Kicking Rocks: Just Say No

Oh Melky.

Melky, Melky, Melky.

How you’ve screwed over so many now.

With word breaking of Melky Cabrera’s indiscretion and subsequent 50-game suspension, there’s been a rush of emotion and not one bit of it is good. Who cares if he came out, admitted the wrongdoing and apologized. You can stuff your sorry’s in a sack as George Costanza would say. Is an apology going to replace a .346 average with a decent mix of power and speed in the middle of the Giants’ lineup during a pennant race? No. Is it going to help fantasy owners who have grown to rely on his production at such a crucial time of the season? No. So really…who cares if he’s sorry?  He might as well have pulled a Sammy Sosa and pretended not to speak English because the end results are the same. Melky cheated, got caught and it’s the rest of the baseball community, both real and fantasy, that suffer.

As a fan of the game, it disgusts me. Haven’t baseball players learned their lesson yet? The reasoning behind their actions is completely irrelevant. Juicing, in any way, shape or form, is illegal and while 50 games is a long time, some team is still going to hand Melky a one year, $8M contract for next season. Is he losing money because of this? Absolutely. But eight million sure isn’t chump change, now is it?

The whole thing makes me sick as a fantasy player as well. Not that I own him at all — some of you might even remember a little piece I wrote up on him back in March. But what aggravates me as an owner, especially an owner in a league that awards prizes, is the guy who profits off of Melky’s cheating ways. Take the guy who’s sitting in first in my 15-team, mixed roto league, for example. Give him a non-juiced Melky or some other shlub and see what that level of production does for his team. Maybe he doesn’t take a hit in the counting stats too much, but he’s certainly going to drop in batting average. One point? Two points? Whatever it may be, the overall league standings are close enough that it could mean the difference between first and fourth place.

Perhaps Major League Baseball should step up their preventative measures a little more and then the fantasy community can follow suit. You could certainly get individual clubs to police themselves better if they were forced to forfeit all statistics of the guilty player. Take away Melky’s runs scored and his RBI, adjust game scores accordingly and see what the Giants’ record looks like then.

Fantasy owners would then have to do the same thing. Forfeit all of Melky’s stats and adjust the league standings or head to head records. Turn it into yet another risk/reward scenario for owners on draft day. Got a guy who, from virtually out of nowhere, puts up monster numbers? Draft him at your own risk. If he gets caught juicing at any point during the season or within a month of the final regular season game, then you have to forfeit his stats and accept the standings as they would be if you were one guy short.

The real problem here is that there isn’t enough outrage over PEDs infractions. I don’t know if MLB is dealing with the problem in the best possible way and the public has grown apathetic. We’re bored by the conversation. The discussion is already old and tired and doesn’t touch us on a personal level. Maybe if the millions who play fantasy baseball found themselves directly affected, you’d have more people fighting against it.




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

53 Responses to “Kicking Rocks: Just Say No”

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  1. Jimmy says:

    He might as well have pulled a *Sammy Sosa* and pretended not to speak English because the end results are the same.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      que?

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      • chri521 says:

        I really don’t think that the fantasy option is possible. Most leagues don’t allow for these kind of sweeping adjustments and you cannot predict when someone is going to get caught.

        Joey Bats came out of nowhere and has not failed a test (yet?…) so although I agree it’s disgusting, it’s hard to show outrage as a fantasy owner when you now need to cast suspicion on ANY surge in production for players.

        And in terms of risk-reward for Melky and other players, the reward is so much more lucrative that using PEDs is a positive expected value for everyone except for the already above replacement level players. If someone is replacement level or below, using PEDs is a no brainer as it allows you the chance to gain $ and success you would never get on a normal talent progression.

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      • Hunter says:

        Most leagues don’t allow for that adjustment within the league software, no. But it is still entirely possible to calculate the results by hand.

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  2. mr. mckay says:

    Mmmmm. Drugs are bad.

    Unless your hitting a baseball.

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  3. ry says:

    the problem with retroactively removing stats from a team is that fantasy teams do not have nearly the access of information about a player’s tendency to juice or not juice. How am I ever supposed to know if Melky was juicing, or was prone to juicing? Clubhouse guys may know, ownership may know, but fantasy nerds can’t possibly know… especially on draft day. I agree it sucks, but punishing a team for that is also unfair.

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  4. Bryan says:

    If you want to punish fantasy players for owning Melky (by taking away his contributions) then you’re suggesting it was wrong to roster Melky in the first place. Does that mean you think every surprising star should be left to rot on free agency just in case he’s been juicing?

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  5. jfree says:

    The problem isn’t drugs – it’s tests. If ballplayers were good at tests, they’d probably be rocket scientists. Making the tests about drugs just ensures that they get confused. Are they supposed to pass the tests or fail them? And what if they think that taking the performance enhancing drugs will help them pass the tests? After all they enhance performance don’t they?

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  6. Adam Cooper says:

    You could certainly get individual clubs to police themselves better if they were forced to forfeit all statistics of the guilty player. Take away Melky’s runs scored and his RBI, adjust game scores accordingly and see what the Giants’ record looks like then.

    OK I’ll bite. What’s the justification for taking away all of Melky’s stats, as opposed to the difference between his stats and those of a replacement player or projected stats of the next guy on the depth chart, given that you don’t have proof that Brian Sabean knew?

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    • Adam Cooper says:

      It should be noted that “individual clubs” can’t really “police themselves better”, or at least they can’t do their own testing, because the doping regulations are part of the CBA between MLB and the players union. So I guess the other question is: what do you mean by “police themselves better”?

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      • Jason B says:

        Totally agreed, it sort of reeks of knee-jerk hyperbole. Skirt or circumvent the collective bargaining agreement and do your own thing, clubs! Let us know how all that works out.

        I’m sure the Giants brass are upset, as are Cabrera’s fantasy owners. But still, take a minute, breathe, count to ten, and then propose a workable suggestion. Forfeit stats based on what the teams “should have known”? Either in real life or fantasy? C’mon.

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  7. Jim says:

    Wiping out fantasy stats for a player that is juicing? You are kidding right? So by the same logic why not adjust the Giants’ stats and make them forfeit a bunch of games? I am no apologist or in favor of lenient penalties for juicers at all, but that is some seriously bad logic. Anyone that had him now has to scramble to the waiver wire for some scraps. That is the punishment for fantasy owners. And Melky didn’t come out of nowhere. He was a great fantasy asset for me last year when he was on the Royals. It sounds to me like this writer has sour grapes that someone else got Melky and is leading his fantasy league.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Yeah, he wasn’t juicing last year……

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      • Dan says:

        Gotta agree with Jim here. Punishing fantasy owners retroactively for the actions taken by the player suggests that you think the fantasy owner was complicit in the crime. We can only choose players based on the information we have; obviously covert steroid use is not part of that information. And risk is already built in – if you knew somebody was juicing, you could factor that into where you’d draft him/how much you’d pay based on the chance he will get caught. But to take away stats? It’s just absurd.

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      • Stan Gable says:

        You don’t know conclusively that he was doing anything of the sort last year, Bender. That’s wildly speculative..

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    • supershredder says:

      Nice job of stirring the pot, Bender! I personally hate Melky now because I believed his breakout was a fluke and refused to draft him. After watching my opponents who took Melky rollicking around in first place after 2/3rds of a career season in the books, I’m ready to kill that SOB myself. It’s bad enough that I missed all those stats that could have counted toward my team, but to know that he did it by cheating makes it sooo much worse. And now I get some sob story about how his owners have to “scramble” to the waiver wire to get a replacement player for a whole month and a half left of the season? Shove it, dickwads.

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      • Tom B says:

        You believed a guy with 200 hits last year was a fluke?

        How many 200 hit seasons have ever been a fluke?

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  8. josh m says:

    With all due respect this is a bit silly a fantasy team that unknowingly takes on a roided up melky Cabrera is (arguably unfairly) is already being punished. Baseball players have career years all the time even without steroids, Ryan Roberts last year is a perfect example and he helped me win my league.

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  9. theojd says:

    I almost feel like this post is a level.

    He’s out for 50 games. If he does it again, it’s 100. One more time and I believe it’s 3 strikes and you’re out.

    It pretty much forced Manny out of baseball (even though he was already way past his prime). There is a system in place, and I’d say it’s working farily well.

    There is no possible way to retroactively remove Melky’s stats from actual boxscores to affect scoring. Way too much context involved. Let’s say Melk had a 3 run double in the 8th of a close game. You can’t just take away those runs. Who’s to say his replacement wouldn’t have done the same? It’s a silly suggestion.

    As for the fantasy stats, its easier to do, but there is a similar problem. Do you replace his stats with zeroes, or some agreed upon replacement level stats.

    I think it’s silly either way, because even though we’ve seen good players fail tests, it’s still not happening enough to warrant some big revolution.

    Plus, FWIW, I just can’t buy into the fact that steroids or testosterone or whatever turned Melky into an excellent hitter. I’m pretty sure you still have to put the bat on the ball and make good contact. It’s also not like he has 35 HR at this point.

    Maybe it’s apathy at this point, but I still say the whole steroid thing is overblown. Let’s go back and expunge all the records of Aaron, Mays and the like for taking amphetamines……oh wait, no one cares about that? OK.

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    • Stan Gable says:

      ‘There is a system in place, and I’d say it’s working (fairly) well.’

      Mr. Braun, is that you? Sorry, but the debacle this offseason in Wisconsin is fairly substantial proof that the system is/was tremendously flawed.

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      • theojd says:

        Lol I did say farily (fairly). Which does not mean perfectly.

        And Braun was innocent. So….

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      • Jason B says:

        “Braun was innocent”

        Totally false. That was NOT what the arbitrator’s ruling amounted to, or even in the same ballpark. “Sprung on a technicality” does not equal “innocent”, even though the end result may look the same.

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  10. The Real Joey Votto says:

    I think this is an absolutely awesome idea. Imagine the potential for new fantasy-related content! ‘Roid watch’ articles, just like today’s closer watches… Sell-low articles about breakout players (‘I recommend dumping Edwin Encarnacion for whatever you can get – he’s probably about to get busted’)… Strategy pieces about risk/reward and timing (‘Bautista is 10% likely to have a failed test over the next year, but with 2 weeks to go the odds of a positive test between now and 1 month after the playoffs end the probability is only 1.2% of a positive test that will adversely affect your results for this year – go ahead and play him!’). The possibilities are endless!

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  11. Eric says:

    My problem with just taking away all the stats is that it’s not just that cut and dry that RBI and R are the only way you can influence a game. There’s a player’s defense, working the pitch count to wear down the SP and get to the RP earlier, there’s a walk that might extend the inning and allow the guy ahead of him to score without knocking him in yourself. Every play is intricately connected and I don’t see how you could just remove a player from a season’s worth of games and just determine who wins or loses without that player. There’s no way of knowing.

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  12. Brazen Reader says:

    #1. We’re bored by the conversation. The discussion is already old and tired and doesn’t touch us on a personal level.

    Yes.

    #2. Maybe if the millions who play fantasy baseball found themselves directly affected…

    No one will make these rules changes (see #1).

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  13. Stuck in a slump says:

    I don’t think that you should necessarily punish fantasy owners, at least not in this case.

    Melky isn’t some 30-something setting new career marks on what should have been the decline phase of a ‘meh’ career, he just turned 28, and no one expected this kind of batting average from him. A .290ish avg with 15-20 HR/SB and absolutely no walks? Ok, we saw that last year from him at the turn of 26/27 years of age, and a lot of guys thought Melky would have improved on his 2009 campaign rather than regress in Atlanta.

    No one drafted him assuming that he’d be in the top 3 in AVG in the majors (min 250 AB), but they figured he could at least be neutral to a slight boost in that category, and given his speed and power shown in 2009 with the Yankees, it wasn’t that much of a jump to think that he could, while entering his prime, hit like he did in 2011.

    Should I be punished for picking up a guy because he’s entering his prime and has shown promise in the past and looked like he was making good on it the year before? No, that’s doing analysis assuming that all things are equal. I don’t know what Melky was doing, and neither did any other fantasy manager that I know. We certainly have less potential knowledge of it than the Giants, and MLB isn’t about to strip the Giants of their W-L records for games that Melky played in, so why should fantasy owners be held to a higher standard?

    If we start doing that, then young guys breaking out every where lose their value. Should we start being suspicious of Austin Jackson or Carlos Gonzalez? I never really believed in Melky, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t plausible for him to have a break out at the age of 26, and we can’t go around with the cloud of suspicion cast over everything and everyone. It’s not fair to the players or to the sport. I don’t think any of the fans would have predicted Melky was juicing, I didn’t think so.

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  14. radicalhenri says:

    first of all. the fantasy idea is almost as ridiculous as the way i’m about to spell redickyoulous. how would people know whether melky was a sosa, or a bautista. bautista has been tested something like 20 times over the last two years. second, the idea that real teams should TAKE AWAY statistics from their team is even more redickyoulous. that is way too complicated.

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  15. You're dumb says:

    Of all the dumb ideas you’ve suggested/bitched about, this has to be the dumbest. Please stop writing.

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  16. Drew says:

    PEDs don’t effect much, if anything.

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  17. Drew says:

    I’d rather penalize owners for the BABIP.

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  18. Tom B says:

    Hey, wait… who cares about the owners that have gotten lucky rostering a cheater and gotten way beyond his expected production? If they are higher in the standings than they would be otherwise as a result, too bad!

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    • Tom B says:

      Also, wacko ideas like this make it pretty clear you don’t actually RUN any of the leagues you participate in.

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      • Howard Bender says:

        Not true, Tom. I run the aforementioned 15-teamer. We do it on CBS Sportsline and I know for a fact that I can edit the service of any player in the player pool. Getting rid of Melky’s stats is quite easy. Maybe ESPN and Yahoo should make their sites more customizable.

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      • Benjamin says:

        Well, you’d be a giant douchebag of a commissioner if you did that.

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  19. Monty says:

    What a joke.

    Normal, rational people don’t often say ‘there isn’t enough outrage’, especially as pertains to sports.

    If this kind of reactionary, spazzy column is Rotographs material, and the bar for authorship is ‘I have a fantasy baseball team and a keyboard’, I’ll stick to the green part of the site from now on.

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  20. Bobby Mueller says:

    So if Tim Lincecum is busted for PEDs, can a team have his 5.45 ERA and 1.50 WHIP removed from their stats?

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    • Jason B says:

      Yeah, it’s just the most reactionary, ill-conceived thesis I’ve seen posited here in recent memory. Flaws 1-874 have already been pointed out and they just keep rolling in…

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  21. Dude Manrod says:

    If Melky’s owners are penalized for his PED use, shouldn’t we also penalize the owners of say, Cain, Baumgarner, etc. in the win category? I suppose some of Melky’s steroid influenced hits helped those pitchers win games.

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  22. Luke says:

    So can we also go in an adjust all the stats of my pitchers who gave up runs, hits, and walks at the hands of Melky all season to make my pitching line more impressive? Also, can we eliminate every single RBI that Buster Posey recorded by knocking in Melky? Also, what about runs scored by Blanco, Pagan, Theriot, etc when Melky knocked them in? Do those get retroactively taken out? How far do we take this?

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  23. Dan says:

    I have a hard time dealing with this on a number of levels, but it does open up the argument that daily fantasy websites that provide people with the ability to play ‘daily fantasy sports’ may indeed need some sort of governing body to assure that they are not cheating. There is a daily fantasy company that has one of their employees that goes by the name ZOOBIRD playing on other sites and WINNING big. His user name on the other sites is WAIVERWIRE. As far as I’m concerned, the person can look at the GOOD players and see what teams they are using on the site he works on, just to then take those picks and play them on another site. DAILY FANTASY SPORTS is a SCAM, and the people that own/run these sites need to be governed and held accountable.

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  24. wagon says:

    Can I get my league entrance fees back form 2002-2005? I had a tough run back then.

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  25. Jim says:

    Sorry, but anyone that says they refused to believe Melky’s break out year was real and didn’t draft him because they thought he was a juicer is FULL OF IT!

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  26. Drew says:

    It’s like when Brady Anderson juiced for a little bit, then stopped when – oops! – he hit too many home runs and people got suspicious.

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  27. SirTheory says:

    Fantasy doesn’t need to mix itself up in worrying about whether a player is on PEDs or not. We are all about trying to accumulate stats–and our criteria for that is whether or not the player is on the field.

    The reason being is that WE are not cheating when playing fantasy baseball when on-field players do something against MLB rules–we just want to get the players who put up good stats. Cheating in fantasy baseball is collusion and the like. Guilty because we do something, not guilty because we own someone who does something.

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    • Ballens says:

      Precisely. Also, when we draft a Manny Ramirez type player, we knowingly take on the risk that he’ll get suspended for a large number of games. Same thing for Ryan Braun. It adds a certain strategy to the game. You can draft the known cheater, but will it burn you?

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  28. SKob says:

    This whole article feels like some bizarre rant. Treating Melky like Paterno… wipe out everything, he never existed! He came out of nowhere to be successful when he was looking for a contract… this is the least surprising PED news I’ve ever read! Let’s wipe out 7 Giants wins because of it and drop 20% of top fantasy teams to 6th! Literally, the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard on this site – congrats Howard! There have been a lot of dunb ideas thrown around here too!

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  29. The Emperor says:

    I love this idea. I can feel your anger…

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  30. Shaun Catron says:

    If we’re forfeiting Melky’s stats we might as well start erasing all of Brauns as well.

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