The Bullpen: Melky Cabrera's suspension shows Steroid Era won't fade
It seems that eight years after mandatory testing and performance-enhancing drugs were declared illegal in the game, the spectre of major-league baseball’s Steroid Era just won’t go away.
Slightly over one month after the feel-good performance of Melky Cabrera in Kansas City that earned him all-star game MVP honours, came the disturbing news that the 28-year-old San Francisco Giants outfielder failed an in-season drug test, due to excess levels of testosterone in his system.
If that wasn’t bad enough, on Sunday, the New York Daily News ran an exclusive story from its investigation that revealed a “paid consultant” of Cabrera’s agency, ACES of Brooklyn, N.Y., had concocted a scheme to purchase an online website, doctor it and place an after the fact ad for a supplement they could then say Cabrera purchased and used without knowing the ingredients. Fraud?
Sam and Seth Levinson are highly respected agents within the industry. They own ACES with a strong client list, but they insist that they knew nothing about the attempted fraud, that it was this “paid consultant” named Juan Nunez that had come up with and executed the scheme all on his own.
“The MLBPA (players’ union) has clearly stated that ACES has no connection to the website or this matter and, as reported, Juan Nunez has taken full responsibility for his acts,” Seth Levinson sent an e-mail to the Associated Press throwing his man under the PED bus.
“There is nothing more we can add and we will allow our reputation in the industry for 27 years to speak for itself.”
The ignorance defence would likely work in a court of law, but certainly not in the court of public opinion. Even though the suspension of Cabrera by MLB was announced just last week, the results have apparently been known by the player and his agent since sometime in mid-July. Cabrera is a free agent at the end of the season and stands to make millions on the open market, given his breakout season, batting .346 with 60 RBIs, leading the weak-hitting Giants into playoff contention.
The purchase of the online website by Nunez, allegedly acting on his own, cost approximately $10,000. The scam would only have worked using an existing website because the argument needed to be put forward that the substance, believed to be a cream, was purchased before the test was failed. It therefore could not have been purchased from a website that was created only after the failed drug test. Despite that, MLB investigators were easily able to trace ownership back to Nunez.
Synthetic testosterone is a popular method of cheating. It is a substance produced from soy or yams, in factories and applied using injection, patches or other means. I know one former all-star player, a long-time friend of mine, whose career was well on the downside.
He was desperate for a way to remain active and continue his career. He had just a couple of years of playing time left, max. With knees that were constantly breaking down, the player’s wife went online and purchased a cream to be applied to the knees that was supposed to relieve the pain and promote healing. The miracle substance seemed to work and the player innocently discussed it with me, which shows he didn’t know what it was.
Later, his name came up in a commissioner’s report on steroids. So what Cabrera’s side was actually suggesting with the phony website is not so outlandish.
“Sam and I absolutely had no knowledge or dealings with anyone at anytime associated with the website,” Seth Levinson said in a note sent to the Daily News. “I will state unequivocally and irrefutably that any payment made to the website does not come from ACES.”
The fact is that whether or not Nunez was acting on his own, the player and his advisors had a month to figure out a course of action. Turning a blind eye to fraud is not good enough. This course of action, this strategy of fighting Melky’s positive reading, stems from the Ryan Braun situation over the winter where the NL MVP was able to successfully fight a 50-game suspension on a technicality. Even some players were not happy he won. In the case of Cabrera, there is a clause in the CBA agreement that says a suspension can be overturned if the player can prove he ingested the material accidentally.
The Levinson brothers, who have many high-profile baseball clients and expect more in the future, are technically correct about Nunez not being a full-time employee and about him communicating from personal devices and about him having only his name on the purchase of the website, but they must take some responsibility for the strategy.
It would seem impossible that in a crisis of this magnitude for one of their highest-profiled clients, that they would not have their finger on the pulse of any offbeat strategy designed to avoid punishment and suspension. If they did not know, then they’re not doing their job.
Sitting back, watching with interest is the BALCO founder, the man acknowledged by baseball as the villain at the centre of the Barry Bonds investigation, Victor Conte sounds almost smug when he chimes in that this is nothing compared to the cheating that is still going on around baseball. Even commissioner Bud Selig is believed to have told owners at a recent meeting that they will be shocked by what’s going on. As one who has been encouraged by the progress baseball had seemingly made and the way the game has returned to its five-tool roots, my optimism has been shaken.
BLUE JAYS WEEK IN REVIEW
GAMES: The Jays had another pathetic week on the field, dropping three of four games to the White Sox and two of three to the Rangers, to finish the 10-game homestand with a record of 3-7.
“Certainly where we’re at and the way things have turned with the overall record, the daily approach doesn’t change whether we’re eight games over or eight games under,” manager John Farrell said. “The focus is everyday on coming in here and try to win today. That focus and energy and effort doesn’t change regardless of who’s in the lineup or who’s about to return. Winning is important. This is a bottom-line game. We’re all evaluated and judged on our record. That doesn’t change.”
The Jays record at week’s end was 56-65, with a Sunday lineup that featured light-hitting Jeff Mathis (.219) as the DH after David Cooper’s back spasmed up during batting practice. Mathis was batting sixth against the Rangers, followed by Mike McCoy (.208), Yan Gomes (.165) and Adeiny Hechavarria (.167). Compare that to the Rangers six-to-nine holes of Michael Young, David Murphy, Geovany Soto and Mitch Moreland, who combined on Sunday to go 11-for-19 with eight RBIs. The Jays managed just two hits as a team against Matt Harrison and company.
The Jays, since July 29 through Aug. 19, had posted 13 games with seven hits or fewer and 12 games with two runs or less. The record in those 12 low-run games was 0-12. The record when scoring three or more runs was 5-4. Much-needed help in the form of recovering players is on the way.
Earlier in the week, the struggling LH Ricky Romero reverted to the bad Ricky in a 9-5 loss to the White Sox. The best starts of the week were by newcomer LH J.A. Happ throwing six solid innings in a win over Yu Darvish and the Rangers on Friday and RH Carlos Villanueva in a 2-1 Saturday loss.
TRANSACTIONS: The Jays, on Aug. 14, signed backup C Jeff Mathis to a two year contract for $1.5 million per season, plus a club option for 2015 at the same salary. At the same time, the club signed C Yorvit Torrealba, 34, to a minor-league contract, reporting to AA-New Hampshire.
Torrealba, released earlier by the Texas Rangers, played four games for the Fisher Cats, two as DH and two behind the dish, and will report to the Jays on Tuesday in Detroit. The timing of the Mathis contract and the Torrealba signing was coincidental, although it was important that Mathis know he is a part of the Jays’ future, even though the newcomer will split time with Mathis.
“Anytime, in my whole career I’ve always grinded it out from year-to-year,” Mathis acknowledged the importance of job security in his decision to re-up. “Just...not the stress, but the not knowing of where you’re going to be in the next year, whether you know it or not or whether you’ve been in that situation before, there’s just something to be said about security. Being in a spot where people like you. It’s really nice to be here, nice to be wanted. Like I said, I feel like with the group of guys here we’re headed in the right direction. That’s ultimately what I want to be a part of.”
On Thursday, the Jays completed their 10-player transaction with the Astros by sending RH Kevin Comer from A-Bluefield to Houston. Comer, selected No. 57 overall in the June ’11 draft, had commanded a $1.65 million signing bonus, more than a million over slot. The Astros did what they needed to do in terms of re-stocking the organization, while the Jays may end up with just Happ and RH David Carpenter, if RH Brandon Lyon leaves as a free agent in the winter.
DISABLED LIST: There was good news on the injury front. On Monday, 3B Brett Lawrie (oblique) and RF Jose Bautista (left hand) were set to start for the Gulf Coast Blue Jays. Lawrie was to return to the Jays in Detroit, with Bautista needing more game reps and set to fly to Baltimore on the weekend.
Meanwhile RH Brandon Morrow made the final of his five minor-league starts on Sunday at AA-New Hampshire, 4-2/3 innings, 81 pitches and will join the Jays in Detroit. He is ready to throw 80 pitches in a major-league game. He should be activated and return to the rotation, likely on Saturday in Baltimore. That would be a Henderson Alvarez turn in the rotation. The big question then becomes who would pitch in Aaron Laffey’s turn on Monday at Yankee Stadium. On other Jays’ injury fronts, DH Adam Lind was expected to get some at-bats for the GCL Jays and at A-Dunedin. RH Dustin McGowan (shoulder) and RH Drew Hutchison (elbow) are out for the season, as are Sergio Santos, Robert Coello, Luis Perez, Jesse Litsch and Kyle Drabek. How was your week?
Earlier in the past week, speculation in New England was rampant that Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine would be fired at some point soon. The reasons for the suggested dismissal were vague, but somehow seemed from legit sources. The players, apparently 17 strong, had a meeting with owner John Henry and GM Ben Cherington to voice their displeasure with the decisions and the direction of Bobby V. Departed C Kelly Shoppach, who had been dealt to the Mets, denied that he wrote the e-mail complaint on Adrian Gonzalez’ phone chastising Valentine for leaving Jon Lester in a game to get pounded for 11 runs that prompted the meeting. Shoppach said he did not even attend the meeting.
The fact is Valentine has not fallen out of favour with the players, he has never been in their favour. Recall that after former MGR Terry Francona was dismissed in boorishly cavalier fashion last October certain players were rumoured to have been dismayed when Valentine’s name was initially brought up. That came prior to Henry’s fait accompli interview of Valentine, a coronation, that even the GM had not had on his schedule and which aced out seeming finalists Jays coach Torey Lovullo and Cubs manager Dale Sveum, the final two interviewees. Red Sox Nation has taken sides ever since.
Four months into Valentine’s first season, the initial suggestion for who would be his replacement in the Red Sox dugout was that the team somehow should wait for Jays manager John Farrell to fulfill his duties as an exile in Toronto following the 2013 season, the third year of his three-year contract.
After that the Sox could lure him away for the 2014 season. But that scenario changed in moments, with the creative media rumour mill, the unofficial shadow cabinet. Why wait for the end of his contract, became the question in Beantown. It didn’t take long for the pretzel logic of the rumour-mongers to suggest that at the end of the current championship season the Sox should just hire Farrell away from the Jays. Maybe they might even ask for permission, maybe not. Why? Because it’s Boston. All bow.
What is it about both Boston and New York that makes their front office, fans and media think that all their organization has to do is snap its fingers and whoever they want, whether a free-agent player, executive or manager will come running. Boston is a mess. Other than the possibility of a higher payroll, what makes the Red Sox and Yankees so smug? It’s not just Farrell. This attitude is eternal.
Besides, it’s not like Farrell has strong ties to Boston and owes them anything. Sure the Sox gave him a chance as major-league pitching coach and, sure, they won a second World Series in four years in his first season, 2007. But Farrell was born a Jersey boy, went to Oklahoma St., pitched in many different cities other than Boston, settled his family in Cleveland, worked for the Indians and is happy.
He remained as the Sox pitching coach for four seasons under Francona, who became his good friend. Francona, to his credit, was constantly pumping the tires of his coaches pushing them to become managers elsewhere whenever there were openings. There’s Farrell, Sveum and ex-Astros’ skipper Brad Mills. These guys feel more loyalty to Tito than they do to the Red Sox. How’d that loyalty thing work out for Tito? Francona ended up fired by the Sox and Farrell, among others, was not happy with the team for the way it treated his friend on the way out the door. A Sox front office leak teased about Francona’s marital problems and reliance on prescription drugs. Why would anyone want to be a part of that? Besides, what says the Red Sox are going to win something before the Blue Jays win something.
Farrell, in 2010, was given permission by the Sox to interview and he bought into the Jays’ plan in November. The Jays also bought into his. Farrell has been a big part of what GM Alex Anthopoulos is doing and fact is the Jays’ GM seems to treat his organization people with far more respect than the Red Sox do. So why does anyone assume that if the Sox crook a finger in his direction, Farrell will jump.
The attitude bothers me. Back with the Expos in the early ’90s, Dan Duquette replaced Dave Dombrowski as GM in Montreal after the latter had headed south to the fledgling Florida Marlins. Duke was a different story. He was a New England native, attended Amherst College and grew up dreaming of being with the Red Sox. Farrell does not have the same background. At one point, just two years into his GM tenure in Montreal, the Red Sox called and Duquette could not resist the Siren’s Song. Expos’ president Claude Brochu didn’t want to let Duquette go, but Duke argued if he stayed his heart would not be in it. That’s usually enough for a team to change its mind and the Expos did. But that’s different. There was a lifelong connection to Boston. Apparently the Sox and those around them think that everyone’s dream is to work for the Red Sox. The arrogance still irks me.
MLB POWER RANKINGS
Last week’s ranking in parentheses
1. New York Yankees (1)
Every time you look up OF Andruw Jones is doing something special
2. Washington Nationals (2)
The clock is ticking towards decision on what to do with Strasburg
3. Cincinnati Reds (4)
One of those teams waiting for a friend, Votto, that will only make them better
4. Texas Rangers (3)
Pitching will be an issue in a short series, plus Hamilton’s state of mind
5. Tampa Bay Rays (6)
Manager Maddon is special person when it comes to creating team environment
6. Atlanta Braves (5)
These guys are damn good and have come close when they weren’t as damned good
7. Baltimore Orioles (9)
The longer this team hangs in the more talk of GM Dan Duquette as exec of year
8. Chicago White Sox (8)
The issue here is that closer is a rookie and Peavy is having comeback for ages
9. Detroit Tigers (10)
These guys may be laying in the weeds like last year’s Cards
10. Pittsburgh Pirates (7)
Well at least they’re odds-on to finish above .500 first since ‘92
11. Oakland A’s (12)
The longer the season goes the more likely these guys wake up to reality
12. Los Angeles Dodgers (14)
Maybe they should be ranked higher, but earn it first even with first place likely
13. San Francisco Giants (13)
It’s not like Giants should be stunned by OF being accused of PED abuse
14. Arizona Diamondbacks (16)
Maybe Kirk Gibson greatest manager ever ‘cuz these guys aren’t that good
15. St. Louis Cardinals (15)
At some point expect these guys to pull reverse 2011 and plummet sans chute
16. Los Angeles Angels (11)
Don’t know why keep ranking these guys so high but still think can be WC
17. New York Mets (17)
There is nothing lovable about this team but Dickey and Wright
18. Boston Red Sox (18)
Terry Francona greatest manager in history to win 2 WS in this environment
19. Seattle Mariners (19)
King Felix said he thought about El Perfecto from 3rd inning on
20. Toronto Blue Jays (20)
For all those that a month ago said play all the young guys. No!!!!
21. Milwaukee Brewers (21)
Shaun Marcum injured, soon to be free agent. So who won that deal?
22. Miami Marlins (23)
Marlins mediocre team in mediocre park with meddling ownership
23. Philadelphia Phillies (24)
They should have focused more on hitters after last year’s drop-off
24. Kansas City Royals (27)
Love the arms in the bullpen even though hitting studs disappointed
25. Minnesota Twins (22)
Apologize for thinking “Twins Way” was something special
26. Cleveland Indians (25)
This is a Faustian call of what to do with this pitching staff next year.
27. San Diego Padres (26)
May be getting better as season goes on but record does not reflect
28. Chicago Cubs (28)
Have bunch of good young players and manager who had no ’12 chance
29. Colorado Rockies (29)
This is around time these guys start their charge. Wait until next year
30. Houston Astros (30)
Brad Mills advice from Nigerian Olympic basketball team did not work
A’s RH Bartolo Colon, 39, beat the Indians on Saturday for his 10th victory, the most of any season since he won 21 for the Angels in his Cy Young year of 2005. Colon was part of a trade with Montreal that built the Indians at the time and was one of the worst trades in Expos history. Colon was sent with a fringy reliever to the Expos for Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens... Some guys have no sense of the dramatic. In Kansas City on Sunday, RH Jeremy Guthrie was tossing a no-hitter vs. the White Sox, when Paul Konerko grounded a ball deep in the hole at short. The throw from Alcides Escobar came up short, but bounced up and 1B Eric Hosmer seemed to have a clear shot at it. The ball bounced off his glove and scorer Del Black ruled “base hit”. What ever happened to the unwritten rule that the first hit, especially fifth inning or later, should be a clean hit?... Rays’ MGR Joe Maddon is still the best motivator in baseball with his team building road trips, etc. On Saturday, the Rays came back from an 8-0 deficit to beat the Angels, capped by a two-run homer by Carlos Pena. The Angels pitching has fallen apart, although LH Scott Downs return from the DL may help stabilize the pen. The Rays scored 37 runs in four games vs. the Angels who started Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Zack Greinke. If the Jays are looking for a common thread to their issues of late, there’s the Wells factor. In games that Vernon Wells has appeared in the Angels are 19-31. When he has not played, the Angels are 43-29... Speaking of pitching, RH Felix Hernandez tossed the second perfect game at Safeco Field this year this week. The other was by White Sox RH Phil Humber. That’s never been done. The M’s are working their way back to .500 which would be an incredible feat given how they looked through the first half. Could the dumping of RF Ichiro have changed the clubhouse? The M’s are 30-30 at home... Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but 1B Mark Teixeira has missed three games with inflammation in his left wrist and is expected to return in the next couple of games. It’s the same problem that has kept Jose Bautista out for a month... The Indians are 10-26 since the all-star break, through the weekend. C Lou Marson has thrown out just five of 55 base runners attempting to steal. That’s 9.1-percent. That’s not good... Red Sox LF Carl Crawford’s season has already been spoiled by injuries and now they must determine whether to shut the speedy outfielder down because of an injury to his throwing elbow that likely needs Tommy John. The Jays like to think they have been crippled by injuries, but the Sox have had 26 players on the DL this year, the most in the majors since at least 1987 when they kept track of such things. The 1979 Expos had one player on the DL all season as they won 95 games. The Expos used 14 pitchers for the year and the one DL was SS Chris Speier, July 1-15.
Prior to Sunday’s game, Reds’ 1B Joey Votto took some groundballs on the field at Great American Ballpark. He has been out since July 16, the same day the Jays lost Jose Bautista. But unlike the struggling Jays, the Reds have gone 24-10 without Votto... The Astros fired MGR Brad Mills on Sunday along with coaches Bobby Meacham and Mike Barnett. Barnett was the Jays hitting coach between 2002-05. Mills was replaced by AAA manager Tony DeFrancesco around whom the plucky Astros rallied for an 8-1 loss in his debut to the D’backs. The last Astros manager to be replaced after a season was Larry Dierker in 2001. Since then, Jimy Williams, Phil Garner, Cecil Cooper and Mills have all been in-season casualties... The Cards’ 19-inning, 6-3 loss to the Pirates on Sunday was their longest game since a 20-inning 2-1 loss to the Mets in 2010. LH Jaime Garcia was the starter in both those games. 3B David Freese was 0-for-8, the first time that had been done since Luis Alicea in 1988... Good news on the suspended player front for the Giants. RH Guillermo Mota, in the midst of a 100-game suspension for PEDs is beginning a rehab assignment (maybe another term would be better) in A-Fresno. He is eligible to return on August 28... A chance to see what sort of heavy mettle the young Nats have as they face their closest pursuers the Braves in a three-game set. Not pitching will be LH Gio Gonzalez who won on the weekend and ran his record to 16-6, tied for the NL lead in wins... Braves comeback RH Ben Sheets gave up four homers on Saturday for the first time in his career, rationalizing that at least they were mostly solo. Of course it’s hard for them not to be as he gave up three of the bombs in the space of four pitches... Small blessings for the Cubbies. On Sunday RH Chris Volstad made his 24th straight start without a win, since July 10, 2011. The good news was that he didn’t take the loss with his record staying at 0-9 and his ERA dropped from 6.96 to 6.88. LF Alfonso Soriano became the sixth player in MLB history with the unusual combo of 400 2B, 350 HR, 1000 RBIs and 250 SB. The other five are Hall-of-Famers Andre Dawson and Willie Mays, plus Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield... Marlins’ RF Giancarlo Stanton said he had no explanation why he had hit home runs in six consecutive games at Coors Field, the first six games he ever played there. How about the fact the place is a mile high above sea level. The feat set a MLB record, but the streak was snapped on Sunday.
THIS WEEK IN BASEBALL HISTORY:
8/20/64 The infamous Yankee bus incident – one of them anyway – where utility infielder Phil Linz plays Mary had a Little Lamb on his harmonica. Manager Yogi Berra tells him to stop then slaps the harmonica away. Berra and the Yanks go on to lose the World Series to the Cardinals and Berra is replaced by winning Cards manager Johnny Keane... 8/20/74 In one of the most dominant seasons by any power pitcher, Nolan Ryan fans 19 Tigers in a 1-0 11-inning loss. It is Ryan’s third game of 19 strikeouts that season. Ryan also had three games with 15 Ks and fanned 367 for the year... 8/21/47 the first ever Little League World Series is staged in Williamsport, with the home town Maynard Midgets take the title... 8/21/75 corpulent brothers Rick and Paul Reuschel combine for the Cubs to shut out the Dodgers 8-0, the first time brothers have combined for a MLB shutout... 8/22/65 the Giants and Dodgers rivalry was fierce. Juan Marichal accuses Dodgers catcher John Roseboro of throwing balls back to Sandy Koufax too close to his ear. He keeps doing it so Marichal pounds him over the head with his bat. Marichal is suspended just eight days and fined $1,750... 8/23/89 the Expos complete a homestand with a 22-inning 1-0 loss to the Dodgers as Rick Dempsey homers against Dennis Martinez who was only in the game because LHP Joe Hesketh told Buck Rodgers he couldn’t pitch. The next day Hesketh arrives at Dorval for the flight to San Diego and is told not to bother taking his suitcase out of the cab. He’s placed on the DL and left at home... 8/24/89 Commissioner Bart Giammati bans Pete Rose for life for allegedly gambling on baseball games... Giammati dies later that year and his successors Fay Vincent and Bud Selig continue to uphold the ruling... 8/26/72 recently deposed Cubs manager Leo Durocher replaces Harry “the Hat” Walker as manager of the Astros. Durocher becomes the second man to manage two NL teams in the same season. The first was Durocher with the Giants and Dodgers in 1948.
Birthdays this week: 8/20 Brad Arnsberg 49, Mark Langston 52, Graig Nettles 68; 8/21 John Wetteland 46; 8/22 Paul Molitor 56, Ray Burris 62, Carl Yastrzemski 73; 8/23 Randy St. Claire 52, Jerry White 60; 8/24 Cal Ripken, Jr. 52, Tony Bernazard 56; 8/25 Dooley Womack 73.
JAYS MINOR LEAGUE ROUNDUP
AAA-Las Vegas (73-55) beat first place Sacramento 9-4 on Sunday to move within 3-1/2 games of first place. RH Scott Richmond (10-7, 5.83 ERA) was the starter and winner. DH Jack Cust was 2-for-3 with 2 walks, 2 RBIs and is hitting .225. CF Danny Perales was 2-for-5 with 2 runs and is hitting .296. 1B Kevin Howard was 2-for-5 with a homer and is hitting .266. The 51s handed out awards and the Mayor’s Trophy, voted on by fans, went to SS Adeiny Hechavarria, as well as team MVP. The Community Service Award goes to CF Anthony Gose... AA-New Hampshire (53-74) beat Altoona 4-2 on Sunday. RH Brandon Morrow started with no decision. RH Ronald Uviedo (5-2) picked up the win in relief. RH Sam Dyson notched save No. 8, with a 1.37 ERA. DH Koby Clemens was 2-for-2 with a double and a homer. C Yorvit Torrealba finished at .417 on his prep for promotion to the Jays. RH Yohan Pino is 8-7, with a 3.48 ERA. RH Deck McGuire is 5-14, with a 6.26 ERA. RH Marcus Stroman is 1-0, with a 1.80 ERA in five games... A-Dunedin (29-25) lost 7-3 to Lakeland on Sunday. RH Jesse Hernandez (1-3, 5.97 ERA) was the starter and loser. 3B Brett Lawrie was 0-for-3. LF Kevin Pillar homered and is batting .333 with 14 steals in 14 attempts. RH Danny Barnes is 1-2 with a 1.47 ERA and 32 saves... A-Lansing (28-25) lost 9-2 to Lake County on Sunday. RH Brian McFarland (5-4, 5.29 ERA) was the starter and loser. 1B K.C. Hobson has 9 HR-78 RBIs and is batting .277. SS Andy Burns is batting .248, with 9 HR-37 RBIs and 15 steals. The Big 3 starters – Aaron Sanchez, Justin Nicolino and Noah Syndergaard – have combined for a 23-11 record, with 299 Ks in 279 innings... A-Vancouver (17-10) lead the second half. The young Canadians beat Salem 3-0 on Sunday. RH Kyle Anderson (4-2, 4.07 ERA) was the starter and winner (5.1IP; 6H; 1BB). 3B Kellen Sweeney was 2-for-4 with a homer. Despite a .222 average, Sweeney has 20 extra-base hits among his 48 safeties. 1B Balbino Fuenmayor stroked HR No. 8 and is batting .266 with 42 RBIs... A-Bluefield (24-33) split a twin bill with Danville, losing 5-4 and winning 3-2 on Sunday. LH Daniel Norris was the starter and loser in Game 1 (3.1IP; 6H; 5R; 3ER; 1BB; 5K; 7.97 ERA). LH Griffin Murphy pitched in relief (4.1IP; 1H; 1R; 0ER; EBB; 7K; 1.05 ERA). Murphy has 39 Ks in 34-1/3 innings. CF D.J. Davis was 3-for-8 in the DH, batting .389... Rk-Blue Jays did not play on Sunday.
ONE FOR THE ROAD:
When I returned from the recent 10-game road trip to Seattle, Oakland and Tampa, I was greeted by tragic news that my best friend, Kevin McGowan, had passed away in his sleep at the age of 58 while I was on the road. I had known him for 37 years. Kevin became the afternoon radio man at CFCF two years after I joined the team as a 19-year-old kid in 1973. Kevin was a kid too. We were the same age with similar interests, living on our own, working together to try and promote the Expos in the city, both on the clock and off. There was a silent bond between us that lasted a lifetime. We worked together, played together, laughed together and enjoyed life together. Kevin soon became the morning man at CFCF replacing John Robertson. His new 4 a.m. wakeups changed our night-life somewhat. Kevin went from Montreal to Windsor to work, then came back to CFCF for a second tour of duty. Later, he went to Winnipeg, then on to Ottawa where he ended up at KOOL-FM as their morning star, making his home in the Nation’s Capital with wife Lorna and daughter Alison. We didn’t see each other as often as we should, but made many trips together—spring training, winter meetings in Florida, Martinique, New Orleans, Las Vegas, New York plus less exotic locales like Minneapolis, where a young politician named Gary Doer, leader of the Manitoba opposition and a friend of Kevin’s, spent a night sitting on the floor with me and Kevin telling stories and over-imbibing during the ‘91 World Series. I was part of Kevin’s wedding party and he was in mine. He is godfather to my daughter Shannon. Now he’s gone. My wife Debbie and I left Thursday’s game vs. the White Sox in the sixth inning, spent the night in Belleville and drove up Friday morning to a memorial in Eganville. We went to Ottawa from there, took daughter Kelly to dinner, returning home Friday night in time to cover consecutive losses to the Rangers at the Dome on Saturday-Sunday. Baseball was put in perspective.