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Friday, August 31, 2012

A tale of two Blue Jay stories about class or the lack of it.

 In life, shit always happens. You cant get away from that. It is how you deal with it that separates you from others.
I have chosen to focus on two news stories this week that directly and indirectly involve the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team to illustrate that in most cases, it all comes down to class, or the lack of it.
This year, the Toronto Blue Jays drafted Marcus Stroman in the first round of the Amateur draft. He was picked because it is felt that he was Major League ready. Being that he is a relief pitcher and they desperately need one of those, it seemed like it was a wise pick. To say that the Blue Jays have had a rough go with their pitching staff, and the bullpen in particular , is a major understatement. It was hoped Stroman would be ready for the start of next season.
Now, that wont happen.
He isn't injured and he was likely to be ready. But, because he made an honest mistake, he is now going to be suspended for most of the coming spring and wont be eligible to pitch in games until May. All of this means he likely will not be ready to join the major league team until August or later of next year.
What happened? 
As noted in the link above, Stroman took an over-the-counter supplement for his training regimen. Included in that supplement is a banned substance that gave him a positive test and required by Major League Baseball to garner him an automatic 50 game suspension.
Stroman admits he took the supplement, but did not know it had the banned substance. As noted in the article, some supplements don't list the banned ingredients and some do. 

 “Despite taking precautions to avoid violating the Minor League testing program, I unknowingly ingested a banned stimulant that was in an over-the-counter supplement,” Stroman said.

 Could Stroman have avoided this if he took more care? Yes, he certainly could have. But he didn't. There is no real gain by taking the banned substance in this manner, but it is still banned and because of that, he must be suspended.

 While it’s chemically related to amphetamines, it’s only slightly more powerful than a cup of coffee, according to Greg Wells, a kinesiology professor at the University of Toronto who has educated Olympic athletes on doping rules.
“It’s a short-acting stimulant, but it’s not something that we need to hang this guy up for anything like that,” Wells said. “It’s not a big deal.”

There are two ways he could have dealt with this situation. First, he could have denied taking anything, fought it and possibly won on a technicality. Many players do that. Some deny it all together and  won't even admit it when they are caught, as did Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.

Stroman chose the high road, the second and classy way of handling it. He took it. He did it. He admitted it and he will face the consequences and move on.
 We have all taken something we shouldn't have, eaten something we shouldn't have. People make mistakes. We aren't perfect and we should not expect our athletes to be either. But, the difference here is that when you do make a mistake, you own up to it. 
Athletes like Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, who blatantly cheated and continued to lie about it, there is no class in that. They are simple cheaters who got caught and refused to admit it. The punishment is sometimes the same for those who blatantly cheat and those who just make a simple mistake, but the court of public opinion knows the difference. A Roger Clemens would always be booed while a Marcus Stroman would not, unless he does it again and proves it wasn't an honest mistake. 
As mentioned earlier, the Toronto Blue Jays have had a ton of pitching problems this year. Mostly due to injuries, but also a case could be made that the general manager didn't get the right types of pitchers to avoid the situation that ended up happening.
My friends and I debate this all the time. On the sports talk shows, there is debate about this all the time. It is healthy debate and what guys do when they get together. Women may talk about fashion and reality shows, but guys talk about sports and politics.

Brian Ludwig, a six-foot-three, 41 year old father of two and  contractor from Calgary, Alberta died in hospital after a fight last Saturday night. Ludwig was attending a  charity golf tournament and had been at a pub as part of the fundraiser.
A fight began over a disagreement about baseball, and when that fight moved to the parking lot later, after what witnesses say was a sucker Scott Hooser ended the life of Ludwig Sunday morning in the hospital.

Now, of course you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. So, I don't know Scott Hooser and he may have not done what he is accused of. But, we can assume he probably did. I don't know if Ludwig had a part in this fight, he probably did, but nevertheless, there are certain things about this fight that show a total lack of class.

 "Two guys sitting on stools begin a back-and-forth over the relative merits of the Toronto Blue Jays’ pitching staff. It gets heated. It’s happening in the usual place for this sort of thing, which is also the worst place — a bar. It moves into the parking lot. Someone else wheels into what has escalated into a punch-up. And a man is killed."

A local sports journalist and columnist, Cathal Kelly, has made the argument that this is about sports and how passionate guys get when they discuss/debate/argue about it. Frankly, he is just plain wrong. 
This isn't about sports. This is about lack of class. You don't sucker punch a guy, EVER, in a fight. Secondly, this is about alcohol, too much drinking, and the results of that,  which we have seen countless times over the years. In most cases, bar fights and the ones that lead to a parking lot altercation have nothing to do with sports. It usually has to do with a woman and/or someone getting too drunk to use some common sense. I am sure that Scott Hooser, if sober, probably would not have done what he did. In any case, I am certain he didn't mean to kill Brian Ludwig and regrets it. He would almost certainly take it back if he could. 
But, he can't. Owning up to it like Marcus Stroman did doesn't get him off the hook. He showed a lack of class by getting drunk, then getting in a fight and sucker punching a guy from behind. He will forever have ruined his life because of that lack of class and common sense judgement that most of us have. 
Marcus Stroman has that class. That is what this is about. If you lack class, at some point this sort of thing is going to happen to you.
Is Marcus Stroman the answer to the Blue Jays pitching woes? I don't know, but I know the answer to that question isn't worth getting killed over. People with class understand that. Those without it, don't.

“It’s an unfortunate incident that someone lost their life,” Farrell said prior to the Jays’ game against the Yankees. “I think we always speak of passion towards an individual team or towards a sport in a good way. That passion is going to drive different mindsets, different viewpoints. You would like to think there comes a point where the line is drawn, where fans don’t go over that, but unfortunately in this case it obviously did.”

-John Farrell, Blue Jays manager

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