Here come the Chris Davis PED suspicions

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Aaron noted just how crazy a season Chris Davis is having. And when you have a weekend like he had against a team with a big national profile like the Yankees, it sort of puts all of that in relief. And that, sadly, has brought out the PED suspicions. From Baltimore Sports Report:

A simple search on Twitter for the query “Chris Davis steroids” brings up a slew of tweets from baseball fans worldwide over the past few days with blatant accusations that Davis must be juicing.  Things like “It’s time to test Chris Davis for steroids” and “He has to be cheating” were popping up left and right all throughout Saturday and Sunday.  Davis even responded to one fan on Sunday afternoon with a simple “No” when asked “Are you on steroids?”

I can confirm the Twitter thing, as I went looking for that myself this morning (do the search yourself) and found no shortage of people flat accusing Davis of taking PEDs. I didn’t hear the report, but I’m told that a host or guest on a Dallas sports talk radio station was engaging in such speculation this morning too.

You may say “hey, it’s just jerks on Twitter,” but the fact is they are baseball fans. And they didn’t just independently invent the notion that a guy who hits a lot of home runs should automatically be assumed to be taking performance enhancing drugs. No, that speculation — utterly baseless speculation; Davis has always had tremendous power but is now, in the past year, matched it up with better plate discipline — is the product of a media landscape which has decided that every power hitter is a ‘roider. Jose Bautista got this treatment a couple of years ago. Davis is getting it now. Everyone who engages in this business does so because they’ve been convinced by the baseball media that such speculation is not just justified but necessary.

It’s neither of those things. The drug testing system put in place had avoiding these parlor games as one of its primary justifications. But that’s not good enough for some, apparently.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.