– A husband and wife arrested in one of the largest steroid raids in Florida history say they sold the illegal performance-enhancing substances to players on the Washington Nationals and Washington Capitals.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday arrested Richard and Sandra Thomas on 10 counts of steroid possession with intent to distribute, 10 counts of importing the drugs and one count of maintaining a dwelling for drug sales.
Mr. Thomas told detectives that he sold steroids to professional athletes in several sports and named the Capitals and Nationals as teams whose players were his clients, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
Mr. Thomas did not, however, provide the names of specific players or say when any sales occurred. Authorities said they had no evidence to support the claim and that they are investigating the matter.
Capitals President Dick Patrick said the team still is collecting information but at this point sees no credibility in the claim.
If something was indeed given to the Capitals, time is a big issue, as 10 years ago, steroids were not banned by the NHL. Stay tuned.
– According to sources, Vince McMahon and his creative team currently feel that the quality of the Monday Night RAW is strong. Vince wants there to be differences in the content between his various TV shows, and one company source sees silver lining in this by pointing out that SmackDown! is able to have such quality wrestling because RAW is Vince’s sports entertainment variety show. The problem, is that RAW is the company’s flagship show and is usually how the general public judges the company.
This week’s episode of RAW was mostly straight from Vince McMahon, to the point that one source says he essentially dictated the direction of the show to the creative team.
For months now, some colleagues have been crediting Triple H and Shawn Michaels for trying their best to weed out some of the campy stuff Vince and lead writer Brian Gewirtz produce. Even people who don’t like Triple H backstage are saying that he should soon be taking the reigns from Vince as the creative head of the company. Triple H is seen as the most likely candidate for the job due to his family ties, but sources within the company also acknowledge that Triple H does have a good understanding of what the fans want and who their target audience really should be.
Triple H has been at the recent RAW shows, but one backstage observer notes that he isn’t as emotionally attached or involved in the show when he’s not wrestling. In other words, he might be saving his ideas for when he returns to television.
– The rating is in for RAW and the show did a 3.2 (3.08 and 3.38) cable rating, down from last week’s 3.6. It appears the mainstream media attention WWE received from Vince McMahon’s “Denver Debacle” crusade failed to draw any additional viewers to Raw. Game 4 of the NBA Playoffs between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers went head-to-head with RAW and crushed it in the ratings. The ESPN broadcast drew a 6.9 rating, more than double RAW’s number.
– Braves’ GM Frank Wren would not comment on a report that the Boston Red Sox have recently scouted OF Jeff Francoeur and might have trade interest in the Braves right fielder. It’s not known whether the Braves have entertained offers for the player who was once expected to become the next face of the franchise, but whose career has stalled. The Braves would presumably have to get an outfielder back in any trade for Francoeur, 25, or have another deal lined up to get a replacement. The Red Sox, though, are looking for outfield depth. The Lilburn native was hitting .259 with three homers, 21 RBIs and a .281 on-base percentage before Wednesday night’s game at San Francisco.
– The Astros will not make a bid for Padres’ RHP Jake Peavy.
– The Red Sox could soon be shopping RHP Brad Penny. The Phillies, Brewers, Royals and Twins look like teams that could be in play for Penny, who is 5-1 with a 5.96 ERA in Boston. Penny will soon be dispensable because RHP John Smoltz is nearing the end of his rehab stint, and RHP Clay Buchholz could soon be called up.
– The Phillies are believed to be letting RHP Brett Myers, a free agent at season’s end, walk away.
– Other starting pitchers who could hit the trade market are Indians’ LHP Cliff Lee and Giants’ RHP Matt Cain. The Indians have a track record of moving big arms for prospects (like RHP Bartolo Colon, LHP CC Sabathia, etc.) and if GM Mark Shapiro decides the club can’t make a run in the AL Central, Lee would be his big-ticket item to move. The Giants desperately need offense, but would trade Cain only for a young hitter they’d have contract control over for several years.
If the Tribe do play seller, SS Jhonny Peralta might make a great match for Boston, which is unhappy with the play of veteran SS Julio Lugo while awaiting the return of injured second-year man SS Jed Lowrie. Peralta might also provide the Red Sox a replacement down the road for 3B Mike Lowell, who has defied expectations with his productive play after off-season hip surgery.
– Pirates’ SS Jack WIlson continues to attract interest, while the Red Sox could make a play for Phillies’ INF Jason Donald as part of a potential Brad Penny deal.
– The Astros are the wild card. In the past, they have held onto veterans longer than prudence would dictate. He’s got a truckload of veterans with trade value, including Valverde, C Ivan Rodriguez, SS Miguel Tejada and OF Carlos Lee (who has a no-trade clause).
– The Mets are close to acquiring Nationals’ 1B Nick Johnson. The return could include pitchers Jon Niese, Mike Antonini and Eddie Kunz, among others. The Mets also have Indians’ 3B Mark DeRosa in their sights.
– The Rays are looking into Astros’ RHP Jose Valverde to close games, with RHP Troy Percival and RHP Jason Isringhausen being injured and diminished.
Valverde is a year away from free agency. Houston is believed to be high on Wade Davis, the Rays’ best pitching prospect after LHP David Price.
The Rays also need a second baseman, although they may be able to deal internally with the loss of 2B Akinori Iwamura for the rest of the season with torn knee ligaments. The Rays have UTIL Willy Aybar, Ben UTIL Zobrist and INF Reid Brignac to mix and match at the position. But if they decide to seek help, Cleveland’s UTIL Mark DeRosa(notes) is a logical target.
The Rays sure regret trading 2B Adam Kennedy to the A’s three weeks ago – now, they’re short a 4-spot, and Kennedy is batting .441 in place of the injured 2B Mark Ellis.
– So the Oilers made headlines this week by hiring Pat Quinn and Tom Renney on as coaches. The Oilers needed a change, so this move was sorely needed. If you remember, I was also saying that the Oilers would be a major player for him, as I said all along Quinn would end up in Edmonton. Because of Quinn’s style of coaching, you can expect some veteran UFA’s to be headed to Oil Country this offseason – Quinn loves working with older guys, as seen by his tenure here in Toronto with the Maple Leafs. Quinn certainly proved himself though, as he headed Canada’s World Junior Championship team even though his days coaching in the NHL were on hiatus.
– Flames’ GM Daryll Sutter and Devils’ coach Brent Sutter are the top two candidates to coach the Flames next season. Brent remains under contract with the Devils, which is a stumbling block if the Flames are serious about hiring him.
– Since Patrick Roy has turned down the head coach and GM job for the Avalanche, a source close to me says that the Avalanche and Canadiens will not be fighting over Craig Hartley.
– Broncos have released/failed physical RB JJ Arrington. They’re eating a $1.8M signing bonus, and Arrington never even got in a practice for the team. RB Knowshon Moreno shouldn’t be any less effective on passing downs, and slides into the starting spot. Arrington, 26, won’t resurface until his knee gets healthy.
– Browns’ RB Jamal Lewis is practicing this week at Browns minicamp after undergoing offseason ankle surgery. The procedure removed bone spurs, just like the surgery Lewis had in Jan. 2007. His buildup of ankle problems, declining ability to turn the corner, age (30 before the season), and cliff-dropping YPC are all red flags for 2009.