Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday 12-14

I hope asterisks aren't any more expensive to print than regular numbers and letters--or I won't be able to afford the next edition of the Major League Baseball record book. The Mitchell Report is out and it implies that there was "widespread" abuse of steroids and human growth hormones in the sport from the mid-90's until the recent adoption of mandatory testing.

By using the term "widespread"--but then only putting 77 player names in his report, Mitchell is telling us "We know more people were cheating--these are the only ones somebody ratted out." I was hoping there would be no Brewers on the list--so that fans could claim their long run of futility is due to not enough guys trying to cheat. But alas, Fernando Vina (a former Brewer) and Derrick Turnbow are on the list. Just imagine how many save opportunities Turnbow would have blown if he wasn't on the juice. And the team is apparently going for the "all steriods All Star team"--as new closer Eric Gagne is also named in the report. Gagne's "punishment" for breaking the law and cheating...a one-year ten-million dollar contract from the Crew. That will teach everyone that cheaters never win.

The biggest losers in all of this are not the guys named in the report--or we the fans for being handed a sham and a mockery for nearly a decade--but rather all of those guys who might have made it to the Majors if some of the players in the Mitchell Report hadn't been 'roiding. I had a chance to help Terry Jorgensen with some of his off-season workouts when I lived in Green Bay. Terry is a native of Luxemburg and was a standout here at U-W-O. He used to work himself to near death with fielding drills and quickness drills and hitting off the tee and weightlifting. I'm pretty sure he wasn't shooting up in the locker room after those workouts. But despite all of that hard work, Terry had just a few "cups of coffee" with the Twins and the Marlins. Each time the team went out and got someone with a little better power and a little better arm. Were the guys who beat out Terry just more talented--or juiced?

The biggest winners in the wake of the Report: Not the players who cheated and weren't named--but rather all of the guys who played in the time before the mid-90's. How much better do all of their records look? My favorite player in high school and college was Will Clark--the firstbasemen for the San Francisco Giants. He was a career .300 hitter and finished with about 350-career home runs. Not Hall of Fame numbers compared to all of the brutes who came after him--but we know those were honest numbers. The same goes for guys like George Brett, Robin Yount, Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs. All HOF'ers we know truly earned their spots in Cooperstown. Heck, even Pete Rose is looking more honorable today.

Major League Baseball had better hope nobody ever fingers Alex Rodriguez for steroids. He could be the "magic eraser" that will rid the record books of the steroid era--as he breaks all of the major records before hanging up the spikes. Until then--all of those numbers mean nothing to me.

1 comment:

  1. Another self-serving “guest commentary” piece appears in the 12/17/07 edition of the Northwestern.

    Jeff Gilderson-Duwe (Director of the Winnefox Library System and the Oshkosh Public Library) laments the budgeting process and how his area of responsibility had to “take-one-for-the-team”.

    Yes Mr. Duwe, budgets are tight. The economy in Oshkosh is not having the much anticipated trickle down effect. Many in Oshkosh are far worse off than they were 8 years ago. Many home owners, property tax payers and rent payers are not reaping the rewards of this “robust” economy. In case you didn’t notice, hundreds of people stood in line for hours at the last two Oshkosh Truck Job Fairs. Many, many people thought that a $12.00 per hour ($24,960.00 per year) job was a big enough improvement for their situation that they stood in those lines to apply. The wage and benefit that Oshkosh Truck provides is far superior to what many of those that applied are currently receiving.

    The City passed a budget with a 3% tax increase. I personally know of many who have not received a 3% wage or benefit increase at their jobs for years. many in-fact have actually stepped backwards as their employers require they pay for the ever increasing costs of healthcare insurance.

    I understand your personal displeasure with the current situation. As your department is not one that is highly critical to the welfare of Oshkosh property tax payers (compared with police and fire) you do wear a target on your back in budget cut times.

    Here is the situation:
    Oshkosh taxpayers continue to fund and pay for 95% of city employee healthcare coverage. This amounts to millions of dollars each year. If this ratio was adjusted to be an 80% payment, the city would have excess money to assist with additional labor for your area, as well as other quality of life improvements in Oshkosh.

    An 80/20 payment sharing ratio is very common in most business and industry. The employer pays 80% and the employee pays 20%

    In Oshkosh City Government, the taxpayers (you and me) pay 95% and the city worker (blue or white collar) pays 5%

    Just by change that 95/5 ratio to a 80/20 ratio, we would be able to fund many more projects, without placing an even higher burden on the taxpayers in Oshkosh, many who could only dream of having a healthcare plan as gold plated as the city provides.

    So Mr. Duwe, in closing you state:
    “I hope that the Oshkosh community is willing to invest in a library that can deliver the type of collections, programs and personalized service that help to strengthen and enrich our lives.”

    I’d like to add that if the city employees would be willing to bargain for a much more standard 80/20 healthcare cost sharing ratio, there would be much more money available to invest in the library system.