MLB really has no plan when it comes to PED punishment

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I often defend baseball’s PED testing regime. I think its official punishments are good. Fifty games is a lot for a first offense, as are the financial penalties that go along with the suspensions.  But it really has no clue what it’s doing when it comes to secondary sanctions like the one we saw imposed today on Melky Cabrera.

Was it not foreseeable that a person who tests positive for PEDs might one day win a batting title or an ERA crown?  Apparently not, because it wasn’t an issue until Melky tested positive and Andrew McCutchen’s hitting fell off a bit.  Now there’s all this unsatisfying scrambling.

Thing about is, just this year Major League Baseball was thinking about things like this.  It passed a rule making PED-positive players ineligible for the All-Star Game.  Why didn’t it think about statistical or postseason awards then?  Where was the imagination? Why was what seems so dreadful now — a PED cheat winning the batting title — not a looming menace then?  And what about other problems? Just this week 30 players were nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award. What if one of them tests positive after they win? Do we retroactively take it away? Or do we realize that, heck, David Ortiz won it last year, so why should we even care about such things now?

I think no one thought too hard about it because, in reality, baseball think about it like I do, and no one at Major League Baseball truly cares about such things.  It only becomes an issue when people in the press start grumbling about it or asking Bud Selig about it at press conferences.  Then some negative public relations-adverse reaction occurs, leading to ad hoc rules like the Melky Cabrera Rule.

Major League Baseball will get a lot of pats on the back and atta-boys as a result of this.  But let’s not pretend that this is some sort of well-though-out thing as opposed to a way to get out of some bad P.R.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.