You're Talking, But You're Not Saying Anything

You're Talking, But You're Not Saying Anything

Friday, Jan. 15, 2010
12:54 a.m.

I dont know why the Talking Heads came into my head as I watched the Bob Costas interview of Mark McGwire, but they did. Same as it ever was? Upon hearing the news on Monday afternoon, I was like, whatever, and moved on with the rest of my day. Honestly, do I really need to watch? That night as I was lying in bed and flipping through the channels, I found myself watching the MLB network and its coverage of the interview and its aftermath. I was riveted. I watched it all, TWICE! It was as compelling as it was revealing into this mess. Where did that come from? As I have written here many times, Ive become, like many Ive talked to at the bar, numb to all of the baseball steroid talk. Ive moved on. Still as much as I didnt want to watch, I couldnt stop. Unfortunately, my love of baseball and the perpetrators of this continued farce, wont let me not pay attention. They wont because they think that if they recite a mantra often enough, that everyones supposed to believe it. In this, the day of the scripted apology, weve seen enough that we all understand the playbook. Whether its a politician, athlete or any other person of social prominence, they say theyre sorry, show remorse and promise not to do it again, lets move on.

You would think its pretty simple. But of course lawyers being lawyers, they always want to see what level they can take it to. (You can make your own interpretation of whether that level is up or down!) I have no doubt in my mind, nor does anyone else that I talk to at the bar, that McGwire was lawyerd-up and came upon a new type of coaching. Although I found his raw emotion and inner turmoil to be very real and heart felt, it was off-set by the fact that what he was saying, for the most part, was very vague and unbelievable. Ill start with the fact that he seemed fixated on the premise that he could do this and move on quite easily. What? Maybe if it was about him, but he doesnt get it, its about way more, always has been. But I got this feeling that he was thinking, I said it! All right? There! Can I go now? Sound familiar? Thought so. I think its incredibly naive or arrogant or both that he thinks he can control how this is all going to play out. His story is going to last for more than a while, I think.

Also, if this was not scripted, how could one of the smartest men on TV, and a baseball fan of the highest order, not get specific about the roids? When he asked McGwire how long he took them, the response was ten years. Then when asked what he had taken, the response was, I dont know. Really? You took drugs off and on for TEN years and you dont know what they were? Then how did you know what or how much to take? That would seem like a logical follow-up question. Bob? Bob? Hello? Or, how about, Where did you get them? That ones simple. These two questions also would provide the insight into the fact that he repeatedly said that the people that knew him the best in the world had no idea. Family? Maybe. I could understand them not asking or not wanting to know, but LaRussa? Seriously? A man who depended on your performance and who was around you for most of your adult life had no idea?

Then there is the part where he repeatedly talked about the steroids not having an affect on his abilities as a player and what he was able to do, that he used them to be able to heal from injury faster and be able to play. He said that he hit homeruns all of my life and could do it with or without them. They did not enhance his ability. All right, say you are right, although not one other person Ive heard in the last 4 days would agree, especially players, but wouldnt the fact that you were able to play, when youre saying you otherwise would not have been able to do so, enable you to set cumulative records? You know, like the single season homerun record? How do you consider your number to be legit when you say you used enhancers to enable you to play? Im waiting for the answer to that question.

As always, how can you say steroids in baseball without saying, Bud Selig. The commish put his usual goofy spin on it by saying that he was pleased by McGwires confession and that it should make Marks reentry into the game more smooth and easy. What? Wheres the shock and outrage? Did you know about this before? Why didnt you just shove your hands in your pants pockets, like when your other monstrous creation, Barry Bonds set the all-time homerun record? I worry myself when I find that loon Jose Conseco to be the guiding light in all of this mess. As usual, Jose has something to add, and he says that Selig knew all along. At this point who could dispute him? Will he be this approving when Bonds and Hippity-Hoppity come clean? Will he welcome them back with open arms? (After he takes them out of his pockets!) Somewhere, Kennisaw Landis is spinning!

Another one of the things that has me baffled is the timing. How about you Bud? Steroid conversation right on top of the Hall of Fame announcement? Is it just me, or does that just make this all the more unseemly? 5 days after Andre Dawson finds out he is going to be enshrined, we have this? Hey Mark? Do you think the roids would have helped Andres chronically injured knees? Or, did the fact that he played through the pain and limitations to be a shining example, make him a Hall of Famer? When I picked up this weeks USA TODAYS SPORTS WEEKLY, was the new inductee on the cover, as many in the past have been? Nope. Steroid boy was. Is that good for baseball Bud? Are you pleased by McGwires reentry into the national sports media? No sense in having the media fawn on Dawson for a few weeks is there? Does Dawson need this? I cant wait for his speech. Think hell have a few respect for the game comments? Wheres Barry Rosner?!

I think, what this gets down to is, once again, we are being told that we are being told the truth when its not. What I dont understand is that they truly believe that they can get away with it. Do I think McGwire is a bad guy? No, for the most part I dont, I hear from many people that hes a good guy. But, he did do something that we all know is wrong. The point is, the cover-up usually gets you in more trouble than the crime. Not entirely true with a crime of this magnitude, but close enough. Just come clean and you really will be set free. The half-truths and downplaying of what happened are only making it worse. Or more to the point, making Consecos claim that steroid use was institutional, more plausible by the day.

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

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USA TODAY

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.

But what if there were more spots?

An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.

And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.

But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.

This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.

With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.

The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.

And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.

That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?

Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.

But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.

Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.

"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.

Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead