Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fast News Day For Most Teams

What kind of news day was it yesterday? The only major league sports team to see action in Philadelphia, the Sixers, was relegated to page 3 of the Inquirer.

The first two pages were taken up with suspensions (Phillies), dismissals and rumblings about firings (Eagles) and an absence of any progress (Flyers).

Now to the news....

Carlos Ruiz, starting catcher and heart of the team, was suspended for the first 25 games of 2013 for failing a drug test.  The drug in question was Adderal, a stimulant banned by MLB.  If all available information is correct we know the following:

Adderal is frequently prescribed for people with ADD, or attention deficit disorder.  According to the collective bargaining agreement, MBL, players using the medicine may apply for an exemption to continue taking it, presumably if they have been diagnosed with or previously treated for ADD.  Now, I'm not a doctor (nor do I play one on the internet), but I would hazard a guess most MLB teams do not want starting catchers taking a drug for attention deficit disorder.  It just doesn't fit the job description.

But wait, there's more!

If a player fails a test because of the presence of stimulants, he is given another chance to pass a test.  Only after failing TWO tests is he suspended, and then for 25 games, not the 50 game suspension reserved for steroid users.

So, if we do have the facts correct (always a question), Carlos Ruiz did not apply for an exemption, failed a test and still continued to take the medicine.  Now we are into a gray area in which the question of "how could he be so stupid?" has to be raised.

If these facts are correct and I were a teammate of Ruiz, I'd be damned pissed off.  Erik Krantz is exempt.

* * * * * * * *

The same day Ruiz was suspended, Jason Babin was released by the Eagles.  Now, truth be told, the Eagles could just have easily released about ten other guys, so the decision to pick Babin seems somewhat arbitrary.  Coach Reid said his departure would give more playing time to younger guys, a dubious reason at best.  The mustachioed one also claimed the release would give Babin time to hook on with another team.  How magnanimous of a guy clinging for life himself!  Another reason might be financial (yes, I know, hard to believe money plays a role in these matters).  Babin is owed only the remainder of his salary for this season and not the two or three years remaining on the contract he signed a few years ago.  Seems it has something to do with his having already been granted some kind of severance pay at another time.  I'll bet the timing is crucial here, but no one is saying...or cares.

So, a guy who led the team in sacks a year before is unceremoniously dumped with five games remaining in the season.  Perhaps beat report Jeff Lane said it best:

The wide nine, in theory and even occasionally in execution, can be an effective way to stop an NFL offense. But Andy Reid's decision to base his entire defense on Jim Washburn's defensive line scheme and then expect an unqualified coordinator to run it with the wrong personnel was a failure of epic proportions.

And then on Tuesday, Mr. Wide Nine himself, defensive end Jason Babin, was unceremoniously released by Reid.

* * * * * * * *

The NHL and the NHL Players Union agreed to meet with an arbitrator to try and break the deadlock that has already cost at least a third of the season and seems likely to cost the entire one soon.  The catch in this announcement was the absence of the word "binding" in front of "arbitration".  What it means in practical terms is that two groups who despise each other are asking a third party to step in and try and move things toward a solution.  The bet here is that the arbitrator will have to be in one room and the waring parties in two separate ones.  Just the sight of each other will scuttle any progress.

* * * * * * * *

Oh, and the Sixers won.

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