Monday, February 9, 2009

A baseball rant!

We are facing another good weather week. Today will be a little colder, but then the temperatures will return to the thirties and possibly forties we had over the weekend. Only a couple minor weather events are predicted for this week. Tuesday, with the temperatures in the thirties, we’re expecting some rain or sleet or possibly snow showers. The same forecast on Thursday probably will be mostly rain in our area as those temps again could be in the forties.

I’m going somewhere now that I really have no business going as I’m about as far from being an expert as one can get. But I do love baseball, especially youth baseball, so I have some personal thoughts on the revelation of allegations that A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) of the New York Yankees used steroids in the 2003 season.

It is a disappointment, but it was not illegal nor against any baseball rules in 2003. Several other major leaguers also used the now-baseball-illegal, performance enhancing drugs in 2003 and before. More than a hundred have been determined to have taken them, although only a very few have been publicly identified. Some continue to fail mandatory drug tests.

At least a couple former major leaguers are now facing prosecution in court over lying concerning the use of drugs. But in both cases, the prosecution is not because of the drugs but because they allegedly lied to investigators about them. Several others simply openly admitted using them, apologized to their fans and teams, and life continues.

Those high profile cases and now A-Rod have put a cloud over Major League Baseball. All three were not only headed for the record books but also to the Baseball Hall of Fame. But their records and performances have been tainted. Did they have the fantastic successes they had because they were simply better than the rest or was it because they were doped up?

I don’t have the answer as I’m not involved in the investigations. I only know what the news media wants me to know. My opinion is that if indeed they were under unnatural construction, then they deserve not to be in the record books or in the Hall of Fame. That is also true for any of the other players who may fall into the same category.

My concern is the effect this doping action may have, probably already has, on today’s youth. If Major Leaguers can literally get away with the activity today, then our youth athletes will believe it’s perfectly O.K. and find themselves their own sources of performance enhancing drugs. That would be good for neither today nor the future.

I believe that any professional athlete, and specifically in the case of baseball since 2003, who tests positive for using performance enhancing drugs should be banned from the sport and any and all statistics about that athlete be tagged with a drug use tag if proven true. I could be a lot more forgiving to amateurs and give them a couple strikes because of their youth, but the professionals need to be examples of both good athletes and what happens to the cheaters.

Thinking about that last statement has given me pause. The simple truth is: a cheat is a cheat.

And then along comes Michael Phelps. He’s an icon in a sport in which my kids excelled, especially my son. I’m not sure the use of marijuana is performance enhancing, in fact it may be performance detracting, but he is model for all swimmers and, therefore, should not be given a pass. And he’s hardly an amateur.

And that’s my Monday morning rant.

A quick update on my tax experiment. In the weekend post below I explained how I was doing my on taxes for the first time in years as I’ve been using an accountant. I bought a software package and computed the taxes with it. During the weekend, I completed doing the whole thing again, the old fashioned way, filling in the forms and using a calculator.

As I was going along, I found my work and the work completed by the software package to be identical. That was also the final result after my weekend work, with one small exception. We didn’t agree on the amount of tax I owed. So I did a page by page comparison and found the software had completed a form I had missed.

After carefully reading the instructions, I learned that the software was smarter than I. I recalculated using that form which I downloaded and the software and I totally agree.

I still have my quandary on whether or not to ask my accountant to give it a try and see what happens or just accept the software’s work. I’ll let my mind work on that one for a few days. Right now I’ll give Intuit’s TurboTax just a little credit.


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