I often defend baseball’s PED testing regime. I think its official punishments are good. Fifty games is a lot for a first offense, as are the financial penalties that go along with the suspensions. But it really has no clue what it’s doing when it comes to secondary sanctions like the one we saw imposed today on Melky Cabrera.
Was it not foreseeable that a person who tests positive for PEDs might one day win a batting title or an ERA crown? Apparently not, because it wasn’t an issue until Melky tested positive and Andrew McCutchen’s hitting fell off a bit. Now there’s all this unsatisfying scrambling.
Thing about is, just this year Major League Baseball was thinking about things like this. It passed a rule making PED-positive players ineligible for the All-Star Game. Why didn’t it think about statistical or postseason awards then? Where was the imagination? Why was what seems so dreadful now — a PED cheat winning the batting title — not a looming menace then? And what about other problems? Just this week 30 players were nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award. What if one of them tests positive after they win? Do we retroactively take it away? Or do we realize that, heck, David Ortiz won it last year, so why should we even care about such things now?
I think no one thought too hard about it because, in reality, baseball think about it like I do, and no one at Major League Baseball truly cares about such things. It only becomes an issue when people in the press start grumbling about it or asking Bud Selig about it at press conferences. Then some negative public relations-adverse reaction occurs, leading to ad hoc rules like the Melky Cabrera Rule.
Major League Baseball will get a lot of pats on the back and atta-boys as a result of this. But let’s not pretend that this is some sort of well-though-out thing as opposed to a way to get out of some bad P.R.
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.
Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’
Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.
I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.
The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.
Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.
Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:
It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.
I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .