I are sad. - Chip Somodevilla
Your morning recap of yesterday's baseball dispatches.
Ahhhhh... Don't you just love the smell of double standards in the morning?
Tuesday was a pretty massive day on the baseball-news front, as Steroids Debate #3457 raged across the internet with the revelation that there's allegedly been an East Coast version of BALCO operating in South Florida since 2009.
Strap yourselves in for the full recap:
The Big Three
1. Following a three month investigation into PED peddler Biogenesis -- a Miami "anti-aging clinic" that sounds like an arm of the Umbrella Corporation -- the Miami New Times dropped the bombshell yesterday, linking Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandal to the company's more than suspicious activity. Major League Baseball has launched an investigation into the directors of the clinic -- and into their connections with the rest of South Florida clinics -- with the help of the DEA, who I'm sure is just itching to start another war on drugs. That last one went so well. A-Rod and Gonzalez have both denied having anything to do with the clinic, and the drugs Gio is listed as purchasing in the report are not banned substances.
Rodriguez wishes he were so lucky. A-Rod is alleged to have purchased HGH from Biogenesis as early as 2009 and as late as last spring, which throws his whole "I stopped in 2003 with the Rangers" story into disarray. The Yankees are understandably pissed, and are looking for legal loopholes that will allow them to void the remaining five years and $114 million on Rodriguez's contract. Their chances of actually doing so are slim to none, but that hasn't stopped some baseball writers from doing their typical, proverbial Bible-thumping routine of calling for A-Rod's head on a platter. Some even bewailed over the tarnishing of the third baseman's "baseball legacy," which is weird because I thought we were all pretty much agreed that he's a self-obsessed, socially awkward asshole who wouldn't recognize acceptance if it hit him in the hooves. The man has been a pariah since the moment he signed his 10-year, $225 million deal with the Texas Rangers in 2001. This latest story only hardens that perception, does it not? Where's their beef?
Anywho... what's been overlooked so far in the response to the initial report is that the MLB isn't doing half bad in their pursuit to weed out PED users/distributors. Three of the six players listed in the article have been suspended in the last year, and the league has been keeping tabs on the director of Biogenesis -- and his father -- since 2009, when they were tied to Manny Ramirez's first positive test. Also, per the New York Times, MLB's investigation into Melky Cabrera's cover-up plot last season -- his ridiculous, fake website -- led the league back to the clinic yet again. Baseball knew of seedy goings-on at the clinic, they just didn't have that breakthrough piece of evidence they needed until yesterday.
2. In other, sadder news, Nick Johnson opted for retirement yesterday rather than try to work his way back from a lingering wrist injury. Still just 34, Johnson was never able to escape the injury bug, making 10 trips to the disabled list -- five of which were to the 60-day DL -- and missing two whole seasons over a ten-year playing career. The hefty walking machine retires as a .268/.399/.441 hitter with 95 home runs and a 123 OPS+ in his decade of somewhat-healthy baseball. The left-handed slugger never topped 25 home runs in a season but did rack up 70 walks on four different occasions. Johnson will forever go down as another one of those guys who could have been great, if only...
3. The Seattle Mariners finally got the
droids catcher they were looking for, signing former Red Sox, Rays, and Indians' backstop Kelly Shoppach to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. I don't think anyone will be able to convince M's fans that veteran is an upgrade -- or even on par with -- having John Jaso share time with Jesus Montero behind the plate (they lose the platoon option, for one), but Shoppach shouldn't be as terrible as their other option, Ronny Paulino, which should come as some sort of comfort. Fear not, M's fans, the era of Mike Zunino is near. Probably can't get here soon enough though.
The Not-So-Big Three
1. The New York Mets treated Michael Bourn and Scott Boras to dinner in Houston at some point last week, which was nice of them considering they're not going to sign the free-agent outfielder (...if they're smart. Jury's still out!). The Mets remain a serious longshot to sign Bourn, but I guess that doesn't preclude them from taking a long look at him just to be sure that it won't work.
2. The Milwaukee Brewers re-signed shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal, giving the club a veteran option to back up youngster Jean Segura up the middle. Gonzalez was the club's Opening Day shortstop last season but tore his ACL early on and missed all but 24 games. Corey Hart and Mat Gamel also missed significant time with similar knee injuries. I'm not sure if three qualifies as a pattern, but the Brewers should really find a new "knee guy" before Ryan Braun goes down.
3. Speaking of knees, right-hander Javier Vazquez is scheduled to have a minor procedure today to repair damage to his meniscus. The operation is expected to sideline him for only two-three weeks, so he should be in fighting form by the time the WBC comes around in March. If the tournament goes well, expect the Nats to sign him up soon after.
- I never got around to seeing Clint Eastwood's "Trouble With the Curve" because I had heard only terrible things about it. But after reading Joe Posnanski tear the movie apart over 3,000 words -- channelling Roger Ebert reviewing Rob Reiner's "North" -- I kind of want to see it now, which probably isn't the effect he was going for.
- The longest, most epic game of "tag" ever is still going, 23 years later. Awesome.
- This is Lance Armstrong doing Radiohead's "Creep" on Oprah. It gets weird.
- And last but not least, Scientific American pretty much nails it: