Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mike Lansing and the Mitchell Report

Website Owners Note:I wrote this several years ago, and only published in 2012. I'm wondering about PEDs and climbing these days. I wonder if that would change my outlook on this blog? I dunno. Definitely, the subject of this blog is a good guy. Not sure what I think about Performancing enhancing drugs anymore. Quite a dilemma. 

Yesterday was a shocking day. Something shocked me that I certainly wasn't expecting. Something hit very, very close to home. I thought twice about writing this blog. I woke up this morning and figured I would not write it. Now, this morning, I cannot help myself but start to type.

There have not been many famous citizens from my town of Casper, Wyoming. There have been even fewer athletes. For whatever reason, the best known in my mind are all baseball players.

Mike Devereaux played several seasons with the Dodgers and Orioles, among others, in the late 80s and throughout the 90s. I did not know Mike Devereaux; he was many years older than me and lived on the other side of town. I always followed his career closely though.

Tom Browning once threw a perfect game for the Cincinnati Reds. Tom also was quite a bit older than me. His little sister, however, was the most feared hitter in our little league. I mean, that girl had game. I never knew Tom, but always followed his career closely.

Mike Lansing was named in the Mitchell Report yesterday. Mike Lansing grew up on the same street I did, about 10 houses down. He is one year older than me. His best friend lived across the street from me. I can remember summer nights when all the kids in the neighborhood would play "freeze-tag" and "TV-tag", Mike was there. I remember the very first time I played soccer and it was with Mike and his friends Tony and Tommy. Tony ran into the yard light post in Tom's yard by accident, and I had never seen so much blood in my life.

In grade school, they divided the T-Ball team up into two teams because there were so many kids. My Dad was coach of one team; Mike's Dad was the coach of the other team. One day I was walking home from practice by myself. An older kid who had gotten kicked off the team for missing practice among other things accosted me. He pushed me down and threw my ball and glove down the street. I cried for a few minutes (hey, I was 6) and got up. Up came Mike and Tony. They brought me my glove and gave me a pep talk about how good I had been playing, how neat it was to have your Dad coaching you, and how we should all be looking forward to playing real baseball soon. I realized years later they had probably seen everything unfold from down the street, and where trying to cheer me up.

As the years went by, Mike's ability in sports was more and more evident. I remember in the 5th grade, we would have these epic snowball fights sometimes. The 5th graders vs. the 6th graders, ya know? Mike hit me with a snowball so hard, even from across Ridgecrest Drive it gave me a welt the next day. That kid had an awesome arm. As we grew older, Mike became the Big Jock at school, and I developed a love for heavy metal and playing guitar, grew my hair long and dropped out of sports. However, my brother played halfback in high school - 2nd stringer behind Mike Lansing. So I would go to the games, and wondered why my bro, who was 4 inches taller and outweighed him by at least 25 lbs, was only running back kicks instead of starting. But Mike was busting gains. I'm pretty sure he was All-State - on a team that went undefeated and took the state title.

After high school, our paths took completely different routes. Mike attended college, where he starred at Wichita State and pursued his dream to play baseball. My life led to California, where I pursued my own, more difficult dreams. However, I still followed him. I hung out with a tough crowd then - a crowd that did not care much for any sport the Raiders didn't play. But I remember when Mike made his Major League debut. He batted leadoff and went 1 for 5. One of his next games later that month, in front of a number of folks who drove the 200+ miles to Denver to see him play against the Rockies, Mike had five hits in one game. I clipped the box score and showed all my friends. "This is My home-boy". I was proud of him. He had made his dream come true. He is an inspiration to all who come from small Nowhereville towns across the country. Anybody can make it if they try hard enough.

Mike had a decent career. Never outstanding, but decent. He was part of the 1994 Expos, who had it not been for the strike, almost certainly would have won it all. His best year came with the Expos in 1997, hitting 20 home runs. Later in his career, he returned home (almost) to play for the Rockies. By this time, however, injuries were beginning to take their toll on him and his play slowly deteriorated. He signed a big contract (6 million a year) in 2000 to play for the Rockies and even hit for the cycle on June 18. But he wasn't the same player he used to be, and shortly thereafter was traded to the Red Sox. He was released after the 2001 season after another subpar year. He tried to latch on with the Indians in 2002, but was unable to make the team.

That same year, back in Casper, a new ballpark opened. Casper was always supportive of minor league franchises, but never had the economy to support one for very long. A CBA team came and went in the 80s - but finally in 2001 there was enough to support a A league baseball team. The Casper Rockies were born. The name of their new field, a beautiful little ballpark on the edge of town, was named Mike Lansing Field. Visit here to see some pictures; it's really nice.

Then yesterday, I saw his name on "The List". He very probably was the last person I expected to see on the list when I clicked on the page to view it. This morning, as I do most every morning, I opened up Of course, the front page story - The Mitchell Report and it listed a bunch of names. Only one on that list jumped right out at me. Not Bonds, Clemens, nor even Tejada. Mike Lansing. This is what I found:

According to [Kirk] Radomski, he was introduced to Lansing by David Segui while Segui and Lansing played together with the Expos. Radomski recalled that he engaged in four to five "small transactions" with Lansing. Radomski said that Lansing was familiar with testosterone and "knew exactly what he wanted." Radomski produced two $1,000 money orders from Lansing, retrieved from his bank, made payable to Radomski; both were dated February 5, 2002... Radomski stated that this payment was for testosterone and one kit of human growth hormone. During the search of Radomski's residence, an undated, partial shipping label was seized with Lansing's name on it and a Colorado address. We have confirmed that Lansing resided at this address when he played with the Rockies. Lansing's name, with an address and two telephone numbers, is listed in the address book seized from Radomski's residence by federal agents.

So he is now a "cheater". A shame to baseball and the great American game. No better than Bar-roid Bonds himself. What do I think? What I think is, Mike was trying to revive his career long enough to get another couple of years out of it. He had been injured a lot, and although illegal, was using HGH to recover from injury. Enough to keep playing the game I know he loves. So do we strike his name from the record books? Does his hitting for the cycle on June 18, 2000 get taken away? I suppose at this point the Mob mentality is that all these guys are blatant criminals and we should think of them as destroyers of the game.

He is not. Even though I haven't spoken to him in over 20 years, there is one thing I am absolutely positive of. Mike Lansing loves Baseball. The Mitchell Report absolutely does not change my opinion of him NOT EVEN ONE IOTA. Mike is a real person, a person I admire and still do. And probably many of you would have done exactly the same thing as Lansing did in the same circumstance.

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