If I were Major League Baseball’s commissioner, anyone caught using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) would be banned from the game for life. Period.
Last week, Melky Cabrera, the San Francisco Giants’ left fielder (the position formerly played by Barry Bonds, king of the Steroids Era), was given a fifty game suspension. He had been having the best year of his career, batting .346 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs. He was the MVP of the All Star Game.
His punishment was not enough.
After all the negative publicity and shame Major League Baseball endured for the “Steroids Era,” which hit its peak in the 1990s, you would think MLB leaders might recognize and take the severest action regarding the grave danger any continued drug use has for the well being and future of the sport. I’ve heard people say that the penalty handed out to Cabrera was harsh, and will cause him even more problems because his contract is up at the end of the year and it is possible that he will not be able to cash in as a free agent on the big year he is having.
Poppycock. This is not about Melky Cabrera and punishing him. This is about protecting and saving the game of baseball. And the only way players will get the message that using PEDs is absolutely unacceptable is by elevating the penalty for their use to the same level as gambling, which is the one vice baseball will not tolerate in any way, shape, or form.
In an interview with USA Today, Victor Conte of BALCO, who has been at the center of the steroids scandal in sports and has spent time in prison for distributing steroids, claims that as many as 50% of MLB players use synthetic testosterone, the substance Cabrera used. Conte may be a slimeball, but if he is even half right it is devastating for the sport.
I love baseball about as much as I love anything in this life. It’s a wonderful game and has provided me and millions of others with countless hours of pleasure.
The use of performing enhancing drugs has the capacity to destroy the game I love.
Major League Baseball has been negligent, almost criminally so, in the way they have dealt with this grave threat over the past generation. Now, after all this time, it is still a big problem and yet here’s another slap on the wrist that does nothing to truly protect the game.
Mr. Selig, wake up.
Any player caught using PEDs should be banned from baseball immediately and permanently.
* * *
UPDATE: Good quote from Lincoln Mitchell:
“An industry that makes billions of dollars by exploiting irrational attachments between adults and their teams, as well as the journalists, bloggers and others who benefit from the profits generated by that sentimental relationship, should understand that faith and belief in the honest good intentions of the players is at the heart of the game’s economic model.”