Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Coincidence? Maybe Not…

Just when you thought the Brewers’ injury situation couldn’t get any worse, it did. The Brewers’ deluge of injuries went from the sublime to the ridiculous on Monday when it was revealed that catcher Jonathan Lucroy suffered a broken right hand in a bizarre accident in his hotel room. It seems, the night before, while reaching under the bed for a missing sock, a suitcase fell on his hand and broke it. 

Honest, I’m not joking.

Joining Lucroy on the disabled list are pitchers Marco Estrada, Brandon Kintzler and Chris Narveson, two shortstops, Alex Gonzalez and Cesar Izturis and a pair of first basemen, Mat Gamel and Travis Ishikawa. Narveson, Gonzalez and Gamel are all done for the year.

I told you this wasn’t funny.

Unbelievably, the Brew Crew isn’t the only team stricken by the “injury bug”. The Red Sox currently have thirteen players on the DL. The Padres have an even dozen with three of those gone for the season. The Yankees, Phillies and the Royals all have ten on the DL.

As I write this, there are over 200 players unable to play due to a variety of injuries and illnesses. Currently, 27 of those players are out for the rest of the season.

You could easily assemble an All-Star team from the players that are on the DL. Again, I’m not kidding. Consider these names: Chipper Jones, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, John Lackey, Scott Rolen, Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, Victor Sizemore, Jered Weaver and Vernon Wells.

You want more? Okay…

Emilio Bonifacio, Jason Bay, Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlin, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, Brian Wilson, Pablo Sandoval, Lance Berkman, Chris Carpenter, Jon Jay, Evan Longoria and Neftail Feliz.

Is this inordinate amount of injuries purely happenstance? Is it simply serendipity? Perhaps it’s a twist of fate. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence.

Maybe not.

Think back to last season. Ryan Braun, last year’s NL MVP, tested positive in October for elevated testosterone, which was revealed by ESPN in December. His sample was collected on October 1, a Saturday and the day he and the Brewers opened the NL playoffs.

The collector, Kenosha’s very own Dino Laurenzi, did not send the sample to the laboratory until the following Monday, thinking it be more secure at home than at a Federal Express office over the weekend.

According to MLB’s drug agreement, “absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the day they are collected.”

You know the rest of this story.

Braun appealed and when arbitrator Shyam Das threw out his ban, MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred said management “vehemently” disagreed with the decision, which made the Brewer slugger the first major leaguer to successfully challenge a drug-related penalty through the grievance process.

Since then, MLB and the players’ union have made some changes to collection procedures as a result of Das’ precedent setting decision.

Another significant thing has happened since Braun’s appeal was upheld. In May, MLB management reportedly released Shyam Das.

While this story is still developing, it is evident to me that MLB wasn’t happy with the Braun decision and what it did for their image. They are going to do everything in their power to maintain a league free from performance enhancing drug (PEDs) users.

Presently, there are only three players serving suspensions for the use of PEDs – Manny Ramirez, Eliezer Alfonzo and Guillermo Mota. Ramirez and Alfonzo received their suspensions prior to the Braun fiasco. Mota is the only juicer to be busted since.

Hmm, it looks like the players have finally realized that MLB means business and they are steering clear of PEDs. Is the current barrage of injuries a result of players laying off the juice?

There is a reason athletes use PEDs. While they may have many side effects, they also have a lot of benefits. These benefits allow athletes to play better and keep their careers going.

PEDs help the body build muscle faster. This makes the player stronger with less effort. Some PEDs increase muscle mass, energy and endurance. Some believe these drugs also enable the body to recover quicker from injuries.
Let’s recap.

Since the Ryan Braun decision, MLB has seriously flexed their muscles and have ramped up their war on PEDs. Players have apparently taken heed to this, as is evidenced by the lack of suspensions. Conversely, the 2012 season has seen a disproportionate increase in injuries.

Coincidence? Maybe not…

Until next time…from the booth.

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