Hard to see the power numbers and not wonder…a little

May 27, 2009 | Drew Forrester

The early-season eyebrow raisers are out there.  In fact, we have one right here in Baltimore.

It’s certainly not Adam Jones’ fault, for example, that his numbers are so good to start the ’09 season that it might lead folks to say, “Gee, I wonder how THAT is happening?”  After all, Jones had 9 home runs last year in his first full season in the big leagues.  Let’s see:  This year, 11 homers in 40 games.  A year ago, two fewer home runs in 132 games.  Eyebrows raised.

The same goes for Raul Ibanez in Philadelphia, he of the 17-home run total after 7 weeks of baseball.  That’s the guy who had 23 home runs in 162 games in Seattle last year.  In case you care to inspect his career numbers, here they are.

Jones and Ibanez aren’t the only two guys in the big leagues posting out-of-whack numbers and they’re certainly not the only two on the uptick in ’09 as it relates to producing at the plate.  Ian Kinsler’s having a monster start in Texas, as is Jason Bey in Texas.  Throw them in the raised-eyebrows category too.

Jones might wind up being a career 30-home run per-season guy…hence, his 10-home run start in ’09 won’t look so out-of-whack five years from now if that becomes the norm.

Ibanez – as did Brady Anderson back in the day – might be reaching his “athletic opus” right about now.  He’s always been a productive hitter, as the stats bear out.

I’m certainly not stating that either one of those players are using steroids.  I have ZERO evidence to support that claim.  Then again, this time last year, I had ZERO evidence to support my belief that Manny Ramirez used steroids.  But I thought Man-Ram was a juicer.  Turns out – in that case – I was right.

What I am saying, though, is that I now greet every “spike” in power with a “hmmmmm…”   And yes, that includes any occasion that a “spike” gets connected to a Baltimore player — like Brian Roberts in 2005 when he hit 11 home runs in April.  Turns out we were all “right” back then, too, as Brian later told us.

I see Ibanez with 17 home runs at Memorial Day and Jones with 11 homers at the 40-game mark and I wonder…a little.

Don’t blame me for that.

Blame A-Rod.  And Bonds.  And Manny.  And Sammy.  And Raffy.  And all the rest of those guys who decided to risk their legacy for the sake of making another $20 million.  

Hey, $20 million is $20 million.  I get it.  A lot of people reading this (including the guy writing it) would have to seriously consider the temptations of “advancing” your ability in exchange for making your family secure for the rest of their lives if it came down to that.  In the real-world that we live in, just take your current salary, quadruple it, and then have your employee “guarantee” it for you for the next 8 years regardless of your performance or the company’s success.  And all you need to do is just pop a pill – or juice up a little – and get the edge over your co-workers and the competition.  Current salary…quadrupled…guaranteed.  Where’s the order form, right?

I’m not saying the cheaters were right for doing it.  I’m saying when it’s widespread, “everyone does it” because that’s the way to keep with the Jones’s (no pun intended…it just fit.)

So…with the decision from the juicers to cheat the game comes a long-line of people – like me – who are no longer willing to give everyone in baseball a free pass.  The Steroids Era might not be over (yet), but the Freepass Era is kaput…at least in MY league.

I see these guys hitting the ball all over the park and I wonder, “What magic potion has HE found?”  Mark Teixeira hit a home run a couple of nights ago on a broken bat.  And it didn’t clear the fence by 3 feet.  It was a bomb.  Helluva bat he was using, eh?

Don’t blame me.  

Blame the cheaters.

Put the onus on guys like Ramirez, who had the audacity to keep using even after MLB introduced testing and legitimate penalties to players who test positive.  

Lord only knows how long Manny was using steroids and covering it up with whatever he was putting in his body to cover it up.  Can you imagine how many times he snickered after a 4-for-5 night where he roped the ball all over Fenway?  Wouldn’t you have enjoyed being a fly on the wall when Man-Ram peed in the cup and handed it over to the testing official with a smirk and a “Here ya go…good luck finding anything…I’m clean.”  

Most of the cheaters were probably petrified that they would be exposed at some point.  Ramirez undoubtedly sauntered around like his “needle” didn’t stink.  

Now, guys like Adam Jones and Raul Ibanez are paying the price for the stupidity of Ramirez.   And A-Rod.  And Clemens, even.  Oh, that’s right, Roger wasn’t a user.  I must have “misremembered”.  

I want to believe that the numbers being put up by guys like Adam Jones and Raul Ibanez are the result of hard work, better plate discipline and, perhaps, even an overall decline in pitching throughout major league baseball. 

Unfortunately, I’ve been suckered in one too many times by the “bleacher creatures” — as referenced in those insanely idiotic MASN commercials.

In my little world – maybe NOT in yours…but in mine – none of these guys are to be believed anymore…even the hometown guy who is quickly becoming one of my favorite Orioles.  Adam Jones is a bonafide superstar in the making if he stays healthy.  But I have to admit that I see his offensive numbers go through the roof and I go “hmmmm?”

All the excuses are there for me, ready-made:  ”They know the testing date” (check) – “They’re masking the steroids with other substances to beat the testing” (check) – “They’re sitting out periods of the season while they ‘cycle-down’ from their juicing” (check) – “I had no idea that was a banned substance but I know now.” (check)

Ramirez was the dumb one this spring.  Don’t worry, between now and Labor Day, some other bomber will slip up and “take something from his doctor” that wasn’t approved.  You can almost bet on it.  

Until a season or two goes by without another nitwit getting busted for PED’s, I have the right to look at everyone with a jaded eye.  

That’s not MY fault.

It’s THEIR fault.

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