Jeff Pearlman writes today that Ryan Dempster is a hero for throwing a baseball at Alex Rodriguez. But I’m not quite sure how strongly he feels about it. Please judge for yourself:
F**k you for cheating. F**k you for stealing paychecks. F**k you for influencing the outcomes of games. F**k you for lying. F**k you for dragging us all down. F**k you—Ryan Braun and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada and Nelson Cruz and Barry Bonds and Jhonny Peralta and Paul Lo Duca and every other guy who felt the need to inject nonsense into their bodies to help accomplish what, naturally, they could not.
But no, people aren’t irrationally upset about what a baseball player has done. And me saying that, perhaps, people have blown A-Rod’s transgressions out of proportion is totally radical and crazy and I just do it for page views. Yep.
Say what you want about Pearlman — I know a lot of people don’t care for his stuff — but he is a respected journalist within the industry who regularly publishes well-read books and has spent time at some prestigious publications such as Sports Illustrated. Maybe he’s out there quite a bit, but make no mistake: there are a lot of people who feel this about A-Rod even if they don’t put it in print.
And thus when I say that maybe, just maybe, people in the media are unfairly painting the guy as History’s Greatest Monster, I am not being hysterical.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.
The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.
In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.
The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.
We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.