Monday, July 29, 2013

0 comments Rick Telander Joins the List of Sportswriters Who Beat Around the Bush in Accusing Chris Davis of PED Use

Just a reminder to those participants in the Bottom of the Barrel Fantasy Football league to sign up for the league again. If you want to of course. Otherwise I will open up the teams on Saturday so that others who may want to join can. 

Rick Telander tells us it "raises eyebrows" when we see Chris Davis' performance this season. Chris Davis is hitting home runs at a record pace. Rick Telander is one of many sportswriters who don't have the guts (and mostly evidence) to accuse Chris Davis of PED use, but that doesn't stop some passive-aggressive accusations like talking about how it seems odd Davis' home run numbers have skyrocketed. Of course Roger Maris went from 39 home runs to 61 home runs in the span of a season, but that's irrelevant because it needs to be irrelevant so these sportswriters don't have a logical example to compare Davis' current season to. So Rick Telander is one of quite a few sportswriters who accuse without accusing and have suspicions of Davis they don't have the guts to voice. Telander sure will beat around the bush though.

People might wonder what the fallout from the baseball’s Steroid Era is.

Sportswriters will overcompensate for their lack of awareness during the Steroid Era by suspecting every player who puts up Roger Maris-like numbers of PED use?

Try this: Amazing Orioles slugger Chris Davis (in town to play the White Sox) is on pace to hit 61 home runs — Roger Maris’ golden number — 

A number that Maris hit once and never came close to again. Maris went from 19 to 16 to 39 to 61 to 33 to 23 home runs over a span of six seasons. If Maris did that today (Brady Anderson for example) we would all point out how Maris was obviously cheating the year he hit 61 home runs and then claim Babe Ruth was the home run champion with 60 home runs. Since Maris hit those home runs over 50 years ago we all know he was perfectly clean and obviously no clean player could ever replicate hitting less than 40 home runs in a single-season and then knocking 61 home runs in the very next single-season.

The first thing that goes through any informed fan’s mind when he or she sees a 6-3, 230-pound muscleman come from almost nowhere and suddenly start ringing the home-run bell is steroids.

Chris Davis didn't come out of nowhere. He hit 33 home runs last year and hit 21 home runs in 391 at-bats in 2009. He's been a guy who could hit home runs for most of his career now. He's in the prime of his career though and has made the Jose Bautista-type change to his swing that he claims contributes to him crushing the baseball.

Do I believe Chris Davis is clean? I don't have evidence to the contrary and his age, ability to hit home runs in years past and the knowledge other hitters have made changes to their batting style with success tells me Davis' new-found super power could be legit. I'm not naive, but I'm also not going to be a wimp and passively-aggressively accuse Davis of using PED's because I have no other column ideas.

The Brewers’ Ryan Braun was voted the National League’s most valuable player in 2011, and all that has hung over him since is the cloud of a failed doping test and legal technicalities.

Except Braun didn't put up prodigious home run numbers in one season like Davis has done this season. Braun has been fairly consistent in his home runs per season. So Braun isn't exactly an example of a player whose home run rate has skyrocketed in one season, so he isn't a great comparison to Davis.

The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown last season, and you just have to wonder. Cabrera’s right up there in all categories again this season, battling Davis for a possible recoronation. Is he clean?

Yeah, let's drag Miguel Cabrera into this discussion. That seems fair. Apparently no MLB player can ever have another great season of hitting the baseball without his name immediately being linked to PED's by a sportswriter. Do we have evidence Miguel Cabrera isn't clean? If not, it is only fair to assume he is clean.

Commissioner Bud Selig would like us to think the dubious old days of drug-taking have vanished because Major League Baseball and the players union have agreed on a drug-testing program. But the Olympic rule holds: Only the stupid, reckless and bizarrely egomaniacal get caught.

Oh ok, so most Olympians are using PED's, but only the dumb ones get caught? Great, glad we got that out of the way. Why even have sports since Rick Telander thinks everyone is using PED's? I'd love to know Rick's PED thoughts on the NFL and NBA. He probably thinks all of those guys are clean.

Even career narcissist Lance Armstrong might have made it through doping central if he had left well enough alone and not come back to cycling after his seven Tour de France victories. 

It's speculation to say Armstrong would have gotten busted even if he didn't return to cycling after his seven Tour de France victories, but the government had their eye on Armstrong for a while and Armstrong had also made a lot of enemies over the years. I'm betting Armstrong would have been busted for doping at some point because the government or one of the people he defamed or libeled over the years would have worked hard to find evidence of his doping.

Everybody says Davis is a humble, God-fearing sort. And he seems to be. He doesn’t like to brag. He walks away from homers the same way he does from strikeouts.


But he has hit a broken-bat homer.

This is even more irrelevant. Jordan Pacheco has one too. Justin Upton has hit one. Jarrod Saltalamacchia has hit one. Mark Teixeira has hit one. If that's evidence of a player using steroids then Rick Telander needs to be prepared to accuse all four of these players of using PED's.

He can hit opposite-field dingers on bad pitches.

Shin-Soo Choo hit an opposite field home run off a slider on the outside part of the plate a few weekends ago against the Braves. Choo is probably not using PED's.

He has checked his swing and hit the wall.

Rick needs to immediately forward this information to MLB so they can start the investigation immediately. Chris Davis checked his swing and hit the wall? This doesn't sound anecdotal at all.

Five days ago, Baltimore Sun baseball writer Matt Vensel noted that Davis’ amazing stat of the week was that he had hit at least nine homers in three consecutive months, something ‘‘last done by Rafael Palmeiro in 1998.’’

Palmeiro? Yep, a previously disgraced ’roider.

More clear evidence that isn't anecdotal or coincidental in nature.

I don’t think anybody wants Davis to be dirty. He never has failed a drug test, remember.

Actually, you are the one who needs to remember Chris Davis has never failed a drug test. As I noted when Rick Reilly sort-of-but-not-really accused Chris Davis of PED use, Davis did hit home runs in AA at the current pace he is hitting home runs. Davis hit 54 home runs in 867 at-bats at AAA from the ages of 22-25 years old. Davis is now 27 years old (in the prime of his career) and getting consistent at-bats. This isn't the case of a 10 year veteran who hasn't ever hit 30 home runs in a season over his career starting to slam the ball out of the park at a prodigious clip. Davis hasn't really gotten consistent 500 at-bats over a season in the majors but for one year of his career and that was in 2012. He hit 33 home runs last year. Davis has shown he can hit home runs, even if not at this current rate.

And let’s state here all the reasons he might be as clean as spring sheets: He is 27, a great age for sluggers. He has changed up his swing to be less wild. He is left-handed, and that helps in parks with shallow corners and against right-handed pitchers. He has been in the majors six seasons and has worked very hard. Finally, he hit 33 homers last season. 

And I really don't think this can be overstated, that last year was the first year Davis got 500 at-bats in the majors. You don't have to be a genius to know consistent at-bats can help a player feel more comfortable at the plate.

I like the idea of Rick Telander telling us why Chris Davis may not be using PED's, but I know he doesn't believe it. He wouldn't write this column if he believed Davis wasn't using PED's.

It’s that leap from 33 last season to 31 before the All Star Game that nags. By comparison, though, Maris hit 39 homers the season before hitting his assuredly non-drug-induced total of 61 in 1961.

This is the appearance of being fair to Chris Davis. I also like how Maris' home run total of 61 was "assuredly non-drug-induced" because we all know no Hall of Famers have stated "greenies" were readily used and available in MLB clubhouses. We all know no Hall of Famers like Willie Mays or Willie Stargell would ever be linked to any type of amphetamine use of any kind. So we know for sure that Roger Maris never used any type of amphetamine or PED during his playing days. MLB players started using cocaine in the 80's and then they started using steroids to enhance their performance in the 90's and there was never ANY drug use prior to the 1980's. It's best Rick keeps his head in the sand so he doesn't smear memories of his idols.

I think it is funny that Rick says Roger Maris was assuredly clean while he works hard to raise suspicion around Chris Davis. Who really knows if Roger Maris used any type of amphetamine, but there is more than one account amphetamines have been available in MLB clubhouses for quite a few years now. Again, Roger Maris is the only player allowed a 50% increase in home runs during a season and every other player who experiences this sharp rise in home runs is immediately under suspicion of PED use.

In the second inning Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field, Davis drew a one-out walk from Sox pitcher John Danks in his first plate appearance. This despite the fact Danks is a lefty and so is Davis.

This was the first time in MLB history a left-handed pitcher has walked a left-handed batter...more evidence of PED use by Chris Davis.

We’ll see where this Cabrera-Davis race goes. Let’s hope — for the immediate future, then through the spectrum of history — it remains fair, clean and authentic.

Until then, let's keep writing passive-aggressive columns where it is hinted that both players may be using PED's.

I wish elite sport didn’t so often come around to the fraudulent Armstrong, the guy who lied to cancer patients and everybody else as he won his gold and infamy. But it does.

Chris Davis has nothing to do with Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong doped to win seven Tour de France titles, while Chris Davis has had an excellent half-season during the 2013 season. Even if Chris Davis did cheat, his degree of cheating still pales in comparison to Lance Armstrong's degree of cheating. Not that there are degrees of PED use, but bringing Armstrong into this discussion only clouds the issue.

‘‘The Tour de France? No,’’ he told the French newspaper Le Monde last week. ‘‘Impossible to win without doping.’’

Maybe for Lance Armstrong it is impossible to win the Tour de France without doping. Greg LeMond didn't seem to have a problem doing so.

Let’s hope, as ever, he was lying.

And this has what to do with Chris Davis again? Roger Maris is allowed to go from 39 home runs to 61 home runs without any suspicion, but no other player in the history of baseball from the Steroid Era on is allowed to have such a large single-season increase in his home run total. I guess Roger Maris was such a physical specimen that no other MLB player throughout the history of baseball could match his single-season home run total.

Chris Davis may be using PED's, but his home run totals can also be explained by his changed swing and the fact he is now getting consistent at-bats. It's fine to believe he is cheating, but as a sportswriter if you suspect Chris Davis is using PED's then I would expect you to search for information to back up your claim as opposed to just accusing him and carrying on with your life. Also, don't drag Miguel Cabrera into the discussion. He hasn't failed a drug test either.