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Normally, I open light and breezy. I talk about coffee, beer, or even the heavy stuff (NyQuil–and I’m feeling much better, thank you). UTK is my way of talking to a bunch of people all at once, and anyone who’s met me knows that I talk and talk and talk. Today, however, I’m going to say that Tony Gwynn is as full of crap as Jose Canseco or Ken Caminiti, and simply leave it at that.

The word “steroids” is becoming de facto shorthand for performance-enhancing drugs, both legal and illegal. It’s also becoming the de facto way for lazy journalists to point at a game and players they’ve come to loathe and besmirch it with an air of community service. Buster Olney is a really good writer (with a very interesting interview over at Bronx Banter), but he’s fallen into the same trap as many before him: Find an ex-player with an agenda, find someone within the game willing to back him up for an unquestioned reason, and play at public perceptions that baseball players really aren’t more talented than you or me–they’re just on drugs.

  • Thanks for the 31 emails telling me that Pedro Martinez looked bad on Tuesday. I was able to get a short look at him myself–and, yes, I’d say that he looked off. RotoWire seems to think he was favoring his side, while my source in Boston claims that he altered his body position more than normal from pitch to pitch. Either way, a volunteer from the Velocity Project had Pedro clocked at 93 on his last batter. I don’t take many pitchers–or medical staffs–at their word, but I’ll let Pedro tell me when he’s hurt.

  • When is a DL stint good? Never. When is it not as bad as it could have been? When your ace might have had an elbow problem. Instead, the Angels dodged something of a bullet as Kevin Appier headed to the List with a strained flexor muscle in his forearm. All speculation had centered on the elbow, so a muscular injury is much better. Appier is one of very, very few to survive shoulder surgery, even with that odd motion (which is nonetheless biomechanically sound). He should be back near the end of the 15 days.

  • The Pirates’ good start is being crushed by injuries. They’ll survive Josh Fogg‘s stint on the DL if he can overcome the always troublesome oblique injury that put him on the shelf. Oblique injuries tend to go longer than expected, so someone like Salomon Torres or Dennys Reyes could get some looks. The problem with teams like the Pirates is that they can’t overcome injuries without some luck. They just don’t have anything at Triple-A ready to step in.

  • Is it a good sign or bad sign that while 29 other organizations have a tendency to leak info in one manner or another, the A’s remain the tightest-lipped ship in the baseball sea? Besides some vague reference in the Contra Costa Times, I know nothing else on Eric Chavez and his possibly sore shoulder other than he’s allegedly scheduled for an MRI, but I’m trying to find out more.

  • It’s bad for the Mets. First, Jeromy Burnitz has a broken bone in his hand and is down a month, but that could be the good news. How bad is Cliff Floyd‘s achilles tendon? It’s bad enough that the Mets are exploring their options and willing to put Floyd on the shelf and begin the unmaking of the team that’s already been unmade.

  • Mark Kotsay left tonight’s game with spasms in his lower back. It’s not the first time he’s dealt with lower back problems, but it’s still unclear how serious this instance is. He’s never missed time, so that’s a positive in his favor. The Padres realize they aren’t contenders, so they’ll be conservative–another positive. We’ll all know more tomorrow, but don’t be surprised to see him miss a game or two.

  • Darin Erstad may not have a torn hamstring, but the strained hammy he does have continues to limit him. The Angels continue to define “regression to the mean” so far in 2003. Erstad will likely be available by the weekend, if still in a limited role.

  • Seven strikeouts, no walks, three hit batsmen in one inning? That’s a weird line I’ll leave to Keith Scherer’s next Box Lunch. (It’s Brian Lawrence vs. the Cubs, just in case you were curious.)

  • This week’s BPR is bordering on the priceless. Guests for this week: Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Dr. Mike Marshall, and a third person I can’t name until I have his interview in the can…and me. Maybe I can get Ron Artest to do a bumper.

OK, I’m off and headed to bed. Blame Jeff Bower for making me be out of the house at some ungodly hour.