Ian O'Connor shoehorns steroids into last night's Yankees game

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Alex Rodriguez celebrates.jpgESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor on last night’s game-tying homer from Alex Rodriguez:

With the ball streaking like a comet across the black Bronx night,
making Yankee Stadium quake like the old place always did, Alex Rodriguez flipped his bat, shot a look-at-me-now stare into the home
dugout, and left this baffling question in his wake: Why
did he ever feel compelled to use “boli” in the first place?

Rodriguez
was never a slugger who needed to wage a war of back-room pharmacology.
Naturally big and fast, born with an innate ability to get the barrel
on the ball, A-Rod didn’t have to turn the game of big league baseball
into a battle of my underground chemist against yours.

Look, you can feel however you want about Alex Rodriguez and you’d be totally accurate to say that he broke the rules of baseball because he did. But if you’re going to take the “A-Rod is great and never needed steroids” line today, you probably need to walk your A-Rod “cheated the
game, cheated the fans and cheated himself” rebop
from two months ago back a little bit.

Why? Because saying in March that he was a “chemically-altered fraud” whose “steroid
stain will last forever” and saying in May that “see, he never really needed steroids after all” is a tad inconsistent. PEDs either helped him or they didn’t, and you don’t get to choose which one of those things you prefer to fit the story you’re writing on any particular day. If they did helped A-Rod as much as O’Connor said they did back in March, he pretty much has to accuse A-Rod of still doing them to support his
“A-Rod is teh awesome!” story.  If they didn’t, he pretty much has to admit that he was spewing baseless PED invective for the past several years.

Of course, I’m not going to hold my breath here waiting for Ian O’Connor to admit that maybe, just maybe, PEDs aren’t as bad as he usually likes to pretend they are. But I would ask that if he’s going write an otherwise fine story about an exciting ballgame he refrain from interjecting a totally beside the point and quite apparently inconsistent steroids narrative into the mix.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.