Bud Selig wants tougher PED penalties

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ESPN:

“I have been interested in stiffer penalties for some time,” Selig said. “We’ve made meaningful adjustments to our testing and it is time to make meaningful adjustments to our penalties.”

Selig said last season there were only five positive tests of the more than 5,000 that were conducted. The new penalties are intended to deter the small number of those who still don’t see the current penalties as harsh enough.

“I don’t know if we can ever get to zero; there will always be somebody out there,” Selig said. “For a very small percentage of people it hasn’t served for as much of a deterrent as I think it should.”

MLB’s more stringent drug punishments have been cited as one large reason why offense began to decline starting in 2010. The average Major League team averaged 4.61 runs per game in 2009, but it dropped to 4.38, 4.28, and 4.32 in the following three years. Home run rates from 2007-12 are at their lowest rates since the early 1990’s.

Selig’s wish for harsher penalties for positive drug tests is curious given that, as the ESPN article mentions, very few players are testing positive. At some point, you get diminishing returns cranking up the dial on suspension lengths and fine amounts. And it looks silly in comparison to the biggest of shrugs MLB gives to alcohol abuse — Philadelphia’s Delmon Young was suspended a mere seven games without pay when he was charged with third-degree assault and an aggravated harassment hate crime last year.

Noah Syndergaard scratched with a “tired arm”

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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.

Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.

The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.