Baseball is testing DNA in the D.R. We cool with this?

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I understand the problem, but this solution seems rather troublesome to me:

Confronted with cases of identity and age falsification by Latin
American baseball prospects, Major League Baseball is conducting
genetic testing on some promising young players and their parents.

Many experts in genetics consider such testing a violation of
personal privacy. Federal legislation, signed into law last year and
scheduled to take effect Nov. 21, prohibits companies based in the
United States from asking an employee, a potential employee or a family
member of an employee for a sample of their DNA . . . Last week the
Yankees voided the signing of an amateur from the Dominican Republic
after a DNA test conducted by Major League Baseball’s department of
investigations showed that the player had misrepresented his identity.

As explained in the article, this is an area of science and medicine
fraught with ethical landmines. This may be the best quote: “The funny
thing about this all is that the most famous baseball player with a
genetic disorder was Lou Gehrig. Would they have signed him if they
knew he was predisposed to A.L.S.?” Not sure if that’s as big a concern
as it would be in an office setting — baseball is generally done with
its people by the time they reach the age genetic diseases start to
affect them — but it’s not as if there aren’t other concerns.

What happens when a team, looking to verify someone’s biological
information, finds out that their shortstop prospect isn’t really the
son of the man he thought was his father? What happens later, when a
player reaches free agency and the team who signed him knows X about
his predisposition to bone or ligament injury because they conducted
the tests out of the country while other teams — presumably subject to
the new law — do not and cannot?

I’m sympathetic to the teams in all of this because they’re paying
out huge amounts of money to players who are quite often lying to them
and, unlike any other kind of business transaction, it’s not as if they
can easily sue to get their money back if fraud is discovered. Absent
testing, that signing bonus is going to be long gone by the time a
guy’s true age comes to light, and the courts in the Dominican Republic
may not be too terribly welcoming to the teams. Once a player reaches
Miguel Tejada’s age suing becomes impractical for numerous reasons,
both legal and otherwise.

But are we cool with this? I’ll take argument on either side of it, but it gives me some vaguely Orwellian chills.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉