Does PED use constitute fraud?

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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.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.