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Gobble Gobble Turkey Around the Slightly Hotter Hot Stove

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I'm back after a two-week break, most of which felt devoted to planning Thanksgiving dinner, cooking it, and cleaning up after. We should have heeded President Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial turkey complex.

Thankfully there hasn't been much hot stove action to distract us from the hot stoves in our kitchen, unless you like to track the whispers about Nick Swisher's stubble shadow. But then, yesterday, we got some news that should usher in a higher quality of Giants-related gobble gobble turkey from jive turkey gobblers like myself. BJ Upton, an eight-year veteran who's only put together one star-power season -- in 2007 -- was rewarded with a five-year, $75 M contract by the Braves. He might be worth it; he certainly has all the skills to put the wheels, bat, and glove together into a multi-year superstar run.

The impact for Giants fans, however, is the shattering of any illusion that Angel Pagan might sign for a team-friendly, two or three year contract at, say, $10 million per year. Seriously, those were some of the speculative numbers I saw floating around. I might have been the source, even. Now, ha ha ha ha ha. I will hand in my official blogger badge and toy gun if Pagan signs for fewer than four years; I'm putting my marker down at four years, $50 M.

It seems pretty clear that's not the kind of money the Giants want to spend on Angel Pagan. If it were, they would have been happy to extend him a qualifying offer before he became a free agent, which at worst would have tied him to the Giants with a one year, $13.3 M contract. (Refresh your memory here.) Now he's going to get that times four, more or less, if my guess is correct, and the Giants will be left without draft pick compensation. So I'm spending the rest of the week trying to get more comfortable with the idea of Shane Victorino, San Francisco Giant.

Ugh. Actually, I'm guessing a different direction entirely. I think Sabes will get more creative, perhaps make a trade for or sign someone under the radar who could platoon in center field with Gregor Blanco. Someone with a career .311 / .367 / .461 line against left handed pitching, perhaps? I don't know if the 36-year-old Reed Johnson could still hack it in center on a part-time basis, especially in the big ballpark by the bay. Here's a similarly under-the-radar guy about seven years younger. I have no idea if Johnson or Craig Gentry are available, or willing to come to SF, but that's the kind of under-the-radar move I suspect the Giants will try for if Pagan's price is too high.

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Barry Bonds. Hall of Fame. Gobble gobble jive turkeys. I'll just reprint, as I've done many times, something I wrote last decade:

If Johnny Bench, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jax, Rollie Fingers or some other legend admitted today that he wouldn't have performed as well as he did without "greenies" -- the illegal-without-a-prescription amphetamines freely available in big-league clubhouses for many years -- would you argue that his records, his individual and team achievements, should be asterisked, invalidated, and his plaque removed from the Hall of Fame?

Don't say, "Well, until it's proven, it's only theoretical." Because you can be sure that someone somewhere in the Hall of Fame or in the record book got a nice lift more than once on a criminally muggy August night in Philly or Hotlanta when the old back or leg or elbow was barking like a bloodhound. And really, what's the difference between what Bonds did and a couple greenies twice a week to extend a hitting streak or Cy Young season or 3,000-hit chase?
Chronicle baseball writer (and president of the BBWAA) Susan Slusser actually wrote an answer to that very question in her column today:

Another compelling argument from the let-everyone-in side is that the vast majority of players in the 1970s and '80s were using illegal amphetamines to make it through the long months of the baseball season. That is a serious issue that I do not want to downplay, but amphetamine use was not hidden and the playing field was pretty even because the usage was so widespread.

There is something about hiding in a bathroom and injecting an illegal substance that alters body chemistry that seems so much more subversive and character warping. There is great secrecy and shame associated with steroid use, because it is so clearly wrong. Players know they are doing something dishonest and illegal. There was never, ever that sense with amphetamines.



Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Baseball-Hall-of-Fame-ballot-a-minefield-4075550.php#ixzz2Df3sBI9n

Another compelling argument from the let-everyone-in side is that the vast majority of players in the 1970s and '80s were using illegal amphetamines to make it through the long months of the baseball season. That is a serious issue that I do not want to downplay, but amphetamine use was not hidden and the playing field was pretty even because the usage was so widespread.
There is something about hiding in a bathroom and injecting an illegal substance that alters body chemistry that seems so much more subversive and character warping. There is great secrecy and shame associated with steroid use, because it is so clearly wrong. Players know they are doing something dishonest and illegal. There was never, ever that sense with amphetamines.
I'm not sure where to start. The method of taking illegal yet condoned drugs, and the location where they're taken, is enough to shift a Hall of Fame vote from Yes to No? (Injection? In a bathroom? Yuck! No yucky people in the Hall of Fame!) Everyone was doing greenies, so it was kind of OK, at least OK enough to make a Hall of Fame voter look the other way? Steroid use was hidden? Didn't a reporter once point to a bottle on the shelf of Mark McGwire's open locker and say, hey, what's the andro for? It didn't seem to be a shameful secret at the time.

It must be hard to write on deadline when you're twisted into a pretzel.  

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