Sorry Romero, I’m not buying your innocence. Neither, for that matter, is Major League Baseball. By now you should have heard that one of the Phillies’ post-season heroes, reliever JC Romero, has been suspended 50 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. In his own defense Romero has argued that he purchased the substance in question over the counter at an American pharmacy and accordingly should not be penalized. In support of Romero the Major League Baseball Player’s Association have called this suspension unfair.
So why do I lack sympathy? I am an avid slo pitch player. Every summer I lace up the cleats with Durham Region’s finest and slug away at softballs with one of a number of overpriced, overhyped slo pitch bats. When buying one of these bats (decent ones run you at least 300-500 dollars) I have to be aware of a banned bats list that is in effect in my league. Each league I play in has a different list more or less. Bats become banned in testing when it is deamed that the ball comes off the bat too fast for the pitcher to pick up, thus endangering the pitcher and to a lesser extant the other infielders. (I believer that bats must have a speed rating is lower than 98.5 mph)
When I walk in to the local sports store I have to keep the banned bats list in mind. The penalty is not severe for using a banned bat once and for the most part members of the opposite team and the umpires do a good job of making sure that these bats are not used in league play. I am not payed to play slo pitch and I do not have any particularly formal group of officials to turn to in order to discover whether or not a bat is banned other than a downloadable list.
I have never, however, used one. I have used bats that are banned in other leagues but not in the league in which I am playing. I have taken batting practice with banned bats (the Freaks from the late 90s are favorites of mine). If I can follow these rules then why couldn’t JC have consulted with his team or somebody who works on these sort of things at Major League Baseball? Why are we having to accept his cheap excuse that he simply didn’t know that the substance was banned? Why didn’t he check?
There is simply no excuse. He has the means and the avenues to avoid such gaffes. What is more is that he has professional trainers at his disposal that should have been able to answer questions on which substances are banned and which are not.
JC Romero should accept his suspension and his paycut. He should let it be a lesson in prudence. When a banned bat is discovered in slo pitch tournament play the player is either out, can often be ejected for the game and some times is ejected for the entire tournament. There are no excuses offered – we all know the penalty for using the bat.
As far as I am concerned, the jury has spoken.