The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that, as part of MLB and the MLBPA’s recent agreement on a treatment program for opioids, the league will also remove marijuana from the list of banned substances for minor leaguers. As Rosenthal notes, major league players aren’t tested for marijuana but minor leaguers are.
Though the use of medicinal marijuana has been decriminalized in most of the U.S., the drug remains illegal at the federal level. It is classified as a Schedule I drug along with other substances such as heroin, peyote, and ecstasy.
It is great to see the league being forward-thinking on this particular issue. The messaging on marijuana has, for decades, been misleading. As a result, the drug grew a reputation it didn’t deserve. In this day and age, many players use or have used the drug without it having a major impact on their lives. In many cases, the impact is positive. Former Astros first baseman Jon Singleton remains a well-known outlier. Furthermore, testing for and thus having to punish players for the use of marijuana removes any incentive for the player to be honest and seek help if the drug impacts their lives negatively. This, along with the opioid program, hopefully results in players feeling comfortable enough to seek the help they need if they need it.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.