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.

 

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.