Tuesday, January 06, 2004


(sing it...)

I...can do anything!
These pills I take
Can help me rake!
A Roiding Rainbow!!

Okay, so I don't have the financial clout to have the original Reading Rainbow singers or LeVar Burton introduce this, but the opportunity was there...I'll have to think of a second verse to the Roiding Rainbow theme song to account for pitchers taking steroids.

Derrick Turnbow of the Anaheim Angel bullpen has been identified as the first MLB player to test positive for a banned steroid, though it is under the guidelines of the USADA (no acronym given in the following article, US Anti-Doping Agency, perhaps?), which tested him when he tried out for an Olympic qualifying camp.

Here's the LA Times link (registration required), but I'll post some excerpts, but not the whole thing, because I don't feel quite as delinquent as before.

Turnbow, of Spring Hill, Tenn., said in a telephone interview that he had taken an over-the-counter dietary supplement containing "19-nor," as the substance is known in gyms and locker rooms. "I didn't know that what I was taking was going to make me fail a drug test, period," he said.
The release of Turnbow's name also makes plain a matter lost among the many steroid-related controversies that have plagued baseball over the last few months -- with the disclosure by baseball officials that dozen of big leaguers were caught in random tests last season using steroids.
Turnbow, throwing as hard as 98 mph, dazzled the Angels after returning in September from the minor leagues. He pitched 13 innings, giving up no runs or walks and striking out 12.

"This guy has potential closer written all over him," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said in September.

Turnbow finished last season with the big league club and is expected to win a roster spot this spring. Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman, who did not learn of the positive test until Monday, said he was not prepared to discuss what effect, if any, the test might have on Turnbow's chances.
Under baseball's rules, taking effect this year, a first-time offender's positive test does not become public and he will be placed in a treatment program -- with no suspension. Turnbow, however, was tested in 2003, when there was no such sanction.
"I keep trying to think about it," Turnbow said.

"What happened is bad publicity. But it had nothing to do with Major League Baseball. I stepped across a line and volunteered for USA Baseball. I failed by their standards. I never would have failed a drug test if I hadn't volunteered for USA Baseball.

"That's what's so hard for me."

Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of labor relations, said officials were aware of the positive test, adding only that Turnbow's case "would be processed in accordance with major league drug policy."

Gene Orza, the players' union's associate general counsel, could not be reached for comment.

We knew the day would come where we'd know someone active in baseball would be identified as testing positive for steroids. Of course, with the steroid policy not fully kicking in until this year, I didn't think we'd hear about it until quite a while after the implementation of the policy -- like the article alludes to, the first positive test by a player doesn't become public under the new policy. But as we all know, the International Olympic Committee has some hard-line strict doping policies, and Derrick Turnbow (unfortunately for him) didn't take that into account. The IOC will rat anybody out if they're roiding (or doping in any way), just ask the husband of multiple-medalist track star and egomaniac Marion Jones.

We're moving into some uncharted territory for baseball with this whole steroid thing. The first thing I compare it to in my mind for some reason in the substance abuse policy the NFL has in place. Recent Seahawks violating the policy included Chris Terry and Shawn Springs. Let's say a ballplayer gets nailed a second time (because the current policy gives them a mulligan in regard to the public test release for the first time) for steroids. With the NFL policy, the players were suspended for around four games (this Google search seems to indicate that four-game suspensions are fairly popular in this realm), which is a quarter of the NFL season. A quarter of the Major League Baseball season is about 40 or 41 games. It gives a little different perspective when I think about it that way. Could you imagine if Barry Bonds got nailed and the Giants had to play without him for 40 games?? The ramifications would be a near-death knell to the Giants' season. In the Mariners' case, imagine Bret Boone being out for 40 games. There goes the power in THAT lineup, not to mention the glove. Imagine Edgar batting 90% of the time with the bases empty.

I hope in the end that this steroid deal ends up getting its kinks worked out and everything. Right now, the whole thing is a cloudy mess, the penalties seem lax, etc. More importantly, I hope that none of the great players that play the game of baseball are nailed. Sure, with the NFL, the substance abuse policy is used so often that people forget after while that Shawn Springs took something he shouldn't have when he was rehabbing from an injury. Since the policy is new, the first few guys that get identified by Major League Baseball as taking steroids are going to catch some heat and are going to get that tarnish on their reputation. Human nature tells me to have second thoughts about Derrick Turnbow's game log in September of last year.

I now pray for the sanity of baseball as we know it...

[Edit ~2:40p; added supplementary Marion Jones husband link]
[Edit 12 Sept 2006; corrected the Turnbow game log link]

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