This issue is never going to go away. I've written about it a few times, but it gets tough to try and avoid the speculation and so many strong feelings and biases involved with the discussion.
Lance Armstrong has finally faded from news, thankfully, but just as that has happened, we get the newest chapter in baseball's ongoing steroid saga. Names like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun have come up again, this time in association with a known PED clinic. Rodriguez is a third baseman for the New York Yankees who has admitted to using steroid for three years early in his career for the Texas Rangers. Braun is an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, who won the NL MVP in 2011 and two months later, tested positive for PEDs. So both players have either admitted using PEDs or have tested positive for them, but what is one thing they've never had to deal with?
Missing a game due to suspension.
Major League Baseball's performance enhancing drug policy says that the first time a player is caught for steroids, he is suspended 50 games. The second time, 100 games. If he's dumb enough to try a third time, he is banned from the game. Okay, so let me see here... A-Rod has admitted using steroids once, and his name has been linked to several PED suppliers. Braun has been caught once and linked again a year later. Yeah, this makes sense.
The thing that irks me about both of these players, is how they lie directly to our faces. They look into a camera or an interviewer's face; they look directly into our living rooms and say, "you guys are all stupid for thinking we would cheat." Are we? Then why, year after year, is the evidence piling up against you? I read a piece by Bill Simmons the other day on this very topic, and he has a great point when it comes this issue in baseball.
We ignored their swollen noggins and rippling biceps. We weren't fazed by seemingly inexplicable surges in production, or even something as fundamentally perplexing as a 37-year-old doubles hitter suddenly hitting 50-plus homers. We didn't just look the other way; we threw heavy burlap bags over our heads and taped our eyeballs shut. And because we never stepped up, those enterprising dickheads bastardized baseball and ruined one of its most sacred qualities: the wholly unique way that eight generations of players relate to one another through statistics and records. -SimmonsIt pisses me off that Braun won the MVP over Matt Kemp got caught cheating, and still got to keep the award. The San Francisco Giants best hitter early in the season? Melky Cabrera. And what happened to him for a 50 game stretch that resulted in him being left of the playoff roster? Right.
I will never be a professional baseball player. I don't know what they go through during their careers with the pressure, the media, injuries, slumps, you name it. I don't know that I wouldn't take steroids if I had a chance at greater fame or success. If it was in the cards and I had, for whatever reason, cheated in the game that I love, I wouldn't be standing at a podium, or sitting in front of a camera on 60 Minutes telling my fans, the world, that they are all idiots.
This issue provides a unique opportunity, however. As this is clearly a multifaceted dilemma, I have a virtually unlimited number of chances to write about and debate this issue. In the near future I plan to write about players that have been suspected of steroids, players who should be suspected of steroids, and possibly some different paths to take as far as disciplinary action is concerned, so stay tuned.