PEDs are nothing new. In fact, they're really, really old.

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body builder.jpgIf you believe some of the looser talk this week, you’d think that Mark McGwire was Igor to Jose Canseco’s Dr. Steroidstein and that no one juiced before the A’s got good in the late 80s.  Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, as this handy-dandy PED timeline that ran in Sports Illustrated a couple of years ago makes clear.  The highlights:

  • In 1889, a 72 year-old French doctor injected himself with testicular fluid from dogs and guinea pigs and reports on his findings. Says it made him “feel years younger with renewed energy.”  Parisian medical writer Daniel Le Shaughnessy compares him to Napoleon III and calls his actions akin to the worst atrocities of the Franco-Prussian war.
  • A German scientist develops anabolic steroids in 1935. The guy later went on to win the Nobel Prize for his work in sex hormones (he got it in 1939; I don’t have time to go back and look, but I’m sure it was the biggest thing to happen in Germany that year). According to his Wikipedia page he joined the Nazi party in 1936, and according to the time line the Nazis and even Hitler himself did extensive experiments with the stuff.  OK, I maybe need to apologize to Dan Shaugnessy on that Neville Chamberlain thing the other day;
  • Sports Illustrated published a story in 1960 exposing the use of amphetamines, tranquilizers, cocaine and other drugs in elite sports. The writers of the article were apparently unaware that they are living in pure, golden age;
  • Another SI story in 1969 about the imminent epidemic of performance enhancing drugs in sports. Mark McGwire is 6 years old at the time; Jose Canseco was 5.  My God, they were precociously evil to have screwed with sports like that.

The other day I wondered might happen if one of Jose Canseco’s Hall of Fame teammates was discovered to have taken steroids.  Now I’m wondering what might happen if one of Duke Snider or Early Wynn’s teammates did.

(thanks to reader Rays’ Fan for the link in the comments)

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.