It didn’t feel possible that this season’s midwestern road trip could go more poorly than last year. Black Tuesday of 2017 was a nightmare - a 19-9 drubbing by the lowly Tigers that managed to be overshadowed by both an oblique strain to Mitch Haniger and an injury to Félix Hernández. Incredibly, the sequel is even more disastrous.
BREAKING NEWS: According to off the record sources and non-official reports, dominican All-Star Robinson Cano will be suspended for Steroid Use, could be announced today.#ZDeportes @z101digital @ZDeportes— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) May 15, 2018
This first report from Héctor Gómez of Z101 in the Dominican Republic shot across the landscape this morning and sent fear up our spines. Unlike a previous unconfirmed rumor several years ago that ended up being nothing, the source this time wasn’t a bored New Jersey sports fan. It’s a reporter with 64k followers who is followed by the Mariners’ Spanish language Twitter, Jon Morosi, and even Nelson Cruz.
An hour later, confirmation from within the U.S.
And finally, from Canó himself, confirming multiple reports that the positive test was not for an actual PED but for a masking agent, which is treated as the same by league policy, although suspensions for masking agents are required to be proven to have coated another drug:
And Robinson Cano says his piece. pic.twitter.com/kOAIxx6vmz— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) May 15, 2018
This is a disaster.
There are things that are not as bad as they could be, in all things, and it is my nature to seek those things. Robinson Canó will miss 80 games serving this suspension. Canó may serve his suspension concurrently with his DL stint, which already would have seen him miss 35-50 games. An 80 game suspension would peg Canó for a return on August 14th.
All other consequences are catastrophic.
Immediately, Seattle is without one of their best players who happens to play a position Seattle lacks any degree of impact depth at. Moreover, as Canó’s suspension falls under the “7A” categorization, even once Canó returns he will be ineligible for the 2018 playoffs, should that somehow remain pertinent.
For fans of Canó specifically, this is as tragic as it is infuriating. While some of you may share my personal feelings that the use of PEDs in baseball is less of a pearl-clutching activity than lying about the use of PEDs in baseball, Canó’s legacy will undoubtedly be impacted severely. Previously a surefire Hall of Famer, it’s tough to know whether the usually hidebound voters will treat him kindly. Regardless, to go against rules that are outlined in publicly sourced material is a mistake and failure on the individual, and for that Canó is the object of massive disappointment.
Where the Mariners go from here is a mystery. It’s not impossible they remain in the playoff hunt, especially with the favorable schedule they face over the next month. But their pitching is a liability, their offense is now without one of its strongest weapons, and the clubhouse has lost its leader. I would expect Gordon Beckham to continue to fill in for now. The suspension is without pay, meaning Seattle, cynically, suddenly has another $12 million or so to work with this year should they choose, but if the team begins to slip in the standings this may be a clear turning point in the trajectory of the franchise, and even the jobs of both Scott Servais and Jerry Dipoto.