When the news first hit that deliberations were involved in a possible suspension of Jose Guillen, no one saw what was about to happen. Not only was Guillen suspended, but so was Jay Gibbons of the Orioles, while Scott Schoeneweis, Gary Matthews, Jr., Troy Glaus and Rick Ankiel had dodged the bullet after MLB announced that “there was insufficient evidence of a violation of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in effect at the time of the conduct in question.”
The interesting twist in the announcement is that Guillen and Gibbons have not been suspended for 50 games, the current suspension length under the MLB drug policy, but rather 15 games, or the number of games for a second violation in the prior version of the Joint Drug Agreement (JDA). Neither Guillen nor Gibbons have been in violation of MLB’s drug policy prior. Guillen has said he will be filing a grievance which will allow Guillen to have his case heard before an arbitor. Gibbons will not challenge the suspension, and instead offered a public apology.
All in all, it’s a small bit of history: the suspensions of players associated to an investigation into a PED distribution ring, not suspensions based on failing a drug test. In technical terms, the players have been suspended based on “non-analytics” as opposed to “analytics” that come from a failed drug test.
It is also the first time that MLB has rolled the announcement of suspensions and non-suspensions into one statement – the fact that Schoeneweis, Matthews, Jr, and Glaus’ non-suspensions were announced as part of the statement.
Welcome to the prelude – the prelude to how those named in the Mitchell Report might be addressed.
Within the next week to two weeks, the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in MLB will be released, which will have names of current or former players that have been implicated as using PEDs by way of Kirk Radomski, the 37-year-old former clubhouse attendant of the New York Mets that has admitted to dealing anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, Clenbuterol, amphetamines and other drugs to MLB players.
Radomski cooperated with the Mitchell investigation as part of his plea agreement. It is thought that the vast majority, if not all the names in the report, have come by Radomski.
Many of the players named in the report will have no doubt retired by now. Some, however, will still be actively playing, and with timeline of Radomski being a distributor of PEDs, we will most assurdly be bumping into circumstances much as we are seeing with the Guillen and Gibbons suspensions – suspensions based, not on the current collectively bargained lengths, but based upon much shorter durations, as found within the prior JDA.
What is bound to occur is a steady stream of press releases in the same vein as the one we have now witnessed, with a series of suspensions and possibly, non-suspension announcements. Some players will decide to do the time, and apologize, as was the case today with Gibbons. Others will fight the accusations by way of arbitration, as is the case with Guillen.
If the report does indeed have dozens of names within it, there should be a steady stream of stories such as Guillen’s and Gibbons’. The churn in the media and from fans should be fantastic at first, and mind-numbing at its conclusion.
So, welcome to the prelude to the main attraction: The Mitchell Report.
Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also an author for Baseball Prospectus, Basketball Prospectus and is an available writer for other media outlets.
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