MLBPA releases its statement on HGH testing

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HGH.jpgThe entire statement can be read here.  The relevant part in my mind:

This week, a British rugby player was suspended as a result of a
reported positive blood test for HGH.   This development warrants
investigation and scrutiny; we already have conferred with our experts
on this matter, and with the Commissioner’s Office, and we immediately
began gathering additional information.  However, a report of a single
uncontested positive does not scientifically validate a drug test.  As
press reports have suggested, there remains substantial debate in the
testing community about the scientific validity of blood testing for
HGH.   And, as we understand it, even those who vouch for the
scientific validity of this test acknowledge that it can detect use
only 18-36 hours prior to collection.

Putting these important issues aside, inherent in blood testing of
athletes are concerns of health, safety, fairness and competition not
associated with urine testing.  We have conferred initially with the
Commissioner’s Office about this reported positive test, as we do
regarding any development in this area.  We look forward to continuing
to jointly explore all questions associated with this testing — its
scientific validity, its effectiveness in deterring use, its
availability and the significant complications associated with blood
testing, among others.

This pretty much tracks my thinking from yesterday.  Jumping in with both feet now, based on the rugby player’s test would be an exercise in PR, not a reasoned implementation of expanded PED testing.

To the extent there’s a line in the sand here, it’s that the union seems unwilling to accept blood testing of any kind, instead wanting to wait for a urine test.  I know that no urine test exists for HGH. The key question here is whether that’s the case simply because one hasn’t been developed yet or if there is some physiological reason why there can never be a urine test (Rays Fan — any insight here?).

Either way, I expect someone to spin the blood/urine test as the union being intransigent.  To those who do, I ask whether or not their employer tests their blood on a routine basis, and if not, how they would feel about it if they suddenly began to do so.

Terry Francona isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.

He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:

“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.

“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.

With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.

David Ortiz could be in the Red Sox TV booth this season

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A month or so ago it was reported that David Ortiz was going to meet with the Red Sox and NESN to discuss, maybe, spending some time in the broadcast booth in 2017. He’s retired now, of course. Gotta keep busy.

Today we read that, yes, Big Papi may take the mic. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said that Ortiz may be in the booth on a limited basis, and that Ortiz has talked about wanting to “dip a toe in that water.”

I’m quickly becoming a fan of ex-players who want to, as Kennedy puts it, “dip a toe” in broadcasting as opposed to those who want to make it a full-time job. Former players who become full-time broadcasters tend to start out OK, but eventually burn all of their good anecdotes from their playing days and just become sort of reactionary “back in my day” dudes. There are some exceptions to that of course — guys like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley have kept it fresh and Tim McCarver never rested on his playing laurels as he forged a long career in the booth — but for any of those guys there are just as many Rick Mannings Bill Schroeders.

The part time guys who dip in and dip out — I’m thinking Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and even Pete Rose, who did a good job this past fall after a rocky 2015 postseason — tend to be more fresh and irreverent. They really don’t give a crap on some level because it’s not their full time job, and that not giving a crap allows them to say whatever they want. It makes for good TV.

If Papi can hold off on the F-bombs, I imagine he’d be a pretty good commentator. If he can’t, well, at least he’ll be a super entertaining one for the one or two games he gets before getting fired.