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When it comes to performance enhancing drugs, Romney beats Obama

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Because the election season hasn’t been long or tortuous enough, Mitt Romney and President Obama were interviewed by Chris Berman on Monday Night Football last night. Which seems like a waste of time, because if you’re still an undecided voter on the evening of November 5 you’re probably unlikely to have the proper cognitive skills to operate your car to get you to the polls this morning anyway. But hey, they talked about sports, so that’s fun.

I don’t really care what Obama thinks about the Chicago Bears or the college football playoff thing, and I don’t really care what Romney thinks of the Red Sox and Patriots. We all have our rah-rahs. But this answer from Romney about what he thinks is the biggest issue in sports was interesting:

“It has to be the specter of drugs — and performance enhancing drugs of all kinds,” he said. “We have to continue to battle that. We have to make sure that our technology keeps up with the people that are trying to skirt around the law. … We’re going to have to change the culture that says to people, using performance enhancing drugs is acceptable. It is simply not.”

Obama didn’t touch that last night, but in October 2008, as a challenger, he sure did during a radio appearance:

“As a father and an avid sports fan, I understand the dangers that performance enhancing drugs pose for athletes, as well as the teenagers who seek to emulate them, not to mention the effect that these drugs have on the integrity of sports. As president, I would use the bully pulpit of my office to warn Americans about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs, and I would put greater resources into enforcement of existing drug laws. I would also convene a summit of the commissioners of the professional sports leagues, as well as university presidents, to explore options for decreasing the use of these drugs.”

Greater resources into enforcement? Thanks, dude. While it isn’t of extreme importance compared to most of what happens in government, the DOJ’s show trials of PED users is one of the dumbest and more pointless things the government has done in the past four years.

I’m gonna vote later today and based on stuff I’ve written before you probably know how I’m gonna vote. But I will freely admit that I would much prefer it if the government’s involvement in sports controversies was more akin to Romney’s “working to change the culture” talk than Obama’s “putting greater resources into enforcement” jazz.  Government has enough to do without increasing the intensity of its increasingly feckless war on drugs,* let alone the singularly feckless PED battles within that war.

*No, I’m not under any delusion that Romney would ratchet back the overall war on drugs anymore than Obama would. When it comes to that stuff the major parties seem to be in similar, idiotic lockstep.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.