Why PED Culture in Baseball Will Never Change

Ryan Braun denied any wrongdoing in connection to PED's.

Ryan Braun denied any wrongdoing in connection to PED’s.

Steroid use in professional baseball has been a hot button issue for the bulk of the last 15 years. The recent suspension of Brewers’ outfielder, Ryan Braun, has ramped up the discussion even more. It is safe to say that Braun’s suspension will be followed by more as several players including Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez and Bartolo Colon are facing suspicion as well.

Links to the Biogenesis Clinic in Florida make it all but a certainty that these players will face penalties that will impact their teams and their wallets as well.

Major League Baseball is working quickly and diligently to get these players punished, evident through the fact that Braun’s 65 game suspension for the remainder of this season was reached in conjunction with the league. However, Major League Baseball is beginning to fight a battle with no clear end in sight.

You can continue to punish individuals who violate your drug policy after the fact, but how do you change the overall PED culture in baseball? If the presence of these punishments have not cleaned the game up in a significant way, what will?

Read more of this post

Phour Phils Headed to 2011 MLB All Star Game: Is That Enough?

Three of the Phils five starters to begin the season will represent the Phillies on the NL All Star team.

The 2011 MLB All Star teams were announced today and the Philadelphia Phillies have four players representing the leagues best team. Placido Polanco, the Phillies starter at third base will assume the same role for the NL team. Polanco is batting .280 with 39 rbi’s and 4 homeruns. He also boasts a 1.000 field percentage. Polanco started off the season incredibly hot and led the Phillies through the first month of the season. Some say that he is benefiting from significant time missed by both David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman but Polanco’s contribution to the leagues best team cannot be taken lightly.

Polanco was the only position player on the Phils to make the All Star team but the team was certainly well represented when it comes to hurlers. The big three of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels will all represent the Phillies starting staff in Arizona.

Placido Polanco will start at 3rd for the NL team.

Roy Halladay has been stellar once again this season posting an 11-3 record with a 2.44 ERA, 131 strikeouts and 6 complete games in 18 starts. That basically means that he averages a complete game 1 in every 3 times he takes the mound.

Cliff Lee has come on strong lately. He has posted three consecutive complete game shutouts in his last three starts and entered today’s game with a career best 32 consecutive scoreless innings. Lee struggled for a stretch this season but overall he has proved why the Phils brought him back this season. He is 9-5 with a 2.66 ERA with 119 strikeouts and 4 complete games, three of which were in a row.

The final All Star for the Phils is former World Series MVP, Cole Hamels. Many forecasted coming into the season that this would be Cole Hamels’ best season with the Phillies and so far he is proving that even though the hype revolved around the other pitchers that the Phils acquired, he is also a legitimate star and Cy Young candidate in his own right. Cole Hamels is 9-4 with a 2.41 ERA with 110 strikeouts and a complete game.

Shane Victorino will have a chance to be voted onto the All Star team by the fans.

All of these pitchers proved undoubtedly that they deserve to be All Stars but did any other Phillies prove the same even though they were left off the roster? Shane Victorino is once again apart of the MLB’s final vote and has a chance to be voted onto the All Star teams by the fans, something that he was successful in doing in 2008. Victorino is hitting .299 with 9 homeruns, 34 rbi’s, 12 doubles, 9 triples, and 13 stolen bases. Victorino is up against SP Ian Kennedy of Arizona, OF Matt Morse of Washington, 1B Todd Helton of Colorado and OF Andre Ethier of Los Angeles.

Also left off of this year’s team was Phillies 1B Ryan Howard. Many have noted that the NL is becoming deeper at 1B but you cannot deny that Ryan Howard is one of the best hitters in the NL still. He is hitting .253 in a season where he lost his main protection behind him in Jayson Werth and in front of him for most of the season in Chase Utley. The lose of those two bats certainly weakened the type of pitches that Howard was seeing. Despite the drop in quality pitches he has still hit 17 homers and is second in the league in RBI’s with 67.

The All Star game is about having situational players on the roster. Are their players with better averages and who strike out less than Howard? Yes. But those players do not prosper in All Star games. Hitting singles and playing small ball does not win All Star games because the opposing pitching is too stellar. You need players on the roster with pop who can change the game with one at bat. Howard should be on the team for that reason as should Mark Teixera in the AL. Ryan Howard has also proved that he is taking his defense seriously posting a .996 fielding percentage. Ryan Howard certainly has shortcomings in his game. He is not perfect. But the Phillies, the best team in Major League Baseball, would not be where they are without his 17 homeruns and 67 rbi’s especially considering the struggles throughout the rest of the lineup. The MLB put in the DH for a reason for both All Star teams and that was for sluggers, homerun hitters, and rbi producers to make the team.

Ryan Howard was left off the NL All Star this season.

I do not agree with the MLB’s view of the role of the All Star Game. It should not count for anything. It should not include representatives from every team. It should only be about fun and that is it. But if you are going to make it mean something, the best players have to be there. Amongst 1st basemen in the NL Howard is 2nd in AB’s, 2nd in HR’s, 2nd in rbi’s, 4th in runs scored, 6th in hits, 4th in walks, and 3rd in fielding percentage. Say what you will about Ryan Howard, but that is still a relevant and very productive first basemen considering the fact that he faces multiple defensive shifts every night and gets pitched around more than any player in the league.

So Congratulations to Polanco, Halladay, Hamels, and Lee on their All Star selections and in the coming week we will se if any other Phillies get tabbed to make the trip to Arizona.

MLB Considering Realignment. Good or Bad for Baseball?

I have always been very outspoken about my disdain for a lot of the policies of Major League Baseball. It is not the sport itself that I do not like because I love baseball with a passion. However, when you step back and look at some of the particular nuances of Major League Baseball, sometimes you cannot help but scratch your head.

For example, why does the All Star game determine home field advantage in the World Series? This is the most backwards rule I’ve ever seen. How can you sell to the fan base that even if their team gets the best record during the regular season, they may still be at a disadvantage in the World Series on the grounds that the league they are in loss the All Star Game. You cannot base home field in the World Series on a game in which half the players’ teams do not even have a shot at the World Series anyway. I mean think about it. Are the required Pirates and Mariners All Star representatives thinking to themselves “we better play pretty hard out here today so that the Phillies or Red Sox can get their home field advantage in October?” That is not happening and it is not fair. It makes no sense. You make a rule that every team has to be represented which means that you cannot possibly make the best team because a better player is going to be left out for a guy who is only there because he is the best of the worst on his horrible team and then you tell the teams to go win. That is an extremely weird position to put a manager in.

The Astros may be jumping to the AL in 2012.

Or how about the classic debate of the DH. Why do 14 teams get to play with a guy who subs in for the pitcher at the plate and does not have to play a lick in the field while 16 other teams have to suffer through at bats from the pitcher? Simple and plan, if you play in the field you should have to bat and if you come off the bench you should have to be subbed in. However, if the league is going to insist on having a DH, at least give every team that advantage.

Then of course there are the little things like why do the parks vary so much in terms of size and why do the coaches wear uniforms. Are they planning on subbing themselves in at some point if they run out of players? And do not even get me started on Inter-league play.

Baseball is quirky and perhaps that quirkiness is what makes it America’s pastime but baseball could be taking a step to get somewhat less peculiar.

The league is discussing a plan to change the 16-14 format and go with 15 teams in both the NL and the AL. That would involve a National League team heading over to the other side and early indications are that if the plan goes into effect, the Houston Astros could be the team on the move. This would take one team from the 6 team NL Central and foster an obvious rivalry between the Astros and the Texas Rangers.

Under the plan the leagues would no longer be divided into divisions. No more Phillies vs. Braves NL East showdowns or Yankees vs. Red Sox AL East races in September. There would be two leagues and the top 3 teams from each will make the playoffs while the 4th and 5th place teams square off as wild cards for the 4th and final spot. The plan could go into effect in 2012.

There may be no more Phillies Braves NL East matchups under the current plan.

Under the plan, there would be many more inter-league games. Perhaps everyday. This would mean that there would be more occurrences of teams having to play a brand of baseball that they are not used to. This may make you ask then why not make the rules the same for both leagues if they will have to play so often. Perhaps the league will but that does not seem to be their intention at this point.

So the oddest professional sports league in America is seemingly trying to take a step toward normalcy but in all honesty it all sounds confusing and complicated in its own ways. Will evening out the leagues be a good thing. Yes, but the league has to make sure that the players, owners and fans are all on board with the parameters that will come with such a realignment.