Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Fixing baseball’s embarrassing problem

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bondsaster“The cat – mmrrrooowwwrr – is out of the bag!” – Seinfeld’s Cosmo Kramer upon the realization that his first name had finally been revealed.

Alex Rodriguez (click link for video), Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are among the players linked to performance enhancing drugs. The cat, is most definitely out of the bag.

When MLB players agreed to participate in a 2003 test survey to see if baseball did indeed have a PED problem, the players were assured that the results would be kept confidential. However, after the results were seized by federal agents during the BALCO investigation, some of the names that tested positive have been outed.

The question now, is what to do? Instead of a new name being leaked every few months followed by the inevitable, ensuing debate on what needs to be done to fix the problem, it’s time for baseball to deal with this once and for all.

As American as baseball, hot dogs and … cancer

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hotdog1A non-profit organization is linking cancer to hot dogs outside one of the most iconic U.S. sports parks.

The Cancer Project is reminding fans of the Chicago Cubs baseball team of the connection between consumption of hot dogs and the occurrence of colorectal cancer with a billboard outside Chicago’s storied Wrigley Field.

Baseball brings ‘em together: all 5 U.S. presidents

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It’s one thing they can agree on… baseball. 

Major League Baseball is bringing all five living U.S. presidents together at next week’s 80th All-Star Game.

President Barack Obama and his predecessors George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter will appear in a 7-minute video presentation as part of the U.S. sports league’s all-star festivities on Tuesday in St. Louis. Baseball called it the first time all living U.S. presidents would participate in a ceremony at a sporting event.

Does Sammy Sosa deserve a place in Cooperstown?

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The deference once shown to the stars of America’s favorite pastime has given way to widespread cynicism when records are shattered, especially since Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa engaged in a spirited race in 1998 to break Roger Maris’s single-season record of 61 home runs, a chase that gripped the country with excitement.

In a bid to remove clouds of suspicion chronicled in the book Game of Shadows, Major League Baseball commissioned the “Mitchell Report”. While baseball is not the only sport facing problems, it’s the only sport so invested in an image of sweet American innocence.

from DealZone:

Tribune Co reopens talks on Cubs sale with rival bidder

wrigley1And it's not even the dog days of August, when pennant races heat up.Talks to sell the storied Chicago Cubs baseball team have reopened with a rival bidding group even as negotiations continue with the Ricketts family, tapped in January as the winning bidder with a $900 million offer.Cubs owner Tribune Co, which filed for bankruptcy in December due to its heavy debt load and the weak publishing sector, is now also negotiating with private equity investors Marc Utay and Leo Hindery, three sources familiar with the situation said.The National League team, popular for its "lovable losers" image and national following, as well as its iconic home park Wrigley Field and a stake in a local sports TV network, have been on the block since April 2007, when Tribune Co agreed to an buyout led by real estate magnate Sam Zell.Some of the sources, as well as analysts, believe by adding Utay and Hindery's group to the mix, Tribune Co is seeking to pressure the Ricketts family to settle at terms desired by the media company. Sources had previously said the Ricketts family wanted to mark down the value of the Cubs' broadcast contracts.But the Cubs are used to pressure. After all, their fans have been waiting for a World Series title for more than a century and this year has not gone according to plan as the team has struggled to a losing record.(Reuters photo)

White Sox owner criticizes union, but “fears” Fehr

The owner of the Chicago White Sox chided the baseball players’ union for blocking efforts to rid the sport of performance-enhancing drugs, even making a play on words on a famous presidential quote related to the union chief.
    
Jerry Reinsdorf, speaking at a sports law conference in Chicago, said the important topics facing Major League Baseball have not changed since he last spoke to the lawyers’ group in 1983, but the drugs used by those players who do break the rules have changed from cocaine.
    
“Now we have steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs,” he said, adding that such drugs give users an unfair advantage over clean players, put users’ health at risk and their use sets a bad example for children.
    
Despite improved drug testing, Reinsdorf, who also owns the National Basketball Association team in Chicago, said baseball still must deal with human growth hormones, which current tests cannot track. 
    
For that reason, blood tests are likely needed, but the Major League Baseball Players Association union has resisted that approach, he added.
    
“I believe the game needs to be cleaned up or we’re going to lose fans,” Reinsdorf said.

“We’re testing the loyalty of our fans and I don’t know where the limit is,” he added, pointing to the recent drug-related suspension of Los Angeles Dodgers all-star outfielder Manny Ramirez (who put his failed test down to a medical problem).
    
Reinsdorf, who called on union chief Don Fehr to work with the owners to protect the game and the players, ended his 15-minute speech by paraphrasing a famous president.
    
“Remember what Franklin Roosevelt said: ‘We have nothing to fear but Fehr himself,’” Reinsdorf said.
    
After the speech, Fehr handed a card to the moderator that called on the audience to attend Fehr’s discussion panel on Saturday and warned: “I have more than 15 minutes.”

Zimmerman streak sets statisticians scrambling

zim1Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been wielding a hot bat that has him more than halfway to Major League Baseball’s 56-game hitting-streak record, set by Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees in 1941.

Zimmerman’s streak with a hit in each game reached 29 on Monday, and the pressure has not even begun to ratchet up on the young slugger, who signed a lucrative contract extension with the Nats last month.

from MediaFile:

Disney turns to baseball to pitch guinea pig spy film

Walt Disney is turning to baseball to hype a 3-D movie about secret-agent guinea pigs.Walt Disney Pictures has signed a deal with Major League Baseball for undisclosed terms under which the entertainment giant will give away 1 million tickets to the movie "G-Force," scheduled to open nationwide on July 24, if a grand slam home run is hit at the sport's All-Star game on July 14."G-Force" is a comedy adventure about a covert government program in which guinea pigs are trained to work in espionage. "Armed with the latest high-tech spy equipment, these highly trained guinea pigs discover the fate of the world is in their paws," says Disney.Under the program, a grand slam at baseball's mid-summer classic means a free ticket for the first million people to register at Disney.com between April 22 and July 14, as well as the more than 46,000 fans attending the game in St. Louis.If no grand slam is hit, no free tickets. In 79 previous MLB All-Star games, the only grand slam was hit in 1983. (Thank you, Fred Lynn).Most U.S. sports have been hurt by consumer and corporate spending cutbacks in the recession. Major League Baseball officials expect attendance to fall as much as 10 percent this season, but that still translates to more than 70 million people at the games. And companies are still drawn to the sport as recent marketing deals have shown.The last movie to use the MLB All-Star game to promote its debut was Disney's "Angels in the Outfield" in 1994."G-Force" also will be part of the All-Star voting, appearing on more than 20 million ballots distributed at the 30 MLB ballparks, more than 100 minor league parks, and through in-stadium messages and announcements.The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie stars the voices of Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, Penelope Cruz, Nicolas Cage, Jon Favreau and Steve Buscemi.Hey, it may be guinea pigs, but check out Bruckheimer's track record. His credits include such hits as "Flashdance," "Beverly Hills Cop," "Top Gun" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" in theaters, as well as "CSI" and "The Amazing Race" on TV.Baseball is careful about how it ties into movies, however.You will see no "G-Force" logos on any bases. In 2004, baseball officials scrapped plans to promote the "Spider-Man 2" movie on its bases after a major public outcry.

(Photo courtesy of Disney.go.com)

Yankees’ 2009 hopes could be blowing in the wind

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yankees11Hopes were high among the New York Yankees’ fans after an off-season of big spending in the free-agent market, but a new stadium may mean those best-laid plans are gone with the wind.

Media and weather company AccuWeather said the heavy winds and angle of the seating in the new $1.5 billion baseball park that opened this season could be major factors for why Yankee Stadium is being called “Coors East” by one analyst. Coors Field is the home park of the Colorado Rockies, where the high altitude leads to high-scoring games.

It’s pricey, but Yankee fans feel at home in new stadium

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The view from the upper deck as New York Yankees workout in new Yankee Stadium in New York

Larry Fine had a chance to mingle with some Yankees fans on Thursday when they opened the new $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium to season ticket holders and community organizations and drew over 20,000 people.

I didn’t hear too many dissenting views on the new facility, which has the feel of the old ‘House that Ruth Built’ looking down on the field, but adds all the modern stadium amenities with roomier seats, broader concourses, elimination of ‘portal’ entrances, expanded concession choices and a whole tier of luxury boxes.

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