Why failed drug test of Blue Jays’ Colabello is frustrating

Chris Colabello has been outrighted by the Toronto

Chris Colabello is not a bad person; his story of emerging from the wilderness of independent baseball was no less stirring on Friday than it was Thursday. But he is guilty of failing a drug test passed on multiple occasions every season by all but a handful of major leaguers so he is, in the very least, guilty of carelessness. And stupidity.

Never mind that the drug that led to him receiving an 80-game suspension – dehydrochlormethyltestosterone – is essentially part of the Model T family of performance enhancers. They threw most of this garbage out when the Berlin Wall came down, didn’t they? It’s just this side of horse hormone, which makes it all the stranger that it is the same substance that Philadelphia Phillies reliever Daniel Stumpf was suspended for just a few days earlier. And let’s leave aside the whole philosophical debate about how it is that a society that honours – even elects to high office – people who cheat to get ahead and cheat on everything from spouses to taxes feels it has a moral right to hold athletes to a different standard. And don’t get me started on the whole role model silliness …

It’s been interesting watching people get twisted up trying to deal with Colabello’s suspension – understandable when it’s fans, especially fans of a team that came to view Liam Hendriks and Munenori Kawasaki as historically significant figures, less so with some of my colleagues in the media, who apparently believe that a 15-minute interview every now and then gives them some sort of insight into a person’s soul or character. "He’s a good guy," is the biggest pile of hooey there is. As Gregg Zaun once told me when I asked about a teammate: "Of course he’s a good guy. Hell, everybody’s a good guy."

I’ve moved beyond being disappointed or angry whenever an athlete fails a drug test. I don’t care whether they apologize or accept responsibility or, like Colabello, suggest that somehow somebody slipped them a dehydrochlormethyltestosterone Mickey Finn or that the testing process was flawed. Denial is the best form of defence. I just get frustrated, because in every clubhouse and every training room there is a lengthy list of approved nutritional supplements – just about anything your heart desires. And if you can’t find it you can call your team’s trainer. Or doctor. Or shoot the Major League Baseball Players Association an email and send off some of the product to be tested before it’s used. If it’s not on the list don’t take it, and if your personal trainer in the off-season tries to stick you with stuff that isn’t approved (and I can tell you that there isn’t a general manager in any sport who doesn’t wonder about the credentials of some of these off-season conditioning gurus who are, mostly, tattooed capitalists) – then fire that person. Geezus, folks: it’s just not that difficult to keep track of the crap you put into your body. Really.


It was a big weekend for talking about playoff body language – first, the utter lack of acknowledgement let alone excitement from some members of the Houston Rockets, including Dwight Howard, after James Harden’s winning shot in Game 3 of their NBA Western Conference quarter-final against the Golden State Warriors, and, second, the verbal back and forth between Vladimir Tarasenko and St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock over ice time in the Blues’ Game 6 meltdown against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Fittingly, the Rockets were buzz-sawed 121-94 in Game 4 Sunday by the Warriors, who despite losing Stephen Curry at halftime to a knee strain suffered when he slipped on a wet spot still managed to outscore the marshmallow-soft Rockets 65-28 in the second half and hit 20 three-pointers (Curry had just one.)

As for the Blues? They will have a ton of horrible playoff history on their shoulders Monday night when they face the Blackhawks in a seventh and deciding game of their NHL Western Conference quarter-final series and I’m with the guys on Hockey Central, who thought Hitchcock’s defence of his use of Tarasenko was lame: that he’s a "short shift guy" because he’s around the puck all the time. Uh, really? Like Jonathan Toews isn’t? The numbers showed that in Game 6, Toews’ average shift was 48 seconds, Kane’s 50 … and Tarasenko’s 38 seconds. Sorry: with everything at stake, Hitchcock needs his best player on the ice as long as is necessary. Anything else smacks of over-coaching, and if the Blues spit out the bit tonight, Hitchcock won’t be over-coaching the Blues any more.


• As someone who has banged the drum loudly for DeMar DeRozan to be re-signed this summer by the Toronto Raptors to a max player contract, I have to admit that I’ve found myself watching Paul George of the Indiana Pacers and thinking: ‘You know, maybe that’s what a max player is supposed to look like.’ And I’m sure others feel the same way. But here’s the thing: George isn’t coming here soon and with all the television money in the system I’m just not certain the Raptors will be able to take advantage of somebody else’s salary cap misfortune. In the meantime, every time I see the Raptors get off to a slow start I ask myself why Patrick Patterson doesn’t start over Luis Scola, who for all his veteran savvy seems to be a passenger these days. Somebody else asked Patterson Sunday whether or not a change was needed at power forward and he responded: "No, no changes are needed." Good teammate … not sure I agree, though.

• Drew Hutchison’s 5.2 innings in Sunday’s win over the Oakland Athletics was a huge boost to the plans of manager John Gibbons, pitching coach Pete Walker and general manager Ross Atkins – and to Hutchison himself, who is usually impassive but patted his heart and acknowledged the standing ovation he received from the Rogers Centre crowd as he walked off the mound. It cannot be stressed enough that the early-season success of Aaron Sanchez is a double-edged sword, since the more innings he pitches early in the season the sooner he will end up in the bullpen. Hutchison’s ability to parachute in from triple-A Buffalo and give a battling performance while providing the starters an extra day off here and there is all part of the equation. As Gibbons said in spring training: there is a scenario where Hutchison becomes almost a de facto member of the major league staff even while he is in Buffalo.

• Those of us who loved those Sid vs. Ovie debates – and I admit, I was an Ovie guy – will be approaching the gift NHL Eastern Conference semifinal between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals with no small amount of bemusement. It’s going to be weird, seeing Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin facing each other in games that matter. Crosby had a goal and three assists in the five regular-season games between the teams; Ovechkin was held off the scoreboard as the Penguins went 3-2 in the series. Normally, cheering for the story would mean pulling for Ovechkin and the Capitals to get over the hump but, man, the Penguins are a tough team to dislike. I’ll take the Caps in six games, not so much because of Ovechkin as Braden Holtby …


Twenty-four hours after the guy he was traded for had his MVP bobblehead day, Brett Lawrie arrives in Josh Donaldson’s backyard Monday for the first of a three-game series between Lawrie’s Chicago White Sox and the Blue Jays – and like the 13-6 Sox, he’s on a roll. Lawrie went 2-for-4 with a double Sunday as the Sox completed a sweep of the Texas Rangers, and in the last two weeks he is 17-for-49 (.347) with six doubles, one home run and seven runs batted in. As this play from Saturday shows his athleticism has stood him in good stead in his transition to second base. No wonder former Blue Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield, now with the Boston Red Sox, thought Lawrie could be a Gold Glove defender at second. The White Sox love what they’ve seen from Lawrie so far – manager Robin Ventura said the other day that it’s good Lawrie can play, because otherwise he’d drive him crazy – but as a wise man once said: it’s early.

Jeff Blair hosts The Jeff Blair Show from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. ET and Baseball Central from 11 a.m.-Noon ET on Sportsnet 590/The Fan.

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