Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 021916 Contents 21
THE RIVER - FEBRUARY 19, 2016
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Mets Pitcher Caught Doping Third
Time; Banned From Baseball For Life
by Ed Frank
In the long history of Major League Baseball, there have
been few lifetime bans handed down to ballplayers, and
those were typically for gambling related offenses.
In 1989, Pete Rose was banned for betting on his own
Cincinnati Reds as a player and manager, and eight members
of the 1919 Chicago White Sox received lifetime banishments
for fixing games in the World Series.
But just last week, as hundreds of ballplayers began gather-
ing for the start of Spring Training, Major League Baseball
announced the first lifetime ban of a player, New York Mets
pitcher Jenrry Mejia, for failing a drug test for the third time.
The suspension under baseball's crackdown on the use of performance enhanc-
ing drugs, while unprecedented and harsh, never-the-less raises the question
whether some players continue using drugs to gain an edge.
Far more famous players than Mejia -- Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Mark
McGwire to name just a few -- have been involved in drug scandals, but none
received lifetime penalties for three failed tests for performance enhancing sub-
Whether it was poor judgment or stupidity, probably both, the 26-year-old Mejia
threw away a promising career and millions of dollars in his futile attempt to cheat
He grew up in poverty, shining shoes for $8 a day in the Dominican Republic.
He was signed by the Mets as a 17-year old and made it to the Major Leagues in
2010 at the young age of 20 in what appeared to be a lucrative future career as a
relief pitcher. He was the youngest Met to reach the Majors since Dwight Gooden.
Once compared to former All-Star Mariano Rivera, he was plagued by injuries
but rebounded to become a capable closer for the Mets in the 2014 season. He
was scheduled to earn $2.6 million last season only to forfeit most of it because of
his first of two doping suspensions.
Mejia, a 6-foot, 205-pound right hander, was injured again at the start of last
season and it was then he was first suspended for 80 games for testing positive for
the drug stanozolol.
Just a few weeks after he returned from that suspension, he was penalized
again, this time for a full 162-game season for testing positive for both stanozolol
and boldenone, synthetic derivatives of testosterone.
The following is what Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said after the sec-
"I think to some extent anger, to some extent amazement that this could hap-
pen so soon after a previous suspension was completed, and some sadness in the
sense that this is having a tremendous adverse effect on a very promising Major
Apparently still having hope and faith in the beleaguered pitcher, the Mets
awarded Mejia a new contract for 2016 in the amount of $2.4 million in the hope
he could provide bullpen depth after he served out the 99 games left in his second
Almost unbelievably, while still serving that second doping suspension, he
tested positive again for the third time for the substance boldenone, a steroid easily
detected in a urine sample. Thus came his lifetime ban from baseball.
His $2.4 million 2016 contract is wiped out as is the likelihood he will ever
pitch again in professional baseball, although he can appeal for reinstatement after
From shining shoes in the Dominican Republic to Major League riches to crash-
ing down with a lifetime ban in baseball -- the pathetic story of Jenrry Mejia hope-
fully will provide a strong lesson to others who might consider cheating.
Boxing Tourney In Punta Gorda
Sugar Bert Boxing Promotions in partnership with the International Amateur
Boxing Association, USA Boxing, Title Boxing and Team IP recently an-
nounced the Sugar Bert Boxing Title Belt National Qualifier Tournament will
take place at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center June 10-12. Hun-
dreds of amateur boxers, their families, coaches and fans will converge in Punta
Gorda with hopes of advancing to the National Championships in Kissimmee.
The tournament is open to amateur boxers of all ages with three rings of simul-
taneous matches on Saturday, June 11 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the champi-
onship on Sunday, June 12 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The USA Boxing Association
Sanctioned event is a qualifier for the national championships in November 2016.
The total cost for boxers to compete is $35. General admission is $15 per day.
Baseball and softball players from
around the nation will converge
in Lee County from February 26
through March 28 for the 26th annual
Lee County Parks & Recreation Gene
Cusic Collegiate Classic. The event of-
fers men's and women's NCAA Division
III baseball and softball teams, as well
as NAIA softball teams, an opportunity
to participate in spring break tourna-
ments before their seasons begin. An
estimated 500 games will be played
with teams primarily from the Midwest
and Northeast. Notables include those
from Olivet College, Johns Hopkins
University, Kenyon College and the
College of Wooster. Games are played
at CenturyLink Sports Complex, Lee
County Player Development Complex,
North Collier Regional Park and Terry
Park Sports Complex. Admission to the
games is free for spectators.
Last year's Gene Cusic Collegiate
Classic drew more than 4,400 sports
visitors to Lee County, generating
roughly 6,600 hotel room nights and
approximately $2.8 million in direct
"Lee County Parks & Recreation's
Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic is an
event that offers men's and women's
NCAA Division III baseball and softball
teams an opportunity to participate
in regular season games during their
respective spring breaks from their
cold weather-climate states," said Dana
Kasler, director of Lee County Parks &
Recreation. "Each year, the Cusic draws
return visits from former players who
come back to Fort Myers to vacation.
The weather is good, the level of play is
outstanding, and many tourists, snow-
birds and residents can find their alma
mater from up north on our schedule of
The tournament is named for Gene
Cusic of Aurora, Illinois, who was a
teacher, coach, principal, superin-
tendent and administrator in Illinois
schools. He also taught a year in
Lima, Peru and served as principal of
the Oxford Summer School for the
American Institute for Foreign Study.
He retired to Fort Myers in 1988
and joined the Lee County Parks &
Recreation staff as the athletic program
manager. He established the Collegiate
Classic in 1990 with only 11 teams.
The event took off and, at one point,
boasted 300 teams of men's base-
ball and women's fast-pitch softball.
It became so popular that as many
teams that signed up were also turned
away. Cusic died in 1995, but the event
remains a mainstay on Lee County
For the complete game schedule,
or for more information, visit www.
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