Silent Vindication

Banned substances include steroids, steroid precursors, designer steroids, masking agents and diuretics. There will be one unannounced mandatory test of each player during the season. In addition, there will be testing of randomly selected players, with no maximum number. And there will be random testing during the offseason. The penalties for a positive result are, first positive, 10 days; second, 30 days; third, 60 days; fourth, one year, and all without pay.

I've posted this summary of the MLB steroid policy so that no one who read this can mistake the implications it carries. This means:

1) Giambi made his comeback this season with the aid of any banned substances, avoiding an embarrasing (and possibly career ending) demotion to the minors. It was not a spectacular return to form, but it puts him in a good position to improve next year.

2) Barry Bonds was clean this season, which doesn't mean as much since he spent most of it on the DL, but he still performed very well over the last two weeks of the season (.286/.404/.667), and there was no question that he still had his homerun swing and dominating eye (although both were a bit rusty). Many steroids also take months, even up to a year and a half to be totoally out of the body. If you question Bond's skill this season, go back and look at the homerun he hit at RFK. Moreover, his homerun rate projected over 140 games, which may be as much as he's able to play, puts him at 50 for the season. Not too shabby for a man who'll turn 42.

From this point on, I've run out of good things to say about steroids this season. Here's the list, current as of today, of the 12 major league players who've tested positive.

  • 11/2 Matt Lawton, OF Yankees

  • 10/18 Felix Heredia, LHP Mets

  • 10/4 Carlos Almanzar, RHP Rangers

  • 9/7 Michael Morse, SS Mariners

  • 8/2 Ryan Franklin, P Mariners

  • 8/1 Rafael Palmiero, 1B Orioles

  • 6/8 Rafael Betancourt, P Indians

  • 5/2 Juan Rincon, P Twins

  • 4/26 Jamal Strong, OF Mariners

  • 4/20 Agustin Montero, P Rangers

  • 4/11 Jorge Piedra, OF Rockies

  • 4/4 Alex Sanchez, OF Devil Rays

I'll admit that there are a few on the list, Alamnzar, Franklin, and a name or two in April, that I didn't know about until now. But these names make a couple of things very clear:

1) MLB badly needs a list of approved supplements, vitamins, and other treatments that players can use, instead of guessing if their product is on the list. This was the argument Twins pitcher Juan Rincon used (which is entirely believable). Also, this eliminates the supplement argument for a false positive test.

2) Contrary to popular wisdom before the testing regimen was put into place, there are almost as many pitchers on the list as hitters. This has been commented on before, but it is quite possible many of the fireballing relievers we've seen in the last decade were juiced.

3) Baseball's recent retirees and aging sluggers have all been put in an incredibly awkward situation by Rafael Palmiero's hysterics, both before Congress, and after his positive test, which was for Stanozolol, discussed briefly here in a Hardball Times article, and at greater length here. By the way

The only legitimate therapeutic indications for anabolic steroids are:

(a) replacement of male sex steroids in men who have androgen deficiency, for example as a result of loss of both testes

(b) the treatment of certain rare forms of aplastic anaemia which are or may be responsive to anabolic androgens.
(ABPI Data Sheet Compendium, 1993)

(c) the drugs have been used in certain countries to counteract catabolic states, for example after major trauma.

How can anyone who has alligned with Palmiero at any point come out looking as clean as they did before?

4) Did the Devil Rays really need the dubious honor of having the first positive test? This proves that there is no comsmic justice in the baseball universe.

Still, I started this on a positive note, and I'll try to end on one. After all the wonderful stories this year, the Astros and White Sox making it to the World Series, Derrek Lee flirting with .400 and a Tripple Crown, Pujols emergence (from Barry's shadow) at the "best hitter in baseball", the Braves Young Studs, the Nationals making a run at the division their first year in DC (much to the chagrin of Peter Angelos), and, yes Barry returning from injury to see if he could break a few more records, after all these stories, notice that none of them are tainted with steroids, and, for once, we know this to be a certianty.

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