Archive for the ‘Drugs’ Category

You have to give the man credit – he knows how to make an impression. In fact, the video above recalling his three-homer day at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia contains several moments that are too good to be true.

Before he launches his first homer of the day, the on-field cameras pick up a leather-lunged Phillies fan screaming “CHEEEEDURRR!” right before Braun takes Kyle Kendrick deep. Then, later in the highlight pack, the lucky recipient of Braun’s third home run ball refuses to throw it back onto the field, stuffing it into the pocket of his hoody as those around demand the ball go back from whence it came. You can see the guy in the Phillies sweater matter-of-factly state his reasoning for keeping the ball as “it’s RYAN BRAUN!” No further explanation needed.

Tuesday marked Braun’s second trip outside the friendly confines of Miller Park, and Phillies’ fans greeted him with a steady stream of boos, voicing their displeasure with his choice of nutritional supplements and subsequent suspension.

As a totally unrelated aside: Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd was greeted warmly in each of his five plate appearances on the day.

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File photo of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig during a news conference in New York

Where there is a political will, there is way. It wasn’t even a month ago that an executive member of the MLB Players Association told Bob Nightengale “the CBA won’t be reopened, there’s no way it’s a big enough deal to do that right now. I haven’t heard any rumblings that’s even realistic.” Tough to make changes to an existing document, got it.

Of course, that denial was in regards to altering the qualifying offer system. As Kendry Morales and Stephen Drew sit at home, cooling their heels, it appears the MLBPA and owners are set to address another CBA issue – stepping up punishments for violations of the joint drug agreement.

While the lengths have not been finalized, the sides are discussing a 100-game ban for an initial violation and a season-long ban for a second, one of the people said.

Again, where there’s a will there’s a way. PEDs are a hot button issue upon which everyone can agree. It’s much easier to knock down walls when they obstruct the view of Bud’s money river.

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Ueberroth speaks to the media during a news conference in Chicago

Back in 1985, the drug scourge haunting Major League Baseball was not steroids. It wasn’t amphetamines or “greenies,” either, although their widespread prevalence has been asserted by former players and historical accounts.

The scourge, instead, was cocaine. Four Kansas City Royals (Willie Aikens, Willie Wilson, Vida Blue and Jerry Martin) were jailed for cocaine violations, and their supplier, a Kansas City citizen and “baseball nut” named Mark Liebl claimed, “It’s all over baseball.” For more on the story, we send it over to Jerry Springer of Channel 5 News. Jerry?

Thanks, Jerry.

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Phillies v Reds

“How can you love the game of baseball and do this to the game?”

This was just one of the farcical question 60 Minutes correspondent and acting MLB PR flack Scott Pelley asked Biogenesis “doctor” and owner Anthony Bosch on CBS’s 60 Minutes this Sunday. The question is absurd on its face — did Pelley forget he was talking to a literal con artist? But it is also illustrative of what I believe to a major problem with baseball media and baseball culture as a whole: the line between the sport of baseball and Major League Baseball the institution and corporation is blurred, and in too many cases, non-existent.

“Big win for MLB, great day for the game,” USA TODAY sports baseball columnist Bob Nightengale declared. Baseball won, according to Nightengale, because:

“It’s the largest performance-enhancing drug penalty in the history of baseball, and most important, scares the daylights out of anyone who dares to cheat again.

If you cheat, MLB will catch you.

Oh, you may beat the drug tests. You may even beat the system for awhile. Yet, eventually, the MLB police will get you.

And, oh, boy, will you pay.”

Fox Sports’s Jon Morosi is less convinced:

“Baseball can hope Rodriguez and Braun are the last former MVPs to be suspended, but history tells us at least a couple of elite players will keep trying to cheat. Selig will press on with drug testing because he must, for the good of the sport, for the benefit of his legacy, and, frankly, because there is more work to be done.”

And there are more examples. ESPN’s Ian O’Connor referred to Rodriguez’s offense as a “non-violent assault on his sport.” Fox Sports’s Ken Rosenthal says “baseball must continue fighting the good fight… There simply is no other choice.” Et cetera.

It is concerning that so few people in the mainstream baseball media bother to ask some simple questions. When the entity constantly referred to as “baseball” wins, who benefits? Who loses? What purpose does it serve? What is “the good of the sport,” and who does it concern?

Dig deeper into these columns and you see the answers. “Selig wanted A-Rod punished before he left office,” O’Connor writes. Nightengale crows, “Major League Baseball spent more money on this investigation than all of the other investigations in the history of baseball, according to one high-ranking baseball executive, and it was worth every single penny.” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick writes, on Selig, “The two biggest blots on an otherwise strong résumé as commissioner are the 1994 World Series cancellation and the steroid explosion in the 1990s. Selig can never get 1994 back, but Biogenesis at least helps him cast the steroid era in a somewhat different light.”

This is not about baseball and the millions of people who play it and love it, many of whom do so far from the long arm of Selig’s Major League. This is about selling Major League Baseball, the product, and selling Bud Selig’s so-called legacy (unsurprisingly, MLB and many in the press practically sees these as the same thing).

At least since the Black Sox Scandal when Kenesaw Mountain Landis rebuild the league in his image, Major League Baseball’s selling point has been simple: we play with dignity, and we play with purity. The truth of this message does not matter. It has never been true, whether due to the color line, due to labor exploitation, due to rampant amphetamines use, due to unnecessary and extravagant use of public funds, or due to steroids. But the image must be maintained, or else what is the point of Major League Baseball?

Today I find myself wondering. What if the league didn’t fall into an anti-trust agreement, giving it the ability to freeze out competitors like the Federal League and the Pacific Coast League? What if Major League Baseball was not an entrenched institution able to hoard the best baseball talent in the world? Then what would be “the good of the sport?”

What about the players? Not just those in the major leagues, but those in the minor leagues — well over half of those suspended since 2005 — struggling for a paycheck and just trying to stay above water in a league where salaries balloon by some 7000 percent when you reach the top class? What about the people of the Major League cities and states, who continue to foot the bill for new stadia across the country, only to see those buildings deserted after as few as 30 years? What about the fans who want to focus on the field of play and not dubious chemistry and shady investigations?

It’s a fascinating set of questions, and obviously a set of questions much of the national baseball media has never considered. Until more people in the media (and in the general baseball fanbase) are critical of Major League Baseball and can separate the idea of baseball from the lumbering, monolithic institution at its top now, the game and its fans shouldn’t expect any real change.

For now, though, the health of baseball and the health of Major League Baseball Incorporated remain one and the same. And so the good fight will be fought, on, and on, and on.

New York Yankees v Detroit Tigers - Game Four

No matter how laissez-faire your attitude towards performance-enhancing drugs might be, Major League Baseball has the right to protect their laws and constitution, such as it is.

It doesn’t matter that their investigation took on a goon squad quality, going through unsavory channels to get the dirt it needed on Alex Rodriguez. Right now, it appears Alex Rodriguez repeatedly and purposely acted in a way that made him a target. After an initial 211-game suspension, his penalty after appeal and arbitration is now a nice, round, 162 – the entire 2014 season.

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This happened last night. Mere hours after Major League Baseball officially handed down their 211 game suspension for Alex Rodriguez, among 12 total suspenesions the league mited out yesterday, Alex Rodriguez made his season debut.

The only player among the Biogenesis Dozen to appeal, A-Rod is entitled to continue playing until his appeal is heard. And so play he shall, playing third base for the Yankees – hoping to power their pitiful offense to a shock playoff berth. Which, should this unlikely event actually happen, would only deepen the crisis currently facing baseball.

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Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers

You know the drill by now. Pull up your favorite image of Ryan Braun looking sullen, dig into the text editor window and tell the world what you think about Ryan Braun. HOT TAKES, COMING YER WAY. If you prefer a bolder approach in instructing others what they think or perhaps you like finding new ground expressing your by vehement non-outrage.

They came in waves. First, immediately after the news broke, come the “here is my take” pieces. Then the “here is what the players think” piece are intermingled with the “I’M SO DAMN ANGRY” pieces, which are little more than accredited journalists calling Ryan Braun mean names for 800 words.

Somebody, somewhere, has something insightful to say about Ryan Braun’s 65 game suspension for his involvement with the Biogenesis clinc (predictably, Grant Brisbee is the leader in the clubhouse). Braun didn’t “actually” fail an untainted drug test but the league and its investigators found more than a little bit of evidence suggesting Braun did more than use Anthony Bosch as a consultant, as the Brewers slugger previously stated.

Just a few days later, there isn’t much left of the Braun story. Some are attempting to free the Brewers from his contract but much of the Biogenesis talk is already onto Alex Rodriguez and what he eventually gets (lifetime ban?), rather than attempting to make real sense of what happened with Braun. What Ryan Braun actually means.

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