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Ryan Howard, Ryan Zimmerman, Taylor Teagarden named in Al Jazeera investigation on PEDs

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A documentary scheduled to air Sunday night on Al Jazeera will reportedly link MLB players Ryan Howard, Ryan Zimmerman, and Taylor Teagarden to a pharmacist named Charlie Sly who worked for an Indiana-based anti-aging clinic in 2011 and admitted recently on secret video recordings that he provided PEDs — primarily HGH — to a number of professional athletes. Peyton Manning, James Harrison, and Mike Tyson are among the other big names.

Travis Waldron and Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post were given a preview copy of the documentary and have further details.

Sly made the admissions about Howard and Zimmerman to British hurdler Liam Collins, who told Sly he wanted to obtain performance-enhancing drugs to make a run at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Teagarden is apparently shown discussing his own PED use on an undercover video in the Al Jazeera report.

Howard and Zimmerman have not aged well and Teagarden has spent most of his career in the minor leagues, so it’s not the juiciest of PED stories on the baseball end. Manning is obviously going to dominate the news cycle. But there’s still the potential here for major fallout in Major League Baseball, which has very publicly attempted to clamp down on HGH with stiffer penalties and in-season blood testing.

Howard is owed $25 million from the Phillies in 2016 with a $10 million buyout for 2017. Zimmerman has four years and $60 million remaining on his contract with the Nationals. If the allegations are proven true, they could both face the 80-game suspension given to first-time PED offenders. Those suspensions would be without pay.

Teagarden, currently a free agent, would also get popped for 80 games.

William Burck, an attorney at Quinn Emanuel who represents both Howard and Zimmerman, issued this statement early Sunday morning to MLB Trade Rumors

“It’s inexcusable and irresponsible that Al Jazeera would provide a platform and broadcast outright lies about Mr. Howard and Mr. Zimmerman. The extraordinarily reckless claims made against our clients in this report are completely false and rely on a source who has already recanted his claims.  We will go to court to hold Al Jazeera and other responsible parties accountable for smearing our clients’ good names.”

Sly has recanted the claims he made to Collins, calling Collins a “reputed fraudster.”

Tim Tebow homers in spring training game

Tim Tebow
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Mets minor league outfielder Tim Tebow hit a two-run home run during Tuesday afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. It’s his first spring training home run since beginning his professional baseball career in late 2016.

Tebow, 32, is, of course, a former college football legend. He had a much-anticipated NFL career that ended up brief and disappointing, prompting a change of vocation. Tebow was passable with Double-A Binghamton in 2018, but the Mets promoted him to Triple-A for the 2019 season anyway. That was a mistake. Through 264 plate appearances, Tebow hit .163/.240/.255, ranking as the worst hitter in the minor leagues.

Tebow also walked along with the homer in three plate appearances on Tuesday. While it’s a solid early showing, Tebow participating with the other big leaguers or soon-to-be big leaguers in spring training is something of a sideshow. If he were a regular ballplayer working his way up the ranks, he likely would have been cut after last season. He certainly wouldn’t have been given an invitation to big league camp the next year.

There are aspects of the Tebow situation to respect: that he’s athletic and dedicated enough to attempt a professional career in another sport, for example. He moves tickets and merchandise. But one can’t help but wonder about the roster spot he’s holding that would otherwise go to a more deserving player.