Yesterday I anticipated that, in the interests of narrative over information, some writers would probably try to turn the Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon PED suspensions into some larger story about Bay Area drug corruption with callbacks to the days of BALCO, Canseco and Bonds.
And I was not disappointed. John Shea:
The steroid cloud that once hovered over Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi and Co. in Oakland, and Barry Bonds and his BALCO brethren in San Francisco, is back by the bay.
First we had the steroid-enhanced A’s of the late ’80s and early ’90s, led by Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Then came the BALCO scandal, with Barry Bonds and several lesser Giants as the central figures. The 2007 Mitchell Report implicated players associated with both Bay Area teams, and recent years have brought more drug-related suspensions, most recently the bombshells that sidelined Cabrera and Colon in the middle of highly influential seasons.
It keeps happening, and most specifically, it keeps happening in the Bay Area, home of two baseball teams and a seemingly endless amount of PED use … The Bay Area is the Hometown of Steroids …
Of course, it starts with the whole sordid history of BALCO (the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative) and Barry Bonds and the early steroid adventures of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. The Mitchell Report was littered with the names of Bay Area players; now, years later, the Bay Area is home to three players testing positive for PED use.
I don’t begrudge a writer using a framing device. But this particular framing device — BALCO, Bonds, Canseco, etc. — is highly misleading. It creates the impression that the problem is bigger than it truly is and implies connections where there are none.
The subject of PEDs in sports is rife with overheated and misleading rhetoric. What it lacks is actual factual reporting and constructive commentary and ideas. This kind of thing isn’t helping.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.