I despised Alex Rodriguez toward the end of his playing career. He was a Yankee. He was busted for using performance-enhancing drugs. I was young, still considered the New York Yankees the “Evil Empire,” and couldn’t understand why anyone would cheat the game of baseball by taking banned substances. I don’t want to get into the whole PED discussion. That’s not why I’m here. I will say that I was one of the many people calling for then-commissioner Bud Selig to hand down the dreaded lifetime ban in 2013. “A-Roid” was easy to hate.
Alex Rodriguez earned $22,000,000 in 2015 while playing in 151 games for the N.Y. Yankees. Bartolo Colon earned $11,000,000 while pitching in 33 games for the N.Y. Mets. He also had 3 appearances in the World Series. Nelson Cruz played in 152 games for the Seattle Mariners, Chris Davis 160 games for the Baltimore Orioles, and the list could go on for days. Manfred Mann was alright with all of that, and probably things that are nearly as bad, during his first year on the job. Mann has determined that MLB has much bigger problems than PEDs, even as they threaten the very integrity of the game and its most cherished records.
This past week, Alex Rodriguez moved ahead of Barry Bonds on the all-time RBI list. This would be of little consequence, as they are the two biggest known Cheaters in living memory, if not for the fact that it further defiles baseball’s record book. What is of greater consequence is that on May 26th, 2015, Rodriguez technically passed Babe Ruth for 2nd place on the career RBI list.
In the long history of the New York Yankees, they’ve done some things right. They’ve won 27 World Championships, for starters, even if the beginnings of their Championship-winning ways came about because Colonel Jacob Ruppert held former Red Sox owner Harry Frazee up at gunpoint to acquire the Greatest Player in the History of the Game, Babe Ruth. They’ve also been the home to some of the game’s other greats, to say nothing of George Steinbrenner made so many great decisions, along with a litany of foibles that entertained the masses. Then of course, the Yankees are also the only MLB franchise to ever blow a 3-0 series in a best-of-7 format. The fact that said collapse directly led to the Boston Red Sox ending their 86 year title drought only made it all the sweeter.
One thing I learned last night while watching the N.Y. Yankees topple the Boston Red Sox 3-2 at Fenway Park is that the Baseball gods hate. No, not because the Yankees handed the Red Sox another defeat, nor because it was former Boston Red Sox pitcher Andrew Miller who closed out the Yankees’ victory, but more because of how he received that opportunity.
The New York Yankees recently announced that they will retire three uniform numbers during the course of the 2015 season, to bring their franchise total to 19. The latest honorees will be Bernie Williams (May 24th), Jorge Posada (August 22nd), and Andy Pettitte (August 23rd.) All told, these three players accumulated 14 World Series rings between them, and numerous other accolades throughout their careers, which would seem to make it a no-brainer that they would join the other Yankee Legends Honored in Monument Park.
So, in what came as a surprise to absolutely no one, it was recently revealed that Alex Rodriguez admitted under oath that yes, in fact, he was a dirty, lying Cheater. Considering he just completed a season-long suspension, this really wasn’t that big of a revelation, but as an avid anti-PEDs man[1. Go ahead, check the archives here and here, I’ll wait.], and someone who believes that MLB should punish known cheaters far more than what they do, it is something I never dared hope to read in print.
If you’re mad at individual players for using PEDs, you’re missing the point and misplacing your anger. Focus on the penalty, or lack thereof, not the perpetrators.
Even on the off chance a guy gets caught, he only has to serve an 80-game suspension. And if he’s dumb enough to get caught twice he gets slapped with a season-long ban. That’s a 162 game, summer-long break that could actually rejuvenate a baseball player during a strenuous career.
[RELATED: You See Nelson Cruz, 20+ HR Guy. I See a PED Cheat. ~ From Matt Kline]
It really is, “3 Strikes and you’re out,” according Major League Baseball’s Performance Enhancing Drug Policy. Now to be clear, the Major League Baseball Players Association also helped shape these rules for repercussions, agreeing to them in a joint effort with MLB. A lifetime ban from the game is the result of being caught thrice. I think that’s one too many chances.
As Dunder Mifflin Regional Manager Michael Scott once mistakenly said, “You know what they say: fool me once, strike one. Fool me twice… strike three.” That’s obviously not the way the old cliché goes, but I think it’s appropriate in these cases.
There’s a difference between Ryan Braun, who lied about not taking PEDs yet ended up testing positive again later, and the other guys who have tested positive and served the suspension that was handed to them. Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Jhonny Peralta and many others have all served their time and since come back to slightly decreased numbers, but still solid Big League production.
You can’t blame these ultracompetitive guys for taking something they think might give them the extra edge they think they need. On more occasions than not (at least according to the players), the banned substances are hidden in seemingly normal supplements that they try out. And you can’t fully understand how confusing proper supplement taking can be unless you’ve recently looked at the ingredients on the bottles in GNC.
Home run totals are down anyway.
I’m sure a lot fewer guys are using PEDs and not being found out too. Just think how many sluggers of the 90s were never caught. Plenty of guys were successful yet overshadowed by the spectacle of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa going head-to-head with each other repeatedly while they played in the same division.
You honestly think anyone who really cares doesn’t already know who’s tested positive for PEDs? I certainly hope each and every GM in MLB would know something so important when making a decision on a player.
Singling players out in the field is silly. And in a city like Detroit where our team has maintained a consistent classic look for decades, the proposition of sewing on distracting extra letters to individual players would be considered more a defilement of art than any sort of justice. Of course, you’ll needlessly embarrass countless fathers who take their curious youngsters out to the ballparks but can’t field their questions about the strange letters only one or two players have all over them.
Again, the real issue is with the penalization, not the players. If you want to punish the guilty players, that’s fine. I’m all for that, but let’s do it in the right way. Kick them out immediately after they are proven cheaters. If they weren’t worthy of a second chance, why give them a third?
If necessity is the mother of invention, then it stands to reason that Desperation is the papa of stupidity. The latest evidence to prove this inspired thought is the New York Yankees signing: Masahiro Tanaka. Sure, Tanaka hasn’t lost a game since sometime in 2012. On the other hand, Tanaka has never thrown a major league pitch. I think that means something.