A source close to the office of the commissioner has revealed that Major League Baseball has been looking into the possible widespread use of PSDs (Performance Suppressing Drugs) on the Detroit Tigers.
The undercover investigation began last season when the Tigers, overwhelming favorites to win the Central Division, stumbled deep into September before clinching the title after the Chicago White Sox succumbed to their own suspected PSD scandal.
This year, with one of the highest payrolls in baseball, one of the most powerful lineups in the game, and one of the league’s strongest starting pitching rotations, the Tigers are again defying the odds makers. By June 10, they had managed only the fifth-best record in baseball and were comfortably ahead in the stumblebum Central only because every other team in the division was running in backwards gear.
Sources say the prime suspects in the probe are thought to be operating somewhere in or around the Detroit clubhouse. Whether elements on the club are secretly colluding with Las Vegas is part of the widening focus of the probe, sources say.
This season, suspicions have blossomed because the team, which has scored 10 or more runs on seven occasions and is among the major league leaders in runs scored and homers, has nonetheless been shut out five times in its first 60+ games. The players seem afflicted by a mysterious hot-and-cold slugging contagion. Frequently, the club plates runs early in games, only to see their offense dry up as the game wears on. It doesn’t seem plausible that such a feast-or-famine offense can be the result of normal swings of baseball fortune.
It’s true that even with the long history of major league baseball, unusual sequences of events still occur. But the investigators’ attention perked up in recent weeks when the Tigers lost 1-0 in 11 innings in the same week to the same team in two different cities (has that ever happened before?). Then, the following week, the Tigers played another scoreless game through eight innings before losing 3-0 in the ninth. “What is this, the return of the deadball era?” commented one person with knowledge of the PSD investigation.
Sandwiched between these two was a series when Detroit scored eight runs in one inning and a total of nine in the other 24 innings in Baltimore. (By the way, I’m still waiting for one of those crack researchers to tell me the last time in MLB that there was a half-inning with these four things all occurring: the first eight men scoring before an out was recorded, three consecutive homers hit, a grand slam, and a pitcher being ejected. I’m guessing the answer is: never.)
Are the powerful Tigers so vulnerable that they can be completely throttled by just about any pitcher on any day, but on the other hand can feast like vultures on the league’s better pitchers another day? If they are being dosed with PSDs, how and why? Is it something in the whirlpool water, or should investigators look at clubhouse snacks or post-game meals? Just statistically speaking, such frequent extreme swings between double-digit outbursts and whitewashes seem unlikely. It’s like someone grasped both ends of a bell curve and pulled them upwards hard. Ouch!
Some suspect the epidemic of PSDs this season originated in Los Angeles, among the millionaires in the Dodger and Angel clubhouses. But until there is definitive evidence, we’ll have to assume that baseball, fascinatingly, is just always full of surprises: like a Don Kelly home run spree, a Pittsburgh Pirates winning season, or an entire wing of the Hall of Fame someday being devoted to Cuban defectors.