Don’t slam baseball over drugs: an MLB investigation is what led to all of this

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As has been the case with every single positive PED test involving a notable player over the past several years, I have no doubt that in the coming days we’ll see some variation of the following from a baseball writer:

Baseball wants you to think its drug problems are gone, but they’re not. With this latest story we now know that it’s as if it were 1998 all over again. Everyone is cheating and juicing and if you think that what you’re seeing on the field is genuine, think again.  Don’t let Bud Selig and Michael Weiner tell you that they have faith in the drug testing program. It’s all p.r. and it’s all bunk. We’re still in the Steroid Era.

I embellish, but only a little. We’ve all seen that sort of thing before and I assure you we’ll see it again.

But before you buy into that, go read Michael S. Schmidt’s report of this Miami business in the New York Times.  In addition to the things we already know, Schmidt reports that the reason this all came to light in the first place was because of an MLB investigation into an employee of Melky Cabrera’s agents in the wake of his positive test last year.

The upshot: MLB caught a cheating player with testing. Its investigations arm got involved and sniffed out the baloney in his story.  They dug deeper and made connections to past information they had on PED use but which was unactionable at the time. They brought in law enforcement to assist in the investigation.  The heat from that investigation led to this information coming out, and now they’re pledging to investigate further, with possible discipline to follow.

Some people may look at all of this as evidence of some epidemic and Major League Baseball being asleep at the switch.  I look at it as a pretty damn proactive and robust testing and investigative program doing the job it was set up to do.  Maybe that doesn’t make baseball 100% clean, but nothing in society is.  Heck, not even all sports is.  When was the last time the NFL, NBA or NHL was seen as being on top of things with respect to performance enhancing drugs as Major League Baseball is?  The most famous player in the Super Bowl just got linked to a banned PED today. We’ll hear little of this compared to the A-Rod business over the next week, I assure you.

Yet I expect people will still take their shots at MLB over all of this.  They’re so used to doing it, it’s hard to stop.

 

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?