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XP PSP so1e07: Go Berzerk

October 19, 2013 Leave a comment
Episode 7 of the eXPat Pro Sports Podcast is up and running. Nevermind how we got from episode 5 to 7 without a 6th show, that’s not your concern.
Panel: Dave Cunning, Harold Dale, Ryan Brown, Dan Nabben
In this episode, we discuss:
-Ilya Bryzgalov’s free agent woes, and getting cut – whether to stick with it or pack it in.
-Tim Thomas, taking a year off and expecting to pick up where he left off; who can actually do that.
-The guy in every sport on every team that’s a little off.
-Hertl’s goal, “The Code”, and what it means in different sports.
-The place of fighting in hockey and all sports.
-Whether the opinion of former players or analysts who didn’t play holds more weight than the other.
-Why the Chicago Cubs are allegedly superior to the Chicago White Sox.

A Clean Conscience Over Artificial Success?: The Steroid Sublimination.

February 7, 2010 4 comments

 

With Mark McGwire’s recent tearful admission of steroid use throughout his baseball career after plenty of speculation, we’ve all gone and (rightfully so) pointed our fingers, called McGwire and other players who have admitted (or that we speculate) taking performance enhancing drugs, as cheaters; tarnishing world class baseball, and to an extent, world class athletics and their athletes in the process.

Now lets get one thing straight before we go any further; these guys are cheaters.  But that’s not the major point I’d like to discuss.

Before we factor in the advantage of performance enhancing drugs, can we at least admit that these athletes are simply talented individuals, gifted in their field?  McGwire made some good, or at least arguable, points throughout his admission interview.  When Bob Costas asked him if he believes he could have hit the record breaking 70 homeruns, or his 600 career homeruns, without the assistance of drugs, McGwire replied,

You mean, it wasn't the milk afterall?

Absolutely. I was given this gift by the man upstairs; to hit home runs.  I started studied pitchers. I started understanding how they try to get you out. During that, my swing was changing. I started off as a raw kid, who had the ability to hit from the back leg and hit wall-scrapping home runs. Over the years, as you saw, my swing became shorter and shorter, and I learned how to hit through the baseball…  The only reason I took steroids was for my health purposes. I did not take steroids to get any gain for any strength purposes… I’ve always had bat speed. I just learned how to shorten my bat speed. I learned how to be a better hitter. There is not a pill or an injection that is going to give me the hand-eye – or give any athlete – the hand-eye coordination to hit a baseball. A pill or an injection will not hit a baseball… As I look back now I can see why people would say [that I cheated]. As far as the God-given talent and hand-eye coordination and the genetics I was given, I don’t see it [as cheating]… I look at my swing and look at how it evolved over time.  That’s from a lot of hard work. That’s from many, many hours of hitting off the tee. I was the first one to the ballpark and the last one to leave… I just believed in my ability and my hand-eye coordination. And I believed in the strength of my mind. My mind was so strong, and I developed that on my own. No pill or no injection is going to do that.”

Former McGwire teammate, Jose Canseco, recently spoke via Twitter on the admission interview.  Though he claimed McGwire hadn’t been entirely truthful about what he said, he did make some agreeable sentiments, saying,

“Bat speed, timing, hand eye coordination, balance…. you either have it or you don’t.  Talent and hard work are key components to success as a professional athlete. Steroids do help, but you have to have the foundation.”

A 2008 documentary entitled  “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*” made some interesting points that many people may not know; such as Tiger Woods’ laser eye correction to 20/15 vision, which gives him an very unfair advantage over his competitors.  Of course, he’s really good at golf for a lot of good reasons, but this seems like an unnecessary loophole, doesn’t it?  Does he need to be talented, and have the ability to see the cup from the tee box 500 yards away?

I really believe that the best players in sports are simply better than the rest of the people on the planet at what they do.  On a level playing field, not a lot of people would be anywhere close to as good at baseball as McGwire, or as Woods in golf, or any other celebrated athlete.  Those guys are just better than you.  The players I feel bad for are the ones with that raw talent who stayed clean through their careers but were only potential major league fringe players at best, but get beat out by another player of the same talent level that didn’t stay clean, and had to watch a cheater fulfill his dream instead of him.  At least those guys will have marbles for nuts in the end.

But beyond pro sports, some people use drugs called Beta Blockers, like Propranolol, to avoid stage fright, tremor, performance anxiety, panic, pounding heart, cold/clammy hands, increased respiration, sweating, and other conditions that could cause less than optimal performance.

Many professional musicians use these anxiety reducing drugs to calm nerves and increase focus prior to performances.   So next time you’re auditioning for a spot in a band, and that guy who was no good last month suddenly gets awesome at his instrument and beats you out for a spot and becomes a big rock star while you stay home playing Guitar Hero, maybe there’s more to it?

Even students use them to improve test, homework, and school scores.  Wouldn’t you hate to think that someone got the last spot into a prestigious school, or won some sort of competition over you because they were on something, and you weren’t?

Some doctors and surgeons use the same stuff before performing procedures.  Wouldn’t you want your doctor at the top of his or her game before opening you up and playing with your life?

So the question is, are these people cheating too?  If we shine the spotlight so prominently on baseball players, pro wrestlers, bodybuilders, and other professional athletes; should we not hold people competing in entirely different fields of play accountable as well?  Where should the line be drawn?  Why can Arnold Schwarzenegger do steroids, gain fame, become a movie star, and eventually a governor; why can Sylvester Stallone beef up with HGH for the latest Rocky installment, be a hero and make a ton of money; why can countless other people in other professions put these same substances in themselves without a word of objection from anywhere, but as soon as Bonds or Sosa hit an absurd amount of homeruns, all of a sudden their reputation is tarnished forever and everything they do gets an * beside it?  Both sides are putting on a show to “set an example for the kids”, but isn’t it interesting which people become the bad guys and which carry on as they were when the truth comes out?

 

Major League Baseball Bobbles and Blunders.

November 2, 2009 5 comments

A few thoughts on baseball before the Yankees win the World Series again (not saying I like them, but it’s inevitable at this point… sorry Philly Phanatics), and nobody cares about the sport for a couple of months.

Can you believe the Houston Astros play with a 90 foot wide incline in theearly retirement just waiting to happen.  middle of center field that also features an inanimate steel flagpole placed in the middle of it?  How many centerfielders, home and opposing teams alike, must just absolutely refuse to chase after a ball hit in that direction?  If there was ever a career ender, it would be running straight into that pole at 25km/h (average human running speed) while looking over your shoulder and trying to make a catch.  It’s known as “Tal’s Hill” after team president Tal Smith, who must not like centerfielders very much.  It would be a different matter if it was an amateur team in a low-budget league, and they had to build their field around this obstruction due to a city injunction (like the terraces at “Sulphur Dell” In Tennessee and Crosley Field in Cincinnati), but this is a world-class, professional, multi-million (billion?) dollar budget team and league that consciously chose to put this little gem in the middle of play.  It’s not like they can’t afford to do it right.  While they are classy little acknowledgements to historical figures, these “features” only serve to injure players who teams have already invested a pile of money in to make their team better; it just doesn’t serve any logical rationale as to why the team and the league would allow for these pending disasters.   

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Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra need to stop playing with their batting gloves before EVERY SINGLE PITCH and just hit already.  They’re on your hands, your fingers are in the holes, and the Velcro is done up – what more does a person require from a batting glove?  I understand the element of being in “The Zone” and the quirky rituals that players across all sports subscribe to to keep them mentally in check; but these guys are taking it a little too far, and bothering everyone who is forced to watch them every time they’re up to bat.

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Can the franchise known as the “Angels” please, once and for all, identify where they’re actually from?  Los Angeles Angels, California Angels, Anaheim Angels, and now… The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Luckily, they’ve played out of the same stadium since the 60’s, but if the casual fan didn’t know that, how in the heck are they supposed to know what city and field to go to to see his team play?

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Is there any chance of Major League Baseball adopting a home-run derby to settle deadlocks instead of extra innings, in the fashion of how the NHL reverts to a shootout to settle tie-games?  Is there any chance we could just change standard 9 inning baseball games directly to home-run derbies? Man, that’d be sweet.

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