My Ode to PED’s: By @YeahFlanny

PED’s, performing enhancing drugs. Pretty simple, straightforward, right? Or, you know, roids, juice. Whatever your preference may be when referring to them, if you even know what they are, then you’ve likely seen the influx in media coverage surrounding PED’s in recent days, weeks…years. This is a subject I’ve wanted to stay away from and simultaneously write about for about that long. What prompted me to finally jot these thoughts down, and share them with you all? My niece.

I walk into the living room and see my niece, engulfed in peanuts. In her hair, smashed into the couch, between her frigging toes. My first thought? Baseball. In general, and also the fact that those peanuts came from McCoy Stadium just one night prior. The same McCoy Stadium that I get chills walking into and hearing “put me in coach, I’m ready to play”, chills that I didn’t even get when having the honor of suiting up and playing on that field. Baseball occupies a special place in my heart. Can I watch a complete ballgame any earlier than September? God no, but you’d have a have time telling me there’s a more beautiful sight then a well manicured baseball diamond, or a sweeter sound than the crack of a bat, or that Olivia Munn is anymore beautiful than a 5-4-3 double play (well, that one may be a push). And while most Americans would rather choose to past their time with the NFL or even the NBA, Baseball will forever be America’s pastime.

And now for the juicy part. PED’s aren’t anything new in sports, certainly not in baseball. You guys remember little ol’ Brady Anderson, no? Or the 98′ home run race? Barry Lamar Bonds? Who is my guy by the way, like Barry really was THE man, but come on, clearly something was up. You all remember the Mitchell Report, and Rafeal Palmeiro’s heartfelt vow. Those guys went and spoke to congress and some lied, well, they all lied, some just admitted to it after the fact. They took the beatings (slaps on the wrist) and life went on. Clemens and Bonds were destined for jail, yeah, that never happened, never will. Some of those guys still play, some of them were done playing when they went under oath. Nobody won, and the MLB certainly lost.

There are two fundamental reasons why PED use has reached the heights it’s currently at. 1) The people who genuinely care, me, us, the fans, the purists, have no say, and those who do have say, the owners, the GM’s, the commish, really and truly, don’t care. As we all know, it’s about the money, as it’s always been and as it always will be. Who wants their star player sitting down for 50 games? Their goes any chance at a pennant race, which equals $. There goes the ticket sales, there goes the merchandise, there goes the endorsements. This A-Rod situation fits the bill to a tee! Cashman doesn’t want him to be suspended because he’s a liar or a cheat, disgrace to the game even. He wants him out so that he can attempt to void his monstrous contract. A-Rod’s done, he’s finished and this is the Yankee’s loophole to not only wash their hands of him, but save a cool 100 mill. It’s that simple, this whole mess, is THAT simple.

2) While this is a major issue, it’s not a major league issue. It’s a single A, cape cod league, college, high school problem. And don’t get me wrong, PED’s is a predominant issue in every major sport. Let’s not forget, baseball is our one major sport where kids can, and typically do go straight from high school to the league. 17, 18 year olds attempting to be on the same level as grown men. Now, I coached high school baseball this past season and while none of my kids were juicing (I know, because we only won 1 game) I’m sure there are plenty of high school kids using HGH and other performance enhancers because well, they can. Last I checked, they don’t drug test you coming off the school bus. College may be a bit tougher, but the kid’s are still doing it, same with the minors, and so on. The argument is typically made that the NFL and NBA need to work closer with the NCAA to stop money from changing hands, whether it be from a runner, or a booster, or an agent. A lot of the same can be said with Major League Baseball. This issue is bigger than them, bigger than each individual league. Unity and a huge dose of intolerance may be the only remedy here.

As I stated above, this is somewhat of a touchy issue as there is some many variables, and loopholes, and conspiracies, and so on, and so on. PED’s is a big issue, probably an even bigger one then we think, and that’s saying a lot. The MLB seems poised to suspend a handful of guys in the coming days, but here’s the kicker. Much like they did with Ryan Braun, they’re negotiating with these guys on how long and when they’ll be suspended. Really? Seriously? These guys are cheating, blatantly at that, and you’re letting them dictate the terms of their suspension, for cheating? That a way to make a statement guys. I’m not gonna blame Anthony Bosch, I’m blaming Bud Selig. Unfortunately, the guys wit all the power aren’t willing to shake things up, and that’s likely not to change anytime soon, as money is in the epicenter and things typically don’t go smoothly or rather, morally correct when big money is involved. Truth is, no one really cares. Ok, so I care, the fans care. So I’ll rephrase that statement, no one who can actually fix it, cares.

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The Business, Man.

Shawn Carter is not only the greatest rapper alive (not debatable) but in recent years, the Brooklyn born rapper has immensely raised the bar for musicians and artists who look to venture outside of music in order to gain recognition and ultimately, increase the cash flow. We’ve seen The Jigga Man, make numerous power moves within the rap game, CEO of Def Jam Recordings, co founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, founder of Roc Nation, and so on. He’s ventured outside of music and struck gold with his Rocawear clothing line (that sold for $204 million dollars, in 2007), he’s opened multiple 40/40 Club’s, his lavish chain of sports bar’s, and he was also a pivotal part of the Nets move to Brooklyn this past season, as a minority owner.

“Would’ve brought the Nets to Brooklyn for free, except I made millions off of you fucking dweebs. I still own the building, I’m still keeping my seats…” This line appeared in a recent track released by Jay entitled, “Open Letter” and stirred up some discussion amongst rap fans, and basketball fans alike. Had Jay sold his shares of the Nets? The organization he almost single-handedly re-branded, and brought to his hometown of Brooklyn. If so, why would he do such a thing? The Nets seemed to be his first born (sorry Blue Ivy). Days later it would go public that Jay-Z had indeed sold his 1/15 of a single percent share of the Nets, for $350,000 and shifted his focus to another aspect of sports, representation.

On April 2, Jay-z launched Roc Nation Sports, and in true Hov fashion, he has teamed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the industries most prominent sports and entertainment agencies. His first client? None other than Major League Baseball’s best second baseman, and New York Yankees slugger, Robinson Cano. Cano, not only signed with the agency headed by a rapper, but also left the top agent in the game of baseball, Scott Boras. Since the launch, Roc Nation Sports has also signed the WNBA’s 2013 #1 pick, and new face (a beautiful one) of the league Skylar Diggins, and according to multiple media outlets he has also signed NY Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, although the official Roc Nation site does not confirm a Cruz signing, as it does Cano and Diggins, (CAA does claim Cruz, and credits Jay-Z for bringing him aboard). This is a testament to the legend Jay-Z has created, not only in the music industry but far beyond that. It has been said, many, many times that sports and music are synonymous. Athletes often get hype for games listening to music. Music, that often features lyrics driven by comparisons or homages to those same athletes. This move though, this  is on a whole different level.

The launch of this agency was greeted and digested by many as another business move in which Jay-Z would use his fame and wide reach to line his pockets and the pockets of his associates. Many felt Jay-Z would simply be the face of Roc Nation Sports and use his friendship with numerous superstars to convince them to sign with Roc Nation. An easy conclusion to come too, and one that seemed likely. That is until the NFL and MLB stepped in, and promptly put an end to that notion. As I stated above, Jay-Z has already signed Cano, and has also seemingly signed Cruz, much to the chagrin of their respective leagues. Both of whom suspected tampering on Mr Carter’s behalf while he was courting these two stars. There is no issue with the friendship between these men, but when that friendship is deemed responsible for the defection of an athlete from one agency to another, that’s when the lawyers get involved.

Rivals agencies and league officials alike raised concerns with Jay-Z’s new role in sports management, and they were not going to take this lying down. CAA was somewhat able to come to the rescue of their new partner, and tie up any loose ends regarding their clients, but Jay-Z wasn’t in the clear. He would be able to represent MLB and NFL athletes, but if he wanted to handle NBA stars he needed to relinquish his shares of the Brooklyn Nets. Being that basketball is his first love, and he’s often seen court side in numerous NBA arenas, the ability to handle NBA athletes must’ve been a priority when starting his agency. Almost immediately, Hov began selling of his shares of the Nets, proceeded to complete, and then filed the necessary paperwork to become a certified sports agent. Jay-Z or rather, Shawn Carter’s applications with the MLB and NFL have already been approved, and he is expected to be approved by the NBA just in time for June’s NBA Draft. Making him the most recognizable, and influential sports agent across the countries three most predominant sports.

So what, or rather who is next for Hov and CAA? The rumors has already started with Kentucky freshman PF and projected #1 overall pick Nerlens Noel. As we all know, Jay-Z has a solid relationship with Kentucky and Coach Cal, not to mention his relationship with high school and college “handler” World Wide Wes. I expect Jay to make a run at a few more MLB stars, predominantly African Americans. There has been an infusion of young, talented African Americans in the big leagues recently, and I would expect Jay-Z to capitalize on that. Roc Nation Sports will surely venture more into the NFL, and I am certain that Cruz will not be their only client come opening day in September. Jay-Z seems extremely serious about this venture, and in due time I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a certified agent in other, more worldly sports, helping to grow his brand on a global scale.

Could the NBA’s best player team up with his good friend, who doubles as one of his biggest fans? Lebron James and Jay can often be seen together, whether it’s courtside after a game, or out on the town, because of this and CAA’s reputation as one of the best agencies in the game. A jump to Roc Nation Sports wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Shoot, maybe Jigga will even sign former KC Chief running back Larry Johnson. I know you all remember him being down with the ROC during his playing days. Ok, so maybe he won’t, but whether or not you like Jay-Z the rapper, you have to respect Mr. Carter the mogul, as he hasn’t taken many losses in the board room. This agency is a big time power move for Jay and his brand, and only solidifies that fact that he is indeed not a businessman, but rather a business…man.