REPORT: Baseball’s updated drug program to include better testing, 80-game suspensions for first offenses

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It used to be that when baseball did things with its drug program, the league was accused of merely being reactive in an effort to calm down P.R. problems. If baseball had merely jacked up penalties for drug offenses — which they are reportedly doing — one might arguably say that’s what MLB was doing here, as a reaction to Biogenesis stuff. But, according to this Bob Nightengale report — from an unnamed source, so the specifics could still change — that’s not all they’re doing:

The new agreement will not only increase the drug penalties, but also implement widespread carbon isotope testing, the official said, hoping to dramatically increase the detection of a synthetic testosterone.

That’s a big deal, because the biggest problem with the Biogenesis thing wasn’t that it was somehow different or more insidious than your usual run-of-the-mill cheating, it’s that MLB didn’t catch the guys without help of an alternative newspaper in Miami. If MLB catches A-Rod on a drug test in 2012, it’s a totally different situation. Other players involved in Biogenesis may stop using. A protracted dispute about the length of penalties is not had and that arbitration from last year doesn’t exist. Toughening the testing and not letting players who use PEDs feel like they can get away with it is essential to cutting down on PED use.

But of course, increased penalties are part of the system too:

The official said first-time offenses will be 80 games, an increase from 50, and a second offense will be for an entire 162-game season instead of 100 games. There will be a lifetime suspension for a third offense.

I have no problem with this. It’s what the players want, and that’s the most important thing. It isn’t terribly draconian yet it does raise the stakes. Most importantly, there have been reports that there will be safeguards in place for players who can show that they inadvertently took a PED, so the situation that is most worrisome — a guy’s career being put at risk for an honest mistake — is off the table.

Interesting times for what many consider to be U.S. sports’ strongest drug program.

Sean Manaea has a no-hitter through eight innings

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UPDATE (11:06 PM ET): Manaea is through eight innings of his no-hitter. He caught Rafael Devers looking, then induced a pop-up to retire Sandy Leon and whiffed Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the inning. He’s at 95 pitches and a career-high 10 strikeouts entering the ninth.

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Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea has no-hit the Red Sox through seven innings of Saturday’s game. Any thought of a perfect game was banished in the first at-bat, when Mookie Betts drew a leadoff six-pitch walk to open the first inning. From there, Manaea held the Sox to just three total baserunners through the first seven innings.

Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning, collecting an infield hit for what appeared to be the Red Sox’ first hit of the evening. Upon further review, however, the hit was reversed after Benintendi incurred a batter interference call for running outside the baseline.

Manaea is currently working with a three-run lead thanks to RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien‘s solo shot off of Chris Sale in the fifth. He’s racked up eight strikeouts against 23 batters so far.

If Manaea sees the no-hitter through to completion — as seems entirely possible, given that his pitch count is resting at 84 entering the eighth — he’ll be the first A’s pitcher to toss a no-no since Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays eight years ago. The last time the Red Sox were on the losing end of a no-hitter, meanwhile, was back in 1993 against the Mariners’ Chris Bosio.