No, the Biogenesis thing does not cast us adrift on a sea of uncertainty

25 Comments

Danny Knobler wrings his hands:

Ryan Braun, you’re doing it to us again. Leaving us wondering. Leaving us asking questions. Leaving us in that zone of uncertainty that we’d hoped we had left behind, when baseball and its players union finally stopped looking the other way on steroids.

Drug testing was supposed to clean up the game, but it was also supposed to give us clarity. It was supposed to give us trust that we could believe what we were watching. Some players would fail tests, but they would be suspended and we would know who they were.

Now we’re back to where we were before testing began. We’re back with suspicions and reports.

You’re only there because you want to be, Danny.

If you think we’re in a land of pre-testing uncertainty — which Knobler specifically says later in his column — then the current drug testing program is utterly meaningless. He should just advocate for it being scrapped, because it’s giving him no comfort whatsoever.  For my part, I read just about everything Danny Knobler writes, and I’ve never once seen him claim that the current drug testing program is pointless and should be abandoned.

To the contrary. Last year, after Braun’s appeal, Knobler was one of the few voices who accepted the results and defended Braun and the process.  He believed in it then and said that Braun was due the benefit of the doubt because of the system. Why is he not owed the benefit of the doubt now? Why is the system of no comfort to Knobler today when it was in late February 2012?

Since that decision, the loophole through which Braun and his lawyers jumped has been closed and MLB and MLBPA have increased the stringency of the drug testing program. Indeed, even the USADA and WADA are now applauding it as U.S. team sports’ most rigorous drug testing regime. On the other hand, we’re have one report of currently uncertain weight and import involving a few players, several of which aren’t tied to PEDs.

Maybe that report turns into something big. Maybe it turns into nothing. But that’s what we have.  We do not have the end of all certainty regarding baseball and drugs. We are not cast adrift on a sea of doubt like Knobler will have you believe. Or, as of a year ago, as he even believed.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

Getty Images
6 Comments

There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).