MLB Week in Review (April 21-27)

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The MLB is a league that will forever be scarred by an era that shattered the trust that fans had in professional sports.

Baseball has always been America’s past-time as the sports has been engrained in the fabric of the USA for over 100 years.

They may no longer be the biggest league or the biggest sport in the country but they are still a staple of the sports landscape in the USA.

The MLB has also been a league that had always been a bit of a moral compass constantly fighting to keep a wholesome image.

Behind the scenes, it may not have been with gambling and plenty of sleeping around but on the outside, they were the wholesome group.

That image was largely accepted as other leagues involved some of the tougher people with less of a filter than others.

Baseball always stood as the sport that families can take in whereas other sports were violent and not necessarily for the young.

That view snapped in the late 1990s when a curtain was pulled back on the biggest secret, and possibly worst-kept secret, as the fans learned that some of their favourite players were playing illegally.

That is that some of the best players in the MLB were using Performance Enhancing Drugs to get the groundbreaking numbers.

It shattered what was one of the most exciting times in baseball where the ball was flying out of ballparks and home runs records were being shattered.

When it turned out that most of that was the fact that the best hitters in the games were all using some form of steroids.

The trust was lost for the league and legends were now tarnished with multiple investigations exposing more players.

The steroid era is considered to be over, the scars that came with it are far from healed as PEDs make headlines every season.

More often than not the stories surround players that are doing unexpectedly well and the immediate response is that they are using steroids.

It has happened to multiple players since the end of the steroid era and most of the time they are unfounded rumours.

There is just this everlasting scar among fans that if a player is performing above what they are expected they must be on something.

It was the case for years as those players that had great numbers and were wildly far from the rest of the pack were usually on steroids.

That is now the automatic reaction to an adjustment and players like Jose Bautista and Miguel Cabrera have all experienced their share of accusations.

Neither have tested positive though and the accusations were all for not as they simply put in the work.

In 2017 Eric Thames has become the latest target as he has made his return to the MLB this season.

Thames began his career in Toronto during the 2011 season where he played 95 games for the Blue Jays and put up 12 home runs and 37 RBIs.baseball-sidebar

He was good but not really good enough and he spent a lot of time travelling between Triple-A and the MLB before being traded to Seattle in 2012.

After spending time in the minors during the 2013 season he left the MLB after the season he and like many players are beginning to do he decided to leave North America behind and play in Asia.

He found a home in the Korean Baseball Organization in 2014 and he definitely made it a home.

Through his three years in the KBO with the NC Dinos, he put up 126 home runs and 387 RBIs and gained the attention of MLB teams.

Milwaukee signed him in the off-season in the hopes that he could do a fraction of what he did in Korea and hoping that they didn’t sign someone who looked good against lesser talent.

So far the risk has paid off as Thames has been the best power hitter in the league with 11 home runs through this week and 19 RBIs.

He has come almost out of nowhere and because of that, the talk has already started about the potential use of steroids.

Thames has a very athletic build and his ability to hit for power after years of spending time in and out of the league has a lot of people suspicious.

Even the MLB is suspicious testing him more than any other player this year so far to ensure that he isn’t taking anything.

So far he has passed every test and there is nothing to suggest that he is using aside from the rumours.

Rather than believing he found something out in Korea and adjusted his swing or approach or just took his health more serious the automatic thought is steroids.

That is a scare that remains after the steroid era and Thames won’t be the last to be suspected of using a PED and there will still be players that still use these drugs.

It is a shame that it has become fact that steroids are the immediate thought but players will still have to deal with it year after year as players still get caught.

Extra Innings

International Noise

The Pittsburgh Pirates are taking things far from the normal scouting areas as this week they revealed two young prospects from the unbeaten path. Lithuanian relief pitcher Dovydas Neverauskas was called up at the beginning of the week and then demoted to make room for South African infielder Gift Ngoepe. It was history for both players who became the first Lithuanian and African players in the MLB with bright futures ahead for both.

Freedom or Responsibility

 A debate started up this week when the San Francisco Giants learned that the one bright spot in their season so far and their ace would be out for 6-8 weeks. Madison Bumgarner is clearly the best player on the Giants roster but after a bike accident bruised his ribs and injured his shoulder. Some wondered why the Giants would allow their best player to ride a motorcycle during the season which launched a bigger debate of whether or not to limit players and their extra-curricular activities through their contracts.

Marlins Sold

 The rumours all turned out to be true as the Miami Marlins were sold this week to a group led by former Yankee great Derek Jeter and former Presidential nominee Jeb Bush. Jeffrey Loria had made no secret about selling the Marlins this year and rumours began surrounding Jeter and Bush. Turns out that they joined forces to buy the team along with a number of others leading some to wonder how the perfectionist that is Jeter will manage a team as an owner.

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