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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.

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel lead 19 newcomers on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot

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Hall of Fame ballots for the 2018 induction class have been mailed out to the Baseball Writers Association of America voters and the names on the ballot were released to the public this morning. Among the top newcomers: Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, Kerry Wood and Jamie Moyer . There are 19 new candidates in all. There are, of course, several holdovers too.

The newcomers, in alphabetical order:

Chris Carpenter
Johnny Damon
Livan Hernandez
Orlando Hudson
Aubrey Huff
Andruw Jones
Chipper Jones
Jason Isringhausen
Carlos Lee
Brad Lidge
Hideki Matsui
Kevin Millwood
Jamie Moyer
Scott Rolen
Johan Santana
Jim Thome
Omar Vizquel
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano

Chipper Jones, the 1999 MVP, one of the best switch-hitters of all time and the unparalleled offensive star of the great Braves teams of the 1990s and early 2000s seems like a shoe-in. His case is boosted above his fantastic offensive numbers in the eyes of many voters by virtue of playing for the same team for his entire career.

Jim Thome is probably going to get a very large vote total and possibly will be inducted, having hit over 600 homers in his career. A challenge to his first-year induction is presented by the very large backlog of deserving candidates, which we’ll discuss in a moment, and by the fact that Thome’s career corresponded with baseball’s home run boom of the 1990s. Unlike other passed-over candidates of his era, Thome was never implicated in performance enhancing drug use, but it is the case that homers became cheaper for everyone during his career, and some may consider him a one-dimensional candidate. I suspect he’ll be in Cooperstown soon, be it this year or next year.

Omar Vizquel will receive a lot of support but his candidacy will also draw a lot of controversy. His backers will cite his defense and his longevity. His detractors will note that his defense was nowhere near as good as other defense-first inductees in the past such as Ozzie Smith, and that it was in no way good enough to make up for his below average bat. Complicating all of this will be fact that two superior defensive candidates who happened to have outstanding offensive numbers to go with them — Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen — are unlikely to receive anything approaching the level of support Vizquel will get, leading to . . . a lot of arguing.

And now the holdovers from last year’s ballot and ballots past, with last year’s percentage of the vote in parenthesis. Candidates need 75% of the vote in order to be inducted:

Barry Bonds (53.8)
Roger Clemens (54.1)
Vladimir Guerrero (71.1)
Trevor Hoffman (74.0)
Jeff Kent (16.7)
Edgar Martinez (58.6)
Fred McGriff (21.7)
Mike Mussina (51.8)
Manny Ramirez (23.8)
Curt Schilling (45.0)
Gary Sheffield (13.3)
Sammy Sosa (8.6)
Billy Wagner (10.2)
Larry Walker (21.9)

We’ve talked about all of these guys before, of course. Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero seem likely to be elected given how close they came to induction last year. Many quite worthy candidates such as Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling will likely continue to receive less support than they deserve. PED-associated candidates Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a boost in their previously-flagging candidacies last year, getting over 50% of the vote for the first time, but it’s unlikely that they’ll jump 22 and 21 points, respectively. Lesser PED-associated candidates such as Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez will likely forever remain on the outside looking in.

The results of the election will be announced by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, live on MLB Network.