Secret Stoners in Baseball History?
Uncovering a Pastime Within a Pastime
Last week, Mariners prospect, Seattle native, and University of Washington alumnus Forrest Snow was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball for violating its substance-abuse policy by testing positive for—wait a second—marijuana? Really? That seems a bit harsh for pot.
Stricter testing for so-called "drugs of abuse" was part of the most recent MLB collective bargaining agreement, which was mostly noted for implementing harsher penalties for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Considering that we've decided that the baseball record book is a sacred tome to be protected at all costs, the crackdown on performance-enhancing drugs makes sense in a draconian sort of way. But 50 games for pot in Washington State? Where pot is legal? Come on. And why crack down now? How many of baseball's greats were secret stoners? There's only way to figure this out—by applying a very scientific combination of supposition, intuition, and bullshit. Plus grass, obviously.
Baseball bona fides: A member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cool Papa Bell was considered the fastest player in Negro League history. While stats for the Negro League were not meticulously well kept, it is said that he once stole two bases on a single pitch.
Pot bona fides: His name is Cool Papa Bell. Cool Papa Bell! If someone selling you pot in the days before legalization said their name was Cool Papa Bell, you would assume they were a narc. If a dispensary sold a strain called Cool Papa Bell, you'd tell them to can it with the tourist shit, but then you'd buy it anyway, because Cool Papa Bell. If you were starting a "glassware" company called Cool Papa's Bells... actually... that's a good idea... forget I said anything.
Baseball bona fides: Dock Ellis had a solid career as a starting pitcher, stretching over 12 seasons with six teams. Highlights included a no-hitter and a 19-win season in Pittsburgh when he was both an All-Star and Cy Young candidate.
Pot bona fides: Did I mention that he pitched that no-hitter while tripping on acid? No? Because Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter while tripping on acid. He thought it was his day off, dropped acid, then remembered he had to pitch, and threw a no-hitter. How many people do you know who spend their days off from work tripping on acid who don't smoke weed? Maybe one? Now show me the Venn diagram of those people and people named Dock. You just showed me two circles.
Baseball bona fides: An All-Star who played most of his career with the Boston Red Sox, Bill Lee is best remembered for his unusual personality, but he was an above average pitcher for the bulk of his 14-year career.
Pot bona fides: His nickname is Spaceman. Also, since he has spoken frequently about smoking weed, this is too easy. Let's move on.
Baseball bona fides: A top Mariners prospect, Yuniesky Betancourt entered the league in 2005 a defensive whiz with a powerful bat, a rare combination.
Pot bona fides: You know that feeling when you smoke a bowl, and then the remote is really far away, like all the way on the end table, and you're in the middle of the couch, and suddenly infomercials are on, and it's for some way to get cash for gold, and you really need cash, but you don't have any gold, but if you did have gold, this would be really important for your life, but you already checked last time this was on, and again you don't have any gold, so you know you should change the channel, or maybe turn off the TV, or use the remote to order some Cheez-Its, if only remotes could do that, and why can't they, and why is the remote so far away, and fuck, you are never getting that remote, ever, or at least not until you wake up tomorrow? You know that feeling? That feeling is Yuniesky Betancourt trying to get to any ground ball going to his left. I'm not saying Betancourt smokes pot, I'm just saying that's the feeling.
Baseball bona fides: A two-time Cy Young winner and two-time World Series champion, Tim Lincecum, despite a recent decline in effectiveness, has haunted his hometown Seattle Mariners, who passed on him in the 2006 MLB draft, by becoming one of the best pitchers of a generation.
Pot bona fides: Lincecum, a Seattle-area native and University of Washington alumnus, faced misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana here in Seattle back in 2009. Additionally, Lincecum spent his lackluster 2012 season dogged by the Bay Area press for losing his mental edge and much of his velocity due to marijuana use. While Lincecum was never suspended... hey, wait a second? Faced no suspension? At all?
Look, I don't want to sound paranoid here, but I think I see what's going on. Forrest Snow is only the tip of a much larger conspiracy. When the Seattle Mariners have a guy who didn't even commit a crime, Major League Baseball has to step in and ruin everything. And when they have the worst defensive shortstop in the league, no one bats an eye. But when a great player is getting high in Boston or California, nothing happens. I don't want to sound crazy, but baseball has been screwing Seattle over since day one, and it's high time we woke up and saw what's going on: How else can you explain the Mariners' persistent failures? Come up with one other explanation. I didn't think so. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a glass-making company to get off the ground.
Spike Friedman is a lifelong Mariners fan, a member of the Satori Group, and a contributing writer at Grantland. He is performing at Seattle SketchFest as half of Jason and Spike on Thursday, September 26.