Of his relationship with A-Higher-Power, Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt writes, “God is for us. He’s for me. There’s this aroma that I have to remember.” Speaking of something that really stinks, Affeldt, retiring after this weekend’s final games, weighed in at Sports Illustrated’s Cauldron, selecting “5 Things I Won’t Miss About Baseball”. In addition to excessive showboating (“when you flash self-congratulatory signs after a meaningless first-inning single—or, even worse, a walk—you’re clowning yourself and not representing your club or your teammates very well”), Philly fans, Wrigley Field (“the player facilities are an abomination”) and the hassles of travel, Affeldt is really, really fed up with peeing in a cup.
It’s fantastic that the game has since been cleaned up, of course, but the situation never should have been allowed to get so out of control. In fact, because of the years of negative coverage and bad publicity, in today’s environment—despite MLB’s apparent confusion about the meaning of the word “random” when it comes to testing—any hitter or pitcher who excels becomes a suspect. And that makes them subject to more frequent testing. I get that the powers that be view this is a necessarily evil, but the practice also has real consequences.
For example, spending a weekend playing at altitude in Colorado leaves players dehydrated, so when MLB’s testing officials show up at 11:30 p.m. after the Sunday night game has ended, it’s literally impossible to provide them with the mandated urine sample. When ya’ gotta go, ya’ gotta go, but when you can’t … you can’t. That forces the player to stay in the bathroom, being watched like a hawk, for as long as it takes to do his business. There is no dignity in that, but remember: per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, failure to take the test is the same thing as failing the test.
Thankfully, the next time I pee in a cup, it will be for my MLB pension physical two decades from now.