22 April 2005

MLB Steroid Policy Not Working

The most recent round of steroid suspensions yielded nine new names, all of whom were minor leaguers and all of which again rhyme with "nobody." Or at least they mean that.

Only three players who were on major league 40-man rosters have been suspended for 10 days under the new policy: Tampa Bay OF Alex Sanchez, Colorado OF Jorge Piedra and Texas pitcher Agustin Montero. The latter two were in the minor leagues at the times of their suspensions.

The biggest name of the most recent group was Grant Roberts, who pitched for parts of the 2000-2004 seasons with the Mets, and had a largely undistinguishable 101 innings with a 4.25 ERA. Roberts got a 15-game suspension, rather than the 10 mandated by the major league policy, presumably because he was in the minors at the time it happened. The total number of suspensions stands at 47, but none of these suspensions was doled out to any kind of impact player.

Houston OF Adam Seuss was suspended for violating the steroids policy. Seuss immediately issued a press release in his own defense:

"I did not take steroids.
I would not take steroids.
I would not take them on a train.
I would not take them in the rain.
I would not take them in the clubhouse.
I would not take them with a mouse.
I don't like steroids, understand?
I did not take them, A-dam I am."

Three Baltimore Orioles minor leaguers were suspended: Gary Cates Jr., Rafael Diaz and Richard Salazar. Don't ask me, I don't know who they are either.

Two Atlanta Braves minor leaguers were suspended: James Jurries and Ricardo Rodriguez. Lucy is reportedly very upset with Ricky for getting suspended, and also because he wouldn't let her come to his games. The jury's still out on why James was suspended.

Eider Torrez, from the Cleveland Indians' organization, and Damien Myers, who had already been released by the Tigers, were the other two suspensions. Neither player was listed in Baseball Prospectus 2005, so I think it's safe to say that their clubs weren't counting on them for much output in the majors this year.

MLB reports that these nine suspensions were based on 251 tests performed Florida spring training camps. Cactus League testing yielded 37 suspensions (out of 925 tests). One came from off-season testing.

Grapefruit League Teams: 9/251 = 3.6%
Cactus League Teams: 37/925 = 4.0%
Offseason Testing: 1/Eleventy-Billion = ~0%

Hmmm...looks like maybe the offseason isn't the ideal time to try to test these guys, ya think? I expect that the vast majority of those tests were conducted under the previous testing policy, in which I believe that players were allowed to have their pet Rottweiler provide the urine for them. But don't quote me on that.

The only non-first offense suspension to date belongs to Oakland's David Castillo, who got a 60-game ban for the proverbial "strike three" offense. Doesn't look like David's going to have to worry about bringing the fruit salad to this summer's MENSA picnic, if you know what I mean. How can anyone be dumb enough to get caught three times, especially when the first two suspensions occurred under the old policy, which was supposedly so toothless that there were actually professional wrestlers on some teams' rosters?

Worse, yet, how can anyone be dumb enough to think this policy is actually working? We've got almost 50 suspensions to date, and not one of them is a guy you'd recognize on the street, even if he showed up in uniform. Until someone, a known player, a perennial suspect in the steroid conversation, actually recieves a suspension, I'm not buying this. It still reeks of the MLB Players' Association doing its best to protect its players, as it should, but not at the cost of the game's integrity and the fans' faith.

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