Athletics

MLB drug policy fatally flawed

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MLB drug policy fatally flawed

Departing from yesterday's theme of reveling in the Bay Area's reclaimed place atop the performance enhancers' throne, let us today tackle the slightly serious question of whether baseballs drugs policy is working in the wreckage of the Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon suspensions.And so you don't have to work too hard at it, let us use this handy catch-all answer:Its never worked, It will never work. It's not designed to work. The wrong people are implementing it, therefore it cannot work.And most importantly, lets provide the real reason it cannot work because nobody knows what works means.Does it mean no more positive tests ever? No, because there will always be players who look for the envelope to see the best way to push it. If there are no more positive tests, that means baseball has essentially stopped caring, and that will happen the next time there is a fiscal or artistic crisis in the sport.Does it mean hundreds of positive tests? No, because there will never be hundreds of positive tests as long as baseball is in charge of the results. Without independence and transparency as provided by an outside agency, any testing regime is flawed on its face, can be used to punish players as well as help them, and always is controlled by management, whose own responsibility in this area is conveniently forgotten or ignored.RELATED: Positive tests -- A look at the five players caught in 2012 using PEDs
Drug testing will work when players and teams fear the punishment more than crave the reward, and right now the punishments are insignificant in comparison to the rewards. Take Cabrera: He bet a one-year contract against a possible five-year contract and 4 million to make 70 million. The pot odds alone are too good not to keep playing the hand.But while we hear a great to-do about increasing the penalties on players, the notion of punishing organizations to negate the benefits of PEDs is never brought up. Ever. Its like we want to think theyre just victims in a cruel game set up by the athletes, which is an idiocy of the first magnitude.Put another way, did you ever hear about the team that returned a percentage of its profits from the steroid era of the late 90s? No, because it never happened. The teams kept every dime you gave them, and the prices they jacked up to meet the demand meant they kept every dime and then some.Now if you really truly want to know when the drug policy in baseball will work, get the correct answers to these questions (and because were swell folks here, weve given you the answers to help you study for the test):1. Are the people in charge of doing the test and releasing the results independent, and devoted to transparency? Chances of this happening are minimal if for no more compelling reason than someone has to pay for the tests, or if the results arent to their liking, stop paying for the tests. But lets go with the fantasy.2. Do the people in baseball understand that the drug fight will go on forever, because chemists always have the home-court advantage? Some, maybe, but many would be just as fine with ignoring it completely because drug detection costs more money than drug ignorance.3. Will the players be suspended for not games but years? Lots of tub-thumpers and moralists like this a lot because its easy to understand and provides a nutritious and delicious scapegoat on a slow news day. Plus, it can be negotiated inside a collective bargaining agreement even while the CBA is in force.4. Will the owners be fined in the millions for each player they employ who tests positive, seeing as how they benefit from the deeds the drugs allegedly enhance? This has never been mentioned because, well, because rich folks in suits work very hard to stay out of that particular debate. But if drugs are the scourge they are purported to be, all the ill-gotten gains should be seized, should they not?Until these conditions are met, the drug policy is not a success except as a way to cure a slow news day. A lot of people get to call athletes dumb for getting caught. A few people get a moment of notoriety for suggesting that Derek Jeter should be suspected of drug use based on the fact that he exists. And fans of teams whose chances for glory were impaired by rivals drug-enriched players get to complain over that fourth beer.In other words, this isnt really a drug policy at all. Its entertainment, and grist for the mill, and something to kill time with until something more salacious comes along.And something always does.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

A's blow it again in ninth, swept on walk-off grand slam in 10th

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USATI

A's blow it again in ninth, swept on walk-off grand slam in 10th

BOX SCORE

TORONTO  — Steve Pearce became the latest Blue Jay to hit a game-ending home run.

Pearce hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the 10th inning and Toronto beat the Oakland Athletics 8-4 on Thursday to complete a four-game sweep.

"Hopefully we just keep the ball rolling," Pearce said. "We're getting down to the end of the season so we've got to step it up and this was a great series to get it started."

Oakland reliever Liam Hendriks (3-2) walked the bases loaded with two outs before Pearce hooked a 3-2 pitch down the left field line and into the second deck. The grand slam was the second of his career and first since May 2015.

The Blue Jays won consecutive games on home runs for the first time in team history.

Kendrys Morales, who hit a game-winning homer in the ninth inning Wednesday, had two more home runs Thursday. Morales connected off Sean Manaea in the fifth and added a tying blast off Blake Treinen in the ninth, the 19th multihomer game of his career.

Treinen got the ninth in place of Santiago Casilla, who blew Wednesday's game. The Athletics have blown five of their past six save opportunities.

"We're just having trouble finishing off games," manager Bob Melvin said.

Toronto has hit four game-ending home runs this season, the third-highest total in team history. They hit six in 2011.

Josh Donaldson also homered for Toronto, a solo blast in the first.

Roberto Osuna (3-0) worked one inning for the win.

Marcus Semien had three hits and a walk for the Athletics, who have lost 12 of 13 in Toronto.

In the fifth, one batter after Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was ejected for arguing ball and strikes with home plate umpire Will Little, Stroman and catcher Russell Martin were both tossed. An irate Stroman charged toward home plate to confront Little, and had to be restrained by Martin and bench coach DeMarlo Hale.

Right-hander Chris Smith replaced Stroman and Miguel Montero took over for Martin.

Stroman allowed three runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking a season-high six. Asked about the ejection afterward, he had little to say.

"When it comes to umpires or any of that, I'm not going to be making any comments about that," Stroman said. "I want to make my next start."

Oakland struck quickly against Stroman, scoring three runs in the first against a pitcher who had allowed just four earned runs combined in his previous four July starts. Ryon Healy drove in a run with a groundout and Bruce Maxwell followed with a two-run single.

Donaldson replied with a one-out blast in the bottom half, his 10th, and Morales connected to begin the fifth, his 19th.

Toronto tied it in the sixth when Jose Bautista hit a leadoff double and scored on Justin Smoak's two-out single.

Troy Tulowitzki tried to score from second on Darwin Barney's two-out single in the seventh, but was thrown out at home plate by a strong throw from right fielder Matt Joyce.

Manaea allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

"It kind of stings a little bit," Manaea said. "We had an opportunity to win and just didn't put it together."

Oakland broke a 3-all tie against Ryan Tepera in the eighth when Semien's two-out single scored Jaycob Brugman, but Morales answered in the ninth.

GETTING THE AX

Oakland RHP John Axford, the NL saves leader in 2011, was designated for assignment. Melvin said it was tough to cut Axford, citing his veteran presence in the clubhouse. Axford went 0-1 with no saves and a 6.43 ERA in 22 appearances.

WORST IN THE FIRST

Blue Jays pitchers have an AL-worst 6.35 ERA in the first inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Athletics: C Josh Phegley (left oblique) was placed on the 10-day DL and C Ryan Lavarnway was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. ... RHP Ryan Dull (right knee) was activated off the DL, taking Axford's spot on the roster.

Blue Jays: Quality control coach Derek Shelton replaced first base coach Tim Leiper (illness) midway through the game.

UP NEXT

Athletics: RHP Daniel Gossett (2-5, 5.40) starts the opener of a three-game home series against Minnesota. Gossett has allowed at least one homer in seven of his first eight starts. Newly acquired LHP Jaime Garcia (4-7. 4.30) goes for the Twins.

Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (3-7, 4.13) starts the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. Happ allowed a season-high seven earned runs in his previous outing, a July 23 loss at Cleveland. RHP Parker Bridwell (4-1, 3.09) starts for the Angels.

There was so much more to Bill King’s life beyond the broadcast booth

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USATI

There was so much more to Bill King’s life beyond the broadcast booth

When the Hall of Fame presents Bill King with the Ford C. Frick award Saturday, it will be big not only for the multitude of fans that listened to him but the colleagues who worked alongside the legendary A's broadcaster.

“I think he was the very best radio sports broadcaster we’ve ever had in this country,” NBC Sports Bay Area’s Greg Papa said. “He’s just a radio genius. To me, he epitomized the Bay Area as a sportscaster because he was the Bay Area. His word choice, his vocabulary, the way he was able to describe things. In so many ways he was the perfect Bay Area radio broadcaster.”

King was the rare breed of broadcaster, someone versatile enough and knowledgable enough to excel at announcing three major sports — football with the Raiders from 1966-92, basketball with the Warriors from 1962-83 and baseball with the A’s from 1981 until his death in 2005.

It was baseball that was nearest to his heart. And while his expertise at describing a ballgame was unparalleled, there was so much more to King’s life beyond the broadcast booth. That’s something current A’s radio play-by-play man Ken Korach discovered in the decade he worked alongside King after joining the A’s in 1995.

Korach, who chronicled King’s career in the 2013 book “Holy Toledo: Lessons from Bill King, Renaissance Man of the Mic”, found himself visiting art museums with King during A’s road trips.

“He was a patron of the arts and the ballet, the opera,” Korach said. “One thing that people may not know is that he was a wonderful impressionist painter. He painted landscapes that were absolutely beautiful, breaththaking.”

Korach has one of King’s paintings hanging in his den.

Like King, Papa also announced three different sports at the same time for a period — football with the Raiders, basketball with the San Antonio Spurs and baseball with the A’s. When he joined the A’s television booth in 1990, King was a crucial resource for him.

“When I began doing A’s TV in 1990, I would listen to Bill and have a legal pad out and take notes,” said Papa, who still calls Raider games. “It was better than any research I could do. He was so meticulously prepared.”

Korach chuckled when recalling King’s idiosyncrasies in the booth, such as insisting the window always remain open regardless of the elements.

“Even if it was December in Cleveland, and it was a Raider game and snowing and 5 degrees, the window would stay open,” Korach said. “He was real meticulous with the way he would set up the table when broadcasting the game, all of the notes in a certain place. And the wind would just wreak havoc. There was one game when literally I was on the air and he just took all of his stuff and slammed it on the ground, he was so upset and frustrated.”

For many years King was bypassed for Cooperstown, his excellence in three sports probably robbing him of being appreciated in one specific sport. On Saturday, he gets the ultimate tribute in being inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Korach and his wife, Denise, will be on hand for the ceremony.

“The most important thing,” Korach said, “is what it means to A’s fans, and fans in the Bay Area in general.”