Keep (the rest of) the List Sealed

David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and Sammy Sosa are on The List. We’re still missing a lot of names. Should we just reveal the rest?

Imagine for a moment that your bank had its entire database of customer information raided: Social Security numbers, account numbers, passwords, past transactions. Good news: they only stole a limited segment of customers, only those with credit ratings below 600. Bad news: your credit has taken a pretty big hit in the last year, and you’re pretty sure you’re on the list.

Good news: the government managed to seize the list before the bad guys could do anything with the info. Bad news: the government turns out to be even worse than the bad guys, and they start leaking names from the illegally obtained confidential data. Worse news: your bank is big, and as it turns out, the list includes a couple of big name people with big-time credit problems.

Maybe the worst news of all: every financial pundit in America is blaming the people on this list for the bad economy, and they’re demanding the entire list be revealed, just so they can clear the air and move on with their lives (as if that would be easier if they only knew the names of all the Citibank customers with bad credit).
I’m guessing if your name was on that list, you would want it kept a secret. And you’d have every right. We happen to live in a country that professes to value the rights of people. While “innocent until proven guilty” matters very little in the court of public opinion, it still is supposed to carry considerable weight when it comes to the law. If your financial records (or your drug-test records) are legally protected, they should stay legally protected. Prior illegal breeches by government officials, lawyers, and journalists shouldn’t change that.
Alright, let’s hear it. That’s a totally different example because ______. Let me guess how one might fill in that blank.
People with bad credit didn’t do anything wrong. The evil, cheating steroid users did.

Uh, technically, no. While illegal steroids are, well, illegal and were therefore banned under MLB’s pre-2002 “memo from the commissioner” drug policy, not all performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) are illegal.
As heavyweight hitman, Bronson Arroyo makes somewhat clear, androstenedione (andro) wasn’t banned in baseball until 2004 and was sometimes tainted with steroids. This January, two over-the-counter dietary supplements were found to be laced with steroids. Players on the list need not have broken any MLB rules or any laws. They could have landed on the list by taking legal, over-the-counter products.
And don’t forget: you don’t have to be taking steroids to register a positive test. Just ask the Vikings’ Williamses about that one. They tested positive for a steroid-masking agent not listed on the label of the weight-loss supplement StarCaps. If the MLB test in 2003 didn’t include masking agents, innocent guys like the Williamses wouldn’t have tested positive. Of course, if the MLB didn’t test for masking agents, mega-guilty steroid users could easily mask their steroid use, making the 2003 list far from comprehensive.

The limited reliability of the 2003 list (not to mention the anonymous sources behind the slow trickle of big names from it) assures me that it is not The List. It’s a list. The biggest (and most widely accepted) lie in all of sports is that the 2003 list contains the names of every active player in 2003 who had ever used steroids. Barry Bonds was not on The List, but the government retested his sample and found steroids (paragraph 4 in link)—hey, what do you know!?! The list was proven inaccurate and incomplete before a single name was leaked!
To release this list in its entirety (and fallibility) would compound the injustice done against the privacy of those names already leaked. Say what you want about steroid users, but submitting to a drug test is a pretty significant concession of trust. They are being penalized more for their trust than for their violation of any rules. It is the scum who betrayed that trust—those who failed to destroy the samples and the records; those who embarrassed the legal profession by leaking private information; those who report that information but not the identity of their dirty, spineless informants—who are being rewarded. No one deserves to learn the rest of the names. A lot of people deserve to be punished for their actions surrounding those names.
But remember this: the list tells us nothing about the sport of baseball. Knowing the whole list would give the public a patently false sense of security about the steroid era. Because it’s not the whole list. So many users profess to using for a brief window of time. There are probably hundreds of users for whom the 2003 test was outside their window of experimentation. There may have been dozens of regular users who stopped using during 2003 in the vain hopes that the number of positive tests would fall below the threshold necessary to implement a permanent drug-testing policy.
Mark McGwire was out of baseball at the time. Barry Bonds didn’t even make the list. Jose Canseco would probably be a more reliable source about steroid use than this list or anyone who has seen it. I don’t want to see this list any more than I want to talk to Jose Canseco. The list was supposed to be destroyed as soon as it was created—good luck doing that now, but whoever attempts to reveal any more of it should be ashamed.
UPDATE: ANOTHER OPINION
There are a couple of interesting new posts over at Midwest Sports Fans. One is an open letter to the cheating liars who used steroids, in which Jerod suggests it would be beneficial for all past PED users to come clean. I’m not sure why any of them would. The only ones who seem to have anything to fear are the ones who tested positive in 2003. He also claims that a few guys have done the right thing and been honest about what they did. A) I doubt anyone has been completely honest about what they’ve taken, and, again, B) I don’t know why they would. According to just about every steroid confession ever (save Jose Canseco) no one has ever used PEDs for more than a couple of days.
Yeah, the honesty flows like sweet wine.
The second post is a collection of speculations from other bloggers about which Hall of Famer may have used steroids or other PEDs. This one is more about the business of blogging, speculating, and reporting (and then chastising, condemning, and denying).
I think the whole thing has become a farce. So much talk about ethics, morality, and integrity, so little talk about baseball. Yet this has become the stuff that determines the Hall of Fame now and the subject of blogs and sports talk radio (including this site read by several).
Isn’t it game time yet?

Ten Things to Like about Twitter

It’s been so long since I started making this list of 10 Things to Like about Twitter, I forgot to list them all in one top ten list. But to call this a top ten is a misnomer. It’s hardly the definitive 10 best things about Twitter. I haven’t even touched on the commercial possibilities Twitter presents, the potential for social change, or anything all that much bigger than my own private Twittersphere.

That’s the point, really. This is my list. These are 10 things you should like because I like them. If you’re an experienced tweetist, you may hate some of them. If you’re new to Twitter . . . you might hate some of them. But I like ’em. Humor me.
I guess I should also preface this with a brief tutorial. If you want to partake in the Twitterfest, it’s really not hard, far simpler than Facebook or just about anything else you could do online. Twitter is a place (or a method) for updating and getting updates on anything or anyone. To get started, just go to Twitter.com, browse, sign up, go to my page, and click “Follow.” Alright, this is a long preface. Here’s the 10 Things I Like about Twitter:
10. Trends. When a topic gets tweeted a lot, the keywords show up at various places on Twitter (the home page, the sidebar). You can find out what people are talking about almost as soon as they start talking about them.
9. Hashtags. That’s Twitterese for putting a # in front of your update’s (or tweet’s) keyword, so you can easily find tweets about the same thing. It’s more useful (and less confusing) than it sounds.
8. No Commitment. You don’t have to read everything your friends, followers, or followees post. You don’t have to join groups, causes, or drawn-out comment threads. It’s light, casual . . . we’re just friends with twitterfits. That was terrible.
7. The Return of Editing. You only have 140 characters, and everybody can read it. You best clean up your spelling and grammar, there, kid.
6. Twt.fm. And other easily postable links to the music of the moment. If a song is stuck in your head, why shouldn’t you lure some unsuspecting soul to wallow/revel in it.
5. No Computer Necessary. Most Internet experiences get a serious downgrade when you switch to mobile. Twitter was made for mobile. You don’t have to live like a nerd to get your geek on.
4. Anyone Can Do It. Kelso from That 70’s Show is the Twitter king. If you can’t at least get started . . . okay, there’s no then statement. You can at least get started.
3. We, Not They. Twitter users determine what reigns on Twitter. Not The Media. Not The Government. Not The Corporate World. It’s ours, people. We have no one to blame but us.
2. Conversation. I like to think Twitter is just one big conversation. It’s in the moment. Blogging is more of a journal for posterity. Twitter doesn’t wait around that long. Twitter is now. Twitter is a party to which everyone is invited, everyone can hear (almost) everything anyone is saying, and it’s real easy to sneak away.
1. Words. In a world of video, images, CGI wizardry, Twitter is governed by the almighty word. Thank God.

Over Bartman? Hardly.

For about two hours this morning, the big story among Cubs fans was the announcement that ESPN has commissioned a Steve Bartman documentary. The small matter of Ortiz and Ramirez getting leaked on, or something, took a lot of the focus off of things that happened in 2003. Giggle.

But within that brief window of mass interest/disgust regarding the Bartman story, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the scores of tweets and reader comments expressing how very little anyone cares about the Bartman story anymore. Phrases like “We’re over it,” “No one blames Bartman,” and “Who cares?” popped up quite a lot.
The public sentiment was, Leave Bartman alone. The story is over, and we have moved on. How dare you, ESPN, exploit this poor man and torture the Cubbie faithful by bringing up something that happened 6 years ago?!? I understand the thinking, but it’s a lie.
Cub fans (and those who pity them) are still bringing up the Goat from 1945. When we long for the good old days, our hearts have to stretch back to 1908. Six years is like a fortnight in Cubbie years. Some other things we can’t let go of: Bruce Froemming robbing Milt Pappas; Leon Durham letting that ball go through him; the lights; the 7th inning stretch . . . the list goes on. Cub fans don’t get over anything, least of all trauma.
If the volume and intensity of negative response is any indication, Steve Bartman will always be a strong ratings grab. But before you accuse ESPN of tormenting Bartman, consider this simple fact: he is a die-hard Cubs fan who is resigned to the fact he will never go to Wrigley again. Due to fear of the press? Fear of ESPN? No. Bartman knows better than to surround himself with Cub fans. Imagine that. Knowing you’ll never go back to Wrigley because of who you are. For those of us not named Ozzie Guillen, that would suck.
So I’m curious to see the documentary. I don’t want to know where Bartman is now. I don’t want to relive the horror of the cursed foul ball. I just want someone to explore what it is about the culture of Cubs fans that causes such deep, spirited, emotional reactions to such minute details as a fan reaching out for a foul ball.
There is a mental block contaminating the minds of Cub fans and Cub players. It’s a natural curse no one can deny. I don’t think we should be afraid to prod it.

July 30, 2009 question – Stupidist

Racism or Intellectualism?
Obama’s “stupid” comments costing him; but why?
Barack Obama said that the police officers who arrested Harvard prof William Henry Gates acted “stupidly,” a word he later wished he had calibrated differently.

Now the news is out that the way he handled his comments (and the comments about the comments about the comments) are costing him where it hurts a president most: his approval rating.

Most reactions seem to categorize this flap as a matter of racism. I see it as something different. Stupid is not just a bad word for kids to say anymore. Now the president can’t even say it. If he had calibrated his thoughts as, “The police would have been wiser to approach matters differently,” Obama probably would have been okay. But he called the police “stupid,” and that will land anybody in time out.

Yeah, I think Obama’s big mistake was offending stupid people. While that may be fun here at trivia, the White House isn’t just supposed to defend Harvard professors. The Constitution begins, “We the people,” not, “We the smart people.”

Let’s not use stupid as an insult any longer. Don’t judge on mental might. Everybody has the potential to improve their intellect; even the prez.

Today’s Question
History
What is the youngest school in the Ivy League?

Previous Answer
And the people who knew it
Karen M (the M stands for My Prince Better Be Tough) alone knew that the Grimm Brothers’ princess didn’t kiss the frog; she tossed him against the wall to transform him. Congrats! (And frogs, look elsewhere for a smooch.)

Broken Reed

UPDATE: The following is essentially a load of crap. Reed Johnson is tough, but he fouled the ball off his foot and broke it on his 2nd at bat of the day, not his first as is reported here and on the Cubs Web site. I knew it was too good to be true, but I should have double checked before posting. I will, however, preserve my posting full of wrongness for posterity’s sake. Shame on me.
This is a picture of Reed Johnson in the act of breaking his foot. It happened in his very first at bat of the game; an at bat in which he singled; and after singling, he advanced to third on a double and hit the brakes hard after rounding the base; then he scored on a Derrek Lee sacrifice fly; he eventually made the last out in the 1st inning; and then he played center field in the second inning. Yeah, all of the stuff in that massive sentence happened after he broke his foot.
The title of this post* is an idiom indicating something or someone who fails to give needed support. Reed Johnson just might redefine the term broken reed to mean “tougher than Chuck Norris.”
Yes, Reed Johnson will miss about a month with a broken foot. Yes, he has been struggling in the leadoff spot (.152 BA). But with a broken foot, Reed is hitting .500. I was at the game (which gives me supernatural insight into the situation), and I can attest that Reed Johnson is a stud. Here’s to hoping Sam Fuld gets called up and gets another chance to shine (in a lefty-lefty platoon with Kosuke?) once again.
But let it be said here and now (and everywhere and forever): Reed Johnson is one tough ess oh bee. Get well soon, Reed.
*I suppose I could have instead used his last name in the title of the post, but this is a family blog.

See You @ Wrigley

It’s game day today. I’ll admit, I don’t make it to a lot of Cubs games. Ever since they became good ridiculously marketable, the price of tickets (and fees and taxes and fees on taxes and the overwhelming convenience of it all) has exceeded my desire to have beer spilled on me watch frat boys act like they’re running the place enjoy the sound of 30,000 texts being tapped into cell phones while as many heads bow in ignorant worship of the wireless devices of their own destruction see the games live on a regular basis.

But this is it: my 3rd and probably final Cubs game of the year. My wife, my five-year-old son (who is right now anxiously awaiting the El ride to the station that shares his name and who will spend the majority of the game anxiously awaiting the El ride back), and I will all make our way to that holy hall, equal parts friendly and confining.
I hope the Cubs can reclaim first place. I hope the Cardinals’ season gets cancelled. I hope my son can join the throng in jubilant Goodman chorus as we serenade the rising W flag.
If all else fails, we’ve always got next year, when the little brother should be old enough to join us.

Some Children’s Vitamins Aren’t What They Seem

How upset should I be about this?
We brought home a bottle of Transformers gummy vitamins. Complaint 1) Addison thought they tasted like feet. Complaint 2) They aren’t Transformers gummy vitamins. As the pictures here somewhat clearly show (how clear an image can gummy vitamins really portray?) the vitamins are Thomas the Tank Engine gummy vitamins.
For what it’s worth, Addison seemed more inclined to consume these homogenized globs of fortified corn syrup when he found out they were Thomas. I really don’t know what to make of that. But I wasn’t going to let that happen.
The good sign, I guess, is that Health Science Labs does sell Thomas the Tank Engine gummy vitamins. But that’s small comfort to the fact that this bottle of children’s vitamins is mislabeled. Health Science Labs also sells gummy vitamins for adults (yeah . . . go figure) concocted to combat osteoporosis, heart disease, and irregularity.
Would the adult gummies, Infinity8, be harmful to my kid? The nutritional info says it can be taken by children over the age of 2. But here’s the problem: the dosage for Infinity8 is one gummy; the dosage for the children’s vitamins is two gummies. So if Health Science Labs is in the habit of putting their vitamins into the wrong bottles, some other poor kid could be chowing down on two black-cherry Regul8 gummies with 6 grams of fiber when he thinks he’s getting a balanced blend of vitamins and nutrients.
I am fairly upset about this. For me, the bottom line is that this company doesn’t know precisely what they’re putting into their bottles. I’ve emailed their customer service department, and I’ll update this if and when I hear back from them. But I’ve seen nothing on their site in the way of an announcement of any kind.
Am I being silly? Wouldn’t be the first time. I’m just curious what people’s various states of alarm would be if a bottle of something dangerous enough to require a child-proof cap—something intended for your child’s health—didn’t contain what it said it did.
Thoughts?

Poppy the Puppy Song

Colin: Sing “Poppy the Puppy” song!

Me: (thinking) There is no “Poppy the Puppy” song. It’s a lift-the-flap book you turned into a rip-the-flap book.
Me: (out loud) Addison, make up a “Poppy the Puppy” song.
Addison: (3 seconds later, to the tune of “Five Little Ducks”) Poppy the Puppy loved to play / all, all, all, all, all, all day. / He didn’t know a lot of stuff / but he liked to say, “Ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff.”
Colin: Good song, Addison!
Good song indeed.