We’ll just go ahead and file this column in the “pipe dream” folder. What I’m about to suggest doesn’t apply to just baseball, but to all sports. Why people only want baseball pure, not football and basketball, baffles me daily; but that’s another column.
Anyway, the quickest and easiest solution to baseball’s PED problem is simple: 1st offense nets a season suspension, including playoffs, All-Star, and any award considerations. The 2nd offense nets a lifetime ban. This can’t really be that difficult, can it?
Sure, many current players wouldn’t be active under my suggested punishment schedule, but the fact of the matter is, we are all complicit in allowing PEDs in sports. Yeah, all of us. Players, fans, media, ownership…we’re all responsible.
The players, through what is most likely the most powerful union in the world, gave the impression they care about keeping the sport clean. In fact, they suggested the current punishment schedule to the owners in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Did you know that, because most people didn’t? And, of course, the owners took them up because they figured if the players suggested it, it must be good for the sport. The owners were probably right, but the players left enough loopholes to where we sit with poor policies.
The owners clearly didn’t care about drugs in the past, because if they had, we wouldn’t have seen this problem go unchecked for years, maybe even a generation or two. The owners made massive profits from players like Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Jose Canseco. To suggest the owners and the media weren’t aware of what was happening in locker rooms is a slap in the face to anyone who can add 2 + 2.
But, hey, us fans had a hand in this also. We loved the home runs, the battle for the home run king, and all the offensive excitement it provided. In fact, I’ll admit at some point I didn’t care if athletes used steroids. Sometimes I think it’s easier to regulate those drugs once they’re legal rather than making them illegal. For the record, I’m only talking about PEDs, not marijuana.
All that said, if the owners and the players care about the reputation and the public perception of this sport, they will at some point, or in the next CBA, agree on a punishment schedule similar to the one I’ve suggested.
Have I mentioned this is a pipe dream? The players’ union will never agree to a one-step banishment from the sport.
To expand on this idea for a moment – when I suggested the players are banned for life, I mean Pete Rose banned. These players are to never play, coach, or work in the front office at any professional baseball level.
Teams of first time offenders will be able to void the contracts of offended (?) players, which obviously would only have a serious effect on players who have large, long-term contracts, but I would hope that alone would deter anyone from using PEDs.
Voiding the contract not only allows the teams to relieve themselves of base salary obligations, but also relieves them of fulfilling any incentive and escalator clauses that may exist. It also gives the player a second chance with another team, should a team be willing to take that chance.
The only way I can suggest this testing process is fair to not only the league, but more importantly, the player, is to take it out of the hands of Major League Baseball. I say this not because I don’t think MLB can properly manage this, but because if we’re suggesting we ban someone from their primary form of income for life, they should be afforded the most transparent process available.
My only suggested group would be the World Anti-Doping Agency. I’m not suggesting they’re awesome, but I have more faith in that group than in the one that MLB employs right now. By the way, MLB employs themselves for drug testing through a third party that they select.
That doesn’t seem transparent at all.
All that was a great pipe dream, wasn’t it? So, what would you do if you had the opportunity to change how Major League Baseball handled its PED violators? What do you think of my suggested penalty schedule?