Baseball hands down suspensions

This has been dragged out for a while, but for players like Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta, they’ve accepted a 50-game ban that starts immediately. A-Rod was banned for 211 games through the end of the 2014 season, but he’s fighting it so A-Rod is expected to play for the Yankees tonight.

It was hard to imagine a player who could be hated more than Barry Bonds, but Alex Rodriguez is doing his best to surpass him. That’s quite a shift from when many hoped that A-Rod could overtake Bonds in the home run record books.

Meanwhile, we’ll see how the Tigers and Rangers react to losing Cruz and Peralta. Cruz in particular is a huge part of the success in Texas and the Rangers are fighting for a playoff spot.

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Bizarre details come out in Melky Cabrera case

The New York Daily News breaks the story on the bizarre tactics used by Melky Cabrera to try to hide his use of banned substances.

In a bizarre attempt to avoid a 50-game drug suspension, San Francisco Giants star Melky Cabrera created a fictitious website and a nonexistent product designed to prove he inadvertently took the banned substance that caused a positive test under Major League Baseball’s drug program.

But instead of exonerating Cabrera of steroid use, the Internet stunt trapped him in a web of lies. Amid the information-gathering phase of his doping case last month, his cover story unraveled quickly, and what might have been a simple suspension has attracted further attention from federal investigators and MLB, the Daily News has learned.

This is a pretty stunning chain of events if true, and with the involvement of the Feds this story is just getting started. While the federal government has stumbled when trying to get convictions of high profile players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons, they have used leverage with witnesses to uncover improper conduct by players, trainers and others. Here, with the possibility that Cabrera and his associates used the Internet in a lame attempt to hide his activities, we might see this whole situation explode into a much larger story if the Feds decide to squeeze Cabrera to give up his sources and possibly other players. Stay tuned.

The massive ego and entourage of LeBron James

Miami Heat’s LeBron James. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL HEADSHOT)

SI recently published a fascinating profile of Walter Iooss Jr., who has spent over 50 years photographing athletes and swimsuit models. The man has led an incredible life, and he also happens to be a great storyteller.

In this article, Iooss recounts stories of his favorite athletes and models, like Micheal Jordan, Reggie Jackson, Paulina Porizkova and Christie Brinkley. Sports fans should read the whole article and you’ll get a real sense of the bravado and charisma of people like Reggie Jackson in his prime.

Iooss loves to tell stories of how he had to charm people like Tiger Woods. With Tiger, the swimsuit pictures got his attention right away, and Iooss could then get Tiger to do what was necessary to get the shot.

And then there were the difficult ones like Barry Bonds and the prima donnas like LeBron James. His story about LeBron is very telling:

I first photographed LeBron James in 2003, when he was a rookie in Cleveland. He was pretty raw as a teenager; he didn’t have any of the smoothed edges he has now. When I shot him six years later, in 2009, the difference was amazing. He walked in like a king that day, and he took over that room. And not only physically, although he was massive then. I’ve never seen an athlete look like that. He was muscular, charming, articulate, the prince of hoops. He couldn’t have been more of an ambassador for the game.

Times change, and sadly, LeBron became a villain to many after The Decision. I’ve seen a lot of entourages, but none like his. In July 2010 I got an assignment from Nike to shoot LeBron right after his TV special announcing his move to the Heat. We rented the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, where the Lakers and the Clippers used to play, and there were 53 people on my crew—including hair and makeup artists, production people, a stylist. I had $10,000 in Hollywood lighting. It was huge. When LeBron arrived, it was as if Nelson Mandela had come in. Six or seven blacked-out Escalades pulled up, a convoy. LeBron had bodyguards and his masseuse. His deejay was already there, blasting. This for a photo shoot that was going to last an hour, tops.

This is how crazy it was: I wasn’t even allowed to talk directly to LeBron. There was a liaison, someone from Amar’e Stoudemire’s family. I would say to him, “O.K., have LeBron drive right,” and then he’d turn to LeBron and say, “LeBron, go right.”

LeBron had guards in the portals on the mezzanine level, talking into their hands. Really, what was going to happen? And then at the end of the shoot they all got in the Escalades. My God, I’ve been around Michael Jordan, but with him nothing even came close to this. Unimaginable.

It was obvious that this clown had a problem when he and those around him started referring to him as King James, but this episode demonstrates just how out of control LeBron’s ego had become.

One year later, LeBron is now a punch line after his embarrassing performance in the NBA Finals. He’s gone onto ESPN to discuss how he should have done things differently when he left Cleveland last year and how he made the mistake of embracing the role of the villain. He’s going back to having fun. We’ll see about that. But more than anything he needs to get rid of the obscene entourage, and I don’t see that happening.

Biggest loser in Roger Clemens mistrial? Karma.

Former NY Yankees Pitcher Roger Clemens arrives with his wife Debbie and lawyer Rusty Hardin at Federal court for jury selection in his perjury trial in Washington, DC, on July 6, 2011. Clemens is accused to lying to Congress under oath about using performance enhancing drugs. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

I’ve always been a big believer in the theory what goes around, comes around. Every time I hear about how someone lied, stole or cheated, Johnny Cash’s haunting melody “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” plays in my head as I think to myself, ‘You’ll get yours…oooooooooh, you’ll get yours.’ (Sometimes I’ll even throw in a sinister laugh if nobody’s around.)

But after reading about how the prosecution screwed the pooch in the Roger Clemens trial on Thursday, I’m not so sure karma exists now. This turd has lied so many times about his alleged steroid use that somewhere along the line he actually started to believe the crap that was spewing out of his mouth. I hear Clemens speak now and I’m thoroughly convinced that he believes what he’s saying. Dude could take a lie detector test tomorrow and pass it with flying colors George Costanza-style.

You can Google the details on your own, but here’s the cliff note version of how Clemens’ case was declared a mistrial on Thursday:

1. The judge told prosecutors that they couldn’t use testimony of Andy Pettitte’s wife unless it was in rebuttal, since she did not hear Clemens directly state that he had used HGH.

2. Via video, the prosecutors used the testimony anyway.

3. Mistrial.

That sound you just heard was your tax money flushing down the toilet at the hands of well-educated, well-paid men who just produced one of the all-time screw-ups in sports history. It’s not like this happened on Day 45 because someone lost focus and got a little careless. This was the second freaking day of the trial.

What happens next is interesting. If the judge declares double jeopardy, then Clemens cannot be tried for the same crime, which basically means that he’ll get off even easier than Barry Bonds did. Following Bonds, Clemens would be the second liar not to have had to pay the piper, which ruins my faith in karma and karma-like revenge.

Go tell that long tongue lair, go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell ‘em that God’s gonna cut ‘em down
Tell ‘em that God’s gonna cut ‘em down

Not this time, Johnny.

Quick-Hit Thursday Thoughts:

– I don’t want to make light of the fact that Clemens allegedly lied under oath, but at this point I would rather see the government move on. It’s clear following the Bonds and Clemens’ trials that the government is in over its head and I would like to think that it has bigger fish to fry.

– NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports that the Dolphins “might actually set the market for Reggie Bush.” That’s outstanding: Can he play quarterback?

– The player rep for Randy Moss is claiming that his client “has been working out, two-a-days all spring and summer in West Virginia” and that Moss is going to be a “difference maker” again. I don’t doubt that Moss still has the talent to be a starting receiver in the NFL. I do, however, doubt his willingness to do anything but cash a paycheck and steal more money from a team.

– Mark Maske of the Washington Post is reporting that an agreement in principle on a new CBA could be completed between this Friday and next Tuesday. That’s fantastic. I wonder when the deal could have been in place had the two sides bothered talking to each other at the start instead of directly going to court.

– Maurice Clarett told a radio station in Omaha that colleges should pay football players $30,000 or $20,000 to fix the problems that the NCAA has been facing. I’m all for the idea on one condition: The schools stop shelling out thousands of dollars for this kid’s tuition and room and board. Because given Clarett’s comments and history, it’s clear that some of these players aren’t taking advantage of the free education that is being provided them. So yeah, pay them $30,000 a year so that they can buy all of the handguns and Grey Goose vodka they want. Zing!

Barry Bonds offers to send Bryan Stow’s children to college

Former San Francisco Giants player Barry Bonds (R) talks with bench coach Ron Wotus before Game 3 of their MLB NLCS playoff series baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies in San Francisco, October 19, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

In an incredibly gracious move, Barry Bonds has offered to pay for Bryan Stow’s children to go to college according to USA Today. Stow is the Giants fan who was severely beaten outside of Dodgers Stadium on Opening Night on March 31.

Bonds, baseball’s all-time home run leader, has offered to pay for the college education of Stow’s two children, according to Stow’s attorney, Thomas Girardi.

Stow received a visit from Bonds in his Los Angeles hospital room on April 22, just days after Bonds’ federal trial for perjury and obstruction of justice concluded.

Stow, 42, has been moved to a San Francisco hospital but remains in a coma after the March 31 attack at Dodger Stadium; one suspect has been arrested in the case, with at least one more at large. Stow has two children currently in grade school.

There will be plenty of people who will think this is a publicity stunt by Bonds in efforts to shed some good light on his name – and maybe it is. But no matter what his motives are, this is a very generous offer and unless there’s more to the story, it appears as though it was Stow’s attorney who made this news public. Not Bonds or his people.

A couple of years ago I read the book, “Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero.” What blew me away was not the stories about how much of an a-hole he was to people at times (which he was), but how generous he could be when nobody was looking. There’s a soft side to Bonds that people don’t often get to see and since I’m optimistic and positive by nature, I choose to believe that he’s helping the Stow family out of the goodness of his heart (and not because he has alterative motives with the press).

Well done, Barry.

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