Rays reliever Juan Salas has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive for performance enhancing substances. Interestingly enough Salas velocity had seemingly dropped off from last year into this year, although you still wonder what was going through his mind when he did this.
Tim Corcoran will likely join the Rays bullpen in place of Salas tomorrow as they head to Baltimore.
My take after the jump
They say you never really know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and that is valid for the most part, loved ones, childhood, blessed position, and innocence. Many of these repetitions are made when one elects to become a sports fan, you fall in love with your teams, players and then they do something to break your heart, and in some cases ruin your innocence.
Today Tampa Bay Rays’ reliever Juan Salas was suspended, he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, 50 games. Now Salas is not the first Rays player to be suspended, in fact the first major leaguer to ever be suspended for ‘roids was a Ray, Alex Sanchez, but this time it was different for me. This time I’ve watched Salas ascend from a third baseman in the system since the inaugural 1998 season to a pitcher who went 50 innings between AA and AAA without allowing an earned run, get a sip of coffee last September, and earn a slot in the pen this year. This time, it was one of my favorites, a cheater.
I know as a writer you really shouldn’t reveal or hold ‘favorite’ players, it can lead to a skewed perspective and bias reporting, I may or may not have been guilty of this before, however I’ve always felt that was a part of sports that I couldn’t just ditch once I became a ‘writer’ and not just a ‘fan’. Salas was part of the bigger tomorrow for the Rays, his cut fastball is almost always mentioned in the same way that Mariano Rivera’s cutter is mentioned. He had ‘it’. Had, he ‘had’ it all.
I’ll probably never meet Juan, nor will I ever ask him why, or how he could risk what seems like a beautiful thing for a little more oomph on his fastball, or a little less soreness in his forearm, in fact I’m not sure I want to hear his answer. I’ve always wondered how the Giant fans treat Barry Bonds so well knowing he probably cheated, well I know, and I understand. At the end of the day Salas is one of 25 on the Rays, he’s one of nearly 200 players in the organization, he’s not a superstar, never been an all star, never likely will win a Cy Young or lead the league in anything, but I understand. I won’t lie that I made a statement a while after learning this to the effect of "Why not use HGH instead, at least you can’t get caught?" It seemed like a joke, but I’m not so sure it was. When all things fall down I love the Rays more than nearly anything else in this world, I wouldn’t kill for them to win, I wouldn’t kill for anything, but on this day I’ve lost some of my innocence. I’m not disgusted with a cheater, as long as he wears my colors.
Note this also appeared on my other blog, Kurt Vonnegut's Unfinished Novel, though I felt the need to post it on both sites, rest assured it's not something I plan on doing often if at all again.