MLB Week in Review (April 22-28)

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In the 1990s, the MLB was plagued by an issue that they never knew about with steroid running rampant through the league.

It went unchecked for years and although it produces some very exciting baseball it was the dark underbelly of the league.

Eventually, like everything, the use of steroids in the league was exposed and everyone was let in on the dirty little secret of baseball.

It led to investigations that exposed some of the biggest names in the sport and left many wondering how real some of their favourite moments were.

It has had an effect in the hall of fame as well with those superstars now struggling to get into the hall of fame.

With steroid allegations swirling around players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, Cooperstown won’t take the risk of putting a potential cheater among the best players in the game.

Steroids in baseball are not done, as evident from the suspension of Chris Colabello this week, but the steroid era is finished.

Still the effects of that era and the time afterwards has had an everlasting effect in the sport and one that is making things somewhat less enjoyable.

In any sports competition is only growing and players are getting better with more dominant performances every year.

It has been that way for years as every generation produces new superstars and every generation seems to bring the competition up to another level.

As a result, records are broken and even the records that many believe could never fall begin to crumble.

The fact is as the understanding of sports and sports science gets better players get better and performance increases.

Yet in the MLB, it seems that when a player does something that is unexpected the reaction is to immediately think about steroids.

It is hard to blame anybody for thinking that after a decade of amazing accomplishments getting an asterisk.

The strikeout output of the Rogers Clemens or the home run battle between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa are both great memories.

Those memories are tainted with the steroid accusations as many are left to wonder if those accomplishments were men playing other-worldly or men assisted by steroids.

So when something unbelievable happens now many are hoping not to be fooled or get wrapped up in the emotion.

They instead want to know what might be happening behind the scenes and accusations of steroids immediately begin to circulate.baseball-sidebar

That new reality has been a part of baseball for the last few years as any player figuring it out must be on steroids.

This week that new attitude towards great play took hold with one of the best pitchers in the league today.

Jake Arrieta was not one of the most talked about draft picks and when he was with the Baltimore Orioles the talk surrounded his many issues.

He was a pitcher that didn’t have a lot of time left in the major leagues and likely would have been in Triple-A for Baltimore had the Cubs not seen something in him.

The Cubs traded for Arrieta and they received the best pitcher in the league from someone who was forgettable only a few years before.

Last year he made a run through the end of the season that was unbelievable and that earned him a Cy Young Award.

So far this year he has continued that run with a no-hitter last week and an ERA of 0.87 and a perfect 4-0 record.

He has been almost unhittable but again the fact that he has been that good has brought the doubters out.

This week accusations of steroid use began flying and once again a good player putting in an effort to become great has come in doubt.

It is the new environment of the MLB as great accomplishments come under scrutiny every time.

Instead of being able to enjoy a new level of competition fans are left wondering if it is truly an athlete pushing beyond what is expected or an athlete using something to push past.

That is the effect that the steroid era continues to have in the MLB and one that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

The MLB would love to get away from that association but the era happened and will have an effect for much longer as a league obsessed with history continues to pay for their past.

Extra Innings
(More on this week in baseball)

Northwest Change
The Seattle Mariners are climbing but they still see the need for change and part of that change came this week when it was announced that team CEO, Howard Lincoln is set to resign as the Mariners look to make some changes

Machado Commits to DR
Manny Machado is one of the best players in the game but the USA won’t get to see him in next year’s World Baseball Classic as the Miami-born third baseman has elected to play for the Dominican Republic, the home of his parents, in the tournament

Calling for a Change
The New York Yankees are a team built with a number of predictable hitters and they are struggling with defensive shifts which makes it no surprise that manager Joe Girardi is one of a few people calling for an end to the new practice

standings-w4.fw

Key Series:
Seattle Mariners 2 – 1 Los Angeles Angels
– The Mariners began making their move in the west as they took two games away from the Angels who were trying to get back to the top of the division but couldn’t overcome a hot Mariners team

Boston Red Sox 2 – 1 Houston Astros
– The Astros have gone from a World Series favourite to a team struggling to get out of the basement and they continued that struggle on the weekend as the Red Sox took two of the three games in the series

Chicago White Sox 3 – 0 Toronto Blue Jays
– The Blue Jays continue to struggle against good pitching as the once scary offence fell asleep against the league’s best rotation as the White Sox continued their strong start to the year and remained at the top of the Central

Texas Rangers 2 – 1 New York Yankees
– The Yankees are quickly falling behind in what is sure to be a tough race in the AL East and their series against the Rangers didn’t do them any favours as they dropped two games the Rangers who continued their rule at the top of the division

Upcoming Series:
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox [April 29-May 1]
– The classic rivalry is back as New York and Boston face-off with the Yankees looking to find their way back into the division race while the Red Sox hope to push for first place and both teams look to gain some bragging rights

Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers [April 29-May 1]
– The Rangers are leading the west right now and after a slow start, the Angels are beginning to work their way up as both teams face-off looking to gain a series win early in the season that could help them when the race gets tougher

Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates [May 2-4]
– The Cubs are living up to expectations as they took over the central division but the Pirates are hoping to be their biggest challenge and will look to this series as a measuring stick early in the season for the division race

Washington Nationals vs. Kansas City Royals [May 2-4]
– In a year where many didn’t expect much from the Nationals they are beginning to look stronger than ever and now they get a real test taking on the defending champions in the Royals who are struggling to take back their division

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