Closing Time: Uh-oh. Your '03 fantasy title might be tainted

In recent years, no matter how bleak and disturbing the sports headlines were, at least you knew that your 2003 fantasy baseball championship was a pure thing, untouched by the ills of the modern non-imaginary game.

Then this bombshell dropped:

Former slugger Sammy Sosa(notes) tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, The New York Times reported Tuesday on its Web site. The Times, citing lawyers familiar with the case, reported Sosa is one of 104 players who tested positive in a 2003 baseball survey.

Let's not rush to judgment here. Just because the New York Times and several lawyers say something, that doesn't make it true. This is really the first hint of a whisper of an allegation about Samuel P. Sosa. Give the man a chance to clear his name before you relinquish your title and any associated winnings (the honorable thing to do in these cases, clearly). Allow all the samples to be tested and re-tested. Maybe the Times meant Jorge Sosa(notes). Or Sammy Fuld.

And in any case, you weren't a one-man team in '03. You totally could have won that head-to-head league without Sosa. He was just lineup decoration. It's not like the guy had four homers and six RBIs over his final four games or anything.

While we wait for this unfortunate PED misunderstanding to get sorted out, please enjoy some bulleted fantasy content...

Toronto closer Scott Downs(notes) injured his left leg or foot while running to first on a groundout in the 10th inning in Philadelphia. The Jays batted around in the frame, bringing Downs to the plate. He slapped a ball toward short and stumbled out of the batter's box. Lousy luck.

Jesse Carlson(notes) finished off the 8-3 win over the Phils. Jason Frasor(notes) is the safe speculative add (1.90 ERA, 0.76 WHIP); BJ Ryan(notes) is the somewhat more desperate add (5.94, 1.68). Ryan has been effective so far in June, but the Ks aren't there. We'll have additional details on Downs as they emerge. The early reports and Tweets are not encouraging.

Ricky Romero(notes) put up a useful line in a seven-inning no-decision for the Jays: 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Ryan Madson(notes) had his first blown save since April 17 for Philly. He walked home the tying run in the ninth, then escaped a one-out, bases-loaded situation.

Derek Jeter(notes) checked out of the Yanks-Nats game with "left ankle stiffness." This via

"He was just not running real well, and when we took the lead, it was time to take him out," Girardi said.

Jeter had no tests performed here and left without speaking to reporters. He is listed as day-to-day but Girardi did not seem optimistic that Jeter would play Wednesday.

You shouldn't add Emmanuel Burriss(notes) as a one-day replacement for Jeter. He was sent down by the Giants after going 0-for-June (or whatever he is this month).

Look, Mike MacDougal(notes) is fitting in perfectly:

Don't pretend that you're shocked. MacDougal threw 17 pitches, only six of which were strikes. If you're looking ahead to the next Washington closer, then you're truly a masochistic fool. And Joe Beimel(notes) could be the guy. He picked up a rogue save last Thursday when MacDougal was unavailable. That's blown save No. 16 for the 16-win Nats.

Jhonny Peralta(notes) sat again for the Tribe. He somehow went 0-for-5 in the 26-run game on Monday, and he's stuck in a 5-for-35 malaise. Eric Wedge had some choice comments:

“[Peralta]’s got to get his head straight. He’s not a baby anymore. He’s been up here four or five years. He’s got to figure it out. It’s the big leagues.”

We finally have a timetable on John Smoltz's(notes) return. He'll make a brief appearance for Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday, then make his Red Sox debut next Thursday against the Nationals. Smoltz will be slotted between Josh Beckett(notes) and Jon Lester(notes). He K'd six batters in his last minor league start. Boston will go to a six-man rotation, at least temporarily.

From the Herald:

“It might be (a six-man rotation) for a time or two through,” manager Terry Francona said. “It certainly could happen. I don’t know that we need to make our rotation out a week or two ahead of time. That wouldn’t be the worst thing for a short period of time - not for a long period because guys won’t pitch enough. But for a short period of time, I think we could live with that, yeah.”

Clay Buchholz(notes) could very well be better than two of those six, and he's not entirely pleased about the current predicament:

"There's nowhere to go, and it's sort of a logjam up there (in Boston)," Buchholz said. "Whenever they come to a problem, they seem like they find a way to fix it without me being in the picture. It is what it is -- it's frustrating at times."

Casey Kotchman(notes) (shin) returned to the lineup for the Braves and did what he does best: bat low in the order and hit singles. He went 2-for-3 with a walk.

Jason Bartlett(notes) (ankle) came off the DL for the Rays and went 2-for-4 at Colorado, raising his average to .376.

One more DL return: Kazuo Matsui(notes) (hamstring), 0-for-3.

Kyle Farnsworth(notes) required four stitches on his non-throwing hand after he was bitten by Paul Wilson one of his dogs. He's not expected to miss time, though.

Denard Span(notes) (dizziness, nerve-eating ear virus) hit the 15-day DL for the Twins, temporarily resolving the Minnesota outfield pileup. Carlos Gomez(notes) stole his sixth base of the season on Tuesday and went 2-for-4. Every member of the Twins' lineup had at least one hit -- Joe Mauer(notes), of course, had four -- as they mauled the Bucs and Paul Maholm(notes) (5.0 IP, 14 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 4 K).

Albert Pujols(notes) tried to take another chunk out of the "BIG MAC LAND" sign (which now says "B G MAC LAND"), but he hit this thing just a little too well.

The Angels' 2-3-4-5 hitters went 12-for-20 against the Giants with two home runs and three doubles. Jonathan Sanchez(notes) was a fantasy disaster: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 3 K. Sean O'Sullivan(notes) earned the win in his major league debut, but you can't get too excited, considering the opponent and the recent minor league history (5.82 ERA in 68.0 IP, 49 K). Ervin Santana(notes) was skipped due to elbow/forearm discomfort, but an MRI was reportedly clean.

Here's your abbreviated injury roundup: Everyone played catch and/or improved today, except Jose Reyes. Jerk.


Photos via Getty Images (Sosa, Smoltz) and US Presswire (Downs)

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