Lions Around the Dorm

For the first Around the Dorm of the spring semester, we debate steriods, the NBA micro-fiber ball and David Beckham. This week we have Signal nation & world editor James Queally, WTSR sports correspondent Rob Viviano and Signal managing editor Lauren Kohout. Signal sports editor Brandon Lee will man the reffing position for this week.

1) With Mark McGwire being denied a bronze bust in the MLB Hall of Fame (HOF), do you think he and other alleged steroids users will ever get a place in the HOF?

RV: Will McGwire get into the HOF? Yes, most definitely. How long will it take? I’d guess four more years. A player needs 75 percent of the vote to get in. McGwire earned only 23 percent. The truth of the matter is that if you take the steroid shot to the cheek from Jos? Canseco, you deserve a couple years of blacklisting. McGwire hasn’t admitted to doing it, but he also refuses to disavow it. He knows what he did was wrong, but back then it was also par for the course. In four years, you can either vote for someone from the juicer era or no one; he definitely deserves the honor. Though there might be an asterisk next to his name, as more young, forgiving writers are allowed to vote and the older ones give up their vote, we will find a more favorable eye placed on him and he will get in.

JQ: In the wake of McGwire’s rejection from Cooperstown, some journalists have come out and claimed that his alleged steroid use had no bearing on their vote, but rather that his numbers were inconsistent over the course of his 16-year career. That argument may be valid, as McGwire’s numbers did fluctuate often during his tenure in Oakland, and again in the final two years of his career. However, the numbers just don’t feel right here, so I’m going to have to go with my instincts. The chances of McGwire and most other alleged steroid users getting into the HOF under its current induction processes are pretty much non-existent. Let’s face it, journalism is supposed to be the industry where writers seek the truth and uphold their convictions. So do you really think that a committee of 500-plus journalists is going to back a practice that tarnishes an entire sport, pads statistics and basically falsifies some of our country’s greatest sports stories? Adios Mark, have fun in obscurity.

LK: I highly doubt we will see them get in. With guys like Rafael Palmeiro telling lies on the stand and Barry Bonds being the jerk that he is, these men have brought down the sincerity of the game. The fact is that they demoralized the entire sport and went against one of its cardinal rules. Sure, Barry Bonds probably could have made the Hall of Fame anyway had he not been under this investigation, but because of it he lost the respect of almost everyone in baseball. Because of guys like Bonds, people questioned Ryan Howard and his home runs and made the statement that he could be the first to break Maris’ record without the use of the juice. Statements like that ruin baseball and the integrity of the game.

BL: 3 points for Queally for saying that McGwire would never be voted in by the committee of journalists because journalism is about the truth. Kohout gets 3 points for showing that the integrity of baseball is in jeopardy, and the game needs a real American hero in the form of Mickey Mantle or Roger Maris. I like Rob’s stats and Canseco reference, but he mentions that in four years “you can vote for someone in the juicer era or no one.” What about players with relatively clean names like Tim Raines, David Cone, Mo Vaughn and Jeff Bagwell? Rob gets 2 points.

2) At the beginning of the season, rather than playing with the normal leather ball, the NBA started with a new micro-fiber ball that was met with angst from the players. Stars like Shaq and Steve Nash complained that the ball did not bounce properly and gave them cuts on their hands. During midseason, NBA Commissioner David Stern mandated that by Jan. 1, the NBA would switch back to the old leather ball. What do you think of the changes and its effects on the game?

RV: Boo hoo. You are getting paid millions to play a game and you’re complaining about the ball? If you are going to complain about something ridiculous, at least be creative like Ben Wallace and his war against the anti-headband establishment. I have no sympathy for them. Stern is generally a “player’s” commissioner and it’s not much of a concession to go back to the old ball. If any player says this ball has hampered his ability to play, he obviously is “scapegoating” for a recent lack of skill, or spends about as much time adapting to the new ball as I do – one day a week for about four warm months.

JQ: David Stern, I don’t know how you rose to be the head of the NBA if you couldn’t even comprehend the old axiom “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” like the rest of us did at the tender age of six. Don’t worry though; you aren’t the dumbest man in basketball. That award still goes to Isiah Thomas. So what did changing the ball accomplish? Did it dramatically raise shooting percentages? Well, except for the Suns, who currently lead the pack with a ridiculous 49 percent average from the field, most of the better teams are still hovering around the 46 to 47 percent mark, just like they did during the ’05-06 campaign. What about turnovers? Last year the Knicks led the league averaging 17 a game. This year at 17 a game, the Knicks are in second place in that dubious category. Oh, hey look it’s Thomas again. Numbers don’t lie. The ball did nothing, except give me another chance to make fun of Thomas. Wait. In that case, maybe I do like the new ball.

LK: It has affected the game for the good. If the players are happy, that should be change enough. However, I recall a few players stating that it is confusing for them to switch back and forth and it keeps the players from finding their grooves. As a fan of the sport, I couldn’t tell the difference watching the games so maybe it was just a question of consistency for the players. Either way, it has given the NBA some much-needed publicity.

BL: I love bashing Isiah Thomas and I love your answer, Queally – 3 points. Unfortunately, the new ball scandal gave the NBA bad publicity – 2 points for Kohout. The ball is the most important aspect of the sport. What happens if a baseball bounced off a bat awkwardly or if a hockey puck was heavier? The entire game would change. How can Steve Nash, a two-time MVP, scapegoat his way out of a “recent lack of skill”? Even with the new ball, Nash still had MVP numbers. It would be impossible for players to keep their dribble or shooting touch with band-aids on their fingers. Sorry Rob, you get 1 point.

3) David Beckham left Real Madrid to sign a five-year deal worth $250 million with the LA Galaxy of the MLS. Will more European stars follow in his footsteps? Do you think this will increase the popularity of soccer in the United States? Will a Cosmos-type team arrive in the near future?

RV: No. No. No. Did I say it enough? This is a PR stint. Please remember that Beckham has been benched for lack of skill all season with Real Madrid and was cut from the English national team at the World Cup. He is a 31-year-old burnout with an amazing sense of style and overblown fame. You know what him coming to LA is? It is the world’s best retirement package. He can’t play in Europe anymore; they all know he is burned out. Here he can be what he has always wanted to be: a celebrity who happens play a sport. Will he be better than most Americans? Probably. Will this pull in a lot of season tickets from the highly Hispanic populations of LA? Definitely. Will this make a difference at all on U.S. soccer, or even the Galaxy’s future? No. But hopefully we can have a permanent soccer player retirement program in the U.S., because I like their fashion sense.

JQ: Will David Beckham make soccer more popular? Yes. Will it be enough to make “European football” a real player in the American sports scene? No. Beckham is a great player and if it wasn’t for Rooney’s foolishness in that overtime, he might have had a real shot at taking home a World Cup this year. When he makes his first start for the Galaxy, Beckham will be playing in his 17th season. Keep in mind that the first 16 seasons he played were in the English Premier league, which has an exhausting and lengthy schedule. On namesake alone, expect the Galaxy’s ticket sales to spike early in the year, but it won’t last. Sooner or later, our country’s apathetic attitude toward soccer will kick in and things will calm down. One man can’t save a sport; it’s just not plausible. Would putting LeBron James in spandex make professional wrestling more appealing to the generally older, uninterested demographics? Oh geez, horrible mental image. But, you see my point.

LK: Beckham is probably the most famous athlete in the entire world. The LA Galaxy usually does receive a large crowd; however, when visiting other stadiums people will come out to see Beckham and perhaps a glimpse of Posh Spice. It will increase the popularity because finally there is a “name” in U.S. soccer. I doubt more Europeans will follow because that is where all the good players are and where most Americans hope to play. Beckham came for the money, and the owners of the LA Galaxy will get all that money back with jersey endorsements and seats. I don’t see a Cosmos-type team arriving anytime soon until Beckham’s momentum in America has caught up with him. But, if Beckham does give American soccer a boost, it may be in the cards in the next few years.

BL: Kohout and Queally each get 2.5 points. Queally would have gotten 3 points, but he didn’t mention the Cosmos in his answer. I still believe that Beckham is a good soccer player; he had an impact in the World Cup. Beckham did not get cut from the English team; instead he resigned his captaincy. Rob gets 1 point.