Grrr! ... Steroids Not the Issue

Don't blame Jason Giambi (search) if, in fact, he took steroids.

In fact, don't blame baseball players, football players, hockey players, wrestlers, track stars or any athlete who pollutes his body in search of that competitive edge.

Isn't that what America is all about — having an edge?

I'm not saying it's right, but steroid use among athletes has gotten so out of control that the pros who don't take them are more than likely riding the bench. They're the ones nobody hears about. They're the ones nobody cares about and it's a Grrring shame.

Athletes who don't take steroids — both professional and amateur — will never be as good as the ones who do. And that means the sportswriters don't write about them, the TV cameras don't focus on them and the gaming companies don't feature them.

It's always the hulking superstar athlete with the biggest locker, the biggest contract, the biggest agent, the covers of the hottest games and magazines and the biggest needle — uh, competitive edge — getting all the accolades and setting new records.

It's a sad fact that at long last needs to be remedied.

Over the weekend, Sen. John McCain (search) said that if tough new rules for baseball aren't in place next month, he will introduce legislation making drug testing in professional sports a law. It's about time.

Indeed, over the past few years, federal and local governments have worked hard to take away the illegal edge so many have enjoyed for so long.

The Martha Stewarts, Enrons and Adelphias of the world learned the hard way that creative accounting or special treatment because of celebrity won't cut it anymore. Money was their edge.

The United Nations is embroiled in an Oil-for-Food scandal that involves Kofi Annan's son Kojo. Access to power was his edge.

Show business is full of people who are so beautiful they get paid tons of money just to show up. Do you look like Julia Roberts? Do you look like Warren Beatty? Do you have Lindsay Lohan's breasts? Is the anchor of your favorite news station or entertainment show really easy on the eyes? Plastic surgery or other high-priced cosmetic procedures are likely their edge.

Ashlee Simpson and any number of pop tarts sell millions of CDs and bring in millions of dollars "singing" songs they don't write, and that don't even sound like them. Technology in the studio is their edge.

Scott Peterson was found guilty by a jury of his peers. He thought a fancy, high-priced lawyer would be his edge. He thought wrong.

Giambi had the second-highest salary on the cash-rich New York Yankees. His first year there saw great statistics and promise for the storied franchise. Steroids were reportedly his edge.

But before we blame any of them, before we cast stones in their direction, think about what you like to watch, what video games you like to play, what music you like to hear and what you like your heroes to look like, act like or play like.

Think about what you will buy this holiday season. Think about whose career you follow most closely. Think about whose picture you click on, what headline catches your eye, what sports highlight you watch over and over and over again.

Baseball fans, ask yourselves: Will you watch small ball? Will you watch a game where pitchers don't throw 98 miles per hour, where homers are fewer and where stars aren't rippling with muscles or burning around the bases? Will you pay big bucks to see athletes who look just like you?

Sunday night at the opening of Billy Crystal's Broadway show "700 Sundays" (search), I asked Yankees manager Joe Torre about the controversy.

"Obviously we're asked not to talk about it, but when everything's said and done, I hope people still feel good about watching baseball," Torre said. "That's what we're here to do, to make baseball the sport it's supposed to be."

Good luck coach. Until then all I can say is Grrrrrr!

Holiday Travel News ... Grrr!

Every year about this time, we see television reporters stationed at airports and read articles written by print reporters stationed at airports or on the sides of highways.

Every year it's the same story.

"Gridlock on the roads." "Get to the airport early because lines are very long." "Bad weather delays holiday travelers."

Why not just run last year's report? It would save money, and it's doubtful anybody would notice. Any viewer or reader who doesn't know that holiday traveling is troublesome probably isn't watching or reading anyway.

Grrr-Dendum: Lindsay Lohan Pulls an Ashlee ... Grrr!

So actress-slash-pop star Lindsay Lohan made an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday, where her voice was heard when her lips weren't moving.

Gee, what a surprise.

The use of backup vocals is kind of like taking steroids, isn't it? We all know it's done, but we keep buying what the stars are selling anyway. I'll take Lohan on the big screen. Leave the singing to Alicia Keys.

The Cutting-Room Floor

So I covered Billy Crystal's Broadway debut Sunday night, and once again I got to hobnob with and interview some major stars. Robert De Niro was there, as were Harvey Keitel, Rob Reiner, Joe Torre (as you already know), Yogi Berra, Mike Wallace, Stanley Tucci, Bob Costas and Jessica Lange.

The show went over well with this A-List crowd — among them practically every member of Crystal's extended family, who were in town for Billy's big night.

"700 Sundays" is a very funny, very personal portrait of Billy Crystal's life, where he plays characters nearest and dearest to his heart: his family. The show is a tribute to Crystal's father, who died 41 years ago.

My piece airs on "FOX Magazine" next Sunday night.

Now for Your Grrrs

Last week I asked for your movie reviews. Here they are, among some of your Grrrs too. Don't forget to click the link below for the rest of this week's "Your Grrrs" section.

By the way, scroll up for video and archives of the column. I've gotten a lot of e-mails asking about where to find previous columns. And one tip about navigating to the Grrr! column every week: You can mouse over "Top Stories" in the navigation above, go down to "Foxlife" and then go down to "Strakalogue" to get to the column, or simply bookmark


Pat D. Whitbeck on "The Incredibles": I took my 10- and 12-year-old daughters to see this movie and we all laughed throughout the entire movie. A truley great family film with many good laughs for all. Pat Whitbeck highly recommends this for all ages. Loads of fun. Oh, and I haven't read Rolling Stone since 1975.

J.H. in Oklahoma City also on "The Incredibles": Thanks for the opportunity to do this, I really feel great about this movie. I’m a 32-year-old big burly man, and I teared up! Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, but this was a wonderful movie, and I’ll tell you why. I originally went to see this movie just for the "Star Wars: Episode III" trailer. I thought, “Pixar, well, it’ll at least be tolerable," so I stayed for the movie, unlike many I saw who just got up and left after the Lucasfilm logo faded. Like all Pixar films, it was preceded by a somewhat goofy, but thoughtfully moralistic animated short about a sheep and his own vanity. I must say, what a wonderful little moral story to show your kids, but that wasn’t the end of the great family value-a-thon. The entire movie was filled with great family-values messages. The main character, the father, displayed outstanding moral fortitude and sincere love for his family. I don’t want to give the entire movie away, but suffice to say, if I had children, I would have absolutely no hesitations about taking them to see this movie. And as for all you big burly men out there, hey, it wasn’t all that bad. If you are too chicken to see it in public, there’s always DVD.

Kenneth Trayor's picks for 2004: "Shall We Dance?" is #2. The best, cleanest movie (most underadvertised and undersold too). Simply an elegant, timeless, uplifting story with a great ending. #1 has to be "Spider Man 2." Enough said.

Jeff M. in Charleston, S.C.: I have one Grrr that has probably never been mentioned. Call me impatient, but Grrr to the guy that goes to the local deli during lunch hour and has 18 separate orders all with special requests and all which must be paid separately. And Grrr to you for complaining that one or more of the orders are incorrect while you continue to hold up the line by inspecting each and every order for accuracy. Here's a clue, call it in one hour ahead of time or simply stop asking everyone in your office if you can pick them something up too. Write down how much money each person gave to you and put all of the money together and get change elsewhere. It's not necessary to get correct change for each and every order at the counter. It never fails, I always get behind this type of person no matter where I go. No one really has time to leave the establishment and find somewhere else to eat in the hour time frame most of us are given.

Kevin R. in Cyber-Space: I'm responding to Cherie in Cincinnati's comments last week. I truly want to offer my words of encouragement for her family during this time. I'll pray
for you and all of the other wonderful families who are sacrificing for us. Unfortunately, it wasn't always this way. My father was a 20-year veteran of the military and spent a good portion of my childhood in Vietnam through two tours in the '60s. No one had magnetic ribbons on their cars supporting the troops back then. I don't remember even anyone asking how my dad was. We didn't have phone calls with him while he was overseas or the Internet to follow developments — only days waiting by the mailbox waiting for the next letter. We didn't have anyone donating Christmas gifts for us or Oprah giving nursery supplies to my mother for my baby sister at the time. My school friends only knew me as "the kid with no dad". My mother tried to fill in as mother and father — she was my Cub Scout leader, my school choir leader, Sunday School teacher and friend. No one knew our suffering or really cared at the time. My dad didn't ship out with his unit with the fanfare of crowds with banners and flags. He left alone on a commercial airliner and returned alone on a commercial airliner. My point is hang tough and don't be too hard on the rest of us. I certainly remember tough times as well.

Mike Straka is director of operations and special projects and a columnist for, and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine." He was also in the movie "Analyze This," and has appeared in various commercials, theater and TV roles.

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