I came here tonight to bury the Giambino, not to praise him, but a funny thing happened on the way to the digital lynching: I read the lead on the all-wood Giambi story in the Daily News:
Shrunken slugger Jason Giambi was exposed yesterday as a steroid-using liar who betrayed the Yankees and all baseball fans.
If I'm Mort Zuckerman, the two reporters who teamed on this lead (T.J. Quinn and Jose Martinez) are pushing mail carts on Monday morning. Because they're either blind or stupid - or, perhaps, that fanciful breed of baseball fans who believes there's a "Yankee way," some kind of morally upright way of conducting oneself that comports with virtuous human paradigms like Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Billy Martin.
Jason Giambi betrayed himself; he sold his body and, quite probably, his life expectancy for homeruns and tens of millions of dollars. He did not betray the New York Yankees, which is the richest franchise in sports, operating under a scandalous Federal anti-trust exemption that has created a class of wealthy franchise owners who answer to no one. He has not betrayed the fans - at least none but those gullible enough to believe their own hopes a dreams ride on the pinstripe-wearing bodies of a bunch of hulking and coddled athletes with emotional developments significantly less advanced than my 6-year-old.
The betrayal here lies in the rotten soul of Major League Baseball, which knowingly supported steroid-ravaged sluggers to move units, sell tickets, and bump ad rates ever higher. It lies with a "commissioner" - and I use the term ever so lightly - who presides over this mess, and with the politicians who give this corrupt association of old men a pass. It lies with the so-called "union" that protects its members rights at the expense of fair competition and the future.
No, Jason Giambi didn't betray anyone but himself. In the same Daily News, Mike Lupica gets it right:
In testimony that wrecks his baseball life and his good name, Jason Giambi comes across as some kind of amiable dope, just looking to take the same home run dope the big boys were taking. In the process, in an obscene version of due process being conducted in that BALCO case out in San Francisco, he gives us official proof that our eyes haven't been lying to us after all. This he does by stopping his own lies finally and telling the truth.
To me, this is the biggest baseball scandal since the Black Sox, another instance of organized crime colluding with look-the-other-way leadership. Baseball needs Olympics-style testing and punishment to regain the respect of real fans. It needs to clean house, and it needs competition and the end of the criminal anti-trust exemption.
Of course, I'm really just a cranky Mets fan. And I'm knocking back a few tonight to celebrate the acquisition of Felix Heredia.
UPDATE: Thanks to Red Sox fan Steve for pointing out that the Post got it just as wrong on the mystique/class issue:
"It's simple: Jason Giambi must go. Now. He has disgraced the Yankee pinstripes and made a mockery of everything that is wonderful and good and pure about the game of baseball. So now it's up to George Steinbrenner. Say what you will about the man, he has only ever put one thing above winning: class."
Said Steve: "Pinstripe disgrace? Steinbrenner and class? I need a freakin' antacid..."
UPDATE II: Finally, a Yankee fan with some sense. Bleacher bum Filip Bondy recaptures a speck of Daily News honor - thrown away so casually by the "news" department - with a fitting rip job this morning. Bondy, a rapid fan, opines:
While the Yankees cynically scour that fine print in Jason Giambi's contract, hoping to disengage themselves from a steroid pariah, we would do well to consider their moral outrage in the context it deserves. We ought to revile such hypocrisy, such gall.
Looking to assign blame for the bulging pinstriped uniforms? Look no further than Yankee management, from the owner down. The Yanks dumped Tino Martinez and signed Giambi after the 2001 season to a seven-year, $120 million contract, with every reason to believe that Giambi's amazing power numbers were artificially induced. Then, for good measure, the Yanks inked Gary Sheffield two years later, despite all indications Sheffield's body was molded by similar illegal substances.