Friday, February 1, 2013

Does it Really Matter?


           Well once again Major League Baseball took a blow to the chin as another list of players has emerged from the depths of PED Hell.

           Now those of you that know me and speak to me on a regular basis know my stance on PED's and their usage in baseball. I don't have an issue with players that were taking PED's before certain substances were banned by Major League Baseball. Baseball is a game, but a game of competition, one that grown men get paid a lot of money to play. In order to get paid that top dollar you must be one of the best players, put up gaudy stats, set records, and bring in attendance for your team. So players took it upon themselves to find ways, beyond just weight training to give themselves an advantage over the competition.

          Was this such a bad thing? Were you not standing up and cheering when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa put on the amazing home run display in 1998? Were you not enamored when Jose Canseco hit a ball into the upper deck in Skydome, when nobody else even thought it was possible? Were you not caught up in the feel good story of a catcher drafted in the 62nd round by the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming a 12-time All-Star and ending his career with 427 home runs? Now there is no proof or evidence that we know of that Mike Piazza used PED's, but unfortunately he is linked to that time period along with 2013 Hall of Fame candidates Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and one of my favorite pitchers of all time, Roger Clemens. So my point is the players knew this was going on, the agents knew this was going on, the owners knew this was going on, and the general managers knew this was going on but baseball was still trying to win the fans back from the 94-95 strike and everyone was making money on "The Long Ball" so everything was great.
            Then all of a sudden the home run totals weren't the only thing going up, as players salaries started to skyrocket due to the inflated power numbers. All of a sudden little leads start to leak out that maybe Jose Canseco was doing steroids because he is so muscular. Mark McGwire must be on something because he hits the ball so far. Barry Bonds' head grew 3 sizes in the off-season, he must be on steroids. Suddenly Jose Canseco can't find a job in Major League Baseball so he claims he is being "blackballed" by the MLB and wrote a book. This tell all book speaks of how Canseco did do steroids for the reasons that I spoke of earlier (money and fame) but also how he brought them into the locker room for other players to try. Many players named in this book denied any wrong doing, they said Canseco was just bitter and making these stories up for the sake of writing the book. Canseco took a lot of heat for writing this book and was written off as a liar. Then the truth started coming out, and guys like McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Jason Giambi started getting questioned, and baseball started digging into their pasts. And the rest of the story you know...

              That brings us to today. Major League Baseball has implemented strict testing for PED's. Now pretty much any substance that you put into your body that is not food is a banned substance resulting in a suspension. Ok, great I am on board now, lets clean it up and play fair. But with the emergence of a new list of players possibly linked to a now closed down company that produced anti-aging substances, comes questions of should the penalties for being caught be stronger?
               Now, these were not positive tests, this was just a list of athletes names, that have had some sort of contact with this clinic. And we cannot persecute these players without a positive test, because their is no proof that these players took any product that was purchased from this clinic. One of the players on the list was Toronto Blue Jays outfielder, Melky Cabrera who was suspended last season 50 games and missed his chance at a World Series because of a positive test for Testosterone. Yet, The Toronto Blue Jays signed Cabrera to a 2 year $16 million contract this off-season once the suspension was lifted. So what lesson was learned? Ya he missed the World Series and the money that came with it. Big deal, these players make so much money now that a fine or suspension doesn't hurt that much unless it is a substantial amount.

               My final thought on this subject is this....I don't believe PED's help you hit the ball. I don't believe PED's make you a better baseball player. There are a lot of great players that have never been linked to PED's for example Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr., and Albert Pujols with Hall of Fame caliber careers. What I do believe is that they provide strength, sustained energy and health to make it through a full season without wear and tear. But I will say this, if I was educated about PED's when I was in high school, I would have taken them in a heart beat. That is how much I love the game of baseball and would have loved to have made a living playing the game that I love.

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