The big news earlier this week was that Ryan Braun was suspended for the remainder of the season (65 games) for his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic. To some, this appeared to be a case of getting revenge by MLB after Braun humiliated them by failing a PED test back in 2011 only to beat it by arguing that the chain of custody was broken with his urine sample.
Braun swore by his innocence to the very end, at least until it was revealed that he was involved with Biogenesis. Although he's suspended for the rest of the year, this wasn't that bad of an outcome for Braun as the Brewers have been terrible this year and Braun himself had been injured for a good part of the season.
Regardless, I can't help but think of this blog post I wrote in February 2012, right after it was announced that Braun's appeal of his failed test had been upheld. I titled my post "Get Your Priorities In Order," and the article focused on how MLB's and many fans' collective rage is misdirected at the player that uses steroids, while those that get DUIs and physically and sexually assault other people (in particular the Rays' Josh Lueke*) are mostly exonerated in public.
* To be fair though, it almost seems like the Rays have been punishing Lueke on their own by mostly keeping him stuck in Triple-A this season. Though he has made 11 appearances for the big league club this year, he's been dominating at Durham in 2013 only to be mired down there. Also, it's not like this is an Anthony Slama situation, as Lueke actually throws in the mid-90s and certainly has the stuff to get big league hitters out, provided he doesn't lose his control.
In particular, I think this paragraph that I wrote does a good job of summarizing my annoyance.
What I want is for sports to stop acting like using PEDs is the biggest crime you can possibly commit. When you do that, you’re really only harming yourself, and there’s not even substantial evidence that all steroids make you a better player. Yet if you have a DUI or are charged with a violent crime, you’re risking someone else’s life. That should be treated as being a much bigger deal, but it isn’t. Typically the sport lets the state judicial system handle the punishment, but they shouldn’t be afraid to step in themselves more often, even if the player’s union files a grievance. If a Twins player was caught driving drunk, I’d want him to be suspended to send a message to everyone else on the team, "This is not okay." But that’s never going to happen, because that will never be as big of a travesty as doping, and that’s a damn shame.
The reason I bring this up again is not to beat on Lueke once more, but instead to focus on another reliever in Francisco Rodriguez. Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk reminds us that K-Rod - who was just traded from the Brewers to the Orioles this week - attacked his girlfriend's father in 2010 at Citi Field in New York City. It's also been on record that he beat up his then-girlfriend and also attacked another one of his girlfriends, all in the past couple years. So yeah, Ryan Braun is a disgrace to the sport as his name is plastered all over ESPN and the Internet, but Francisco Rodriguez will be one of the saviors for the Orioles' playoff run.
Becoming a better baseball player through illegitimate means and lying about it is a far worse crime than multiple physical assaults. Glad to see nothing's changed, America.
- Gabe Kapler was a major league outfielder for twelve seasons, including a short period as a coach right in the middle. He discovered while being with the Red Sox that front offices have been evaluating players in a much different manner than the players themselves think, and that it's necessary and beneficial for the athletes to catch up. In particular, he mentions Rusty Greer, who was freaking out over failing to earn an RBI in several weeks. Kapler pointed out now that Greer's misfortune was due to a combination of factors moreso than Greer's supposed inability to hit with a runner in scoring position. It also reminds me of former White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye, who hit 27 homers in 2009. Dye was a free agent in the offseason and he was so certain he'd get a guaranteed contract due to his power, but teams instead focused more on his awful defense (he was one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball) and were only interested in signing him as a DH. Dye disagreed and also was unwilling to take a minor league contract, and he was basically forced out of the league because of his stubbornness to accept himself for what he really was - a decent DH. Kapler isn't saying that players need to be fluent in advanced statistics, but he feels that if players were more conscious of what teams are really evaluating, they would realize that consistently hitting line drives around the ballpark is more important than achieving that .300 batting average.
- Houston's Erik Bedard had an interesting stat line last Saturday. Facing the Seattle Mariners (yeah, the same Mariners that lit up Kevin Correia), Bedard kept the Mariners hitless through 6 1/3 innings. However, Bedard also mixed in 5 walks and ended up leaving the game, being replaced by Jose Cisnero, who walked the second batter he faced and then gave up a 2-run double. The Mariners ended up losing the game 4-2 with Bedard earning the loss. Bedard's stat line is significant because he became just the 9th pitcher since 1901 to pitch at least 6 innings, allow no hits, and get charged with the loss in a game. Although it's rare, the last time this happened was actually 2008 when the Angels' Jered Weaver pitched 6 innings with no hits, but allowed a run in a 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
- Mariano Rivera's farewell tour rages on.
- I wrote a guest post on Twins Daily looking at the Tampa Bay Rays as a trade target with the Twins. I basically looked at only starting pitcher prospects that the Twins could get back in a trade, with my dream target being the major league-ready Chris Archer.
- Next time this team has skydivers, they'll remember to keep the players off the field. (Related note, I remember the Twins having skydivers in the inaugural season and one guy hit the limestone overhang and another had to do a tumble during his landing because he plummeted too fast.)
- This Twins batboy spinning a helmet on his finger reminds me of this guy at college that would always spin his lunch tray on one finger.
- Mental note: Do not sit near Anthony Swarzak during Kiss Cam.
- Less popular ideas to make baseball more interesting: Installing a springboard at 1st base.
- Rays reliever Alex Torres has a nifty new pickoff move he'd like to show you.
- I think the usefulness of those Phiten necklaces is pretty dubious, but it seems like Samuel Deduno has unlocked their magical powers. All you have to do is chew on the necklace while pitching.
- Earlier this season, Twins players ignored Justin Morneau after he hit a home run. The ignorance continues as Clete Thomas doesn't even acknowledge Morneau after scoring a run.
- Finally, and this is my favorite, it's Morneau's ninja slide to score a run against the Angels.