Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Magician and Potions

Driving home last night, I happened to catch Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari being interviewed on a syndicated radio program. He's in town for the LA Poker Classic. Only caught the last 10 minutes or so, but he seemed fairly down to earth. Didn't get drawn into some jabs from callers, including one guy who claimed to be 19 and said he and his krew (based on the young man's apparent hatred of proper sentence structure, I'm almost certain he'd spell crew with a 'k') would tear Antonio's a new one in two years. The Magician said he'd happily tote his bankroll to this gangsta's home game. Otherwise, the questions and resulting advice were fairly mundane ("play tight!"). He did say one thing that hit home with me, using the word "retarded" to desribe someone who leaves a table when they are winning.

I'm certainly guilty of that, taking the profit and making a run for it. I think it probably stems from blackjack and other -EV games where you want to take your chips before the house edge comes back around. I've carried that over to the poker table. His reasoning is that if you're winning, you must be a) playing well b) getting cards and, most important, c) have built up a solid table image. I'm not sure the last matters too much online, since the tables rotate players so quickly, but it all makes sense. Goes back to my obsessiveness about bankroll. "If I quit now, I'll be up $40 for the day." I know that's not the way to look at it. One life-long session. And maybe I blew the chance to make another $40. Something to consciously work on.


On another note, I have to get this out of my system. I apologize in advance.

The biggest scumbag in the whole sordid steroids and baseball affair is Jose Canseco. I don't think he's lying, per se, though how some commentators can accept his word is beyond me. I mean, he DID deny using steroids at every turn during his career, calling it a "ridiculous rumor" when the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell wrote an expose in 1988. So, while I don't really accept Jose's word, I think there are nuggets of truth there. Certainly, he embellished quite a bit, but odds are performance enhancing drugs have been prevalent in the game for some time. Yet, his crimes are that he's injected himself into the lives of others, like a serial name-dropper yearning to be defined by the company he keeps (and make some headlines--and cash--in the process). Regardless of whether the accusations are true, Jose's self-serving tome ("Every sentence begins with 'I'," was my friend Donny's review) is just the latest depth to which he has sunk.

Of all the people named in the book, Canseco is the one who did the least with his ability. Instead of owning up to that, he uses the steroids as a crutch. "I would have never been any good without the drugs," he insists, a built-in excuse for the way his career went from the sublime to the horrid in rapid order. He's telling us he was never any good in the first place, so his precipitous fall should not be surprising. No way that fall could have been predicated by his bloated ego, his destructive behavior or his refusal to work on improvement.

Contrast Jose's career trajectory with that of McGwire's or Palmeiro's or Pudge's. By all accounts, McGwire was a workout fiend. By an equal number of accounts, Canseco hardly ever lifted weights with the rest of the Bash Brother era A's. Even Walt Weiss, Canseco's best buddy during those halcyon days agrees that Jose just stopped working. As for the claims Canseco personally injected McGwire and others (a claim he partially retracted on "60 Minutes," changing "often" to "once or twice"), you couldn't find a single person, then or now, who would agree that the two were even remotely friends. Again, I don't mean to suggest McGwire is innocent. Certainly, there's enough circumstantial evidence to warrent an investigation. The point is that Canseco's envy for what McGwire accomplished, for his angelic treatment in the media is a primary motivation for "ratting out" baseball.

Baseball, in its typical manner, will attempt to shove this under the rug as soon as possible. No inflammatory rebuttals from the Commisisoner's Office. That would only give the story more legs than it already has. There will probably be some change to the steroid policy, hailed as a giant step forward, but falling woefully short.

The biggest problem in all of this is Canseco's lack of remorse. He makes no apologies for using the steroids. He's almost proud of the fact, the pied piper leading the masses down the path of improbable bulk and shrunken testicles. "The Chemist." He obviously revels in the nickname, most likely because he gave it to himself. No mentions of the health perils, only that a program of steroids must be carefully and rigidly controlled. What a fine example to set. Put it right up there on the mantle with the car-ramming arrest, the nightclub assault, the concealed weapon charges, the domestic violence, the home confinement and the rest of the "highlights" of Jose's career.

Do I seem angry? I guess I am. I always feel cheated when someone wastes their talent. Canseco was fortunate enough to have the world by the short ones and he squandered it. That he publicly doesn't find that to be a big deal rankles those of us who would like to think we'd do a lot more with those gifts if given a chance.

Anyway. Hugs, Not The Cream. Or The Clear.


At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never touched the stuff.

~Roman "The Jose Canseco of Soccer" Villa

At 3:02 PM, Blogger poker_ghost said...

I wonder if the magician saw you leave the table after quadrupling your bankroll the other day. Damn retards are going to ruin this game.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Ignatious said...

excellent rant. i was sickened watching jose on 60 minutes.


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