Results tagged ‘ PEDs ’

Time for harsher PED penalties

In light of all the new information coming out of Miami over the last week or so, what do the commissioner and the players union need to do?

First, let me state that I don’t agree with “guilty until proven innocent.” That is not how the American judicial system works. The system can’t be different for athletes than it is for every other member of society.

So I am not passing judgment on these players who have been linked to the Biogenesis clinic until the investigation is complete. I never have changed my stance on that.

What I am going to change my stance on is this: I have stated over the last few years that baseball has the testing in place and the penalties in place and that we should move forward. What I am seeing is that the penalties are not harsh enough, as baseball still is having players test positive every year.

Players who have tested positive lose 50 games for the first positive test. The theme I am picking up from this is that players are willing to take the 50-game suspension, because it could end up making them more money in coming years. It is hard to single out just one player, but a perfect example of this is Melky Cabrera.

Last year he signed a one-year deal for $6 million with the Giants and was the MVP of the All-Star Game and well on his way to an MVP season. Then came the positive test. He was suspended 50 games and then was eligible to be reinstated by the Giants for the Postseason. But instead, the Giants made a decision that I think was one of the best decisions I have ever seen made by an organization: they elected to not activate him.

I was extremely critical of Giants GM Brian Sabean a couple of years ago when he came out and made the comments he made about Scott Cousins after Cousins ran over Buster Posey on a play at the plate. When Sabean said that he hoped he never saw Cousins in a big league uniform again, I felt that was a deplorable thing for anyone in his position to say about a player. I know it was an emotional statement, based on the fact that he had just lost his best player, but I was very outspoken about those comments.

So I will be very outspoken about how he handled the Cabrera decision last year. Would getting Cabrera back have given his team a better chance to win a World Series? I think anyone who knows this game would answer “yes” to that question. But Sabean chose to not use him, in what I consider one of the best decisions I have ever seen made.

Sabean and the Giants put the integrity of the game above what probably would have given them a better chance to win. As players, coaches and front office people around the game know, there is this thing we call “The Baseball Gods.” I believe The Baseball Gods were watching! And the Giants walked away with their second World Series championship in three years.

But what did that decision mean for Cabrera? He was, as I understand it, voted a full World Series share, and then signed a two-year contract with the Blue Jays for $16 million. So for testing positive he lost roughly a third of his $6 million contract (close to $2 million), of which he recouped close to $400,000 because of the full World Series share. Then he was awarded a contract twice as long as the one he had with the Giants, and got a $2 million-a-year raise.

So all that being said, what do I believe needs to be done to bring a screeching halt to PED usage in baseball?

I think it is simple. The first positive test, you lose a year. Any money you have made up to that point must be repaid to the organization. The second positive test, you are banned for life from the game. There are so many kids like myself who come out of high school or even college who, if they don’t have the game of baseball, will have no other means of supporting themselves. Speaking from personal experience, if I didn’t have baseball, I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do with my life.

Once that threat of taking the game completely away from these players exists, that will be the last we ever hear about PEDs! There may be one or two who think they can beat the system, but once they are caught and every player in the game sits by and watches as the career they worked so hard for their whole life is snatched away from them, we won’t be starting every Spring Training with new stories about players testing positive for banned substances.

In conclusion, I don’t think athletes should have a different set of rules as far as the American judicial system, but what I do feel is incumbent upon all athletes is to make sure you are not associated with anything or anyone that could possibly raise a red flag. That, to me, is just common sense.

Are PED penalties working?

There are many people who are wondering if the 50-game suspension for first time offenders of the PED rule is a stiff enough penalty. In my opinion, it is not working. We are still having players violate the rule every year. At the <ajor League level, and also in the Minor Leagues.

I will use the most recent high-profile incident to demonstrate why I believe the penalty must be stiffer. In the case of Melky Cabrera, he was making $6 million for one year to play with the Giants in 2012. He got off to a great start, then tested positive. He was given a 50-game suspension, at the end of which the Giants could have reactivated him and he would have been eligible for the Postseason. The Giants chose not to do that. In my opinion, that showed a tremendous amount of integrity on the part of the organization.

The Postseason is a reward for a team playing great baseball over the course of 162 games. I personally don’t know Melky, so I don’t have any ill will towards him at all. But what he did was force the Giants to go out and make a move that they probably wouldn’t have had to make to fill the hole he left in their lineup. He lost what would add up to roughly one-third of the $6 million he would have been paid. That is a lot of money — some of which he was able to get back, because it is my understanding that his teammates voted him a full World Series share of around a half-million dollars. That to me isn’t right.

Melky did the right thing by saying he would not take the batting title if he was eligible to win it. Then he signs a two-year deal with the Blue Jays for $16 million. He not only tested positive, but then he got a $2 million a year raise for it. That is sending the wrong message! You can cheat, and it may cost you some money, but you will more than make up for that loss with your next deal.

I believe that the only way we can truly rid the game of PEDs is to suspend the player for a full year. That will then give the opportunity to younger players who are not cheating to come up and maybe prove that they can play at the big league level. When guys start losing a full year because of their poor decisions, I believe we will see the end of it. But as long as a player knows he can cheat and only lose 50 games’ salary, and then get a raise the following year, I believe we will always have guys trying to beat the system.

Again, I tip my cap to the Giants as an organization for not activating Melky for the Postseason. That showed a ton of integrity and restraint on their part. And they were rewarded with another World Series championship.

Clemens and clearing one’s name

Now that the verdict is in on the Roger Clemens trial and he was found not guilty on all charges, can we finally put a stop to this ridiculous waste of our American tax dollars? Please!

I am not a law expert. I’m sure those of you that have heard me speak or read what I’ve written before are not shocked to find this out. But just as a person with what I consider pretty good common sense, I knew from Day One that the government had no chance of winning this case.

My law knowledge stems from watching Law & Order, NCIS and pretty much any show that has to do with the law. What I’m saying is that I ain’t no rocket scientist, but common sense told me right away that the prosecution’s physical evidence had been stored in an old beer can. Ryan Braun’s suspension was overturned because the man who collected the sample — which by the way was triple-sealed — took the sample home with him to ship at the next earliest possible opportunity, which to my understanding is following protocol in that situation.

But the government went ahead with this trial anyway, spending no telling how much of our tax money in doing so. On a case that to anyone with common sense at all was unwinnable.

In the case of steroids or PEDs of any kind, Major League Baseball has done a great job of putting the new testing in place and enforcing the penalties that come with testing positive.

The problem as I see it is this: because we had a “Steroid Era” in baseball, anyone who had a long and productive career during that time is guilty until proven innocent. That is the exact opposite of our legal system. In our country, a person is innocent until proven guilty. The problem here is that Roger Clemens should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but the people who vote on the Hall of Fame had made up their minds before the trial. If there is any justice in this case, the voters will take into consideration what a jury found after hearing all of the evidence and vote Clemens in on the first ballot. But I promise that won’t happen.

I have stated many times that if you are proven to have used steroids — or if you have admitted to using them – you should not be a Hall of Famer. In this case, Clemens was found not guilty. What he can never get back is his good name. That has been tarnished forever, and it appears the people doing the accusing were wrong.

When we look back at our game, there have been what I call “freaks of nature.” Nolan Ryan was still throwing 95 miles per hour at 46 years old. No one ever questioned Nolan. Nor should they. He had a work ethic second to none. Clemens was cut from that same cloth. When Roger was with Boston, he would not report to Spring Training early, because he worked harder at home than they did in Spring Training. There are and always will be guys who are just superior athletes with superior work ethics.

What will this lead to now? If it were me, I would be filing a suit against the government for defamation of character. And guess what folks, it will be our tax dollars hard at work there, too.

It is time to put all of this Steroid Era garbage behind us. Between MLB and the Players Association, the problem has been resolved. I for one am sick to death of hearing about it. It was a big black eye on our game. It is healed.


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