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Saturday Notebook: Biogenesis, The End, Misdiagnoses, The Undesirables, and More

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Today's Saturday Notebook looks at how MLB is handling the Biogenesis scandal in the wrong way, Ramon Ortiz's heartbreaking reaction to injuring his elbow, the Nationals joining the Twins in mishandling injuries, how the Mets and Triple-A Las Vegas are a match that neither wanted to make, and more.


I'm not going to preach too long here in my introductory monologue, but I do want to offer up a comment on some big MLB news that happened earlier this week. Perhaps the only thing that could be bigger than the MLB Draft on Thursday was the announcement that MLB is planning on suspending around 20 players for connections to Biogenesis, a Miami-based clinic that has been recently shut down for providing PEDs to those athletes. Some of the biggest names involved include Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.

A big key to obtaining the names from Biogenesis was created by MLB striking a deal with the head of Biogenesis, Anthony Bosch. In exchange for legal safety (and perhaps some cash as well) Bosch handed over his records to commissioner Bud Selig and Co, and in doing so, has created the biggest crackdown on PEDs since the Mitchell Report.

Except... MLB got it all wrong. Again.

Flash back to the Mitchell Report. Although it also provided suggestions to Bud Selig as to how MLB could clean up its steroid problem, the document's focus was far more prominent in regards to naming current and former ballplayers that had used PEDs. In doing so, the Mitchell Report was used more to accuse and shame baseball players, instead of solving the real problem, which was how and why players got into steroids in the first place.

Back to Biogenesis, the exact same thing is happening now. The plan appears to be to name those that were connected to Biogenesis, instead of researching how a similar incident can be avoided in the future. We could even go a step further and say that MLB's plan to suspend some or all of these players for 100 games - equal to a 2nd PED suspension even though it would be the first for many - is based more on revenge for Ryan Braun beating his positive test back in 2011-2012 and public shaming than it is on cleaning up the game. The player's union will certainly not take kindly to having its players suspended for longer than is allowed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and getting revenge on a player for embarrassing MLB due to identifying a simple chain of custody breach is petty.

Instead of making examples of its highest profile players and using them as an excuse that they are doing sufficient work, MLB could achieve so much more by learning how players get involved in steroids and shutting down those avenues, instead of suspending people left and right. In the past, it was clear that 10-game suspensions weren't enough to deter players from using PEDs. Currently the 50- and 100- game suspensions haven't been enough to stop players from looking to gain an edge. The solution is not to ramp up the penalties even more or to suspend every suspect in sight. After all, these suspensions are only going to the worst cheaters, as in the ones that were dumb enough (or associated with someone dumb enough) to get caught. Lance Armstrong used PEDs, and he continued to use even while his teammates and rivals were suspended, because he hid it far better than everyone else. There should be no doubt that MLB is populated with Lance Armstrongs as well, and two examples of players that are not this formerly champion cyclist and master of secrets are A-Rod and Braun.

MLB can achieve so much more in this fight against PEDs by learning why players are driven to cheat, how they learn to cheat, where they receive their drugs, etc, which would eventually aid in preventing players from becoming the next Armstrong. Unfortunately, they seem far more content with catching Lance than stopping Players A, B, and C from becoming Lance.

  • Ramon Ortiz is a former Twin and he is one half of the tandem (the other being Sidney Ponson) of the epitome of Terry Ryan's failed signings of free agent starting pitchers that comes to mind of Twins fans. His career ERA is 4.95 and has been a replacement level pitcher since 2005. Plus, he is the reason why Twins ushers are not allowed to talk with members of the media.* Regardless, it was still heartbreaking to witness his reaction after injuring his elbow pitching for the Blue Jays against San Diego on Monday. Ortiz delivered a pitch to home plate and appeared to slip on the mound, and immediately stood up and bent over while putting his hands on his knees. He then turned around and slammed his glove into the ground with his left (non-throwing) hand and then began crying behind the mound. Even with his mediocre stats, you had to feel for the guy as it appeared like he knew his career was finished with that one pitch. Additionally, Munenori Kawasaki is seriously gaining points as an A+ teammate as he was the first to the mound after Ortiz was hurt, picked up Ortiz's glove and held it with genuine concern as to what was happening.

* An usher talked with a Twin Cities scribe about his/her distaste of Ramon Ortiz. The scribe later wrote an article and quoted the usher as a "Twins official." That did not go over well.

  • Quite a few of us Twins fans rant about the inability of the medical staff to correctly diagnosis injuries and/or correctly identify the period of time a player will be out with said possibly misdiagnosed injury. Earlier this season, we saw Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal try the Twins' tried and true method of rest and rehab for his UCL in the elbow which was torn at the end of last season, but he ended up getting Tommy John surgery for it prior to this season and will miss all of 2013. Now we have evidence that the Nationals training staff is possibly just as incompetent as the Twins'. Thomas Boswall of the Mercury News has an article ranting about multiple injuries to star players of the Nationals over the past couple years, only to see the players avoid the disabled list with disastrous results. In fact, Boswell attributes the (then) 28-29 record of the team as being the fault of multiple players trying to play through the pain. This has always been a sore subject for me with the Twins, and it sounds just as bad with the Nationals as second baseman Danny Espinosa has played most of the season with a broken wrist, Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos each rushed back from hamstring pulls, and Bryce Harper tried to play through multiple injuries. I don't understand why teams think that playing through an injury is beneficial to the team, and I wish more people would bring to their attention that it's not a good strategy.
  • Speaking of identifying how much a player is hurt by playing through an injury, Jeff Zimmermann of FanGraphs is trying to do that very thing with a new tool. It's current title of "Position Players Playing Through Injury Finder" is rather cumbersome, so he is currently accepting alternate names for the metric. So far, the options are HURT (Hitter's Under-performance from Recent Trauma), PAIN, (Player's Abiding Injury Number), SPRAIN (Subtracted Performance Runs After Injury Notice), F-HIM (Forecaster of Hidden Injury Metric), and my personal favorite, MMMBOP (MiniMalized Mashing Because Of Pain). That last one is not a joke. Sort of.
  • You may not have been aware of this during the offseason, but several major league teams swapped Triple-A affiliates. The Twins were somewhat at risk of being one of these teams, but they ended up renewing their contract with the Rochester Red Wings. The teams that did switch ended up being the Mets and the Blue Jays. The Jays originally had their Triple-A club in Las Vegas, whereas the Mets were in Buffalo. The Buffalo Bisons were having complaints similar to the Red Wings in which they had fielded losing teams for several years in a row. Not being content with the product the Mets had given them, they jumped at the chance to sign with the Blue Jays (who also wanted to have a team closer to Toronto for their minor league players). This left the Las Vegas 51s, the undesirable Triple-A team, with the New York Mets, the undesirable major league team. You see, the 51s are part of the Pacific Coast League, which is notorious as being very hitter-friendly. Cashman Field in Las Vegas has many things wrong with it. The hot weather of Las Vegas dries out the field and effectively turns it into the Metrodome in the AstroTurf days, except fly balls also zoom out of the park like it's Coors Field. Also, Cashman Field does not have an indoor batting cage, meaning players need to hit outdoors in the heat if they want extra practice. As for the Mets, they are undesirable because of their mostly barren farm system and the micromanaging of CEO Jeff Wilpon, who built that reputation back when the Mets' Triple-A team was the Norfolk Tides. You can head over to the Wall Street Journal to learn more about the match made in hell between these two teams.
  • Finally, our weekly collection of GIFs, videos, and tweets. Remember, click the GIFs if they don't play immediately when you hover your mouse over them.
  1. Chris Herrmann hit his first career home run earlier this week but had some difficulty getting the ball back. Well, until he made a swap for the baseball. Don't listen to Blame Mauer Bot, everyone loves Joe Mauer. <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Chris Herrmann said it took some convincing by Twins to retrieve his first HR ball. Signed Mauer ball got it done. "Everybody loves Joe."</p>&mdash; Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) <a href="">June 4, 2013</a></blockquote<script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>
  2. Last year, a friend of mine participated in the Target Field mascot race as Bullseye. Being a track runner in high school and college, he easily beat the rest of the field and attempted to chase his own tail before crossing the finish line. To everyone else in the ballpark, it looked like he was hotdogging his victory and T.C. put him in his place by knocking him over. Unfortunately a Target executive was in attendance that game and he wasn't pleased with the actions on the field. This time, Bullseye lost track of where he (she?) was on the field and ran straight into the fence in foul territory of right field. No word yet on if the fence was disciplined by Target for the spectacle.

Just as good is that Babe did a faceplant at the finish line.


3. We've seen some weird batting stances over the years, such as Tony Batista, Aaron Rowand, Brandon Phillips, and more. The latest claim to fame in the batter's box goes to Coastal Carolina's Alex Buccilli.

4. Earlier this season it was Jordany Valdespin with a HBPiD, and now it's this player from Cal State Fullerton. (Use context clues to figure out what HBPiD means... or just watch the video).

5. Finally, this not-really-my-type-but-still-attractive female Royals fan attempted to get a baseball during the game, but was instead sniped by a kid. While her reaction is priceless (and admittedly out of context as she actually returned to her seat laughing about losing the ball to a child), the reactions of everyone else in the clip is just as amusing. Yes, from the dudebro with the wristband fist-pounding the air twice, to the weird woman chewing her ballpark food as she appears from behind the man in the blue t-shirt, to the little girl that is blissfully ignorant of her surroundings.