January 2008 Archives for Agony & Ivy

What Baseball's Comprehensive Steroids Policy Needs

By JCB on Friday, January 25, 2008

Many of the games I’ve attended at Wrigley Field and about two dozen other stadiums blend together. This is inevitable when you attend so many; when baseball consumes a significant part of your life. Certain ones stand out though, and it's one of these on my mind today: Friday the 21st of August, 1998.

It was a hot, hazy, humid afternoon. Typical for Chicago in August. (Miserable.) It was also the weekend I moved in to my non-airconditioned dorm as a freshman in college.

We parked off of Roscoe Street because in those days you could still find free parking off of Roscoe if you got there early enough. Kerry Wood pitched against Orel Hersheiser that afternoon. The Cubs came from behind in the bottom of the ninth. Sammy Sosa singled; Mark Grace walked; Henry Rodriguez singled; Jose Hernandez singled; and the Cubs won 6-5. We stayed until the end and drove away slowly, stuck in traffic, completely drained, but also completely content.

Earlier in the game, Sosa hit his 49th homerun.

Steroids? Not on our radar that day. Not really. Sosa’s and McGwire’s homerun chase? Very much on our radar, as was the Cubs role in the wild card race. How could we have known that soon a cloud would hang over this era, this season, even perhaps this game? That Sosa, while never proven, would become a strongly suspected steroid user? That weeks later, Bonds would see the acclaim for Sosa and McGwire, probably leading to his own steroid use in the following years, and probably now a trial for perjury?

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There’s an analytic concept that has proven useful to me recently in thinking about steroids and baseball. It’s not perfect, but it’s helped me grapple with not only what baseball should do, going forward, but also how I think—and feel—about assessing blame and culpability looking back. The concept is the distinction between rules and standards, a distinction between types and forms of laws that I’ll explain in a moment.

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A Modest Suggestion Regarding the Sale of Wrigley Field

By JCB on Sunday, January 6, 2008

Shawon Dunston Worst Defense Award: To attorney Michael Guinan, who, in a futile attempt to explain away federal income tax charges, said he spent nothing for food on several long yacht trips in the Bahamas because he “speared fish and trapped lobsters and traded with the natives for bread and vegetables.”

  —from an article I ran across in researching this piece, published in the Chicago Tribune Business section titled “End-of-Year Accounting,” December 31, 1985.

* * *

Did you know that Wrigley Field was the first ballpark to let crowd members keep foul balls?

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Sincerely, JCB

I founded Agony & Ivy about five years ago for two reasons. First...


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