This was a bad week in sports. Forgetting for a moment that the Dodgers lost six in a row and the only way they could win a game was if Clayton Kershaw struck out 14 and drove in the game's only run, it was the stuff off the field that was the most upsetting.
We begin with the NFL Draft, which now literally drags on for days, but it was what happened minutes before the draft that grabbed the headlines. Someone apparently hacked the Twitter account of a kid named Laremy Tunsil, and posted a video of him taking a bong hit of marijuana while wearing a gas mask. A week earlier, the Offensive Tackle from Mississippi was slated to be the number one overall pick. When the Rams and Eagles decided to go after quarterbacks, Tunsil fell to third on everybody's chart. Not bad for a 21 year-old from the Orlando area. After the video surfaced, he fell to the 13th overall pick by the Miami Dolphins.
While tragic may be too strong of a word (no one died, and all this really cost him was money), the sadness reveals itself on all kinds of levels. Tunsil admitted that was him in the video, but said it was “years old”. It doesn't look it. When interviewed by NFL Network “reporter” Deion Sanders about ten minutes after he was finally drafted, Tunsil politely refused to answer any of the pertinent questions, and just said he would prove that he was a good person. That's fine, but then Sanders hugged Tunsil, and said “Good job. I'm proud of you.” Proud? For what, getting away with something stupid? At that point, it was hard to tell which was worse—Tunsil's act or Sanders' journalism.
Then there's the issue of how the video appeared on the Twitter account. Tunsil may have been stupid enough to get videoed taking a bong hit, but he wouldn't sabotage his own career by posting it minutes before the draft, so who did? Rumors immediately pointed to his stepfather, but the latest now points to a former financial advisor who was fired before the draft. No name has been mentioned. Hacking a Twitter account is a federal offense, and it's possible that a guy who reportedly cost himself about 8 million dollars for that bong hit, could end up suing the guy who hacked his account. It goes on from there.
Then there's the NFL itself. The league announced today that they will take no action on the matter, meaning that not only will Tunsil not be suspended, but won't even be subject to random drug testing. It's also ironic that the Oakland Raiders were the next team on the clock. That franchise has never seemed to worry about a player's character, and likely would have taken Tunsil if the Dolphins didn't. It's an all-star cast in this unfolding drama, but it's hard to see Tunsil as the good guy in this story.
Not two hours after Tunsilgate, the Miami Marlins swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in a four-game series, winning 5-3 Thursday night. You figure manager Don Mattingly would be laughing his head off on their flight out of town after sweeping his old team, but it was found out after the game that second baseman (and former Dodger) Dee Gordon was suspended 80 games for performance enhancing drugs. Gordon, who just received a 50-million dollar contract extension before the start of the year, will only have to forfeit about a million of that, and will be eligible to return to the team in August.
If nothing else, however, Gordon may have done the sport a favor. There were a few Giants players that were miffed when Melky Cabrera was having an MVP season when he got suspended, but when guys like Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, Jhonny Peralta, and others got multi-million dollar deals, no one really said a word. Alex Rodriguez is a cheater and a bold faced liar, and is still revered in New York, and Toronto's Chris Colabello got hit with an 80-game suspension just last week, but no one cared. With Gordon, however, it seems to be a different story.
Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expires after this year, and some players (presumably the clean ones) are clamoring for stricter penalties. “Guys are pissed,” A’s reliever and player representative Sean Doolittle told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They want players to be more accountable for their actions. They want a more level playing field. They want punishments that will even further deter players from trying to cheat the system. They want penalties that might affect those players’ wallets even more than it does.”
Perhaps Gordon's suspension will mean some aggressive changes, and maybe it will result in more cheaters getting kicked out of the game for good. That would be a positive change created by Dee Gordon. He was so fun to watch and seemed like a pretty good guy, too. Sadness on a lot of levels, just like Tunsil.
Add one more: It won't be as noteworthy as Gordon, but you can add injured Dodgers reliever Josh Ravin to the list. It was announced today that he has been suspended 80 games for PED use. Ravin is on the Disabled List after being injured in a car accident this spring, and likely would have been in the minor leagues if healthy. Ravin, Gordon, and Colabello's positive drug test all reportedly occurred during spring training.
One month til Gold Sox: The Marysville Gold Sox open their first season in the brand new Great West League one month from tomorrow. The team is still not done signing players yet, and hasn't announced a coaching staff under manager Mike Walker. The league in general, though, has not been very good at releasing information about the upcoming season. Might make local fans a little nervous.
Stealthy is not healthy: Perhaps no other team in all of sports lives up to its nickname like the Sacramento Stealth. It's really hard to prove that the team, scheduled to compete in the Great West League this season, even exists. It has a website, but no players are listed, and when you click on 'schedule', nothing comes up. Another team deleted road games at Sacramento from its schedule, and the Stealth website has no phone number. They do list an office address, but when I visited it today, the woman at the front desk had never heard of the team. The office was for a marketing company, and after she went and got some guy in the back, he said the office was just used for their mail, and his firm had something to do with renovating old Renfree Field, where they were supposed to play. A visit to that location was even worse. No work had been done, weeds were about two feet high, the wooden stands would come down if you whacked them with a stick, and two homeless people were sleeping in the bleachers. Uhhh, definitely not a good sign.