Them Cheatin’ Phillies

As you all know, Phillies left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo accepted a 50-game suspension today for his involvement with Biogenesis, a sports nutrition firm now known for producing and selling banned substances to Major League Baseball players. The series of suspensions are unprecedented: players were confronted with overwhelming evidence and accepted suspensions instead of being suspended for failing tests.

And as you all may also know, I went on record in the winter that the Phillies should have explored signing Alex Rodriguez in the event he would have had his contract with the New York Yankees voided and that I was very disappointed that no players from the supposed Steroid Era of baseball were elected to the Hall of Fame this year. I am not a steroid apologist or a defender of those who used steroids. I will never use the phrase “everyone was doing it” but I do believe the epidemic was and likely is too expansive to include or exclude players in the Hall of Fame.

What makes this all the more confounding is that my favorite team, the team I write about, and sometimes think about in my sleep, has had quite a few players in their Major and Minor League ranks suspended for violating MLB’s “Drug & Treatment Prevention” policy. Each suspension, admittedly, puts strain on my love for my favorite team, even though like so many other credentialed media, I often shrug and say “meh” when the topic arises.

My favorite Phillies team has always been the 2009 squad. The 2009 team was a World Series winner that wasn’t picked to repeat and, in some publications, wasn’t picked to win their own division. To begin the season, they had to replace a 2.3 fWAR outfielder and survived injuries to a closer who was perfect a season before. During the season, they were forced to go twelve starting pitchers and five catchers deep and won the National League pennant despite the fact that Eric Bruntlett played in 72 games. With Bastardo’s suspension today, he is now the fourth player from the 2009 Phillies to be suspended under MLB’s “Drug & Treatment Prevention” policy.

J.C. Romero and Carlos Ruiz were two from the 2009 squad to face suspension. Romero’s positive test came from 6-OXO Extreme, a product he purchased at GNC. Ruiz’s suspension came from a positive test for Adderall. Reliever Sergio Escalona has also been suspended under this policy. By joining those three players on the list of players who have been suspended under the “Drug & Treatment Prevention” policy, the 2009 NL pennant-winning Phillies now have an NL-record four suspended players from a pennant-winning team.

Let that sit in.

Those tongue-in-cheek comments about A-Rod cheating so bad that the Phillies should be given the 2009 World Series? You’ll have to think about taking them back, even if he and Francisco Cervelli joined that list today. With their suspensions, the 2009 Yankees only had four – the Phillies also had four. Even though Andy Pettite admitted taking performance enhancing drugs, he was never suspended for such. The 2000 Yankees read like a Who’s Who of the Mitchell Report and yet… the 2009 Phillies still are the reigning leader in NL pennant winners with three suspensions under the “Drug & Treatment Prevention” policy.

While each case has nuances that lead you to believe each player’s suspension may have been an isolated incident, including Romero suing the maker of 6-OXO and settling with them for an undisclosed sum out of court, the truth is, the Phillies have a longer track record than most teams in this early era of performance-enhancement testing. Bastardo is the seventh Phillie or Phillies’ minor leaguer since 2009 that has tested positive for a prohibited substance under the new policy, easily leading all of baseball. The others? Infielder Freddy Galvis last year and then-Phillies minor leaguers Kevin Frandsen and Zach Collier in 2011 and Pablo Ozuna in 2009. The next closest teams? The Giants and Yankees with three each. Until today’s suspensions, the Phillies accounted for 18.18% of Major League baseball’s suspensions since 2009.

So what does all of this mean? The Phillies, at best, need better communication with their players and athletic staff and a better understanding of prohibitive substances to prevent positive tests. They need to keep their players off prohibited substances and on the field, which helps the players stay healthier in the long term, keeps the fans happy, and prevents the embarrassment of positive tests.

I never realized what a large issue this may be within the Phillies organization until Bastardo’s suspension. Hopefully, this issue will open some eyes in the front office and they will come up with a better plan to keep their athletes on the field and off of the suspended list.



  1. Brian

    August 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    What about these 3?

    Did you not include Collier because he got popped for amphetamines?

  2. Stuart

    August 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    They should absolutely be in the Hall of Fame. It should also be absolutely marked when they have been proven to take performance enhancing drugs. The Hall of Fame is simply a museum of baseball. It was built to be that and that is what it is. There should be the history of the steroid era. They shouldnt just sweep it under the carpet. It should be there to educate the future but it should also show who used and make an example of them. Dont celebrate them in the HOF but put them in there, it is only a place for history and this is a big part of the MLB history.

  3. John

    August 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    The Yankees also had 3 players on their ’09 team suspended…A-Rod, Cervelii, and Melky.

  4. Pops

    August 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Did you ever consider that maybe this was as much of a “Latin American thing” as it was “an organizational thing?” Hispanic players are failing drug tests at a higher rate than non – Hispanic players. Most of the players that you mentioned are indeed from Spanish speaking counties and have Spanish surnames.

    • EricL

      August 5, 2013 at 11:12 pm


      If you get the records from one clinic operating in southern Florida it’s likely you’re going to get certain types of players. The Biogenesis clinic got a lot of referrals from word-of-mouth, so if you have one or two guys from the Dominican Republic who go there and they tell all their buddies about it, when that one clinic gets busted you’ll see a disproportionate number of those guys caught.

      In reality, there’s no way it was just a “latin american thing.” Braun, Ankiel, Frandsen, Collier, Bonds, Clemens, Petite, McGwire, Gagne, etc. Hell, A-Rod was born in New York. It’s just a coincidence right now.

  5. Jack

    August 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Iran do your homework. The 2009 World Champion Yankees had 4 suspended for PED’s. That took me all of 2 minutes to find. Melky Cabrera, A-Rod, Mitre, and Cervelli. Also with a few more minutes more I bet I can add a few more teams to that 3 players suspended list.

  6. Ian

    August 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Tons more minor leaguers have been suspended for PED also. Phils no where close to 18% of ML bans.

    • Ian Riccaboni

      August 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      4 of 22 since 2009 before suspensions today was the math and qualification there and that comes to 18%.

  7. teejvee

    August 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    F%ck you Chooch, and Galvis and Bastardo How many honest players have you 3 losers ( who aren’t good enough to play mlb) kept out of the bigs.

    • EricL

      August 5, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      If those players weren’t good enough to play in MLB, then none.

  8. john

    August 5, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Aderall is not a performance enhancing drug it is legal in the USA. Ruiz was an idiot to take it but it isn’t anywhere near steroids….JC bought his from GNC a legal company and by all accounts not selling performance enhancers….I think these 2 suspensions are no where as serious as Bastardos.To lump the Phillies in the same category as the Yankees is dumbfounding.

    • Ian Riccaboni

      August 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      Absolutely is a performance enhancer. What’s even worse is not helping players who actually need it make sure it’s legally used

    • David P

      August 5, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Yes, it doesn’t enhance performance, which is why chooch was using it despite it being a banned substance. Lol John!

      • EricL

        August 5, 2013 at 11:15 pm

        Not all substances banned by Major League Baseball enhance performance.

        Marijuana, for example, is a banned substance but isn’t going to do much for your athletic ability.

      • LouA

        August 6, 2013 at 9:13 am

        if it doesn’t enhance performance, then why are guys getting busted for it. to condemn Latin American players, is that a way out or what or to condemn the Phillies..
        Why are these companies like Biogenesis allowed to sell it, GNC has stores set up all over the country and selling crap all the time.
        Is that legal?
        It’s all BS….that could also lead us to other BS about name calling without meantioning it…

      • EricL

        August 6, 2013 at 11:00 am

        You might be shocked to learn that baseball players are generally not trained medical professionals and that sometimes just taking anything, even if it has not medicinal properties, makes the player feel better and makes them think they’re stronger/faster/harder than they really are. Look up the placebo effect.

    • DavidE

      August 5, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Adderall may be taken by as many as 10% of boys in the United States. It is supposed to be taken by those with ADD. Some players can take it legally and some players can’t.

    • Carlos Danger

      August 5, 2013 at 11:10 pm

      We’ve covered this ground before, but Aderall is definitely performance enhancing.

      • c. schreiber

        August 6, 2013 at 9:25 am


  9. DavidE

    August 5, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    The way the Phillies are playing, we need an investigation into PDDs (Performance Diminishing Drugs).

  10. Nick G

    August 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I would bet that suspended players correlates pretty well with team salaries, just a guess, but when the 3 top teams with regards to suspensions for PEDs are also 3 of the top teams in total salary I would call this a league problem more so than an organizational problem.

  11. Doreen

    August 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    There has to be a harsher punishment for these athletes. Not just game suspension, but salaries withheld and tjreA of being banned from the sport.

  12. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    August 5, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I vehemently dislike A-Roid. ‘Nuff said.

  13. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    August 5, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    It’s disheartening that so many from our home team have used these, but that is reality. What is even more disturbing is that out of all the ADHD/ADD medicine in the world our country uses over 85% of it! : (

  14. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    August 5, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    This is why I’d love to take down A-Roid. Hes the only one appealing and he’s such a piece of $hit:
    Rodriguez lost the support of the Taylor Hooton Foundation. The group fights performance-enhancing drug use by youngsters and was started by Taylor Hooton’s family in 2004 after the player died following the use of anabolic steroids.

    “We have had a good relationship with Rodriguez since early 2009 when we stood with him at his press conference in Tampa,” the group said in a statement. “There, he issued his public mea culpa, committed that he would not be involved in the future with banned substances, and said that he wanted to help us to encourage kids to stay away from them. He offered to use his situation as an example to let them know that it is not right for them to use performance-enhancing drugs. Working together, we’ve delivered messages to thousands of kids and have impacted their lives in a positive way. But, today’s announcement leaves us no option but to discontinue our relationship with Alex Rodriguez.”
    Way to lie to kids. In my book, you’re scum A-Roid.

    • EricL

      August 5, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      Alex Rodriguez voluntarily takes substances in the hopes that they make him better at baseball: Scum.

      Brett Myers beast his wife through the city of Boston: Everyone cheers for him when he’s helping the Phils win the ’08 WS.

      Miguel Cabrera gets caught driving under the influence: Awarded MVP! Yay!

      I think we need to re-adjust which personal failings we get sanctimonious about.

      • Phillies fan from Germany

        August 6, 2013 at 6:58 am

        Difference is PED’s result in an uneven playing field in the sport we all love. The other stuff has nothing to do with the game. That of course does not make Miggy or Myers better people than ARod in itself (although I thing ARod is one big idiot for other reasons as well!).

      • "Big Ed" Delahanty

        August 6, 2013 at 7:11 am

        I did not cheer for them either, EricL. Myers isn’t a real man, real men dont need to beat women. My best friend was killed by some one driving under the influence. These sports guys, owners, and entertainers get slaps on the wrist. How many times has Lohan or NFL guys got slaps on the wrist for their repeated offenses? I have no time for these people. I am sorry. Maybe it’s extreme, but as a professional you are held to a higher standard by the law and society, and according to the law a reasonable person person should be aware of their potential actions – that is why society is built on rules, laws, and ethics. People will break them, some repeatedly, but by punishing them fairly and justly, hopefully we deter others from making decisions that can harm themselves and others. Boys, especially today, who grow up without a father, look to these people as successful role models and subconscious father figures and I’m all for it; it subconsciously and psychologically helps them drive forward and achieve in positive ways: socially, mentally, etc. however, to have a role model lie to you about something as serious as that is detrimental and I’ve seen it affect to many children. I think you’re a highly erudite individual and enjoy your posts and insightful comments, but here I disagree. Sorry. As a person who gave up a very lucrative career to assist children and educate and prepare them to make, hopefully, a meaningful and positive contribution into today’s desensitized and greed fueled society, even moreso than previous civilized modern societies, we aren’t talking Romans here, but modern, anyone who bold face deceives children and lies to them is a scumbag. At least have the balls to tell them the straight up truth. Sorry for the rant AB I wish I had time to give a more thorough, elucidated answer but that would be about sixty pages long an this is a Phillies blog, and I want to move past the steroid/PED quagmire and just talk baseball. While this is part of it and effects it, I’d rather enjoy talking about how to fix my favorite baseball team. : )

  15. Bobby Cocks

    August 5, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Ridiculous, Ruiz was not steroids and orhers are fringe players whereas Yanks were core players plus Pettitte’s cheating big snout – how did he ever avoid suspension? Just vacate 09 WS like ncaa does to teams.

  16. Mike Hunt

    August 5, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    It’s simple on Pettitte – he’s white so he got a pass just like Bonds being treated like a cancer while McGuire gets jobs as batting coach.

    • Double Trouble Del

      August 5, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      Dude, Petitte and McGuire have admitted their mistakes, Bonds has not. Don’t make it a racial issue when it’s not.

      • Hogey's Role

        August 6, 2013 at 7:17 am


        That was why mcgwire admitted to using steroids so he could get the hitting coach job and not be a huge distraction to the cardinals….

        I hope bonds does come clean, maybe the Phillies can hire him cause they need help….

    • therookie300

      August 6, 2013 at 7:05 am

      Bonds got treated like he did because he’s a d*ck. Helluva good hitter, but a d*ck.

  17. mark

    August 6, 2013 at 7:32 am

    are u serious?????? Guess it was a light day for real news. Organiztional thing really…add all the players up from single a to the pros and then divide it by 4 and u get a number you will need to read with a microscope. If you really have baseball knowledge then write it don’t drum up BS

  18. Manny

    August 6, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Yankees had core players in trouble. Phillies didn’t. (still sucks but it’s not nearly as bad)

    • Ian Riccaboni

      August 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

      Well – that’s where it gets even worse, eespecially for the Adderall suspensions. Organizational competency could have made those a non issue by walking players through the proces of making sure they were under recognized care. That’s the take away here – you don’t lead MLB in suspensions since 2009 and not not have an organizational issue.

      • George

        August 6, 2013 at 9:44 am

        I totally disagree with that statement, Ian. I’d bet that all organizations have programs that walk players through the rules, just as societies and religions all have education so that people don’t go out and commit crimes. Does it help much?

        Some people are just going to see the drug way as being an easy ticket, just as some college students cheat on exams and some financial institutions get busted for insider trading and fudgng the books. Every one of them knows the rules, and yet they go on breaking them until they’re caught. There are just people in this world who are rule breakers, and no amount of training, procedural walk throughs, or potential penalties is going to change that. In fact, I’d even argue that with more knowlege of the rules, a person also has more insight into how to circumvent them.

        Saying that the Phils lead in suspensions has very little meaning when one adds in those who were users but never suffered the consequences; people like Bonds, Pettite, Clemens, and probably others who were never caught. Statistics can be read in any way you want, and to me, this is a silly way to condemn a team you happen to be frustrated with at the moment.

      • Ryne Duren

        August 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm

        Hey Ian I was wondering. Do you think if Charlie took PED’s he’d be a better manager? Personally I wish he did. Maybe then we’d only be 10 1/2 out! lol

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