MLB All-Star suspended for 50 games

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MLB All-Star suspended for 50 games

From Comcast SportsNet
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games without pay Wednesday after the Giants outfielder tested positive for testosterone, a big loss for San Francisco as it fights for a playoff berth. Major League Baseball said Cabrera tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing substance in violation of the drug agreement between owners and the players' association. His penalty was the first for a high-profile player since Ryan Braun's penalty was overturned by an arbitrator last winter, which led to revisions in the drug agreement to better define procedures for handling the urine samples. "My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used," Cabrera said in a statement released by the union. "I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down." Cabrera is batting .346 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs in his first season with San Francisco and is five hits shy of 1,000 in his big league career. Flashing bright orange spikes, he singled and hit a two-run homer last month in the National League's 8-0 All-Star win, which secured homefield advantage for the World Series. He will miss the final 45 games of the regular season and serve the remainder of the suspension at the start of next season or during the postseason, depending on whether the Giants make the playoffs and how far they advance. "We were extremely disappointed," the Giants said. "We fully support Major League Baseball's policy and its efforts to eliminate performance enhancing drugs from our game." If the Giants wanted him to become active in the middle of a playoff series, they would have to play a man short from the start of the series until the suspension ends because rosters can't be altered in mid-series. Cabrera became the second Giants player to receive a drug suspension this season. Reliever Guillermo Mota was penalized for 100 games in May, becoming just the third major league player disciplined twice for positive drug tests. Mota is eligible to return Aug. 28, barring rainouts, and began a minor league rehabilitation assignment Tuesday with the Giants' rookie team in Arizona. There have been four suspensions in the major league drug program this year, with Philadelphia infielder Freddy Galvis and free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd also suspended 50 games apiece. There have been 70 suspensions under the minor league drug program. In mid-May, MLB and the players' union agreed to drop the 100-game suspension imposed on Colorado Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo for a positive drug test because of the same procedural issues that came up in the case of Braun, the Milwaukee outdfielder who is the reigning NL MVP. Alfonzo missed 48 games -- the final 15 of last season and the first 33 of this year. Braun's 50-game suspension for a positive drug test was overturned in February by arbitrator Shyam Das after Braun's lawyers argued his urine sample was not handled in the manner specified by baseball's drug agreement. Das, who had been baseball's permanent arbitrator since 1999, was fired this spring. In December 2011, slugger Manny Ramirez received a 50-game suspension for a second positive drug test. The 12-time All-Star signed a one-year minor league contract with the Oakland Athletics on Feb. 20, but was released in June per his request while playing for Triple-A Sacramento before even reaching the big leagues with the A's. Ramirez retired from the Tampa Bay Rays last season rather than serve a 100-game suspension for a second failed drug test. The penalty was cut to 50 games because he sat out nearly all of last season. The 28-year-old Cabrera, who became a marketing phenomenon this year with nicknames like "Got Melk?" "Melk Man" and "Melky Way," produced a 51-hit month in May. Cabrera batted .429 in May with three homers, five triples, seven doubles and 17 RBIs. He hit safely in 25 of 29 games. The 51 hits matched Randy Winn for most hits in a month since the club came to San Francisco in 1958. Cabrera also set the San Francisco record for most hits in May, passing Hall of Famer Willie Mays' 49 from 1958. Cabrera came to the Giants in a trade with Kansas City last November that sent left-hander Jonathan Sanchez to the Royals. Cabrera -- who signed a 6 million, one-year deal to avoid salary arbitration -- batted .305 with 44 doubles, 18 homers and 87 RBIs last season. He is a big reason San Francisco began play Wednesday tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers atop the NL West. Cabrera had been listed in the original lineup for the series finale with the Washington Nationals, batting third and playing left field. Gregor Blanco replaced Cabrera. San Francisco said it will not make a roster move until Thursday's off day before opening a weekend series at San Diego. The clubhouse was closed before the game when the news of Cabrera's suspension broke. "Sad, man," Robinson Cano of the Yankees said. "He's a friend. I'm going to be there for him. I never talked to him about anything like that. Sad day."

Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

CLEVELAND --  Down the stretch in Game 4, the Celtics were desperate for someone, anyone, who could slow down Kyrie Irving.
 
But short of that, Boston could have used an offensive closer, too. You know, someone like Isaiah Thomas.

GAME 4: CAVS 112, CELTICS 99

 

The Celtics have relied on the two-time All-Star to carry much of the offensive burden this season, but he was almost always at his best in the fourth quarter.
 
A right hip injury knocked him out of this series after 1 1/2 games. Still, Boston managed to win Game 3 without him and, for large chunks of Tuesday night, seemed poised to beat the Cavs again on their home floor.
 
But as much as Game 4 was a reminder of just how special a talent Irving is (42 points, 21 in the third quarter when the game’s momentum swung in Cleveland's favor), it also provided a clue to the clueless who thought the Celtics were actually better without Isaiah Thomas.
 
Defensively?
 
Absolutely.
 
It’s no secret that teams go to great lengths to try and use his 5-foot-9 stature against him. And as we have seen, the deeper we get into the postseason the more trouble he and the Celtics seem to encounter from a defensive standpoint.
 
But just as we praise Irving for being such a special talent, Thomas has shown that he, too, has offensive gifts that, throughout this season, have left many fans, media and defenders befuddled as to how “the little fella” keeps coming up with one big play, one big shot after another.
 
But as we have learned, he has been dealing with a sore right hip injury for several weeks. The pain and discomfort eventually became too much to bear and so the Celtics did the right thing and shut him down.
 
Without him, the C's are still a good team that on any given night can knock off anyone, even the defending champs.
 
But as Game 4 reminded us, they need Thomas in order to be their best.
 
When Irving torched Boston’s entire defense with jumpers, ankle-breaking crossovers, Euro-step lay-ups and free throws, the Celtics had no one to turn to who could maybe, just maybe, go back at Irving at the other end of the floor.
 
That's what Thomas does that makes him such a special, unique talent in this league.
 
He can score in a variety of ways, with the best in the NBA.
 
We saw that this past season, when he led all players in the Eastern Conference in scoring with a 28.9 points-per-game average.
 
Boston’s excellent ball movement and high assist numbers are certainly important to the team’s success. But to make a deep and meaningful playoff run, you need one or two guys who can just go get buckets regardless of what the opponent does defensively.
 
That’s not Avery Bradley.
 
That’s not Al Horford.
 
That’s not Kelly Olynyk.
 
You can search, poke and prod this roster all you want, and you'll come up empty when it comes to finding a player like that . . . other than Isaiah Thomas.
 
The fact the Celtics were able to avoid getting swept is a victory of sorts in itself. Boston’s coaching staff, as well as the front office, has repeatedly said that as talented as their team is, they aren’t on the same level of the defending champion Cavaliers.
 
And yet here we are four games into this series and the Celtics are basically a bad half of basketball away from being tied, 2-2.
 
It says a lot about their mental toughness, their ability to handle and navigate past adversity to give themselves a chance to be competitive against any team -- including the Cavs.
 
But their success this season has always been about the collective group, regardless of how many late-game shots Isaiah Thomas knocks down.
 
And while he has his shortcomings defensively, not having him available is going to hurt them in those late-game moments when they need a closer. It’s not a coincidence the Celtics were just 2-4 when he didn’t play during the regular season.
 
So as cool as it was for them to win Game 3 without Thomas, he’s still the straw that stirs the Celtics emotionally, bringing them to levels few think they're capable of reaching.
 
They were able to get by for one night without him, but remember this: It took Marcus Smart having an Isaiah Thomas-like game of 27 points and seven made 3’s, for them to win.
 
No one did anything remotely close to that Tuesday night.
 
They looked like the Isaiah Thomas-less Celtics, which is a look they don’t need this time of year.
 
Because that look is so not about winning.