Well, On The Bright Side …


~ Conan O’Brien on Twitter yesterday

Last week, Baltimore Orioles first baseman, home-runny guy Chris Davis was suspended for 25 games for failing his second drug test. He used Adderall, an amphetamine that is restricted by Major League Baseball.

I wrote about the messy business of drug testing and cheating and Chris Davis here.

And, here’s the weird thing I just discovered.

I started this blog in 2012. That was the summer that Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and failing a drug test.

And, I wrote back then about Cabrera and the messy business of drug testing and cheating. (Which you can read here.)

In my post last week about Davis, I was conflicted. I don’t like cheaters, but hey, we all make mistakes and do stupid things from time to time, right?


Was I mad at Chris Davis? Disappointed? Could I ever trust him again?

The last words of that post on Friday … “I just don’t know.”

When I wrote about Melky Cabrera in 2012, I couldn’t decide either. Was I mad at him? Disappointed? Could I ever trust him again?

The last words of that post … “I just don’t know.”

That I ended both posts exactly the same way – unknowingly – means what? That I’m hopelessly conflicted? Unable to find the black-and-white answer in a gray-area world? Utterly predictable? Or, that I’m my only plagiarist?

I just don’t know.

Just like the strike zone, balks, the ever-changing rules about blocking the plate, the phantom “almost tags” at second on double plays … baseball might seem black and white on the outside, but inside the rules can get a bit mooshy.

To ban Adderall for some players, but allow it for others? I just don’t know. It doesn’t seem so black and white after all.

Yes, Chris Davis broke the rules. He admitted that. He’s serving his suspension.

But, as CBS Sports reports, Davis may be one of the few players who isn’t “faking” his ADD diagnosis. Read here.

And, there is this.

Yesterday, with no game to go to (because of that suspension thing) Davis was on his way to the airport to pick up some friends. He came across an accident on 295 outside of Baltimore, stopped, flagged down help, and helped right an overturned truck that had pinned one of its occupants.

He really did. (And, you can read about it here.)


So, he may have done a bad thing. But, he’s also does good things.

How can I stay mad at someone who helps out like that?

How can I stay mad when the Baltimore Orioles are one win away from clinching the American League East title?

No expert predicted it (except The Baseball Bloggess). And, it hasn’t been easy.

Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters? Out since May with a season-ending elbow injury. Orioles All-Star third baseman Manny Machado? Out at the beginning of the season and out again since August with a season-ending knee injury. All-Star first baseman Chris Davis? Out (we’ve covered this).

other guys

The Orioles are about to win the AL East title with the help of a bunch of non-All-Star Other Guys. How cool is that!

It’s been a long time, too. The last time the Orioles won their division was 1997.

In 1997, there were no blogs. No iPods, iPhones, or iPads. Chris Davis was 11. Manny Machado was 5. And, we all thought this song was great …


It IS great.

“Merry Clinchmas” Everyone!


“We Are All Adults Here.”

“The weather may be tricky or a bat may slip or a ball may bounce in some unexpected way; now and then the best man may go stale or lose his nerve; the professional honor of the player, however, has been taken for granted. We do not trust cashiers, diplomats, policemen, or physicians as we trust an outfielder or shortstop. … The man at the bat, cheer him or hoot at him as we may, is supposed to be doing his best.” ~ The Nation magazine, October 13, 1920

Baltimore Orioles first baseman (and home-run slugger) Chris Davis was suspended today for 25 games for testing positive for Adderall, an amphetamine, which is restricted by Major League Baseball.


Chris Davis

His suspension means he will miss the rest of the regular season and the first eight games of the post-season – should the Orioles get that far.

Davis was having a weirdly unsuccessful (.196), successful (26 home runs) sort of season.

So, sure, it’s a weirdly insurmountable (who will hit home runs now?), surmountable (Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, Steve Pearce, and all those other guys) problem for the Orioles as they make a run toward the post-season (something they’ve done only one other time this century).

I am mad at Chris Davis. Because I trusted him not to be stupid.

(Trusting guys in their 20s to not be stupid, I realize, is stupid. I have just put my head down on the keyboard in shame.)

I am mad at Chris Davis because he cheated and now he is screwing up everything. He has let down his team and fans. (If we don’t win the World Series this year – no matter what happens – I will blame him.)

But, I’m also mad at Orioles fans who have been whining since the news broke this morning, “He wasn’t really cheating. Adderall isn’t a performance-enhancing drug (PED). It’s not that bad. Oh, why does everyone gang up on the Orioles?”

Let me clear something up, you whining tweeters.

Yes, yes, he was cheating. Yes, it is that bad. And, no one was ganging up on the Orioles. Chris Davis broke the rules.

Davis used a drug he did not have permission to use. (He had a “therapeutic use exemption” for Adderall in previous seasons. He does not have it now.) This is his second offense – hence the 25-game suspension which begins today.

Adderall, used for Attention Deficit Disorders in children and adolescents, is one of those sneaky gray-area drugs. Its benefits to athletes aren’t physically obvious – with steroids you can see the effects in the beefy muscles and resulting power. Adderall acts more like a super dose of caffeine, enhancing concentration, focus, and reaction time.

Dr. Gary Wadler, a former chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List Committee, told The Seattle Times in 2012 that Adderall is “one of the quintessential performance-enhancing drugs.”

Adderall, he said, “masks fatigue, masks pain, increases arousal — like being in The Zone. … It increases alertness, aggressiveness, attention, and concentration. It improves reaction time, especially when fatigued. Some think it enhances hand-eye coordination. Some believe it increases the mental aspects of performance.”

(Apparently, it does not enhance the “mental aspects” of making good decisions.)

Since Adderall has very little therapeutic value in adults, it’s curious that baseball offers exemptions to players. Nearly 10 percent of current major league players have an exemption.

And, Jayson Stark of ESPN pointed out: “Athletes who have taken it have told me that once you’re used to playing your sport when you’re taking Adderall, it’s incredibly difficult to play without it.”

Oh, sure, you wisenheimers can argue that Adderall was doing a lousy job of enhancing Chris Davis’ .196 batting average this year. But, you’re just being cheeky.

Davis had permission to take Adderall in the past, perhaps even during last year’s monster 53 home run season. If something gives you an edge or a boost or helps you achieve amazing things it can’t be easy to just up and quit. And, Adderall is highly addictive.

But, rules are rules and the rules say this – you cannot take Adderall without an exemption. Pretty simple.

I hate writing posts like this. (I’ve written this blog for two years and every season I’ve had to sigh and try to make sense of some cheater or other – relive previous cheatery here.)

I hate when stupid and ugly things get in the way of the game that I love.

Orioles rightfielder Nick Markakis has been outspoken regarding PED use in baseball.

nick in bw

 Nick Markakis

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun last season, Markakis said of players who fail drug tests, “These guys are big boys; they can make decisions. If I go out there and rob a convenience store, I know the consequences that are coming with it. We are all adults here.”

He continued: “These guys that are doing performance-enhancing drugs are taking away from a lot of other people that are doing it the right way. They are taking opportunities away and they are basically stealing.”

“I’m sorry” goes a long way with me. I forgave Nelson Cruz. (Cruz served a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test last season. He apologized.)

I’ll forgive you, too, Chris.

But, trust?

I still trust Nick Markakis.

Everyone else? I just don’t know.


Photos: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland. August 10, 2014

About Last Night …

Three things I learned during Sunday night’s Yankees-Red Sox game.

1. The AL East seems a lot like the Wild, Wild West some nights.

Vigilante justice is alive and well in baseball. Watch Red Sox Pitcher Ryan Dempster plunk the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez in his first at bat Sunday night. An innocent errant throw? Or, a pitcher meting out his own brand of punishment to a cheater?

Watch it here.

arod plunked

While Major League Baseball has suspended A-Rod (pending appeal) for his use of performance-enhancing drugs, that punishment, maybe, isn’t enough for some players. Or, perhaps, the recent reports of A-Rod ratting out other players in an effort to protect himself, spurred the pitch.

They call them “message pitches”.  (Because baseball has a name for everything.)

Or, maybe it was an accident. Dempster pops, on average, five batters a season, so maybe A-Rod just came up at the wrong time.

In any event, for those people who think baseball is boring, they are missing out on all sorts of crazy intrigue and drama. Where one single pitch – in a game that had 342 – can be filled with meaning.

For more, check out the always brilliant Jason Turbow of The Baseball Codes on the Dempster/A-Rod drama. Click here.

2. Baseball can unfold like a Movie of the Week. 

He may be a cheater, but after getting hit by a pitch and enduring a thunderous Fenway-full of boos, Alex Rodriguez seemed more like a victim last night. The victim of bullying by a team and a town.

So, you sort of had to smile (just a little bit, just a tiny bit, just a little “I really shouldn’t, but I just can’t help myself” teeny, weeny bit) when A-Rod came up again and crushed one – just crushed it – 446 feet into the seats. (The longest homerun of the season for a Yankee.)

Watch it here.

at bat

Because, sure, no one likes a cheater. Or, a rat. But, remember, no one likes a bully either. And, everyone knows, bullies never win in the movies.

3. Even if you’re in a hurry, always, always take time for Spell Check.


(Go O’s!)

I was wrong. I’m sorry.

Last month, I wrote about potato chips.

I was actually writing about baseball’s All-Star Game and fan voting. (Click here to review.)

But, really, all you cared about was the potato chips.

That’s ok. Blog posts are funny that way.

So, to recap: America voted for their favorite potato chip flavor. The choices were:

  • Cheesy Garlic Bread
  • Sriracha
  • Chicken & Waffles

When Cheesy Garlic Bread won, I complained that Americans had voted for bread as an appropriate potato chip flavor. As far as I was concerned, this ridiculous choice meant that Americans shouldn’t be allowed to vote for anything.

(You all should have voted the Orioles’ Nick Markakis into the All Star Game, too. You should be ashamed baseball voters.)

Nicks glove

Here’s Nick’s Glove.

homerun robber

Here’s comes the baseball.

nick here it is

There goes the homerun. Sorry, Texas.

Watch it here.

But, here’s the thing. I learned about the contest after it was over. I never saw the flavors in my store. I never tried them. I merely decided, based on common sense, that bread was a horrible flavor choice.

Many of you commented on the post, and no one had seen or tasted any of the flavors.

Today, all three flavors magically appeared along a wall in my grocery store.


They weren’t there last month. They weren’t there last week. (My Husband/Editor would like to point out that last month and last week are the same thing. But, you get my point.)

I gasped. Maybe I yelped. I might have been a bit too loud. I don’t remember. I was overcome with emotion.

They were on sale too. So, on that alone, let’s go with yelp.

Finally, America, I could taste for myself.

But, before I do, let me say this.

I don’t ask for much from professional athletes. Show up on time. Don’t cheat. Do your best. And, be nice to the fans. If you’re a funny or witty interview, so much the better; I’ll let a few bad games slide. If you rescue shelter animals, help out in your community, and support local charities … hey, you had me at “rescue shelter animals.”

Oh, and don’t lie.

And, if and when you get caught lying or cheating, here’s what you do. It’s pretty easy.

Say “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

And, let the healing begin.

So, I write this post today for the potato chip fans of the world and for Alex Rodriguez, the beleaguered New York Yankee who awaits the decision of Major League Baseball – will he be suspended or banned for life from the game he loves because he cheated by taking performance enhancing drugs and lied about it?

I was planning to write a long (boring blah-blah-blah long) post about how I’m starting to feel sorry for the guy, because many sportswriters and bloggers and such seem to be bullying him a bit, piling on, and reveling in his misfortune. We seem awfully quick to end his career, while letting other cheaters slide with, perhaps, lesser suspensions and the glimmer of redemption.

Cheaters need to be suspended and baseball needs to clean up its game. But, let’s not be bullies.

But, then the potato chips came along.



I’ll taste them. Discover that I was wrong, that Cheesy Garlic Bread is not only an acceptable flavor, but an absolutely mind-blowingly delicious one.

Americans were right after all!

And, I would admit it. I would say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

Alex Rodriguez has said many times (most recently in this week’s Sports Illustrated) that he wants to be a role model.

So, here I would be, right here on this blog, standing as a proud and honest role model for A-Rod.

What if he sees this, is moved by my emotion and honesty? What if he finally says, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” How cool would that be?

But, then, I tasted.

And, you know what?

Cheesy Garlic Bread potato chips?


They kind of, sort of taste like garlic bread, in the same way that freeze dried ice cream, kind of, sort of, tastes like ice cream.

So I was right all along. Potato chips should not taste like bread.

Sriracha? Doesn’t really taste anything like Sriracha. More like a barbeque potato chip with a garlic kick and a sassy chili zing. But, not bad. So, I was right about that, too.

(You’re on your own with the Chicken & Waffles chips. They actually have real chicken in their flavoring. There’s not much real in a flavored potato chip, so I’m as surprised as you by this. I’m a vegetarian … so, chicken in my potato chips? No way.)

Unfortunately, America, I was right.

Which is incredibly vindicating. But, not so good for the point I wanted to make today.

But, while I was right about this, I have been wrong about other things.

I once said that Bobby Bonds was in the Hall of Fame. He’s not. I was wrong. I’m sorry.

I once told a telemarketer who called me at home that I was the housekeeper and couldn’t take their call. I was wrong. I’m sorry.

I once tried to slip the word ausperous past an online scrabble game. I was wrong. I’m sorry.

I made up that last example. I was wrong. I’m sorry.

See, it’s easy.

I hope that Alex Rodriguez figures that out.

Because, how can I forgive you, if you won’t apologize?

Bears Don’t Hibernate. Neither Does Baseball.

My husband informs me that bears in Virginia do not hibernate in Winter.  He works at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, so he oughta know. 

It’s a sad day when bears let you down.

I have relied on the wisdom of hibernating bears when encouraging my Yoga students to quiet their practice in winter and in honoring my own circadian life rhythms. 

Bears hibernate in winter, I figured, because they are smarter than we are.  They know the value of rest.  They know that cold, dark winter days demand that they slow down and refuel.  These resting bears became a powerful role model for how we all should care for ourselves in winter … carbo-pack and hibernate.

Now, I find out that this hibernation thing is a big bear hoax.

This bear cub was in the Wildlife Center of Virginia's care. Wide awake ... no hibernating for him.

This bear cub was in the Wildlife Center of Virginia’s care in 2012.  Wide awake. Thanks to WCV for this photo.

As long as Virginia bears find the weather comfortable and ample trash cans to paw through, they’ll just amble through their winter like the rest of us.  Still, they hunker down in ugly weather.  So, while they may not hibernate, they do know the value of slowing down. So, hibernation aside, I guess they’re still smarter than we humans.

I was looking forward to a bit of baseball hibernation this winter. 

162 games is a long regular season.  It’s a reliable, irrefutable fact.  Eighty-two basketball games in an NBA season.  Sixteen NFL games a season.  These are, apparently, games for the short-winded and the short-attention spanned.   

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I Never Meant To Cause A Fuss

I have a super-secret blog. The fact that you are reading it right now (and you’re not married to me) sort of lessens its super-secret status.  But, it was super secret, once.

I just decided I needed to type something … something nice. About something I loved. And, I thought I could say one or two nice things about baseball and Yoga.  And, it would make me feel good inside to write something positive about some things I love.  What could be easier?

Oh sure, I published it on a blog.  I put it out there.  I just didn’t want to embarrass myself … especially in front of my friends.  So, at first, I didn’t tell a soul.

Eventually, I told my husband (hi honey!) because I needed a grown-up editor to rein in my occasionally all-over-the-place, mixed-up thoughts (and my inability to know a 2-seam from a 4-seam fastball, to spot a balk, or to understand the need for all the spitting).

I asked some friends if I could mention them in my posts, because they know baseball. And, some said “yes” and a few sent some nice thoughts, too.  But, I wouldn’t give them the address.

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“If You Doubt The Bodies, There Is No Sport.”

Frank Deford discussed performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and athletes on NPR’s Morning Edition this week.

He argues that we watch sport to see the “true” human body excel.  And, that it is the same as expecting an opera to provide a “true” singing voice — untouched.  If we must wonder if what we are seeing by an athlete is natural and “real” then our faith in the sport is lost.

I get that argument.  Although it made me chuckle to think of all of the actors and actresses and celebrities who have plenty of surgical enhancements done to prolong and “improve” their artisitic performances.  And, I think it’s a bit naive to think that great dancers don’t resort to their own PEDs.  So, perhaps that argument is a little weak.

Still, I like this piece and I like the thoughts he offers.  It’s worth a read and/or a listen.

NPR: Frank Deford on Performance Enhancing Drugs

Cheaters Never Prosper (except when they do)

Et tú, Melky?

In 2005, I fell out of love with baseball.  That was the year that Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for anabolic steroids after swearing – under oath – that he never used them.

I was probably more betrayed by the lying, than by whatever it is he actually did or took.   And, so I began a complete baseball boycott that lasted five seasons.

Here’s what Palmeiro said to Congress – under oath — in March 2005:

“Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids, period. I don’t know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never.”

Five months later, Palmeiro was suspended for failing a drug test.

ESPN: Palmeiro Docked 10 Days For Steroids

And, so I fell out of love with baseball.  Not because Rafael Palmeiro was my favorite player.  He wasn’t, although I loved him as an Oriole.  Still, I was angry enough to quit baseball.

I don’t know how to say it any more clearly than this … I’m quite conflicted over performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).

Here’s the Yogic view.  Yoga includes the Yamas and Niyamas, limbs governing personal behavior and lifestyle.   One of the rules is Purity – often defined as not abusing the body with unhealthy food, drugs, or activities.  Clearly, Purity is at risk when you’re taking PEDs.  Another rule is Truthfulness.

From a Yogic perspective, PEDs destroy the body (and we already know that the body can be severely and permanently damaged by the use of many of these drugs).   Lying about it just compounds things.

Even Stevie, my cat, knows about my own Performance Enhancing Drug — my daily Diet Mountain Dew habit.

OK, full disclosure from me.  I use PEDs.   I’m using right now.  I have caffeine every day, even though I know it’s not good for my body.   Is it a PED?  You bet it is.  It makes me a better massage therapist and a better Yoga instructor.  It ensures that I can teach a Yoga class late in the evening and still be “on” and bright-eyed.

Maybe it’s just a mild stimulant.  But, it’s still a stimulant.  It’s a drug.  I use it.  And, I’m not the only one.  So, you see how quickly this issue can become complicated.

Many of us are guilty of using something that “enhances” our work or our play.  Maybe there are some in baseball who see their PEDs as simply their version of caffeine.

The difference is that in baseball – and other sports – the use of these drugs is forbidden.

And, some people get caught.

The more I read, the more people whisper, the more I hear that everyone in baseball is doing it; only the unlucky few get caught.

I guess I would argue that, if it is going to be banned, then Major League Baseball has a responsibility to work a little harder to find and punish as many “cheaters” as possible.

And, why are some of these drugs banned when others like cortisone – also a steroid – are not only approved, but, from my perspective, downright abused by pro sports?

My husband argues that PEDs skew baseball records – and part of what makes baseball so special is its love for tradition and statistics.  But, even before PEDs, there were amphetamines and who knows what kind of snake oil they were using before that. If Roger Maris deserved an asterisk on his homerun season (an asterisk that actually never existed), then shouldn’t those who broke records under the cloud of steroids?  (Although, to be fair, none of them actually tested positive for anything.  So, who’s to know?)

And, what about spitballs, pine tar, phantom tags, and myriad other forms of cheating?

(By the way, the Giants’ Melky Cabrera could even still win the NL batting title this year, despite his suspension this month.  I like the Giants and all, but still, that seems a bit unfair.)

I don’t like steroids.  I don’t like cheaters.  And, I don’t like liars.

I’m just trying to figure out why Melky Cabrera — or anyone — would risk it.  Maybe I need to look at it from another perspective.

When ballplayers hit .300 they’re considered superstars.  (My husband and I joke that the Orioles are unaware that batting averages are allowed to go that high.)

But, think about it, these guys who are batting .300 are “out” two out of three at bats.   And, they’re the BEST in the game.  In their world, taking a chance on a PED, knowing that you might — might — get caught, but probably won’t, is way better odds than their regular day at the plate.

The rewards far outweigh the risks.

Last night on ESPN, Orel Hershiser argued that until MLB takes the PED situation seriously – by making the penalty severe enough that a player would be foolish to risk it – then the problem will continue.

Major League Baseball will continue to nab the unfortunate few careless or unlucky enough to get caught and everyone else will breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn’t them … and go back to what they were doing.

So, are we fans angry because they used drugs?   Or, because they got caught?

Are Giants’ and A’s fans angry because Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon used drugs or because they got caught leaving their pennant-chasing teams in the lurch?   (On the other hand, are Dodgers’ and Angels’ fans secretly gleeful?)

Are we sitting smug and self-righteous, secretly happy to see a rich superstar have a run of bad luck?  Or, are we hypocrites because we cut corners in our own lives, maybe even cheat from time to time, and take our own forms of performance enhancing drugs?

So, here I sit, my Diet Mountain Dew – my own PED — right next to me, trying to make sense of it all.  And, all I come back to is this.  I don’t know how to feel.  Betrayed?  Angry?  Or, just resigned to the fact that as long as a game offers such enormous rewards, it will be worth the risk for a player to be all he, or she, can be.

I just don’t know.