Monday, July 16, 2018
Sports

MLB drug-testing works, but it doesn't deter cheaters

Well, who would guess that the hot topic in baseball would be, yet again, steroids?

It's deja vu all over again, but it really shouldn't be a surprise. This issue is never, ever going to leave us, much as MLB would like to see it go the way of the flannel uniform. I'm always reminded of the opening words of the Mitchell Report, designed to be the final word on the topic:

"A principal goal of this investigation is to bring to a close this troubling chapter in baseball history, and to use the lessons learned from the past to prevent the future use of some substances."

Fat chance of that, as recent events have shown yet again. That naive sentiment was expressed by Sen. George Mitchell — in 2007. And in the subsequent nine years, there have been a steady stream of players trying (and failing) to circumvent MLB's ever-stricter drug policy.

The desire by some to try to cheat the system is always going to be part of human nature. And the ability of clever chemists to enable that inclination is always going to challenge, and occasionally surpass, the ability of the watchdogs to stop them. And so the drama is never-ending.

Toronto's Chris Colabello, whose rise from independent ball is the sort of redemption tale that people love (but which sometimes come with an unpleasant asterisk), was nabbed early last week after testing positive for an anabolic steroid. And then, even more stunningly, came the announcement Friday morning that reigning NL batting champion Dee Gordon of the Marlins was being suspended as well for a positive steroids test.

In between, on Wednesday, Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta of the Cubs addressed the rumors he was hearing — from fellow players, no less — that his stunning rise from an inconsistent starter in Baltimore to the best pitcher in the game had to have been fueled by performance-enhancing drugs.

And that, ultimately, is the greatest scourge of the steroids era. Namely, that every historic achievement or heartwarming career resurrection is bound to be tainted by whispers of PEDs. Virtually nothing is fully trusted anymore, which is what baseball has brought upon itself by years of benign neglect.

The irony, of course, is that baseball currently polices itself more vigilantly than any other major sport. The fact that players as prominent as A-Rod, Ryan Braun and Gordon keep getting nabbed shows the program is working — and also that it's not the deterrent MLB was hoping for.

That reality is bringing calls for yet another toughening of the penalties, much of it coming from within the player fraternity, with Justin Verlander leading the charge. I wouldn't mind seeing busted players getting a full-year suspension for a first offense, rather than the current 80 days, and I'd like to see more testing done in the offseason. Yet I'd urge the players to think long and hard about giving up their hard-fought rights while attempting to combat what is a nagging problem, but falls short of an epidemic.

Verlander complained about players continuing to remain active while their appeals are being heard, but that's a cornerstone of due process.

All that's left is to hunker down for the eternal process of trying to stay ahead of the PED users, who we should realize now come in all shapes and sizes — behemoths like Jose Canseco and lithe speedsters like Gordon.

Gordon, who signed a new five-year, $50 million contract in January, took his positive test in spring training. Though he reportedly decided to drop his appeal, he also said in a statement that he didn't knowingly ingest the banned substance. Colabello said the same thing: "I don't do it. I haven't done it. I won't do it."

This sort of denial is not new. I watched from 5 feet away when Braun forcefully and passionately denied using PEDs, about a year before he meekly submitted to a 65-game suspension. No player ever seems to know how it happened. Yet it keeps happening, over and over again.

— Seattle Times (TNS)

Comments

Captain’s Corner: Warm water brings algae blooms

It’s been a hot summer. This week water temps crept up to sweltering 90 degrees at the surface inshore. We saw 88 degrees on the surface temps offshore. The deeper the water, the cooler the water temps were found, especially toward the bottom. Wit...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tune into the only All Star Game that matters

Tune into the only All Star Game that matters

Summer was for beach days and watermelons and shorty pajamas and fighting with my brother over who gets to sleep in front of the fan.And summer was for the MLB All-Star Game.They'll hold the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night at Washington's National...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jimbo Fisher: ‘I love Jameis…unfortunately he made some bad decisions’

Jimbo Fisher: ‘I love Jameis…unfortunately he made some bad decisions’

ATLANTA — Jimbo Fisher defended every step of the way at Jameis Winston at Florida State, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he continues to back his former quarterback, even though both have moved on.Fisher, now the coach at Texas A&M, sa...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Live from Washington: Rays Blake Snell was under consideration for All-Star start

Live from Washington: Rays Blake Snell was under consideration for All-Star start

UPDATE, 2:33: AL manager A.J. Hinch said  Snell, even though he wasn't named to team until Friday, was in the mix to start the game, that he was "not too far behind," though Boston's Chris Sale was chosen.  Snell is likely to be 3rd pi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
SEC media days: Jimbo Fisher on leaving Florida State, Aggies title talk

SEC media days: Jimbo Fisher on leaving Florida State, Aggies title talk

ATLANTA — Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said he had "no intentions of ever leaving Florida State," but the situation with the Aggies (including its administration and support) led him to leave for College Station.Fisher was the first coach ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
What DeSean Jackson needs to break a Jerry Rice NFL record

What DeSean Jackson needs to break a Jerry Rice NFL record

We're close enough to the 2018 NFL season that we can start talking about records that could be broken in the normal course of the Bucs' season ahead.DeSean Jackson has a chance to break one of Jerry Rice's career NFL records. No, not the 197 career ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Live from SEC media days: Five stories to follow

Live from SEC media days: Five stories to follow

ATLANTA — Good morning from SEC media days, the unofficial kickoff to college football's preseason.The four-day event begins later this morning with commissioner Greg Sankey's address at 11:30. A few things I'll be monitoring over the next...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tampa Bay Times’ all-North Suncoast baseball team

Tampa Bay Times’ all-North Suncoast baseball team

Player of the Year: J.P. Gates, Sr., Nature CoastPitcher of the Year: Gunnar Hoglund, Sr., FivayCoach of the Year: Frank Vitale, Nature CoastIn his fourth season as Sharks head coach, Vitale led the team to its first Class 5A state tournament. Nature...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Tampa Bay Times’ all-Hillsborough County baseball team

Tampa Bay Times’ all-Hillsborough County baseball team

Player of the Year: Connor Scott, Sr., PlantPitcher of the Year: Franco Aleman, Sr., AlonsoCoach of the Year: J.J. Pizzio, LetoPizzio led the Falcons to their first state tournament appearance since 1970. They were 24-5 and did not lose a game in Cla...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays conclude surprising first half of season

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays conclude surprising first half of season

A walkoff loss on Sunday is the Rays' third in four games to the Twins and brings the first half of the season to a close. The team enters the All-Star break a surprising two games over .500 but will be without All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos for ...
Updated: 7 hours ago