Well, at least it was not steroids. Still, the news that the Phillies’ beloved catcher Carlos Ruiz has been suspended 25 games for violating the league’s drug policy does sort of feel like the end of the world may be upon us. Is the Phillies 2013 season already going down in flames? Oh Chooch, say it ain’t so! I am so depressed…
The stimulant Ruiz took was Adderall, which is an amphetamine used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). College students use it to improve focus and stamina. For ADHD, it helps alleviate symptoms and allows patients to behave “normally” (if there is such a thing as normal).
Many major league baseball players are prescribed this type to drug for ADHD and they are granted an exception from MLB. A good example would be our old pal Shane Victorino, who has struggled with ADHD since childhood. He even wrote about it in his book that was released last year, “Shane Victorino: The Flyin’ Hawaiian.”
Another Phillie, Kevin Frandsen, was suspended in 2011 for a different amphetamine, Ritalin, while in the minors. These pills have become more common over the years among athletes looking for a “mental” boost instead of a physical one, like steroids. There is much debate over whether or not amphetamines really offer any serious edge, but Ruiz’s numbers this past year do seem suspicious. He had career highs in many categories including batting average, home runs and slugging percentage.
Know what else is a stimulant? Caffeine. So can players just drink jugs of coffee before games to get a similar effect? And how about energy drinks, like 5-Hour Energy or Monster? While these are not nearly as strong as Adderall, it does raise some interesting questions. Does feeling more “awake” enhance baseball performance? And if so, how much?
There have been a number of studies which can be found in scientific journals, but the results are varied and, therefore, inconclusive. An article at LiveScience.com reviews a journal entry by six scientists from top universities who advocate the use of amphetamines by healthy people. But the review serves to show an opposing view, noting the dangers of drug dependency and side effects. So even scientists cannot seem to agree on the subject.
Whatever the individual opinion on the subject, the end result is the same. There will be no Chooch for the first month of the season. Worse, players are only given a suspension for use of amphetamines after their second failed test. This means Ruiz knew he was to be retested, and still did not stop taking the drug. Chooch, you are killing me, man! What the *%*^@!!??
This is a crippling blow to the Phillies, who are already in a tenuous situation as this team continues to age. The window of opportunity for wins with this core group of players is closing fast. Of course, Erik Kratz will be there to fill in, but with so many questions going into the 2013 season, this is a huge setback. Will Chase Utley be healthy? How about Roy Halladay? Can the team sign a solid outfielder? And the list goes on…
I need a stiff drink right about now. Spring training has not even begun, and I already feel the weight of impending doom upon us. Hey, isn’t the end of the world nearly upon us? December 21, 2012 is less than a month away and, according to the Mayan calendar, we are all as good as gone. Is Chooch the first sign of the apocalypse or do the Phillies just have a black cloud over them in 2012? And could the Angels signing of Ryan Madson, who the Phillies should have gone after this offseason, be apocalypse sign #2? I officially hate the Mayans for prompting this silly discussion.
Let us all hope that 2013 has better luck in store for all of us.
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