Heath Bell [all together now!] claims he was taken out of context

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Yesterday Heath Bell was on a radio show and ripped Ozzie Guillen.  It was pretty straight forward, yes?  Well, no, because like just about everyone else who didn’t realize that they said something controversial until after he said it, Bell has gone into damage control mode and now claims he didn’t mean what everyone heard him say.

He was on “Power Alley” with Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin on MLB Network Radio today — you can listen here — and he said he didn’t think he said anything wrong. When asked if he was misinterpreted, he said:

“I think it was.  I was never criticizing Ozzie.  I don’t think that’s what I was doing on the radio.  I was choosing my words kind of right …  I never said I don’t respect him as a manager or a person.

Wait, time out, Heath: this is what you said:  “It’s hard to respect a guy that doesn’t tell you the truth or doesn’t tell you face to face.”  And then you said Ozzie Guillen didn’t tell you the truth and didn’t tell you face to face.  Now I’m confused.  Let me think … I want to give you the benefit of the doubt here because I kinda like your style, so let me be your spin doctor …. thinking …

Got it!!  Though it is hard to respect such a man, you fought through that crap and did it anyway.  Really, Ozzie should be thanking you for your strength!  You’re one HELL Of a guy.

Bell went on:

It is interesting, I think, to play underneath a manager like Ozzie because he talks to the press and he does a lot of things and he’s loud.  But you know what?  You know, I’ve had good managers, I’ve had bad managers and I don’t think Ozzie’s the reason why we really stunk this year.  I think for me not performing to the next guy not performing.  And that’s the reason we didn’t win this year.  It’s not because of Ozzie.

Heath Bell pivots pretty quick for a big dude.  OK, Heath, Ozzie isn’t the problem. Who is?

Everybody’s trying to point at Ozzie or somebody in this organization … I just think everybody’s trying to point fingers why we didn’t win.

But not, you, right. You didn’t try to point a finger and say something you shouldn’t have, did you?

And, you know, did I say something I probably shouldn’t have?  Yes, I did.  I’m going to own up to it.

Good. Nice to see that humility. This is actually progress:

But you know what?  I’m not going to back down from anybody.

But … but … with the owning up and the … I’m so confused …

Apparently I just have to keep my mouth shut. Next year I’m not going to talk to anybody for the simple fact [that] it’s not doing me any good.

OK, we’re back to agreeing on something. Nice interview, Heath.

Report: MLB could fine the Angels $2 million for failure to report Tyler Skaggs’ drug use

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T.J. Quinn of ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball could fine the Los Angeles Angels up to $2 million “if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.”

The fine would be pursuant to the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement which affirmatively requires any team employee who isn’t a player to inform the Commissioner’s Office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.

As was reported last weekend, Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications, told DEA agents that he and at least one other high-ranking Angels official knew of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied any knowledge of Skaggs’ use, and the other then-Angels employee Kay named, current Hall of Fame President Tim Mead deny that he know as well, but Kay’s admission that he knew — he in fact claims he purchased drugs for and did drugs with Skaggs — would, if true, constitute team knowledge. Major League Baseball would, of course, want to make its own determination of whether or not Kay was being truthful when he told DEA agents what his lawyer says he told them.

Which raises the question of why, apart from a strong desire to get in criminal jeopardy for lying to DEA agents, Kay would admit through his lawyer that he lied to DEA agents. Still, the process is the process, so giving MLB a little time here is probably not harming anyone.

As for a $2 million fine? Well, it cuts a number of ways. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. On the other hand, (a) a man is dead; and (b) $2 million is what the Angels’ DH or center fielder makes in about 11 minutes so how much would such a fine really sting?

On the third hand, my God, what else can be done here? No matter what happened in the case of Skaggs’ death, this is not a situation anyone in either the Commissioner’s Office nor the MLBPA truly contemplated when the JDA was drafted. We live in a world of horrors at times, and by their very nature, horrors involve that which it is not expected and for which there can be no adequate, pre-negotiated remedy. It’s a bad story all around, no matter what happens.

Still, it would be notable for Major League Baseball to fine any team under the “teams must report players they suspect used banned substances” rule. Because, based on what I have heard, knowledge of players who use banned substances — which includes marijuana, cocaine, opioids and other non-PED illegal drugs — and which have not been reported to MLB is both commonplace and considerable.

But that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.