Archive for STEROIDS!
Wow. Legacy, meet taint. Taint, legacy.
Update (12:37pm): Here’s the original NY Times article.
According to The Times’ sources, Sammy Sosa is on the 2003 list of 104 failed drug tests. Michael S. Schmidt relies upon “lawyers with knowledge of the drug-testing results from that year” to unveil another name from the infamous and supposedly anonymous list. As Yankee fans may recall, Sports Illustrated’s Selena Roberts exposed Alex Rodriguez as the first of the list’s 104 tests to be identified. It really is just a matter of time before the other 102 names get out.
The Yankees nearly traded for Sosa in 2000. They offered up Jackson Melian, Jake Westbrook, Ricky Ledee and either Alfonso Soriano or D’Angelo Jimenez, but the Cubs wanted Alex Graman too. The Yanks thought the five-player price too steep and landed themselves David Justice instead. I’d say that worked out well for them.
The sounds filled the stadium, and while Michael Kay didn’t quote the crowd, he called a “derogatory” crowd. It was by far the most vicious taunting Alex Rodriguez has received all year, but A-Rod has heard louder boos from the Bronx crowds than that. It was almost disappointing in its unoriginality and tameness.
Meanwhile, in related news, USA Today’s Tom Weir reported on Selena Roberts’ low sales totals. Her A-Rod biography has sold just 16,000 copies of its 150,000 press run. It is a bomb (and it’s not very good either).
Across the country, Manny Ramirez, serving a 50-game suspension for a failed drug test, visited the Dodgers’ clubhouse, and his teammates are eagerly anticipating his return. Dodgers fans appear to be as well, and with these tepid responses and outright forgiveness, I have to wonder if we’re at the end of the era when fans actually cared about players’ purported drug use.
For the better part of the decade, steroid use and its impact on baseball have dominated the headlines. The BALCO raid happened in 2003, and Jason Giambi‘s apology came in 2005. The Mitchell Report misfired in 2007, and since then, a steroid-induced fatigue has settled over the game.
Right now, the only people left outraged are baseball columnists and Hall of Fame voters. The fans have embraced their players, and as the Boston crowd showed last night, they taunt their team’s opponents out of some sense of duty with no real emotion behind it.
So if the fans have moved on and if the players and owners are satisfied with the continued efforts to keep the game as clean as possible, it’s probably time for everyone else to move on. Baseball’s leaders need to focus on the future and forget about the past. Hall of Fame voters need to recognize their complicity in feeding a drug-fueled home run-happy beast.
Maybe I’m a little premature in calling the era of outrage over. But if it’s not there yet, it’s on its dying breath. The game is better off for it. We don’t need to take glee in catching players who used drugs when, well, everyone else is doing, and we can instead look ahead to another day, another game and another pennant race free from overwrought accusations and poorly written books.
For starters, apologies for a second-straight PED post. We try to keep these topics to a minimum, but since Manny Ramirez was suspended last week, a number of issues have come to light. These issues are important in preventing future PED usage, not in any past witch hunts, which is why I’m going to run with this.
As you can see in the above-linked post, reports ran rampant upon the announcement of Manny’s suspension. It’s pot; no, it’s an ED drug; no it’s a fertility drug. Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn of ESPN have laid out the whole story, from Manny’s failed test to the ensuing investigation, even covering the planned appeal and its eventual dropping. If you’re interested in how Manny actually got caught, give it a read. It explains everything rather succinctly.
Just as it is difficult to believe that A-Rod stopped using steroids after the 2003 test, it’s equally difficult to believe this was the first time Manny used. There’s no use speculating exactly how long he used, so we’ll skip that part. Let’s just take it for granted that both A-Rod and Manny used outside of the timeframe when they were caught. How, then, are they skirting the tests? This is the most important question to arise from the collective incidences.
Major League Baseball’s drug testing program, while not the strictest on the books, trumps those of the three other major American sports. Yet the Manny issue highlights its deficiencies. Unfortunately, it’s going to take plenty more research to determine how these players are skirting tests. Are they only using in the off-season? Manny’s case could point to that. MLB found synthetic testosterone in his system, and his medical records revealed a prescription for hCG, a drug taken by steroid users coming off a cycle, in order to kickstart natural testosterone production. Does this indicate that players are using in the off-season, cycling off just before the round of Spring Training tests, and using drugs like hCG to restore normal testosterone levels?
The use of masking agents is another possibility. Steroid tests compare the ratio of testosterone and epitestosterone in a urine sample, with a 1:1 ratio being normal and a 4:1 ratio signaling foul play. A masking agent, then, could simulate epitestosterone in order to make the test look normal. This could be a problem for the testing program, since they’d then have to figure out what kind of masking agent would produce such an effect. Then they’d have to create a test for it which could be determined from urine alone, since we know blood testing isn’t an option at the moment.
While the current drug testing policy works well to keep normal steroid use in check, MLB still has a ways to go in further combatting PED use. If they’re truly committed to eradicating the sport of steroids and amphetamines, they’ll do whatever it takes to understand how players are beating tests. I’d expect many PED-related issues to arise when the PA and owners sit down for the next collective bargaining agreement. Unfortunately for the players, they’re not going to have a ton of leverage on this issue.
Following an offseason of steroid revelations and confessions, Saunders said he would not vote for Rodriguez [for the All Star Game], regardless of whatever compelling numbers he puts up.
As Saunders put it to the Los Angeles Times, “It’s over for him.”
Speaking following Saturday night’s game against Kansas City, flush with his 1-0 victory over previously unbeaten sensation Zack Greinke, Saunders didn’t buy that fans are greeting the returning Rodriguez with a “forgive-and-forget” attitude.
“I think the fans do care,” Saunders said. “Pretty much everybody wants a game without cheating.”
This isn’t the first time an opposing pitcher has blasted A-Rod publicly about his admitted steroid use; back in February Astros’ ace Roy Oswalt said he wanted to see A-Rod’s numbers erased from the record books. I certainly understand the disdain people feel for steroid users, but opposing players coming out like this are walking on thin ice.
Joe Saunders made the All-Star team last year with Gary Matthews Jr. (linked to HGH) on his team. Roy Oswalt has been – or still is – teammates with Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada, and Stephen Randolph, all of whom were named in the Mitchell Report. Are these two really naive enough to think that they’ve never benefited from a teammate that was using PEDs? We’re talking about a very slippery slope here.
I’m not saying that players who used steroids aren’t cheaters or anything like that, because they obviously are. I’m not even saying that A-Rod should make the All-Star team, chances are he won’t have the numbers after missing over a month with his hip injury. It’s just that people who come out and blast known users need to realize there’s two coins to this PED stuff, and chances are they’ve been impacted in a positive way (stats wise) by a teammate on something they shouldn’t have been. The grass isn’t always greener.
News just broke on SportsCenter. More as it comes.
Update (11:48am): LA Times has the news.
Update (11:52am): From the LAT article:
Ramirez is expected to attribute the test results to medication received from a doctor for a personal medical issue, according to a source familiar with matter but not authorized to speak publicly.
Update (12:21pm): Okay, so now basically everyone involved, including Manny and Boras, are saying the positive test was triggered by a medication prescribed for a personal issue by a doctor in Miami. Regardless, banned substances are banned substances, and Manny will serve the suspension starting tonight. I suspect we’ll hear absolutely nothing about the possibility of Boston’s recent titles being tainted.
Update (12:36pm): Manny issued a statement, basically saying that it was a prescribed medication and that he’s been advised not to say anything else. He did note that he’s taken – and passed – about 15 other tests over the last few years. The statement is available here as a PDF.
Update by Ben (12:50pm): Per Will Carroll’s Twitter, Manny was suspended under section 8.G.2 of the drug agreement. This provision allows for a suspension if a player tests positive for controlled substances, PEDs or stimulants not enumerated in the prior Section 8 terms. (The JDA is available here as a PDF.)
So basically, it sounds as though Manny has been suspended for something other than a PED, a stimulant or marijuana. It could be HGH; it could be something less serious. Either way, the suspension was at the discretion of Bud Selig. Something big happened here.
Update by Ben (1:56 pm): Yahoo! Sports reports that the banned substance was a sexual performance enhancing drug. It isn’t Viagra but rather, as Steve Henson and Tim Brown report, “a substance that treats the cause rather providing a temporary boost in sexual performance, the source said.” What the cause could be is anyone’s guess.
Update by Ben (2:12 pm): ESPN reports that the fertility drug Manny was using is a steroid booster. The Worldwide Leader writes, “HCG is a women’s fertility drug typically used by steroid users to restart their body’s natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle.” This could blow up even more.
When it comes to Selena Roberts and Alex Rodriguez, baseball writers have largely taken two sides. On the one side are many traditional print journalists such as Peter Abraham, and, to a lesser extent, Joel Sherman who have taken everything Roberts has reported as true no matter how tenuous her sources or qualifying statements are. On the other hand are bloggers such as us and Shysterball’s Craig Calcaterra who are more skeptical of Roberts’ sources and see a lot of players on the record denying Roberts’ accusations.
That divide will only grow deeper today as the baseball world awakes to the news that Major League Baseball is investigating A-Rod’s drug use and that Selena Roberts, for what are admittedly very valid journalistic reasons, will not cooperate. “I said that as a journalist, I cover MLB, and cooperating with them on this would be a conflict of interest, and he said that he understood the position that I am in,” Roberts said to Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt this weekend.
Schmidt had a few details about the MLB investigation into A-Rod. So far, the Commissioner’s Office is looking only into the allegations of drug use beyond the 2001-2003 period. The pitch-tipping inquiries will have to wait, but more on that in a few paragraphs. Schmidt reports on the investigations:
Major League Baseball is investigating the accuracy of statements by Alex Rodriguez about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, according to people within baseball who were briefed on the matter.
Investigators have contacted several of Rodriguez’s associates to determine whether he used performance-enhancing drugs for a longer time than he has admitted, the people said. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.
They said that the investigation began shortly after Rodriguez met with investigators March 1 in Tampa, Fla., because they had questions about the consistency of his statements at the meeting…Questions about the truthfulness of Rodriguez’s statements were heightened among baseball officials last week after details of a new book about Rodriguez were reported by several news media outlets. The book…asserts that Rodriguez used several different steroids under the supervision of Presinal and had human growth hormone in his possession when he played for the Yankees in 2004. In 2005, the book also says, Rodriguez was mocked by teammates who suspected that he was using drugs.
Schmidt goes more in detail on what Bud Selig can and cannot do as Commissioner. The Times scribe notes that Selig, lacking subpoena power, cannot compel testimony from anyone, and if Roberts won’t give up her anonymous sources, baseball is going to have a tough time uncovering concrete evidence.
Now, it will be really easy for the public to demonize Roberts yet again over this decision. In fact, her reliance on anonymous sources is exactly why reporters tend to believe her and others don’t. In today’s media, reporters depend upon their anonymous sources, and reporters are loathe to believe that others’ anonymous sources would be lying.
Yet, as more and more players step forward on the record, it sounds as though Roberts’ sources were less than reliable. As Shysterball detailed on Friday and as I discussed then as well, more players have been coming out vehemently denying the Roberts’ allegations.
In the end, baseball has to investigate to look good for Congress, and Roberts shouldn’t give up her sources any time soon. But for the rest of us, this scandal is just another story in the long line of blows to Bud Selig’s reputation and Roberts’ credibility. The tide has turned on the steroid issue, and while A-Rod will hear boos, the sport should be looking forward to a drug-free era instead of looking back while relying on a book with seemingly less evidence than some J.F.K. conspiracy theorists.
As the fallout from yesterday’s less-than-shocking A-Rod revelations continues to die before the end of the 24-hour cycle, Selena Roberts and her publishers are quickly jumping on the bandwagon. With A-Rod‘s rehab going better than expected, The Times reports that Roberts’ book will hit newstands on Monday, over a week before its original street date.
At this point, it’s tough to know what to make of this book. First, it was going to be printed in April around Opening Day. Then A-Rod got injured, and Roberts’ publishers announced the book would hit on May 13, two days before A-Rod was due to be activated. Now that Daily News reporters have spilled the beans — the rather unsubstantiated and hearsay-based beans — and now that A-Rod is set to start a rehab assignment soon, the publishers are again pushing the book forward to preempt A-Rod’s return from the DL and any more leaks. That sounds as sincere as A-Rod is.
Anyway, the A-Rod story never stops. After the jump, a round-up of the day’s news and notes.
So The Daily News got its hands on a copy of Selena Roberts’ tell-all book about A-Rod, and as you can imagine, the book is as bad as we feared. That’s right folks — A-Rod tipped only 15 percent at Hooters. Tsk. Tsk.
We’ll delve into the more serious content after the “read more” tag, but for all of you who either don’t care or don’t want to know, just head on over to Joe’s game recap. Why let this piece of expected but still dismaying news ruin a start in which Joba utterly dominated the Tigers for seven innings.
I love the Associated Press. While the newswire is trying to wage war against search engines and news aggregators, its reporters are proving to be fairly clueless. To whit is a story that went out over the wires earlier today. Selena Roberts, unauthorized biographer of All Things A-Rod, has delayed the street date of her upcoming tell-all. Ostensibly, the delay is due to the fact that she “need[ed] more time for the book.”
But who is Harper Collins trying to fool? Any reporter worth his or her salt would have noticed that the new release date — May 13 — ensures that A-Rod will either be off the disabled list or on the verge of being activated when this supposedly explosive book arrives. I certainly understand the business rationale behind this one, but talk about a blatant marketing ploy. How could the AP not pick up on that?