That The Greatest Scandal That Absolutely Ever Was has come down to a faceoff between Rodriguez and Selig is proof enough of what a comic opera the whole escapade has been from the beginning. The hysteria over PEDs in baseball — and, thus, in every sport — has unfolded the way in which all drug hysterias in the history of this country have unfolded. It has been fueled by misplaced moral panic, anecdotal evidence, anonymous slander, and a fundamental disregard for legal and constitutional safeguards — all in the service of what has been sold as a greater good by executives and media members who became famous or wealthy in the pursuit. It has been an exercise in simplistic moralism, so why shouldn’t it come down to one villain and one hero? The whole thing has been a scary story for children right from the jump.
Goodnight vials of pee and blood
Goodnight verdicts that are duds
Goodnight spokesmen flinging mud
alex rodriguez’ alleged violations? the sky is falling! think of the children!
major league baseball’s? sounds of crickets…and i don’t mean “that’ll be the day”.
They banged on doors, slipped through guard gates and flashed envelopes stuffed with cash. They hired a peddler of performance enhancing substances, paid for stolen documents and canoodled with a potential witness.
Major League Baseball’s sleuths, most of them former New York City cops, were described by one witness as “goons” with “big muscles” who bullied their way across South Florida in a quest to nail players involved in baseball’s biggest doping scandal.
In their zeal to clean up the sport, MLB investigators have been accused of discarding the rulebook much like the juiced-up ballplayers they were pursuing…
In a brief subsequent interview with the Herald, one of the investigators would only say about his clients: “Be very careful. These are very, very bad people.”
From the penthouse to the outhouse and back again.
In 2010 he landed with the Cubs, and in 2011, at age 33, Byrd made his first All-Star Game. Rather than celebration, the feat was met with suspicion. For years, Byrd had unapologetically worked with trainer Victor Conte, the mastermind behind BALCO, and maintained his innocence.
Everything after his all-star appearance became a nightmare. He tapered in the second half of 2011. He opened 2012 hitting 0.70 for the Cubs, who released. The Red Sox took a flier, and he whiffed his way through another month before they released him, too. Two weeks later, MLB suspended Byrd 50 games for testing positive for tamoxifen, a banned substance that increases testosterone produced and, as a side effect, causes breast-tissue growth.
Byrd’s career had reached a dead end. He couldn’t hit. The taint of a PED suspension hovered over him. He was more punch line than ballplayer. He was done. And then he went to Mexico. Byrd signed with Cualican, hoping he could convince one desperate team to give him a shot in spring training. He found a perfectly desperate outfit in the Mets, who invited him to Port St. Lucie. He clobbered the ball in the Grapefruit League and made the team.
According to a source with knowledge of Rodriguez’s ongoing arbitration hearings, the embattled Yankee and his lawyers have presented a case based partly on the idea that Rodriguez believed the substances he procured from the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic were innocent legal supplements.
In a kind of tabloid harmonic convergence, a court document filed yesterday contains new allegations about Yankees general manager Brian Cashman from his former mistress, who is accused of stalking him and trying to extort money from him.
A-Rod’s lawyer Joe Tacopina “would love nothing more” than to defend A-Rod and to talk about his testing history. If only MLB would be kind enough to waive the confidentiality agreement in the joint-drug agreement!
Well, at the beginning of an interview on the Today show this morning, Matt Lauer revealed that MLB—in clever, twisted fashion—sent a letter “overnight” saying they’d do exactly that. Tacopina, unprepared for this news, promptly short circuits.
At this point, I’m fairly certain that WWE is booking the A-Rod saga.
From comments by fans for articles on the internet, to social media, to your local bar, right now someone is railing on about performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. They seethe on one side of the argument or the other, pouring out venom (and often expletives) in extra-large doses. Many times, in 140 characters or less, adjectives are sprinkled about and dripping with snark. To them, the matter is offered in black and white terms.
As if blame is ever that easy. The PED issue in baseball has plenty of blame to go around.
...Blame the money. Blame the salaries. Blame it on the revenues. This is what fuels it all.
Finally, blame yourself. Don’t act shocked. Don’t be aghast at the comment. Be honest. The incredible salaries which fuels this hyper-competitiveness that leads some to PEDs is what drives it all. You’re appalled, and yet like some drug addict you go to games, watch on television, and buy the merchandising. In that sense, those that are griping the loudest are those that are the biggest hypocrites. You’re the enabler. If the money stopped—if we all became Howard Beale in Network and said, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”—it would slowly subside. In the end, the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in sports is tied to you. Ultimately, that’s where the power resides. I know it. I’m one of them. The only difference is, it’s all not as simple as it’s often portrayed. All I ask is that the next time you want to lay a finger at those “lying cheaters” or call Selig “the sport’s biggest overreacher” you remember that. Be mad. Want the game to be clean (if it ever has been). But, I can’t take the easy path on it. I can’t accept the arguments. I see it as Pandora’s Box, and we’re not going back. Am I apathetic? Maybe. Am I tired of it all? I think you can read this and say, no. You can’t see it but my shirt reads, “Reality Sucks”. Welcome to reality.
To say CM Punk isn’t a fan of suspended Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun would be an understatement.
When asked if first-time drug offenders in Major League Baseball should be banned for life, the WWE superstar delivered a damning message to the former National League MVP.
“Absolutely,” CM Punk told Yahoo! Sports. “That way I don’t have to sit and listen to any bulls**t apologies. Look at [Ryan] Braun. That dude just denied, denied, denied and then he gets caught and goes, ‘oh yeah, I’m sorry, I made a mistake.’ I don’t believe you. You’re a liar. You’ve already proved it publicly in an open public forum. You’re a liar. Just shut the f**k up and go wash dishes for a living.”
CM Punk, aka Phil Brooks, didn’t single out just Braun, though.
“If you do drugs, you’re a pu**y.”
...“There seems to be this weird moral debate about what exactly is cheating,” CM Punk added in preparation for his match against Brock Lesnar at WWE’s SummerSlam on Sunday. “If you’re on a list from some fancy bourgeoisie pharmacy, you’re doing drugs. Regardless of what your personal stance is on that in the guidelines of Major League Baseball, there are banned substances. I don’t care if you like the rule. If you’re a baseball player, follow the rule. If you don’t like it, don’t be a baseball player.”
Midway through the 1985 Race Across America, the 3,000-mile nonstop transcontinental bicycle race in which I rode as a competitor, Diana Nyad of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” inquired what I might have done better in training in order to be able to catch the lead rider in front of me. “I should have picked better parents,” I answered, explaining that we all have certain genetic limitations that can’t be overcome through training.
Mr. Epstein spent time with a Swedish high jumper named Stefan Holm, who started jumping at age 6. By the time he won the Olympic gold medal in the 2004 Athens games, he had logged more than 20,000 hours of training. Mr. Holm told the author that, to understand how he became an Olympic champion, Mr. Epstein should read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers,” particularly the chapters on the “10,000-hour rule” discovered by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson—that is, the idea that, to become an expert or professional at just about anything, it takes roughly 10,000 hours, or 10 years at 20 hours a week, of “deliberate practice.”
But then how do you explain Mr. Epstein’s second high jumper? In the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, the training machine Stefan Holm was beaten by a Bahamas man named Donald Thomas, who had started high jumping only a few months before.
(The supposedly triumphant example in “Outliers” was the Beatles, who Mr. Gladwell claims owed their success largely to the 10,000 hours they played in dingy nightclubs in Liverpool and Hamburg, Germany—selectively ignoring the thousands of garage bands who put in their 10,000 hours and still stink.)
Baseball in particular and sports in general need victories in this game. In the past, even when there seemed to be a chance, we ended up with something like a Roger Clemens trial, where government lawyers fumbled and struck out, Clemens misremembered but still won, and most of us felt the need to take a shower.
Sports fans need a public exposure, a legal case with discovery and depositions, an unraveling of facts and testimony that logically slaps down all the naysayers and Internet experts (all anonymous, of course).
Here are samples, both on the mark, in reaction to Clark-Pujols, from a website called Just One Minute:
• “History doesn’t inspire confidence in adamant big league denials.”
• “I hope Pujols wasn’t using PEDs; unfortunately, that is like hoping a Chicago politician isn’t a crook.”
Pujols is in a position to change that tone. He needs to push ahead with the lawsuit, make sure it is very public, and that it becomes an answer to the current universal shrug of sarcasm by all sports fans that says: “They all cheat.”
Frank Funk is the pitcher Colavito couldn’t remember…and frank funk is the sad feeling I got from this.
The Indians haven’t won the World Series since 1948. Some people blame Jose Mesa. Others blame Rocky Colavito—or, more accurately, the man who traded him.
The Indians brought Colavito back today to meet with the media, and he pulled no punches during his press conference. Whether it’s clearing the air on comments attributed to him—that he claims he never said (at the end)—or calling players accused of using steroids cheaters, Colavito talked candidly, with the memory (mostly) that every great ballplayer possesses and the fire that makes them great to begin with.
“I’ve got to tell you, with my experiences with Major League Baseball—and after all of this, there’s no chance I’m getting to buy a team—it’s basically become Bud Selig’s mafia,” Cuban said. “He runs it the way he wants to run it. They don’t want me to own a team. When I was trying the buy the Rangers, even after the Cubs, when I was trying to buy the Texas Rangers, it was an open option.
“I sat in there with my good, hard-earned money trying to bid, and they did everything possible to keep me from buying the team. They had lawyers in there trying to change the rules; they had people trying to put up more money. It was horrible.”
It wasn’t his game. The former Major League Baseball centerfielder played defense, stole bases and scored runs.
Yet, in November 2005, Logan took performance enhancing drugs.
The HGH he took for two weeks wasn’t to make him a better player, but to help his injured right elbow feel better.
“In those two weeks, it was just something that kept me fresh,” Logan said. “None of that stuff improves your ability as a ballplayer.”
...That’s because Logan believes he took the stuff without malice. First, HGH wasn’t a banned substance in MLB when he took it. In fact, at the time, it wasn’t considered a steroid. That’s why the sport didn’t even test for it.
Secondly, his intent wasn’t to cheat, but improve his health.
“At the time, I knew anything involving a needle and not prescribed by a doctor may be a little sketchy,” Logan said. “We had meeting about different drugs and stuff in baseball and HGH was never mentioned. It was considered a steroid. I didn’t think people used it to get a competitive advantage.”
...Logan disputes that PEDs is some magic potion, turning a light hitter into a monster slugger.
“It never made Barry Bonds or A-Rod or anybody hit home runs,” Logan said. “They were going to hit those anyway. But it’s maybe the thing to make you feel good and keep your body fresh every day.
“It may help you feel on Day 50 like you did on Day 10. I don’t know. I didn’t take it for that. I was in the Bigs, so I felt like a kid every day.”
Does the current policy go far enough? It is clear to every single player involved in organized baseball that steroids and HGH are banned. There is no chance that anyone could have missed the news. It is also clear that when some players use these substances it gives them a competitive advantage over others. It is cheating. It is clear that their use creates an uneven playing field, with some players able to hit the ball farther and pitch with more speed than others.
This leads to a lack of legitimacy to every single statistic achieved by a substance abuse aided player. No stat is equal, nor is any record. Moreover, team achievement is tilted by this practice. There is a rough equivalence in the talent level of players at an elevated level. Ten extra feet on a hit ball puts it out of the park rather than having it caught on the warning track. Four MPH on a fastball may be enough to alter reaction time. Teams playing with steroid players have an unfair advantage and their record is suspect.
The reason that professional sports are so vigilant about gambling is the fear of player’s with large debt shading their performance to repay the gamblers. This goes to the very integrity of the sport, and makes team records suspect. Athletes are role models to younger players and this usage may signal HS and college players that it is acceptable or necessary to use the substances.
With a practice this harmful, and the policy so clear, to really rid baseball of performance enhancing substances, shouldn’t there be zero tolerance? What’s wrong with one strike and a lifetime ban. This would send a deterrence shock wave that would rid the sport of this scourge.
Mark McGwire—arguably the most damaging cheater of them all—has never been punished; has never been suspended; has never faced any sort of ban or condemnation or, well, anything. The man who took one of baseball’s most cherished records (61) and lied to demolish it, remains a figure within the game. After spending three years as the Cardinals’ hitting coach, he now holds that position with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yes, Mark McGwire, is teaching young people how to rightly swing the bat.
This is laughable.
If Bud Selig is serious about shaming those who robbed the game of its decency, his first step should be to prevent McGwire from ever working for MLB in any capacity—ever. Think about it: What Braun did sucks. What ARod did sucks. What McGwire did, however, was morally criminal. In the process of breaking Babe Ruth’s record, Roger Maris was booed, jeered, threatened, taunted. He lost his hair and much of his weight; took up smoking to calm his shattered nerves. The record wasn’t a mere record. It was an iconic symbol; the number a tribute to a man’s strength and determination and, yes, decency.
McGwire didn’t just mess with that. He ran it over with a truck; slammed it over the skull with a steel bar; said, “To hell with history, to hell with sportsmanship—I will do whatever it takes to eliminate Roger Maris from the record book.” And he did.
...Some 3 1/2 decades ago, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were (wrongly) suspended from being involved with baseball by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for their relationships with casinos. It was stupid and shortsighted, but also spoke to the power a commissioner has. Selig, like Kuhn, can use his authority to tag players (and ex-players) as harmful to the sport’s well-being.
This is what he should do to McGwire. And Barry Bonds. And Jose Canseco. And Roger Clemens. Say, “Because you cheated, you are no longer welcome here. You deemed yourself ineligible; you are not worthy.”
Speaking to WEEI before last night’s game, Ortiz says he’s never been able to learn the details of his failed test.
“No. Nobody. Not MLB. Not the Players Association. Nobody,” said Ortiz when asked if anyone had revealed what he had reportedly tested positive for. “They just threw it out there that I tested positive on this one list and that was it. Nothing. So I have to deal with that, and your mind is all over the place. And I’ve lived with it.
“It is something that is still in the dark because nobody ever had the balls to come to me and say, ‘This is what was happening.’ You damaged my image at the time, and it has always stayed like that. No explanation. No nothing.”
Is it possible Ortiz really doesn’t know what testers found in his pee? It’s an argument made many times, with varying degrees of success. After J.C. Romero tested positive for androstenedione in 2008, he claimed he had taken a tainted supplement and sued the manufacturers. The lawsuit was settled out of court.
(It’s odd that Ortiz is addressing this at all. Fans have very selective memories about who they associate with PEDs, and as Pete Rose[!] said yesterday, it’s best from a PR standpoint to just move on from it. On Monday, as boos cascaded down for Alex Rodriguez in Chicago, no one seemed to notice or care that the pitching matchup featured one starter who had admitted to HGH use against another that had failed a drug test and served a suspension.)
If Ortiz really thinks he got screwed in 2003, he’s entitled to try to clear his name. Not testing positive in the decade since goes a long way, even though just this week we learned of a dozen PED users who didn’t fail any tests.
Finally, a truly valuable article written about this entire PED kerfuffle, if for no other reason than the extensive quotes from current players, and the fact that its author writes from a position of old-school pro-labor/anti-owner skepticism, but is neverthless overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude and unanimity of player sentiment in the other direction.
The PED battle is no longer just an ethical clash between users and testers, but also a fight for the direction and future of the Players Association. For the first time, perhaps in decades, the fight isn’t only union versus management, but players versus players, some of them apparently willing to potentially undo some of the organization’s greatest gains. [...]
“So, let me get this straight,” an American League player said. “Guy uses steroids. He then puts up better numbers than I do. He goes to free agency and gets the years and the money, takes a job I don’t get and now I have to scramble during the winter to find another slot. Then, he gets busted for steroids and we use my union dues for his lawyers, his defense and his appeal? And that makes sense to you? That bulls—- is fair?”
Even before Braun, the tipping point, many players say, was [Melky] Cabrera’s two-year, $16 million deal with Toronto. Money was on the table. The Blue Jays were spending and a number of players might have been a good fit for them. Toronto was a bigger market with a need for a starting outfielder, and Cabrera—who’d disgraced himself on the sidelines, suspended for testing positive for steroids last season while his team, the San Francisco Giants, won the World Series—was the one who got the big money.
Cabrera inflamed his fellow players on two levels. The first was his selection to the 2012 National League All-Star team. He was a juicer who took a spot on the All-Star team away from a clean player, a situation made even more insulting to the rank and file when he was named the game’s MVP. The second was his Blue Jays contract, which seemed so obviously a reward for a steroid user…
Regardless of the outcome this case, it is likely arbitrator Horowitz’s last for MLB and the Players Association. Whichever party is least satisfied with his decision likely will dismiss him.
The difficulty would come if either party tried to dismiss him after a procedural ruling rather than after the issuance of a final award. Because termination of an arbitrator is a contractual matter under the CBA, the next appointed arbitrator would hear the case about Horowitz’s dismissal, filed by the party not desiring to terminate arbitrator Horowitz mid-case. And, that second arbitrator would no doubt reinstate Horowitz to hear the remainder of the A-Rod case.
Finally, it should be noted that Rodriguez will not and should not sue MLB, nor should MLB or the Yankees sue him for violating his player contract or in an attempt to void his contract. While there are people suggesting any number of lawsuits, including injunctive and/or declaratory relief, these suits would be dismissed. These are matters to be dealt with under the CBA’s negotiated grievance procedure.
The United States Supreme Court decided a series of cases known as the Steelworkers Trilogy in 1960. In those cases, the Court decided that all disputes regarding matters related to or covered by the CBA must go to grievance arbitration and cannot be heard in the courts. This covers discipline and termination of contracts, and The Supreme Court also greatly restricted judicial review of arbitral awards.
Moreover, the JDA strictly prohibits individual clubs from taking action against players for violations of the drug policy. It vests exclusive power with the Commissioner.
Whatever arbitrator Horowitz’s decision is in this case, as long as it draws its essence from the CBA, it is final and binding and not able to be appealed.
Major League Baseball is expected to announce suspensions for the players connected to the Biogenesis PED scandel on Monday and it appears they have evidence showing Alex Rodriguez had been using steroids consistently since 2009, reports Jon Heyman of CBS.