If Melky Cabrera’s phony website didn’t warrant a 100-game suspension, how can Ryan Braun get one?

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The news came down yesterday that MLB is, at least according to some sources, on the verge of handing out suspensions in the Biogenesis case. These sources continue to say that MLB is intent on giving Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez 100-game suspensions despite the fact that neither has previously served a PED suspension and despite the fact that the Joint Drug Agreement clearly states that 100-game suspensions are second-time discipline.

This is a pretty extreme approach. Maybe it’s just bluster, intended to scare players into copping to their PED use and accepting a 50-game suspension (if so, that’s pretty clever actually). But MLB may actually level a 100-game suspension. The question I have if they do this is what possible basis do they have for making it stick?

The ESPN report says that, at least in Braun’s case, it would be the result of both an association with Anthony Bosch and for lying to investigators.  Which is interesting considering that the same report says that Braun did not answer investigators’ questions. Maybe it was his lyin’ eyes, I dunno.  Or, more likely, maybe the real basis for double discipline is Braun’s alleged lack of cooperation with the league. That could make more sense.

Except for one thing: Melky Cabrera.

Last year Melky Cabrera famously — and quite ridiculously — attempted to pass off a phony website as an excuse for his positive PED test. It caused MLB to actually have to conduct an investigation into the phony company, purchase phony products and, at least according to some reports, travel to the Dominican Republic. This, apart from its hilarity, was blatant lying, deception and fraud. And yet, at the end of it, Melky Cabrera was given only a 50-game suspension.

If what Melky Cabrera did wasn’t worthy of double discipline, how on earth could Braun offering denials or, more likely, not saying anything, justify it?

If your answer is “Braun really made them mad last year and they want to get even” well, therein lies the bulk of my objection to what’s been going down in the Biogenesis matter.

(h/t to Kyle Kaestner for pointing out the Melky analogy on Twitter yesterday)

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.