Chooch’s Apology Doesn’t Fill In All Blanks

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, February 14, 2013 11:05 AM | Comments: 28
2013 Spring Training, Opinion

http://www.csnphilly.com/sites/csnphilly/files/021313-ruiz-media-kevinflatley.jpgIt is particularly difficult to watch a presidential debate or State of the Union and hear the party line as a response for each question. It becomes a predictable exercise where each answer is as rehearsed and choreographed as a pop music performance at the Grammys. When reporters engaged Carlos Ruiz in questions about his 25-game suspension for Adderall use, Ruiz stuck to the talking points, the party line: he was very sorry that he disappointed everyone, he’s putting it behind him.

Chooch had a very unique opportunity on his hands: he could have been a trailblazer, he could have been the first person taking a PED to describe the advantages of taking them, detailing why he took them, stating what aspects of his game they improved. He could have had the mea culpa of all mea culpas, describing when and why he started, why he continued to do so even after he was busted once and told he would be tested eight times a year.

Chooch didn’t give any of those details.

Now, why he didn’t is explainable and possibly even understandable. First off, English is not Chooch’s first language. While he may be competent and confident speaking English, he may have easily misspoke, creating more headaches. Second, it is entirely possible Chooch does have a very real condition that he wishes not to disclosure that the Adderall helps maintain. When asked if he would pursue joining the 1 in 10 MLB players who are medically cleared to take Adderall, a list that includes Cliff Lee and former Phil Shane Victorino, he said that would be between him and his doctor. That’s OK, too.

Chooch’s responses, though, were well-formulated and thought out, but were all just different words to say the same thing. I don’t fault Chooch for doing this but it leaves answers to very interesting questions on the table. For instance, if Chooch was able to or choose to give an answer as to why he took Adderall, even after he knew he would be tested eight times a year for it, we would have perhaps gotten a window into why MLB players choose to use this drug recreationally or without MLB clearance or why MLB players use it at such a higher clip than regular Americans.

The answer to that question to some may be clear. For instance, a study by Kristin Jenkins of Bryn Mawr College states the following about Adderall: “a person with a perfectly normal, functioning frontal cortex and dopamine levels will experience a heightened sense of motivation, focus, and concentration.” If it helps “unclear the mental brush” as one of Jenkins’ interviewees says, it would likely help job performance when your job includes focusing on a small object for three hours at a time.

As of 2010, Americans, who make up 4% of the world’s population, consumed 88% of the world’s Adderall, Ritalin, and other like drugs. The MLB rate is about 1-3% higher than the rate prescribed to children in the US and the percentage is quite a bit higher than the composite US population by most estimates. Chooch had an opportunity to give us a small window into why a player would choose this route. He choose to remain private about it and for me that’s OK. I was just selfishly wishing we would have gotten some more information.

Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

About Ian Riccaboni

Ian Riccaboni has written 877 articles on Phillies Nation.

Ian's athletic achievements include getting stuffed by NBA center Aaron Gray in high school and hitting .179 over four years for NYU against D-III, NAIA, JuCo, and NCBA schools. Ian hopes his athletic successes will help him achieve his dream of becoming the underground Bob Uecker.

  • Posts: 23 donnavox20

    Avatar of donnavox20

    With all due respect, Chooch’s answers were the same content worded differently, because from what I could hear in the video, at least one reporter asked the same question, worded slightly differently, at least 4 times.

  • Posts: 385 Publius

    Avatar of Publius

    First of all, it’s mea culpa. Second, Chooch doesn’t really owe us fans anything in regards to an explanation. To his bosses and organization, sure, but not to us. He went through the steps, the same steps that every other major leaguer who pissed hot followed, and now we can just move on.

    • Posts: 2896 Chuck A.

      Avatar of Chuck A.

      Exactly. To me this is now a non-issue.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    My favorite all time Phillie.

    Last year when he was hitting clean up all the sudden. People thought he was eating his wheaties? Is anyone really suprised? I also dont think it was just the drugs publicly stated. But good for him and MLB for doing some public relations.

    Now here is why I love this guy.

    He didnt do it for personal gain or a big contract.

    He did it to help the team win. He nderstands how bad this line up is now and he was trying to help them win.

    Love love love this guy.
    He is the all time Phillies catcher.

    He may well be the first player Id take on an all time phillies team. Over Schmidt.

    And hed hit 8th on my roster.

    • Posts: 0 Steve Bosell

      Well, he may have done it to hasten a contract extension. That falls under the personal gain category. He’ll be 35 next season – the dollars and years for a catcher of that age will be interesting. There aren’t that many starting catchers that old in the league.

    • Posts: 3 gathenk190

      Avatar of gathenk190

      I totally agree. He’s the ultimate team player.

  • Posts: 0 Bob D

    Cooch does need to divulge medical reasons etc.. to anyone. Adderall did not improved his power, maybe his focus, so he is not watching the squirrel running in left field. But I give him kudos for being willing to apologize to all affected.

  • Posts: 117 Dave P

    Avatar of Dave P

    I read a comment on fangraphs that is unrelated to this post but well worth sharing-
    “It is pretty incredible — Votto has registered pop ups in 0.17% of his batted balls over the past 3 years. Next best is Ben Revere at 0.35%, Mauer at 0.42%, Jeter at 0.44%, and Howard Kendrick and Michael Bourn both at 0.52%.”

    So at least we won’t have to worry about much of that this year from him, compared to other phillies *coughRollinscough*.

    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Ryan Howard 0.63%

      Rollins’ 5.5% was still pretty far below the leaders noted there (Barajas 8.6%, Barmes 8.1%, V.Wells 8.0%).

      • Posts: 117 Dave P

        Avatar of Dave P

        Far below leaders, but still above the league average. Last year will hopefully prove to be an anomaly and not a trend, as his IFFB% nearly doubled his career average.

  • Posts: 0 Ryne Duren

    i personally don’t care that he took it! it’s not like he grew to outrageous proportions and hit 73 HR’s. he had a good year. period. i don’t think it actually make him much stronger. chooch has always been a clutch hitter, but from what i saw last year he became more polished because he hit smart, and to his ability. i don’t think you’ll see much of a difference. i see him doing almost the same thing this year. the only reason it looked so great was because everybody else sucked.

    • Posts: 0 Ryne Duren

      and i don’t think he has any splainin to do! leave him alone. why don’t you write about all the positives of chooch? he don’t owe us jack! the guy plays hurt, he takes hugh hit at the plate blocking it, and he hits in the clutch. not to mention his handling of the pitchers. and i don’t think there’s a drug in the world that can make a catcher call a good came.

  • Posts: 448 Ian Riccaboni

    Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

    Ryne – I could care less also if he’s working with a medical professional. He’s also an adult and can make his own choices but Adderall can ABSOLUTELY help you call a better game. Just the helping to focus part alone would improve that skill.

    • Posts: 0 Steve Bosell

      It’s very simple. If he had a valid need for Adderall he should have went through the proper channels and he would have been cleared through MLB to use it. Since he didn’t do that, we’re left to surmise that he had no actual condition that required Adderall and took it solely to gain a competitive edge.

      BTW, many medical professionals believe that Adderall is the most over-prescribed and abused drug on the market.


  • Posts: 0 jack

    I say leave him alone. one thing I notice about this website is there seems to be a lot of focus the negatives, rather than the positives. The guy still had a good attitude and was sincerely sorry. And the fact that he even gave the interview at all was cool. Most players you never hear anything except they didnt do it.. Here he was humble and he said he made a mistake and now he pays the price. I respect that. And besides he’s still one of the top ten catchers in baseball. GIve him a little latitude.

    • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

      The whole thing started with a positive.

      A positive drug test lol

      I also have no issue with what he did.

      I have an issue with him getting caught and now he cant ever get caught again or hes done.

  • Posts: 0 Ryne Duren

    well ian i didn’t know that! i really don’t think he needs it though. personally if you’re right about that, then i could use some just to stay focused on what my wife is saying! lol. after 38 yrs you tend to let the stuff i’ll call, it go in one end and out the other. and you only pick up the stuff that actually relates to the subject that was being talked about. if you get my drift.

  • Posts: 0 Jaron B

    Ian… if he’d revealed why he’d taken it, that wouldn’t help him in the long run. Maybe he’ll write a book about his career and mention it then. Not while he’s a player… but i am curious, like you.

  • Posts: 0 George

    MY question is not why Ruiz took Adderall, but why MLB would sanction it’s use at a level way beyond the national and international rates. I’m sure that 1 in 10 ballplayers do not have ADD, especially when children are diagnosed with it at an even lower rate. The drug rules are mostly what comes out the back ends of cattle.

    As far as that “party line” nonsense, there may be some other parties forcing that: Phillies management and MLB. Ruiz does still have employers. I dare anyone to go beyond what his bosses deem proper.

  • Posts: 2896 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Again…this is a non-issue for me.


  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    Seems this crowd is willing to let anything pass if it is a Phillie but for other cheaters it is the death penalty. Look, this drug helps with focus and concentration. Could Ruiz’s record hitting season be related? Of course!

    If he had a medical reason he could have had it approved but he did not apply.

    Cheating is cheating and he was stupid enough to get caught twice. He gets no pass from me.

    • Posts: 5400 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      No pass from me either. I don’t care what he has to say. He cheated, got caught, and has to serve his sentence, end of story.

      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Agree with all of that, but I’ll add that I am still a big fan, and while this issue might be in the back of my mind, I’ll cheer for him as much as ever.

      • Posts: 5400 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        Of course, as am I.

        We’re human, we’re prone to error. In all walks of life I believe in second chances once punishment has been served. As far as I am concerned, once Chooch finishes his suspension, like I said above,- end of story.

        But speaking in terms of Ian’s posting, I just don’t care what he has to say. I watched it, and he expressed remorse to his team and ownership and fans, I don’t feel a need to hear anything else. He f’d up, and he owes his league a suspension for it, but IMO, he doesn’t own me an explanation. When it’s over – Go Chooch, Go Phils.

  • Posts: 0 frank

    Not to change the subject. But, can’t believe what I just saw on mlb network. Baseball prospectus has their predictions for the nl east already. Washington running away and the braves second with the Phil’s and mets 2 games behind the braves. Marlins buried way back in last. Are you kidding. Us and mets tied. Where do they come up with this garbage.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I don’t think anyone is giving him a pass.. I think everyone is pissed that he did something to get himself suspended for the start of the season

  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    What did you expect from Chooch? Did you think he would turn into a blabbermouth like Curt Schilling. The guy uses English as his second language.

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