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And now, tomorrow’s Bartolo Colon commentary today!

Aug 22, 2012, 3:59 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Getty Images

I have a sneaking suspicion that Bartolo Colon’s drug suspension coming a week after Melky Cabrera‘s is gonna be like manna from hack commentator heaven. The story line — and it will be treated as one, seamless story line — is gonna break down thusly:

Angle: Here we go again! The Bay Area is once again the center of the PEDs universe!

Comment: It is true, Colon plays on one side of the San Francisco Bay and Melky plays on the other. It is also true that Jose Canseco played on one side of the San Francisco Bay and Barry Bonds played on the other. This is an accident of geography and nothing more.  I’ll allow this as a viable angle if any evidence is revealed connecting the old Bay Area drug cases and these new ones. But that’s extremely unlikely.

There is almost certainly no connection at all between the old BALCO things and these testosterone tests. There is likely even no connection between Colon’s test and Cabrera’s. As such, linking all of these things together, or even just linking Cabrera and Colon together in some sort of grand “the Bay Area and PEDs” kind of thinkpiece without any actual factual basis for doing so is pretty good evidence that someone is mailing in a column. It’s the equivalent of writing a story about a murder in New York and spending several paragraphs on the Son of Sam killings.

Angle: Major League Baseball has a serious drug problem and has to do something now!

Comment: I bet Tom Verducci is kicking himself for writing this story yesterday instead of tomorrow, because it’s always way better to write a “the world is ending” trend piece when there is more than a single data point.  But now that there are two positive drug tests involving prominent players this year — sorry Freddy Galvis, Guillermo Mota and Marlon Byrd, you just don’t rate — we’re twice as far along into epidemic territory as we were yesterday.

That said, I still can’t see how the fact of a positive test and a player being penalized can serve as evidence that Major League Baseball’s drug testing program is flawed. Now, maybe it is flawed. Maybe the tests are done haphazardly and too seldomly. Maybe the whole thing is a farce. But the one thing that is not evidence of that is someone getting caught. No, to make the case that the system is broken, you have to actually explain what about it is broken. To do otherwise is the same as saying that the criminal justice system is broken because that guy who robbed the liquor store was caught and punished.

Angle: The Oakland A’s are sunk/The Oakland A’s are rallying

Comment: With all apologies to Mike Krukow, this line of thinking is post-hoc nonsense. It’s not going to help the A’s to have lost Colon, but in a world where people seem to think that even Stephen Strasburg is a non-essential part of a playoff team’s roster, I have a hard time buying Bartolo Colon‘s absence as the tipping point. Especially now that they have Brett Anderson back to take his place.

If the A’s lose the wild card now, people will blame Bartolo Colon being gone. If they win it, they will credit the A’s rallying around the loss and/or betrayal and/or whatever of Colon and say it was the season’s turning point.  In reality, the A’s wild card hopes have a lot more to do with their offense, Brandon McCarthy‘s health, the Tigers, the Orioles, the Angels and the Rays.  Colon is not a serious factor for anyone except someone searching for an easy storyline.

There. Now that you’ve read that, you can ignore everything else. Isn’t that a relief?

  1. sictransitchris - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    I’m waiting for the “They’re both former Yankees!” angle. Bonus points to whoever ties in A-Rod or the Mitchell Report.

    • stlouis1baseball - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:12 PM

      That’s already happening on the the initial Colon article.

    • townballblog - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:17 PM

      Here it goes….Melky, Bartolo, AND A-Rod are all Dominican. All 3 have connection to the yankees. All 3 have 5 syllables in their first and last names combined….Gotta go, my boss is back.

      • uyf1950 - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:32 PM

        Actually Alex Rodriguez was born in the Washington Heights section of New York City. Last time I checked that made him American.

    • townballblog - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:00 PM

      @uyf1950: Yeah, but he is also a Dominican citizen.

    • pjmarn6 - Aug 22, 2012 at 8:27 PM

      The sky has already fallen on baseball. I still haven’t seen where all those *s are going to appear!

      The was fixed and in Los Vegas all those guys who used steroids or PED would be walking around on crutches. Who is going to fix all those artificial records, pay back all the fans for watching the drugged horses race towards the finish line?

      NOBODY! You paid your billions, the players are laughing up their sleeves, management and baseball’s Selig are going to do tsk tsk and take home their million dollar salaries. P.T. Barnum struck again.

    • pjmarn6 - Aug 22, 2012 at 8:44 PM

      All these sh*t about steroids, peds, BALCO, Colon and Cabrera almost wants me to go back to the days when CBS ineptly owned the Yankees. YOU KNOW THOSE GUYS WERE NOT ON PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT DRUGS!


      • pjmarn6 - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:15 AM

        You three guys are saying that the Yankees under CBS and the Mets under Stengel WERE taking PEDs and still played lousy?

    • pjmarn6 - Aug 24, 2012 at 5:44 AM

      I love these apologists for doping and Balco. Where is Craig’s moral outrage, demand for instant dismissal if someone is doping and correction of statistics and demand that all the money played to these players be paid back? Where is the demand that all baseball games be free like before and ticket prices be reasonable and baseball itself be fined billions of dollars for letting this happen. Every commissioner, owner, manager, coach and player knew about this and kept their mouths shut to cash in on the pay day. Now is time for retribution. Give the fans back their free baseball television games, cut salaries, fine Selig millions, take away the multimillion dollar homes and make hard examples!

  2. srgntyork - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    “There is almost certainly no connection at all between the old BALCO things and these testosterone tests. There is likely even no connection between Colon’s test and Cabrera’s.”

    This is nothing but your opinion not based in any facts.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:16 PM

      If there is evidence of a connection, present the evidence. If there is no such evidence, one should not be presumed.

      • townballblog - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:19 PM

        what are you, a lawyer or something? :)

      • evanhartford - Aug 22, 2012 at 9:55 PM

        So Craig, do you still believe there is no “evidence” that P.E.D.s enhance performance?

      • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 22, 2012 at 9:58 PM

        I’ve never said that, Evan. There is scant evidence bordering on zero that things like HGH or testosterone, in and of themselves, provide any tangible improvement in baseball performance. They tend to be used in conjunction with other things.

        But for these purposes, fine, assume performance enhancement. Even if it did, that does not mean that all of these threads are linked in some grand way, or that it’s evidence of some problem that is greater than we know.

      • pjmarn6 - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:06 AM

        Just proves my point that nbc comment section drags in the nincompoops. It is completely obvious that someone got the idea a few years ago to juice himself up with drugs. He did well and some other jerks did it too. Along came the huge salaries, homeruns, better pitching, more filled seats, more cable tv money, more money in the owners’ pockets, more blind eyes and bigger $$$$$$ in the eyes and minds of everyone. Fuck baseball and ethics! The almighty dollar overshadows everything else. Call it Balco or anything you want, a hell of a lot of people got on the gravy train and are still on it i.e. Colon and Cabrera. BIG BUCKS especially the agents! So you get one caught. You got 20 more in the stable! CRAIG ITS EMBEDDED IN THE MIND. You don’t need evidence. Negative evidence would be nice but not when you are playing for millions of dollars and its a crap shot.
        And CRAIG just because was caught and served his time doesn’t mean that the use of banned performance enhanced drugs has stopped. What BALCO started is always going to be with us.
        Note this statement from Conte: ” Arnold created a wide range of substances, that when used in a cycle could go relatively undetected by drug testing, even on the Olympic level.” This was first recognized in 1988. I am sure with the blessings of the Chinese and Russian governments their athletes are using undetectable performance enhancing drugs and our South Korean friends are frantically at work to develop more undetectable performance enhancing drugs available to the highest bidders. And yes this all started with BALCO and Conte is out of jail selling “VITAMIN PACS”!
        Saying that BALCO has no influence now is like saying colds have been eliminated. Every year people will get colds.

      • Tick - Aug 23, 2012 at 12:02 PM

        “So Craig, do you still believe there is no “evidence” that P.E.D.s enhance performance?”

        Adam Piatt, Larry Bigbie, Tim Laker, Josias Manzanillo, F.P. Santangelo, Chris Donnels, Cody McKay, Stephen Randolph, Adam Riggs, Bart Miadich, Gary Bennett Jr., The Mighty Jim Parque and many, many others are still trying to find that evidence and having no luck.

    • paperlions - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:18 PM

      Seriously? BALCO specialized in DESIGNER steroids, for which there are no tests because you can’t design a test for something you don’t know exits.

      These guys were caught doing everyday testosterone, about the easiest thing to detect.

      Saying BALCO and testosterone are connected is like saying the price of a Stradivarius is connected to this years sorghum prices…’s stupid.

      • pjmarn6 - Aug 22, 2012 at 8:36 PM

        Craig you think we are all children???????? BALCO never ended as long as someone thought the idea up and players are still remembering how many billions their teammates got for using the drugs, they are going to take the risks. Cabrera and Colon were shooting dice. If they weren’t caught Cabrera might have gotten the MVP and who knows what else and his market value would have been astronomincal. Colon could have extended his career and gotten millions more. Professional sports players are notorious for not hanging onto a buck. Mickey Mantle is a prime example. So BALCO is alive and well. Ask the South Koreans who are hard at work trying to find non traceable PEDS. Hey if they can take a cell of a dead cat and make a new living animal, I am sure they can design a nontraceable PED and get paid through the nose for it.

  3. number42is1 - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    “Steve Sax….. From New York City. You know, i heard a guy got killed in NYC once and they never solved the crime, but you wouldn’t know anything about that, now would you sax?”

    • Tim OShenko - Aug 22, 2012 at 5:28 PM

      But…there are lots of unsolved murders in New York every year.

      • headbeeguy - Aug 22, 2012 at 10:22 PM

        You just don’t know when to keep your mouth shut, do you, Saxy Boy.

  4. jarathen - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    I just wish the Angels didn’t get striked (struck?) 38 times in a row by a big fat cheater who is all three of those things.

  5. charlutes - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Craig the testing in MLB is a joke. These guys know there’s a tiny chance they will be caught so they take their chances. These two guys getting caught will only make more players risk it because the potential gain of a huge contract is worth it to risk a 50 game ban in so many cases. The punishment is a farce.

    Either we care about cleaning up baseball and we are failing miserably or we don’t, in which case I’m not sure I want to be a fan of a game that encourages kids to do steroids, and generally cheat to make it.

    • shaggytoodle - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      I disagree granted the players do get paid quite a bit, and should have saved a bunch, to go nearly two months without a pay check sounds pretty serious, reguardless of how much someone makes.

    • nategearhart - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:25 PM

      You haven’t said anything for which there is a bit of evidence. How on earth could you possibly know “there’s a tiny chance [players] will be caught”?

    • chill1184 - Aug 22, 2012 at 5:54 PM

      I think weeding out two cheaters in less than a month in regards to a type of cheating that in the past has gone on undetected for years qualifies as doing a decent job.

      Punishments however are a different story would should be looked at.

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    You know how you can tell that Bartolo and Melky are not BALCO clients? They failed their drug tests.

  7. psuravens19 - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    I wonder if owners/gms will start adding verbiage to player contracts that say the contract is void if they are caught using roids?

    • Francisco (FC) - Aug 23, 2012 at 10:21 AM

      I’m pretty sure the MLBPA will have something to say about that. This sounds like something that would have to go in CBA.

  8. manifunk - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    What about calling for Colon to be deported?

  9. illcomm - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    how r MLB players allowed to consult with victor conte still. Hr is just the fall guy to an continuing problem

  10. rcali - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    Is it possible that Bartolo ate Melky Cabrera, which then put the steriods into his system? Maybe Braun can help Bartolo get out of the suspension with that loop hole. Eating another MLB player, who is on steriods, should NOT get you suspended for steriod products.

    • bravesfaninbama - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      Now that you mention it, has anybody seen Melky since the day he was suspended?

    • danrizzle - Aug 22, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      That’s awesome.

    • cur68 - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:12 PM

      Dugong’s eat seaweed and other stuff in the ocean, not Melkys. I bet he couldn’t even digest a Melky.

  11. vallewho - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    The one thing I got from this article is that “whatever” writers “write” is not based on reality.

  12. tr5079 - Aug 22, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    What would be wrong with a policy of You test positive once and you’re done…..forever. That’s the only thing that will get anyone’s attention.

  13. sean1829 - Aug 22, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Oh he took a banned substance? I thought in this particular case “PED” stood for: Pies, Eclairs and Doughnuts.

  14. tigerprez - Aug 22, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    I’m really happy that the system has caught these two guys, but what’s really mysterious is why they both thought they could use a banned substance and get away with it. In both cases, each guy admitted that he knowingly took an illegal substance, so neither is claiming to have made an innocent mistake. But why would either or them assume they would get away with this unless there was a shortcoming in the system they were hoping to take advantage of? I just can’t believe that either of these guys would take something they knew would likely lead to a 50-game suspension; they must have had confidence that they could exploit a hole in the existing testing.

    Does anyone know if MLB recently started using a more stringent test for testosterone? That’s the only explanation that makes any sense to me. If so, I wouldn’t be shocked if a few more guys turn up dirty in the next few weeks.

  15. jkaflagg - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Tend to agree with A’s fans who feel that losing Colon will not have a major impact on their playoff drive; in addition to Anderson’s return, there is also the strong possibility that Colon would wear down as the season reached it’s final weeks, as sometimes happens with older pitchers.

    Remember early in the season when Derek Lowe was dealing and the Tribe was in contention ? Seems like a long time ago, although Lowe’s blessed life continued when he was picked up by the Yankees…..

    While Anderson is likely to break down at any moment and Straily is unproven, adding a fresh, younger arm late in the season often pays dividends -as with Mike Moore at Tampa Bay last year…..

  16. psunick - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    Actually, BALCO doesn’t exist. Its new name is SNAC….Sports Nutrition and Conditioning, or something like that.

    It’s a laboratory that is devising ways to add more Vitamin C to players’ diets. Or, maybe it’s Niacin.

    And I think they also teach players about the benefits of eating three square meals a day.

    (OK. Don’t believe me.)

    So, just because its owner is Victor Conte, and the fact that SNAC is a short drive down the highway from both clubhouses, what makes you think there is any connection with the A’s or the Giants?

    (And believe me…as a Penn State fan, I know all about the rush to judgement by the media.)

  17. ezwriter69 - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    You’re right of course… baseball has NO problem with the public perception of PED use. The consecutive busts of a leading MVP candidate and a past CyYoung winner are utterly irrelevant. NO one should care. PED’s and baseball have NO connection in the public’s mind, NO one is bothered by the continuing busts of high profile players.
    Anything to take a shot at far more respected writers, even if it makes you look like a bitter sneering buffoon. Just pathetic.

  18. neelymessier - Aug 22, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    The problem most likely is not widespread, given the declining offensive numbers. That being said, we have two players who were willing to risk 50 game suspensions. They likely believed they would pass the test. Also we know Braun failed, and got off on a technicality. To me it is inconceivable that there aren’t at least a couple dozen more. I agree with Kirk Gibson… 1st offense… 162 game suspension… second lifetime ban. Then if they catch more… the following season a lifetime ban for first offense IMHO

  19. neelymessier - Aug 23, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    Victor Conte from Balco explains how players beat the current test:

  20. Walk - Aug 23, 2012 at 5:50 AM

    This may not be a normal case. Bartolo has been in the news a few times about a shoulder surgery he has had outside the united states. Mlb would know if he had a waiver for anything related to ped violations for being under a dr’s care so it is obvious that he does not have such a waiver. So what i am curious about is if he tries to use it as a defense.

  21. neelymessier - Aug 23, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    the loophole conte is talking about is obvious and IN THE CURRENT MLB TESTING. It is very easy to beat only with lessor amounts used.

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