Does PED use constitute fraud?

10 Comments

Sticking with Buster this morning, he links to an article in which the guy who brought down BALCO — DEA/FDA agent Jeff Novitzky — is reported to be investigating PED use in cycling under a theory that cyclists were not just breaking drug laws but that, because their performance led to sponsorship deals and more money, they were also engaged in fraud.  By implementing a fraud theory I assume Novitzky would be able to widen his net and get warrants for financial information and other things that have little to do with the actual drug use of the athletes involved.

I’ll save my “holy crap, government agents with a thirst for investigative power like Jeff Novitzky has scare the bejesus out of me” rant for another day.  In the meantime, I’m struck by Olney’s thought on the matter:

It’s an interesting line of questioning, and you wonder if any threads
that are pulled lead to inquiries in baseball. A common refrain heard
among some baseball executives over the last five years is that, in
retrospect, some players used drugs to boost their performance in order
to improve their performance and win more money — and prizes. And some
executives have privately asked the same open-ended question: Does that
constitute fraud?

It’s an investigation into the past that baseball probably should keep
an eye on.

Perhaps. But it’s also a string that, if I were a baseball owner or executive, I wouldn’t pull.  Because, yes, there is a totally legitimate argument that baseball players unfairly reaped millions because steroids gave them a bunch of home runs and strikeouts they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten.  But if that’s true, there is just as legitimate an argument that baseball owners — all of whom knew steroids were everywhere — reaped billions as a result of the same behavior.

Whether it was merely a black chapter in baseball history or an out-and-out fraud, the Steroid Era was the product of many, many parties working together to make it happen.  To assume that only the players would fall under such a renewed investigation is naive.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

Getty Images
5 Comments

There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).