Tag Archive | "Performance Enhancing Drugs"

Ryan Braun – Is he a keeper?

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Ryan Braun – Is he a keeper?

Posted on 04 April 2013 by Trish Vignola

Well, I guess that’s too late to figure out now. I traded him for Steven Strasburg. Sure, Braun was named the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player. However,Strasburg was named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter. Sure, he may (or may not) have a pitch count but Ryan Braun was … connected to the Biogenesis scandal. I did not want to hedge my bets.

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You are talking to the same woman who had Joey Votto on her team last year.

The same Joey Votto who missed like a third of the season due to injury.

In fantasy baseball, I’m kind of the kiss of death.

However, did I make the right move? Is 190 innings worth losing a prospective 30 to 40 home runs? The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder collected his first RBI of 2013 season on opening day and added to that total Tuesday night against the Rockies. He went 1 for 4 with a home run in the 8-4 loss. The 29-year-old launched a two-run shot off starter Jorge De La Rosa in the third inning. Braun has gone 2 for 8 with three RBIs through two games.

As of 7 pm today on CBSsports.com, Braun has earned his lucky managers 9 fantasy points. Strasburg has earned me 29. Nonetheless, the week is far from over.

Regarding anything that would keep Braun preoccupied…like I don’t know, the Biogenesis scandal, Major League Baseball claims that Braun is not at the center of the investigation. Michael Hurcomb of CBSsports.com reported on March 20th that Major League Baseball Vice President Rob Manfred denied allegations the league was targeting the Brewers outfielder in its investigation of the Biogenesis clinic in Miami. Biogenesis, for those of you who don’t know, was an anti-aging clinic located near the University of Miami. It is alleged that the clinic sold performance-enhancing drugs to what is growing to be a laundry list of baseball players, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.

These newer reports contradicted an earlier USA Today report which suggested that Braun was “MLB’s Public Enemy No. 1″ in its investigation of Biogenesis. “Everyone whose name has surfaced surrounding the Miami New Times story and Biogenesis is being investigated with equal vigor,” Manfred said in a statement to the Journal Sentinel.

Listen, who says that Braun is not innocent? Can you name another person who was able to dispute his testosterone test and win an appeal of his 50 game suspension? I will not cast any dispersion on his name. Nonetheless, if I kept Braun, I guarantee that he would have been tossed from the game indefinitely.

I am the black widow of fantasy baseball.

So to those of you who have Braun on your team, you are welcome. Braun is projected for 38 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .312 batting average. Steven Strasburg? I hear he’s projected to buy a new insurance policy now that he knows I kept him.

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Tarnished Todd

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Tarnished Todd

Posted on 19 February 2013 by Chris Caylor

Pro athletes can be enigmatic people. So, too, can the people who cover the games pro athletes play.

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When sportswriters – especially the folks who get paid to cover a team – interject their opinions on their Twitter feed or a blog post, then they become part of the story as well. We see this every year at Hall-of-Fame voting time. Another perfect example in baseball is when an athlete gets busted for using performance-enhancing drugs. Baseball writers love (no, LOVE!) to get up on their soapboxes and rail at the sky about how those players are destroying the game. Just look back at some of the Grade A conniption fits some writers have thrown over Melky Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Yasmani Grandal and others.

I don’t begrudge them those opinions, even if I may not share their vitriol. What I ask is this: where is the outrage over a DUI?

Yes, using PEDs is now forbidden in baseball. Yes, using PEDs creates a competitive imbalance within the game and puts an athlete’s accomplishments into question. But does using PEDs put innocent lives at risk the way driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol does? While Alex Rodriguez brings embarrassment to himself, the New York Yankees, and baseball as a whole, did he endanger lives the way Todd Helton did a couple of weeks ago?

Simply put: no.

When the longtime Colorado Rockies’ first baseman decided to get behind the wheel of his Ford F-150 truck at 2 am on February 6, 2013, he put lives at risk. His driving was so erratic that police were rightfully called. His mugshot now belongs in the Celebrity Mugshot Hall of Shame. Helton’s iconic moment – fists raised to the sky, shouting in triumph as he catches the final out of the 2007 NLCS – has been sullied with photoshop images of him guzzling wine from an Igloo cooler instead of celebrating the Rockies’ lone trip to the World Series.

Let’s be clear on one thing: no one was injured or killed as a result of Helton’s appalling decision. Thank heavens for that. But it does not excuse his appalling lack of judgment. His apparent motivation for this dangerous drive was lottery tickets and chewing tobacco. Is that worth a human life?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 30 people in the U.S. die every day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. The CDC says that translates to one death every 48 minutes. In statistics reported by MADD, Colorado drunk-driving deaths increased 9% from 2010 to 2011. In fact, 36% of Colorado traffic-related deaths in 2011 were drunk-driving related.

Being arrested for a DUI has devastating effects on the offender. Typically, by the time one pays for bail, court fees, penalty fines, and insurance costs, the price tag is about $10,000 – and that’s if you didn’t hit anything or injure anyone (hat tip: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

This doesn’t even begin to take into account the devastation visited on a victim. I can’t and won’t even begin to quantify something like that. Ten thousand dollars is pocket change to Todd Helton, who has made over $150 million in his major-league career.

Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock foolishly drove while drunk and died in a 2007 crash. The Angels’ Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver in 2009. So, sadly, there is tragic precedent between drinking and driving and baseball players.

You might think the media would be critical of Helton, similar to how the media excoriated former Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa or outfielder Delmon Young after their alcohol-related incidents.

Sadly, they were not.

Not comparing Helton to Young (who is, by many published accounts, a terrible human being), but local Denver Post writers practically fell over themselves to EXCUSE Helton for his crime. One columnist flippantly began a column thusly: “So now the statistical line for Rockies star Todd Helton reads: 354 home runs, .320 batting average and 1 DUI arrest. Helton is sorry, Denver.” Another has completely glossed over the seriousness of what could have happened in favor of emphasizing that Helton is a “prideful” man who is contrition was obvious before he uttered a single word of explanation to his fans.

When Helton did finally address the media this past Sunday (11 days after his arrest), he was apologetic, but gave no explanation for the delay. Helton refused to discuss why he decided to drink and drive that night, and no media members pushed for an explanation. Helton claims that he has “gotten help” for his “monumental mistake,” yet he would not elaborate what sort of help he is getting. Is it because the investigation is ongoing? If so, then say so.

And is it just me, or did he seem irritated that he had to speak about his DUI at all? Local TV stations also reported that this would be “the first and the last time” that Helton would address this matter. That sound contrite to you? Me either.

No one asked Helton if it ever occurred to him that he could have injured – or killed – a child wearing a Helton jersey or t-shirt. Has Helton considered what such an unspeakable tragedy would do to his legacy? I’d like to know the answer to that question, yet the media has not asked it. Why? Could it be that it is easier to screech and preach about intangible things like the “spirit of the game” or “integrity” than it is to deal with all-too common occurrences in life like drinking and driving, alcohol dependency or automobile crashes? I don’t have an answer. I just wish someone were willing to ask the question.

No questions will be forthcoming from Major League Baseball. Bud Selig has offered no comment whatsoever on Helton’s DUI. The Denver Post has reported that the Rockies do not plan to discipline Helton for his crime, but they did issue a STRONGLY WORDED statement the day after Helton’s arrest. The team used phrases like “extremely disappointed,” “full accountability,” and “severity of the situation.” But an organization that has for years trumpeted how much it values “character” in its players, coaching staff and management, will take no further action other than issuing a statement that essentially says “STOP! Or I’ll say stop again.” Three cheers for hypocrisy, everyone!

Here’s a question for the media, Rockies management and fans: what if it had been a player other than Todd Helton, the franchise icon? What if it had been one of the Rockies’ many young pitchers? A 20-something, perhaps single guy, trying to establish a major league career? Would everyone be so quick to come to that player’s defense, espousing deep insights into his psyche and rationalizing a horrible decision? Or would they be raking him over the coals, demanding his release and entry into a rehab program? Interesting question, isn’t it? The cynic in me has a guess what the answer would be, and the answer is disappointing.

Check out these numbers tweeted by Anthony Witraudo of The Sporting News: “By Sporting News’ count, 12 MLB players, an exec, a bullpen catcher, an announcer and a HOFer have been busted for DUIs since start of 2011.”

Pardon the turn of phrase, but that’s a sobering statistic. The way so many baseball writers harp about PEDs, you’d think the ratio of PED users to DUI arrests was 50-to-1. Again, I ask, where are the priorities of baseball writers? Shouldn’t the DUI issues at least get equal time?

In fairness, the National Football League has a much higher number of players who have been arrested for driving under the influence. But no one grandstands about the prevalence of PEDs in the NFL, either.

Helton said Sunday he is taking “all the right steps to make sure (drinking and driving) doesn’t happen again.” Let’s hope it doesn’t. He played Russian roulette with his massive pick-up truck and got lucky. If it were to happen again, the end result might be a tragedy far more heartbreaking than an athlete caught using steroids. I hope that is something members of the baseball media come to realize sooner rather than later.

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A Modest Proposal

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A Modest Proposal

Posted on 31 January 2013 by Will Emerson

Once again the baseball world is rocked with news of Performance Enhancing Drug use.

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In case you live under a rock or something to that effect, The Miami New Times News printed an article Thursday that reported on the busting of a Miami clinic that has sold performance enhancing drugs to professional athletes, including several Major League Baseball players. Think BALCO-East. This is news, no denying that, but the whole PED thing in baseball is old. MLB continues to try and crack down more when it comes to not only preventing PEDs from finding their way into MLB clubhouses, but also punishing those who get caught with said PEDs. But in light of these recent events, many have to, and have, asked if the current punishment is enough to scare players away. First of all, these are the ones who get caught, which is not necessarily all, or close to all, of the players who have used PEDs. The first offense is 50 games, which clearly has not scared off every, if any, ballplayer from taking the risk. So naturally, many people think maybe there should be a harsher penalty, which may be true, but I feel like there is a simpler answer that we are all overlooking. Allow PEDs!

Yeah, you heard me! Is this not the most obvious answer? The biggest concern for fans, other players, Bud Selig, etcetera, etcetera, more or less,  is that using PEDs is cheating and gives these players an unfair advantage, right? Some might even say it “enhances” their “performance”. Well? Go ahead and allow a free for all! Level the playing field, so to speak. Now, all of a sudden, it becomes about who can get the best stuff and utilize it. In theory, aside from the fact that certain players could get better “stuff”, there would not really be any advantage to taking PEDs, as everyone who wants to be, will be, bigger and stronger without that pesky worrying about being caught and punished. Homeruns would be leaving the parks, left and right! Straight away center too, I suppose. We know MLB loves the longball, after all there’s no Opposite Field Single or Sacrifice Bunt Derby at the All-Star break. Only a Home Run Derby, folks. Plus the free for all with the ‘roids and other PEDS would help us really determine how much these help players who are just not as skilled and talented. PEDs won’t necessarily help you hit Uncle Charlie, right? (For those not up on baseball slang that means curveball, not some old uncle that gets rolled out to be hit repeatedly.) That is one arument, sure, and it is has a bit of a point. You do need to have some talent to begin with, but let’s not completely dismiss what PEDs can do. But isn’t this kind of just the rich getting richer, so to speak?

Well, sure, the players who are more talented and are already making more money as a result of this can probably afford better PEDs and whatnot, but how would this be different than if no one used PEDs? In that no-PED scenario the more talented players are better and make more money, in theory, anyways. So if everyone used PEDs this would not change the overall tiers of talent in Major League Baseball. Everything is back to a level, or at least the same, already off-kilter, playing field that would exist without PEDs, right? It would be like playing a friend in a video game where you both know all the cheat codes, would it not? So, where’s the downside? Players have no advantage, really, other than their natural skill levels, which they had to begin with and they can go ahead and shatter home run records to the delight of fans all over! Well, wait a tick, there is that whole side-effect, danger of doing these drugs, thing.

Do you remember that SNL sketch from the 90s, where they had the All-Drug Olympics? If you don’t, let me lay it out for you. Basically the sketch starts with Dennis Miller as the Weekend Update Anchor leading in with, “In response to what its sponsors claim is an idea whose time has come, the first All-Drug Olympics opened today in Bogota, Columbia. Athletes are allowed to take any substance whatsoever before, after, and even during the competition. So far, 115 world records have been shattered!” Miller then goes to Kevin Nealon, as the correspondent at the All-Drug Olympics. Nealon informs us he is at the weightlifting competition, where a Russian competitor is about to compete. Nealon goes on to list off the drugs the weightlifter is on and that the Russian is about to attempt lifting 1500 pounds which would triple the existing world record. Well, the weightlifter attempts to lift the weight and, basically, he pulls his arms off, to which Nealon says, “Oh! He pulled his arms off! He’s pulled his arms off, that’s gotta be disappointing to the big Russian!” It is hilariously delightful. I am not sure if I can link the clip through this post, but if you just enter “SNL All-Drug Olympics” in the search engine of your choice everything else is gravy. But the point is, yeah, there are consequences beyond just being penalized.

Aside from the penalty of being caught, in the simplest terms, PEDs are really not good for you. But the dangers and side-effects of most, if not all, of these drugs are known and these effects go a lot further than backne (on an unrelated note, typing “backne” made me wonder want Brandon Backe is up to). So without risk of penalty, there is still a “do this at your own risk” caveat. But there it is! At your own risk. Perfect! You know what you’re getting into, you’re adults, go for it! If you think it’s worth it, then do it tto it! Let’s start the All-Drug MLB!*

*If not obvious enough to you, the reader, this proposal was in jest. It is an oversimplified and, quite frankly, asinine idea that I would not seriously propose, although I am sure there are some that would throw this idea out there. PEDs should never be allowed and they probably do need harsher penalties that will actually make players think twice about using them.

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He Without Sin…Should not Represent Roger Clemens – Rusty Hardin on A-Rod

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He Without Sin…Should not Represent Roger Clemens – Rusty Hardin on A-Rod

Posted on 31 January 2013 by Trish Vignola

“The sports world has turned the assumption of innocence on its head,” Rusty Hardin (Roger Clemens’ attorney) said Thursday in a telephone interview with USA TODAY Sports. “I am thoroughly convinced there is no way an innocent ballplayer can get out in front of these allegations.

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“I truly know nothing about Alex Rodriguez, but do you think anybody is going to believe Alex Rodriguez now? Nobody is going to listen to him or any of these guys accused.”

“The presumption is so strong that they did it, and they’re lying. The only way Alex Rodriguez is going to get a fair shake is by going to court and proving it.”

“Who the hell wants to wish that on anyone? Even if acquitted, the majority of the sports world still is going to assume he did it.”

Roger Clemens vehemently denied Senator George Mitchell’s 2007 report that he used performance-enhancing drugs. He filed a defamation lawsuit against his former trainer, Brian McNamee. He swore under oath that he never took steroids, and after being indicted by a grand jury on charges of making false statements to Congress, he was still found not guilty on all counts of lying to Congress.

“That was the only way Roger could get a fair hearing,” Hardin said, “but like Roger told Congress, ‘He still lost his innocence.’ People still don’t believe him.”

Has he given us a reason to believe him though?

“The problem now is that so many players deny it, and later on admit it, so the accusation carries additional weight,” Harden continued.
If the Miami New Times report is accurate and Rodriguez did indeed purchased performance-enhancing drugs in 2009 and 2012 from Biogenesis, a clinic in Coral Gables, Florida, Harden says that Rodriguez should follow the lead of Yankees starter Andy Pettitte. He publicly admit his transgressions.

“If you did it,” Hardin says, “the way Andy Pettitte went about it is exactly the way to go. You admit it, accept responsibility, and move on.”

“If you didn’t do it, then you’ve got follow your conscience and recognize it’s not going to work. People are too cynical to believe you.”

“What we did with Roger didn’t work. He denied it from every rooftop he could. What we discovered with Roger was that his denial just brought more scorn. After awhile, we just shut up. There was nothing more we could offer from the dialogue.”

“But I will say that if a person didn’t do it, they shouldn’t cave in and say they did it, just to make it go away.”

Hardin realized that even after being victorious in trial, the public perception of Clemens wouldn’t be dramatically altered. That was confirmed this year when the seven-time Cy Young award winner received only 37.6% of the vote in the Hall of Fame ballot.

“I don’t think nobody will ever look at the evidence before they cast their next vote,” Hardin says. “The trouble is that Roger was lumped together with (Barry) Bonds and (Sammy) Sosa. The other two guys, everybody knows they did it.”

Do they? They’ve denied it as much as Clemens.

“There’s no question that Bonds did it.”

Which is interesting because many people can say that about Hardin’s client.

“Everybody knows that. And Sosa proved positive. And since Roger was accused, he was thrown in the same group,” Hardin continued.

Bonds testified that he never knowingly used steroids. Sosa tested positive in an anonymous 2003 test, according to the New York Times, but has denied that he ever used steroids.

“I don’t think anything is ever going to change,” Hardin says, “no matter what Roger says.”

“You never get your reputation back.”

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Has Voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame Become a Joyless Chore?

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Has Voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame Become a Joyless Chore?

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Trish Vignola

Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News pondered this question. “There was a time, not so long ago, when I received the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot with great joy and anticipation.” There was also a time when we as fans waited with “great joy and anticipation” for this outcome.

RogerClemens

Bondy continued. “It was tremendous fun to mark down each year the maximum 10 candidates for election — for I fully believed the writers had fallen far behind when it came to several deserving players. Some serious catching up was required. Now, though, it’s all a joyless chore.” For fans, this week was pretty joyless as well.

Bondy gives his readers intimate insight on what it was like to face this controversial ballot. “The ballot arrives. I take a deep breath and vote for cheaters I don’t like. I vote for them nonetheless, all the proven and alleged steroid guys. This year I voted for Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and, yes, even Rafael Palmeiro — which means that at least half my ballot was consumed by almost certain law breakers.” Regardless of Bondy’s decision, the first pages of writing the Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED) era of baseball have been written.

So why did Bondy vote the way he did? He opens up in his article for the News, “I believe a voter needs some sort of system, some consistency, and I don’t believe in selective prosecution. 

Some of these guys are 100% likely PED-users, some are 99% likely, even if they haven’t been caught or convicted. But what of the 50-50 guys, or the 60-40 players? I have no idea. Should I exclude Mike Piazza because some reporters noticed acne on his back? Should I snub Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, because of all the rumors down in Houston?”

Bondy ultimately couldn’t do that. He felt he was in no position to know for certain. To Bondy’s point, I agree that steroids were endemic in this era. It is time for the Hall of Fame to recognize this and find away to put that into perspective. This isn’t about a plaque. If the Hall of Fame recognizes itself as a true museum, it is the responsibility of that institution to educate everyone on the subject.

Bondy admits to voting for all of them. He considered their stats and dominance at their position, their endurance and most importantly their value to teams. For Bondy, “I didn’t enjoy mailing in the ballot and I’m not particularly upset that none of these players attracted enough votes from fellow writers. I feel sorry for everyone trying to deal with this issue, including the voters, and grow angrier at the cheaters for dividing us into warring cliques.”

Although right now, we struggle with an imperfect system to recognize the greats of the game. Bondy show us how it still works. “I was proud to vote for Lee Smith, who has been ignored for no particular reason. When he was with the Cubs, I was on the field before a game at Wrigley as he tossed a warm up pitch that bounced past a teammate and hit me on the ankle. I suffered a Hall of Fame bruise, I can attest.”

For Bondy, this is not about Bonds. I agree to the point that these players shouldn’t be judged in one stroke. If you do, then people like Lee Smith are lost to history and that’s not fair. As Bondy concludes, “No PEDs there. At least I don’t think so. We never, ever can be sure again.” For more on Bondy’s insight, check him out on line an in print with the New York Daily News.

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