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Thoughts on "Mariners' Cano Apologizes For Failed Drug Test"

I confess. Many times I read headlines more than stories in both print and on line. The above "hed' was from an AP story, buried in the Sunday July 8 sports section of the World Cup-soccer-obsessed New York Times.

What a perfect example of the relativism of our age! Cano is sorry he failed the test. He claims he used it for a high blood pressure condition but the diuretic drug Furosemide is also known to be a good masking agent for PED use. Maybe he didn't want to use the female hormones that nabbed Manny Ramirez some years ago.

At least Cano spoke to the press when he visited the Seattle clubhouse this weekend. He didn't send his Brooklyn-born agents the Levinson brothers who also represented Cano's former Yankee teammate Melky Cabrera who was suspended a few seasons ago for PED use. (Cabrera is now in the minors, and the Levinsons' assistant who was fired for supplying clean urine for Melky is now reportedly suing the brothers).

Surprisingly, despite Cano's suspension for 80 games (that will end August 14 but keep him out of post-season games), the Mariners have surged into contention in the AL West, challenging the world champion Houston Astros.

If you like ironies, one of the big factors in Seattle's improved play is Cano's replacement at second, Dee Gordon (son of former star reliever Tom Gordon), who himself was suspended for 80 games last season for PED use.

I'm not generally a hanging judge on drug abusers in baseball. The Mitchell Report, released in December 2007, revealed that relief pitchers even more than hitters experimented with chemical enhancement. But collective bargained rules on testing must be upheld. It is a sadness for many Hispanic followers of baseball that a disproportionate number of drug violators have come from the Dominican Republic.

The failure of slugger Sammy Sosa to show any contrition for his enhanced home run total of over 600 homers has played a large role in his virtual banishment from the sport. There was a searching and poignant cover story by Jason Buckland and Ben Reiter about Sosa in the July 2-9 double issue of Sports Illustrated.

Before the College World Series, SI devoted a cover story by the excellent S. L. (Scott) Price to the travails of star Oregon State southpaw Luke Heimlich. While a teenager Heimlich had pleaded guilty to the sexual molesting of his 6-year-old niece.

The story of his plea had become public just before the CWS in 2017 and Heimlich voluntarily withdrew from the team before the Omaha event. He kept out of the public limelight but he privately denied that he violated his niece and only signed the confession to avoid a family-wrenching trial.

This season he was the star pitcher on the top-rated Beavers but he performed poorly on college baseball's largest stage. Oregon State still won the national crown. But for the second year in a row Heimlich went unselected in Major League Baseball's annual June draft.

There are rumors that the Kansas City Royals are in discussions with him but they remain unverified. I'm someone who believes that minors should not have the book thrown at them. In this specific case there is evidence that Heimlich took all steps to follow rehabilitation procedures and is not labeled a recidivist threat.

Saying this is not to make light of the victim's duress. It does remain a story that continues to draw my interest.

That's all for now as the Orioles's descent into the netherworld continues. By the next time I post, their main assets of Manny Machado and reliever Zach Britton may already have been traded. Whether the front office people who got the Birds into this mess have the ability to start the process to restore a respectable franchise remains a huge question. Since I have no answer and have my doubts, I will close: Let us pray.

Always remember: Take it easy but take it!
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Teny Ymota Says: Spring Training Should Be On Everyone's Bucket List

Meet a new pseudonym from yours truly: Teny Ymota (The Earl of New York [for Weaver of course] Your Man On The Aisle.

2015 will go down as the first year I saw spring training games in both Arizona and Florida. First stop was mid-March in Phoenix - the 22nd annual NINE Baseball Magazine conference, probably the most stimulating one in its storied history.

In 2008 I was proud that the founder of NINE, the late social work professor and former Boston College running back Bill Kirwin, asked me to keynote the conference. I still like the title of my speech, “Whatever Happened To the Marvelous Importance of the Unimportant?” Of course, it is wistful thinking to think there can be a return to a time when baseball talk wasn’t obsessively focused on money.

My vote for the best sentence at NINE 2015 goes to Villanova law school professor Mitchell Nathanson who in an excerpt from his upcoming biography of Dick Allen said: “By saying so little he became the symbol of so much.” Hard to beat that pithy insight into the
U.S. of A.’s ongoing fractious racial discourse.

The NINE conference always includes two afternoons of “field work,” taking in MLB exhibition games. At the first game we attended the starting time was moved up to noon to accommodate Will Ferrell’s farcical attempt to play every position in several spring training games. It’s for an upcoming HBO special.

The startled look on Oakland starter Scott Kazmir’s face when he saw Ferrell playing shortstop in the first inning of their home game against Seattle was priceless.

I like much of Ferrell’s work, esp. his imitation of George W. Bush.
But it took retired football coach/TV analyst John Madden to take Ferrell publicly to task for such a publicity stunt.

Former San Francisco Warrior basketball star Rick Barry once tried something similar at Madden’s Oakland Raiders training camp and the coach made sure that his “gentlemen” defensive backs Jack Tatum and George Atkinson were prepared for Barry if he ran into their territory.

The NINE conferees also saw a ragged White Sox-Angels exhibition at Tempe’s Diablo Stadium. In truth, though, the great baseball-watching highlight of my trip was a thrilling 1-0 Oregon State Beavers victory over the Sun Devils of Arizona State.

Each starter tossed shutout ball into the eighth inning. Elapsed time? Under two hours. Then the bullpens took over and the last two innings needed nearly an hour to complete. The Beavers have an effective lefty reliever with a striking name – Luke Heimlich. Need I say what we should call his summons from the bullpen?
The Heimlich maneuver, of course.

My Florida trip was briefer, beginning with a Saturday afternoon game at the Braves’ home field at the Disney complex in Kissimmee outside Orlando. It was scorchingly hot and there is not much shade at the ballpark. Heavy-duty Neutragena sun screen sure came in handy. A highlight of the field is lawn seats back of third base that have an excellent sightline on the pitcher’s mound.

The Braves held off the Nationals in a close game. But it is unfortunate planning when many spring training games are played between teams in the same division. Who wants to let opponents know what you may be working on when games don’t count?

My trip ended with a Sunday afternoon game in Sarasota between the visiting Cardinals and the Orioles. For almost a half-century the Cardinals trained in St. Petersburg and seemingly more St. Louis fans than Baltimore rooters came out for the Cardinals’ first visit to the Florida West Coast since they moved to Jupiter several years ago.

Ed Smith Stadium is a great place to watch a game – more shade than in most spring training ballparks and reconditioned seats from Camden Yards give it a distinctly Baltimore flavor. Do wish that there were more leg room for yours truly. I did make a close survey for next spring of seats with double leg room!

In a very lackluster spring season for my Orioles, Adam Jones did provide a couple of home run highlights as did Manny Machado for one laser shot. Early in the game
huge Matt Adams belted a lazy 3-0 Bud Norris offering for a big Cardinal home run.
Fortunately I was on my way to the airport when St. Louis won the game with a Grishuk 9th inning home run.

I’m hoping that the 11-18-2 spring training record of the Baltimore birds (as of the morning of April 3) will not be indicative of a mediocre season. Won’t need much time to find out as the bell at long last rings on Sunday night for what should be a very unpredictable and exciting 2015 season.

That’s all for now – always remember: Take it easy but take it!

YIBF (Yours In Baseball Forever),
Teny Ymota (The Earl of New York, Your Man On The Aisle)
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