Archive for the ‘PEDs’ Category

trippingolney

Oh, fun. More of this Buster Olney-driven madness, dredging up the ol’ PED issue with respect to Melky Cabrera.

So here’s what’s what:

On Tuesday morning at ESPN.com, Buster Olney decided to contemplate the potential of Cabrera being an all-star — particularly with respect to his PED suspension two years ago. He benevolently gave fans his permission to either care or not care about this — to “take his performance at face value and prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt,” or to be supremely suspicious of his history and of the fact that this seeming return to form *WINK* is coming in a *COUGH* contract year, with numbers that “very closely resemble those he put up the summer he was suspended.”

Get it?

Other players hate PED cheats, he explains, and they especially hate guys getting rich off cheating, so the suggestion is made that Cabrera won’t be voted to the all-star game by the fans, may not be voted by his fellow players, and may end up being left off the roster entirely by manager John Farrell as well. “If Cabrera makes the team, he will have earned his selection through his production,” we’re told. “If Cabrera is left off the team, he will have earned that, too.”

This is a sentiment that, of course, can fuck right off. Is Cabrera more likely to be cheating now than anybody else, just because he was caught once before? Even though he’s under more scrutiny, faces more severe punishment, and is tested more often? Even though his 2013 dip in form and this year’s subsequent return are far more easily attributable to the goddamn tumour he had removed from his spine?

Ugh. No, of course he’s not. Of course he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

So Jose Bautista responded to this, as did Richard Griffin in a piece from the Toronto Star.

Bautista expressed concern for Melky’s ability to negotiate should comments like these get blown up into something bigger, and summed up the rational position quite perfectly: “It’s not my place to say what is right or wrong. I can tell you what my opinion is, not the general opinion of the (other MLB) players. I think if you did something wrong and you were caught and you pay your dues, that should be it. (Failing once) doesn’t mean that you’re always going to be doing something that’s illegal or not allowed.”

Griffin zeroed in on Olney’s stuff about it being a contract year, explaining that “Cabrera is the wrong guy to pick on in trying to make a case that cheating is worthwhile. Down the road, with that suspension in his background, he will likely never get the huge deal he might have expected if the stats were clean. See Nelson Cruz with the O’s.”

He’s right, but I’d add that no player is really the right guy to pick on here. The CBA allows what it allows. If you’re upset about that, your issue is with it and with the two sides who agreed on it.

But evidently the money thing really sticks in Olney’s craw, as he addressed it — and the comments from Griffin and Bautista — a second time, in today’s column at ESPN.com (Insider Olney):

If any player takes PEDs and gains an unfair advantage over his union brethren, that means he’s holding a position somebody else should hold, and making money somebody else should make. Just because somebody doesn’t make as much as Ryan Braun doesn’t mean cheating isn’t worthwhile, and it’s hardly a stretch to suggest that Cabrera made extra cash through his past transgression.

In fact, it’s almost certainly a lock that he already has benefitted from cheating. He made $3.1 million as an extra outfielder with the Braves in 2010 and had such a mediocre season that he was cut free; the Braves agreed with the Yankees’ assessment that he was essentially an extra outfielder. He signed with the Royals for $1.25 million in 2011 and became a star, at a time when he reportedly became a client of Biogenesis. He was suspended in 2012 while playing for the San Francisco Giants, and the Blue Jays then signed him to a two-year, $16 million deal before anybody knew about Tony Bosch and Biogenesis.

And if all that information impacts the market assessment of Cabrera, well, too bad. These are all plain, simple facts, and while Cabrera served his suspension, that doesn’t mean his history is whitewashed.

We seem to see from this insanity the lone track that Olney’s mind is on when it comes to Cabrera. In his world, because prior to this year Melky has only supposedly been good in seasons in which there is evidence of PED use, the fact that he’s playing well now must be highly suspicious. Forget how little we know about how much whatever he was taking — he only tested positive for high levels of testosterone, let’s not forget — actually impacts performance. Forget that, by many accounts, he was out of shape with the Braves and his play improved when his conditioning improved. Forget that he may well have blown the theory apart last year if he had played like this, which he couldn’t because of the goddamn tumour he had removed from his spine. Forget that his breakout year in Kansas City came in his age-26 season — an age at which you might entirely expect a player to really start putting it together as he heads towards his peak years. Forget that, though he certainly did have some intervening down years, he was a talented enough hitter to get a full season’s worth of at-bats for the New York Yankees as a twenty-two-year-old, and put up a .360 on-base in the process!

Nope, it’s just correlation, causation, couching the whole thing with bogus insistence that you’re just exploring different possible opinions here and not really taking a side (sprinkled with garbled nonsense like “almost certainly a lock”), then light a cigar and put your feet up.

Worst of all is how this is evidently only relevant now that he’s playing well. Because, y’know, why acknowledge the fact that there are all kinds of guys who we know took PEDs that still entirely sucked? Do that — acknowledge that these substances aren’t magic elixirs turning ordinary men into baseball gods — and we might be able to take the first step towards actually having a real, adult conversation about the stuff. Trouble is, the whole subject is murky as fuck, and the difficulty we have in wrapping our heads around it — around the arbitrary moralities, the lines drawn in the sand, the problems of the CBA and of the testing, the science behind the drugs and how they impact performance, the influence of all kinds of other variables that impact performance, and the near impossibility of coherently grappling with all the strands that lead in and out of each of these murky spheres of the topic  – makes it awful easy for writers to reduce the issue to a dull-headed question of whether you’re for or against “cheating.”

Emphasis on awful.

gotmelk

A fresh report from T.J. Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN.com says that suspensions related to the scandal surrounding Tony Bosch and his BioGenesis clinic, in which Melky Cabrera has been implicated, may be very shortly in the offing:

Commissioner Bud Selig’s office is expected to suspend Braun and Rodriguez, along with as many as 20 players sometime after next week’s All-Star break, several sources told “Outside the Lines.” As OTL reported, MLB started building cases against the players last month after Bosch agreed to cooperate with investigators.

I wrote about the possibility of Melky not being protected by the notion of double jeopardy last month, and it certainly still seems plausible, given the way MLB intends to go after the big fish, Braun and Rodriguez.

Read the rest of this entry »

doublejeopardy

The primary focus of the latest twist in the BioGenesis story has been the implications it may have for Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, two true superstars in the game who have, so far, escaped punishment for any alleged PED usage, despite the pungent stink of ‘roids taint that surrounds their every step. I suppose it’s understandable why that’s the angle most explored, but to me, and I would assume to every Blue Jays fan, by far the most fascinating thing is how Melky Cabrera, and others who served 50-game suspensions that ended his 2012 season, has continued to be listed among those potentially facing punishment.

Melky, quite rightly, certainly believes that the matter should be closed, telling Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today following yesterday’s game in San Francisco that “I don’t know anything about it. This is the first I hear of it. If they suspend me again, I think that would be a harsh punishment because I already served my sentence. But it’s up to them. I believe I’ve already served my sentence, especially missing the playoffs. That’s what hurt me the most.”

That’s precisely where Alex Anthopoulos was at during Spring Training, telling Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, “My understanding is there’s no issue. My understanding is that, as of today, we really don’t have anything to be concerned with. He served a suspension and right now, that’s it. His suspension has been served.”

As of today– an Anthopoulos classic that gives just enough of a speck of daylight for things to change dramatically without him ever having been technically wrong on the issue. And wrong he still might be, unfortunately.

Read the rest of this entry »

Toronto Blue Jays v Atlanta Braves

Here are two things that have no business being lumped together, but which I will anyway because I’m not prepared to write a full post about either:

One, Gregor Chisholm was the first to tweet out this nugget regarding the Jays’ most recent DL case:

That’s terrific news, even if Ortiz isn’t exactly the most valuable pitcher the Jays have floating around the fringes of their roster (though, actually, maybe he is). You never want to see anybody go out the way it appeared as though he had back on Sunday night.

Aaaaand two, it’s some bad news for some MLB superstars, and “others”– who technically, don’t forget, could include Melky Cabrera:

Read the rest of this entry »

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees

Surely by now you’ve heard about the “report”– or whatever you want to call it– that surfaced yesterday at a site called Dog And Pony Show, where writer Joe Bisceglie has given us his word– and not a whole hell of a lot else– that A-Rod, Robinson Cano, Ryan Braun, and Curtis Granderson will all be suspended for failed PED tests this season.

It’s a motherfucker of a bold claim, and would be a hell of a thing, if true– a Yankee-derailing possibility certain Jays fans must be salivating over– but… is there really value in making the effort to envision a world in which this is something that’s really about to go down? Absolutely not.

I mean, I don’t want to pretend I’m so offended by the quasi-journalism of it that I couldn’t possibly even hold my nose long enough to acknowledge the fact that this stuff is out there– there’s a lot that’s interesting going on in this story, regardless– but there’s just isn’t nearly enough information, or corroboration from additional sources, of what he’s telling us, to start doing something crazy like actually believing it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Melky Vday

Welp. Seems like every member of the Jays’ staff is already on ludicrous ol’ Dunedin time, because it was at 7:01 AM this morning (which is a time that, apparently, exists) that my inbox was hit with a release from the club– and not just any old we sold out the home opener bit of typical PR babble.

As you’ve probably read elsewhere, Melky Cabrera finally talked about PED stuff, then said he was through talking about it. Like, forever-ish. For the sake of completeness, here’s the full statement:

“Last season ended for me when I admitted taking a banned substance and accepted and served my punishment of a 50 game suspension. Since that day, my goals have been to serve my punishment and to put that mistake behind me, and to work hard to be the best baseball player I can be. At the end of last season, when it became clear that I would win the batting title despite my positive test, I asked the Players Association and MLB to make sure a more deserving player won, and I am very happy that my former teammate Buster Posey won that award instead of me.

Read the rest of this entry »

When the Miami New Times broke the story of Biogenesis this week, including dealings that the Jays’ big off-season signing, Melky Cabrera, had with the allegedly corrupt anti-aging clinic, it seemed as though nothing terribly new was uncovered.

The earliest date associated with Melky’s use in the original New Times story was in December of 2011. Cabrera, we know, was found to have elevated levels of testosterone during the 2012 season, was suspended for the violation of MLB’s drug policy, and has already served his fifty games.

Today, however, while we don’t have anything new linking the All-Star Game MVP to particular substances or regimens, we see that his relationship with the clinic may go back farther than was initially reported. The New Times has published what they call The Melky Files– a chronicle of all the times that Cabrera’s name appears in notebooks obtained from the clinic– and it turns out that the first notebooks he’s mentioned in were labelled “2009″.

The overlay in the image above came from one of these notebooks, along with two other similarly non-specific mentions of his name in 2009 and one more in 2010.

So, what do we make of this?

Read the rest of this entry »