evidence at all to the contrary, there is little reason not to believe Roberts. Jay has tried to convince the world of stranger things, on the other hand, like that time he said the Bears would be better off losing football games for reasons besides getting a better draft pick. Is anyone besides FireJay giving you the third degree about that one, JayBird?

The problem I have with his impassioned confession is that it also exposes his bold-faced lie.

No it doesn't. I literally can't wait for what you're about to say. And besides, you lie all the time. Remember when you said Chris Duhon was better than Kirk Hinrich?

When the great snitch Jason Grimsley told federal agents in 2006 that Roberts was a user of anabolic steroids, he flatly denied it.

So we're supposed to believe Jason Grimsley, the perpetual blowhard who was one of the steroid ringleaders, and not Roberts? That's crazier than that time you said that the Sox were cheapskates for not overbidding for big fat overrated Torii Hunter (he isn't fat, I'm sorry, that was a lie. See why I'm having Jay teach you aboiut integrity instead?).

Side note: why is Roberts's denial evidence of his guilt?

``His accusations are ridiculous,'' Roberts said then. ``We've had steroid testing, and I've taken all the tests. There is no point in getting into verbal wars. That's all there is to say.''

A very mature, evidence-filled reply. It wasn't an outstanding argument or anything, like that time Jay said David Eckstein would vastly improve the White Sox, but you know, it was alright.

So now, as the Cubs consider making a major deal with the Baltimore Orioles for Roberts, we're supposed to conveniently forgive this episode as one simple, human mistake? He didn't tell the truth, people.

Yes! Forgive it! There's no reason not to! Especially because he isn't juicing now! And you can't say that Roberts didn't tell the truth, because you have absolutely no proof of it. Something Jason Grimsley said might either be false, or he might have based it on the one time that Roberts did use steroids. You are literally just looking for reasons not to like things Chicago sports teams are doing. I'm even more disappointed in you than that time you said football fans shouldn't be passionate about their team!

And after the Mitchell Report, he again waited a good while before noticing others were confessing guilt and deciding to come out himself. This is not called being forthright. This is called trying to cover your syringe-poked butt before something else might be said.

He waited 5 fucking days! That's all! That's not even a week! Saying Joe Torre would boost the 72-90 White Sox to a 90-win season before they made any offseason moves isn't being forthright either! It's dodging the issues with the team and spewing wrongitude as a futile attempt to attack Ozzie Guillen!

We have reached a fascinating juncture, then, as baseball observers. Facing Cubdom is an ethical debate far removed from the usual beertap arguments, such as when a manager should pull a starting pitcher or if the girl in the halter top looks better than the girl in the t-shirt. What is more important: (a) trying to win your first World Series in 100 years by acquiring an elite leadoff hitter and second baseman, which would let Lou Piniella drop Alfonso Soriano to third in the batting order and create a powerful lineup; or (b) maintaining integrity as an organization during a scandalous period in baseball history?

"Elite leadoff hitter" is a bit of a stretch. And why choose one when you could have both! The only way you could add a player and not maintain integrity is if you added a guy that was secretly still doing drugs! (or like, some guy who steals things from teammates' houses) Roberts isn't! This sounds like a healthy dose of your Ashton Kutcher-related bullshit.

I choose integrity.

That is the most fucking ironic thing I have ever seen! Sweet! I love it when extreme things happen!

You didn't choose integrity that time you claimed the DBacks were beating the Cubs using "grinderball".

Nor did you choose integrity when you chose to write an entire column accusing the White Sox of using anti-Mariotti propaganda (imagine the irony!).

General manager Jim Hendry, sadly, has chosen the .290 batting average and 50 stolen bases. And my guess is, most Cubs fans are siding with Hendry.

THAT IS BECAUSE MOST CUB FANS AREN'T COMPLETE RETARDS THAT CAN'T FORGIVE SOMEONE FOR ONE INSTANCE OF USING STEROIDS AFTER THEY APOLOGIZED AND CAME CLEAN!

Maybe, just MAYBE, they're as excited about Brian Roberts for playing baseball well as I was when Larry found that blip on Deadspin about someone paying $15/year to make www.retardedvagina.com link to your column.

If so, those people are hypocrites.

FUCK THE HECK!?!??! Jay calling someone ELSE a hypocrite is probably the most hypocritical thing in the history of hypocritical things.

You clearly have forgotten that time on July 5 that you suddenly decided Piniella was the best manager ever after bashing him for 2 straight months.

You can't decry the Steroids Era in one breath, then cheer wildly when your ballclub acquires one of the stars of the Mitchell Report.

Roberts was not a "star" of the Mitchell Report. Clemens, Segui, Grimsley. Those men are stars. Roberts was something of an afterthought.

You can't claim the White Sox had no injury problems in 2007 and that the manager is responsible for their losing since July 2, 2006 when neither of those things are true!

Hendry was relieved when no current Cubs were listed in the report, but dealing for Roberts would smear that record.

HOW? The reason Hendry was relieved that no current Cubs were listed in the report was because he didn't want to find out that one of his guys was secretly, unbeknownst to Hendry, using steroids. Hendry knows Brian Roberts was in the Mitchell Report and has accepted that. It's a completely different scenario than if Hendry traded for Roberts before the report was released. Just like when you said it would have been a completely different scenario in the ND vs Georgia Tech game if only Charlie Weis had ::gasp:: revealed to the public that Demetrius Jones would be the starting QB!

This isn't a player with a drug or alcohol problem being given a second chance to conquer his disease. No, this is someone who made a conscious decision to use steroids as recently as five years ago, when everyone knew the juice was sinful.

Anyone else completely lost here? Like, why is the sentence about the "player with a drug or alcohol problem" in here. Like, is he saying the Cubs should want someone who is being given a second chance to cure a drug/alcohol addiction, but not a guy who used steroids once 5 years ago and apologized for it and for sure isn't doing it anymore? That makes less sense than saying Tony LaRussa could fix the White Sox.

Won't another leadoff hitter be on the market eventually? Isn't Mark DeRosa a solid second baseman for now? Why sacrifice your soul for a .377 on-base percentage?

Scene: Hell, 3 years after Hendry's death.

Hendry: Where did you guys go wrong in life?

Adolf Hitler: I persecuted the Jews and caused the death of millions of people.

Osama Bin Laden: I ordered that attack on the Twin Towers in New York. Lots of terror and lives lost.

Adolf & Osama: What did you do to piss off God, Jim?

Hendry: I um....::gulp:: traded for Brian Robe--

Hitler: No! Not Brian Roberts!

Osama: That guy who used steroids and came clean about it???

Hendry: I know, I know. I realized I was submitting myself to eternal damnation by doing so.....but he had that .377 OBP in 2007.....

Hitler: That's just a horrific and inexcusable sin! C'mon Osama, this guy's a lunatic, let's get out of here.

End scene.

Pretty ridiculous right? Not as ridiculous as that time Jay said that a baseball that rolled in from the bullpen was cursed because "baseball" starts with the letter "b", but still, pretty insane.

``Absolutely, you don't take it lightly, and you try to be aware of it,'' Hendry said recently in his only post-Mitchell comments. ``But you can't go to bed every night thinking about, `Gee, I heard back in '01 that this guy might have done that,' or, `Gee, I wonder about that report from the thing that came out in Orlando.' I'm sure there are people that have done certain things that we would all feel weren't maybe appropriate or proper at the time. We have no idea who they are. You can't speculate on who did what or who did this.''

Okay, everybody, deep breath. I'm not even going to make a Family Guy-esque transition into a previous Jay column. This has been an insanely long post, and we just heard a voice of reason.

Ready? Okay. Proceed.

Speculation, this is not. Even if Roberts is described almost universally in baseball circles as a fine human being, he is stained by his mistake.

Yes, there's no arguing that. But the man came clean, and one instance of using steroids is no fucking excuse to throw out the fact that he's a good guy. That compliment has no business in an "even if Roberts..." clause. Just like writers have no business constantly slamming a manager and blaming him for things for which he's not responsible, like players being old and terrible.

And with the catfight between Roger Clemens and trainer Brian McNamee soon to reach the Congressional stage -- Jerry Springer wants to do a live show from Capitol Hill, I hear -- steroids again will be the dominant topic in spring training. Do the Cubs really want their newly acquired steroids guy to be a national story line in Arizona? Do they want their moral code and value system questioned? How do the prospective new owners feel about inheriting one of Mitchell's poster boys?

There is almost zero chance of Brian Roberts becoming a "national story line in Arizona." I have no idea where you got the idea that this was going to happen. Just like I have no idea where you got the idea that Paul Konerko was the only position player you could definitively pencil in for 2008 when A.J. Pierzynski and Jim Thome were both under contract for that year.

Strictly as a baseball hire, Roberts would be a treasure for the Cubs. Imagine an order of Roberts, Kosuke Fukudome, Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Geovany Soto, Felix Pie and Ryan Theriot. Relinquishing two young pitchers, Sean Marshall and Sean Gallagher, and shortstop Ronny Cedeno would seem well worth the price under normal circumstances. Roberts would cement the Cubs' position as National League Central favorites and legitimate pennant contenders. But you'd also have to draw an * in the second-base dirt before every game.

1. Lineup is good, not great. Fukudome and Soto are question marks. Pie and Theriot are bad hitters.

2. The performances that Brian Roberts will give in 2008 are not under the influence of steroids, as are the historical records you're referencing, so this asterisk crap doesn't hold water.

3. Did you determine that Roberts would be worth the price using your Lou-bik's Cube?

Roberts is someone you want to forgive, someone you want to like. Even Curt Schilling, who seems to hate everyone (including himself), wrote on his sinister little blog that he feels terrible for Roberts. ``Brian Roberts worked as hard as anyone I've ever been around," Schilling wrote. ``Not to mention he's about as kind and giving as anyone you'll ever meet. I know how regretful he is and I know that this mistake is not indicative of his choice making in life. He screwed up, knows he screwed up and admitted it."

Here's a thought, Jay. Putting more and more evidence that Roberts is a good guy into your column is not exactly a good way to win support for your "Roberts is a shady dude" argument. Just like when you are arguing that the White Sox are underperforming, you should ask yourself if they were predicted to be any good in the first place.

For example, when I made a prediction about you writing a bad column about the Michael Barrett trade, and you somehow didn't do it, you overperformed expectations.

That, he did.

So what is your problem with Roberts??? What is it going to take for you to just accept him for who he is as a player? It's like when you wrote an entire column about the ongoing drama between Zambrano and Barrett last season. You're looking to write about anything but baseball itself! And when you do write about it, it's the same crap over and over again!

``I am very sorry and I deeply regret ever making that terrible decision," Roberts said. ``I have worked very hard to develop a good reputation both on and off the field. I have always taken pride in being a man of integrity and values. I know that by being a professional athlete, I am held to a very high standard. I never have and never will take that for granted. However, I am also human and I have made mistakes."

This Roberts quote is somehow supposed to prove your point? After reading your column, I almost couldn't be more convinced of Brian Roberts's innocence, just like you couldn't have been more convinced that Lou Piniella wouldn't last past Labor Day, 2007.

You should really stick to what you're good at (like making fun of Hawk Harrelson), because it isn't arguing via writing.

Next year, maybe I'd feel different. Maybe there would be enough distance. But with Clemens in steroids hell and Barry Bonds headed for a landmark court case, this is no time to acquire Page 158 of the Mitchell Report.

So wait.....if you're 5 years removed from taking steroids, you should not be traded for. But 6 years removed, well that's just an entirely different story! Oh Jay, that's senseless! Like telling the Bulls to lose every game until they're ready to win a title.

So as you all can see, there are few figures in sports more filled with integrity than Jay Mariotti. I sure learned a lot today from him, and I'm sure you all have too! Join us next time when Bill Simmons preaches against using anecdotal bullshit and blatant homerism in arguments!

9 comments:

pnoles said...

I hope everyone has enjoyed the memories of every Mariotti-related post we've ever put up on here. I decided to do it in honor of his 30th tagged post! This was a fucking masterpiece of JayBird moronisms.

Tonus said...

I guess I can understand giving Roberts the third degree over his steroid use and some of the other stuff Jay wrote. But I don't understand how you can favorably compare drug/alcohol abusers the way he did. Does he really think that someone like Steve Howe would've been better for a team's integrity than someone like Roberts? Darryl Strawberry? Dwight Gooden? They get second chances ahead of a Brian Roberts? Really?

cs said...

Masterfully done

stevekerr said...

Awesome. Just awesome.

And if it is possible for a team's "reputation" to be harmed by having a steroid user (which I don't, other than MAYBE in the case of Barry Bonds), wouldn't the Cubs' already be ruined by having Sammy Sosa as the face of their franchise for all those years?

matt said...

I find it hard to give Roberts credit for coming clean given the sequence of events.

If Roberts was truly "coming clean," wouldn't he have admitted his one-time usage after the first allegations from Grimsley? To my mind, he doesn't get points for integrity for only admitting he did something wrong after he was essentially caught.

In fact, I'd dock him fictional "integrity points" for so adamantly denying Grimsley's claim when in fact he was a past user of steroids, on however limited a scale. At best Roberts was greatly equivocating, at worst bold face lying.

Jon said...

Extremely solid piece. My god, Marrioti sucks.

pnoles said...

matt - I respect your opinion.... I was getting the opposite vibe, however, primarily because Mariotti is on your side, and he argued it so shittily.

Brian said...

So Roberts lied; I find it hard to fault him for that. Either he lies and maybe this potentially career-threatening rumor goes away, or he tells the truth and potentially gets black-balled. Hmmm, tough choice.

pnoles - for years, I've been trying to find a link to the article in 1999 where Mariotti said that the Bears should definitely use their 1st pick on QB Cade McNown. Have you ever linked to that column or know where I could find it? It was probably 1 to 2 weeks before the draft that year.

pnoles said...

Wow.....I wish.

I don't think there's any way to find Mariotti's columns from longer than a month ago (unless someone linked it from somewhere) The only way to do it I think is to have the url preserved, or crack the Sun-Times' pattern/code/whatever for assigning URLs to Mariotti's columns.