Home Baseball Reasonably insane fixes for baseball’s steroid problem

Reasonably insane fixes for baseball’s steroid problem

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With the Biogenesis suspensions looming, Bro Jackson’s baseball braintrust explores the options the league has to punish and prevent future scandals, both seriously and not so seriously.

Jeff Gibson

With Biogenesis casting another grave shadow over Major League Baseball, many fans, media pundits, players, and coaches are now pushing for change in the Show’s drug policy.

Some argue for more strict penalties for those who test positive. Others want more testing throughout the year to catch offenders off-guard.

Currently, the MLB drug policy stands at a 50-game suspension for a first offense, 100 games for the second, and a lifetime ban for the third.

Unfortunately, the issue of cheating isn’t entirely baseball’s problem. We live in a culture of cheaters. Look at our politicians or our celebrities. Ask any divorcee whether she was able to keep her husband from cheating after she found out he had a habit of it before they met.

Basically, unless our morals miraculously flood back into our society, players are going to cheat. And a 50-game suspension is not going to deter one from cheating, not if they have the chance of earning millions of dollars the following year based off of their ‘roided-out performance. If you want to stop players from cheating, test them more, but you’re going to need some scarier penalties at the same time. As it stands currently, an extended vacation isn’t doing much to deter anyone.

Here’s some options…

Following a player’s first offense:

1. Immediate release from team and sent to the Miami Marlins to play out the rest of the season.

2. Player must donate the difference between their full salary and league minimum salary to steroid education in high school sports programs, and must make appearances at schools discussing the negative effects of steroids on the body.

3. Player must participate on All-Steroid First Offense Team, a pre-All Star Game tee ball matchup.

Second offense:

1. Required to use a bat 50 percent heavier and a glove 50 percent smaller than the ones they used in games before positive test for remainder of career. For pitchers, a limit of 50 pitches per game.

2. Coffee date with Lance Armstrong.

3. Player must participate on All-Steroid Second Offense Team.

Third offense:

1. Player must use opposite hand to throw and catch, opposite batter’s box to hit. Player will be prohibited from wearing a helmet or other protective devices attached to body.

Deion Moskal

What would you do if you found a duffle bag full of money?

There are two answers to this question: You either keep the money and become inexplicably wealthy overnight or you turn the money in to the authorities.

That is what the first group of steroid users faced. 1 For those players who decided to take the steroids it was probably a fairly easy choice. There were zero negative baseball consequences. 2 They all saw their stats jump to a new level, their teams play better, and their contracts explode. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were even credited with “saving baseball” because of their steroid use. It wasn’t until two unpopular players in Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were suspected of using that the backlash began to fall on the group that led to the embarrassing Congressional hearing.

In the time since the national opinion turned on the early group of steroid users they have been blackballed from the Hall of Fame, yet their records still are written on their walls. The popular argument that “Barry Bonds was a Hall of Famer before the steroids” holds about as much relevance as the statement “Aaron Hernandez was a good member of the community before the Odin Lloyd murder investigation.” You simply cannot separate the two parts of steroid users’ careers. Their numbers shouldn’t be in the record books, but have no plaques in the Hall of Fame for those same achievements. 

Would you rob a bank if you might be able to get away with it?

That is what the second generation of PED/Biogenesis faces. Bud Selig issued a testing policy and a suspension schedule for failed tests. Manny Ramirez was the first superstar to fail a test and face the 50-game suspension. In early 2012 Ryan Braun was able to channel his inner Lance Armstrong and convince the world that he was innocent and that it was MLB that made the mistake. How dare they tarnish his name! Last year as he was on his way toward winning the NL batting title Melky Cabrera failed a test and then tried to create a fake website to cover his tracks, for that he was suspended the required 50 games and the Giants World Series run.

Those penalties were all fine, but as now baseball is on the eve of issuing their largest group of suspensions in their history it might be time to reevaluate the consequences of cheating.

  • The player’s contract is automatically voided, but the team retains their rights.

Think about how quickly the Brewers vote to approve this rule. They signed Braun to a 5 year/$105 million extension that doesn’t kick in until 2016!

  • The player is suspended for the rest of the season and then possibly given a prorated suspension for the following year based on when it began in the previous season.

For the players who are facing the current suspension, I would have their suspension run until Memorial Day.

  • All awards are forfeited.

I don’t think that they should be given to the runner up, but just like how there is currently no winner listed for the 2005 Heisman Trophy.

  • Any listing in the record book has an asterisk with it for the first generation offenders. Any record by the second generation offenders doesn’t show up.

What happened happened. There is no fixing it. Like it or not, the first generation operated inside the legalities of baseball. The second generation though has no excuse and none of what they did should be counted.

If these penalties don’t deter PED usage, then players should be suspended for a year. During that year they are placed in a full body cast so that all their muscles atrophy to a point that would put them at their pre-puberty muscle development. If they can make it back to The Show from there, then they probably belong.

Notes:

  1. The Jose Canseco to Barry Bonds era.
  2. There were potentially dangerous health consequences.
Jeff learned to juggle, and criticize others, while riding the bench for his high school baseball team. He learned how to write working as a reporter and editor for the Daily Nexus at UC Santa Barbara. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco and a B.A. in English from UCSB. You can chastise him (or ask for juggling tips) on twitter @jeffreydgibson.