Is it time for Human Growth Hormone testing?

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HGH.jpgA U.K. rugby player tested positive for HGH recently and that fact has the New York Daily News and Buster Olney both arguing that it’s high time for baseball to implement a test of their own. If they do not, Olney says, “10
years from now they and the sport will be at risk for another round of
PED hand-wringing.”

Of course, almost 100% of the HGH hand-wringing we’ve seen to date steadfastly ignores the fact that there is virtually no evidence showing that HGH enhances athletic performance, so we should only take the hand-wringing only so seriously.

Not that I’m against testing for it. Indeed, I’m fine with this if, as Buster says, the implementation of testing is
accompanied by getting every bit of information in the hands of the
players, the union and MLB and allowing them to thoroughly and
thoughtfully consider everything. Even if there is no evidence that HGH improves performance, there is some evidence that off-label use of HGH is dangerous. And really, if the players and the league all get together and decide — after some deliberation and consensus-building — that blue socks are bad for the game, I’m fine with them banning those too. It’s their industry and their workplace rules and hey can do what they want with it.

My prediction, however, is that opposed to implementing something considered and reasonable, everyone will bow to media pressure and implement some
half-assed, P.R.-driven plan that addresses virtually none of the legitimate concerns regarding HGH while blowing its dangers and effects out of any reasonable proportion.

Giancarlo Stanton dented the outfield wall in Marlins Park

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If we haven’t said it before, it bears repeating: When it comes to pure muscle mass and power, no major league player rivals the sheer force of Giancarlo Stanton. His record-setting 504-foot home run in 2016 has yet to be bested in the Statcast era (though it narrowly beat out Jake Arrieta‘s 503-foot blast in 2015, because baseball is weird), he broke the Dodgers’ outfield fence on an attempted catch at the wall last Sunday, and he carries 25 home runs that have each exceeded 460 feet.

It should come as little surprise, then, that when Stanton muscled his 12th home run of the season against the Angels on Friday night, it not only hit the batter’s eye, but left a visible dent in the wall:

Stanton’s mammoth shot put the Marlins on the board in the first inning, setting the stage for a four-run effort that gave the club an early lead. The home run measured a cool 462 feet, the slugger’s longest of the season. He still has a little ways to go to catch up to the 2017 season leader, Jake Lamb, whose 481-foot home run against the Rockies currently leads the pack.

The next item on Stanton’s bucket list? If we’re lucky, maybe something a little like this:

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.