By Bob Nightengale |
Goodbye, Hall of Fame.
All of that sympathy toward Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano when he broke his hand Sunday turned to disgust less than 72 hours later.
Cano violated Major League Baseball’s drug testing policy and on Tuesday was suspended for 80 games.
Cano called it a careless mistake, saying he was taking a diuretic called furosemide for a medical condition he declined to reveal, insisting it was not a performance-enhancing drug.
“This substance was given to me by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic to treat a medical ailment,’’ Cano said in a statement released by the Major League Players Association. “While I did not realize at the time that I was given a medication that was banned, I obviously now wish that I had been more careful.’’
Sorry, no one bought it.
Not the independent testing agency.
Not Major League Baseball.
Not even the players’ union, which originally filed a grievance, but with a hearing scheduled Tuesday, dropped the appeal. The union discussed dropping the appeal late last week even before Cano broke his hand, sidelining him four to six weeks.
Pure and simple, Cano was using a masking agent.
And Cano got caught.
He actually tested positive for the drug during the winter. He was re-tested by the independent drug administrator, who conducted his own investigation.
Baseball’s joint drug agreement stipulates that if the independent program administrator (IPA) actually believed Cano, he would have been cleared as a first-time offender in cases involving diuretics.
The IPA needed proof that Cano was using the drug as a masking agent.
The investigation revealed that Cano had clear intent to mask another illegal drug.
Cano was charged with a positive test, no different than if he were taking anabolic steroids.
“The presence of a diuretic or masking agent in a players’ urine specimen shall be treated as a positive result if the [IPA] determines the players intended to avoid detection of his use or another prohibited substance,’’ according to Section 3(F) of the Joint Drug Agreement.
The suspension will cost Cano $12 million. It will cost the Mariners games in the standings by the time he’s even eligible to return in late August. And even if the Mariners happen to end their 17-year playoff drought, he would be ineligible to play in the postseason, anyways.
“I apologize to my family, friends, fans, teammates and the Mariners organization,’’ Cano said. “I am extremely grateful for the support I have received during this process, and I look forward to rejoining my teammates later this season.’’
The Mariners wish they could share the same sentiment. They are stuck with Cano for the next five years, owing him $120 million through 2023. They have no idea how much of his past production was impacted by performance-enhancing drugs, whether he’ll ever again be the same player, but knowing he longer will be marketable to their fanbase.
The eight-time All-Star has 2,417 hits, and with a .304 career batting average and 305 homers, was on a path to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
That path will forever be obstructed.
No player ever suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, or even directly linked to PED use, has ever been elected to the Hall of Fame.
Oh, sure, Cano has had a fabulous career, with baseball making him richer than in his wildest dreams, but everything he’s done will forever be tarnished.
Cano will keep on playing, and maybe he’ll keep producing, but never again will we look at him the same.
It doesn’t matter if he gets 3,000 hits, or even 4,000 hits, he’ll forever be remembered in baseball infamy as a cheater.
The latest, and greatest, who just happened to get caught.