Thursday, May 7, 2009

Many Manny thoughts

{Pardon my delay in getting this out, but work was nuts and I am only now (9pm) getting to unwind --jnr}


Like most of you, when I first heard the Manny news, I was stunned. I have been saying that no name would surprise me, but I guess I was surprised nonetheless. Not surprised that he was using something, something which reportedly is used to mask/help recover from using other, more serious things....but more surprised that he was dumb enough to get caught. I'm disappointed, just as I said I'd be.

I think the whole "Manny being Manny" schtick is/was cute and fun, but ask any Yanks fan and we all feared when this guy strolled to the plate. From everything I have heard and read, he took his craft very seriously. Which makes this positive test that much more surprising.

I heard (via MLB on XM) many well informed voices (doctors and such) elaborate on what Manny was caught taking: the female fertility drug human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. According to one doctor interviewed, this is no Viagra-like performance enhancer, as one 'source close to Ramirez' claims. Sorry. If you need that sorta help, you're not taking hCG; you're taking one of the many choices available to men these days. Don't BS us. We're better and smarter than that.
Another physician with experience in international drug-testing said LH and HCG are occasionally prescribed for men “whose testicles have basically stopped functioning.”

The physician, who asked for anonymity because of his standing in the drug-testing community, said HCG is used to re-stimulate the testicles, primarily in men with a history of steroid use.

Ramirez tested positive for the substance during spring training, then had another portion of the same urine – a “B” sample – tested again more recently, and it also was positive. Major League Baseball notified Ramirez of the second positive test after Wednesday night’s Dodgers victory over the Washington Nationals.
"A history of steroid use". Let that sink in for a moment. This doesn't appear to be the "I took HGH a few times to get back on the field" excuse that Pettitte used, does it?

Let the fact that this has been hanging over Manny for at least 6 weeks also sink in.

I'm not the Yanks fan who is going to point at 2007 and 2004 and call those titles into question. The whole game, every team, was infected with this PED usage. I'd love to be ultra-hypocritical and jeer at the Sox, but the Yanks teams were littered with junkies, too. Everyone's guilty, even the innocent. Sure, there's a part of me that wonders how the Sox seem to be so skillfully coated in Teflon that none of this sticks to them, even though they are no cleaner than any other team.

Jose Canseco was on the radio today, chatting about this, as you might expect. He essentially confirmed that hCG is used to help restimulate testosterone growth after years of steroid usage sapped his body's ability to make it naturally.
HCG most recently made news when former major leaguer and admitted steroid user Jose Canseco was caught attempting to smuggle it into the U.S. from Mexico.

The Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement stated that Canseco admitted to bringing it across the border because “he is currently on a hormone therapy plan because his testosterone levels are extremely low due to his past steroid use.”

HCG and LH were added to the banned drug list by MLB a year ago. They have been banned for male athletes by the World Anti-Doping Agency since 1987.
"Since 1987". And MLB added this to the list last year. Bud, it again falls on you. Sure the Union was complicit, but you, as Commissioner had your head in the sand, either failing to see what was happening or failing to act. Frankly, I am not sure what's worse. Major drug enforcement organizations had banned this substance 22 FREAKIN' YEARS AGO, but MLB just got around to it. Any wonder why we're no closer to digging out of the "Steriod Era" than we ever thought we were? That Mitchell Report thing was pretty good ruse, eh? Stupid waste of money.

Speaking of which, Mitchell Report prime source Kirk Radomski had this to say about hCG:
"I have used hCG numerous times," Radomski told "It works great. You feel great. After you come off a [steroid] cycle, your body doesn't crash. It turns your [testosterone] production back on. It gives you more energy. It makes you feel like you're still on a cycle.

"Typically, people who use hCG have abused drugs. Their bodies have shut down. A perfect example is Canseco. He went across the border to get it. He admitted that he abused his body. People who stay on long [steroid] cycles would have to take it. People who go on short cycles or don't use [steroids] that much can get away without having to use hCG."
I really don't want to hear the "unknowingly", blind support crap that might bubble up over the next few days. I want to know the truth, dammit. How long was he taking PEDs and where did he get them? Enough already. You're already sitting on a 50 game suspension with your reputation being shredded. Just fess up, and do it the right way, not a sorta/kinda truth like ARod gave us. But that won't happen. He'll backpedal on the "mistake" excuse and that's all we'll get. So we will be left to presume that he's been guilty for years, just like we did with Palmiero and the rest.

I can't help myself, but if I hear anyone trying to give Manny the pass on this, I might scream. From Shaun Assael at ESPN:
According to the man who until recently was the point person in the Albany, N.Y., investigation into anti-aging clinics, hCG, the drug that cost Manny Ramirez a 50-game suspension, is commonly sold as part of a "stack" of substances that includes performance enhancers.

Mark Haskins, formerly an investigator for the New York State Department of Health, said places such as the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center routinely sent out hCG along with testosterone and Winstrol (stanozolol).

I spent four years investigating this stuff, and 90 percent of the orders contained hCG," he said.

HCG is primarily a female fertility drug because it helps the body manufacture progesterone. When used by men, it spurs production of testosterone in the testes.
I'm mad. I'm mad that my adult years of being a fan are being viewed as an utter farce. What do I look back on? Who are MY era's Mickey, Whitey, Hank and Willie? The legends my Dad idolized. Sure, I have Thurman and Graig and Goose and Guidry and Mr. October. But I was 7-8 when those guys were winning. My older son is now 9 and his favorites include Jeter and Mo and I can only hope against hope that those two remain Clorox clean. A decade ago, I fully expected to eventually tell my kids about the glory days of McGwire and Sosa, ARod and Manny, The Rocket, Cal and the Kid. Good thing I have baseballs signed by the last two.

I'm mad that I have to explain this stuff to my boys. I should be concerned with teaching them the infield fly rule (once I figure it out myself), throwing ahead of the runner and hitting behind one. And not stealing with a 5 run lead. And the rest of baseball's wonderful unwritten rules. And how to fill out a box score.

I'm mad that the man behind ARod and Manny, none other than Scott Boras himself, is nowhere to be seen or heard. Just in case you are wondering, here are the some of the Boras clients who have been tagged as users (though some may not have been clients at the time of their getting caught):
  • Manny
  • ARod
  • Kevin Brown
  • Canseco
  • Pudge Rodriguez
  • Eric Gagne
  • Scott Schoeneweis
  • Rick Ankiel
  • Ron Villone
  • Gary Sheffield
As noted in this 2007 Daily News article:
But after two Boras clients...showed up on the client list of Signature Pharmacy as having received human growth hormone, and, in Schoeneweis' case, steroids, several executives say they will look twice at a Boras client, no matter who it is.

"Absolutely," one GM says. "He talks about how involved he is with their lives - how could he not have known?"
I'm mad that one of the best pure hitters that I have ever seen is now forever tainted with the permanent stink of a positive PED test.

I'm mad that we're going to have to endure things like this and the ARod book every Spring, it seems. Who's next? C'mon down. Grab the next biggest name, do some investigating, write a book and make lotsa loot. (Come to think about it, I should do it.)

I'm mad that we have to keep talking about this.

I'm just mad.


JoeOrange31 said...

I am not going to question every single player on the Sox during their 2004-2007 run, either. However, I am going to feel just a tiny bit of vindication from the Mitchell report that seemed to leave that team unscathed.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

Lots of good stuff here, especially with the hCG, which I didn't know.

While I agree that I am mad as well, I am also encouraged. With the new and big names coming out, I feel like the MLB is actually making the attempt to clean the sport. I might be angrier without any big names, wondering what they're hiding. But there's no more hiding (well, I guess there could be) going on. I know it's later than it should have been. People should have seen it coming. But I genuinely think the sport is moving in the right direction. If it takes Manny and ARod to go down in flames to show everyone the consequences, then I guess that is what it takes. We are, hopefully, only in the first 150 years of the sport, and if this ensures the sport stays clean in order to last 150 more, then getting these players is a good thing, no matter how we feel about it now. If they hadn't then, I bet they would have tried later. Maybe this keeps it from happening again.

Hopefully, seeing these big names go down will force stricter testing. Hopefully, players will really begin to stand up and take responsibility. That's all we can ask. It's actually what we should demand. If the players are really invested in their reputations, they should demand it of each other. This is a crucial juncture in baseball history. We the fans, the commissioner, and especially the players and their representatives must stand for something better. They can ignore it and act as though it hadn't happened or they can do something about it.

Let's just hope they do the latter.

e-5 said...

HIM wants to know how all you readers will feel when it finally breaks, and it will, that some of our sainted HOFers will be found out...certainly not guys like Henderson or some rubber armed relievers!

dabramow said...

My feeling is that from the early '80's (at the latest) until now 70+% of all players were using something.

So this is the Steroid Era. Clemens, Manny, A-Rod, etc were all the best of that era. When a very high percentage of players are using, the playing field is leveled. Let's accept that and lets move on from this era, just like we mentally adjust the stats of the players in the Deadball Era, we will do the same for the players of the Steroid Era.