While the ridiculous length of the NBA and NHL playoffs suggest otherwise, it’s baseball that has the shortest offseason. In fact, the game doesn’t have an offseason at all. They just don’t play any games for a while.
Actually, that’s not entirely true, either. As evidenced by the Mitchell Report, the subsequent Roger Clemens affair, the annual gripe-inducing announcement of the Hall of Fame vote and the deception-rife Hot Stove action, there are games aplenty being played. There just aren’t any box scores in the morning.
So let’s take a look at who’s been winning and losing this winter, shall we?
Rich Gossage: Benefiting from an astoundingly weak list of names on the ballot for the first time (thanks for coming, David Justice — right or wrong, you lost all cred when you lost Halle Berry), Goose finally got his just due. Who cares if he sniveled after being passed over in recent years? The man was dominant for a good decade, and that’s all it should take for induction.
Barry Bonds: Sure, that whole perjury thing figures to end up in a big vat of ugly, but at least the poster boy for the Steroids Era now has some company in his shame. The Mitchell Report was far from comprehensive, but at least it made clear that Bonds wasn’t the only guy getting help from a chem-lab beaker. He was merely the best player among the cheats.
Jose Canseco: If ever someone had a right to play the I-told-you-so card, it’s everyone’s favorite slimeball. Is it even fair to call him a slimeball anymore? Probably not. How’s this for a new tag: honest.
Lawyers and agents: Lawsuits, countersuits and $18 million a year for Andruw Jones. ’Nuff said.
Short list, isn’t it? The next one’s a million times longer, but in the name of brevity, we’ll give you the Cliff Notes version.
Bud Selig: Took a pretty bold step in commissioning the Mitchell Report, knowing full well his game would be exposed as dirty to the core. In the end it will (hopefully) end up being good for the game, but still, he was universally ripped.
George Mitchell: Hamstrung by the all-powerful players’ union, he did the best he could to make chicken salad from chicken droppings, but still — like Bud Selig — he was universally ripped.
Jim Rice: He was a flat-out beast during the pre-Steroids Era, and his career numbers would be even better were it not for a couple of labor stoppages. If he’s not voted in next year, Mitchell should investigate that, too.
Clemens: Good god, man. You’ve managed to make Curt Schilling look reasonable. Your best friend and training partner (Andy Pettitte) admitted to using, and we’re to believe you not only didn’t know about said use, but didn’t use yourself? Burger King needs to change the name of its signature burger — in honor of the Whoppers Clemens is asking us to buy — to the Rocket.
Jack Cust: A minor-league teammate of the A’s DH said that the two had a chat in which Cust admitted to juicing. Did that conversation ever really happen? We have no idea, and we never will. But Cust is smeared for life because his name is in the Mitchell Report.
And you thought Baron Davis not getting All-Star votes was unfair. When do pitchers and catchers report?