All posts by Lisa Pitz

Who's to blame for Ryan Braun?

Students who sit through my drug free workplace classes hear about my first job after I got out of “real” school twenty-two years ago.  My job? Drug screen collector.  That’s right, I was the girl that stood there with latex gloves pouring your urine into two bottles, sealing it and sending it away to the lab for testing.  It wasn’t a glamorous gig but it paid the bills and it led me into the other areas of occupational health and safety that pay my bills today.

While I am no longer a collector, I still teach the ins and outs of drug and alcohol testing in my classes.  It’s my feeling that people that are required to test should know the process that they will experience and understand that it isn’t something that is done to annoy them. There are reasons that the water in the toilet is blue and the specimen is split into two bottles and sealed before it’s sent to the lab. It is that 20 years of experience in the real live world of drug and alcohol testing that causes me to get pissed when I see the media leading baseball fans blindly down the path of misinformation with calls for apologies to the collector that handled Ryan Braun’s 2011 drug test.

You’ll remember Braun as the first Major League Baseball player to successfully challenge a positive drug screen. In short, Braun was able to call into question the integrity of the test because it was found that the collector did not follow chain of custody procedure in the collection of that test. The 2011 test was thrown out and we all moved on, or so we thought.

Fast-forward to yesterday’s announcement that Braun has accepted a 65 game suspension for his part in the Biogenesis mess that has been going down for the last few months. Braun later released a statement accepting all responsibility.  As expected, reaction to Braun’s suspension was swift and sometimes crazy. Twitter was ablaze with all kinds of opinions and it is that one opinion that was tweeted over and over is the subject of my rant today:

Let me first mention that Olney was not the only one with this opinion but he did respond to me when I said that writers don’t understand the technicalities of drug and alcohol testing:

Olney’s right.  Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is an agreement between Major League Baseball and the MLB Player’s Association that lists all of the drugs that players cannot use.  The agreement also talks about the procedures that are followed to ensure that a test is collected, tested and reported properly. Many people, fans and media included, like saying that Braun got off on a technicality in the 2011 test.

Did he?

No.

It’s not a technicality; it’s a failure to follow proper protocol. In short, a Chain of Custody procedure is followed to ensure that the specimen that is given by the donor is the same specimen that arrives at the laboratory for testing without evidence of tampering.  In other words, there has to be no question that the specimen wasn’t switched out with a clean sample when nobody was looking.  Extreme?  Not at all.  In 20 plus years of working in this field, I’ve experienced some crazy things that people attempt in order to cover up the actual test, but that’s a whole other blog post that doesn’t belong on More Than a Fan.  Chain of Custody is put in place for one reason: to protect the integrity of the specimen and protect the donor from being tagged with a result that isn’t his.  It is the same protection you receive when you do your drug test for your job.  Don’t like the result, challenge the drug test. You can do that.

Which brings me back to Olney’s opinion that the collector, Dino Laurenzi, is owed an apology.  Nobody owes the collector an apology or, as others have suggested, compensation. This is very black and white:  Had Laurenzi collected the specimen following chain of custody protocol, Braun would not have had any legal argument about the validity of the test in question.  Braun would not have been able to convince a mediator that the procedure was flawed therefore calling into question the integrity of the test.  The mediator would have found that Braun’s argument had no merit and Braun would have been disciplined to the tune of a 50 game suspension to start off the 2012 baseball season.  It is that cut and dry.

Had the collector done the job and followed procedure, Braun would have been disciplined and this would have been over.  Would Braun be involved with the Biogenesis mess that we are all watching now? I don’t know.  As evidenced by Manny Ramirez, some people don’t learn and I have opinions about the strength of the drug testing program in MLB.  But, again, that’s another conversation.

Nobody ever said that Braun wasn’t positive in 2011. He won because he was able to cast doubt on the integrity of the specimen.  It isn’t a technicality, it’s a basic procedure that Laurenzi should have followed in order to protect both Braun and Major League Baseball.

Laurenzi didn’t.

Chris Perez and MLB Rulebook Facts

I’m back!

Why? Because when Josh Flagner texts, I listen (sometimes). Is it bad that he only texts me because there’s a drug problem with one of the Indians?  You’d think I was the only one at MTAF that understands drugs, drug usage, drug testing and collective bargaining agreements.  Also, Josh limited me to 400 words on the subject.  Hahaha.  We all know how that’s going to turn out.

So, Chris Perez. ‘Sup, bro?

A brief synopsis of the last two days involving the Tribe closer that we all hate to love:  Postal inspectors and Rocky River police reported yesterday that a package containing a controlled substance was delivered to the Perez home.  According to multiple news outlets, the package was addressed to the couple’s dog, Brody.  When police came calling, Perez allegedly admitted that the marijuana was for his own personal use. Perez and his wife have been charged with misdemeanor possession charges and will appear in court later this month.

Another distraction that the Indians don’t need and it is unclear what step Major League Baseball will take next given that Perez has not failed a drug test. I’ve read a few reports this morning that have said the Indians may elect to do nothing about Perez – but they could.  According to Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program agreement with the player’s union,  marijuana is indeed considered a drug of abuse.  Until yesterday, I didn’t know that the agreement had a provision for possession but there it is all nice and fancy on  page 24.

A Player who is convicted or pleads guilty (including a plea of nolo contendere or similar plea but not including an adjournment contemplating dismissal or a similar disposition) to the possession or use of any Prohibited Substance (including a criminal charge of conspiracy or attempt to possess or use) shall be subject to the following discipline:

1. First offense:  At least a 60-game but not more than an 80 game suspension, if the Prohibited Substance is a Performance Enhancing Substance, or at least a 25 game but not more than a 50 game suspension if the Prohibited Substance is a Stimulant or Drug of Abuse;

That may explain why Perez has  elected to plead not guilty to a misdemeanor charge instead of paying the fine and moving on.  In the meantime, CP is currently on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury.  Tribe fans are only left to wonder how much more time he will miss because of this latest stunt.

(Hey Josh?  416 words, bro!)*

Follow Lisa on Twitter at @LovinTheTribe!

*Editor’s Note: There was no official word limit, but is anyone surprised that Lisa misinterpreted Josh’s text about a word limit? Because this editor isn’t. 

 

Say it isn't so, Joe … Haden.

Wouldn’t it be nice, Cleveland fans, if for just one season, something crazy didn’t happen before the season officially opens?  Just once?  But alas, it’s not to be as Browns fans got the news yesterday that Joe Haden has failed a drug test and is facing a possible four game suspension by the NFL.  Reportedly, the offending substance is Adderall, a drug commonly taken to control ADHD and narcolepsy.

As I am writing this, no statement has been made by the Browns’ front office or Haden’s agent but there has been enough information in the last 24 hours to make Cleveland fans extremely nervous about the possibility of their beloved Haden having to sit out a four game suspension. Giving credit where credit is due, the possibility of Haden’s suspension was first reported on Twitter almost a week ago, before the main stream media actually latched on to the story.  It was quickly swept under the carpet by many Tweeps (myself included) but here we are a few days later knowing that the story, does in fact have credible legs. I am unsure of the origination of the initial report but, whoever you are, I know you broke it first.  So I’m here, out of More Than a Fan retirement, to help you get the real facts about drug testing and what it all means.

Continue reading Say it isn't so, Joe … Haden.

The Pirates Newest Fan and Bad News for Burnett

It sure has been an interesting week for the Pirates. First, one of their Florida employees delivered a baby at the front gate of their spring training facility in Bradenton Florida and then this morning, they get word that their newly acquired starting pitcher is out of commission for 8-12 weeks.

First things first, Latisha Kirk went into labor during a season ticket holder event at McKechnie Field.  The director of Florida operations for the Pirates and Bradenton Marauders, Trevor Gooby, delivered the baby at the front gates of the stadium while waiting for an ambulance.  Word out of Bradenton this morning is that mother and baby are doing fine – and they named the baby McKechnie.

Continue reading The Pirates Newest Fan and Bad News for Burnett

Reds Pitching Key to Winning Division

Last year, the Cincinnati Reds failed to defend their 2010 division title, in part, due to a starting pitching staff that went 50-55 with a 4.47 ERA, finishing ninth in the National League.  After recording their 10th losing season in the last 11 and finishing 17 games behind the division winning Milwaukee Brewers, the front office went to work in the offseason, making significant moves that signal that the Reds intend to be a contender deep into October.

Starting with a trade that sent four Reds players, including Yonder Alonso and pitcher Edinson Volquez (5-7, 5.71) to the San Diego Padres for right hander Mat Latos (9-14, 3.47 ERA), General Manager Walt Jocketty, strengthened the pitching staff from start to finish.  He acquired reliever Sean Marshall  (2.26 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) in a trade with the Chicago Cubs and signed free agent, Ryan Madson as a closer. Madson had 32 saves for the Phillies last year and posted a 2.37 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.

Continue reading Reds Pitching Key to Winning Division

Pirates Baseball: 2012 could get interesting

From the first day that Josh and I started this site, we have had all kinds of *interesting* things happen.  Usually the *interesting* things are a result of either Josh or Ryan making someone around the country angry causing a flood of angry emails.  I’ve gotten used to it.  We can explain that:  Josh and Ryan just love a good smack down.  What we haven’t been able to explain is why our number one keyword search in finding More Than a Fan is “Pittsburgh Pirates”. There are also quite a few variations of the team in our top ten.  It has been that way since about July of last year and the Pirates’ faithful have held the number one position even through the NFL season. We don’t know why but we figure as long as you’re here, looking for news on the Pirates, we’re going to give it to you – even if we are from Cleveland.

Continue reading Pirates Baseball: 2012 could get interesting

Lesson Learned on Judging Ryan Braun

 

I’m not going to say “I told you so”.  I am just going to direct you to the post I wrote on Ryan Braun and his drug test way back in December:   Reserve Judgment on Ryan Braun.

As reported first by Tom Hardicourt, Braun and Major League Baseball were notified this afternoon that Braun has won his appeal of the alleged positive drug test. While the details of the appeal are still unknown, Hardicourt is reporting that he won on a technicality.  Now, before you all start running away with yet  another *rumor*, let’s try to remember what got us here in the first place:  Jumping the gun before we had real facts.  Just because Braun won on a technicality, doesn’t mean that he did it and got away with it.  It probably means that someone screwed up the test somewhere and the result could not be validated.  How about we give Braun the benefit of the doubt for a change?  I mean, he is the first person to ever successfully appeal a drug test result decision.  This entire case is a good example of why journalists are taught to gather all the facts – something that the vast majority didn’t do here.  Most just wrote pieces that tried and convicted Braun before his case was ever heard.

Continue reading Lesson Learned on Judging Ryan Braun

Cleveland Indians: A Team Full of Questions

Finally! 

I don’t know about all of you but I feel like that was the longest offseason of my baseball lovin’ life.  And yes, I realize that we’re still technically in the offseason but, the day that the Indians’ catchers and pitchers report to Arizona, I am pulled straight out of my winter funk and thrown right into Indians baseball ecstasy.

Aren’t you lucky to be reading me today?  I’ve already said ecstasy and I am barely out of the first paragraph.

The problem is that I don’t even know where to start with my first post of the season.  It’s been such an odd winter.

I had a lot of confidence in this team after they shocked the hell out of the baseball world in the first half of 2011, going 31-17 to start the season.  It sure seemed like all the front office would have to do is plug a few holes with a couple of consistent bats – preferably with an upgrade at first base and add another starter to the rotation mix to at least make a strong run at Detroit in the upcoming 2012 season.  It sure didn’t seem like much. But, alas, Tribe fans old and young watched our neighbors to the north replace an injured Victor Martinez with arguably the second biggest name in free agency in Prince Fielder and the whole city of Cleveland had a meltdown. Why? Well, we’ve been watching our own front office do nothing more than spin their wheels trying to sign the bats needed to contend.

Continue reading Cleveland Indians: A Team Full of Questions

Fausto Carmona….or is he?

We are exactly one month from the official day that pitchers and catchers report to spring training and the Indians starting pitcher, Fausto Carmona, was arrested today in the Dominican Republic for using a false identity.

Fab-u-lous.

According to CBS Sports, Carmona was arrested while leaving the American Consulate after renewing his visa.  His real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia. The kicker is that the pitcher formerly known as Carmona is 31 years old, not 28 as he has led the Indians to believe.

Fan-tas-tic.

Continue reading Fausto Carmona….or is he?