Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, April 19.
Yesterday afternoon Twitter blew up with the news of Pirates’ outfielder Starling Marte’s 80-game suspension for using a performance enhancing drug.
Marte (pronounced MarTay if you use a screen reader) was a 2016 All-Star who is now in disgrace. His personal humiliation is one thing. The impact on his team is enormous. Not only can’t he play for nearly 3 months, but should the Pirates make the postseason Marte would be persona non grata for the playoffs.
Here’s something Colin Cowherd can’t say because he’s a paid hack. Nobody’s paying me to write my takes. Marte is the latest Latin American ball player to get caught for taking steroids. With the exception of the Marlins’ Dee Gordon last year, every notable suspension I can recall since the rules were changed has been a Latin American. The Mets had Jenri Mejia who was caught 3 times and is permanently banned. The Red sox’ Manny Ramirez was caught and suspended twice. The Indians dealt with an 80-game suspension and playoff ban for Abraham Almonte. The Royals’ Raul Mondesi took a 50-game punishment last year. It would have been 80 games but MLB bought his contention that the illegal substance he used was in medicine to treat a cold. The list of Latin Americans punished for doping after the rules were changed is a depressingly long dishonor roll-Eliezer Alfonso, Freddy Galvis, J.C. Romero, Edinson Volquez, Francisco Cervelli, Bartolo Colon, Ervin Santana, Melky Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal. You have to look very hard to find a Dee Gordon or a Daniel Stump in the sad parade of guys with million-dollar bodies trying to enhance what God had already made.
Marte blames ‘Neglect and lack of knowledge.” As Vince McMahon so often said, “Wait just a minute.” This is 2017. How can lack of knowledge be an excuse? I am going on the assumption that The information about what drugs are forbidden is readily available in both English and Spanish. This isn’t the fifties when nobody helped Juan Marichal learn English. To my knowledge MLB has bent over backwards since the steroid rules were changed to make sure everybody knew what not to take. I have tried to contact two independent sources who could enhance what knowledge I have about the subject. If I hear back from them and they have something to add, it will appear in an updated edition.
Making sure Spanish-speaking players stay clean is in MLB’s best interest. Like Marte now and Manny Ramirez in years past, many of the suspended Latin American players were very good at the game. People pay good money to see these men and MLB should want them on the field. MLB should_ also want them to play the game honestly, within the rules set forth in the latest collective bargaining agreement (or CBA.)
Getting back to players who were on the field last night, the Cubs ended their 4-game losing skid with a 9-7 win at Wrigley over their near neighbors the Milwaukee Brewers. The visitors had the lead until a 4-run 6th inning gave the Cubs the upper hand. Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero launched 2-run home runs on a night when the wind was strongly blowing out. While the Brewers’ Eric Thames didn’t hit a home run for the first time in 6 games, he collected 2 doubles and a single. He has had at least a hit in all 12 games he has started this season. The Brewers had a 6-2 lead going to the last of the 4th but their starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson wasn’t fooling any Cubs’ hitters. He lasted into the sixth but left having given up 9 hits. Two men were on when he headed for the showers. They both scored so his record shows he gave up 8 of the 9 Cubs’ runs.
Wednesday usually means a game or two played under God’s own sunshine. The Pirates face the Cardinals’ at 1:45 in the day’s earliest game. Gerrit Cole faces the Cards’ Michael Wacha. Half an hour later the Cubs host the Brewers. At 3:30 the Rangers and Athletics get it on in one of MLB’s worst venues. The Marlins face the Mariners at 3:40 PM today. The Marlins send out probably their best arm, Edinson Volquez to do battle with King Felix Hernandez of the Mariners. Among the night games, one good matchup occurs in st. Pete. Jordan Zimmerman of the Tigers faces the Rays’ Chris Archer. If they were to walk too many people you could say the aces were wild. Archer played in the World Baseball Classic without his arm falling off. He isn’t one of the panic brigade calling for MLB to avoid the WBC because of one or two injuries that could have happened in spring training. The Royals have the unenviable task of facing Madison Bumgarner of the Giants. They counter with Jason Vargas who has had a strong early start. Another ace goes at Chavez Ravine when the Rockies face the Dodgers. The home team has Clayton Kershaw and that’s about as good as it gets. Tyler Anderson is the Rockies’ starter in this difficult matchup.0