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False Positives Are a Negative for Fehr

Tim Brown / ON BASEBALL

October 02, 2005|Tim Brown

Don Fehr took a pretty good beating Wednesday on Capitol Hill, where baseball's years of tacit steroid encouragement and full-blown ignorance landed in his lap.

And while this seems a pretty good time to surrender to Bud Selig's militant terms, there are reasons Fehr steadfastly protects his constituency, and why few players, if any, have suggested Fehr simply get on with it.

The motivation of players who continue to dabble in the illegal performance-enhancing sciences is clear, though they're still free to cannonball Human Growth Hormone until their hearts foam.

The three-squares-a-day, afraid-of-needles contingent is frightened of the false positive, no matter how unlikely, no matter how many nines there are in the accuracy rate of detecting banned substances. They've heard the legends of coffee positives, Advil positives, poppy-seed positives and innocent-bystander positives.

A person seemingly in the know tells them they can trust anything they buy over the counter at GNC, and to stick to that. Another tells them not to walk past a GNC.

To those who take legal supplements, such as protein powders or Creatine, it's not about beating the system, it's about staying reasonably put together from February to October.

The simple solution is to cut out supplements altogether, the decision many already have made.

Even then, they fear the uncertainty of the process. American swimmer Kicker Vencill lost two years, the Pan American Games and a shot at the 2004 Olympics because of a contaminated multi-vitamin. They wonder if they're not the next Kicker, and, if they are, what it would cost them in money and career and reputation.

It is why Fehr bangs the drum of the arbitration process.

"If somebody critically evaluates what we've done," Fehr said, "looks at the success of the program, asks themselves why it is somebody can't have an opportunity to explain his case before a penalty is put out to see if there might be a mitigating factor, that maybe some of the desire to have a cookie-cutter approach may on reflection not seem to be so significant. But, we'll see."

His mistake is pressing for greater compassion for three-time losers, those who already would have served the 50- and 100-game penalties.

You might be Kicker once. And in the wildest scenario, you might be Kicker twice. But nobody is Kicker three times.

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Where most of the free-agent action will be this winter:

Pitchers: A.J. Burnett (Marlins), Roger Clemens (Astros), Esteban Loaiza (Nationals), Jarrod Washburn (Angels), Jeff Weaver (Dodgers), Kevin Millwood (Indians), Kenny Rogers (Rangers), Paul Byrd (Angels).

Outfielders: Johnny Damon (Red Sox), Hideki Matsui (Yankees), Brian Giles (Padres).

Catchers: Ramon Hernandez (Padres), Bengie Molina (Angels).

First baseman: Paul Konerko (White Sox).

Second basemen: Craig Biggio (Astros), Mark Grudzielanek (Cardinals).

Third basemen: Joe Randa (Padres), Bill Mueller (Red Sox).

Shortstops: Rafael Furcal (Braves), Nomar Garciaparra (Cubs), Alex Gonzalez (Marlins).

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One man's postseason award ballot:

NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals. Andruw Jones with runs and on-base percentage.

NL Cy Young: Chris Carpenter, Cardinals. The guy had a better summer than John Roberts.

NL rookie of the year: Willy Taveras, Astros. A standout from Day 1, did more in six months than Ryan Howard and Jeff Francoeur did in three.

NL manager of the year: Bobby Cox, Braves. But ... 14 consecutive division titles and he can't stop Leo Mazzone from futzin'.

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees. Most of the offense of David Ortiz -- with a glove too.

AL Cy Young: Bartolo Colon, Angels. That 21-8 record looks slimming on him.

AL rookie of the year: Robinson Cano, Yankees. Managed the big city and the big games.

AL manager of the year: Eric Wedge, Indians. Sometimes didn't you get the idea the White Sox were winning \o7in spite of\f7 Ozzie Guillen?

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Alex Rodriguez hit his 47th home run Wednesday night in Baltimore, becoming the record-holder for home runs in a season by a right-handed-hitting Yankee.

While that's kind of like having the straightest teeth in England, he did pass a legend in Joe DiMaggio, who hit 46 in 1937.

Rodriguez told the New York Times that he never met DiMaggio but saw him several times at Miami Beach before his death in 1999.

"He was always by himself and I just never built the courage to go bother him," Rodriguez said. "He was always in a suit, and it seemed like he was very serious. To this day, that's one of my biggest regrets."

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White Sox Manager Guillen to Sports Illustrated on Indian center fielder Grady Sizemore: "No offense to Juan Gonzalez, who is a friend, but the best thing to happen to Cleveland is when Juan got hurt and they let Sizemore play every day. The best ... player in the Central is Sizemore."

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