He is if you believe this report from the Daily News, anyway. Which, yes, is a pretty big caveat — this could very well just be a big bluff communicated to a newspaper which has done a great job over the years carrying the anti-PED crowd’s water — but we gotta take reports at face value until we have reason not to.
The report: that Bud Selig is prepared to invoke his powers to “preserve the integrity of the game” in order to keep Alex Rodriguez off the field even if he appeals his discipline. In other words: Selig will essentially void the part of the Joint Drug Agreement that allows players to play pending appeal and suspend him summarily.
Which is absolute madness, of course.
Even if A-Rod has done everything of which he is accused, even if he is the biggest PED user in the history of PED users, even if he has attempted to interfere with MLB’s investigation, he is still owed due process. Everyone is. The Joint Drug Agreement covers all of those offenses, even the interference with an investigation thing. It says that the JDA is the sole basis of discipline in matters arising out of PEDs. To deny a player his appeal rights under that agreement would be a shameful abuse of power, even when the player involved happens to be unpopular. The least of my brothers, and such.
At some point we have to ask ourselves how much of Major League Baseball’s investigation and subsequent discipline of Alex Rodriguez is about penalizing a player for his bad acts and how much of it is about kicking an unliked and unwanted player — and a player who makes an awful lot of money — out of the game simply because it would make most people feel good.
Of course, maybe it doesn’t go this far. Maybe the point of this is to simply make Bud Selig look tough. After all, this very question — “Is Bud Selig going too far to fight the drug users?!” — serves his legacy interests very, very well.
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.
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.