Monday, August 27, 2012

5 comments Gregg Doyel Has a Great Idea for Retroactive Punishments

The gnashing of teeth among sportswriters rarely gets as violent and frequent as when a MLB player is busted for using PEDs. Lifetime suspension, beheading, the immediate kidnapping of the player's wife and family, and the contraction of that player's team are all suggested punishments for daring to use PEDs to gain an advantage. All of these punishments would be suggested retroactively of course. So Melky Cabrera just got busted for using PEDs and received a 50 game suspension. Gregg Doyel thinks the San Francisco Giants should pay harshly for reaping the rewards of Melky's season. What should be done to the Giants? Doyel uses an arbitrary system of reducing the team's spot in the standings by 10% of the penalty the PED-user is serving. So the Giants would lose 5 games in the standings for Melky's 50 game suspension. I'm not sure how the 10% number could be more arbitrary, especially considering this number will have a larger or smaller impact on the team depending on what part of the season the player gets busted. Losing 5 games in the standings in May isn't as big of a deal as losing 5 games in the standings in September.

Melky Cabrera tested positive for testosterone, which means this is a tainted season. His season? Well, sure. Cabrera's season is tainted.

But I was talking about the Giants' season.

Games illicitly won. Postseason opportunity unfairly attained.

And there is nothing we can do about this because there is no rule in place stating teams who have players found to use PEDs will suffer some form of punishment. We dust ourselves off and re-recall the old rule that if a player looks like he is playing better than he should be, then there is probably a reason for that. So we all should have known Melky was cheating because he's been average his entire career and now was playing like an MVP candidate. We have egg on our face and move on.

Nothing can be done about it now, of course. Bud Selig isn't about to change the rules on the fly -- dock the 2012 Giants a handful of games, declare them ineligible for the postseason --

Selig won't do this because he's never done this before to a team who had a player found to use PEDs. He can't just make up rules like this on the fly.

Even if the Giants don't deserve to play in October. Not after getting 113 dishonest games out of a player who ranks second in the league in batting, first in runs, hits and triples, and in the top 10 in on-base percentage, OPS and sacrifice flies.

I like that Gregg Doyel included sacrifice flies in these statistics. That's not a statistic you see used a whole lot.

Cabrera is having a career year, and the Giants have unjustly reaped those rewards.

So I guess are going to take away the 2004 World Series from the Red Sox? Probably best to take away the 2002 World Series away from the Anaheim Angels. Now that I think about it, it is probably best if we just take away every World Series won by every team over the past 20 years just to be safe. Then we can go back and decide which teams deserved to win the World Series.

Have the Giants known all season that Cabrera was juicing?

For the sake of making this article more dramatic, let's say they absolutely new and turned a blind eye to it.

I can't say that. But I can say this: They didn't want to know.

Gregg Doyel doesn't know if the Giants knew Cabrera was juicing or not, but he does know they didn't want to know. He's not a mind-reader people, so he doesn't know what the Giants did or did not know, but Doyel is enough of a mind-reader to know what the Giants did or did not want to know.

Seriously, what good would it do the Giants in May, as Melky Cabrera was embarking on the hottest month of his mediocre career, to wonder aloud how in the world he was doing it?

So what was the appropriate thing for the Giants to do? Call a press conference in early June and announce they didn't know for sure whether Melky Cabrera was using PEDs or not, but they just wanted to let everyone know they think he might be using, but have no proof. I'd like to see how this press conference would work. I can't say how the player's union would have an issue with an MLB team accusing a player of using steroids based on speculation. This would have been the best move for Giants management, to publicly throw one of their players under the bus? Does this get them off the hook if they suspected Cabrera and publicly stated so?

Not to mention, if Gregg Doyel is so sure the Giants knew Melky was on steroids, then why wasn't Gregg Doyel telling everyone that Melky was juicing? He had access to the same statistics the Giants had. Granted, he wasn't in the locker room, but he just recited Melky's statistics, shouldn't Gregg Doyel have alerted everyone to Cabrera's cheating? Why is it the job of the Giants to bust their own players when Gregg clearly wants to be the Steroid Police and has such brilliant ideas to reduce the number of teams with PED users?

This is typical sportswriter revisionist history. Gregg Doyel sees the numbers Melky Cabrera was putting up and thinks it is so obvious that Cabrera was juicing and so he thinks the Giants should have accused Cabrera of cheating. Of course, Gregg Doyel never accused Cabrera of juicing prior to writing this column, but I guess that doesn't matter in his mind. Cabrera was obviously cheating at the time and the Giants should have known, even if Doyel didn't know him either.

That month Cabrera hit .429 with an OPS of 1.104. Hone in a bit more, and from May 4 to June 1 he hit .445 with a 1.175 OPS. For a month, middling Melky Cabrera was Mickey Freaking Mantle. When the month was over, Cabrera's batting average -- for the season -- sat at .376.

Looking back it all sounds pretty easy to figure out, doesn't it? Yet, we always read about sportswriters looking back at all these "obvious" signs a player was juicing, but the signs are never obvious enough to where the sportswriter does the one thing he wanted everyone else to do at the time, which is accuse the player of juicing without having any proof.

You say the Giants didn't know he was dirty? I repeat: They didn't want to know.

Maybe the Giants didn't want to know, maybe they really didn't know. Either way, I don't understand what solution the Giants should have done at the time. Should the team accuse of Melky Cabrera of juicing without any proof? This is a good way to make sure no players want to sign with the Giants for the next ten seasons. In fact, a San Francisco sportswriter did accuse Melky of using steroids and that didn't go over very well.

We never actually hear a non-arbitrary punishment Doyel suggests the Giants should receive. The only solution Doyel offers consists of him throwing out a random percentage of games the Giants should lose in the standings. Let's think of something more concrete. Caning, a naked dip in boiling water, free tickets to a Maroon 5 concert...what's the correct punishment?

The Giants looked the other way when Barry Bonds was doing the (legally) impossible. They looked the other way when employing 12 other players who would make their way onto the Mitchell Report.

Naturally, the Giants should be punished for continuously looking the other way when players on their team use PEDs. The Giants are the only team who ever did this during the Steroid Era, as long as you don't count every other MLB team.

After all that, the Giants looked right at three known cheaters -- Jose Guillen and Guillermo Mota in 2010, Miguel Tejada in 2011 -- and added them despite their history with performance-enhancing substances.

Guillen was dumped after being connected to a shipment of 50 pre-loaded HGH syringes late in the 2010 season.

If the Giants dumped Guillen after he was connected to HGH, then didn't they do this the right way? They placed Guillen on the restricted list for the rest of the season. I know, I know, I'm missing the big point. The big point being that somebody needs to do something to the Giants for employing a baseball player caught using PEDs.

Mota, who had been suspended 50 games in 2007 with the Mets, had a second failed test in May and was suspended 100 games. He's eligible to return Aug. 28.

Presumably the Giants will let Mota pitch again this season. It's the Giants, after all. Steroid Central.

Actually, if you pay attention to the Giants history when it comes to Jose Guillen they may not let Mota pitch the rest of the season.

No team should be able to reap the rewards of a cheating player. Not anymore. Not in today's baseball, which claims to be trying so hard, and caring so much, about the integrity of its game.

To punish MLB teams for having PED-users on the team would essentially turn each MLB team into a private detective firm constantly searching for proof of cheating by their employees. I can't think of a better way to create an antagonistic relationship between the players and MLB teams. Punishing teams for PED-users on that team would also create an antagonistic relationship between players on the same team. Every teammate is a potential snitch to management about the suspected PED-use of a teammate.

You want to show integrity, baseball? Don't just punish the player when he gets caught cheating. Punish the team that won all those games unfairly.

Baseball is a team game you know. Melky didn't win all of those games himself. Punishing the majority for the wrongs committed by one person just doesn't seem fair to me.

Every team in baseball has cheaters.

Well then every team in baseball should be punished. If every team has cheaters then how will baseball ever be pure? Fuck it, let's just cancel the rest of the season.

I love Doyel's position that the Giants should be punished for having a cheater on their team, then he acknowledges every team in baseball has cheaters. So if every team has cheaters how in the hell can we punish every team in baseball?

I suspect it. So do you.

In two months when another is outed Gregg Doyel will claim that player's numbers were outrageously out of the ordinary for that player and it was obvious he was using PEDs. Of course, right now Gregg Doyel can't seem to make a list of players who he suspects are juicing even though he expects MLB teams to suspect and accuse their own players. In hindsight, who exactly was cheating will be very clear to him though.

But only those who are caught can be dealt with, whether it's a player like Cabrera or a team like the Giants.

I agree only those who are caught can be dealt with, but Gregg is saying the Giants should be punished because they knew Cabrera was using before he got busted. He thinks every team should know which players are or are not cheating, which means every MLB team should be punished for having a PED-user on the roster because they should have known the player was cheating. So every team who has a PED-user (which Gregg Doyel says every team has cheaters) on the roster should be punished because they HAD to know didn't they? That's the incorrect assumption Gregg is making which leads to his suggested punishment.

So should the Giants, and while there is no precedent for that in baseball, there is precedent in other sports.

In hockey, if two players start fighting they are put in the penalty box for a few minutes. In baseball if two players start fighting they are thrown out of the game and suspended a few games. In the NFL if two players fight the officials throw a flag. In basketball if two players fight they could be suspended for 10+ games, depending on how severe the fight was.

It's hard to use one sport as precedent for exactly what should happen in other sport because they are all so different. What is a big deal in baseball, isn't such a big deal in football. Let's set some precedents then. Should NFL teams be punished for a player who uses PEDs? How about a minor league team? Should a AA team be punished because one of the players was found to have used a PED? If you want to set a nice precedent and start punishing MLB teams for players on the roster who are found to use PEDs, then it can be a pretty slippery slope.

something can be done. Something like this: Dropping a team in the standings if one of its players fails a drug test. Let's say, 10 percent of the player's suspension. Since Cabrera was suspended 50 games, the Giants would be docked five games in the standings.

Nothing like picking an arbitrary number out of thin air to serve as the punishment. Why not punish a team for 20% of a player's suspension? Maybe 15.456% of a player's suspension? If we are going to arbitrarily pick a percentage to drop an MLB team in the standings let's at least have fun with it.

Under the "Doyel Theory of Retroactive Punishment for What an MLB Team Should Have Know and Publicly Acknowledged Based on Pure Speculation" the best time for a team to have a player get suspended is early in the year. After all, if a team is 3 games ahead in their division on May 15, and one of their players gets suspended for 50 games, then that team is only dropped two games behind in their division early in the year. If a team is 3 games ahead in their division on August 31st, and one of their players gets suspended for 50 games, it seems like a more severe penalty. There is nothing like an arbitrary system for punishment where the punishment is severe or light depending on what part of the season the punishment is handed down.

Oh, and since Mota was suspended 100 games, there goes another 10 games. Harsh? Sure. But something has to be done, though Lord knows it won't be happening this season.

Because baseball is run by rational human beings who understand you can't blame and punish an entire team for 1-2 player's actions. Baseball is a team sport after all.

It sure would be nauseating for the Giants to eke into the postseason -- they'd have to eke past someone else, you see -- thanks to a good start featuring the illegally fueled Melky Cabrera.

If the Giants are able to hold on and make the playoffs over the last 30% of the season they probably deserve to make the playoffs, no? I don't like the idea of punishing a team for a rule that isn't on the books nor do I even like the idea of placing a rule on the books that punishes a team for having a player who uses PEDs.

Two, the National League has home-field advantage for the World Series by virtue of its victory in the All-Star Game. The MVP of the All-Star Game? Cheatin' Melky Cabrera.

If I remember correctly the American League didn't score any runs and the National League scored eight runs. Cabrera only drove in two of those runs. So the National League would have had homefield advantage even if Cabrera never made the All-Star game. Pablo Sandoval, one of Cabrera's Giants teammates, drove in three runs.

So I'm not entirely worried about the National League having homefield advantage. It would have happened if Cabrera participated in the game or not.

The Giants might well have known for weeks that it was using a dirty player. Why did San Francisco, set as it seemed to be in the outfield -- Cabrera and Angel Pagan in starting roles, Nate Schierholtz and Gregor Blanco in a platoon -- trade for starting outfielder Hunter Pence of the Phillies on July 31?

Because Hunter Pence is a much better baseball player than Gregor Blanco and Nate Schierholtz. If the Giants knew Cabrera was going to be suspended then why did they trade Schierholtz in the Pence trade? Wouldn't it make sense that the Giants would hoard outfielders and try to get Pence without giving up an outfielder, which is the very position they "know" they are about to need more depth due to the loss of Cabrera?

Perhaps because it knew Melky Cabrera was in the process of appealing a 50-game suspension.

Or perhaps Hunter Pence is a better player than Gregor Blanco and Nate Schierholtz. Perhaps the Giants wanted to upgrade the right field spot and gain a roster spot in the process by putting a superior player in right field as opposed to using a two-man platoon of less productive players? Nah, that's just crazy talk to believe the Giants made a trade in order to (gasp) improve their roster.

Maybe it's unfair to voice it, though I don't think so. This is the Giants, after all. This is a historically tainted franchise, and it just might host Game 1 of the World Series.

Thanks to Melky Cabrera.

Get off your high horse. If the Giants host Game 1 of the World Series it won't be thanks to Melky Cabrera. It will be because six other runs were scored in the All-Star Game and the San Francisco Giants team (without Cabrera) were able to win enough playoff games to earn a spot in the World Series. They will have earned the right to be in the World Series and the National League would have won the All-Star Game regardless of whether Melky Cabrera played in that game or not.

If MLB is going to punish teams for having players who test positive for PEDs then they need to find a better way to punish the team than to knock them down in the standings based on an arbitrary percentage of the time the PED-user will be suspended. Why even punish MLB teams in the first place for a player on that roster testing positive for PEDs? It seems a little silly to me. If MLB did this, then they would have to enforce this rule in the minor league system as well. A team's true record at the end of the year wouldn't be represented by their record in the standings if every MLB team has cheaters (as Gregg Doyel insists) and would lead to confusion about a team's true win-loss record.


Anonymous said...

That month Cabrera hit .429 with an OPS of 1.104. Hone in a bit more, and from May 4 to June 1 he hit .445 with a 1.175 OPS. For a month, middling Melky Cabrera was Mickey Freaking Mantle. When the month was over, Cabrera's batting average -- for the season -- sat at .376.

Hone in a bit on Chris Davis over the last 2 games. He's posting a 2.482 OPS over that stretch. A career .754 OPS guy!!!!! Let's call him out publicly, the evidence is there!

Obviously this is an extreme example, but how is a hot week or a hot month for a player absolute proof of juicing? Is Doyle saying that he started juicing in that month? Players have hot and cold months all the time...

j-dub said...

Might as well throw Buster Posey into the PED speculation pool. He's hitting .404 with an OPS of 1.176 since the All-Star break. Ruthian! No no, Bondsian!

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I know that Jason Heyward needs to be tested immediately. He has hit well for almost a month now. Gregg Doyel knows who is and who is not juicing, just like MLB teams should know. I'm shocked and dismayed the Orioles haven't publicly outed Chris Davis for using PEDs. He's having a good couple games, why wouldn't his team out him as a cheater?

J-dub, you can imagine how that would work? The Giants call a press conference and announce they suspect Buster Posey has been using PEDs. They have no proof of this, but have a real sneaking suspicion. How would that turn out? Teams calling their players for using PEDs is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Posey's OPS in 2011 was .757 before he hurt his ankle. He finished 2012 with a .956 OPS after recovering from that ankle injury.

His OPS in 2010 was, month-by-month, as follows:
* June 2010, .630
* July 2010, 1.165
* August 2010, .754
* September 2010, .876

2011 was more in-line with Posey's career numbers up to that point, making his 2012 line absolutely unnatural.

Yet no one wants to talk about it, even though he plays in one of the dirtiest clubhouses in MLB.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, MLB has PED testing now, so you would think if Posey used PED's then he will get caught at some point, no?

Considering 2010 was Posey's first full year in baseball, wouldn't it make sense he improves as he gets more experienced? He's 26, so he is going to improve. His OPS is .883 for this year, so 2010 seems to be out of line for his MLB career. Players improve. I'm unconvinced.