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Bigbie exiled after breaking code

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Bigbie exiled after breaking code
YOKOSUKA, Japan – The Year of the Rat in the Japanese zodiac started Feb. 7, about a week after Larry Bigbie arrived.

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Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Mar 20, 2008 11:43 PM | YBS Fan ]

I was at the interview that took place yesterday at Yokohama's training facilities in Yokosuka between Jeff Passan and Larry Bigbie. I had helped the reporter get the interview with Bigbie. After reading the first few paragraphs of his write up, I feel almost dirty for helping out. (Will the BayStars ever let me visit again?) While the facts and quotes presented in the article are factual, the way they're twisted is down right disrespectful of the openness Bigbie and the BayStars showed us.

For example, there's the innuendo:
“I needed to get away,” Bigbie says, and he meant from the baseball establishment that regarded him as no better than a minor leaguer, sure, but he knew there was much more to it than that.
Did he know there would be much more than that? It didn't seem that way to me. He had been looking for a chance to go to Japan long before the Mitchell investigation even got started. And how was he to know that the interview with the FBI was going to be so heavily used in a publicly released report?

With six FBI agents across the table with piles of documented evidence they would like him to confirm, and several others doing a thorough search of his home, Bigbie didn't break any code - he truthfully admitted what he knew, which judging form the evidence before him, the FBI had already known. How many members of the Bush Administration can be said to have been big enough men or women to be honest in front of Congressional hearings?

What I don't understand is how Passan can write these two paragraphs:
In baseball, the honor of the clubhouse, of keeping secrets no matter how deep, dark and dirty, is sacrosanct, and when the former Sen. George Mitchell released his report on the rampant performance-enhancing drug use in baseball, there was Bigbie, not only admitting using them but naming names of teammates who did, too.

"That's not how it went," Bigbie says. "That's not how it went at all. But right there, I was done. My name - done."
That isn't how Bigbie left the explanation. There was much more. Passan is insinuating that Bigbie gave names, and the only retort he provides the readers with is "That's not how it went." That is completely unfair to Bigbie who even said during the interview that he'd like to get his side out there. What is with Passan-san not helping him do that? I don't understand. It's as though he's fanning the flames.

First, did Bigbie admit to taking steroids? Yes. He did it to recover from an injury quicker. Did he do it for more power? No. He needed to get back in the lineup, and saw that as a way. Unlike many people, he takes responsibility for what he's done, and actually feels regret for it. It wasn't his trainer's fault, the devil's fault, or anybody else's. He made a mistake and has to live with the consequences. When he had a child on the way, the whole idea of side effects possibility effecting her really hit home as to why one should not mess with things like this. This is the message that should be getting circulated. Why was that part cut from the interview?

What about divulging the clubhouse's dark, dirty secrets? The FBI already had documentation on everything. They had the evidence before knocking on his door. He didn't tell them anything that they didn't already know, and already have a pile of evidence to support. He didn't trade information for a plea bargain. He wasn't being accused of any actual crime.

I'm sorry. But the spin on the whole incident is unfitting of a person as open, honest, and responsible as Larry Bigbie. He didn't run away to Japan to avoid the whole steroids scandal. It was a mistake he'd made earlier in life and he was past it. I have no idea what interview Jeff Passan was at, but that story was not the interview I witnessed.

I guess it's true, no good deed goes unpunished.
Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: BigManZam | Posted: Mar 21, 2008 3:11 AM | CLM Fan ]

Yeah, that was pretty much a hit piece. You can't win with the media. You're either a rat or a cheat.
Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Mar 21, 2008 11:37 AM | NIP Fan ]

Yeah, I'm really surprised. It's a really loaded piece. I'm sure they know it's not your fault, though.

At least there are some nice things in the last part of the piece, about Bigbie adjusting here and fitting in well with the culture.
Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: number9 | Posted: Mar 21, 2008 3:15 PM ]

Thank you for the comment on my blog Westbaystars-san, your posts are often very level-headed and informative here, and I enjoy reading them. I'll just repost my response here as well. I haven't had the time to participate in this forum lately. (Seems to have lost my account, so had to create a new one, I was Something Lions before.)

Anyways, I sensationalized the headline a bit myself, but what I gained from the Passan piece was exactly what you wrote. That Bigbie only confirmed the evidence that was already known. Maybe Passan's tone was more negative than you had hoped, and maybe Passan thought that would get more readers?

I don't fault the steroid and HGH users themselves because MLB didn't have any rules or drug testing policies in place to prevent such abuse at the time, and competitive athletes in any discipline will try to get any edge they can get on their competition, especially when the stakes are extremely high, that's just human nature. It's the job of the MLB to regulate this, and they failed miserably (PED in the NPB is a another whole can of worms, though not many players "appear" to be taking PEDs, the utter lack of testing policies seems to make it a kind of wild west in this front).
Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: Something Lions | Posted: Mar 21, 2008 6:01 PM | SL Fan ]

OK, I'm back. Thanks Westbaystars-san!

I should be frequenting this forum more once the hockey season's over (I got me my priorities, eh :P ).
Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Mar 21, 2008 6:50 PM | HAN Fan ]

Unless one can guarantee some form of editorial control or open forum, it is always better to avoid giving interviews on anything remotely controversial. These frequently will be edited to reflect the reporter's or the editor's point of view. One CEO of my acquaintance gave a 40 minute interview to the BBC. What was used was just a 30 second spot which made him look shifty and evasive.

Unfortunately Larry Bigbie was just another victim of selective quoting. Michael, you shouldn't blame yourself as you are not responsible.
Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: Marines is My Life | Posted: Mar 23, 2008 5:09 PM | CLM Fan ]


I agree with the rest of the respondents, especially on these 2 main points:
  1. You cannot and should not blame yourself for anything, not for one second, not at all. You took the writer at face value as to what he intended to write about and communicated that to the BayStars honestly. If the BayStars hold this against you, given your outstanding body of work on Japanese baseball, I would be very surprised and disappointed.

  2. When a reporter interviews someone on a controversial topic, especially when that reporter is a columnist and thus has more editorial leeway than someone who is supposed to write straight and balanced news, the column is usually already written before the interview is conducted and the facts will sometimes not get in the way of the preconceived angle.
  3. It's unfortunate, but Christopher is totally right: you are at the mercy of the writer (or editor) when being interviewed 1-on-1, so if you fear the outcome might be damaging or misleading, for whatever reason, it's better to decline the interview. Larry Bigbie has been around long enough to know that, so he has no right whatsoever to blame you for the contents of the column.

    To play devil's advocate for a moment, I can understand why Jeff Passan wanted that story. The steroids fiasco is major news in the US baseball media and will not go away anytime soon. Having a chance to be the first to interview a player named so prominently in the Mitchel Report is tough to resist for a writer from what is a very competitive environment.

    However, it was very, very unfair of him to use you to score the interview under false pretenses. In my mind, that is by far his biggest offense, and for that he owes you a huge apology.
Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: Guest: Larry Bigbie | Posted: Mar 23, 2008 5:52 PM ]

Dear Michael,

This is Larry. I wanted to e-mail you to tell you, but misplaced your card somewhere. I just wanted to write you and say thank you for the apology letter you gave me. Please don't worry about the article, you and I both know the way it went and it was up to me to say the things I said. I wish that those things would have been represented better than they were, but that's the way it goes when you deal with reporters like that.

I hold no hard feelings towards you and thought you were a very polite man who I will do another interview with anytime! The article didn't bother me or get under my skin, so please don't let it bother you. I told everyone that it wasn't your fault and you were a stand up guy. That article is in my past along with the story with it. I have more important things in my life to worry about (wife and Kid). I'm just glad to be here in Japan playing baseball and cannot say enough wonderful things about the people here and the way they have made me feel welcome.

So again, please don't take any blame for this as it's not a big deal to me and my family. Hope to see you at the ball park!

Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: BigManZam | Posted: Mar 24, 2008 4:07 AM | CLM Fan ]

Bravo, Larry.
Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: Guest: zman | Posted: Mar 24, 2008 9:12 PM ]

Wow, the power of the Internet! I think I have become a BayStar fan, well they are still second to the Tigers.

Westbay, it's honesty that gets punished. Look at Clemens who claims the whole world is lying about his steroid use, yet he still has many defenders. Larry is honest about his mistakes and he is nailed to a cross.

Well I hope Larry has a good year here in Japan and can leave his past behind him. Many gaijin living in Japan have done the same.

But I hope he starts to use hashi and stops eating at McDonalds. Has he not seen "Supersize Me"?
Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: TimMac | Posted: Mar 24, 2008 11:33 PM ]

A class act all the way. Here's wishing you nothing but good fortune in your new career in Japan!
Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Mar 26, 2008 11:10 AM ]

I always thought of Larry as a well rounded player that gave 100%. But now he's forcing me to keep him in the line-up (PYS5-Konami's NPB videogame). Mr. Bigbie, you are a class act and I wish you a healthy and prosperous career in Japan. You deserve it!

I hope that I am able to see you play live someday - in the MLB or in Yokohama. (It's my dream to go there someday.) My team has made a great acquisition this year.

Re: Bigbie exiled after breaking code
[ Author: Guest: Gary Garland | Posted: Mar 29, 2008 4:41 PM ]

First, on Passan's handling of the interview with Bigbie: I haven't seen the piece in question, but whenever anyone is interviewed by the media these days you have to keep in mind two things: sensationalism rules and the point seems to be to keep conflict roiling rather than attempting to arrive at any final truth; and the old standards of fact checking (well, at least before the advent of 24 hour cable news and the internet) are completely out the window. Look at the recent incident of the L.A. Times apparently falsely accusing Sean Combs of aiding a murder and the NY Times getting so much stuff just flat out wrong over the last 15 years that it would be an insult to your bird to line his cage with it. Those are arguably the country's two leading newspapers (there is also the Times employing that idiot Bill Plaschke, but anyway....).

So the lesson learned there is that if you are going to jump into the pit of vipers you are going to get bitten at some point.

As for Bigbie, iirc, he wasn't getting those steroids under an M.D.'s care, but from a personal trainer. Now what fool in his right mind would have a non-M.D. or licensed nurse inject him/her? That is, unless you are trying to hide something, as junkies and other illegal substance abusers do. Radomski and his ilk were, in effect, practicing medicine without the proper credentialing, which is a criminal offense.

No conscientious doctor would be part of administering steroids in order to build muscle mass or some other non-therapeutic reason. The attempting to speed healing excuse is nonsense because people who make a living with their bodies, as in the case of Bigbie, et al, didn't do that under the observation of a physician, but a freaking trainer, one of whom had a fraudulent background history.

Steroids and human growth hormone have been banned in Olympic competition for decades and the dangers of steroids have been known to the public at large since at least the early 1970's, when pro football players wrote about it (which is how I found out as a junior high schooler that steroids existed).

If steroids weren't banned by MLB at the time, why didn't players openly declare that they were using them? Why hide it? Because they knew that the way in which they acquired them wasn't only illegal, but that it had a nasty connotation to it and known health dangers to boot. But some players are just so desperate. I reference in that regard that Jim Bouton once said that if there was a drug that guaranteed to make a pitcher a Cy Young contender, they would down it in a heartbeat even if it took five years off of their life expectancy.

There also seems to be a total disregard for the atmosphere that Bigbie and his chemical brothers created. Some Dominican players were resorting to veterinary level steroids to compete for attention from scouts because MLB players were using them. That's before you get to the high school and college players in the U.S. receiving them. This is Bigbie's and every other MLB and NFL player who did performance enhancing substances fault. Kids want to be like their heroes and so you get this.

I recognize that almost all of us are interested in this subject because we want to worship heroes. One MLB executive said that MLB beat writers are hard wired to basically be players' publicists. This is true. I would rather be writing about how wonderful Joe Player is rather than the unseemly steroid scandal, but you have to recognize the truth.

One other thing: for the baseball writer with a brain, and more than you would think do have one, they get a steel mill furnace worth of smoke blown up their backsides by players and team and MLB officials every year. That Passan is just a little cynical about Bigbie isn't a surprise. And, to be honest, Bigbie's and Termel Sledge's presence in Japan, as an American who cares about our image abroad, makes me nauseous.

So while the media is indeed increasingly sleazy, any kind of reasonable review of the facts surrounding the steroid issue in baseball would preclude cutting any of the participants in the use and/or trafficking of them any slack. These were not mistakes (the most overused word among miscreant jocks). These were willful, intentional acts. Please remember that.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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