Not all of the dangerous, controversial drugs are banned in baseball

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We get up in arms about testosterone and HGH — substances our bodies naturally produce and which have few serious side effects or long-lasting consequences — because they’re on a banned list. Meanwhile there’s a drug that a lot of athletes take under the direction and supervision of their teams which can kill people and is banned in several countries: the anti-inflammatory Toradol.

Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston has a story about its use in baseball. The hook: an interview with Jonathan Papelbon who took it routinely when he was with the Red Sox but who was told by the Phillies that he can no longer take it as they do not allow it.  Edes looks into the controversial drug, notes its serious side effects, which can include internal bleeding (Clay Buchholz believes it’s what led to him contracting esophagitis which landed him in the ICU) and notes that it’s banned in several countries, for athletes and normal folks alike.

Papelbon’s description of its use in Major League Baseball is pretty familiar-sounding: it’s taken before the game to help guys “get through a 162 game season.” It’s, by definition, a performance enhancing drug. It’s letting guys do things they otherwise couldn’t do. Allowing their bodies to recover faster which allows them to train harder and compete at a more intense level than they otherwise could. Except it’s not on a banned list so no one cares despite the fact that it has the potential to kill you.

There is a tremendous disconnect between the drugs people think are awful in sports and the drugs that truly have the potential to be harmful. This is maybe the best example. Might be nice if we thought about our priorities about these things once in a while.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.