Bud Selig wants tougher PED penalties

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ESPN:

“I have been interested in stiffer penalties for some time,” Selig said. “We’ve made meaningful adjustments to our testing and it is time to make meaningful adjustments to our penalties.”

Selig said last season there were only five positive tests of the more than 5,000 that were conducted. The new penalties are intended to deter the small number of those who still don’t see the current penalties as harsh enough.

“I don’t know if we can ever get to zero; there will always be somebody out there,” Selig said. “For a very small percentage of people it hasn’t served for as much of a deterrent as I think it should.”

MLB’s more stringent drug punishments have been cited as one large reason why offense began to decline starting in 2010. The average Major League team averaged 4.61 runs per game in 2009, but it dropped to 4.38, 4.28, and 4.32 in the following three years. Home run rates from 2007-12 are at their lowest rates since the early 1990’s.

Selig’s wish for harsher penalties for positive drug tests is curious given that, as the ESPN article mentions, very few players are testing positive. At some point, you get diminishing returns cranking up the dial on suspension lengths and fine amounts. And it looks silly in comparison to the biggest of shrugs MLB gives to alcohol abuse — Philadelphia’s Delmon Young was suspended a mere seven games without pay when he was charged with third-degree assault and an aggravated harassment hate crime last year.

Starters? Openers? Who cares? It’s the lack of offense killing the Brewers

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The talk of Game 5 of the NLCS — and, indeed, the talk of the postseason so far — has been the Brewers’ creative use of their pitching staff. Indeed, Craig Counsell calling for Brandon Woodruff, and removing Miley from the game after just one batter and five pitches, stands as one of the more audacious acts of bullpenning in recent memory.

In light of that strategy, it was tempting to compare and contrast the Brewers’ approach to that of the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw gave up an early run and, as has so often been the case lately, didn’t look super sharp early. But as the game wore on he got stronger, his curve got more devastating and he turned in an ace-like performance, leaving after seven innings of work, retiring the final 13 batters he faced. The Brewers may have an army of pitchers they throw at you, but the Dodgers, on this night, had a Hulk.

That’s all a lot of fun, and it was a tempting narrative to grab a hold of, but you know what? It doesn’t matter a bit. The fact of the matter is that the Brewers have scored two runs in the last 17 innings between Games 4 and 5. Two runs, with one of them being an oh-by-the-way run with out in the ninth tonight. They’ve only scored three runs in their last 24 innings. They could have a college of coaches using a murder of pitchers and they’d still be staring at being down 3-2 like they are right now because the bats have gone cold.

The presumptive NL MVP, Christian Yelich, was 0-for-4 in Game 5 and is only 3-for-20 with three singles in the entire NLCS. Ryan Braun is 5-for-21. Lorenzo Cain is 6-for-24. Games 3 and 4 have, obviously, been the big problems for the Brewers. In those games the entire team is batting .168 with 26 strikeouts and they are 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Craig Counsell could go back in time, bring back Pete Vukovich, Rollie Fingers, Teddy Higuera, Moose Haas and Jim Slaton, use them all for an inning and two-thirds each and it wouldn’t matter if the Brewers can’t score. That’s the story of the series so far. No matter how much we might want to talk about the pitching shenanigans, that’s the only thing that really matters.