Mota is back because Giants need his fastball

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Mota is back because Giants need his fastball

Maybe its just me (and it typically is), but I long ago stopped thinking sports would teach lessons like right and wrong and ethical and dishonest.

Thus, Guillermo Motas return to the Giants as they prepare for the most difficult road trip of their lives (except for every other one theyve ever had) moves me not in the slightest. Hes a serial PED user, hes done his time twice, hes eligible again, and the Giants have re-retained his services.

So you go be outraged. I dont have it in me. I've already read the book, and I have the ending memorized.

I neither defend nor condemn his return to the bullpen. His history of cutting corners so loud that even Major League Baseballs testers can hear the sawing may tell you something about his character, or maybe even the Giants corporate view, but all it tells me is what we long ago should have known:

Sports is about getting by. Its about doing whatever you think you need to do at the moment, and worrying about possible consequences later. Its about looking out for No. 1, or in the alternative, trying to figure out how to screw No. 2.

What it isnt, is a guide to living. It is at its essence the most egalitarian of pursuits, making as few moral stands as it can get away with in pursuit of a championship ring, trophy, or endorsement.

Now dont get us wrong here. Any athlete or coach who prefers the ethical path is fine by us. Were not against fair play, charitable instincts, devotion, loyalty, empathy, a basic sense of right and wrong . . . we frankly prefer them all to the alternatives.

But we dont go to sports to find them. In fact, as the money to entertain us grows, the pressure to do the pragmatic thing grows with it. There will be no forgiveness for the Giants if they end up a pitcher short in Game 162, and they know it.

And you know it. We all know it. Why anyone would think otherwise is the mind-boggler.

Or have you not heard the defenses for Lance Armstrong, or before that Joe Paterno, or before that name-your-favorite-team-player-or-entity? Sports is about results at any cost, as long as that cost can be defended later. It has always been thus, and the fact that is more brazen now only means youre paying more attention to the brass.

But lets go beyond that for a moment and ask a more existential question, because we know you like those. When is an athlete to be let off the hook for prior misdeeds?

Think about that for a moment before we give you the answer.

Okay, here it is.

1. When he or she has served his punishment as mandated and agreed upon by the employer and the athletes union.
2. When he or she can help your favorite team win.
3. When he or she is your favorite sports figure from days or years gone by.

You want a different answer? Go follow entertainment. No, wait, that wont work. Try business. No? How about politics? No again? Then maybe pipe-fitting. Oh, hell, you know the deal.

You are let off the hook when someone feels like letting you off the hook, based solely on whether that someone thinks you can help them do something, or feel good about themselves. It is an entirely capricious matter. Some people get let up, and others dont not by virtue of morality, but by the vicissitudes of practicality.

In short, Guillermo Mota is back with the Giants because the Giants need his fastball. Why you would think otherwise is an exercise in the art of the daft. The Giants arent for or against PEDs theyre for winning and against losing. Like every other sports team ever.

If you are of the mind that sports should be clean here and forever, change the penalties. Players are banned for life, and every team that employs a player who gets caught gets fined a percentage of its annual gross revenues. That way, nobody has an incentive to chase down the perfect testosterone martini.

Sure, that wont be a measure of ethics or morality but of brute force. But isnt that truly and realistically the essence of sports in America, from the owners suite to the trainers room?

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

https://twitter.com/baseballhall/status/821855144681897988


Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.