Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants, Game 3

A Hall of Fame voter still needs more information about Barry Bonds’ PED use?

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I understand the idea of wanting to be more informed about things before making a Hall of Fame vote.  To want to have a fuller picture of the PED-era before casting votes for certain players.  I am not a fan of those who accuse with no evidence, but I do have some sympathy for people who genuinely wonder if certain players may have taken PEDs when, really, we don’t know that much about it with respect to some of them.

But even if you subscribe to that view, I don’t know how you can say we don’t know enough about Barry Freakin’  Bonds.  Yet Mark Purdy of the Mercury-News wants to know more, and he won’t vote for Bonds — or anyone else from that era, it seems — until he knows more.

Maybe I just followed this more closely than he did, but it’s not like there is a dearth of info on Barry Bonds’ drug use. I mean, multiple books have been written about it. Purdy himself sat through the entire Bonds perjury trial and heard more than anyone would want to know about it. He was no more than 30 feet away from live witnesses talking about Bonds’ testicular atrophy for crying out loud. Does he really think there is more that we need to probe here? And yes, I do believe it would literally take a probe to learn anything more about Barry Bonds’ body.

But that’s his position and he’s sticking to it. Here’s another position he has:

I have advocated an amnesty proclamation from MLB and Cooperstown. For a one-year period, former players would have the ability to tell the truth about their steroid use with no punishment or ramifications from baseball or the Hall of Fame. That way, voters would be able to make better judgments and make their selections without any angst.

Amnesty? From what? There are already zero punishments or ramifications from baseball or the Hall of Fame for these guys. They are eligible. Some are still playing. Some are coaches and managerial candidates. They’re all listed on the ballot when their time comes. Baseball has decided that they are every bit a part of the fraternity as anyone else is.  What would some phony-baloney offer of amnesty provide for them that they don’t already have?

I suppose Purdy believes that it would give them some sort of cover from the wrath of the writers who look askance at PED guys. Fat chance. The writers who look askance at PED guys tend to take the following approach to the sort of information Purdy thinks would clear the air:

1. We want more information! Shlabotnik needs to come clean!

2. Fine, Shlabotnik has apologized, but it raises more questions!

3. That in-depth interview in which Shlabotnik answers all the questions was so self-serving it makes me sick!

And, of course, these are the same people who consider a drug testing regime that catches people to be evidence that drug testing is a joke. You could provide daily CT-scans, fluid samples, lie detector tests and oaths from God Himself and a certain segment of writer is going to think it insufficient. There is no pleasing them, and the last thing baseball players should do is to try.

And Purdy has already shown himself to be one of that sad, never-satisfied crew. Last year, on the eve of the Bonds verdict, he wrote a column in which he wrung his hands about Bonds’ legacy in San Francisco. He worried in light of the allegedly new revelations of the trial, what the team and the city and the fans do with Bonds if he was found not-guilty. Or, for that matter, if he was found guilty. He, in quite familiar fashion, made it sound like there was some crisis afoot.

Except, as I demonstrated at the time, all of his concerns had long been answered. The city, the fans and the team all embraced Bonds despite already knowing all of the things Purdy suddenly considered damning, and knowing them for years. It was a non-issue to everyone except Mark Purdy by then, despite his claims that there were Important Unsettled Matters.

The lesson here: Mark Purdy, and many like him, are professional hand-wringers. He used the word “angst” above, and it’s pretty apt. He has an angst about PEDs in baseball that will never, ever go away no matter what he learns and no matter what information comes to light. Which means one of two things: either Purdy is simply not and never will be comfortable with PEDs in baseball, or else he’s cynically saying that there are uncertainties and concerns when there are not in order to kick up a morally indignant fuss in a column.

If it’s the former, it’s OK Mark, let it go and just don’t vote for these guys ever. Lots of voters feel that way and just because I disagree with you on that, at least it’s a defensible position.

If it’s the latter, though, cut the crap, will ya?

Dee Gordon’s suspension is likely to lead to a call for harsher PED penalties

Miami Marlins' Dee Gordon celebrates after hitting a double against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Miami. Derek Dietrich scored on the double. The Tigers won 8-7. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Associated Press
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Objectively speaking there is no difference between Dee Gordon’s suspension for PEDs and anyone else’s. Abraham Almonte, for example. Or Cameron Maybin. Or David Rollins. All were guys who got their 80 games, served their time, came back and whose cases didn’t raise too much of a fuss. But Gordon’s suspension will almost certainly be talked about longer and more loudly and will likely lead to calls for harsher penalties and changes to the PED suspension rules.

Part of it is simply fame. He’s a pretty big name as far as these things go. The biggest since the Biogenesis guys a couple of years ago. He won the batting title last year. He’s the son of a famous major leaguer. There is a direct correlation between the volume and intensity of the narratives applied to one’s story and the fame of the subject of the story. For that reason alone Gordon’s story will last longer and loom larger.

Another reason — a bigger reason, I think — is timing. Gordon was seen by many to have had a breakout season in 2015 and, when it was over, he was rewarded for it with a nice five-year $50 million deal. The narrative will arise by, oh, 9AM today, that the suspension was “worth it” for Gordon and that he cashed in because of it, rendering his suspension a mere slap on the wrist. This is especially true given that his deal is severely backloaded. He’ll lose less than $2 million in salary in 2016 while collecting the other $48 million-plus. Totally worth it!

I understand why people will say that, but such a stance has some serious flaws. Among them:

  • It assumes that we or anyone else knows when Gordon began to take PEDs;
  • It assumes that we or anyone else knows how, in fact, Gordon’s performance was actually enhanced;
  • It forgets that lots and lots of people were talking about how Gordon’s “breakout season” was actually 2014, not 2015, rendering that whole “he juiced and then got his money” argument fairly problematic.

Those points will likely be ignored as arguments in favor of harsher penalties grow louder. Ken Rosenthal reminds us this morning that some have called for some form of contract voiding or clawing back of more money than just the salary earned while on suspension. Those calls too will likely grow louder. There will also be calls for changes in the appeal process. Like this one, which came moments after Gordon’s suspension was announced:

When you have an actual union member angrily call for the repeal of a collectively-bargained protection in punishment situations, you’re sort of through the looking glass. Or past a tipping point. Or something. You’re certainly in a world where the usual dynamics between employer and employee are not operative and, as a result, changes are inevitable. As we noted recently, players today are perhaps more adamantly anti-PED than the owners and the league are. They’re competitors reacting to cheating by their competition. The fuel for stronger penalties is likely to come more from them than anyone.

The union and the league will be negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this year. Performance enhancing drugs and their penalties will be a part of that. Expect harsher penalties and possibly different sorts of rules altogether. Expect Dee Gordon to be the poster child for these changes, even if his case is no different in form than that of Abraham Almonte, Cameron Maybin, or David Rollins. Expect emotion, rather than logic, to lead the coming debate.

And That Happened: Thursdays scores and highlights

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, right, is congratulated by catcher Tyler Flowers after earning a save during a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, April 28, 2016. The Braves defeated the Red Sox 5-3. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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Gonna mail this one in this morning. Partially because of the light slate of games yesterday, partially because of a late night for me but mostly because of the Dee Gordon news which has me thinking of a lot of other things I want to write about this AM.

It’s worth noting that the Braves won a game. It comes just ahead of a series at Wrigley against the Cubs, so the winning streak will likely last a single day, but the 2016 Braves have to take what they can get.

The Marlins had a notable night outside the Gordon news too, finishing off a sweep of the Dodgers, which had to make Don Mattingly happy. For what it’s worth, Gordon singled in a run and then came around to score in the seventh. His RBI tied it and the run he scored ended up being the one necessary for the Marlins’ margin of victory. That means nothing, but you know some jackwagons are gonna make a big deal out of that and I figured I’d get ahead of the jackwagons and note that, yes, Gordon and the Marlins knew what was coming before it was announced because that’s how the appeals process works, but no, it makes no difference, because that’s how the appeals process works.

Anyway: Here are the rest of the scores:

Tigers 7, Athletics 3
Cubs 7, Brewers 2
Phillies 3, Nationals 0
Orioles 10, White Sox 2
Braves 5, Red Sox 3
Diamondbacks 3, Cardinals 0
Marlins 5, Dodgers 3
Pirates vs. Rockies — POSTPONED
: In the early morning rain with a dollar in my hand. And an aching in my heart, and my pockets full of sand. I’m a long way from home, and I miss my loved one so. In the early morning rain with no place to go.

Marlins 2B Dee Gordon suspended 80 games for PEDs

deegordon
Getty Images
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LOS ANGELES — Dee Gordon has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after the Miami Marlins second baseman tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Gordon tested positive for exogenous Testosterone and Clostebol, MLB said in a release after the Marlins’ 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.

The fleet-footed Gordon won the National League batting title by hitting .333 last season and signed a $50 million, 5-year deal with Miami in January. He’s made two All-Star teams in his six seasons and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards at second base last year.

Gordon, the son of former major league pitcher Tom Gordon, had a key hit in Miami’s win over the Dodgers on Thursday. He’s batting .266 with six stolen bases this season.

Dee Gordon is a very important part of our team, and we all love him and support him,” Marlins president David Samson said. “That said, I don’t like or condone what he did. He is an important member of this organization and will be for many years to come. It’s a huge, huge disappointment to the kids, to our fans, to his teammates and to everyone in our organization every single day.

“He will be back 80 games from now, and he will be welcomed back to this organization. But in the interim period, we expect him, and we are positive that he will do everything that’s necessary to make it up to his fans, to his teammates and to this organization.”

Devon Travis will start taking at-bats in extended spring training

Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis hits a RBI double to center field against the Tampa Bay Rays during third inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 15, 2015 in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)  MANDATORY CREDIT
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis underwent left shoulder surgery last September. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm caught up with Jays head athletic trainer George Poulis for updates on several injured players, including Travis. Here’s what Poulis had to say about Travis:

“He’s going to get some live at-bats with the extended team down in Florida on Friday. Big step for him, he’s very excited, he’s doing great, and we’re very optimistic, but no timeline right now on his return. We’re just going day by day, step by step.

“When you have something like that, it continues to heal even when you’re playing. We’re just trying to acclimate him and condition him to withstand all of the stress that he’s going to put on his shoulder … He won’t play in the field right now. We’ll mix that in, as well, but right now he’s just going to get some at-bats.”

The key phrase, of course, is “no timetable”. The second baseman’s rehab has gone slower than expected. Getting into some extended spring training games, though, signals progress.

Travis, 25, broke out last season, hitting .304/.361/.498 with eight home runs and 35 RBI in 239 plate appearances last season. The Jays have had Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney handle second base duties this year, but their aggregate .560 OPS is the worst mark in the American League.