Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Little Big League

I’m going to tell you why you’re rooting for the 2014 Kansas City Royals, or why you should be. These Royals are essentially a little league team. No, that’s really not an insult, but instead it’s the greatest compliment I can give. They play like a bunch of 12 year olds. Not just the enthusiasm, which is copious. But they play the way we were all told to play. First and foremost, you hustle. You always hustle. Play defense well. Catch the ball, throw to the cutoff. Don’t try to make the great play, just play smart defense and hustle and the great plays will happen. Learn how to lay down a bunt and learn how to run the bases. Throw strikes, and trust your defense. If they can’t catch up to your fastball, that’s great, but throw strikes.

They do everything your little league coach taught you. And they play like 12 year olds. They love to run, and they love to get dirty. They chomp their gum, wear rally caps and spit seeds. But even the players on the team remind you of kids you played with. Alex Gordon is the great athlete, who does everything like the cool kid in school. He can strike out four times in a single game, but he never looks phased.  Eric Hosmer has the punky haircut and is always pumping up his teammates, and man can he hit. And anytime he gets a hit, the first thing he does is look back to the dugout and pumps everyone up even more.  Mike Moustakas is that super intense kid, the one you want on your side if there’s ever a fight. He’s the strongest kid on the team, and you get the feeling that his parents are probably too hard on him, but he lives and dies with the team. Salvy Perez is the big lug of a catcher, always quick with a joke and a word of encouragement. And he’ll swing at anything and everything. Lorezno Cain is the kid who started later than everyone else, but he’s such a great athlete that he’s already one of the best players on the team. He’s just a freak athlete, but he doesn't even realize it yet.

And everyone really likes each other. The parents sitting in the bleachers can tell, and watch with pride as the dirty up their uniforms. They have an air of confidence, but never seem arrogant. There’s just no quit in any of them. They go up against teams with bigger and stronger kids, whose parents pay for all the best coaching and ridiculously expensive bats and cleats, and they beat ‘em. They appreciate every victory, and never take it for granted.

Maybe it’s the last summer before someone leaves to join a traveling team, or a dad’s  transfer takes someone else away to a far off exotic city, or maybe they’ll stick together all the way through high school.  None of that matters to a 12 year old on the field. That’s the stuff grown-ups worry about; these kids just want to keep playing.  And man, they sure are fun to watch. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Be Royal

I was 12 when we moved to Kansas City from back east. And the truth is, before we moved, the Royals were my second favorite team. I had a 1985 Fleer sticker of Royal Stadium, and thought that it looked like a pretty cool stadium. But more than that, the Royals reminded me of the Mets. My Mets had a young dominant pitcher in Dwight Gooden, and the Royals had Bret Saberhagen. The Mets had centerfielder that could fly with Mookie Wilson and the Royals had a Wilson of their own in WIllie. Both teams had right fielders who could hit the cover off the ball and gritty third basemen.

I hated the idea of leaving my friends and my Mets, but Kansas City didn’t sound like a horrible place. And we were going to live just 30 minutes from the stadium, compared to the nearly two hour trip we had back east. It was 1989 and the Royals had a pretty good team. But then we moved here, and I felt completely lost. I convinced myself that cheering for the Royals meant that I was being disloyal to the Mets. I quickly grew to hate living here, and rooting for a Kansas City team would have required positivity and enthusiasm. Being an angry 12 year old made that impossible. And so I quickly began to despise the Royals and the Chiefs.

As I made friends, even some who were Royal fans, my anti-KC feelings became part of those friendships. It’s great to root with people, but rooting against them is more engaging than being apathetic. So as the 90’s went, and the Royals ran their franchise into the ground, it became great fun to root against them. It helped take the focus off my Mets, who quickly became horrible themselves. 

I kept my anti-KC for years. Years became a decade, and soon a second decade. I made an exception when I attended the University of Kansas, and fell in love with Lawrence and the tradition of Jayhawk basketball. Plus, Lawrence never felt like the rest of the midwest to me. The Royals kept assembling ridiculous rosters and the Chiefs kept disappointing their faithful fans. So that was pretty fantastic. 
Things began to shift when I found someone who wasn't just willing to marry me, but really wanted to. And being a Kansas City native that I loved, I started to warm to the teams of her youth. Aspects of Kansas City that I used to mock, started to become appealing. It’s really affordable, and very family friendly. 

Before I knew it, and without realizing it, I built a life here. Fantastic friends and a great family of my very own. So while other cities are sexier and have more to offer, Kansas City became home. And the Royals, after going through more rebuilding projects than any fan base should ever be asked to endure, started to show some promise. Along with the promise I saw on the field, there was seeing my wife cheer for them. And then it finally happened. I accepted the Royals and Kansas City became home. Not home “until…” but it’s really home. It’ll never be where I’m from, and I’ll always love Long Island and the memories of back east. But it’s where my daughter is forming her childhood memories.

Last night’s 12 inning win brought back memories of seeing the Mets beat the Astros in 16 innings in the 1986 playoffs. And there’s nothing as memorable as a baseball team that won’t quit and finds a way to win. Go Royals. You know, unless they’re playing the Mets. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

You're the Shepard

Like everyone else, I’m dazed by the loss of Robin Williams. Social media does a lot of things well, and a lot of things have room for improvement. But it’s hard to say it does anything better than react to the loss of a beloved figure. The fact that Williams’ was as cherished as ever, even though his work hasn’t been up to par for years, is absolutely beautiful to me. But do yourself a favor, and catch his guest appearance on” Louie” from 2012.

I have, as I’m sure you do my favorite Williams’ roles. John Keating, Sean Maguire and Adrian Cronauer were three iconic roles. That’s three iconic and career defining roles. Three old friends I could easily spend a Saturday afternoon with. The great teacher I wish I had, the therapist that I really connected with that never came along and the best morning DJ to ever walk the earth, who taught me everything I ever needed to know about the Vietnam War.

I’ll quote them often and thanks to Williams, I’ll always remember my father saying “shazbot.” But I’ll also always remember how I felt yesterday, when I heard the news of his passing and how he passed. While so many like to accuse a suicide victim of taking the easy way out, I just don’t see it that way. Williams’ suicide brought back a lot of darker memories for me. I’m reminded of a period of my life, from probably 12 until 22, when the same option was very much in play. I’m thankful that I received help and never went through with any attempts, and I’m mindful that the darkness of depression is always closer than I like to admit. Like the fact my daughter posted on Facebook a year or so ago, “you are never more than 10 feet away from a spider.”

I understand that for me, depression is probably never more than 10 feet away, and I have to remain vigilante to keep it at bay. I haven’t had those kind of thoughts in nearly 10 years, and I’d like to believe I never will.  It breaks my heart that Williams fell victim to his. Last night I was online looking for my favorite Robin Williams moments, and came across his appearance on “Inside the Actors Studio.” He was brilliant, but I distinctly remember feeling that I was watching a tortured man on that stage. He was manic. I heard that a member of the audience was hospitalized due to a hernia sustained from laughing during his interview with James Lipton. I don’t doubt it, and based on her laugh, I think I know who it was. At least I remember the laugh. But Williams’ entire interview, and it turns out his life, make me think of “Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson.

“Now there’s some sad things known to man, But ain’t too much sadder than, the tears of a clown. When there’s no one around”

What has been made most clear to me, since hearing of Williams death, is how powerful social media can be. I found myself thinking, as everyone rushed to share their sadness or their favorite Robin Williams moments and expressed more compassion and kindness than social has ever displayed; what if we did this more often? What if, instead of waiting until Facebook reminds us of birthdays, we occasionally just told our friends and family how we feel about them? It’s na├»ve, simplistic and maybe even immature, but screw it. Maybe choosing to be kind over being cool could help someone out on the day where randomly hearing something kind could make all the difference.

Because you know what?  John Keating was right when he said, “no matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lets Make a Deal

The basketball world continues to wait, with bated breath, to find out what Lebron James will decide this summer. Does he opt out, and test free agency? Does he return to Miami at a discount, allowing the Heat some cap flexibility? Or does he opt in for one more year, only to revisit the same decisions a year from now. But I’m not going to talk about that. Because I have figured out a way for Kobe Bryant to potentially win his 6th ring. A ring that’s very important to Bryant, because it would give him as much jewelry as Michael Jordan.

The catch, and Laker fans will hate this, but they’ll have to trade Kobe Bean Bryant. A Laker for 18 season, who was widely criticized for the pricey extension he signed with the Lakers this past season, could do more to help the team by requesting a trade than he can do by playing out his remaining years. No matter how good he is upon his return from injuries, his contract has the Lakers handcuffed for the next two seasons.

I realize trading an icon like Kobe would upset the fan base, and generally I hate the idea of seeing icons change teams. While we like to pretend it’s a newer phenomenon, it simply isn’t. We saw Michael Jordan in a Wizards uniform and we saw Karl Malone in a Laker uniform. Patrick Ewing went on to Seattle and then Orlando, and Hakeem Olajuwon finished his career in Toronto.

So here’s the trade:

The Lakers trade Kobe Bryant to the New York Knicks and in return, they receive both A’mare Stoudemire and Andrew Bargnani.

I get it, you think this sounds like a horrible trade. Why would the Lakers want those two bums? Well, I can’t say they’d want them, but here are a couple of reasons why they should. First of all, it makes them worse. What, they should want to get worse? Absolutely. Getting this bad is a great move. Unless there’s a miracle, the 2014-15 Lakers should be the worst in the NBA. That guarantees them a top four pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. And the real keys to this trade are the expiring contracts of both Stoudemire and Bargnani. Trading Kobe allows the Lakers to free up $36 million for the 2015 season. When, potentially, Lebron James could be a free agent as well as Kyrie Irving. The Lakers could afford both of them, team them up with two recent lottery picks and still have plenty of cap space to fill out a competitive roster.

And here is why Kobe Bryant should want to be traded to the Knicks. He would be reunited with Phil Jackson, who is now team President. He would be playing for his good friend, and first year coach, Derek Fisher and alongside his buddy, Carmelo Anthony. But wait, there’s more. Derek, Phil and Kobe could basically get the band back together. Pau Gasol is a free agent, and could sign with the Knicks for the veteran minimum. Lamar Odom, who finished last season with the Knicks, could also sign for the veteran minimum. The Knicks are rumored to have an interest in Spurs back-up point guard, Patty Mills.
Potentially, the 2014-15 Knicks starting lineup could be:

PG- P.Mills
SG- K.Bryant
SF- C.Anthony
PF- P.Gasol
C- T.Chandler

Along with a bench that would include Iman Shumpert, JR Smith and Lamar Odom. They probably wouldn’t win 55 games, but no one wants to see that team in the playoffs.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Net Loss

NBA All-Stars teaming up in Miami, we’ve seen this movie already, right? Well, sequels to big budget productions are as predictable as a Michael Wilborn name-drop on “PTI.” The sports world is abuzz with talk of Knick forward, Carmelo Anthony, joining up with his besties in South Beach. Making the “Big 3” the “Fab 4” aka, the Heatles.

So every sports radio talk show, website and sports related twitter feed are on fire. Most everyone is adamantly against this union. Minus those who are Heat fans, of which there’s maybe 30,000 legit Heat fans and another 3,000,000 enjoying their spot on the bandwagon. Of course, as a Knick fan, I think this is a horrible idea. Losing your best player in 20 years is almost always a negative, and having him join a conference rival that already has the best player in the game (maybe ever. Yes, I said it) isn’t exactly raising my expectations for the Knicks. I don’t care how many rings Phil Jackson has in his closet.

This potential union is bigger than the Knicks. It would also be bigger than the NBA. What? No single player, or team is bigger than the sport. Well, yes. That’s always been the case. While the “Big 3” shifted the balanced of the league for four seasons, uniting four members of the 2012 Olympic team is a whole new monster. Ultimately, it would be bad for the game of basketball.

On one hand, any time there’s a historically great team playing, it’s good for the sport. No matter what sport it is. The Yankees of the late 90’s, Jordan’s Bulls, Showtime, the Celtics, and Brady’s Patriots. They were all among the greatest teams in their respective sports, and put fannies in the seats and television’s tuned in. Just as we saw when Lebron initially took his talent to South Beach.  

And “the Decision” had a greater impact, than just further breaking Cleveland’s heart into a million more pieces. Chris Paul first tried to join Carmelo and A’mare Stoutemire in New York, before changing his focus to joining Kobe and Pau on the Lakers. A move the NBA itself blocked, before shipping him off to the Clippers. So Dwight Howard joined the Lakers, along with future Hall of Famer, Steve Nash. That didn’t work out, so Howard went to Houston. The Rockets had recently acquired James Harden from the Thunder, because they couldn’t afford to sign him to a long term deal. Turns out, they dealt him a year too soon for a ton too little. But that’s neither here nor there. For now. Kevin Love has asked out of Minnesota, and the belief is that he is looking for a chance to join a winning team. The point is, the league changed. Superstar players are trying to join forces. It was the only way to remain competitive. And the money remained largely unchanged. The best players were going to get their max deals.

But for Melo to join James, Wade and Bosh in Miami, all four players will have to take significant pay-cuts. I’m not saying just a million or two (how can you ever say “just a million or two” and not throw up?). No, they’ll have to take over 50% in pay cuts to make it work under the NBA salary cap. In the end, they’ll each have to give up between $50 and $70m. But shouldn’t we applaud them? Shouldn’t we appreciate that four friends want to work together and live in a beautiful city, while making millions of dollars? Sounds good like a pretty good gig to me.

And this is where I start questioning if this whole idea is really that bad. As fans, we’ve become accustom to calling athletes greedy.  But we can’t say that if this happens. We can’t say they don’t care about winning, just their stats and paychecks, if they’re willing to sacrifice so much just to win. Even if they’re creating a super team and also depleting the level of the competition as a direct result of joining forces. Like when Hulk fought alongside Iron Man and Thor in the Avengers. It made them a whole lot stronger, and they didn’t have to worry about fighting the Hulk anymore. Win-win, right?

Only not so much. We saw the stars of league quickly trying to team up in sets of threes after “The Decision” and if there’s a sequel, the rest of the league will have to act accordingly. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can’t compete without teaming up with two additional great players. Kobe, who would love to do it alone, would have to play nice in someone else’s sandbox. Basically, the rest of the league has to put together their “Superman V Batman” cast, just as Zac Snyder is trying to do in Hollywood to compete with the Marvel Universe.

This could really be a great thing, if we weren’t such a greedy society. Rather than 30 NBA teams, imagine a league of 10 teams. 10 rosters filled up with the best of the best. The level of competition would be insane, although there wouldn’t be a team in Oklahoma City or Portland. There could be a second league, and maybe players could play their way into the top tier. I’ve long thought that all four of the professional leagues should contract some teams. It’s one of those situations, where less really is more. Less teams would mean the remaining teams would have more talent.

After thinking it all through, I’d like to stand at the wedding and object. Not because it’s unfair, or because it kills any chance my Knicks have of winning a title, but for the same reasons I object to Time Warner and Comcast merging. Or Sprint and T-Mobile, okay, bad example. That one is purely personal. Corporate mergers make for boring news and even more boring basketball. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Oh Cramp

The sports world has lost its collective mind after Lebron James left game one of the NBA finals with cramps. The image is pretty powerful, seeing a guy as massive as James, hobbled and reaching for his left leg. And while everyone that has ever experienced a cramp, can tell you how painful it can be, it just doesn’t look the same as a broken leg nor does it show up under an MRI like a torn Achilles. So this morning, social media and sports talk radio is all abuzz.

The first, and obvious comparison, is Michael Jordan. Jordan supporters are quick to claim that cramps would never sideline the great MJ. Hey, we all saw him play in the “flu game” where he battled a temperature of 103 in game 5 of the 1997 Finals. Jordan played 44 minutes and scored 38 minutes, and the iconic images of him slouching on the bench and later falling into Scottie Pippen’s arms are etched into the Mount Rushmore of sports images.

But it’s easy to wax poetic about the great Jordan. The truth is, no player has ever entered the NBA and been asked to carry as much weight as Lebron from game one. Accounting for college games, regular season, playoff and Olympic Games; Lebron has played more minutes than Michael, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson. Kobe has played in 6 more games, but over 200 less minutes. And basketball-reference doesn’t have all the minutes played in Olympic Games, which is worth noting because through age 29 Lebron played 24 games in the Olympics compared to 8 from Kobe.

Jordan, Magic and Kobe are three of the all-time greats. I’d rank all of them in my top five, but none of them are built like Lebron. All that muscle, along with being as athletic as any of them, and all the time he has spent on the court, has to take a toll. Cramps aren’t about mental toughness or being soft, as many are now hinting. Lebron is simply unlucky that he’s more susceptible to cramping, just as some of us mere mortals are prone to debilitating migraines.

If the Heat end up losing the series, James’ legacy will forever be tainted because of he unfortunately cramped up last night. And we’ll continue to praise Jordan, who actually retired twice after winning an NBA championship. Yet we never seem to question his heart or commitment. We’ll tell our grandkids about Magic Johnson, and frankly, his lack of discipline off the court quite possibly lead to him retiring at the age of 31. And we’re awed by the laser like focus Kobe Bryant showed, while standing trial for the rape of a teenage girl in Colorado. Somehow, that kind of focus is considered admirable. I’ve had my issues with Kobe, and I’ve come around to the point that I’d actually call myself a bit of a Kobe fan. But let’s be honest, assuming he’s innocent, there’s something scary about someone being able to compartmentalize like that. The very day he plead not-guilty in court, he flew to San Antonio and scored 42 points. He was facing 20 years to life in prison. I don’t mean to make this about Kobe, and what did or didn’t happen in Colorado, but that’s just bizarre.

We shouldn’t be questioning Lebron’s heart today. We should be upset that an unfortunate electronic malfunction robbed us of what could have been a game for the ages. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Chef Review: Swingers, All Growns Up

One of my all-time favorite movies, is now legally, an adult. So it’s perfect, that the all growns up version was just released. Jon Favreau reclaimed all the heart, soul and sweetness that made Swingers the perfect movie for a single guy in his 20’s, and used those ingredients along with some added maturity, to cook up another gem with Chef. C’mon, I had to make some kind of cooking analogy.

Chef is the story of a famous LA chef, has a blow up in the most 2014 way possible after a negative, and personal, review from an even more famous food blogger. Beginning with a tweet war he can’t win, and ending with a viral video of a meltdown. It costs him, not just his job, but his pride. All the while, he’s unable to see just how badly his son is trying to connect with him.

With his tale between his legs, he ends up taking his ex-wife’s advice (Sofia Vegara) and opens up a food truck. He hits the road with his loyal sous chef (John Leguizamo, who should really be a bigger star by now) and his son, to find his creative edge again and the adoration of his son.

Like in Swingers, Favreau introduces us to a subculture that is much cooler than we ever thought. His music choices, as well as how he utilizes a song in a scene, is perfect. Much of it has an oddly familiar feel, only you just can’t remember where you’ve heard it before. I played the hell out of my Swingers soundtrack from 1996 through the end of the decade, and before I made it home from the movie last night, I had the Chef soundtrack playing on Spotify. Of course I was at a red light.

Making Chef, in 2014, took real courage. The world has changed an awful lot since 1996, when Swingers was an indie darling. The personal story has been replaced by well-produced, big budget comic book movies. Favreau has changed just as much, he’s no longer the fat guy you recognize from Rudy or Vince Vaughn’s wingman. Now he’s the director and producer of the best comic book movies (Iron Man, Iron Man 2. produced Iron Man 3 and Avengers). Chef is every bit as personal as Swingers, only the priorities have changed. Beautiful babies, last minute trips to Vegas, and getting over the girl have been replaced, ironically enough by responsibilities. Find a job, be a good dad, make ends meet, and get happy. Loyalty, in the grownup world, means telling someone to not follow you out the door to unemployment, but telling them to stay and take advantage of the opportunity. Keeping your rep because someone bumped into your friend and didn’t apologize, that’s for kids. And so are K-cars.

I am a notoriously picky eater, but Chef did more to make various foods appeal to me than anything else ever has. Do yourself a flavor, and go check out the feel good movie of the summer. (That has to end up on a poster, right?)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Say Good Night to the Bad Guy

Donald Sterling is a bad guy. I despise everything he stands for, and I have long before his words were recorded. His bigotry and business dealings have been well documented, so none of this is new. And it would be great for basketball, if he was no longer a part of the NBA. But the NBA shouldn’t do anything about this.

Like most everyone else, I like to believe that there’s no room in society for this kind of antiquated thinking in 2014. But this kind of thinking is way more prevalent than we are willing to admit. I think allowing Sterling to keep the team, would do more to keep the lines of communication open than forcing him to sell and making him a martyr for likeminded individuals.

This is embarrassing to admit, but I’m one of those people who read (and sometimes engage) with commenters on Facebook and throughout social media. So as much as we like to think we’ve come so far in the last 60 years, anytime race is in the news, the internet trolls make it evident; we have a long way to go. Ignorance is an epidemic and it won’t be beat by sweeping the ugly under the rug.

He’s an ass, and he made that very clear, but this is not how you drive out the darkness. I think it would be fantastic if the fans, sponsors and players want to force him out in very organic way. If players refuse to play for him, I applaud them. If the fans want to stay at home, that’s great. If the people apply so much pressure that Sterling is driven to sell, that’s a huge win. That’s a statement that can’t be ignored. But the league shouldn’t drive the bus. Forcing the 80 year old billionaire to sell his team for close to a billion dollars won’t change a thing, it would only help the NBA’s image for a single news cycle.

I’m not worried about Donald Sterling. We see him for what he is. I’m worried about the owners, executive, coaches, fans, agents and players that are just as ignorant but remain faceless. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart is the perfect player to root against. He’s a great talent and a smart kid. Two facts that shouldn't be overlooked, he’s talented and he’s a kid. After beating Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse last year, he did a celebratory flip right on the giant Jayhawk at half-court. Every Kansas fan took notice. It was a sign of disrespect, only it really wasn't. His flip acknowledged that beating Kansas wasn't just another win in a long season. Beating Kansas was an accomplishment worth celebrating. I hated him for it. And I loved him for it.

Smart could have been a top 10 pick in the NBA draft after his freshman season, and he could have begun earning millions of dollars. But he loved playing college basketball, and chose to come back. How can you not root for the rare kid, who makes that decision? His Oklahoma State team was supposed to be very good, and were the favorites to dethrone Kansas, as nine time Big 12 Champions. And when Kansas landed the top recruit in the country, who quickly became the focus of the basketball world, Smart took exception. And while most players play the public relations game, Smart wasn't afraid to voice his opinion.

“They are saying he is the best college player there is and he has not even played a game yet,” Smart told USA Today Sports. “It is all talk. He still has to put his shorts on one leg at a time like I do. It is all potential. I am not saying he can’t do it, but he has not done it yet.”

This isn't a kid just going through the motions, waiting for his payday. Marcus Smart is everything we want in a college athlete. But after a 15-2 start, his season quickly went to hell in a hand basket, finally hitting rock bottom when he let the words of a loud mouth set him off. Smart was obviously wrong for pushing the moron, but I loved how he took responsibility for his actions. Again, another rare quality in today’s athlete. Heck, it’s a rare quality in people today, no matter their athletic ability.

So I’m rooting for Marcus Smart, you know, except for when Kansas heads down to Stillwater next month. I hope Smart comes back and drops 30 points per game, and has a fantastic NBA career. I know he’ll be a model citizen on and off the court. The only bad guy in this whole mess, is the 50 year old who spent a nice junk of change, just to harass kids while they were playing a game. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

PEDs: Yes, Again

I've had mixed feelings for years about doping. It's not that I'm in favor of it. It's just that I've never found the standard arguments against doping to be particularly compelling. So professional cyclists take EPO because they can rebuild their red blood cell count, in order to step up their training. I'm against "cheating" when it permits people to take shortcuts. But remind me why I would be against something someone takes because they want to train harder?” Malcolm Gladwell

I’m not sure who is more obsessed with Performance Enhancing Drugs, Major League Baseball or myself. I think I may have promised not to write about PED use anymore, and I could apologize, but there’s maybe three people reading this, so I’ll risk it and hope you’ll just have to forgive me.

I just can’t help myself. Every time there’s a major PED story in the sports news cycle, the subsequent outrage just drives me batty. Yes, it’s technically cheating. The rules say players aren't allowed to take these drugs, so by taking them, they are cheating. That much isn't really debatable. So while Alex Rodriguez isn't being suspended for flunking a test, I’m confident that he did 95% of everything they say he did. I was a fan of Alex, until he left Seattle. In part, it was because he spurned my Mets, and also because I've never been a fan of franchise players leaving via free agency, unless they are returning “home.” As Barry Bonds did when he went to the Giants, and Ken Griffey Jr did when he went to the Reds.

It wasn't until Alex forced a trade to the Yankees, that we realized how much of a prima donna he really is. Then on top of that, he was just horrible in the post-season. But this isn't about Rodriguez. I don’t really care what he did or how inflated his career numbers are.

What I can’t wrap my head around, is how the very day that the media is ripping him to shreds, we’re all celebrating the greatness of Peyton Manning. And Manning is now, and has always been, a remarkable football player. Manning has put together, perhaps, the greatest career ever, by anyone throwing a football. And if he had a similar career throwing a sphere, rather than a prolate spheroid, his numbers would all be under a cloud of suspicion.

Manning is 37, and two years removed from a career threatening neck injury. He required spinal fusion surgery. That wasn't enough, and he had another procedure on his neck. Manning missed an entire season, and was released. He signed with Denver, and while his arm strength was obviously diminished in 2012, he had the second best season of his illustrious career. Then this year, Manning had, statistically, the best season of any quarterback in the history of the NFL.

Based on appearance, there’s never been any reason to suspect Manning of taking anything illegal. He’s currently listed at 6’5” and 230 pounds, the same weight he was listed during his senior year of college. That was 16 years ago. Manning and I are the same age, and neither myself, nor any of my friends, weight what we did 16 years ago.

It’s not that I suspect Manning has taken PED’s. My gut feeling is, that he actually has not. But the truth is, of the athletes that have been linked to PEDs, most weren't overly muscular nor did we witness some sort of noticeable physical transition. The outlier, of course, is Barry Bonds. Bonds looked more like the Hulk at the end of his career, than a baseball player.

Interestingly enough, both Bonds and Manning are the sons of fathers who played professional sports. Barry and Peyton both had much more productive careers than their fathers.

Of the 41 players that Major League Baseball that have been suspended for taking PEDs, only eight would be labeled power hitters. The vast majority were either relief pitchers or largely forgettable hitters. Of course, the list doesn't include Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa Mark McGwire or Jose Canseco. But my point is, it isn't just the super strong and Hulk-like, athletes using.

Forget about the big four sports in America for a second, and look at the rest of the landscape. Where is doping prevalent? In cycling (see; Armstrong, Lance) and track and field. Check out this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_doping_cases_in_athletics

Yet, in America, we seem to only suspect baseball players. When in truth, football players and basketball players have so much more to gain from taking performance enhancers. The list above contains mostly athletes who compete in sports where speed, agility and strength are most important. Have you watched baseball? It’s mostly about hand-eye coordination. Sure, being strong might help you hit a ball further, or throw it harder. But it won’t help you make contact more, and it won’t help you locate a pitch better.

But it would help a running back run fast, and allow him to be strong enough to handle being hit by a 250 pound linebacker. It would help a basketball player to train harder, and build up the strength in his legs, so he can run and jump. And it’s just too convenient, that, as of now, neither the NFL nor NBA, test for HGH.

So forgive me, if I can’t just accept Adrian Peterson coming back from a torn ACL, and had one of the best season of any running back, without borrowing some of Lance Armstrong’s methods. And I can’t look at Lebron James, combines the body of a power forward, with the speed of a point guard and can jump like a deer, and not suspect that he may be genetically modified.

Are we going to question every great feat accomplished on a baseball diamond, and blindly accept everything done on a football field or a basketball court? I can’t do that. Then again, I don’t really care what these guys put in their bodies. Because why I would be against something someone takes because they want to train harder?