Monday, August 01, 2005

Thoughts from a Sick Bed...

After a weekend where the Yanks did the improbable--and I got a really nasty summer cold--a few notes:

After I left off Saturday's game, things really got wild. The Yanks pulled a couple of wins completely out of their petards, requiring lots of helps from Los Angeles of Los Angeles which is somehow in Anaheim. The Halos did more kicking than the Rockettes en route to losing the series on Sunday. What you can say in the Yanks' favor was that they never surrendered, even after Chone Figgins' 10th inning lead-off triple. It just didn't feel like the game was over.

So the Yanks leave July minus Buddy Groom and a few prospects, plus Shawn Chacon and Al Leiter, and with as many question marks as a Yankee team has had this late in the season since 1995. Let the excitement continue!


Under the heading "This Time, It Counts!" Raffy Palmeiro is the latest major leaguer to test positive under the major league banned substances policy. Seems like this one has been kept under someone's hat for a while, because it appears (based on Palmeiro's statement and what we know of the policy):

1. That Palmeiro tested positive for a banned substance on MLB's "steroid" schedule;

2. That he received that result within 24 hours, and contested the positive result within two business days of receiving those results, giving the basis for the challenge in writing;

3. That MLB's Health Policy Advisory Committee (HPAC) then sent Palmeiro a "litigation packet" containing info about the test, within three days of Palmeiro's receipt of the litigation packet, HPAC had to convene to discuss the matter;

4. That within 24 hours of that meeting, HPAC had to determine that there was a "reasonable basis" for the challenge (this seems to be the step where Palmeiro's case differs from the prior positive tests; if the HPAC finds no reasonable basis, the Player can still appeal, but his positive test becomes public, and the suspension begins immediately), Palmeiro needed only one vote of "reasonable basis" from the HPAC to proceed to the next step;

5. Within 24 hours, the Commissioner was informed of the HPAC vote, and then, again within 24 hours, imposed discipline--in this case, a 10 game suspension against Palmeiro, which was to take effect within two days. It seems like, based on the policy document, the Commissioner might have some discretion whether or not to impose discipline at this stage;

6. Palmeiro filed a grievance within the two day period. Because of the HPAC's earlier decision, the suspension was delayed pending arbitration, which occurred within five days of the grievance being filed; and

7. "Within a reasonable time" the arbitration panel issued its decision. At this time, for the first time, the Orioles were notified of Palmeiro's suspension, which was then made public and scheduled to proceed "immediately."

So, operating at minimum speed, this process could take about three weeks, from positive test until the whole thing goes public. Check out Will Carroll's take on this matter at Baseball Prospectus.

My opinion? When someone makes as much of a fuss about steroids as Palmeiro did in front of Congress, talking about "zero tolerance" and whatnot, they better not test positive for any banned substance. Once they've talked all that smack--and after an arbitrator finds that their positive steroids test was on the up-and-up--they no longer get the benefit of the doubt, and the presumption of innocence no longer applies.

So if Rafael Palmeiro wants me to believe he's not a user, he better prove it. And I can't even begin to imagine how Palmeiro would do that. It's perfectly fair to believe, now, that Palmeiro was lying when he claimed never to have used steroids, and when he denied Canseco's story about injecting him with steroids.

It's sickening. I'm gonna go back to sleep for the eighth time today.

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