Moving Forward

Another Red Sox win to celebrate! This season has so far been a huge emotional boost, right when I needed it. I’ve mentioned before how baseball has always been there to get me through the rough times and these past few months have been no exception. With my brother and my husband in the hospital at the same time… but in different states… the Sox giving me something positive on a (nearly) daily basis was my life saver. Thankfully things are calming down, somewhat… for now.

My hope is that things continue to get better and it gives me more time to put towards my blog. I also want to make this blog a little different than most other blogs by not being someone who merely states what happened in the last game or beating to death topics that are covered in mass amounts by writers everywhere. I figure you have already seen or heard about the last game and probably have already come across the topic of the moment. This doesn’t mean I won’t sound off on topics I feel strongly about if they are also being covered heavily in other blogs and the media, just that I don’t want this blog to become a mundane repeat of everything else out there. I want to include things that will be creative and informative… fun as well as educated. Feel free to offer suggestions. I’m always open to new ideas.

I also wanted to shamelessly plug a Web site… Willow’s Book Corner (www.willowsbookcorner.com). You will find something for everyone, great selection at the low prices you find from Amazon (it’s an Amazon affiliate site). There is also breaking news and sports news as well as free online games (addictive for someone like me), and owned by a Red Sox fan. Support a fellow Sox fan, check it out.

Congrats to Verlander

A huge congrats to Tigers RHP Justin Verlander for just pitching a no-hitter to the Brewers tonight. It was a sight to see, many of his pitches were jaw-dropping to watch!

Also, the Sox are leading the Rockies right now 2-1, bottom of the 8th!

Go Sox!

Damon Taunts Letterman

For those who haven’t seen this… a video of Matt Damon (Sox fan) taunting David Letterman (Yankee fan). Beautiful!

Bonds cheating? YES!

I know I haven’t posted lately, my life has been very hectic with my brother’s declining health and the health problems of my husband as well. However, after reading a particular story, I had to sound off on this. There is no doubt in my mind Barry Bonds is cheating, and it comes in the form of a MLB approved drug!

From this article on the official Giants Web site;

Bonds said that he had stopped taking prednisone, which is prescribed to treat arthritis. "Normally I take my prednisone; I haven’t done it all year," he said. "Normally I take it to keep the swelling out of my body as I got older. I forgot about it. We all forgot about it."

Prednisone is a corticosteroid — not an anabolic steroid, which are at the heart of baseball’s performance-enhancing drug controversy that has enveloped Bonds.

Now, as someone who has taken Prednisone long-term I found this to be very interesting. First of all, Prednisone has many negative side effects on your health. It can cause thinning of the skin, Glaucoma, Diabetes, vascular problems, weight gain, water retention, Osteoporosis, sleep problems as well as mental instability. These are not even considered "possible" side effects… more like these will happen if you take it long-term. For this reason, Prednisone is usually not prescribed for just anything. The most common reason for Prednisone long-term prescribed use would be auto-immune diseases, organ transplants, and Cancer. Short-term use (in dose packs) is used for allergic reactions as well as some short-term illnesses such as Pneumonia. It would never be prescribed by an ethical doctor for aging, such as Bonds mentioned. For another thing, Prednisone is dangerous because if usage is stopped suddenly, the person will go into steroidal shock and can die if they have been on it for awhile. So, why would Bonds be taking a potentially dangerous health altering hormone?

To understand the issue, you must understand what Prednisone does to the body and mind. The benefits for an athlete are astounding, and my husband and I have even joked before about how many would potentially abuse this drug if they knew of it’s power. It can make a person who normally couldn’t get out of bed because of pain levels feel like they could run a marathon (I know, it happened to me). It gives you a psychological boost… a high like found with Amphetamines. It does away with fatigue and… temporarily… makes pain a distant memory.

So the question really is… just why exactly would Bonds be taking this if not for MLB approved performance enhancement? This sure seems like a legal loophole to use steroids. Bonds in no way has a serious enough illness to be prescribed long-term use of Prednisone, and no doctor acting in an ethical manner would ever prescribe it for the reason Bonds stated. This is the perfect drug to abuse if a player wanted to combat mental or physical fatigue. It’s astoundingly cheap (at the most, $10 a month… for someone without insurance).

Prednisone also drains the body of Calcium, people taking it are asked to take larger than normal amounts of Calcium supplements. The arthritis Bonds would be speaking of would be Osteo-Arthritis, which is not inflammatory. It is caused by wear and tear… age. Prednisone would not be prescribed for non-inflammatory arthritis as it’s sole function for prescribed use is to combat inflammation.

Is this reason enough to say Bonds is cheating? From a long-term user of Prednisone… I say yes, without a doubt. Other people may disagree, and if so I welcome your opinion on the matter, but my experience with this drug is enough for me to feel confident that Bonds is indeed using a potentially harmful medication solely to prolong his ability to continue his career, and is doing so with it prescribed unethically for this purpose. I question the integrity of any physician willing to go against ethics and prescribe a medication for something not medically needed and to be abused by any athlete. In my mind, the only difference between the "potential" use of anabolic steroids and his use of Prednisone is the fact that MLB allows Prednisone use. The reason… an advantage in playing ability… is the same either way.

The current state of baseball

I guess this is something I just need to say. I know there is no shortage of coverage of the MLB/DirecTV deal, but this not just about that. This is about my feelings on what baseball used to be for me… and what it has become.

Growing up in an abusive home, baseball was my escape as a kid. No matter what happened, I always had baseball to look forward to. It was my escape from the reality around me. For a few hours nothing mattered except what happened on the field. I used to lay my baseball cards out on the floor in front of me and sit and watch games on TV. Going to watch Cincinnati Reds games were heaven, and back then it was a frequent occurrence. I remember the magic of hearing those words "Let’s go to a game today". That’s back when you could afford to go to games. Before going to a single baseball game became something it took a year to plan and save money for. All those years ago, it was something you could wake up and decide it was a beautiful day to catch a game. For me, it was a reason to make it through everything I was dealing with. As long as there was a game going on I felt like I was part of something special.

Baseball is still what keeps me going. When things get unbearable with my health problems and I start to feel like I just can’t fight through it any longer, I can say "Just one more game". I just want to make it through one more Red Sox game, I want one last experience, one last chance at a few hours of hope and passion. After the game is over, I start again… "Just one more game". It gets me through life, one game at a time. Perhaps it’s not what most people would consider a life saving experience, but the important thing for me is that I’m still here. It does give me something to look forward to. No matter how bad things get in my life or with my health, I will always have the Red Sox to help me get through it.

I remember back when I was a kid, being a fan was an important thing. Back when MLB cherished the fan relationship. Back when MLB understood that baseball was an escape for those less fortunate, that baseball was how many kids learned about life and when fans were considered to be more than just the cash they provided. Back when players and managers helped in the community because they wanted to, not for PR purposes. Back when the good deeds were not major media stories, but something you knew about because you experienced it. I remember walking through Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati and being able to hug my favorite players. It wasn’t reported or recorded, it was something they wanted to do. These players had a profound effect on my life. Baseball took a kid living in a horrible situation and turned her into a person who understood honesty, integrity, loyalty and respect. I didn’t have anywhere else to learn these things from. Baseball was not just an escape, it was complete freedom… the freedom to be able to achieve whatever I set out to accomplish.

These days when I talk about baseball to my own kids and their friends I hear a lot of "wow, you went to that many games?" and "I went to a baseball game once!". I had looked forward to giving my kids the experiences I had as a child. I looked forward to being able to take them to games and giving them a chance to escape the complexities in life. A strong foundation of love for a game that could possibly someday be the one thing that keeps them going if they feel their life is falling apart. Instead I can only share stories of the past, and try to keep myself from falling apart when I see the hurt in their eyes when they ask to go to a game and I can only tell them that we don’t have enough money. The game that gave me hope as a child has become a game of disappointment to my kids. This is where baseball has gone. This is the game of the future.

MLB doesn’t like that the fans are speaking out about the deal with DirectTV. MLB thinks we are making a big deal out of nothing and just aren’t smart enough to understand complex business deals. I say that MLB doesn’t understand fans anymore… that they don’t understand baseball anymore. I say that perhaps they are right for going for more money now, because they will need it when the fans have been abused enough and decide that the game isn’t worth fighting for anymore. Then perhaps team owners will yell about the fans lack of passion and how difficult it is to get people to come watch the games. They will lose money and the blame will not be on MLB or on those owners who supported these deals, but the few die hard fans who have stuck through it all, willingly gave up every penny they could to support their favorite team and still find the magical escape in a baseball game, will again take the fall. Those of us who will continue to stick with baseball because it is such a part of our lives are in for a long-term abusive relationship.

As a kid watching baseball taught me that anything was possible. Now I see that everything is possible except watching baseball. Thank you  MLB.

Making a difference

I am a big supporter of charitable causes. I make it a big part of my life and encourage others to get involved in helping other in any way they can. I am a member of the Board of Directors for the organization The Miracles of Hope Network (http://miracles-of-hope.com) which I am very honored to be a part of. I also feature a new organization every week on my forum which can be visited from my web site http://www.dragonwillowproductions.com.

We also hear a lot about philanthropy work done by athletes, including the Red Sox, but how much of what they do is for public relations purposes only? Several players from the Sox are well known for helping charitable causes and I have no doubts that they would be just as active if the media attention was not there. They have a strong drive to help others and with the financial freedom to do so they have managed to make quite an impact on the world. There are also those players who set up foundations and never do anything with them, or mismanage them. They may do it for tax breaks or to help their image, but in the end they have failed to take advantage of one of the best chances to make a difference in this world.

I am grateful the Red Sox are an organization that include people active in making a difference in the community and the entire planet from the very top in the ownership team to the players as well as employees. I am honored to be a fan of a team that makes helping others a concern that goes beyond public relations.

Is there a specific player that you admire for their philanthropy work? Anyone in the organization that has inspired you to get involved in helping others? Let me know what has made the biggest impact on you.

Reason for sporadic posting

I just wanted to explain my lack of updating. I have a family member who has just been added to the list for a double lung transplant and I have been preparing to be able to leave at a moments notice. I will have to go out of state when I get the call so if posts seem scarce it may be because I am dealing with family issues.

I do hope to be able to catch up, so there may be several posts made on some days… don’t forget to scroll down and check.

Not so shocking threats and a bit of journalistic stupidity

Barry Bonds is apparently receiving death threats. I’m honestly not surprised, as I can imagine many die hard baseball fans are hoping Bonds never surpasses Hank Aaron’s career record of 755 home runs. Death threats, however, I’ll admit go beyond what I would find acceptable. After all, I would be disappointed to see a tainted record… but I wouldn’t kill to keep it from happening. Perhaps I actually am a little more sane than I previously have allowed myself to believe.

What I found shocking was a paragraph in an AP article that says:

Aaron himself, who like Bonds is black, dealt with death threats and hate mail as he approached Babe Ruth ‘s then-record of 714 homers. Aaron passed Ruth on April 8, 1974.

My take on the Barry Bonds issue is that the death threats have nothing to do with him being black, but of his reputation and allegations of steroid use. How on earth can you even attempt to compare what Aaron went through with what Bonds is going through?

Before you start thinking I am insensitive to African Americans and what they have gone through and go through currently, I want to mention I am actually multi-racial. Yes, I understand because I see it and have experienced it and am very proud of my heritage. So this isn’t a racist post. I am merely saying I doubt the color of his skin is the reason Bonds is receiving these threats. I hate to see race brought into an issue where it shouldn’t be involved because then it makes true race issues seem less significant.

In the end, skin color is not his asset or his hindrance. He (allegedly) used steroids to get to where he did, and it was his own stupidity and selfishness that created the tainted reputation. His ego and his refusal to own up to his mistakes is why so many, including me, are crossing their fingers he is unable to pass the record set by Hank Aaron.

Death threats may be sent, but I honestly can’t imagine anyone going through with it. After all, is Bonds really worth all that effort? Also, if Bonds were killed, none of us would be able to rejoice the day Bonds is finally made accountable for his (alleged) juicing.

Brace yourself…

Just what baseball fans want, more performance enhancing drugs controversy. Gary Matthews Jr. allegedly was sent a synthetic growth hormone in August of 2004 from Applied Pharmacy Services in Mobile, Ala., whose two owners have been indicted by an Albany County grand jury. This is only the beginning, I’m sure, of what we will hear about this bust. There is a very strong possibility other players will eventually be named, and it’s likely to be people we fans may not have expected to be involved.

So, what are we as fans supposed to do about this? Obviously the player’s union and MLB are not going to be able to put a complete stop to this, even if they really did want to. There has always been cheaters and there always will be cheaters. As long as they believe there is a chance to get away with it (and MLB is making that possible) players will push the boundaries and break the rules for a chance at setting records and cashing in on fat multi-million dollar contracts. Is there a possibility that team owners may be the answer? After all, it must not be a pleasant experience to have your name in the press because a player on your team has been found or is accused of using performance enhancers of any sort. Maybe they will be the ones to blow the whistle and get this under control.

Then again, owners need those stars to bring in revenue, correct? Are these players making them enough money that they are willing to turn their backs on the problem themselves? If I were to guess, I would say every ownership group who may have players willing to test the limits are aware that something is going on. I would go farther and say that I believe every single ownership group faces the possibility of at least one player on their roster that they may be aware of dabbling in steroid use either now or in the past. I also believe they tell their staff to make sure they hear nothing about it if it is in fact happening. Owners are not facing up to their responsibility to do something about this. Does this mean the Red Sox are facing this as well? I can only guess, and I would hate to think any of my beloved Sox are involved… but if they are, what would I do about it? Would my loyalty to my beloved Sox keep me from accepting the truth?

As much as I think the fans and MLB itself are suffering from this, I also wonder about the most unmentioned victims of the steroid controversy. For every player we find proof of steroid use for, many more innocent players are brought up as possibilities for drug or hormone use. Every player now, and possibly in the long-term future, who accomplishes anything great in their career will be faced with the "did he or didn’t he?" questioning by the media and fans. They will not receive the recognition they deserve for their honest efforts and accomplishments because of some cheating players and the unwillingness of MLB to implement a true no-tolerance rule and enforce it. I feel great sympathy for these players of integrity who will never be trusted because of an issue that is out of their control. These innocent players deserve better, and they may in fact be the biggest victims in all of this. How do we give them the respect they deserve if we can’t trust that they accomplished what they did in a honorable way? We obviously can’t take their word for it.

I am still amazed that Bonds is still in the game, still chasing records and getting signed for millions when it is clear of his involvement. MLB, the ownership groups, and the player’s union need to take responsibility and make this an issue of baseball’s past, not our future. We as fans need to make sure we let them know they are accountable as much as the coward cheaters out there testing the limits in a game where the cheater gets fame, millions of dollars and respect… and the less fortunate honest players are forgotten and under-appreciated for their true ability and talent… and most of all, their true integrity.

FCC to the rescue

The FCC is investigating the deal between MLB and DirecTV for the Extra Innings package. Normally I don’t agree to the FCC sticking their nose into anything, but they have just regained my respect.

I agree with what a majority of fans have been saying online. MLB making this deal with DirecTV is a move that only benefits them and leaves many die hard fans without a way to watch their favorite team play. For instance, I live in the south, not Boston. Yet my entire life during baseball season revolves around the BoSox game schedule. I may not be in New England, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to catch every game. So if I can’t get DirecTV… I’m just out of luck according to the new deal.

While most businesses go by the "keeping your current customers is most important" rule, MLB seems to be heading in a "who cares what our current customers think?" direction. I personally know several people who have still not returned to watching baseball since the strike… is it possible this deal could cause a new batch of AWOL fans? I believe that it isn’t just a possibility, it’s a given.

The almighty dollar has MLB ignoring the people who have been handing over those very dollars. They have somehow forgotten that fans are as much a part of baseball as any team or player. Without the fans, there would be no multi-million dollar contracts for players or tickets sold out to every game as is the case with Fenway. Without us there is no MLB, and it’s about time they started giving us the respect we deserve for being part of the show. I don’t care about upcoming technology as a reason for the switch because that technology isn’t available yet. I don’t care if MLB is going to make a few extra bucks, or if some execs thought it would only upset a small percentage of fans. If they keep losing small percentages of die hard fans, they will eventually be left with nothing.

I think the fans should keep trying to get their voices heard. I think fans, whether effected by this deal or not, should voice their concerns over the actions of MLB straight to MLB itself. Let Selig know that we fully expect to be respected for the part we play in this business.

Of interest to Sox fans… I heard Red Sox chairman Tom Werner thought this deal was a good idea. I apologize for not being able to find the post containing this info to link back to, but I would be interested in hearing if anyone else has heard this. If it is in fact true, I am shocked I can’t find any more mention of it. I can’t decide whether I believe this or not. I know the Red Sox brass are committed to the happiness of the fans (despite the creation of those dreadful Red Sox Nation memberships) and I can’t believe someone who appreciates the die hard fans everywhere agreeing that this deal makes sense.

EDIT: Ok, I heard Selig mentioned Werner’s involvement in the decision on ESPN radio. Sorry for not having that info at the time of posting. Assuming now that this is correct, I can say I’m shocked that someone who cares about the fans and is involved in a network himself would say that few fans will be effected by this. It’s not as simple as households effected, for in every household there are multiple fans. The numbers are much larger than they are saying will suffer from this deal. How many fans are disposable so they can make an extra buck?

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