Baseball thinks harder about HGH testing

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HGH.jpgMLB’s Rob Manfred attended a PED seminar yesterday and offered some more words about HGH testing in baseball:

Manfred said that the positive test in England “is an important
confirmation of the strength and science involved” in the H.G.H. blood
test and that baseball was working to apply the test on a widespread
basis.

An HGH test may or may not be workable and wonderful and all of that — I really don’t know enough about it, or the drug, to say — but I am rather surprised that everyone keeps referring to this rugby player as evidence that people need to get moving on the test. 

Why? Because all of the stories that have come out since that test note that the player wasn’t caught merely by testing. Rather, his league had intelligence (i.e. a tip) that he was using HGH, and then went to specifically test him based on that tip.  If they didn’t have the tip, they never would have caught the guy in all likelihood, because HGH doesn’t stay in the bloodstream that long. Indeed, the UK anti-doping agency that caught the guy is on record as saying that intelligence, as opposed to testing, is becoming far more important in their battle against HGH.  The same sort of intelligence that nabbed Braves’ prospect Jordan Schafer for HGH just last year.

I don’t offer this to slam baseball’s desire to implement HGH testing. As with most things, a combination approach is best. Do some testing if it makes sense. Use intelligence too. It’s all good.  It’s just probably worth remembering that there is more to life than just testing, and that, contrary to what so many writers say, the presence or absence of an HGH test doesn’t automatically render baseball’s drug program effective or ineffective.  

Manny Machado called for interference with Orlando Arcia

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Fresh off our “Manny Machado didn’t hustle” post, here’s one about him trying a little too hard. Machado was called for interference in the bottom of the fourth inning during Monday night’s NLCS Game 3 against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium. It was actually Machado’s second attempt to interfere with Orlando Arcia during the game.

In the bottom of the second, Machado led off with a single. Cody Bellinger followed up by hitting a grounder to second baseman Travis Shaw, who fed to Arcia. Machado slid towards Arcia enough to disrupt the play, allowing Bellinger to reach first base safely. The Brewers didn’t challenge, in part because Arcia didn’t attempt a throw.

Fast forward to the bottom of the fourth. Machado again leads off and again reaches base, this time with a walk. Bellinger hits another grounder. First baseman Jesús Aguilar snags the ball and fires to Arcia covering the second base bag. Machado slides into second base and reaches out with his right hand to mess with Arcia’s throw to first base. It succeeds, as Arcia’s throw skips past first base towards the dugout. Brewers manager Craig Counsell challenged the call, alleging slide interference (the “Chase Utley rule”). The umpires reviewed the play and agreed that Machado did indeed interfere with Arcia, so Bellinger was called out. What made Machado’s effort even worse is that Bellinger would’ve reached easily regardless, so there was no need to interfere with Arcia.

The Dodgers trail the Brewers 1-0 through the first half of the game. The Brewers got their run early thanks to an RBI double by Ryan Braun off of Walker Buehler in the top of the first. Jhoulys Chacín has pitched excellently for the Brewers thus far.