Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The wild, wacky world of Pittsburgh sports

There are a couple of big stories today in the world of Pittsburgh sports. For one, the Pirates have unloaded the albatross known as Adam LaRoche. I have included in this post, for your enjoyment and wonder, a photo of LaRoche actually making contact with a baseball. The guy looked like a sure bet to be a 35-homer, 100-RBI guy when the Pirates acquired him from the Braves, but he’s been a huge disappointment. After two seasons in which he fell well short of expectations and apparently didn’t realize that the season starts in April, not July, the Pirates, in the past offseason, gave the guy a $7 million contract. And LaRoche responded by hitting .247 with a paltry 12 homers and 81 strikeouts in 87 games. LaRoche is a slick fielder at first base, but the Bucs acquired him for his bat. Now Red Sox fans can watch him and pull their hair out. In exchange for LaRoche, the Sox sent the Pirates two low-level minor leaguers, including a shortstop who is hitting .253 with zero homers at Class AA. The Bucs also got a Single A pitcher. I frequently rip the Pirates for trading away talented players and getting next to nothing in return, but in this case, a can of Spam and a tampon applicator would have been sufficient. Now we can all wait and see what the Pirates’ “brain trust” decides to do with second baseman Freddy Sanchez and shortstop Jack Wilson, arguably the two biggest fan favorites on the team. Sanchez is a legitimate all-star, and Wilson is a great defensive shortstop who is adequate at the plate. The Nutting family recently made a show of their so-called efforts to sign Sanchez and Wilson to contract extensions, but the offers were laughable. They were clearly made so that when the Nuttings send Sanchez and Wilson packing in exchange for the figurative bucket of balls, they can say, “We wanted to keep them around, but they wouldn’t sign an extension.” And it’s not like the Bucs have anyone else to plug into those positions. No one on the roster or in their minor-league system is ready to be an everyday major league middle infielder. The Nuttings, at that point, will officially be putting a Triple-A quality product on the field and charging you major league money for it. We are well past the point when anyone in his right mind would put money into the pockets of the Nutting family. If Sanchez and Wilson go, it should be even more clear.


The other big sports story in Pittsburgh is really a non-story. Some hotel clerk in Las Vegas has filed a lawsuit claiming that a year ago, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger raped her in his room at a Lake Tahoe hotel and casino. I won’t go into the details of her allegations, because the story has already been beaten to death in the local media. But here’s a question: Does anyone really believe this woman? She never called police to report an assault, and just before the statute of limitations on a civil action was about to run out, she files a suit seeking more than $400,000 in damages. Hmmmmm. Another angle of this story is the media coverage it has received. We all know that if a Steelers player, especially a star player, has so much as an irregular bowel movement, we get breathless “team coverage” of the important “breaking news.” The TV stations, of course, are going totally bat@#$% crazy over the Roethlisberger story. As one commenter pointed out elsewhere on the blog, they’re even sending reporters to Las Vegas to get to the bottom of this. The correct approach to this story would have been to report it once and then give it the coverage it deserves, which is to be totally ignored until the case comes to trial, is settled or is dismissed. Enough already.

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Blogger MJ said...

The Pirates unloading Adam LaRoche and his salary for more than just a six-pack of beer is a masterful feat. Few times have Pirates fans been so excited by an off-season acquisition, and he completely disappointed. That's pretty hard to do with a fanbase beaten down by 17 consecutive losing seasons.

Oh, and did you see Prince Fielder's quote about LaRoche staying in the dugout for the rest of the game? "Why was he still in uniform? I'd have been gone." I'm sure Prince would be down the street at a local bar and shoving another brat in his oversized mouth/gut. God, I hate the Brewers.

As for Ben... Try to keep it in your pants, buddy, so you don't get any more of these frivolous lawsuits tossed your way.

July 22, 2009 at 10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LaRoche 07 .272 21 hr, 88 rbi
LaRoche 07 .270 25 hr, 85 rbi

certainly not chopped liver, not 35/125 but not lousy either.

July 22, 2009 at 10:18 PM  
Blogger MJ said...

He tore the leather off the ball in meaningless games in July, August and September.

July 22, 2009 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

LaRoche seemed to have a knack for failing to deliver when it mattered. I found some figures showing that back in early June, before his recent hellish slump, he was batting .282 for the season with no one on base, but just .202 with runners on and .184 with runners in scoring position and two outs. That's Barry-Bonds-in-the-playoffs bad.

July 23, 2009 at 4:14 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I forgot to mention one funny thing about the LaRoche trade. Channel 11 noontime anchor Bob Bruce, with a straight face, commented on the trade by saying, "Another great player goes to the Red Sox." I know some media types like to kiss the pro athletes' behinds and practically deify them, but c'mon now.

July 23, 2009 at 4:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: The Rothlishberger incident -- sorry, alleged incident.

I see the O-R poll is very heavily skewed toward "she is lying." The media cover locally claimed this position in reporting as well. Immediately, the Bettis case was used as a historical backdrop on how greedy women attempt to extort high-profile people.

Why is the initial reaction "she is lying" so common? Without knowing any facts about the case, "she is lying." Do we put our heros on such a high pedestal that they cannot possibly do any wrong? Is there a psychological reason that we just wish they are without flaw, and surely the other person must be wrong?

If I remember correctly, the Bettis case was not fully resolved (e.g. guilty, not guilty). I was merely dismissed.

How many cases of high-profile people never see light of day because of hush money? How many of these cases are greedy women trumping up charges, in a futile attempt to get some money from the deep pockets? Just because there was not a criminal filing make no difference as to reality of what happened. That explanation at "did it" or "didn't it" happen is without any merit.

In an interview yesterday, a person who deals with sexual assault victims said that 16% of rape cases are reported. Yes, only 16%! And, many of the reported cases never reveal the incident for months, sometimes years, later. This statement was made in response to "why did she wait one year?" To the question of why civil and not criminal, the person reminded the questioner about how differently civil and criminal cases are handled. Criminal cases with deep-pocketed defendants will do all they can to drag out the case with delays, continuances, etc. Civil cases tend to be handled and disposed of much more quickly.

This is another non-story of the media trump. News times are slow (not even anything new this week from Farve), and this story helps fill the time. ESPN only made one passing statement, and then ignored the story. I suppose the sensationalism of the story is too juicy to pass.

But, the initial question remains: Why do we presume the high-profile person to be always in the right on these kinds of cases?

July 23, 2009 at 5:56 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Based on stories I have heard about Pittsburgh's professional athletes cavorting at local nightspots, I do not immediately assume a pro athlete is innocent of allegations of wrongdoing. Everyone will naturally make his or her own judgment based on the few facts available. Some will blindly believe Roethlisberger because he's "Big Ben" of the beloved Steelers. Others will take the exact opposite approach, believing the worst of Roethlisberger because of past misdeeds of other pro athletes and, perhaps, a jealousy of someone who has become rich for throwing a ball. Maybe the truth falls somewhere in the middle between her story and his. At this point, I would tend to lean toward Roethlisberger because, while I think he's kind of a horse's ass at times, I don't think he's a stupid man. And I just have a gut feeling about this woman's motivations. Bottom line: We'll probably never know the whole truth about the alleged incident.

July 23, 2009 at 7:17 AM  
Anonymous the anonymous one said...

I have twin daughters, and I have taught them if someone ever rapes you, go to the police first so they can put that person in protective custody.

This lady says Big Ben raped her! I'm going to say if this lady had some Big Ben sperm and she didn't want it, she would have gone to the police or to the hospital for a rape kit. Cause we all know Big Ben sperm in a bag is worth more then two dried up on her old panties!

I tend to think women see a young rich man, maybe give it way to fast and the regret kicks in. Guilt. More so when they learn that he might have used her. I bet he didn't call her the next morning. A simple phone call might have stopped it all! So guys, next time you get lucky, make sure you call her the next day.

July 23, 2009 at 7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The under reporting of rape is one of the urban legends of statistics. Studies have been performed by police organizations and even women's groups at college campuses and found that false accusations are much higher and rapes are reported more often than previously thought. I wish I had the data in front of me at the moment (I will try to find it and post it).
The 16% or other figures that (usually 10% which is always interesting how it becomes a simple round number .. not 11.28 or something actually happens in math) was bandied for political purposes by women's groups to make a point.
The motivation in the female accuser's case is obvious and that is why most reasonable people don't believe her. It has everything to do with the facts of the case as presented including her own story.
Those determined to lie have unusually big holes in their stories and hers is full of logical problems.

July 23, 2009 at 8:00 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I'm not sure about the statistics on reporting rape, but I've read that one reason so many women won't go to the police to press charges is that when it comes to court, they'll have to testify. That puts the woman face to face with the person who shattered her life. Then her entire sexual history often is dragged out for all to hear. And on top of all of that, she has to re-live the event over and over. Most women never get over being raped.

As for Ben, well, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he did nothing wrong. Not because he's Big Ben. Not because he's an athlete or millionaire. I did it because the woman's story just makes no sense, and she waited a year to report it. in Richmond, the debate on one of the blogs went very quickly from rape to race. What a world we live in!

July 23, 2009 at 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I simply don't believe that Pirates ownership has been committed to winning since 1992. I sure am glad we dropped that money on PNC Park.

As for the "Bendoggle," I really don't care. I use off button. TV news will never have its priorities straight, but mainly because the public loves this crap.

Now, if Ben had been caught in the room with the woman and a couple of pit bulls, and Michale Vick's car had been seen in the area, I might be interested.

July 23, 2009 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger L.C. said...

LaRoche underperformed.He will ride alot of pine in Boston.I don't know why it took so long to un-load him.(Oh yeah he sucked).
As for Ben,He put himself in a bad position.But all that woman wants is to be payed.No criminal complaint.Just a civil lawsuit.Very fishy indeed.

July 23, 2009 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger MJ said...

Although I wouldn't presume Roethlisberger as guilty had ther been charges against him, I certainly would have believed this woman's story more if she had immediately gone to police last July. The fact that there were no charges - not even an investigation - tells all of us that somethine else is going on.

July 23, 2009 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I wonder if she still has some "evidence" laying around... I love it when they keep souvenirs for an inordinate amount of time... Like really, where do you keep your proof of concept panties? In the freezer next to all your other semen stained articles of clothing?

Hmmmm -shakes head thoughtfully-

July 23, 2009 at 1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the guy who posted stats and said no chopped liver.

He had 130 K's each of those seasons. He is a BUM!

July 23, 2009 at 8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did Rothlisberger hold a news conference to make a statement. His actions only served to acknowledge the matter even further, giving the media more fuel to keep the story going. What he didn't say was more important than what he did say. In my opinion, he made himself look like a fool with his news conference. Why did his lawyer ever give him the go-ahead with this statement? Bad advice.

The media is really showing their true colors on this story. Their stories continue to decry the credibility of the woman, digging up everything they can to show the character of the person. They set down the mold right at the onset: Rothlisberger did not do the actions of which she accuses.

If this is the case, why do they just keep reporting on the story? In other words, they say the story is false, it is worthless, yet continue to keep harping on the non-story. If it is the non-story they continue to tell us, then they wouldn't run anything about it. Kudos to ESPN for their decision.

The large number of other defendants in the case, apparently all hotel workers, could be the problem for Rothlisberger. There are too many of them, some of them low paid positions, not to squeal. Their singing may or may not be true. But, in order to save their own hide, they may sing a loud song. They could care less about putting Rothlisberger into a tough situation. There are too many of them, for one of them not to break from the ranks.

July 24, 2009 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

If I had to make an assumption, I would assume that he did the press conference against his attorney's wishes...

July 24, 2009 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger MJ said...

I think ESPN showed it's true colors by waiting so long to acknowledge the lawsuit. Sure, we don't need wall-to-wall coverage, but when a two-time super bowl winning qb is sued for rape, that is news.

As for the large number of defendants, I wondered the same thing. But will they actually squeal? None is charged with a crime, so it is not like they can cut a deal with police to drop the charges if they cooperate.

July 24, 2009 at 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rothlisberger did the news conference to say "hey I didn't rape her". If I didn't do it, I would want all my fans to hear it from my mouth.

He should have told the truth, she was an easy lay, and got pissed when I didn't call the next morning.

July 24, 2009 at 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone remember what happened to Jerome Bettis, when a lady accused him. She later recanted, said it was a lie. That's why you need to see the evidence before making a decision. Simply making an accusation can do a great deal of damage to a pro athlete.

July 24, 2009 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Dale Lolley said...

Roethlisberger held the PC at the Steelers' behest. I'm sure the lawyers didn't like it, but when the employer tells him they want him to make a comment, he has to.
The fact that she's suing all the co-workers is something in Roethlisberger's favor. She's claiming a vast conspiracy to cover this thing up. You think in these days of tabloids and such that will pay money for these kind of stories that if it were true, somebody wouldn't have taken a payout to talk about this - even off the record?
I'm of the mindset that the more people supposedly involved in a cover up, the less likely there is to be and actual cover up.

July 28, 2009 at 2:24 PM  

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