Monday, September 03, 2012

What You've Missed (and some testosterone)

I know you've missed it, because just look at these pictures: YOU WEREN'T THERE! (and neither was anyone else.)

August 19th, 2012

August 19th: Announced attendance: 20,130
Actual attendance: 10,000, maybe.

August 20, 2012

August 20th: Announced attendance: 10,274
Actual attendance: 4,000, at most.
August 22, 2012

August 22nd: Announced attendance: 16,557
Actual attendance: 10,000, maybe.

That's how it's been, even with the A's doing some crazy surging, has been pathetically in the attendance field. Yesterday's game, against the (pathetic) Red Sox who always draw a crowd, which was also breast cancer day, was announced at 25,314. I'd guess it was closer to 20,000. But that's ok, those of us that were there got to see this:

That's right, the A's swept the Red Sox. Yes they did. So the Red Sox suck this year. A sweep of the Sox is still a sweep.

Since it was boob day, a day I'd love to miss but always catch, I'll take this opportunity to talk about hormones. So far this year, five players have received suspensions for banned substances- read: steroids. Three of them were on teams I pay attention two: Freddy Galvis of the Phillies, Melky Cabrera of the Giants, and Bartolo Colon of your Oakland Athletics. It started during spring training when the A's signed Manny Ramirez who supposedly retired last year after facing a 100 game suspension for his second positive test. He retired rather than take his lumps, then unretired to take up baseball again. After his suspension was up, he played in the minors, but it didn't really work out (surprisingly). Then came Freddy Galvis, a rookie second baseman for the Phils. The 22 year old is tiny: 5'10 and 154 pounds and was just awesome in the field until he got some crazy fracture in his back. Watching him was really fun. He hit the DL and then popped positive, and denied knowledge of taking the steroids. Honestly, it was hard to believe this guy was taking anything to make himself bigger. He is really really small, and certainly didn't have the puffy Bonds look, or even much muscle to speak of. But the substance he tested positive for, Clostebol, is different: it's good for keeping the body healthy when under stress. It makes the body stronger without a increase of muscle mass. Which explains Galvis's increase in extra-base hits this year.

Then came Marlon Byrd (who cares) and after that, Melky Cabrera. I don't really care about the Giants that much, but they're local, and it was hard to miss all of the hype around "The Melk Man." Hugely popular in San Francisco, winner of the All Star MVP award, Melky actually copped to taking testosterone. Melky did also not have the super bulked up look of the anabolic steroid user. More likely the use of testosterone was helping him "with the regeneration process of...tissues; [and the faster] healing and recovery of injuries." Not bad, right? Then there was a scandal about Melky's lawyers trying to cover it up with a fake website, and then there was a *lot* of sadness from the Giants organization. Or at least a lot of sadness thrown about. Stay tuned...

Finally, the same week as the Melky news, there was Bartolo Colon. Bartolo was certainly having a surprisingly good year for the A's, and may indeed be a large part of their success. He was the oldest guy on the pitching staff, by far, and this is probably the end of his career.  I mean, who would take him after popping for steroids at 39? Stay tuned... Colon has already had one controversial comeback with the Yankees, after a procedure in 2010 done in the Dominican Republic by a doctor reputed to use a banned substance: human growth hormone. The procedure was done for free, supposedly HGH free. Colon did well for the Yankees at the bargain price of 900,000 dollars. Bartolo showed up this year 5'11" and 265 lbs, quickly nicknamed by THB "the fat fuck," and was hardly the kind of guy you'd expect on steroids. When he pitched poorly, we joked that his stem cells wore out. If he was bulked up, you wouldn't be able to tell under all that fat.  Once again, though, the substance was testosterone. Victor Conte of BALCO fame reminds us that testosterone is a fast acting assistant for tissue repair and healing and recovery," just what an old fat dude needs.

So this was all well and good. I watched the game after Melky was suspended. The Giants really looked sad. I believed it. Then, earlier this week, the Giants welcomed back Guillermo Mota. Guillermo Mota was suspended once in 2006 while pitching for the Mets, and again at the beginning of this year, while playing for the Giants. So the Giants, when signing him, knew he had already violated the MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Okay, they gave the guy a second chance, and he helped them win the 2010 World Series. Can't blame them. But then he popped again, for the second time. He served his 100 game suspension. Right before it was up, Melky was caught. The Giants put on a big show about not knowing and being sad and crushed and devastated, not just because they would lose, but because they Don't Like Cheating. And then Guillermo Mota's suspension was up and he came back and pitched for the very same Giants.

I call bullshit. Just like the teams and MLB knew all the players were on drugs during the anabolic steroid era, this fancy new Program is more bullshit. The teams know, MLB knows, and they don't care. The players are suspended without pay during their suspensions, which means the teams actually gain money when the players are out. Nice, right? Dave Zirin of Edge of Sports called it in "The Nation" five years ago during the Bonds hearings in Congress:
...we could tell the truth: In the case of Baseball Fans vs. the Anabolic Era, everyone is guilty: not just players but all who were part of the assembly line that put the drugs in their veins. That means coaches, managers, trainers, the compliant media, and even the owners. It also means that a certain former Texas Rangers baseball executive now in the White House [in 2007] who did nothing while his players like José Canseco passed around the juice would get asked questions under the hot lights. And if everyone is complicit, then we could offer an unconditional amnesty to everyone from the last decade and move forward with better education, better testing and better vigilance in Major League clubhouses--a vigilance that cares more about the long-term health of players than whether they look like pro wrestlers.
Clearly no one listened to Zirin. Instead, we're still having trials (Clemens's perury trial just ended) at the taxpayers' expense, while baseball ownership is getting richer as players try to get a competitive edge. I'm pretty sure the owners aren't complaining about getting a competitive edge: just like home runs drew fans to the ballpark, winning teams draw fans to the ballpark. The Phillies, until this year, have been a pretty awesome team and had a run of 250+ sellout crowds. The Giants for the last few years are in contention, to packed stands. The A's, well, I don't know what Lew Woolf wants except more money, and I'm sure he doesn't give a rats ass if his players are using steroids.

I'd like to point out one more piece of bullshit: This story where where Yankees' owner Brian Cashman said he "wasn't surprised" about the positive tests. Both Melky and Colon were former Yankees players and are having better years at their new teams than they did for the Yankees. I agree: the spikes in performance are suspicious, and now make sense with the above information about testosterone. But I'm actaully pretty sure that Brian Cashman is not surprised because he knows that a large portion of major league players are using the stuff. Or maybe he's not surprised because he knew they were using when they were on the Yankees.

Last thing, really. Players themacinator wouldn't be surprised to see test positive this year:

Coco Crisp: having the best year at age 32 since he was 25, by far, even with less games played due to bizarre injuries and illnesses. Also wouldn't be surprised if the A's knew (and denied) knowing about it, since they made the bizarre decision to make him the one piece of their team they wouldn't part with this year, rather than the obviously superior Josh Willingham.

Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz: Before going down with a foot injury, Chooch had surpassed most of his offensive totals for any previous year, only in 95 games. Sure, catchers mature late, but this was his 7th year, and at age 33, I'm not sure I buy that. More interesting is that he is arbitration eligible.

Ryan Braun: Okay, I actually don't think he'll test positive this year, but I'm certain he's using. Clearly he was using last year and got out of the suspension through a technicality (which is another reason not to believe that MLB cares), and he's even better this year. Why wouldn't he use again? Not gonna get caught.

In closing, I'd like to leave you with this statement. Apply to whichever performance enhancer you'd like:

"We were extremely disappointed to learn of the suspension of YOUR FAVORITE PLAYER for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention & Treatment Program. We fully support Major League Baseball's policy and its efforts to eliminate performance enhancing drugs from our game.  Per the protocol outline by Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement, YOUR FAVORITE TEAM will not comment further on this matter. Wink Wink Nod Nod”


thb said...

THB proposes: the owners get to test the players. if players get caught by MLB, the team loses 3 games in the standings + the pro-rated number of Wins Above Replacement the player earned during the season, and keep the 50 game suspension and after that it is a lifetime ban