As we have been reporting for the last couple of years, the Miami Hurricanes baseball program has been the center attention for PED use in the college game. From former Miami, FL and Houston Cougars second baseman Frankie Ratcliff arrested with PED’s to strength coach being arrested, Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez connections to the Canes baseball program, do I need to continue? I even wrote a long piece on how Miami needed to stop grandstanding and do something with the program. A new book called Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis, and the Quest to End Baseball’s Steroid Era details the connections to the Hurricanes Baseball program. Here are some highlights from an excerpt published by The Miami New Times.
Ratcliff was best known on the University of Miami‘s palm-lined campus as an up-and-coming infielder on the storied Hurricanes baseball team. Three months earlier, the speedy Key West native had finished a promising freshman season at Alex RodriguezPark, where he popped six homers to go with 13 stolen bases and a .276 batting line.
But to a subset of kids in the Coral Gables dorms, Ratcliff was much more famous as a reliable connection for good weed.
Ratcliff didn’t recognize the number vibrating his phone that Friday night, but that wasn’t so unusual — pot dealers relied on word-of-mouth references on the large campus. Ratcliff told his new customer he could sell him a half-ounce, talking up its potency as they haggled for a price: “Shit is fire got purple in it,” he bragged.
They settled on $220 and met on a bridge outside a residence hall. Just after Ratcliff handed over the goods, the new customer flashed a badge and arrested the young second baseman. A few miles south, police with a drug-sniffing dog burst into his messy off-campus apartment.
They found 100 grams of weed in plastic baggies and a scale inside a black Air Jordan shoe box in his bedroom. Then an officer yanked open the bottom drawer of Ratcliff’s dresser. Two boxes sat inside. One contained a hundred 29-gauge insulin needles. The other had 19 blue-topped bottles of Hygetropin, a synthetic human growth hormone.
The arrest of a UM infielder for HGH possession made a local TV broadcast and got a few hundred words in the Miami Herald.
But unreported in that brief media attention was Major League Baseball’s reaction to the arrest. MLB already had an eye trained on the campus. There were too many minor-leaguers coming out of the school who were failing drug tests.
Now league investigators followed a trail that began with the Ratcliff arrest. An official worked with players and police and discovered that prominent UM players had been suspended, according to an MLB source familiar with the investigation, due to performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) but that such punishment was kept quiet by team administrators and coach Jim Morris. The league shared its concerns, which were not disclosed to the media, with theNational Collegiate Athletic Association.
“It showed that the University of Miami program is dirty as sin,” says a former MLB official familiar with the league’s investigation. It’s not known whether the NCAA had any reaction. The University of Miami declined to comment for this story or to make Coach Morris available for an interview.
So, I guess it is alright for the Miami Baseball program was dirty and suspending players but the school is too scared to get rid of Morris here? Come on…
It continues and gets much worse for the Hurricanes program.
Tony Bosch’s strongest link to the team came through his decades-long relationship with an incendiary pitching coach. Lazaro Collazo — who goes by “Lazer” — was a hard-throwing pitcher who anchored the relief squad on the UM team that won the 1985 College World Series.
Collazo later returned as an assistant coach and then the squad’s pitching coach. Bald-headed and with the rock-solid bulk of a drill sergeant, he sports the sunglasses tan lines of a man who spends his life on a baseball field. While coaching at UM, he started a profitable side project, the Hardball Baseball League, a nomadic training league. Among his students: an adult Tony Bosch, always desperate to improve his personal game.
Though Collazo was a well-respected pitching coach — taking future pros like Danny Graves andJay Tessmer under his wing at UM — his erratic behavior tended to sabotage his career withAnthony Weiner-like frequency. In 2003, the NCAA found that the hardball academy had violated multiple rules, including Collazo using it to funnel talented high-schoolers to the Canes and paying college players for their instruction.
The scandal nearly harpooned the baseball program. After 17 years there, Collazo resigned. The players paid homage by hanging his number 42 jersey in the Hurricanes dugout.
His next gig, as head coach of Miami‘s Gulliver baseball team, imploded the next year in even queasier fashion: He used a motivating tactic he was famous for, now with kids who were far too young. In the locker room after a loss, he whipped out his genitals in front of the high school team. He angrily wondered, according to a police report, if they “had a set of these or were equipped with a vagina.” After resigning again, he ended up working with his cousin, an uncertified baseball agent in Miami.
Still a ubiquitous figure in South Florida youth ball, Collazo maintained relationships with UM stars, and Bosch maintained a relationship with him. He appears more than a dozen times in Bosch’s notebooks, which indicate the steroid peddler also treated Collazo’s baseball-playing sons for $60 a week.
Do you want some more? Here is some on the drug testing that was going on in the baseball program…remember, Miami says they drug tested every player after the Goins news broke!
“Drug testing was a joke,” the former pitcher says. “A plain-out joke.” He says athletes were typically informed on a Sunday night that they would have to submit to a test early the next morning at the Hecht Center, the University of Miami’s athletic administrative hive. He recalls UM football players speaking openly about using Whizzinators, fake penises designed to fool drug testers. Another option was checking into the hospital with any ailment, which negated the test. Third, if athletes didn’t show up at the Hecht Center on time, they were told to go to an outside testing center. So the most common ploy was for ballplayers to give their driver’s licenses to similar-looking teammates who were clean and have them urinate at an outside center.
Yep, nothing to see here and Coach Morris keeps his job! Classic, we are all about making sure that our kids learn how to get PED’s without getting caught. You can check out the full article by The Miami New Times by clicking here.
H/T to Larry Brown Sports for bringing this to my attention.