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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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Things have been headed steadily downhill for the Phillies this season. A loss to the Mets last night by a 5-2 score simply added emphasis to that fact. Roy Halladay had a solid start, allowing just 2 runs in 7 innings. But the offense left 10 men on base and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
In a tie game in the 9th, closer Jonathan Papelbon gave up a 3-run homer to a rookie, Mike Nickeas. It was his first major league hit. You cannot pin the loss on Papelbon, however, I am tired of the excuses for closers in a non-save situation.
I understand the mental part of the game, the lack of adrenaline in a non-save situation, yada, yada, yada… Whatever. But for the amount of money these guys get paid, I personally feel I could overcome any mental obstacle thrown my way. These guys want an adrenaline boost? Tell them to look in their checkbooks before taking the mound. That would certainly fire me up.
Before the game, Cole Hamels was suspended 5 games for hitting Nationals rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch and then admitting he did it on purpose. Let me get this out of the way: Hamels was honest, but it was the wrong thing to do for his team. Entertaining maybe, but still wrong.
However, as wrong as he was, many others added to the pile of wrong-doing afterwards as well. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo blasted Hamels saying, “I’ve never seen a more classless, gutless chicken [bleep] act in my 30 years in baseball.” Really? Isn’t publically calling someone a classless, gutless chicken via the media just as classless and gutless? Be a man and tell it Hamels’ face. Rizzo is just as “fake tough” as he proposed Hamels is.
And how about the retaliation when pitcher Jordan Zimmermann hit Hamels with a pitch? Was that not also childish, classless and gutless? Zimmermann refused to admit he did it on purpose, so he did not get suspended. But everyone involved knows the truth.
These guys are like children in a sandbox. And all of them are wrong. Their mama’s must have missed out on teaching them some important lessons.
So just for fun, here is the conversation I imagine between Hamels & Rizzo, spoken solely in “old school” parental clichés:
Hamels: If you keep frowning, your face will get stuck like that!
Rizzo: This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you.
Hamels: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Rizzo: You bit off more than you can chew.
Hamels: No use crying over spilt milk.
Rizzo: One bad apple spoils the bunch.
Hamels: You are full of piss and vinegar.
Rizzo: Revenge is a meal best served cold.
Hamels: Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Rizzo: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Hamels: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Goodbye.