Tim Beckham’s drug: marijuana. Which makes for a really dumb suspension.


Rays prospect Tim Beckham was suspended for 50 games yesterday for a second positive test for a “drug of abuse,” which is baseball’s parlance for a non-PED recreational drug of some kind.  Marc Topkin hears it was marijuana. If so, this suspension — and more generally, the logic behind it — is really dumb.

Look, I’m not the guy handing out pamphlets at Hemp Fest or leading any legalization rallies because that’s really not my style, but the fact that we’re suspending guys for 50 games for weed is kind of silly. Partially because marijuana is demonstrably less dangerous than alcohol and — to beat this drum again — baseball doesn’t give a rip about alcohol.

But it’s also dumb because it demonstrates a pretty big double standard in how baseball treats minor leaguers and major leaguers.  As Kevin Goldstein noted yesterday, it’s a shame that Beckham wasn’t on the Rays 40 man roster because guys on the 40 man — unlike common farm hands — are not subject to random testing for pot.

Now, personally, if I ran a baseball organization, I wouldn’t want my players smoking weed because, man, I’ve known a lot of pot smokers and they’re kind of lazy. This is high level athletics, son, so for god’s sake take care of yourself. Quit eating all of that Taco Bell, turn off that horrible jam band music and focus on the task at hand. But I don’t think that anyone smoking pot is an offense equivalent to that of cocaine use or, in the context of competitive sports, PED use.

Beyond my personal preferences, however, this does lead to a serious question about how marijuana fits into baseball’s drug anti-drug regime: specifically, does baseball consider marijuana use to be a serious transgression?  If so, why aren’t big leaguers tested for it?  If not, why are minor leaguers tested for it?

There are many absurdities when it comes to baseball and drugs. Maybe we need to start talking about them more.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.