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Former Marlins pitcher Ryan Tucker opening up a pot dispensary

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Ryan Tucker was a Marlins’ first round draft pick in 2005 who made it to the bigs as a reliever in 2008. You probably never heard of him given that he pitched only 18 games in the bigs — 13 with the Marlins in his rookie year and five more in 2011 with the Rangers — before retiring because of a messed up shoulder.

He’s in the news today, however, due to an article at the cannabis website Leafly.* They report that Tucker is opening up a marijuana dispensary and cultivation business in his home state of California. The article uses Tucker as a jumping off point to discuss the marijuana culture of baseball.

Or, rather, the lack of it:

It’s almost impossible to be a stoner in the minors. Baseball’s hella straight until you get to the big leagues . . . on the surface, baseball is the straightest of the four major sports. On the surface. Below, it’s a different story.

The double standard comes by virtue of Major League Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement which, as we’ve noted in the past, does not provide for randomly testing those covered by it for pot. Players not on a 40-man roster (i.e. most minor leaguers) are subjected to random pot testing. As a result, minor leaguers have a strong incentive to stay off the stuff, even if some of them don’t. Major leaguers, if they are inclined to smoke pot, merely have an incentive not to be super obvious about it. Even if some of them are.

I get why it’s handled this way. Drug laws can be rather nonsensical in certain ways but they are a fact of life. A pretty uncertain fact when it comes to weed these days as well, with a patchwork of legalization/non-criminalization/prohibition across the country, all of which could turn on a dime given the views of the new Attorney General. So, even if there is a tacit acknowledgment by Major League Baseball that marijuana is not a pressing concern — if it were, they’d push for testing big leaguers — they have an incentive to not appear as though they condone it for a host of legal and public relations reasons.

Still, it’s hard to square the policies baseball has regarding weed with its almost completely hands-off stance with respect to alcohol and painkillers which can be and often are far more dangerous and destructive to an athlete and those around him than weed can be. That disconnect is not just a baseball’s problem, of course. All of society is geared that way for a host of reasons.

Anyway, it’s an interesting subject.

 

*I link the article because I have to and you should read the article if you’d like to because the topic is interesting, but I’ll warn you, it’s not a great read. I’m not sure why, but it seems like virtually everything you read about marijuana is written in the voice of that stoner kid you knew in high school. Eye-rollingly bad slang and the implication that the author and the reader are in on some cool secret. You can almost see the author winking and you can mentally add “you know what I’m sayin’, right dude?” at the end of every paragraph. We need to normalize and rationalize our marijuana laws in this country, but boy howdy, do we need the people who advocate for such normalization and rationalization to grow up a bit. No one’s going to treat your subject seriously if you don’t treat it seriously yourself.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

Associated Press
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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.