First BALCO; Now Biogenesis

The PED issue in sports is heating up again. MLB and the Feds are investigating a Florida clinic, Biogenesis, that allegedly provided stuff on the banned list to a clientele of baseball players. At first, the “marquee names” associated with the Biogenesis investigation were Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and Gio Gonzalez; later Ryan Braun’s name surfaced too but his name, allegedly, is on a different list than the other MLB players. Naturally, much has been said and written on this matter. I would like to make something clear:

    I do not know – and I have no inside information from any of the investigators – regarding the credibility of the “evidence” at hand.

    I seriously doubt that the vast majority of the writers and commentators on this issue have any reason to assert that they “know” what happened with regard to Biogenesis and its alleged client list.

    Therefore, it is important for writers/commentators to divulge their personal beliefs as to the “guilt or innocence” of the players and the medical folks involved in this matter as part of the written report or the oral commentary. Without that disclosure, the audience might take assertions as facts when indeed they are not.

Personally, I look at the players named in this investigation and put them into two categories for the moment:

    Category 1: Two players, Melky Cabrera and Alex Rodriguez, are known PED users. Cabrera served a 50-game suspension last year after flunking a drug test; A-Rod admitted using PEDs a decade ago. A third player, Ryan Braun, belongs in this group because he too failed a drug test but “beat the rap” because of a procedural error in the testing regimen.

      For players in Category 1, my predilection is to wait for more evidence to surface that will confirm personal belief that they are indeed PED users.

    Category 2: Other players who have never been linked to PED use and whose names are linked in some way to Biogenesis such as Gio Gonzales, Jhonny Peralta and Francisco Cervilli deserve a greater degree of “wait and see”.

Through all the twists and turns of the PED saga – from BALCO through Dr. Galea and on to Biogenesis – I have thought that the punishments for players who failed drug test were far too lenient. I continue to hold to that position. Now, it seems that at least one major league baseball player agrees with me.

Matt Holiday – Cardinals’ outfielder – did a radio interview on Sirius XM and said he now thinks that the penalty for using steroids, HGH, or other banned substances should be “two strikes and you are out”. Here is Holiday’s suggested “sentencing protocol” as reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“I’d go first time you miss a full season, 162 games you’re out. And then the second time I think you are suspended for a lifetime with the eligibility after two years maybe to apply for reinstatement. That’s what I would do. I feel like that’s pretty harsh but I think that’s what we need. I think we need harsher penalties.”

Matt Holiday is a solid MLB player; he has been an All-Star more than a couple of times and won a batting title once. I find it very interesting that a player of his stature is willing to speak out so strongly on this issue and I wonder if that is an indication that there exists a serious dialog/debate within the MLB player community on the issue of PEDs and how to police their usage.

There is more to come from the Biogenesis saga; we are not yet near the time when personal opinions should be cast in concrete. Nonetheless, Matt Holiday’s thoughts deserve consideration by fans, the MLBPA and MLB.

Speaking of Matt Holiday reminds me that Cardinals’ ace, Chris Carpenter, is injured and will likely miss the entire 2013 season. Carpenter will be 38-years old at the end of April and has missed all or substantially all of three full baseball seasons during his career. Should he miss all of 2013 and try a comeback next year, he will be almost 39-years old; the odds are against him. Notwithstanding those odds, Carpenter has already been the Comeback Player of the Year twice during his career.

Carpenter’s record to date is 144-94 with an ERA of 3.76; however, in post-season games, his record is 10-4 with an ERA of 3.00. Should this be the end of his career, those numbers represent a high level of effectiveness.

Sticking with baseball, it seems as if the Phillies had a goal for this offseason to “get older” with regard to their pitching staff. Consider these acquisitions:

    Aaron Cook: He is 33 years old. In his last 3 seasons (two in Colorado and one in Boston) his record is 13-29 and in no season was his ERA lower than 5.08.

    Juan Cruz: He is 34 years old. In his last two seasons (one in Tampa and one in Pittsburgh) he logged 84.1 innings of work in 99 games earning a total of 6 saves.

    Rodrigo Lopez: He is 37 years old. Last season he appeared in 1 game for the Cubs but was sent to Triple-A Iowa for the balance of the season. With Iowa last year, his record was 2-5 with an ERA of 5.28.

Looks to me as if the Phillies are mining some low-grade ore here…

Finally, here is a comment from syndicated columnist, Norman Chad, as he prepared to watch the Super Bowl and Beyonce’s halftime extravaganza:

“Normally I would watch her, but I’m going to use the extra-long Super Bowl intermission to kidnap Jay- Z and rap to him profanely in pig Latin as payback for his lifetime of graphic, violent lyrics.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • rugger9  On February 10, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    The PED stuff will not go away as long as the short term gain justifies the long term risks to health. So, to ensure that the risk-reward comparison is tilted firmly toward staying clean, I would implement Matt Holliday’s suggestion.

    In addition, I would look at being able to claw back any contract money on the grounds of fraud. One would have to address the problem of owners pointing fingers to save $$$ on bad decisions, as well as who gets the cash clawed back in this way. One could certainly see the Mets, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox owners among others being tempted by such a system after overpaying for wretched performance on the field. The other problem would be the proof necessary for deciding that PEDs were involved, when they were used, etc., in a manner that protects players as well from bogus claims.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm


      Given the kinds of checks and balances you suggest here, I can agree with the path you have laid out here.

      • john  On February 11, 2013 at 1:52 pm

        What if all the money on the contract is forfeited for the duration of the ban (1 year, then all of it), BUT it has to go to the general fund of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? Everyone loses!

        • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm


          Your comment sums up the guiding spirit of this blog – – seeking a way for everyone to lose.

          Well done!

          • rugger9  On February 11, 2013 at 3:22 pm

            Excellent idea from John. It would certainly cool the heels of Melky, for example , who not only dabbled but also put together an elaborate scheme to shift the blame. That’s why he’s persona non grata in the SF clubhouse, and others who were busted are not.

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