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Friday, May 31, 2013

Jordan: Interview with former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent

So much for that planned Fay Vincent/Pete Rose Happy Hour Event.

We hear this congratulatory phrase—the post-steroid era—being thrown about to explain lower ERAs and fewer home runs. How do you react when you hear that term? Do you think it is accurate? Has the war been won, at least in baseball, or merely a battle?

I do not believe there can be an end to the “steroid era.” The problem will be with all athletics permanently because there is so much money at stake that cheating will always be worth doing. The chemists will figure out new ways to mask the drugs and the cops will continue to fight the losing battle. To me the sadness is the belief the problem has ended –whereas in truth it is flourishing beneath the surface. eg Melky Cabrera last year and Ryan Braun et al. I think a major effort has to be waged to get kids to avoid the drugs—but how can we do that when the use of HGH can result in such major financial benefits? This is the threat to sports and the ultimate challenge. To lose it is to lose the essence of fair competition and to become like professional wrestling. Entertainment but not sports.

When and where do you watch ballgames today?

In my den. I seldom go to a game. I’m so handicapped now I need a lot of help. Nor do I get many invitations from anyone in baseball. I haven’t been to a game in three years.

I have the baseball package. On any given night I may watch three or four teams. Red Sox, Mets, Yankees, the same teams I watched as a kid in Connecticut.
Can you describe the events that led to your handicap for our readers?

When I was 18 and a freshman at college, my roommate locked me in my room in a prank. I climbed out on the window ledge to swing to the next window and get free, but slipped and fell four stories to the ground. I crushed two vertebrae and was paralyzed for months. As a result I walk badly and am limited. But I was fortunate to survive and to have had a good life. No complaints.

What does it say about the ethic of the game that people aren’t reaching out to you every spring training to bring you to a ballgame? Do you think your consistently firm and unpopular stance on steroids has something to do with your not being invited more often?

Life is all about today and seldom about yesterday. I am persona non grata in baseball, but understand how my enemies feel. I am OK and so are they.

In 2010, the Reds honored Pete Rose on the 25th anniversary of his 4,192nd hit. You commented on Rose’s lifetime ban (which your boss at the time, MLB Commissioner Bart Giamatti, imposed based on your findings) at the time by saying, “When the keeper of the Rules does not enforce the Rules, there are no Rules.” Yet the stadium was raucous with love for the man. Does the punishment still fit the crime? Say Rose calls you up for a beer one day and suggests you publicly forgive him?

The draconian punishment is totally effective and Rose cannot be excused. I will not be available to him. Ever.

Repoz Posted: May 31, 2013 at 09:19 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: beer, history, steroids

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. John Northey Posted: May 31, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4456773)
The old rule - just because something is popular doesn't make it right. That strongly applies to Pete Rose and gambling on baseball by baseball players/managers.
   2. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 31, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4456816)
I don't know why I didn't know about the cause of Vincent's disability.
   3. Brian C Posted: May 31, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4456902)
. How do you persuade young athletes, that, despite some modest medical threats 30 years down the road, the money chemical assistance can bring you is not incredibly attractive. I’m not optimistic there is a good answer.

When you say it like that, I'm not sure there's a good answer, either. "Hey guys, when you're old you might have some modest medical problems, but in the meantime you can rake in the cash! CAN'T YOU SEE HOW AWFUL THIS IS??!?!!!?"
   4. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 31, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4456958)

When you say it like that, I'm not sure there's a good answer, either. "Hey guys, when you're old you might have some modest medical problems, but in the meantime you can rake in the cash! CAN'T YOU SEE HOW AWFUL THIS IS??!?!!!?"


I often wonder if the anti-steroid zealots, in their desire to make steroids sound so evil realize they do more harm than good. "Steroids are terrible horrible evil. If you use them you can become a superstar athlete making zillions of dollars and sleeping with the most attractive members of whatever species you choose. Don't do steroids."

If they seriously give a rat's ass about anything beneficial they should be saying "steroids are a placebo, they simply encourage people to work out more and due to the vicious health effects should be banned. There is little gain and all sorts of pain to be had from doing steroids."

As for Vincent he makes some comments that are out there a lot of times but it does seem odd that MLB wouldn't reach out to him. My cynical side thinks that Vincent enjoys being the victim and if he really wanted to go to a game he could call the Sox, Yankees, Mets, etc...(assume he's still in the northeast corridor) and have a seat in the owner's box with ample assistance for getting around. On the other hand it wouldn't shock me that a group of powerful people not used to having people say "no" to them are being petty and vindictive.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 31, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4456961)
When and where do you watch ballgames today?

In my den. I seldom go to a game.


So he's a stathead too?
   6. Srul Itza Posted: May 31, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4457010)
the use of HGH can result in such major financial benefits


Only to the people selling that snake oil.
   7. Ron J2 Posted: May 31, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4457078)
#4 DMN has argued precisely that fairly frequently.

I'm old enough to remember that the powers that be tried to discourage PEDs by arguing that they simply didn't work.

And to #6, there is indisputably plenty of snake oil out there, but anybody who thinks that something like testosterone (plus attendant serious training) does not work to make someone stronger or faster (training decision matter here) is wrong. (And they will provide minor athletic benefits if you don't train seriously)

I do think it's an open question how much steroids actually help baseball players, but they certainly do work for track and field or for football.
   8. gehrig97 Posted: May 31, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4457131)
I've always liked Vincent, and this interview is revealing and informative. The last real Commish. Glad he's still around to offer perspective. Whenever someone asks me if I think Pete should in the HOF, I say "Yes, he should. The fact that he's not is his own fault."
   9. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: May 31, 2013 at 05:25 PM (#4457225)
I have the baseball package. On any given night I may watch three or four teams. Red Sox, Mets, Yankees, the same teams I watched as a kid in Connecticut.
Can you describe the events that led to your handicap for our readers?


When I was 18 and a freshman at college, my roommate locked me in my room in a prank. I climbed out on the window ledge to swing to the next window and get free, but slipped and fell four stories to the ground. I crushed two vertebrae and was paralyzed for months. As a result I walk badly and am limited. But I was fortunate to survive and to have had a good life. No complaints.

The boldfacing there makes it look like a very unusual way to phrase that question.
   10. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: May 31, 2013 at 08:06 PM (#4457326)
Is this Pat Jordan? Wasn't he in his twenties before the Mets even existed?
   11. #6bid rescued Ichiro the carpenter! Posted: May 31, 2013 at 09:43 PM (#4457439)
When I was 18 and a freshman at college, my roommate locked me in my room in a prank. I climbed out on the window ledge to swing to the next window and get free, but slipped and fell four stories to the ground.


Life imitates art (Paul Chapin, in the second Nero Wolfe novel "The League of Frightened Gentlemen").
   12. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: June 01, 2013 at 12:06 AM (#4457584)
I watched [the congressional steroid hearings] on television like most fans. I was stunned by the ineptitude of the baseball representatives, but more so by the absurd conduct of Congress. The ignorance by the Congressmen was almost matched by the arrogance of the union and the stumbling by baseball.


First time I've heard an MLB insider acknowledge that those hearings were a pointless circus.
   13. Der-K is at half whelm. Posted: June 01, 2013 at 12:53 AM (#4457597)
10: no. A guy named Greg Jordan.

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