Did You Think The Drug Problem In Major League Baseball Had Really Gone Away? Nhl Cba Situation And More!

Marc Elliott

PROCTOR… Just last week the office of MLB suspended San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera for 50 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) after being caught with high levels of synthetic testosterone in his system. Just when you think all on the western front might be quiet for once, whammo! — another player gets caught up in the web of MLB justice. It is an inconsistent web, to be certain, but it’s there.

It’s there to catch idiots like the Dominican dumbbell Cabrera, who in spite of what some baseball experts say has a ton of natural talent, yet could not seem to get any consistency out of that talent. From the Yankees, where he was usually in the fourth outfielder position,  to the Atlanta Braves via trade, where he was an out-of-shape, underachieving failure of sorts, thus earning a release, to the Kansas City Royals, where he actually had his best season professionally, he was then traded to the Giants in the 2011 post-playoff period.

Based upon his performance in KC, and in how he had been playing in San Fran up until his suspension, you could say he had appeared to have turned a corner. Cabrera had a BA of .346, with 11 HR and 60 RBI, had scored 84 times, and had stolen 13 bases up until the point of his suspension. Cabrera had also won a spot on the 2012 MLB All Star team, becoming the leading vote-getter for National League outfielders as well as the game‘s MVP. It was right before the All Star festivities that I heard some rumbling by some major media types about Melky’s newfound baseball hero status. One of them was none other than Jim Rome. How was it that Cabrera had finally “harnessed” his abilities? Well, we know now.

There were some Cabrera observers during his stint with the Braves who said he was flat out of shape and disinterested, almost pudgy. After his release from the Braves in the coming months, his physique would begin to transform. No one around him is claiming that he suddenly turned into Melky “the Body” Cabrera, but he looked a lot different than he did in the ATL. And the elevation of his stats into All Star status raised many eyebrows.

In the aftermath of the incident, I heard some MLB “insiders” state that they were surprised that Cabrera had been caught, citing that those who manufacture PEDs are usually a step ahead of those who test players for them, saying that the scientists that create the “masking” end of the usage are usually in a position of natural advantage over those developing the tests that can accurately detect it. It only makes sense. There are a few players who get caught every season, but really, it’s just a handful. And most insiders believe that they get caught because they make mistakes with their masking agents.
So, Cabrera got caught, got suspended (which will last through the remainder of the regular season for his NL West contending Giants), made the obligatory statements of contrition for the consumption of the fans, and rode off into the sunset. Ok, end of story. Just a minute, pahd-nah! NOT end of story! It gets better. Do you remember the old Beatles song “Bungalow Bill”? This has now officially turned into the story of “Bungling Mel.”

As this story went on, seemingly to find its way in and out of the news cycle, it was discovered that Cabrera and someone close to him had gone to some lengths in an attempt to make MLB believe that his usage was a mistake. The CBA has a provision whereby if a player can claim that his usage stemmed from a product that he didn’t know contained a banned substance, and he can provide substantial evidence to that point, that he can escape punishment. Cabrera and an associate allegedly fabricated such a product and then created a website to back that up, were sniffed out, and now Cabrera is in a whole new world of hurt.

Think 50 games were harsh, Bungling Mel? Well, even though this matter will be dealt with by none other than MLB commissioner Bud “the Dud” Selig, I have to believe that there is a hurricane-force manure storm headed your way, and that right soon. And for you, Bud, do you think that if you had done something, anything, during the “steroid era” of your sport, that we just might not still be dealing with this? As a fan, I have nothing but contempt for this situation. It only leaves me wondering how many more Melkys there are in the league. And frankly, I am getting pretty sick of it….  

THE NHL CBA MESS drags forth. Commish Gary Bettman issued his statement that there will be a lockout without an agreement by September 15th, the NHLPA issued a counteroffer, and now both sides are sorting through the chaff to see where the wheat kernels just might be. Most popular media and fan theory has it that the owners decisively “won” the last CBA deal. And most believe that the owners, as a group, have been financially irresponsible, thus leading the league and its fans to the cliff’s edge of lockout once again. Well, wait, it’s not that easy. While doing a bit of research into league matters, I have come across several points of view that explain why we have come to this fork in the road… again. Grab a copy of the Worldwide Duluth Reader weekly next week and I’ll give you the skinny. Until then, PEACE.

1. I’m Down
2. Yer Blues
3. Two of Us
4. Across the Universe
5. Savoy Truffle

Marc Elliott is a freelance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott recently wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County News Chronicle for ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710AM in Duluth.