By Ernie Palladino
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There must be something in the Yankees’ water that makes players stupid after they’re done in New York.
Melky Cabrera, currently an outfielder for the San Francisco Giants, got nailed last week for performance-enhancing drugs. Fellow former Yankee Bartolo Colon, now pitching for Oakland, received notice of his 50-game vacation Wednesday.
Kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it? In this day and age in baseball, where everybody’s looking and on guard for PED use, these two geniuses got caught using what convicted steroids dealer-turned-media darling Victor Conte termed “the granddaddy of all anabolic steroids” — testosterone.
Not that anyone would mount a competition over this, but you’d have to give Cabrera a real nod of the head over Colon, who apparently was caught so red-handed that he’s not even appealing the suspension. Cabrera at least tried to get out of it, though creating a phony website that purportedly sold a product containing the offending substance will probably get him in more trouble than he’s in already.
Regardless of who’s dumber, the fact is neither guy had probably even considered the possibility of getting caught. And that’s mind-boggling, considering how vigorously baseball is testing for PEDs right now.
We don’t really know how many times these guys were tested in the past, but Conte has often said it’s mere child’s play to cheat the urine exam. Players and their locker room pharmacists have long stayed a step ahead of the testers, so it’s entirely conceivable that both Cabrera and Colon had been using for some time.
Then there’s the company they kept. They were both Yankees, Cabrera’s pinstriped career ending after the 2009 season, and Colon last season. Though it would be unfair to accuse their former Yankees teammate Alex Rodriguez of any wrongdoing here, hey, he did admit in 2009 to his own usage from 2001-03.
Conte contends that at least half the league is fooling around with something, a number MLB strong disputes and for which Conte has offered no concrete numbers to support. But let’s face it, even if it isn’t that high, could it not be possible that certain Yankees used something concurrent with the dirty duo’s time in pinstripes?
That’s not to say they couldn’t have taken a cue from guys on their current teams.
That’s not to say either needed any prodding from anyone. Colon is 39, and has put together a 10-9, 3.43 season after going 8-10, 4.00 with the Yanks last year. He’s old, in other words, and undoubtedly was seeking a panacea for healing the aches and pains that come with pitching at an advanced age.
Cabrera, 28, was looking at free agency. He was having a career year, hitting .346 with 11 homers and 60 RBIs. Nice way to go into the open market, except that the PED violation — never mind other possible legal issues like fraud — may cost him millions because it casts doubt on what a “clean” Cabrera can accomplish.
Remember, he was an average hitter before last season’s 201-hit campaign. And then testosterone reared its ugly head.
Obviously, neither man is very smart. Cabrera allegedly tried to cover up his violation. And Colon, who had 2010 stem cell treatments in the Dominican Republic before resurrecting his career with the Yanks in 2011, could have got the drugs there, where they are in ready and easy supply.
Or maybe playing in New York just makes certain people stupid.
Why the sudden rash of positive tests? Are players slipping into bad habits or is MLB’s testing program getting that much better? Be heard in the comments below!