Scandals, Controversies, etc.

The 1919 Black Sox scandal is one of the biggest scandals in sports history.  During that year 8 members of the Chicago White Sox were banned from baseball for life for throwing games to give the series to the Cincinnati Reds.  The players were to be paid large sums of money for throwing the games by having New York gangster Arnold Rothstein use his money to bet on the Reds winning.  The players were more motivated to get paid to throw the games because their owner, Charles Comiskey, was quite the penny pincher.  The term Black Sox most likely either comes from people and the press giving the White Sox a more tarnished name to fit the circumstance or could also come from Comiskey refusing to pay for the players’ uniforms to get cleaned so when the players didn’t wash them for several games the unis had a darker color to them.  Shoeless Joe Jackson’s participation in the scandal is still debated although he was one of the eight to be banned for life.  For me the stats and bits point to him NOT being a part of the scandal.  George “Buck” Weaver was innocent but the league banned him for knowing and not turning them in even though the manager clearly knew.

I watched the film Eight Men Out” which is based on the incident.  I thought it was decent, nothing outstanding.  It’s good for giving you a perception of what was going on, and it does have a good cast with Charlie Sheen and John Cusack in it, but it doesn’t compare to other great baseball movies for me like Field of Dreams or Sandlot.

Pete Rose was given a lifetime ban from baseball for betting heavily, $10,000 a day according to the Dowd Report, while he was playing with and managing the Cincinnati Reds.  He later admitted in 2004 to these charges in his book My Prison Without Bars, also saying that he always bet for the Reds.  Hank Aaron has been promoting his reinstatement recently.  I just took an espn poll, and 77% of people thought he should be reinstated with 9,841 votes.  In the

The head-first dive by Rose.

The head-first dive by Rose.

same poll, 72.7% said they thought performing enhancing drugs are a worse transgression than betting in your sport.  Honestly, I think he should be reinstated.  The commissioner who originally banned Rose died 8 days afterwards.  If he didn’t die, he might have reinstated him later.   Rose played mostly with the Reds from 1963 to 1986 and was a 3 time World Series Champion  along with a 17 time All Star.  He holds the all-time record for career hits with 4,256 (only him and Ty Cobb have broken the 4,000 mark), and also has records for games played and total at bats.  He had a career average of .303 and won the batting title 3 times.

George Steinbrenner, former owner of the Yankees, was banned for life in 1990 for paying a private investigator $40,000 to get dirt on Dave Winfield after Winfield sued him for not paying him money guaranteed in his contract (which he ended up getting).  As far as I can tell, there’s not much dirt to get on Winfield to begin with.  I respect the guy.  I liked him as a player, andI like his commentary on baseball tonight.  Steinbrenner was reinstated 3 years later after Bud Selig replaced Fay Vincent as commissioner.  Also, Steinbrenner was whining in a comment that he wasn’t getting production out of Winfield and Griffey, which lead Griffey Jr. to say the Yankees would be a team that he’d never play for.  Finally, Steinbrenner forced Don Mattingly to sit the pine for a game in 1991 because he refused to cut his hair.

Amphetamines (named “greenies” by players for the color of the pill) were banned by the MLB in 2006.  Greenies were introduced in the 1940s.  They are addictive and can cause heart attacks or strokes, but players use(d) them to increase focus and energy.    It wasn’t until 1970 that the pills were found to be harmful.  A coffee pot marked with “Hot” in the clubhouse would often be spiked with amphetamines.  They’re one of those things where you know they’ve been around in baseball but sort of a hushed thing–it might be news to a mediocre baseball fan that they’ve been around for so long and are so common.   I don’t have any numbers on how many players use them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s around 40-50%.  Since they are now banned, players will certainly have to adjust without using them. It’s a 162 game season, getting as few as 2 or 3 off days a month.  Legal supplements, energy drinks? It makes you wonder if there are any solid players out there who are completely “clean”–have never used greenies or steroids, just flat out work hard and have put up big numbers.

Jose Canseco. Was he a snitch, or did he do good for baseball? Yeah, he did need money, he seems to be one to like attention, and he certainly doesn’t say much about clean players.  And I believe there are clean players out there and he knew some of them.  But all in all I think it was better for baseball that it all got out.  It was better for it to get out than to explode later on.  I see truth in his statements, most of what he says makes sense, and it’s crushing to hear those things as a baseball fan, but I want the truth.  I haven’t read his book yet but look forward to giving it a try.

Random fact:  Alcohol was prohibited in the U.S. from 1919 to 1933.  Just found that out..

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