"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Let's say it's the eighth inning of the rubber game in a series versus a team with a potent offense, and it's all tied up, and the enemy has two runners on and no outs. You're Gardy--who do you send to the mound?

That's right--Juan Rincón. The Eighth Inning Guy. Nathan's Opening Act. The Scythe.

But who do you send in if Juan Rincón is serving a ten day suspension because something (no one knows what) flashed positive on his drug test, and he says he didn't do it and I for one believe him because this is a guy who takes upon himself the blame for losing a game even if there were three errors behind him, but the MLB doesn't care if he got a dishonest trainer in winter ball, or some nutritional supplement the FDA can't be bothered to regulate contained something it didn't bother to list on the label, or he was prescribed Nasonex for his allergies? And on top of that, what if Jesse Crain pitched two tough innings the day before and isn't really available?

Well, then you send in JC Romero, because when he's good he's really good, unless you consider that he's hardly ever good when the pressure's really on, and the eighth inning of a tie game against the red-hot Orioles is what the beat writers like to call a "pressure situation".

You cross your fingers and you bring Romero in and the next thing you know there's an RBI single and an error at third (by the backup third baseman, who actually knows what that leather thing on his left hand is for) and a bases loaded walk fer-cryin'-out-loud, and there's your game, folks.

Would we have won that game if Juan Rincón had been there? Who knows? Would we have had better odds? Absolutely. The MLB allows teams to fill the roster spot vacated by a player on suspension, but that does not mean the consequences for a positive test land only on the player. Presumably, there is a good reason why he was on the roster in the first place, not the guy who got called up to fill the hole. The team loses something, too.

So, Juan, your suspension is over tomorrow. I hope you come back ready to pitch and mentally prepared for the unkindness of the masses. I hope that in future you rely solely on good food and One-A-Day for your nutritional needs. I hope the drug test isn't so primitive as to read a positive on Nasonex. I hope that the next time it's close in the eighth, you'll get up there and mow 'em down.

Welcome back.

0 rejoinders: