Sunday, March 30, 2014

OLBERMANN Says New MLB Drug Testing Misses the Mark

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OLBERMANN Says New MLB Drug Testing
Misses the Mark  


Say what you will about Keith Olbermann, there's one guy who actually read the new Major League Baseball (MLB) drug testing rules, unlike most of the reporting media, and didn't hesitate to  tell  'This Week's   George Stephanopolous March 30 why the new rules will do nothing to reduce drug use in baseball - similar  to what this column said yesterday (see previous post below). 



Olbermann is the only sports commentator to date, to our knowledge, to have come out against the tests, again,  for much the same reason as we pointed out (below) yesterday: THE ISSUE IS NOT THE LENGTH OF PENALTY BUT FAILING TO  PUT  IN PLACE A TEST THAT  WILL  CATCH USERS OF CERTAIN PREVALENT DRUGS,  IN THE FIRST PLACE. You can make the penalty any length and it won't help. Sure, it looks good on paper to the average person, not
really observant or paying attention.


Olbermann notes - the video from the news show  has yet to be posted on the internet -
that the 19 players caught up in the Biogenesis indictments last year did NOT result from testing  but  came about only because of  an informant, as we also previously noted, below.





The new drug policy does nothing to change the test for catching players using the new synthetic testosterone and other to now undetectable drugs, according to the provisions noted in the Hardball.com quote, below (Hardball is the only source to have actually outlined the new drug policy, in full - and even they failed  to note the folly in the policy)


According to Oberman, the Biogenesis convictions actually  work against the Commissioner, who claims baseball has 'cleaned up' the use of drugs, pointing out
 1) that players are still using PEDs
2) that players are 'beating' the current drug tests (at least for the most prevalent drug, testosterone, for which the tests were not changed, to our understanding, from the Hardball information


It's a pretty clear cut matter to which even the top sports critics have either turned a blind eye
or simply aren't paying attention / doing their job.  Even before the new testing measures were announced you had writers like  Huffington Post's Len Berman claiming, in regards to the then-prospective new policies,
 'This is huge...They'll also increase their efforts to detect increased levels of testosterone. ...'
Not so.  Please find us another critic who sees the light - or tell us we're all wet, with proof.








Previous to new MLB drug test rulings, Olbermann chastised Barry Bonds and the San Franciso Giants on Bonds' one week return to the Giants as Spring Training hitting coach. Again, say what you will about Obermann he stands up for the Grand Old Game and is probably speaking for a lot of 'old timers'  like dethroned home run king Henry Aaron (by Bonds) and even Willie Mays, Bonds'  God father, who might like to say what Olbermann felt more comfortable saying. It seems there are two opposite  camps   reacting to Olbermann's comments,  as you can see by viewing the site's comment section .   Younger fans, who grew up with the drug culture, generally feel Olbermann is out of line while older fans who grew up on Aaron and Mays don't appreciate how Bonds 'blew past them' (to use Obermann's words) to the all-time homerun title. To quote Olbermann, opening his sports commentary program in a late March episode, in what he called ' the shame of San Francisco Giants,' comparing Bonds use of performance enhancing drugs to the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. 



He goes on, first charging the Giants as a team that has 'sanitized his history and pretending there is nothing at least controversial about his performance in a major league uniform and resumed what they had been doing seven years later as marketing hims as one of baseball's most noble assets and not the symbol of baseball's darkest time sine the 1919 Black Sox scandal. And now he's back without an apology, without an acknowledgement... And, the latter point is the key. Others have been brought back, such as Mark McGwire, current Dodgers' hitting coach, who, as Olbermann noted, made at least a 'half -hearted attempt' to apologize and rehabiliate his image. As you see in the video, Bonds appears pretty much the same aloof, joking figure, hardly concerned about what he has done to the game, in our opinion. Again, the primarily younger fans commenting on the video, which appears on Youtube, mostly castigate Olbermann, rather than Bonds, for his strong rebuke. We see this reaction much as a similar split that seems to divide the nation, politically.


Olbermann has also backed up his words with some science, noting that without PEDs Bonds would only have had 611 career homeruns , well down the list of  career homerun leaders , extrapolating his  pre-steroid  era homerun output (when he only hit as many as 46 homeruns one time) to his full
 career.

 OLBERMANN Says New MLB Drug Testing Misses the Mark

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

NEW DRUG TESTING CHANGES WILL HELP LITTLE

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According to limited news sources, Major League Baseball announced changes to the MLB drug testing program for 2014 March 28.  There was little coverage of this in the media, only a few sources including NBC's Hardball.com, the Los Angeles Times and a few local newspapers which ran stories largely innacurate and incomplete. Which makes us wonder if people really care or are burned out on the subject of #performing enhancing drugs (#PEDs) and drug testing in baseball.



News sources like the Los Angeles Times report general  player happiness with the new plan, of which  the main feature considered by most is the added 30 game suspension (from 50 games to 30 games) for a first conviction. The problem is that if the tests are lacking it doesn't matter how many days the suspension; players will not be caught if these tests cannot detect the designer drugs (like the most popular one for testosterone) players have been using of late which are said to be undetectable to current MLB drug tests. There was a reported upgrade in the test for #HGH (#human growth hormone), as only the Hardball article even bothered to consider, but   nothing to address the testosterone, which besides being undetectable is also said to be gone from ones system within hours after  use.  On top of that the test for testosterone was noted to be given as little as once to each player once during the entire season, last year, and we see nothing changed
there. 



Note that were were ZERO suspensions last year on the major league level after only 5 the previous year(two against the San Francisco Giants players).  Baseball Commissioner Selig and MLB will tell you that this is because baseball is cleaner now, but we see it as because baseball testing has still not caught up to the players'  designer drugs, particularly the testosterone. The man perhaps most knowledgeable of PEDs and who went to jail for dispensing them himself, has admitted, himself that baseball has lagged behind and even suggested the appropriate test for testosterone. To our knowledge, still nothing as been done.As a result you see World Series in recent years being affected by players likely using PEDs. San Francisco, Detroit and Boston all likely benefitted from drug use; one player, Jhonny Peralta was allowed back for the playoffs with Detroit after a mid season drug suspension, only to .417 in the playoffs, perhaps single-handedly knocking out the Oakland A's from the playoffs.  Note also players well into the latter stages of their careers recently getting huge contracts based on stats likely inflated by drug use, in our opinion (and should be anyone's opinion when one looks at the unlikely stats ala Barry Bonds achieving sudden late career success. Then there are the younger players, like Peralta, who don't have track records to compare.


 In reacting to the new drug laws ,   players interviewed , such as Manager Bob Melvin and Jed Lowrie of the Oakland As,  seemed to express positive reactions, noting , again, the lengthened suspension. No comment from the San Francisco Giants.  Certainly players who are still using testosterone will be happy, as they   will  not have to worry about 80 games or 50 games since they will likely never be found out.

 According to the article in Hardball.com,

'The enhanced testing procedures
  • The number of in-season random urine collections will more than double beginning in the 2014 season, from 1,400 total tests to to 3,200;
  • Blood collections for hGH detection will increase to 400 random collections per year, in addition to the 1,200 mandatory collections conducted during Spring Training;
  • Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry tests will be randomly performed on at least one specimen from every player. Basically, this is an enhanced analysis of blood samples which are considered more effective in detecting hGH in blood and are tests endorsed by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The enhanced punishment
  • A first-time violation of the Joint Drug Program will now result in an unpaid 80-game suspension, increased from 50 games.  A player’s second violation will result in an unpaid 162-game suspension, increased from 100 games.  A third violation will result in a permanent suspension from Baseball.
  • A suspension of 162 games will result in 183 days worth of pay docking, to account for the fact that players are paid baed on a 183-day schedule as opposed to being paid per game. This was implemented in reaction to Alex Rodriguez still receiving some pay this year despite a 162-game ban.
  • Every Player whose suspension for a performance-enhancing substance is upheld will be subject to six additional unannounced urine collections, and three additional unannounced blood collections, during every subsequent year of his entire career.
MORE: To read the full summary of the MLB-MLBPA joint drug program modifications, click here'


 The hardball article goes on:

'There are also some advantages to players under the new system. Specifically, if a player tests positive, he can argue to an arbitrator that his use of PEDs was not intended to enhance performance. This changes things from the “zero tolerance” policy which previously existed and under which someone faced first-time discipline even if their PED use was accidental.

 
Many anti-doping experts already viewed Major League Baseball as having the toughest drug testing regime in all of U.S. team sports. This only increases baseball’s lead in this regard.
It does, however, present some reasons for concern. As we at HBT argued this morning, the playoff ban for those players who tested positive and have already served their entire suspensions seems somewhat draconian and will result in harsher penalties for players on winning teams than those on losing teams. It also punishes innocent players on playoff teams in ways the previous system did not before. Moreover, merely adding games to first and second offenses may make everyone feel like the system is tougher, but it must not be assumed that the same basic incentive to cheat — if a player can get away with it, it could mean millions of dollars — will always persist. We execute murderers yet murder still occurs.'

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Friday, March 28, 2014

BASEBALL IS BACK - GET 'SOLD OUT' GIANTS TICKETS only $10

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- and against the hated Dodgers No. 1 Rival no less!


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They've purportedly sold out the past 150+  games but you can -amazingly - get tickets NOW
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INSTANT REPLAY BIG NEWS
Baseball season is back.  The big news this season will be   the instant replay that will finally make it into this last bastion of major league sports  after being a big part of football for many years .  Teams awill be  given one option per game to challenge   umpire  calls.  If they get the call reversed in a team's favor, they are allowed a second such challenge.


NO CHANGES IN DRUG TESTING*
The 'bad news' for baseball purists is that there was no tightening of baseball's PED testing
for the new season.  As last year, testing is given as little as one time during a season.
With designer drugs' ability to leave the system quickly and no new advanced tests,
players using such PEDs  will likely continue to skate free and rack up big numbers -
while pulling down escalating salaries.(*The day after this writing MLB did make changes
to baseball drug testing and penalties for convictions, however, from our understanding
these new modifications don't amount to a hill of beans.See updated blog, above

To the best of our knowledge no players were suspended from MLB last season,
after five were suspended the prior season including two San Francisco Giants
Commissioner's office will point to this as evidence that baseball has cleaned up,
but, in fact, nothing in the drug testing has changed  - and we know from the prior
year when the few players WERE caught by simply being stupid and not following
'the plan.' Former steroid lord Victor Conte calls those players ' dumb and dumber
for not getting away with such a beatable test.  The Biogenesis fiasco in Miami was not
a matter of players being caught by drug testing but the commissioner's office paying off
a disgruntled employee of  Tony Bosch  - thereby getting Bosch to name names.
There were some 20 players there who passed baseball's tests in 2012 so we imagine at
probably a lot more around the country who continue to use. Just look at the world series
teams the last three years and you will note aberrations  in players numbers - eg older players
suddenly raising numbers  after down years. We can name names but we won't at this time.
We've been over this many times in these pages.


Much like the world at large, living in an unreal universe of genetically modified food and
supplents we put into our bodies ,  we approach a time when our lives will be fully artificially run by comp uters-robots-drones.Why should people care about some drugs in the system.  Performs lip synch to computer-refined vocal tracks. Why not ball players get a little help, too? 


PLAYERS SALARIES THROUGH THE ROOF
Players are now signing 10 year contracts into their 30s for tens of millions of dollars. Take the most
recent one, Miguel Cabrera of Detroit, signing for just under $300 million for 10 years.
He'll be 42 at the end of that contract and likely in a figurehead position at that point just to fill
out his contract , long after the body gave out. But, who's to say that  a little 'help' might keep a
player going a  few extra years. It worked for Barry Bonds, who played to age 42 with some of
his best years at the end. That's why the players take the drugs - to extend their playing day (with
greater performance) .  Perhaps MLB  is all too aware of this and thereby teams are willing
 to sign players to longer contracts knowing the 'effectiveness'  of such PEDs in not only
improving player performances but extending careers. (But then, there are those players who
suddenly break down as we've seen this season with the Giants and other teams...  Not to say it's cause and effect,


'NO NAME'  A's May Be Stronger Than Higher-Salaried Giants

No longer does money necessarily buy success. Witness last year's Yankees not finishing the playoffs- or the Dodgers for that matter, getting cut down two rungs below the finals, Then
you have a low-salaried team like Oakland, finally playing up to it's 'Money Ball'
reputation, nearly going all the way while their cross-Bay rivals, the San Francisco Giants-
it's team salary $100 million higher than the A's - not even making the playoffs. Perhaps
Giant 'strategy' of over-paying and  keeping players too long is taking it's toll now, as well
as, perhaps , the affects of aging and so-called- magic coming off the bloom.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Imagine Today's Players Working Odd Jobs During Off-season?

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STAN MUSIAL selling Christmas Trees during the off-season



Imagine Today's Players Working Odd Jobs During Off-season?


Can you imagine buying a used car from Brandon Phillips?


How about going to buy a Christmas Tree from Miguel Cabrera? Insurance from Derek Jeter?


Need a suit for your buddy's wedding? Your salesman, Clayton Kershaw, would be happy to help you pick out something that's stylish yet tasteful.

For as absurd as the above scenarios sound, it was a way of life for major league players of years past, who weren't making the kind of money that even borderline major league players pull down in a season today.

In 2012, the average major league salary was just over $3.2 million, with the minimum salary sitting at nearly a half-million dollars, $480,000 per season, according to ESPN.

Making that sort of money allows today's player to make baseball a year-round job, training and working out during the offseason.

Without question, the ability to train year-round has something to do with the increased size and strength of today's player as compared to those who came before them—but it demands that some questions be asked that simply can never be answered.


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How much better would Stan Musial have been if he didn't need to sell Christmas trees during his time off? 

What about Roy Campanella, the Hall of Fame backstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers?
How good could he have been—and how much better would the Dodgers pitching staff have been as a result—if Campanella could have worked with those pitchers during the winter instead of running his liquor store in Harlem?

In 1966, 20-year-old Jim Palmer helped lead the Baltimore Orioles to a World Series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Less than a month later, Palmer was back at work—folding clothes, not firing fastballs, as he told Andrew Keh of the New York Times:
“I was the youngest player to ever throw a shutout in a World Series. Next thing I know, I am selling men’s clothes at Hamburgers.”

Would Palmer, who went on to win three American League Cy Young Awards and be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, have been better had he been able to focus on pitching instead of clothing in the offseason?

How would today's major league player handle having to work a "regular job" as well as their high-profile one—and more importantly, how would that impact their production on the field?


White Ford and Yogi Berra cut from different cloth than today's ball players

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

ALEX RODRIGUEZ FINALLY GETS HIS DAY IN COURT - ON TV's 60 MINUTES

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ALEX RODRIGUEZ FINALLY GETS HIS DAY IN COURT -  ON TV's 60 MINUTES

Alex Rodriquez never did get the trial he probably
deserved. So, his case went before TV's 60 Minutes
Sunday night,  January 12.

Rodriquez has sued the Commissioner of baseball
calling his suspension of 211 games (later
reduced a still whopping 162) 'a witchhunt.'


When Selig is questioned by 60 Minutes whether Rodriquez
is being 'singled out' Selig simply replies
that Rodriquez'actions were 'beyond comprehension,'
without giving specifics.
Well, there certainly was no trial and
not a whole lot of justice as we could see it.


Now, mind you, we're not defending Rodriquez purported
use of PEDs, by any teams; in fact, we're vehemently against
their use , which we feel has been the ruination of baseball today.


It is our belief that Commissioner Selig,
who appears to be  a very nice man, personally, never
was able to control performance enhancing
drugs in baseball. The problem has gone on
probably as long as Selig has been commissioner -almost 
two decades-
and doesn't seem to have improved, though
he tells us that  he is now proud to have 
'the strictest drug policy in all major sports.'


As far as singling people out, others, such
as Barry Bonds, have tried to obstruct justice.
In fact Bonds was even convicted in his court
case NOT for using steroids but for OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE.
Others like Rafael Palmeiro lied under oath
during the Mitchell Hearings.
As for Rodriquez, guilty or not guilty as he
may be of steroid use there were no court hearings
of which we know.  If the man wants to appeal
that group (Biogenesis) conviction, he should be
allowed a fair trial.


With the commissioner's reign coming to an end
he no doubt wanted to finally put an end to
what has ruined baseball in the eyes of many,
including our own. He thought he could pick
on one man, Rodriquez, and scare off everyone else.
By so doing, Rodriquez has had to ratchet
up his case and say some of things that probably
should have been saved for the court room. What's 
had to come out in the media, instead, has probably
infuriated Selig, but it's his own fault for the willy nilly
way he has handled PEDs in baseball.


Sure, there's a good chance that Rodriquez
used steroids but just because he's the 'golden boy'
big name  of the 20 or so Florida lab cases, he shouldn't\
have been singled out with a stiffer penalty
(players normally get 50 games for one PED
infraction and 100 for two). 


Rodriquez, to our knowledge, has not been
personally convicted of PED usage. He was 
just one of many whose name was turned over by the Biogenesis
lab in Florida, after its owner , Tony Bosch,
was ratted on by a disgruntled employee. 
As Bosch feared for his life he came forward
to major league baseball.  There was no
court case for Bosch, either. He could be
lying for all we know. 


Selig has approached the whole matter in
a very unscientific manner. As the lawyer we 
believe him to be, he should know better,
innocence until proven guilty


And, as far as Selig being proud to have
the 'best drug testing' in baseball, there
wasn't a single PED conviction at the major league
lever this past season, to our knowledge. 
Don't tell us , Mr Selig , that the problem
is cleaned up, that nobody is still using.
Your most recently updated drug policy 
barely called for a single testing during
the regular season (2013) after testing
was only given during the preseason during
prior years - this after a decade and dozens
of PED convictions, including the Mitchell
report findings (At least the government
did a formal hearing, from which little
was done by MLB, thereafter, to change 
things , to our knowledge. What would stop
players from continuing to use PEDs -
especially the new designer, now undetectable
ones -  when they knew they were
unlikely to be tested more than once 
during the season-and normally with warning
(the latest testosterone drug can be out of
one's system and undetectable within hours)?



The main reason we make an issue of
the Rodriquez-Selig case is that it brings
to a head what's been going on for years,
mishandling of drugs in baseball to the
ruination of the game. Sure, some newer
fans, especially, have only grown up to
see baseball played one way, on steroids.
But many of us vintage fans remember when
the Golden Era of baseball when games were
played on a level playing field.  Living 
in the Bay Area and having to see an otherwise mediocre San 
Francisco Giants team, sans PEDS,
 steal two World Series in three years
with THREE CONVICTED PLAYERS doing enough
on their own to put the Giants over the top has been difficult.
(At least we had a team across the Bay, in Oakland, with only
one KNOWN user.)


ALEX RODRIGUEZ  GETS HIS TRIAL ON TV's 60 MINUTES



Friday, November 1, 2013

PLAYOFFS POST-MORTEM , WORLD SERIES and PEDs



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PLAYOFFS POST-MORTEM , WORLD SERIES and PEDs


Oakland A's maverick GM, Billy Beane- the so-called 'Money Ball' guy -  says that getting  into the World Series is a 'crap shoot.'  He also said, a few years back, that managers don't make a difference in winning and losing baseball games, this after hiring one Bob Geren, who 'led' Oakland to four lost, sub .500 seasons before fans revolted and Beane finally fired Geren and hired Bob Melvin, who has had two remmarkable, winning seasons.



And, after Detroit and Los Angeles started off like they were going to go all the way to the World Series, the truly better teams seemed to win out in their 6 game series. There may be other factors involved, too, such as PEDs - we still believe any number of players were using during the playoffs, as reasoned in previous posts. Then there were factors like injuries to Miguel Cabrera and Dodger's Matt Kemp that had their teams scuffling a bit.  Nonetheless, seeing a team like Detroit go out and throw four no-hitters in a row through 5 innings, we would have expected more out of them. PEDs or not, Boston was too smart for Detroit, playing intelligent, scrappy 'old school' ball, making pitchers work and getting Detroit's best  (Scherzer, Verlander, Sanchez) out of the game and taking advantage of Detroit's weaker relief corp.  Hard to say that Boston doesn't dabble in PEDs itself; when you've got one suspect like Big Poppy - popping them out  when a player of his ilk would normally be on  the way out - there are usually others (the 'cockroach theory') like him nearby. The truly best teams won their series this time, and the far majority of the time, especially in the longer seven game series.  The San Francisco Gaints were an anomoly in 2010 and 2012 due to unfortunate (in our opinion) mitigating (non baseball) circumstances.




As for St. Louis, one wonders how they came up with all those 95+ mph pitchers , but , again, PEDs or not, they managed to combine smart ball with power ball which Detroit did  not.  Glad to see no immenent signs of PEDs on the Dodgers but they certainly lack in the smart ball department, leaving way too many on base  and making poor managerial moves; don't be surprised to see Dodger manager Mattingly finally gone by next year. Here's where managing could have made a big difference. The Dodgers have the talent - they've spent enough for it - but bonehead moves denied them when they had many opportunities to score and beat the weaker hitting St. Louis team. St. Louis, on the other hand, is run more like Boston, with a smart   manager in Methaney and staff. St. Louis has a winning tradition.




WORLD SERIES

While PEDs are still a scourge to baseball - there will be, no doubt , any number of players taking advantage of baseball's NO DRUG POLICY  for the   series (drug tests are not given in the playoffs and World series and this is one reason you sometimes see unlikely numbers put up as we saw with the normally weak-hitting San Francisco Giants in the 2010 and 2012 playoffs and Series), we're at least glad to see the better two teams in there in the Red Sox and Cardinals.  It should be a good , close series, likely to go six  or seven games, unless Boston can't handle St. Louis pitching; they were able to adjust to Detroit's so we think they will do similary with St. Louis