Off Base
An All-in-One Plan to Fix Drugs in Baseball AND Make the National League Better

May 18, 2009, 8:24 p.m With apologies to Bill Maher, it's time for new rules, people. New rules.

The National Football League has the "franchise player," baseball's American League sports the designated hitter, and it's high time (pun intended) the National League gets a rule of its own.

And since the NL has no league president to represent it (you remember league presidents), we at are only too happy to oblige.

As proposed, it's as simple as this: The Designated User-Hitter. Or if you prefer the acronym, "DUH."

Basically, the DUH allows each of the 16 National League teams one drug exemption per season; one guy who's allowed to stick needles in his butt, or ingest by other means one previously banned substance of his choosing, as long as he is the one and only player on that team to do so. He has to pick, steroids or pep pills, but never both. They'll be no need for masking agents, of course, since the player won't be breaking any rules, so those items won't apply to a team's DUH.

Full disclosure will be required, and the clubs must make it a priority to know exactly what their charges are doing at all times. Penalties for more than one user per team will be quick and unforgiving.

As testing will continue, it'll will be incumbent upon the teams to police themselves. If there's a Ricky Williams in the midst, for example, and the use of a drug such as marijuana is discovered in a player's system, that's their guy for the entire season. No exceptions. So a club must take care not to waste its precious exemption on a pothead. (It's their prerogative, however, so if they think the evil weed will help them win, then by all means, they're welcome to go for it.)

Because San Francisco was thought to be especially complicit in Barry Bonds' ten years of drug use, without league approval, the Giants must wait till 2019 to participate. Since this is very serious business, there's to be no grandfathering waivers for clubs like Frisco.

Citing the "integrity of the game" statute, such as it is, Bud Selig has declared that the DUH be instituted immediately, today, at the approximate one-quarter mark of the 2009 championship seasons.

That means no collective bargaining on this. Sorry players union and players agents. Again, this is serious stuff here. So that's the way the ball bounces, that's the way the cookie crumbles, and all that crap.

In an arbitrary interpretation of the DUH by Major League Baseball, it's been decided that the Dodgers, because of Manny Ramirez, are to be at a slight disadvantage for the next 40 days or so, as Manny has, in effect, been designated the DUH for the Dodgers, for the duration of the current season.

Only in the case of a non-performance-enhancing-drug-induced injury may a DUH be replaced during the year. So, in the case of the St. Louis Cardinals, let's say Albert Pujols is the guy. If Pujols were to be hit by a pitch, falling victim to a broken hand or a wrist, and be guaranteed six to eight weeks on the shelf, the Cards could immediately start pumping up Ryan Ludwick the next day.

Or, St. Louis can help Chris Carpenter quicken the pace of his rehabilitation, and pass the drug baton to their former ace. The DUH allows few liberties, but replacing a position player with a pitcher, or vice versa, is one of them.

Now, while the Dodgers cannot activate another PED-user while Manny is serving his recent suspension, if he were to come back in July and then go down with a naturally-occurring injury, the team could then designate another player at that time. Sure, PEDs need a bit of time to kick in, and you can't have two users on a roster at a time, so switching DUHs in the second half of a season wouldn't produce to full affect, but who said life was fair?

However, to further clarify, if Los Angeles has knowledge that Manny will be declining his 2010 option, or if they plan to trade him during the offseason, and they're more concerned about James Loney's power output than they've said publicly, then they can go ahead and transform their first baseman into Gigantor during the winter. Just fyi.

Complete transparency around the league will be crucial, and of course, since the AL will not be participating, and in theory not even know who their druggies are, it's buyer beware on interleague deals. NL squads will need to be especially careful trading with the American League during the summer. Because you'd just hate to see a team's pennant hopes derailed by urine originating in a rival league. That would be a shame…

Talkback:Your comments are always encouraged…

Yes, Master: Is it just me, or has Brian Wilson gotten himself in a tissy fit over absolutely nothing. Cmon, look at the replay again. Casey Blake's arms-crossed post home run thingamabob is easily distinguishable from Wilson's religious salute to his father arms-crossed whatchamacallit.

Clearly, Blake's is a spot-on impersonation of Barbara Eden, doing the "I Dream of Jeannie" make-it-so maneuver. All that's missing is the cute little wink. I understand Blake is working no that now…

Memo to the Media: Can we have a moratorium on the Manny Ramirez maternity leave joke now please. It wasn't that funny to begin with and it gets less so with each passing day. What do you say we give it a rest, OK…

Media Savvy: Here's favorite Tom Hoffarth, of the Daily News, on the demise of the "Who's Who in Baseball." 1970's Tom Seaver on-the-cover was my first one, in blue instead of red, for some reason. I've been collecting them ever since. EBay is a great source for old issues, in varying conditions. Here's what's available now.

Thanks to reader Matthew P. for sending in this Inside Science article, "The World's Best Visual Illusion: The Secret of the Curve Ball."

Props to's Jayson Stark for being the first, if not the only prominent columnist to take up the issue of the phantom-injury stretching of the disabled list rules by clubs this year, and generally.

From Rotoworld: "Juan Castro reached base four times and scored on each occasion against the Marlins on Sunday. Castro homered, singled, and walked twice. He's off to a scorching .450 start in 20 at-bats. We'll resist the urge to say something snarky and simply congratulate him on the nice game."

And from the use-a-pun, go-to-jail file, feast your eyes on some paragraph headings included in a Dodgers press release last week, describing the accomplishments of Blake DeWitt, A.J. Ellis, Eric Milton, Scott Elbert, Scott Van Slyke and Eduardo Perez respectively:


Free 35 mm Baseball Movie Prints Available: Bijan C. Bayne, of the Ciesla Foundation sends along the following offer:

"Dear Fan,

Add an award-winning baseball film to your collection. The Ciesla Foundation, producers of the 2001 Peabody Award winning film, "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg", would like to donate a 35 mm print of this film to your collection. The film won Best Documentary with National Board Review of Motion Pictures, was voted Best Non-Fiction Film by the New York Film Critics Association, Best Documentary by the Chicago Film Critics, as well as Best Documentary by the Las Vegas Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics.

The film, filled with archival footage and interviews with celebrities such as Walter Matthau, Alan Dershowitz, Bob Feller, Michael Moriarity, Maury Povich, Dick Schaap, and Senator Carl Levin, follows the life and accomplishments of the first professional Jewish baseball star Hank Greenberg.  It would be an excellent addition to any archive, museum library, research center, or personal collection.

This educational and entertaining documentary by Aviva Kempner has had
a commercial run and been shown at film festivals nationwide, in addition to being featured on Showtime.

Rather than keeping the remaining film in storage, we are offering the
35 mm print to you at the modest cost of shipping and handling. The
donation of the print does not include public performance rights, for which a fee would be charged, but rights may be requested from the distributor.

We appreciate your interest and hope to share "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" with you today!" Contact:

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….








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