Major League Baseball will announce a 50-game suspension and $1.25M fine of Phillies reliever J.C. Romero for negligence in the use of a banned substance found in an over-the-counter supplement. Romero, who had the opportunity to have his sentence reduced to 25 games with the admission of guilt but refused, appears to have been caught in the middle of some misleading information over the legality of the supplement, purchased at a local retail store.
Beerleaguer: Simply put, it’s not culpability over taking this particular substance, it’s the guilt of not understanding that one can never be too careful with baseball’s drug policy, something that will cost Romero $1.25M and his pride. Which is a shame because these reports tell me Romero was somewhat diligent here, but then again, I know nothing about meticulousness in the world of professional sports. In my world, I would never go near a product called 6-OXO Extreme – with ties to the guy behind the guy behind Balco – and I definitely wouldn’t take it knowing I was subject to random piss tests. Romero may not know the exact chemical composition of this supplement, as Phil Sheridan put it in the Inquirer, but he must be aware of how close these things are to the real deal, at least in the sense that baseball is concerned. And as it turns out, it was. Bottles of 6-OXO Extreme now read "Use of this product may be banned by some athletic or government associations" according to the Peter Gammons story on ESPN.
The other side is that baseball continues to trip over itself with open-ended rulings, but I will say this. You’ve got businesses like ErgoPharm, maker of the Romero supplement, pumping out these performance enhancers all the time, and FDA oversight, let alone Bud Selig’s oversight, can only move so quickly. The only ones acting quickly with testing are the ones producing the anabolic steroid substitutes to see how far they can push it. Taking action here might have been their best shot to redraw the line. Baseball wanted admission of guilt in exchange for a reduced 25-game suspension, Romero refused, they clocked him for 50 games and $1.25M. If it's any consolation to Romero, what a terrible day it must have been for ErgoPharm!
Thing is, if this was even one or two years ago, I bet all the people advising Romero back in July, from the trainer to the union, would have done more to dissuade him, but with the passage of time from Balco, I’m sure complacency has begun to set in. And baseball knows a thing or two about what happens when you look the other way (1998, Sammy, Big Mac, greatest season ever! I’m kidding. But not really.)
Now to baseball. The Phils are totally screwed in their bullpen. Fifty games is too long to ride it out with what they have, which is Scott Eyre and J.A. Happ, who is not qualified to do it. Looking at the market, Joe Beimel is out there. Easy Eddie Guardado is out there. Ron Villone is in the bargain bin along with some others. The Phillies have trade chips. Their only hope is to band-aid this