Judging the Royals

Could you pass a major-league drug test?

Certain over-the-counter medicines are banned substances in pro sports.
Certain over-the-counter medicines are banned substances in pro sports.

One morning I was standing in the Royals spring training clubhouse when I saw a notice on the bulletin board that said: “PLEASE READ!”

So being fairly suggestible, I did.

Turns out it was notice about an over-the-counter inhaler that contained a banned stimulant that could cause a player to fail a drug test. Big-league ballplayers have to be very careful about taking over-the-counter medicines; they might contain some ingredient that’s banned and would show up in a drug test.

(Royals fans might remember Raul Mondesi getting in trouble for taking a cold medicine that contained a banned substance.)

So after reading the notice, I found one of the Royals trainers and asked him a question: because it’s possible for over-the-counter drugs to get you in trouble, how many normal, run-of-the-mill, non-baseball-playing, average-Joes-and-Josephines would fail a big-league drug test?

The answer was a lot.

There are all kinds of legal, over-the-counter medicines that a lot of us take every day that would get us banned from playing big-league baseball.

But this raises a logical question: if I’m taking performance-enhancing drugs, when are they going to kick in?

Twitter questions and answers

I don’t do this as often as I should, but the other day I scanned through my Twitter notifications looking for questions I’d failed to answer. (I live my life by following a few simple rules and “better late than never” might head the list.)

That being the case, here you go:

Why does field crew swap out and switch the bases during a game?

Switching bases keeps them looking nice and white throughout a game, but these days there’s also a financial consideration. When a base comes out of a game it’s authenticated and then immediately taken to a stadium gift shop. Before a game is over you can buy one of the bases the players used in the early innings.

When the Royals play an evening game is the rest of their day schedule normal? Or do they start late?

They start late. Players already have to spend enormous amounts of time at the ballpark — for a 7:15 game, early work might start at 2:30 in the afternoon — so nobody wants to make those days even longer.

Frying pans: they’re not just for breakfast anymore.

How right you are. But if you’re going to emulate me and use a frying pan for a protective cup, take my advice and make sure it’s a non-stick model. (OK, that’s not really a question, but I liked the comment.)

We are missing your cartoons in the KC Star. We hope everything’s OK with you and them. Always be safe and stay well!

I’m back in town and will resume drawing cartoons immediately. Thanks for letting me know you miss my cartoons; not everyone can say the same.

The journalism caste system

In the baseball world, journalists are considered a sub-species.

The players are at the top of the heap, then the manager and coaches, then anyone else who is employed by the team — and that includes the clubhouse kids who pick up sweaty jocks and shine shoes.

Dig down through baseball’s social order and somewhere near the bottom you’ll find the reporters.

We’re like remoras: the suckerfish that attach themselves to sharks. But even we remoras have our caste system: a way to identify which remoras are superior to the other remoras.

If you’ve been covering baseball for a while you can get a BBWAA card, which stands for the Baseball Writers Association of America. A BBWAA card is the gold standard of reporter credentials, and a lot of reporters like to wear them hanging from a lanyard that proclaims their pedigree; we think a BBWAA card hanging from a World Series lanyard looks pretty cool.

But during spring training I didn’t have that option.

That’s because I was in Arizona and I’d left my BBWAA card lying under my kitchen table, which is located in the general vicinity of Kansas City.

After explaining my dilemma, the Royals were extremely accommodating; they hooked me up with a paper press pass, hanging from a bit of string, which is the absolute bottom rung of media credentials.

Wearing a paper press pass lets everyone know you haven’t been reporting long enough to deserve a better credential — all the other remoras would make snide remarks.

Then to compound my mistake I tore my paper credential and had to tape everything back together.

So during spring training I had a rectangle of wrinkled paper (at one point I managed to sit on my credential), taped to some string and the whole thing hung around my neck, flapped in the wind and whacked me in the face whenever I was outside.

I had found the bottom rung of media credentials and somehow managed to go even lower.

So whenever you see a journalist, check out his or her credential; are they high up in the caste system or scraping the bottom?

But whatever credential we have hanging around our necks, remember: we’re still remoras.