McCarthy

Your morning dose of steroids McCarthyism

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There has always been a broad suspicion about steroids that seemed to exceed the actual data available about steroid use. Not necessarily an unwarranted suspicion. We don’t know who did what, it’s reasonable to assume that more players used than were ever caught and thus a lot of that broad suspicion was probably reasonable too. It became problematic when people would level unfounded accusations against specific players, but the idea that “a whole lot more people than we know of were using” is hard to dispute.

As a result, the idea that there has been some sort of steroid McCarthyism is unfair. Yes, some people have engaged in guilt-by-association, especially when accusing specific players based only on their teammates or country of origin, but most people who have voiced concern about steroids have, at the worst, offered some overly-broad generalizations and have drawn what I feel to be overly-pessimistic conclusions.

But Jim Rich of the New York Daily News has decided to go full-McCarthy on Joe Girardi and Terry Francona: they’re “frauds” and “hypocrites” and “jokes” for not condemning Yankees and Red Sox players who used PEDs or speculating on the Biogenesis stuff.  This is offensive to Rich because Girardi and Francona “stood shoulder to shoulder with steroid cheats.” He winds up:

As selfish and infuriating as the two managers’ stances are on the steroid issue, their most egregious hypocrisy lies in the fact that they have managed or played with so many other unnamed cheats, who, in part, were allowed to tarnish the game as a result of their willing blindness.

Francona and Girardi certainly have had plenty of company in allowing this fraud on the game and its fans to exist, but there have been very few who have basked more in its tainted glow.

This is literally condemnation by virtue of association. Rich, like McCarthy, is giving Girardi and Francona a choice between ratting out and/or calling out their colleagues or being considered just as bad as they are.

This is my favorite passage, though:

While Rodriguez was launching 129 of those bombs under Girardi’s watch, the Yankees manager was more than happy to discuss them, presumably because that qualified as baseball talk. But now that every one of A-Rod’s 2,901 career hits (37th most) must be called into question as the result of his second association with steroid use … Girardi feels he’s exempt from the discussion?

If Rich actually believes that Alex Rodriguez possessed no baseball talent that every single one of his hits came by virtue of steroid use it perhaps shouldn’t be surprising that he sees this as such a white or black issue.

People wonder why we can’t have an intelligent discussion about PEDs. It’s because it’s impossible to have an intelligent discussion with extremists peddling this kind of garbage.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.