Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

February 27, 2004

by Larry Mahnken

This blog will become more, well, bloggish in the next few weeks. For those of you that are new here, that's pretty much how it was during the season last year, though everyone seemed to like it. This offseason I've tried to write more "column" type posts, partly because I'm looking into a possible career in journalism, but also because there wasn't very much to talk about. If I wasn't going to post every day, I might as well make big posts when I did.

Blogging is easier than writing a column, because it doesn't really have to have a point. It's a more natural, conversational style of writing, and it's something I'm more comfortable with. I'll still be writing columns, but...well, I'll get back to that in a couple of weeks.

* * *

Yesterday, Bernie Williams had an emergency appendectomy, and is expected to be out at least three weeks. Gehrig38 missed three weeks with the same surgery last season, so it's not unreasonable to expect Bernie back at the start of the season, or shortly into it.

Unfortunately, this ends the competition for the starting centerfield job before it began. That doesn't mean that Kenny Lofton wins by default: more likely, Joe Torre will hand Williams the job when he comes back in April, unless Lofton does something that wows him. With Jeter at short and Williams in center, it's simply mind-boggling how poorly the Yankees are utilizing their resources. That's probably at least a couple dozen runs the Yankees are throwing away for loyalty.

* * *

I'm very much a fan of the Travis Lee signing now. Lee is a good defensive first baseman, and I think he has a good chance to repeat or improve upon his performance of last season. If Bernie's return is delayed, we'll at least get a few chances to see the Yankees field their best lineup at the beginning of April, with Lee at first and Lofton in center.

* * *

Everybody just needs to shut the hell up about steroids. Turk Wendell is an idiot, you can't tell whether Barry Bonds is on steroids just by looking at him, unless you're looking at him with his shirt off and looking for abnormal growth in a few key areas. A human being can get very large if they work their asses off, just because they're huge doesn't mean they're juicing. It's fine to have suspicions about Bonds, but in the end, you simply don't know whether he's using or not, so just shut up and stop wasting our time.

The Gary Sheffield controversy is interesting. Sheffield was the only player named in the legal paperwork related to the BALCO trial, and the press immediately lunged on him with their accusatory questions. His responses weren't the smoothest (a vitamin designed for your body?), but there's no evidence against him other than being named in the BALCO investigation. If I recall correctly, the NFL re-tested all the urine samples of the players called to testify before the Grand Jury in that case, and all but the four Oakland Raiders who tested positive for THG passed the test. It's possible to have worked with BALCO and not have anything to do with steroids--that's not all they did.

It was somewhat naive of Sheffield to offer to submit to a public test, and it's not surprising that Jon Heyman demonized him after the MLBPA didn't let him go through with the test ("all talk and no pee"). There's a good reason for the union to not allow Sheffield to do a test: it won't do him any good. If he passed the test, all that it would prove is that he's not on steroids now. Of course, when his numbers drop from last season (as they probably will), it would open the door for reporters saying that he must have been on steroids last season, and because he's stopped, his numbers dropped off.

The media doesn't care about these players, they don't care about the fans. They care about the story, and accusing players of juicing is always the best story.

The other player with steroid questions surrounding him this spring is Jason Giambi, who reported to Tampa noticeably slimmer than he was last season. Giambi says it's because he stopped eating "In 'N Out" burgers in the offseason (he did have a gut last season), but he also said he only lost a few pounds. Well, maybe he lost a lot of fat and added lean muscle, but more likely he lost a lot more than a few pounds.

Giambi's weight loss certainly is suspicious, and to be honest, my opinion is that he did stop using steroids this offseason. But that's just my opinion, it's not backed by any actual evidence, let alone proof. I'm entitled to my opinion, and have the right to be skeptical of his reasons for losing so much weight, but when I express that opinion or that skepticism, it shouldn't be represented as common sense or fact, as too many hack sportswriters do. It's just an opinion.