Juiced-ball conspiracy theory backed by powerful evidence

The Kickoff

April 17, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

Somebody named Chris Shelton has eight home runs in the first two weeks of the new season.

The Orioles and Angels hit eight home runs in Friday night's game at Camden Yards.

Chicago White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome already has seven home runs in 38 at-bats after hitting just seven in 193 at-bats for the Phillies last year.

Really, I was just goofing around when I wrote just two days into the season that it seemed like this year's baseball is wound tighter than Albert Belle, but I'm starting to believe my own press clippings.

Conspiracy Guy, my paranoid alter ego, always jumps to knee-jerk conclusions, and it struck me that this past offseason would have been a perfect time for Major League Baseball to sneak down and reset the sewing machines in Costa Rica so that the resurgent home run totals would create some deniability about the impact of steroids on the power numbers of the past decade.

I wasn't the only one having juiced-ball fantasies. Hall of Famer Jim Palmer came to the same conclusion at about the same time, proving that - at the very least - great minds really do think alike.

Now, I'm starting to wonder if we were just way ahead of the curve, especially after commissioner Bud Selig didn't even manage a strong denial when a reporter asked him about the early homer totals before Saturday night's game between the Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Associated Press reported that Selig said it was too early for "juiced-ball talk."

I'm not sure what that proves, except that at this point, Bud will settle for just about anything other than juiced-player talk as former Sen. George Mitchell embarks on a wide-ranging investigation of past steroid use in baseball.

I'm scratching my head over the Field Poll released Saturday that indicated only 58 percent of California voters surveyed believe that Barry Bonds used steroids to improve his performance. That would be a high number if it were a poll to determine which of two candidates was leading in a political campaign, but in this case it's indicative of a surprising amount of doubt that Bad News Barry was on the juice when he broke the single-season home run record.

Bonds has bone chips in his left elbow and he told MLB.com that it had swollen to almost twice the size of his other elbow.

My take: It should only take two or three injections of flaxseed oil to get the right elbow up there, too.

If you're inclined to root against Barry in his quest to overtake Babe Ruth, you're probably better off rooting for the bone chips than a BALCO perjury charge. Though an indictment could open the way for Selig to suspend Bonds, it could take several months for the case to get to trial ... and most experts agree that it would be tough to get a conviction even if he did lie to the grand jury.

I guess if you're going to win your first PGA title on Easter Sunday, you might as well be the guy who preached at an impromptu worship service at the 18th hole before the start of the final round.

Aaron Baddeley said afterward that he was praying right up until he dropped the putt on 18 to outlast veteran Jim Furyk at the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head, S.C.

I can identify with that. God always answers my prayer when I need to make a big putt, but the answer is usually "No."

It's almost hard to believe that when John Smoltz pitched a four-hit shutout against the San Diego Padres on Saturday it was the first victory by a Braves starter this season. The Braves have won six of their first 13 games, but reliever Oscar Villarreal has four of those victories and setup man Mike Remlinger has the other.

If you're new pitching coach Roger McDowell, that's not the way you want to usher in the post-Mazzone era, but it's way too early to draw any negative conclusions about the Braves' starting rotation.

The Volvo Ocean Race comes to the Chesapeake Bay today or tomorrow for a three-week stay that will feature events in both Baltimore and Annapolis, but I guess I'll pass. The last time I was invited to a sailing event, it was because one of the boats needed ballast.

Favorite headline this week from SportsPickle.com, the Maryland-based sports humor site on the Web: Obviously Insane Darren Daulton Picks The Phillies To Win The N.L. East. peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.