Like Barry Bonds, Baseball Widow hasn't retired; she's just not playing.
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Monday, April 04, 2005

Conspiracy Theory

So, my strike against writing about steroids didn't last very long; I've fallen off the wagon. . .

Baseball Widow hasn't read anything anyone else has written lately--this may no longer be an original thought, but here goes:

Is it possible that Alex Sanchez's positive test result, announced on opening day, is what would be called in the legal field a "test case"--an event constructed to challenge a law or rule? (Other famous test cases include the Scopes "Monkey Trial" and the Rosa Parks bus sit-in.) Think about it. . .

--Who is Alex Sanchez but someone who just barely made the roster this year? A well-known athlete could never risk his reputation to be part of a challenge to the system, but a new name could.

--What has been the reaction by the people who talk about baseball? Whereas last week John Kruk was saying that anyone who tested positive once should be banned for life, today he was arguing that the policy needs clarification, that Sanchez could have unintentionally violated the rule, that we need to examine the issue before judging, etc.

--What the general public seemed to have been most upset about during the steroids furor was that the athletes were using illegal substances, but the new policy seems to place equal emphasis and punishment on the use of banned substances that are legal.

--Tampa Bay totally overreacted to the news--cleaning out the locker, removing the nameplate, suspending him from team activities. . . no one does this when a player gets a DUI.

--ESPN interviewed the Tampa Bay player rep Rocco Baldelli (who, by the way, appears to be approximately 16 years old), and he said nothing positive about supporting his teammate, and the anchors responded by saying that every player rep should become actively involved in this first suspension and use it as an opportunity to demand policy clarification.

I know that there's still some disagreement as to exactly what Sanchez tested positive for, but I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility that it was just a mistake. During the Cubs/Diamondbacks game today, Rick Sutcliff compared the suspension policy of steroids to that of intentionally plunking a batter. He said that hitting a batter could be an accident, but testing positive for a banned substance is clearly intentional. . . sure, if Sanchez's story is true, he should still be responsible for reading a label, but, again, why would the steroids furor have to result in the banning of legal substances? There's not much clarity to the reasons behind the testing policy. Which substances give you an appropriate advantage (creatine?) and which are taboo (HGH, steroids?). What over-the-counter supplements might contain banned substances--remember the Olympic athlete who took cold medicine? Does anyone really believe that cold medicine helped her flip better? And what about false positives? This is something Sutcliff seems completely unaware of. He's so very sure that we should suspend a first time positive tester for half of the season, and yet he doesn't understand even the basics of the testing system. What will happen when someone who is universally considered clean (Shilling, for instance) tests positive? In the first place, Baseball Widow isn't sure it's fair to invade someone's privacy for drug testing, but I am sure it's tragically wrong to do so in a manner that might ruin someone's career.

Whew! I've said all that to say this: this suspension doesn't add up. Baseball Widow might just be paranoid, but I smell conspiracy, or at least, careful planning. Okay, at the very least, this looks like clever use of circumstances. How's that for backpedaling?

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