Ask Gary: Do PEDs help overcome DNA?

by Gary Shelton on March 26, 2016 · 3 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

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Saturday, 6 a.m.

Assuming that Jose Canseco's identical twin brother Ozzie never took PEDS up through the end of the 1993 MLB season, then can one assume that the "value add" of PEDs is 462 MLB home runs -- the number that Jose hit?

Scott Myers

That's only one variable, Scott. There are also genetics at work. Otherwise, how do explain that Hank Aaron was better than Tommy? That Joe DiMaggio was such a better player than Dom? That Felipe Alou was better than Jesus? That Clete Boyer was better than Cloyd? That Cal Ripken was better than Billy? All of

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those except for the Ripkens happened back in the day before chemicals.

In most families, one brother is bigger than the other, or faster, or stronger. One brother might be more driven. One might be luckier.  But often, one brother turns out to be Greg Maddux and the other turns out to be Mike. One brother turns out to be Felipe Alou and the other turns out to be Jesus. It happens.

I'll be honest. I'm not a biochemist. I don't know how much of a 500-foot home run is because of steroids. One hundred feet of the distance? Forty? Four hundred? Obviously, it helps, or players wouldn't have put the needles in their butts.

Mark McGwire once swore to a writer I knew that the drugs helped him more recovering from workouts. But if you go by his numbers before he juiced and after, PEDs probably helped McGwire as much as anyone. I certainly don't think A-Rod would be near the home run record without them.

Joe Maddon always had an interesting take. He thought that since baseball had removed most of the juicers that was easier for small market teams, because they couldn't afford the big bangers anyway. It leveled the field. The only thing left is for the rest of us to decide where we shut the Hall of Fame doors. After all, this was as much because of baseball and those who ran it as it was the cheaters.

But, Scott, here's a question. How do we know that Ozzie didn't do steroids, too?

After the Rays beat the Cuban national baseball team manager Cash said "We won't experience anything like this again." Was he referring to winning?

Howard Powders

Hah. That was mean-spirited and wicked. I wish I had said it.

Actually, I thought the Rays were very good on this trip. You can bring flowers to a First Lady without endorsing her politics. You can enjoy the people without embracing communism. You can swap jerseys without saluting Castro. Every doubt I had about the wisdom of playing this game disappeared by the way the Rays handled themselves.

But, you know, next year would just be another game if, say, the Brewers took their turn. Or the Mariners. Or the Marlins. Even if the Rays were to go back, nothing's the same as the first time.

I do think we all learned a lesson about the Cuban team. A lot of their stars are already here. What's left isn't the powerhouse of the national reputation.

As for the Rays, I think they'll win some. I don't think they'll win enough, however.

I am of the opinion that being on Hard Knocks is a major distraction for any NFL team trying to prepare for the upcoming season. So share with me, if you will, the positive aspects of being on Hard Knocks for the coaches and the players.

Cecil DeBald

Start with ego. Some coaches, some owners, some players just like to be seen on TV. Some of them are more liable to say outrageous things.

But I agree. If I ran a team, I certainly wouldn't want to do it on TV. I wouldn't want to be discussing cuts while the cameras rolled. It's hard enough.

Has a team ever really profited from being on Hard Knocks? Has there ever been a Super Bowl winner whose team was galvanized by being on the tube?

Look, if being on TV helped, the cast of Criminal Minds would have won last year's Super Bowl, right?

Almost time for the Rays to play for real — who are your choices for biggest surprise to make the opening day roster, and biggest surprise to not make the opening day roster?

Cecil DeBald

The biggest surprise will probably be a member of the bullpen. He might not even be a member of the Rays at this point.

The biggest surprise not to make? I'm afraid it's going to be Mikie Mahtook. I just don't think there is room for him to play enough with the additions of Corey Dickerson, Steve Pearce and Logan Morrison.

For a team that was 80-82, however, the Rays are fairly well set. You might raise an eyebrow at the third catcher -- will Rene Rivera beat out Hank Conger? Who knows who the final outfielder will be? Brandon Guyer? And we all want to know what the team does with James Loney.

Know you've covered many Master's Tournaments in your career — can you share one or two moments that will forever stay with you when you think of Augusta?

Cecil DeBald

Like everyone, I love the back nine. I can see where some spectators have asked to be buried there. I loved the par-3 on Wednesday, where fans would urge players to skip a ball across the water. I loved the Eisenhower tree. It was one of the few events in the world where the course was as big a star as the athletes.

I covered the Masters a long time. In the beginning, we worked out of a glorified shed, where we ate pimento cheese sandwiches. But it grew up around us.

What do I remember? I remember good Tiger, and I remember bad Tiger. I remember him dominating the tournament, and I remember his press conference after his flagrant affairs. We were all jammed into the room, and everyone's hand was in the air the entire time. But the moderator just kept calling on familiar faces who he knew and who he trusted to ask "safe" questions. The next day, a writer for the Times -- who had never been to Augusta National -- wrote that the writers were soft on Tiger. Well, not all of us.

I remember the Martha Burke year. There was one guy with a sign that said "iron my shirt" on one side and "make my dinner" on the other. Someone asked his name, and he made up one of those names that, when you look at it, is borderline obscene. But it got into two online publications, including ESPN.

I remember talking to Jack Nicklaus after he had lost a grandson. I remember following Arnold Palmer on his final round. I remember them calling slow-play on a young Chinese golfer. I saw Phil Mickelson win. There is a lot of drama in a weeklong tournament, enough that you don't noticed the rich, privileged barons walking the grounds. Most of the time.

Filip Bondy, formerly of the New York Daily News, and I shared a house in Augusta. It was cool. We're neither party boys, but he's good company.

When Yzerman didn't trade Stamkos at the deadline, I really thought that we were going to re-sign him. Now I am having doubts. If he walks away after the season, are we just SOL? Or do we get compensatory draft picks or something?

Jim Willson

No, he's a free agent. He can walk away with no compensation.

An NHL scout I know told me that he thought Stamkos was gone, that if the team and player were going to do something, there has been plenty of time. It's a shame, because Stamkos is the voice of perspective in that locker room. And he can still put the puck in the net better than anyone on that team.

But the team looks at Stamkos and they see that a guy who has to have help manufacturing his shot. I know that Jeff Vinik has spent some time with Stamkos recently, and so I have hope. But if the team is going to pay $2 million or so less per year, you can't blame him for leaving.

It's a shame. You don't get your hands on many stars in the NHL. I'd love to see the Lightning hang onto what they have.

I see that the Glazers are saying that the new indoor facility should be ready by 2017. The new One Buc seemed to take forever. What takes them so long to actually do these type of projects? There are so many Glazers -- surely they can multitask.

Jim Willson

I think there is a realization that they get one shot at this. They don't want to build it and then think 'you know, we needed a bigger weight room.' I think they want to study the facilities that are out there before they act.

Besides, there are so many Glazers that it takes time to plan all of the office space. Right?

Do you think that the Forbes financial figures for the Rays are anything close to accurate?

Jim Willson

There is no way to know unless the team is put up for sale. But my gut feeling is that they aren't far off. I have zero doubt that the attendance stinks, and zero doubt that -- because of the lease of the Trop -- that they're one of the least-valuable teams in major league baseball.

Think of it like this: You and I and a really rich guy are going to buy a baseball team. Wouldn't you pay more for the Yankees and Mets and Red Sox and Dodgers and Cubs? Maybe you could quibble with the Marlins or Astros, but it isn't like you can look at the list and say "Wow, they really under-valued those Rays."

The warehouse stadium. The empty stands. The constant selling of stars. The one eye always on the budget. All of those things bring down the price of the team.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cecil March 26, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Thanks for the Masters comments, Gary. Also agree with Mikie, know we’re doing what we can to mount an offense, but it does bother me that we have traded for and drafted offensive players lately, and now that they are ready there is no place for them because we signed vets. Yeah, the vets will be better this year I suppose, but it still hurts to see the kids stuck in AAA ball. Also agree on Stamkos, expect he’s gone unless Vinik can find a way to allow him to “invest” in his Tampa vision and make up a difference in contract dollars…if that’s even legal…



Howard Powders March 26, 2016 at 7:43 am

I heard the Rays were already considering another game in Cuba next year-if anything, most likely to experience what it’s like to play in front of a full house.


Gary Shelton March 26, 2016 at 10:02 am

It won’t be up to the Rays. They won a lottery this year to be the designated team to play, and Im sure some others might want to experience it. But, sure, the full house would be nice.



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