PED’s still haunt MLB

MLB at fault too

Every Major League Baseball player is juiced. This is not the mindset you want to have, but it is the mindset you have to have.

MLB has done virtually nothing to stop this Performance Enhancing Drug use. They turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to all of the allegations back in the 1990’s, and into the 2000’s, and now the league is still trying to get out of the era they created. The league nor the teams have been motivated to stop the thing that has forever tainted the sport of baseball and all of its record books.

Then MLB commissioner Fay Vincent banned anabolic steroids in 1991. MLB began testing for PED’s on March 1st, 2003. Those 12 years are known as the infamous “Steroid Era”.

Testing may have begun back in 2003, but there was no clear punishment stated in the rules. MLB didn’t even enforce this policy, it was basically a free-for-all.

Since then, the names Bonds, Clemons, McGuire, Sosa, Palmeiro , and Canseco cloud the record books. Barry Bonds is now the home run king, Sammy Sosa has 600 home runs, Raphael Palmeiro has 500 home runs, and Roger Clemons has multiple Cy Youngs.  This has tainted and basically destroyed the official record book of baseball.

MLB can only blame themselves for what happened during the steroid era. They are still feeling the effects of it today.

Before the steroid era, MLB was basically dead. Fans got bored with pitcher’s duels and base hits. Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire revived baseball with their unbelievable race to 70 home runs back in 1998. Fans wanted to see the long ball, they wanted players to hit home runs every at-bat. It made the game more exciting.

MLB, the teams and the league, knew exactly what was going on. How could they not? At least twelve players hit 40 home runs in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Four players hit 50 home runs in 1996.

There was no reason for them to stop the juicers. Baseball was popular again, fans were attending games, and everybody was paying attention to the home run races. Baseball was re-energized, and the money followed. MLB chose to just sit and stay silent about their PED dilemma.

The league is not alone, though. Major league teams have always condoned steroids. It always has been and always will be about the bottom line, and that is making money, and winning baseball games.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemons, and the other players with Hall of Fame numbers were not the only ones using steroids.

In 2005, George Mitchell gave MLB a mind-boggling list of 89 names of players that had been connected to PED’s. This report was known as the Mitchell Report.

This sent shock waves through all of baseball. This was the first time fans found out what was really going on. It is sad that at least 12% of the league was juiced. What’s even worse is that a lot of players just didn’t get caught.

Every player who played during the steroid era must prove he is clean. Until then, everybody who played in the steroid era is perceived as a user.

The Mitchell Report was supposed to put an end to the steroid era. It also triggered a quick response by Bud Selig:

“So that there is no misunderstanding from my perspective, I will suspend any player who tests positive for an illegal steroid. There will be no exceptions. The (players) union is aware of that and they accept it,” said Selig.

After that, the penalties quickly got harsher for testing positive. Today, the penalties are 50 games for your first positive test, 100 games for your second positive test, and a lifetime ban for a third offense.

Although the penalties are tougher, they might be completely irrelevant.

Last month MLB suspended twelve players for their use of performance enhancing drugs. Twelve of them were suspended 50 games without pay. The other players were Alex Rodriguez, who got 211 games, and Ryan Braun who got 65 games.

Of the fourteen players who got suspended, thirteen of them have waived their right to appeal their suspension. In doing so, they have told the baseball world that they did in fact use PED’s through Biogenesis and Tony Bosch.

The one player who is appealing is Alex Rodriguez, but he is another whole issue.

The biggest problem in this scandal wasn’t even the players who were taking these PED’s. And it wasn’t Tony Bosch who was supplying these PED’s. The most concerning thing is that NONE OF THESE FOURTEEN PLAYERS EVER FAILED A DRUG TEST!

The testing policy MLB has is a joke. It is often referred to as a stupidity test. Former players have said that you have to be stupid to get caught by failing a drug test from the MLB. What is the point of banning steroids if you can’t catch the cheaters?

Albert Pujols was recently accused of “juicing” by former All-Star Jack Clark. Albert responded by saying he had never failed a test. Sorry, Albert you can no longer use the excuse “I never failed a test”. We all just witnessed thirteen players who were suspended and did not appeal – they never failed a test!

If MLB is not catching the cheaters, I have to assume that everybody is cheating. The test results have become irrelevant, and the latest scandal just confirms it. MLB is still very much in the steroid era.

Major League Baseball needs a new testing policy. One that actually works, and one that catches the cheaters off guard. But, we all know that might just be impossible.

These players weren’t just average players, either. These players were impacting pennant races. Melky Cabrera won the All-Star Game last year for the National League. That is huge when you consider that Cabrera, who was then suspended by MLB for testing positive, decided home field advantage in the World Series.

But, just like everything else in the steroid era, MLB gave the cheaters yet another reason to cheat. Right after Melky Cabrera finishes his suspension, what does an MLB team do? Give him a boat load of money, of course.  The Blue Jays gave Cabrera 17 million dollars guaranteed. You cannot tell me that MLB teams are against steroids after making that kind of commitment.

MLB has given players every reason to cheat. The testing system probably won’t catch you, and even if you do get caught a team will be right there with 17 million to reward you. It is a joke, and a joke that is tainting the entire sport of baseball. The once Great American Pastime is now under a cloud of suspicion and scandal.

The only way to get out of the steroid era is simple. They have to ban players for life after their first failed drug test. It may not stop it, but at the very least it will strike some fear into the players who are considering cheating. It also just might gain back some of the respect baseball has lost over the years of the steroid era.

It should be stated in every contract signed in minor league, and major league baseball that if you test positive then your contract is void. The problem with that is the union would never allow it. The union also has played a huge role in the steroid era. After all, the MLB players union during the steroid era was the most powerful union in the history of sports. The union protected the cheaters at all costs, and still will to this day.

Bud Selig has let the steroid era linger for years, but he is just now trying re-shape his legacy. He has come down hard on Alex Rodriguez among others involved in this Biogenesis scandal, but is still not enough. Selig will retire soon, and he knows his legacy rides on how he responds to the steroid era. He just didn’t care enough to do it 20 years ago.

From now on, all baseball players have used PED’s in my mind. Baseball keeps bringing the cheaters back, and until they step up and realize what the steroid era has done to the sport baseball will forever be a game of shadows.

At the end of the day, the cheaters will always be ahead of the testers. The least MLB can do is try to scare them out of America’s Pastime.