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November 24, 2008

The Big Game

The Stanford/Cal game was this weekend, my first Big Game as a Cal student. Several weeks ago, my German friend Bonnie mentioned that she wanted to come to a football game, to help develop her American side. Teddy (who took most of the pictures below) came along too, a faithful Cal alumnus, looking like an excited 12 year old with his Cal hat and the football he carried around all day. Sandy completed the rag-tag crew of football fans.

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Cal won in a rout, 37-16. I did my best to explain the intricacies of American football to Bonnie; her favorite player was the Cal kicker, Giorgio Tavecchio. He's an Italian soccer player who was all set to play soccer at UC Davis, only to be snatched away by the Berkeley football team. His parents must be so confused.

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Best part of the game: as we were leaving the stadium, we passed underneath the Cal locker rooms, which were on the second floor. The players had opened up the windows on the balcony and were tossing down their arm bands, signing their t-shirts, and throwing all sorts of sweaty articles of clothing. One guy threw down his cleats and it was all over - every 18-22 year old hero/postadolescent on the team wanted a piece of the action. Size-17 cleats were raining down like cats and dogs. Sandy and Bonnie made us leave before we could catch any articles of clothing, probably for the best. My hand/eye coordination isn't so great.

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Came back to my place and several more people showed up for crabs, tempura, and sake. I love California.

February 12, 2009

A-Roid

I took a sickie on Tuesday and went for a nice bike ride, made some lunch, and worked on a lab report from home. I had the radio on, and Talk of the Nation wouldn't shut up about steroids in baseball.

The final conclusion seemed to be pretty simple: baseball has to clean up its act, get a testing procedure in place, they'll catch the cheaters and baseball will be clean again. (Interesting aside: Babe Ruth ate ground sheeps' testicles by the plateful; presumably the testosterone allowed him to keep his girlish figure whilst eating all those hot dogs. Maybe it also helped him hit home runs. No word on whether sheeps' testicles are considered controlled substances.)

Maybe baseball knows what its doing. But in case they don't, and they actually plan to implement a real testing program with the goal of actually catching people, here is a warning. Don't do that, baseball. It will be bad for your sport and it won't make you look any better. Baseball doesn't have a doping problem, it has an image problem. It needs a feel good, but fake, drug program that will make us all happy that America's past time is chaste and unblemished, like our own zit-free national forehead. (That was sarcasm...I'm not sure if that analogy really works.)

If baseball actually implements a program designed to "catch" "cheaters", it will find that the initial purge of dopers will leave not a clean game, but one in which the payoff of a little chemical help is suddenly higher. Some will take the bait, and some will be caught again and again.

Face it. When you pay people lots of money to do things that they can do better and get paid more for if they just do something against the rules, some will break the rules. This will be somewhat deterred by a testing program with stiff consequences. But it will not go away. If you want your drug problem to go away, you must ignore it. If you want your drug problem to get smaller, your image problem will get proportionally bigger. You decide which problem you prefer.

Face it, America. Those guys are good at baseball. But they're not THAT good. Shouldn't we really be worshiping the scientists instead?

February 16, 2009

Really?

Seth Meyers on Michael Phelps, in case you missed it.

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