Yet another writer accuses Jose Bautista of PED use

29 Comments

Bob Frantz of the San Francisco Examiner wrote an odious little column today in which he accused Jose Bautista of using performance enhancing drugs.

Well, he didn’t directly accuse him of doing so. No, he’s far too savvy for that.  He merely wrote that “questions remain” regarding Bautista. Said that “normal men don’t go from 13 home runs as a part-time utility player one year to 52 home runs.” He merely suggested that Bautista submit to urine and blood tests and then have the results released to the public. He then blamed his suspicion and subtle character assassination on Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmiero, Roger Clemens and other people who presumably do not have editorial control over Frantz’s columns at the Examiner.

Of course, the fact that he blames Canseco et al, for his own cynical and evidence-free
suspicions of Bautista is intellectual dishonesty at its finest. He clearly suspects
Bautista of using PEDs. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have been
inspired to write this piece. Well, he wouldn’t have unless the piece itself is a cynical exercise in filling column inches and stirring the pot by peddling crap that the author does not himself believe, but let’s save that for another time.

For now let us merely note that if Frantz has the guts to make an actual accusation, he should make it. To state, in plain language, that he doubts that Bautista’s accomplishments are genuine. To do otherwise — to make oblique reference to
the mere possibility that Bautista cheated and to blame
figures who haven’t played baseball for several years for “the questions
that remain” — is cowardly.
 
And that goes not only for Frantz, but for anyone who wishes to join in the increasingly popular pastime of trashing Jose Bautista. Ladies and gentlemen: if you have evidence, or even reasonable suspicion that Bautista — a
player who has had at least two PED tests this season — has used PEDs,
come out and say it.  If you don’t, please spare us your insinuations to
the contrary.

Players are waking up and getting ready to fight

Getty Images
22 Comments

There’s this idea out there that the owners have been eating the players’ lunch at the bargaining table in recent years because the players are, generally, rich and happy and maybe don’t care about a lot of the stuff the previous couple of generations of players did. There is probably some degree of truth to that. The difference between a good deal and a bad deal, in both collective bargaining and on the free agent market, is way less dire now than it used to be and thus the urgency may not have been there over the past several years the way it was in 1981 or 1994.

But it goes too far to say that such a mindset is universal among players. Or that it’s a mindset which, even among those who hold it, will always persist. Players may not have been as vigilant about labor matters over the past several years as they used to be, but they’re not idiots and, at some point, the owners are gonna push ’em too far and they’ll respond.

As we find ourselves in the second straight offseason in which teams simply don’t seem all too keen on signing free agents, it’s starting to happen already.

Earlier this week Dallas Keuchel tweeted out some things critical of the current market and teams’ approach to it (and took another swipe today). This afternoon Giants third baseman Evan Longoria chimed in on Instagram, posting a picture of Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and saying the following:

We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.

Most of that is common sense, the sort of which we’ve been arguing for around here for some time. Fans should care about good players and winning baseball games, not whether or not their front office can get a great bargain for its own sake. It may be interesting to talk about payroll and salaries and wins/$, but the point of baseball is to win, right? When so many teams seem rather uninterested in that, it’s a problem that all of the interesting analytical insights can’t really make up for.

The second part is worth keeping your eyes on. Maybe players have not been on a war footing the likes of which their predecessors were in the 1970s through the 1990s, but it doesn’t mean they won’t get back there if pushed. As is abundantly clear, the owners are pushing. Salaries are dropping in both an absolute sense and, especially, compared to baseball’s revenues. Players are getting a smaller piece of the pie than they have in a while and ownership seems quite pleased to see that continue.

If players are saying stuff like this publicly, it means that players are talking about it amongst themselves privately. The last two years have likely served as quite a wakeup call for them, and they seem to be waking up. Evan Longoria is. Dallas Keuchel is. So are some others. If current trends continue, more and more will wake up.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires following the 2021 season. What happens over the rest of this offseason and the next two is going to determine the mood of the players. The mood of the players, in turn, is going to dictate the tenor of negotiations. If they were to begin right now, those negotiations would be very, very rocky.