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Dermatologists agree: Murray Chass is full of it

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Murray Chass’ “I know Mike Piazza did steroids because he had back acne” crusade has its charms, but sadly, it does not have much medical science on its side.

We know this, because Howard Megdal did some shoe leather reporting on the matter and was told by multiple dermatologists that (a) back acne is common; (b) it’s even more common in athletes who wear equipment like catcher’s gear; (c) there are multiple skin issues that affect backs that a lay person may confuse for acne; and (d) as many as half of all steroids users don’t have back acne anyway, so the correlation Chass is so hot for doesn’t work even if Piazza took steroids seven days a week and twice on Sunday. Money quotes:

All the dermatologists agreed on one thing: a lay person viewing Piazza’s back in a clubhouse setting isn’t a reasonable standard for diagnosing back acne, let alone asserting a connection between that problem and steroid use.

“I would say that conclusion is not fair,” Dr. Schweiger said.

“I would say no,” Dr. Davis said.

And Dr. Goldwasser, after a long pause, described Chass’s conclusion as “presumptuous. That’s the word I would use.” When asked if that was a polite word for the word she would use, Goldwasser laughed and said, “You could say that.”

So even if Chass is right about Piazza taking steroids, he’s just guessing.  But we knew that already, did we not?

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.