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Oh my stars and garters, what if an All-Star tests positive for drugs!

Jul 9, 2013, 8:58 AM EDT

Melky Cabrera Reuters

That’s the short version of Bob Nightengale’s latest column in which he reminds us how the Republic ended last year when Melky Cabrera won the All-Star Game MVP award before his drug suspension. And how, thanks to Biogenesis looming over everything, it could happen again.

Nightengale’s concern here is at about a 20 on a ten point scale, referring to Cabrera’s MVP award as “a punch line for an otherwise glorious season.” I think it’s stretching it to even call it a footnote, but if Nightengale wants to say it turned 2012 into a joke he’s welcome to his opinion. Fact is every player in the All-Star Game is tested for drugs at some point every year. It’s quite possible that any player — not just four random ones currently in the news — could be suspended for drugs at any time. That’s a feature of the system, not a bug. If that feature is something which ruins seasons for him he probably needs to find another line of work, because it’s going to happen again. That’s how it works when you test players for drugs.

I don’t think Nightengale really thinks that, though. I think that, rather, he’s playing the Melky/All-Star Game angle up because it allows him to mix in (a) a Manny Ramirez digression that has zero to do with the All-Star Game or, beyond the yuks of it all, baseball relevance in 2013; and (b) extended quotes from Don Hooton of the Taylor Hooton foundation about the evils of steroids, all in the service of writing a large, point-free “steroids are bad, mmkay” ramble.

The Hooton stuff makes me sad. Taylor Hooton, in case you were unaware, was a high school baseball player who committed suicide several years ago. He was also taking steroids at the time and his parents have decided that the steroids caused his suicide. He also happened to have suffered from low self-esteem and was taking an anti-depressant (Lexapro) which has been linked to an increased risk of suicide, but that part is usually left out. The Hootons — and most baseball writers — have determined that the suicide was caused by the steroids alone and they are widely quoted on the matter whenever PEDs in baseball returns to the news.

When one sees a quote from Mr. Hooton in these stories one’s heart can’t help but go out to him and the tragedy which befell his son and his family. One can’t escape the fact, however, that Mr. Hooton’s experience and views on the matter, however tragic, are wholly irrelevant to Major League Baseball, its drug testing program and the All-Star Game. Even if you accept Don Hooton’s explanation for the cause of his son’s suicide, Taylor Hooton was a teenager playing high school sports, facing wholly different sorts of pressures and incentives than professional athletes do. His foundation is the recipient of funds and support from Major League Baseball, but he not part of baseball’s drug enforcement regime.  As such, when Mr. Hooton opines on the All-Star Game and Manny Ramirez and suggests that baseball’s collectively-bargained PEDs penalties are insufficient, one struggles to find a point.

But hey: if the column gets one more person emotionally agitated over PEDs in baseball, mission accomplished, right?

  1. 161andriver - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Only possible solution, cancel baseball. It’s the only way to protect the children. We can’t have children watching players that may have taken an illicit substance! So, baseball is over. Return to your homes!

  2. hittfamily - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Why couldn’t he quote actual scientists? I don’t need Focus on the Family’s opinion of marriage. I don’t need Jenny McCarthy’s views on immunizations. I don’t need Glenn Becks theory about global warming, and I definitely don’t need a Hooten’s view of steroid usage.

    Your’e doing a good job Calcy!

    • cohnjusack - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      Meh, I don’t wanna talk to a scientist. Y’all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed.

      • cohnjusack - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:21 AM

        For those who have been living under a rock and are unaware of the reference, here is the relevant snippet from the greatest song every written.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:59 AM

        Can I watch that at work?

  3. deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    Can we completely ignore how Melky’s numbers have mysteriously plummeted this season? Can we blame it on playing in a better hitting league? Or maybe that he’s playing his home games at a better hitting park? Oh wait…

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:12 AM

      And what does that have to do with anything presented here?

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:33 AM

        Just a reference to the way steroids are usually blown off as nothing on this blog and anyone that questions the numbers that are mysteriously produced by people using them is “fluky” as compared to a direct result of using drugs that are performance enhancing.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:45 AM

        Part of that was cut off- I meant to say that anyone who questions the advantage PEDs give players rather than it just being “fluky” are dismissed as kooks and crusading zealots.

      • a125125125 - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        If you don’t think that steroids increase a baseball player’s power production (as Craig apparently doesn’t given his repeated reference to the point….despite the fact he tries to run from it here), you’re as stupid as Craig Calcaterra.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 9, 2013 at 1:04 PM

        Come on…you were a garter? Doesn’t it make your legs itch? What about the clips and straps…do you use clips and straps? Don’t they also make you itchy and scratchy? Or perhaps just the roll up kind like some wear? What gives? Anywho…I am happy you came out…and I encourage you do not be ashamed. Garters make some women appear very sexy. Depending on their body type of course.

    • 161andriver - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:18 AM

      It would be convenient to point to that as the sole reason, but I just don’t think steroids work like that. Maybe someone with more knowledge than me can clarify, but it doesn’t seem likely that as soon as he goes off a cycle, he loses the increased bat speed. I would assume there would be more of a decline than anything else.

      What’s more likely is that his last year was fluky(.379 BABIP), as well as aided pharmaceutically.

      • paperlions - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:39 AM

        Exactly.

        His BABIP last year was crazy high. He’s down 67 pts of BABIP this year. Add that to his current line and the only difference is a few HRs…and if you look at Cabrera’s career HR pattern, it is all over the place. If he hits 15 HRs next year, people will say he’s probably back on the juice, when it will just be more random inter-annual variation.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:08 AM

        Let’s talk about last year- when he was actually caught juicing- compared to this year.

        His batting average is down 68 points

        His slugging % is down 154 points

        His OBP is down 70 points

        His OPS is down 222 points

        His OPS+ is down 71 points

        And he currently has 112 TB’s as opposed to 237 last season (as a total)

        Not sure what you mean about his HRs being all over the place- it’s pretty consistant actually. He dropped to 4 in 2010, but he only had 540 PAs. Of course he hit 11HR’s last year in only 501 PA’s. He has 3 HRs this season, but still has a about 170 more PA’s to match last year.

        He still has time to close the gap somewhat, but to say there’s hardly any difference in his numbers is a little crazy.

      • paperlions - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:18 AM

        His HRs have gone: 7, 8, 8, 13, 4, 18, 11. The last several years they have increased over 50%, then decreased by 70%, then increased by over 400%, then decreased by 40%….not exactly stable power production.

        BA is down 68 pts. His BABIP is down 67 pts. Not a coincidence.

        His OBP is down 70 pts. His BABIP is down 67 pts. Not a coincidence.

        Slugging also includes singles, and any ball in play is susceptible to BABIP, most of that 154 pts of slugging is related to the lost BABIP.

        OPS counts singles twice (once in slugging and once in OBP), most of that 222 is still just BABIP.

        His walk rate is the same, his K rate is the same, and most of his other numbers are all just affected by BABIP. Unless you really think roids helped him hit the ball away from fielders, there really isn’t much difference between the underlying performances.

        His line drive rate is up a little this year, but his GB% his down and FB% is up…accounting for a lot of the BABIP as GB are hits more often than FB.

        BABIP dependent hitters (guys that don’t walk much or hit a lot of HRs) are susceptible to a lot of inter-annual variation. Just go look at Michael Young’s stats, in years when his BABIP is high, he looks great, when his BABIP is low, he looks horrible.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:26 AM

        Roids help you hit the ball away from players in the aspect that they help you drive the ball harder- making it harder to catch up to if you’re hitting it into the gaps or over people’s heads. As for the HRs, most production usually does increase with years in the league. I think the suspect season or seasons show the spikes. I think he’s probably an 8-10 HR a year guy. I just think it’s crazy how people try to rationalize and minimize the effects that steroids have. I might be wrong, but I don’t recall too many players that were caught juicing that were having average years for them or worse.

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:43 AM

        Taking a quick look at the players from here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Major_League_Baseball_players_suspended_for_performance-enhancing_drugs, and trying to focus on players who had any kind of career totals to look at (rather than guys who played a handful of innings in the bigs):

        Jason Grimsley, suspended 2006. Mediocre season, ERA worse than his career average, though he was 38 years old, so that’s probably to be expected.

        Guillermo Mota, suspended 2006. Mediocre season, ERA worse than career average.

        Neifi Perez, suspended 2007. Hitting .172/.221/.226 at the time.

        Mike Cameron, suspended after the 2007 season. One of the worst seasons of his career.

        Eliezer Alfonzo, suspended in 2008. Never had a good season, but certainly didn’t stand out before the suspension.

        J.C. Romero, suspended in 2009. During a very good season for him.

        Manny Ramirez, suspended in 2009. During a typical season for him.

        Edinson Volquez, suspended in 2010. Nothing standout about his 2009 season.

        Marlon Byrd, suspended in 2012, after being released for miserable play.

        Melky Cabrera, suspended in 2012, during a fantastic season.

        Bartolo Colon, suspended in 2012, during a solid season.

        Carlos Ruiz, suspended after the 2012 season (career year).

        This says nothing for sure about the benefits of any performance enhancing substance, but it certainly indicates that “players caught juicing” had anything from great to awful seasons, and anywhere in between.

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:49 AM

        It may be worth noting that I only included players on Major League rosters, not guys who had been sent to the minors prior to their suspensions,or guys who weren’t playing in MLB anymore. It may be safe to assume that none of the guys who’d been sent to the minors were in the middle of great seasons (or they wouldn’t have been in the minors). And that’s a very long list there.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        You’re also forgetting that even though they weren’t suspended for it, players known to have taken steroids have been know to do things like break 40 yr old HR records or pitch in their 40’s like they did in their early 20’s. Also- that was Manny’s 19th season in the league- so it was a very, very good season- especially if you consider how he dropped off after. But I guess he’s another guy that fell off a cliff…in his 20th season. Guys like Grimsley, might never have been in the league without them.

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Jul 9, 2013 at 1:30 PM

        I’m only addressing your statement of “I don’t recall too many players that were caught juicing that were having average years for them or worse.”

        There were plenty.

        That doesn’t mean there’s no benefit to PEDs, just that guys using PEDs may not have particularly great performance tied to their use.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2013 at 2:40 PM

        Look- I’m not suggesting that I could juice and be on a MLB roster tomorrow. But if you’re already a HoFer like Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez- it will help you put up some ridiculous gaudy numbers- especially in the power department. For the Jason Grimsley’s and Eliezer Alfonzo’s of the world- it might make the difference between ever seeing a major league roster or not.

    • paperlions - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      Well, Colon was busted right? How’s he doing now?

      How about Marlon Byrd or Galvis? Does the fact that they are playing better or the same as before make you think they are still juicing?

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:15 AM

        Galvis doesn’t have enough of a sample size to say either way. But on the subject of Phillies players caught juicing- how’s Chooch doing?

      • paperlions - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:20 AM

        Yes, but that was amphetamines, not roids, and he’s an old catcher…they do have a tendency to fall off of cliffs (which makes me really worried about Molina going forward). Montero fell off of his cliff this year. Catching is hard on a body.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:30 AM

        Are amphetamines not considered PED’s?

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:33 AM

        Oh come on- you really can’t believe that his drop in numbers is due to him falling off the cliff. Do you also believe that he happened to test positive in what was by far his best offensive season to date…which just happened to be a year ago.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:40 AM

        *Do you also believe that (it was just a coincidence) that he happened to test positive in what was by far his best offensive season to date…which just happened to be a year ago.

        I can’t type today.

    • 161andriver - Jul 9, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but the point I was trying to make is that it’s more nuanced than: Steroids make you good. No steroids make you bad again. Obviously the PEDs had some effect on Melky’s jump from being an average to below average major leaguer to a batting title contender. But I don’t think it’s possible to quantify how much. Maybe some of it’s psychological. Maybe he pushed himself to workout harder on the stuff and part of his improvement was natural. There are just too many what ifs to say anything definitively. But he cheated, he was suspended. If he gets caught again, he’ll be suspended again.

  4. heyblueyoustink - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    I knew you wore garters, Calcaterra.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      I totally thought the same thing….and then I felt a little sick…and then I wanted to fist bump @norunsupport.

  5. chip56 - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    I think it would be embarrassing for baseball to have the MVP of their showcase (in season) event test positive for steroids. As it is, the fact that Bartolo Colon, who was suspended for steroid use last year, could wind up being the starter for the AL team is probably making Bud’s skin crawl.

    • Detroit Michael - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      Colon likely won’t pitch in the All-Star game since he is scheduled to start in Sunday’s game, two days before hand.

      • chip56 - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:23 AM

        In that case I’m sure Bud is extremely grateful for the A’s schedule and hopeful that there aren’t any rain outs between now and then.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:43 AM

      Most people probably don’t know that Bartolo Colon was busted because he doesn’t hit home runs, and as everyone knows, the only impact of a PED is to instantly add 40 to your home run total for the following season.

      • bsbiz - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:52 AM

        Although a pitcher hitting 40 home runs would be pretty freakin’ funny.

  6. umrguy42 - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    (Obligatory “ARGLEBARGLE CRAIG YOU PED APOLOGIST!” comment)

  7. chip56 - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    Craig,

    Do you disagree with the notion that it was embarrassing to MLB when the MVP of the All-Star game tested positive for steroids?

    Is it the worst thing that could have happened? No. Mostly because the MVP of the All-Star game is fairly meaningless…I mean it’s not like an actual MVP tested positive for steroids….oh wait.

    But seriously, if you agree that it would be an embarrassment to the league (whether minor or major) then what’s your gripe other than that someone is again writing about PED use being bad for the league?

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      It would be an embarrassment to the league if the player was found to have used steroids and the league’s testing system didn’t find it. In fact, the system did find it, so I fail to see how there’s any embarrassment for anyone except the player who was caught.

  8. sdelmonte - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    Let’s just arrange to test all the All Stars upon being named to the team, and then during the games. We can station a reporter outside the bathrooms and everything.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM

      Heck man, have the batter pee in a cup before the umpire each at-bat.

  9. paperlions - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Does anyone actually care who is the “MVP” of the ASG? The only thing that could possible be more meaningless is if they had a CY of the ASG.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      Please pay attention. These are bargaining chips for contract negotiations.

      /said someone with awards and distinctions on her resume

  10. runtheball - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    That Hooten kid was built like Olive Oil. I doubt he was taking steroids. I think it is just an easier excuse for his dad to deal with.

  11. jayscarpa - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    These rants against Nightengale and others like him increases the readership of these guys. Well done.

  12. jonrox - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    I literally just found out that Melky Cabrera received the ASG MVP by reading this article. Clearly this knowledge, in conjunction with his PED use, has ruined my life.

  13. coryfor3 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    I am seriously weary of Craig posts disregarding PED use and criticizing all who are bothered by it. Tiresome.

    • jonrox - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:02 AM

      I would be wary of clicking on Craig’s posts if they made me weary

      • historiophiliac - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:44 AM

        Gleeman fanboy, you think?

  14. banpeds - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    Memo to Craig Calcaterra – once you get over your beloved PEDS players getting suspended, you might want to figure out what you write as to why it happened. Dont be shocked when 2 more “big time” names you would have never suspected get suspended either… names that actually are not that hard to figure out either…

    • jonrox - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      > names you would have never suspected

      > names that actually are not that hard to figure out either…

      wut

      • historiophiliac - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:43 AM

        I hate it when names be all doping and shit.

  15. iranuke - Jul 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    The only way to remove PEDs from baseball is to increase the testing. Increased penalties will not work. They have the death penalty for murder in Texas and that has not stopped murders in Texas. The only way to eliminate PEDs from baseball is to test EVERYONE after EVERY game. Anything else is just half measures.

  16. seanmk - Jul 9, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    deathmonkey41 you are all over the map on this. the main difference for melky the year he was caught powerwise was that he had 10 triples by the time he was caught, at the pace he was going home run wise he was on pace for maybe 16 home runs which doesn’t fit your steroids power narrative. and for Ruiz his drop in numbers this year could be a number of thing and he very well could be using adderoll right now but have a prescription, but he’s had injuries to derail his playing time and not getting consistent at bats more then anything else

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