Craig Calcaterra

David Rollins

Mariners pitcher David Rollins suspended 80 games for PEDs

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David Rollins was a Rule 5 pick by the Mariners from the Houston Astros this past winter. And, as such, was getting a long look at the M’s 25-man roster, where he’d likely be the second lefty in the bullpen. If he didn’t make it, Seattle would have to give him back to the Astros. So far on the spring he has tossed seven innings while allowing one earned run and striking out seven.

Now they don’t have to sweat it: Major League Baseball just announced that Rollins has received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for Stanozolol, which is a PED. The suspension will be effective for the first 80 games of the 2015 regular season.

 

Did David Ortiz admit to more than he realized with his Players’ Tribune editorial?

David Ortiz
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Here’s something fun to think about: David Ortiz Players’ Tribune editorial in which he said that “nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me” may be an admission of more than Ortiz realizes.

Under the Joint Drug Agreement, all players are, at the outset anyway, tested twice a year. According to Section 3(A) of the JDA, your urine is tested (a) once in spring training; and (b) once randomly during the regular season.

In addition to those mandatory drug tests for all players, there are additional random ones set forth in section 3(A)(2). Specifically, (a) 3,200 urine specimen collections of randomly-selected players at unannounced times in-season; and (b) 350 urine specimen collections at unannounced times during each off-season.

So, what that means is 2-3 and, if you’re unlucky, four drug tests a year. Plus the new HGH blood tests, which happen once a year for all players, in spring training.

Unless, that is, you have tested positive for something in the past. In that case, section 3(D) comes into play, and that involves up to six additional unannounced urine tests during the season and three additional blood tests:

A Player who is disciplined under Sections 7.A, 7.B, 7.C, 7.E, 7.F or 7.G, or has otherwise violated the Program through the use or possession of a Performance Enhancing Substance, Stimulant or DHEA, shall be subject to the following mandatory follow-up testing program, administered by the IPA . . .

People inside the game refer to those players who have the stepped-up, post-discipline testing as being “in the program.” Just yesterday the Daily News referred to this in the case of Alex Rodriguez, who is now subject to stepped-up testing.

So let’s go back to David Ortiz. He claims he’s been tested 80 times in the decade or so there has been drug testing. That’s an awful lot of testing, especially when you consider that the blood testing just started last year. And that, until last year, the number of in-season random tests was less than half of what it is now. Given that a player not “in the program” gets, at most, four tests a year and more likely 2-3 (less before last year), what possible basis could there be for Ortiz to be tested as often as he claims he has been other than a previous positive test?

“But wait!” I hear you claiming, “He’s all but admitted that he is on the list of players who tested positive in the 2003 survey testing, so this isn’t news.” True, but no players were put in “the program” as a result of the 2003 survey tests. Indeed, the very existence of the 2003 survey testing was premised on their being no discipline for anyone at all. That’s why it was called survey testing. And, at any rate, the rules for stepped-up testing weren’t even written yet by then. No, to be “in the program,” Ortiz would have had to have another positive drug test, after the survey testing began.

“But wait!” I hear you saying, “Ortiz has never been suspended!” Also true. He has not been. But, until very recently, players were not suspended for first offenses for amphetamines. They were put into mandatory drug counseling, not suspended. And their names were not released to the public. They were, however, subjected to “the program” and its stepped-up testing. It says so right there in Section 3(D).

So, we’re left with two explanations. Either Ortiz is grossly exaggerating how often he has been tested — possibly by a factor three or four — or Ortiz is telling the truth, he has been tested as often as he claims and the reason for it is that he is or has been “in the program” for previous drug offenders and we just didn’t know about it.

If neither of those is the case there is a third possibility, I guess: that Ortiz is being singled out by MLB for multiple times more testing than anyone else. If so, he should call his union rep immediately and file a grievance rather than spending his time writing editorials about how ho-hum all of this stepped-up drug testing he has been subjected to really is. Really: if he’s not lying about how often he’s tested and he hasn’t had a previous positive test for amphetamines, then Major League Baseball has singled him out for significantly more testing than anyone else and he doesn’t seem to mind too much.

Now go back and read Ortiz’s editorial — and go back to other instances in which Ortiz has felt that he was treated unfairly — and ask yourself if he’s a guy who doesn’t seem to mind too much about anything.

The AP Stylebook updates sports guidelines — outlaws “dingers, jacks and bombs”

press hat
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Well this is just sad. The Associated Press stylebook updates are taking all of your yiketties away:

Yes, it says “avoid hackneyed words and phrases, redundancies and exaggerations.” Which is kind of scary. I mean, we don’t follow AP style around here, obviously, but if we were forced to, that’d take away 95% of our material.

Texas spent $10 million on high school PED testing. It was an utter failure.

syringe
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An eye-opening story over at Vice shows us what can happen when PED testing is treated as theater, inspired by a wave of emotional and public relations concerns and is implemented in a half-assed manner: it fails totally.

That’s what happened in Texas, at least, where $10 million was plowed into a high school athlete drug testing regime that caught virtually no one and may have, in fact, created a bigger drug problem than the one it claimed it would solve. Bad testing, you see, can be worse than no testing, because it’s easy to beat bad testing and give users clear, safe harbors.

A lot to chew on here, including an appearance from Don Hooton, who was a big backer of the failed Texas plan and still wants it to continue despite its obvious lack of efficacy. I’m sure that the fact that the Taylor Hooton Foundation brings in $700K a year has nothing to do with that. Just as I’m sure that The Center for Drug Free Sport’s love of these sorts of programs has nothing to do with the money it makes off of them.

None of which is to say that their hearts aren’t in the right place. It’s merely to say that, when you try to accomplish something that involves science, deception and human calculation, leading with your heart is the worst thing you can do.

Rob Manfred says it would be hard to reinstate Pete Rose in a limited way

pete rose getty
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I’ve long argued that, if you’re going to reinstate Pete Rose, it may be a good idea to limit his reinstatement to roles in which he would not have any direct say or impact over players or strategic baseball decisions. Maybe this matters less now than it would’ve a few years ago, as I have also noted that Rose is probably too old and has been out of the game too long to be a serious candidate for a managing, coaching or executive job, but it’s still something worth considering.

Jayson Stark spoke to Rob Manfred recently, however, and Manfred seems to think that a Rose reinstatement would have to be an all-or-nothing proposition:

Manfred said that while he’s open to discussing different compromise scenarios, “that’s going to be a product of the process that we work through with Pete and his representatives . . . I’m not sure that human beings can slice that that thin. You know what I’m saying? You’re either in or you’re out of the game to some extent.”

Manfred noted that it’s a practical issue of monitoring what Rose would be doing. If, say, he was in Cincinnati and his title was something which suggested he was outside of baseball operations, how would anyone know if he was secretly immersing himself in the day-to-day baseball operations of the club.

I can see that. But on some level maybe he’s a Tommy Lasorda figure, right? Lasorda has not been an official, day-to-day Dodgers baseball operations guy for some time. He’s currently a “Special Advisor to the Chairman.” His responsibilities include “scouting, evaluating and teaching minor league players, acting as an advisor and ambassador for the Dodgers’ international affiliations, and representing the franchise at more than 100 speaking engagements and appearances to various charities, private groups and military personnel each year.”

There are some baseball ops things in there. But, really, anyone who is around the Dodgers knows that Lasorda’s biggest job is to just hang around and be Tommy Lasorda. He’s not telling Don Mattingly who to play. He’s not pressuring Andrew Friedman about trades. If he’s talking to some young Dodgers player, it’s a history lesson, not serious baseball instruction most of the time. Everyone knows the chain of command there.

I feel like we’d see much the same thing with Pete Rose and the Reds, even if he had an unconditional reinstatement. To someone like Billy Hamilton, Rose is more historical figure than anything else. If Rose went up to him and tried to get him in on some crazy gambling scheme, doesn’t it stand to reason that Hamilton would nod, smile and then walk away and roll his eyes? Or, if he didn’t, that someone in Cincinnati would say something if Rose was overstepping reasonable bounds? He’s a very different figure now than he was in the 1980s.

So I doubt it’s a big deal one way or the other. Yes, it’s important that a reinstated Rose not be in a position to influence outcomes in any substantive way. But is it really likely that he even would be?