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ryan-braun-fail[Against the backdrop of the Biogenesis scandal and probably-impending suspensions, the specter of performance-enhancing drugs looms once again.]

Awesome. Super awesome.  I loooooooove reading about PED scandals. It’s sooooooo interesting.

Just kidding, that’s all sarcasm. I’m sooooooo good at it. Okay, I’ll stop I’ll stop now.

But really. I hate when PEDs are in the news.

Ryan Braun and a bunch of other idiots are going to be suspended soon for their role in the Biogenesis scandal. I’ve dubbed it, “Bio Scandal” (no word yet on if Pauly Shore is staring). It’s really just a matter of time until roughly 20 players (including superstar Bartolo Colon?) are suspended for at least 50 games. I’ve spent a good part of today trying to decide if I care or not. I still haven’t decided. Besides, no Cubs have been implicated. But here’s where I’m at:

The PED dilemma is obviously an extremely polarizing topic – as it should be. It’s pretty serious. And that’s setting aside the fact that we’re talking about illegal drugs and highly addictive substances.

It seems that (and I’m over-simplifying here) you either believe (1) it’s illegal and all record-holders associated with “using” should not be allowed into the Hall of Fame and their stats expunged OR (2) it isn’t a big deal, it makes baseball more exciting, and why not allow it with some regulations?

There are also two huge counter points in both. In opinion 1, we lose out on roughly 10 (probably more) years of baseball. In opinion 2, the worst case scenario is that steroids find their way into high school locker rooms and become extremely prominent for young athletes.

Ugh. Both suck.

So where does that leave me? Part of me agrees with resident crazy person John Rocker in his belief that steroids made the game more exciting – I see the merit. Who wouldn’t want to watch another McGwire/Sosa home run race? I think a little part of you is lying to yourself if you say you wouldn’t want to see giants hit balls onto Waveland and Sheffield every game. It would be extremely entertaining. However I think most of me is simply angry that players blatantly try to break the rules to get ahead. Hence why I hate discussing PEDs in general.

The bottom line is that as it stands right now, doping is illegal in Major League Baseball. The rules have not been changed and, believe me, the players know the rules. This is the fact that most baseball fans have to understand: the way the rules are written presently, it’s not okay.

What bothers me even more than that actual act of cheating are the arrogant attempts to deny and cover-up. A-Rod denied for years before he came clean. Melky Cabrera created a fictional website to prove his innocence. Ryan “Gotcha” Braun got off a technicality and made sure we all knew it. Roger Clemens wasted all our tax dollars.  At least Manny Ramirez had the decency to move to Japan when he got caught the second time.

If you are going to cheat (and, again, that’s what using PEDs are under the current rules: cheating) admit it when you’re caught. That’s all I, and other fans of the game, ask. We know you messed up, you know you messed up, let’s move on. [Brett: Yahoo’s Jeff Passan wrote a solid piece on this point.]

I’ve heard some people say, “Who cares? It’s not like everyone is using.” That’s partly true. There are 1,280 professional baseball players at the Major League level. Not all are using. But the fact that some of the more high-profile athletes have been caught is discouraging. It’s the old saying that one person can ruin it for the whole bunch. There are huge implications in this and the effects are going to be felt for an extremely long time.

Every time another star is caught, it leads us to ask questions about others. It causes us to cringe when a player wins the Triple Crown because we don’t want it to be a sham later on. [Brett: Don’t tell me that several of you don’t have your butts clenched with every otherwise exciting home run Chris Davis hits. We want it to be legit, but we’ve been burned.] It makes us have to reassure ourselves that every perfect game is earned and not bought at the pharmacy. It creates the second-guessing of every crowning achievement that a player may have. All because we have seen things happen before.

This is beyond sad.

Maybe some players and fans do believe that steroids should be legal in some fashion. Fine. Talk about it at the next collective bargaining agreement in 2016. For now, it’s cheating. Don’t do it. And if you do, admit it if you’re caught. Your fans aren’t dumb.

I guess I do care after all.

  • Jp3

    Not to mention Chris Davis looks like a McGuire clone… I wonder how everyone can say “it’s all natural with him!”. We’ve been burned and anyone with forearms like that makes my suspicion meter go off.

    • MichiganGoat

      This is the great problem PEDs have brought to baseball. Anytime a player explodes the first thought is – “well he’s obviously on something.” I’m going to trust the drug testing policy and hold judgment until a player test positively.

      • Jp3

        Yeah I’m not saying he’s doing anything wrong but I think I’ve been Duped one too many times on who was using and who’s not to have the rug snatched out from under me again.

      • Jp3

        C’mon Goat, you’re going to trust the testing program that failed to suspend Braun when he obviously failed, it NEVER caught ARod… Shit my kid is screaming because he’s teething so I’ll have to finish my thoughts later😃

        • MichiganGoat

          No I don’t trust it but we should have a process to anazlyze guilt, and a drug testing policy is the best way we can do that right now. I drop dirty, you can appeal, and if you lose your ability you are guilty and have this punishment. Allowing public opinion or the will of the Emperor dictate guilt is a dangerous place to exist.

        • caryatid62

          The average weight of an NFL offensive lineman is 310 lbs.They typically run sub-5 40s and can bench press 500 lbs. We’re perfectly happy to see that and not begin a chorus of “itz da roidz,” yet a guy who has made clear progress in selectivity and has ALWAYS has massive power finally puts it together, and everyone clutches their pearls and begs us to think about the children.

          Just to be clear–this isn’t picking on the original poster for being skeptical of Chris Davis. MLB, through it’s own actions, has made itself a target for this. In the last year, 25 NFL players have been suspended for PEDs, yet because they are able to manage their message, no one cares. It’s not that baseball should turn a blind eye to PEDs, but they need to do a better job managing their own image. This is ridiculous.

          • ScottK

            I don’t know, NFL and MLB are apples and oranges.

            PEDs have not resulted in a massive shift in the way the game is played in the NFL or a shattering of many historic records (let’s also note that records are a deep part of the fabric and appeal of baseball – baseball has a history and a legacy that other pro sports can’t touch). The modern guys who are breaking records (Tomlinson, Emmitt Smith, Tom Brady, etc.) are not hulking beasts either. There is also a fundamental difference in the gains that PEDs will produce in football and baseball. Using PEDs doesn’t seem to ‘break the game’ in the NFL like it does in MLB.

            I’m not saying it’s right to be okay with one and not the other, but the stars and record breakers of the NFL look like everybody else does and has in the NFL (even if they are using PEDs, which is possible), which could be a major reason why people don’t seem to care.

            • caryatid62

              Wait, what?

              The guy who nearly broke the rushing record last year came back from an ACL tear in less than 9 months. If that were baseball, he’d be crucified.

              Just like in baseball, no one really knows how PEDs affect the game. I understand the history and venerated records side of things (although I’d argue that history is not the right term–it’s more like nostalgia for a past that didn’t really exist), but I can’t agree with the other arguments.

              The average NFL lineman’s weight has gone up almost 40 lbs in the last 10 years, and body fat has dropped by 25%. That’s not normal, either. NFL players did not look like this 25 years ago. “Refrigerator” Perry, the guy whose nickname literally came from his weight, was 308 lbs. in 1985. He’d have been below average today. Players didn’t look this way in the past, and PEDs are certainly part of the reason why. The NFL is just much better at handling it’s PR and message.

              • ScottK

                Peterson looks like every other running back in the NFL, so there’s no reason to crucify him. An MLB’er might be crucified – depends on who the player is. If an average-sized MLB’er came back from it and was vying for the record season average, no one would bat an eye.

                True, nostalgia is a better term.

                Linemen aren’t stars – nobody gives a crap about what size they are. Plus, they battle against each other, so they’ve counter-acted each other enough to keep the game in check. Thus no drastic change in the way the game is played and no scrutiny because the fans don’t care too much about their performance.

                I do agree the effects of PEDs are not fully understood, but PED enhancement doesn’t seem to have drastically changed the way the NFL is played, whereas it has in MLB. The popular belief in why the NFL has changed is because of changing strategies rather than changing abilities.

                Anyways, at the end of the day, the MLB messaging argument is your opinion and I disagree (it’s probably part of the reason for the difference, but I think it’s minor). You’ve had some good facts to support this and other opinions on this board, but you need to chill out, cut the smugness and stop acting as though your opinion is the only valid one. Starting posts with ‘wait what’ and calling other people’s statements ‘idiotic’ is demeaning and childish. Let’s stay on topic and treat each other like adults like Jp3 and mjhurdle who can disagree with someone respectfully.

                • Caryatid62

                  First of all, the peterson example had more to do with the speed of his recovery. ACLs dont recover that fast.

                  And as far as the other point, if you really believe that an “average mlb player wouldn’t get crucified” if he was going for the record, I don’t know what to tell you–the evidence is literally on this page. Chris Davis is 1.5 in taller and 18 lbs heavier than the average major league; in other words, he’s just about average. And on this page he’s been ripped.

                  The rise of saber metric analysis, coupled with smaller parks, lower mounds, and harder balls all have as much to do today (after the steroid era) with the change in the game.

                  Finally, the NFL is dramatically different than it was 25 years ago. The speed and size of players has completely altered the way coached strategize, from styles of offense (more passing) to defense (zone blitzes especially, which would have been impossible 30 years ago because the linebackers just weren’t fast enough).

                  People may not understand football as much as they (think) they understand baseball, but that really doesn’t matter. The NFL can contain their image and MLB can’t.

                  Finally, as much as I respect your argument, as far as your little etiquette lesson/message board niceties police act, you can shove that. I may be (proudly) smug, but there’s nothing more smug than lecturing other adults about appropriate behavior on a message board.

                • Northside Neuman

                  The NFL went from a running league in the early 1970’s to a predominately passing league in the early 1980’s. Today the best athletes on a football team are the defensive lineman and linebackers while offensive lineman are still pudgy wide bodies. The highest paid players after the quarterbacks are the d-lineman and how many Keith Traylors, William Perrys and Ted Washington’s do you see anymore? Mose defensive lineman look like they’re carved from marble these days. The league has changed dramatically in regards to the offensive schemes because running the ball is harder than it used to be because of faster and stronger defenses.

      • Geo

        Ok, he’s on a 80 home run pace & you hold your judgment till he’s proven guilty & he’s come out of nowhere to do this?? Your gullible & naive!!

        • caryatid62

          To claim he “came out of nowhere” is idiotic. This is a guy who hit 17 home runs in only 317 at bats as a 22 year old. He hit 24 home runs in only 198 at bats at AAA (a 72 home run pace for 162 games) two years ago, and was on a 40 HR pace last year.

          You may not have been paying close enough attention, but the guy has ALWAYS had massive power.

          • Geo

            Ok

          • Geo

            To think he came from obscurity , to a level dual to baberuth without assistance is idiotic.

            • caryatid62

              I just proved that he didn’t, in fact, come from obscurity. Virtually every scout in baseball would tell you that he had this power all along, and it was an issue of pitch recognition and selection. If you don’t want to believe it, that’s fine. I think that’s incredibly stupid, but oh well. Only so much you can do…

            • AlwaysNextYear

              And this is what PED’s have done to the game. You have people who have no knowledge on somebody accusing them of cheating. And Davis has proven to have monster power his whole professional career but yet has not failed anything ever. Your comments are whats idiotic Geo get over it you were proven wrong except it and move along. I bet your a person who bitches about freedom of speech but yet proclaims somebody guilty before they can be proven innocent.

          • mjhurdle

            exactly. Chris Davis has been the bane of the fantasy community for the last 3 years due to his immense power but, before this year, inability to make consistent enough contact to stay in a lineup.
            Chris Davis as always projected to hit a ton of HRs if he ever was able to make consistent contact, like he has this year.
            the difference between the last 3 years and this year with Davis has absolutely nothing about power or distance on his flyballs and everything to do with him hitting the ball more consistently.

            • MichiganGoat

              and I got him on a surprise auto draft error

              • mjhurdle

                nice!
                the commish of my league has drafted him high every single year he was eligible talking about it being his breakout year.
                This year, he passed on him. doh!

        • Jp3

          Not to mention he’s only on pace for about 63 HRs this year and not 80. I agree everyone is a bit naive but let’s not get carried away here.

          • Geo

            Even 63 homeruns a year, ummm when was the last time other than steroid era have we seen this kind of projection .Sober up & look at the clues, quit buying into everything so easily.

            • Geo

              Have you heard of testosterone topical gels? They only hold in your system for several days, easily undetectable in random drug tests while cycling on & off . The only way you dodge misdetection is to test all 1,800-1,900 MLB players everyday of season twice a day. Wake up & smell the coffee Sammy Sosa , & McGuire & bonds beat roger marises single season homeruns record back in the steriod era, but 10-15 yrs or so later we are to believe these numbers are now more achievable without cheating because of better nutrition & exercise ?? Who’s being idiotic??

              • Geo

                Meant to say twice a week

            • caryatid62

              I count at least eight other times, but this was only with a cursory glance.

              Mickey Mantle was on pace for 60 at this time in 1956.

              Dick Stuart hit 25 home runs in less than half a season in 1963.

              Frank Howard was on pace for 54 home runs at this time in 1968.

              Harmon Killebrew was on pace for 60 home runs at this time in 1969.

              Dick Allen was on pace for 50 home runs at this time in 1972.

              George Bell was on pace for 60 home runs at this time in 1987.

              Adam Dunn was on pace for 55 home runs at this time in 2010.

              Jose Bautista hit 54 home runs in 2010.

              • AlwaysNextYear

                Be careful Geo might say liquor is a steroid and guys like Mantle used it for performance enhancements.

            • KidCubbie

              Roger Maris ring any bells. Bet he didnt take roids.

  • ssckelley

    Good piece Myles. Another angle on all this is think of all the players who did not cheat that had their starting spot taken, roster spot, or never made it to the show because they had a cheater blocking them. Is it fair for a player like Frank Thomas, who was a big man naturally to be constantly questioned? He could have went down as one of the all time greatest hitters of his era had players not cheated.

    • Danny Ballgame

      Big Frank was definitely one of the best hitters of his, or any other era. He missed out on at least 1 more MVP

      • JulioZuleta

        Unfortunately, I think big-time power guys from the 90s should be described as “never caught” as opposed to definitively “clean.” If you think they caught everyone that was using, you’re nuts. I’ve never quite gotten the whole “Frank Thomas was 100% clean” argument. I hope he was…he probably was…but we’ve been burned too many times to say he was for sure.

        • Bender 13

          I’ve never understood the “well, of course Frank Thomas didn’t do it..” angle either. How and why is he any different from any other player?

        • Funn Dave

          And therein lies the crux of the article.

        • Spriggs

          And in my opinion, that’s why known cheaters should be purged (from the record books — and the playing field). They have caused chaos. They are ultimately responsible for ruining a whole era – along with the names and reputations of some innocent people.

          • Myles

            Great thought here.

        • ssckelley

          The thing is Frank Thomas wax always big, even when he was drafted. He did not show up on season going from a skinny guy like Bonds when he was with the Pirates to a big player with an oversized head like Bonds did with the Giants.

  • CubbiesOHCubbies

    ” I think a little part of you is lying to yourself if you say you wouldn’t want to see giants hit balls onto Waveland and Sheffield every game.”

    Lately isn’t this the norm whenever San Francisco is in town????

  • Kurt

    Could care less, except I want that sanctimonious, smug, Ryan Braun to be crushed after he got a urine handler fired to deflect attention from himself, on a technicality.

    • Myles

      “Smug.” Perfect word for him. Nailed it.

      • http://none millhah

        i prefer “rat faced”

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      How is Ryan Braun responsible for the guy getting fired?

      • MichiganGoat

        cause Braun is a A Supreme Lord Douchnozzle… and he really put all the blame on the “tester” – which I guess is what a good defense does, deflects blame, but he is still a Douchebag.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          specifically, how?
          I hate Braun as much as the next guy, but when something is collectively bargained, and then that something isn’t followed, how can it be the fault of anyone but the person/group that DIDN’T follow the process?

          • Billy

            ^^ Completely agree

          • ScottK

            I think the Braun hate comes from the fact that he basically destroyed the collection sample guy’s life in the process of ‘clearing his name’. The fact that he got out of the suspension because of a technicality makes me dislike him, but the fact that he ruined that guy’s life makes him a terrible human being.

            • Cubbie Blues

              I disagree, the Braun hate comes from the fact that he is a complete douche nozzle.

  • Spencer

    It’s definitely not as black and white as believing 1) ban users from HOF, or 2) it’s okay cause the game is more exciting. I mean, I don’t think PEDs are okay just because it allows people to hit mammoth HRs; I think baseball is plenty exciting already. Plus, it makes it way cooler when guys hit a 485 foot homer because we don’t get to see that every day.

    I also think the Bio stuff deserves a different analysis entirely. I really don’t like the idea of punishing these athletes multiple times – for lying, and then somehow circumstantially being connected to this clinic through the testimony of people who are more likely than not just trying to save their own ass.

    If MLB goes through with these suspensions (and I suspect they will), it’s going to cause a gigantic shit storm and could potentially tarnish the game for a long time. I’m all for suspending people that break the rules, just so long as there’s enough evidence to back it up.

    • MichiganGoat

      Spencer, great points. I think it very dangerous for baseball to suspend players that have not failed a actual test as a tricky precedent to set. The evidence better be very solid and I suspect this is going to be a long legal battle for MLB.

    • Jim Gillmeister

      In criminal proceedings, perjury can be a separate, punishable offense. Why shouldn’t it be one here.In the same vein, plea bargains are often used to gain testimony. Why shouldn’t they be allowed here?

      • Pat

        Because the front office personnel of Major League Baseball are not judges and do not operate in a court of law. And the players agreement does not allow for suspensions for lying.

        • Hansman1982

          Last I heard, MLB wasn’t pressing charges in a court of law, just disciplining players for breaking the law.

          If I did something that was against my employers rules and then lied about it to them, I’d expect them to punish me for both.

      • ScottK

        I thought the same thing about plea deals Jim, but if you dig into the case against Biogenesis a bit more, it become pretty disturbing. The MLB essentially brought suit against Biogenesis and Bosch with a lawsuit that most law experts agree was not winnable and frivolous. In essence, they are extorting Bosch by forcing him to testify because he doesn’t have the financial means to keep his defense going against the MLB. Since this isn’t a federal case, you don’t get free representation if you can’t afford it – you have to defend yourself.

        I’m not saying that his testimony is false or that any of the players shouldn’t be penalized (I agree with suspending them), but the way in which MLB went about this is really shady.

        • MichiganGoat

          Exactly, if the “evidence” is the testimony and records of a guy that is avoiding an expensive law suit by giving up “evidence” then you don’t really have valid “evidence.” Now is there are medical reports of players failing test or having enhanced levels of this or that and is was done by a third party that does not have a pony in the race you have some better “evidence.”

          What bothers me is that this is really looking like a witch hunt (which i’m sure Braun has a few warts and weighs the same as a duck) and this is not going to be good for baseball.

          • Cubbie Blues

            [img]http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/yp_l5ntikaU/mqdefault.jpg[/img]

            • MichiganGoat

              glad you got that reference… because I’m perfectly okay burning Braun on that logic alone

              • Tobias

                so, Braun is not “very small rocks”

                • DarthHater

                  Braun turned me into a newt!

      • caryatid62

        A private organization has no business taking on the legal power of a government, and attempts by a private organization to use powers reserved for governments is a frightening concept.

        • Hansman1982

          This is a private company that is punishing players according to their rules.

          Private companies do this (and should be able to do this) all the time.

          • Pat

            Unionized companies do not do this all the time. There are agreements in place for what powers the company has and does not have. In this case MLB does not have the power to issue a drug suspension for lying.

            • Pat

              If they put it in the agreement, then they can police it going forward. But in this case they are trying to implement an ex-post-facto punishment for something that was not covered in the agreement. I don’t care what good comes out of it, that is a horrific abuse of power.

          • caryatid62

            Private companies that are allowed monopolies based upon government permission should not be allowed to do this ever.

            Furthermore, this private company is NOT, in fact, punishing players according to their rules. The rules clearly state that a failed drug test equals a suspenion, not pieces of hearsay cobbled together over the course of an investigation that may or may not have any legitimacy whatsoever. They’re attempting to rewrite the rules while simultaneously using the civil courts to extort unreliable testimony from scumbag drug dealers.

            Using PEDs is bad. What MLB is doing is so much worse.

  • Pat

    The only thing I do not like about the upcoming suspensions is the changing of the rules for handing those suspensions out. According to the CBA, drug suspensions are to be handed out for failing a drug test. Even if they can prove purchase of PEDs, they is no way to prove use.

    What this has become is a case of circumventing the agreement because “the end justifies the means”. That’s a really dangerous precedent to set since the determination of the truth of that belief is based solely on the views of one person.

    • ScottK

      I hear you Pat. The silver lining is that maybe some of the language in the CBA can be changed to have more teeth or to broaden the circumstances under which a player can be suspended. I think most of us would agree that if a MLB player buys PEDs, they should be suspended even if there isn’t proof of usage. For the sake of the game’s integrity, players shouldn’t be anywhere near PEDs in any way.

  • ETS

    I don’t put too much thought into PEDs as a whole, but as far as this current Braun/Biogenesis thing – I want braun to have to give up his MVP if he is suspended. Besides, Kemp had the better year that year anyway.

    • Gutshot5820

      And how can you be sure that Kemp didn’t use himself all these years. Maybe that is one of the reasons he was not all too apparently upset when the Braun scandal occurred.

      • caryatid62

        …And this comment is the problem with the way MLB has handled PEDs.

  • LoneStarCub

    Viva los Bio-Dome!

    • Bric

      I can hear The Safety Dance now… Duh, Duh, Dat, Dat, Duh, Duh, duh, dadada…

  • Frank

    I think MLB is trying to put the fear of God into everyone that is playing the game clean. If these guys get the 100 game suspension, just a mistake in cold medicine can get them banned for life. By the way, what’s Braun’s address, I’d like to send him some cold meds.

    • MichiganGoat

      Agreed they are trying to make a statement which may blow up in their faces when this get infront of a court.

    • Bob

      I’d like to send him a urine sample so he knows what a clean one looks like…

  • aCubsFan

    Yesterday, a report said A-Rod was quite shaken coming out of the meeting with MLB. Also, several reports say the best deal he can get is 150 game suspension, which means he loses tens of millions in salary and endorsements.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      Chump change for A-Roid.

  • Gcheezpuff

    I hate the PEDs stuff and think they have no place in baseball. The sport should be about natural ability. The best of the best. We have a sport where PED/steroid monsters can provide entertainment, it is called WWE…. Oh yeah and the NFL.

    • MichiganGoat

      I appreciate the desire to have a game that is based on “natural abilities” but baseball (and all sports) have been using substances to enhance performance since the first game. The “purity” of the game has never been all that pure.

      • Gcheezpuff

        I get it… And there will always be cheaters. I just don’t like now having to doubt every comeback story or awesome performance. I am less then a month away from having my second son an I don’t want them to ever think using PEDs is a good idea…. And what about all the guys whose dreams of playing MLB never happened because they were beat out by some dude willing to cheat? I just don’t like it. It is always going to happen, but I will never like it or accept it. If they ever change the rules to make it part of the game, they will lose me as a fan.

      • ScottK

        I agree in general Goat, but the enhancement that cheating has provided over the years has drastically changed. Comparing uppers to steroids and other modern PEDs just doesn’t play out. What upsets me and many others is that the steroid era saw the shattering of many historic records because the cocktail of modern drugs that players were taking so drastically enhanced their abilities. Spitballs never did that; greenies never did that.

        • MichiganGoat
        • MichiganGoat

          and yes the impact the new PED have are greater than previously but the idea of a pure natural game is what we tell our children, the reality is not very pure at all.

          • ScottK

            Totally agree.

            The Doc Ellis video is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen!

        • wvcubsfan

          I know this will probably get ridiculed, and I realize that our brilliant government has decided that drugs (just the ones not made by Bayer and Fizer) are bad and pharmaceuticals are perfectly fine; as well as which elective surgeries should be legal and which should be illegal.

          I’m just wondering why Tommy John and Lasix surgeries are common place and are never considered as a competitive advantage? If we wanted a pure game then if your eyes went bad, or were always bad, you just wouldn’t be able to see it and have to guess where to swing. Your elbow doesn’t work anymore? Guess you can’t throw the ball anymore.

          Granted these are apples to oranges, but don’t talk to be about natural abilities but be totally OK with elective surgeries and weight gain/muscle growth supplements.

          • DarthHater

            Yea, and why do the players get to wear gloves, anyway? They should field bare-handed, the way God intended!

  • taits06

    Im in the camp that believes if MLB wanted PED’s out of the game they could have their wish. All they would have to do is implement a 1 year suspension for first time offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense. I know some people would still try, but I promise if MLB stuck to those rules then after the first couple people got caught everyone would know the MLB meant business. I still think the MLB secretly knows it makes the game more appealing to the casual fans, and is secretly ok with PED’s. I don’t want to believe it, but it’s hard to not think about it that way.

    • ScottK

      I disagree. Two words stand between MLB and the significant penalties that you’re describing: Player’s Union. They would never allow the types of bans you’re proposing and thus they would never make it into the CBA.

      • taits06

        I wouldn’t be so sure about that. The player’s union wants to get this behind them as well. From everything I’ve read and heard the player’s union is not fighting this line of suspensions and is actually helping the MLB to push the suspensions through and get on with the season. I am not so sure that the Player’s union would be opposed to the suspensions that I proposed… perhaps with some modifications, but something along those lines.

  • DFost

    I like the idea of suspending the players who lied about their involvement (I.e Braun and A-Rod) for a hundred games. The others should get the normal 50, because that’s what the rule is. However, when it comes to the “Steroid era”, it wasn’t illegal then. Do we asterisk all the records made before black players or hispanic players could play? No. Take it for what it was, an era. It wasn’t illegal when they were doing it, take it for what it was: a fun game to watch. Players now are starting to lift harder earlier and use natural supplements more effectively which makes the game almost as power intensive. Steroids are not necessary when the field is level so trust the system and move on.

    • Jim Gillmeister

      Yes, Steriods were illegal during the “Steroid Era.” They were declared illegal in 1990. In 1998 they were clearly illegal.

      • MichiganGoat

        Not everything taken was illegal steriods, there were plenty of other PEDs that had positive results that players take that aren’t drugs like Cocaine/Heroin.

        • Jim Gillmeister

          When we’re talking PEDs, the discussion is steroids and speed. Amphetamines are also illegal. The only PED not illegal is HGH. The jury is out as to the effect of HGH on muscle building.

    • Geo

      Tell that to all the clean players in the past who had thier records broken both dead & alive!!

  • 5412

    Hi Brett,

    Please consider a third alternative. I am a believer in the asterik approach. I could see guys going into the HOF with an asteik by their name. It could say, “During his career he served suspension(s) for using perfromance enhancing drugs.” Of if they were not suspended, you could still say something to the effect that he either admitted to it, or perhaps appeared in front of a congressional committee on the subject.

    The idea is to taint their legacy with the truth.

    regards,
    5412

    • MichiganGoat

      The * has a its own negative history with Maris/Ruth. Its an option but I’m not sure it is a great option to scatter the recordbooks with * and a footnote that reads: “Suspected of using PED”

    • Scott

      If the MLB decided to use the asterik approach, then they could just build an entire wing in the HOF for those players.

  • Ron Swanson

    My problem with PED’s is somewhat nuanced from what you’ve described. I hate them for what it does for the player that prefers not to impact his body with chemical enhancers. Simply because he isn’t willing to risk his health, his career is immediately put at risk as he may not longer be able to compete with the users.

    If there was no health risk to taking them, I would be more willing to ascribe to the “it makes the game more exciting” position.

  • Jim Gillmeister

    Lets not forget steroids are illegal under US law, like Coke. Heroin and Meth. Baseball can’t and shouldn’t allow them in for just that reason. I don’t like it that Baseball is put in the position of being a law enforcement arm, but we all are to some extent, as part of a civilized society.

    • Pat

      That’s not entirely true. Steroids are legal in the U.S. if prescribed by a doctor. Now I don’t think Winstrol, etc. have a lot of medical uses, you can’t immediately assume anyone who took steroids necessarily did so illegally.

      Another nitpicky note, but the illegality of steroids, like most other illegal drugs in this country, is based around possession or sale/transfer rather than use. There is nothing illegal about being under the influence of drugs themselves.

      • Jim Gillmeister

        Rather difficult to be under the influence and not in possession.

        • MichiganGoat

          Really? You can take a drug and then go out into the world without being in possession of said drug. Trust me… college taught me that.

      • MichiganGoat

        Um I have been prescribed what my doctor referred to as “a steroid banned by the NFL” to help combat issues with MS. So I know many of these PEDs are kept in a pharmacy somewhere. Its not like crack, cocaine, heroin.

  • MichiganGoat

    For me this comes down to an issue with suspicion = fact. MLB has a drug testing program in place and until a player is found guilty of failing that test (and having the option of going through an appeals process (shakes fist angrily scream “BRAUN”)) calling a player a “cheater” because of a document found, a test that was suppose to be anonymous (Mitchell Report) is just really a revisionist approach and witch-hunt like.

    Manny, Palmerio, Melky = Guilty

    Sosa, Bonds, McGuire = Suspect

    Braun = Douchebag

    • Myles

      Congrats. I ‘lol-ed’ at that one.

      • MichiganGoat

        yeah Braun really clouds up my thoughts on all this… so if I label him douchebag then I can go on with my thoughts

    • Diesel

      McGuire was guilty. He came out and admitted to using a few years ago.

      • Cubbie Blues

        But, if memory serves me right, what he was taking wasn’t on the banned substance list (while he was taking it) and could be purchased at a store like GNC.

  • Bob

    The best way to get rid of PED’s would be to get rid of random testing, and make the testing universal and on a rigid (weekly, for example) schedule. Strict supervision of the testing process and handling of the samples would be required to avoid Braun-level fraud. If they really wanted to clean up this issue, a plan like this would go a long way. There’s no way the players’ association would go for this, however, because monster stats mean monster contracts (until you get caught).

    • MichiganGoat

      Yeah that would help but the logistics and cost of test everyone weekly is problematic. The chance of error becomes greater if every week MLB is collecting 1000+ samples. I do think that after you first suspension you should have to drop regularly.

      • ScottK

        Cost definitely shouldn’t be a factor – a .05% player salary deduction would probably cover the testing and buy me 10 Ferraris (not that they would ever agree to the deduction – Arod needs that extra 12.5k per year dammit!).

        Logistical problems? Maybe, but cyclists and olympic athletes are tested like crazy and they’ve generally made it work. There have been problems, but not system-breaking problems.

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    What I always find problematic is the evidence presented to say that steroids/PEDs was the sole cause of the offensive explosions. Hear me out, and try to do this analysis, it will enlighten even the most cynical, or well-versed stat head.

    1) Download the Lahman database – http://www.seanlahman.com/baseball-archive/statistics/ and use Access.
    2) Do a query by league (AL & NL) of players w/150 ABs. (This leaves out pitchers, part-time utility, callups, and mostly injured type guys) It focuses on the player who are full-timers and batted roughly 1 time per game basically.
    3) Group by League, Sum these groups by Doubles and HR counts for of these players
    4) Do a ratio: 2B total/AB; total 2B+HR/AB total for the entire modern period going back to 1908, when catchers universally wore shin guards. OR 1903, if you prefer.
    5) Graph that analysis.
    6) Notice stability tracks & change points

    1920-1921 is the first drastic change. We ALL know why – or at least who is credited for that.

    From 1950-1985 do a standard deviation calculation, similar, hopefully, to this table:
    (HR+2B)/At bats AL NL Both
    St dev (1950-85) 0.00480 0.004842
    Average (1950-85) 0.06813 0.068796 0.068465
    UCL 0.08286
    LCL 0.05407

    (HR+2B)/At bats Both Leagues
    Average (94-97) 0.08533
    St dev (1994-97) 0.00253
    UCL 0.09291
    LCL 0.07774

    1950-2005 Statistics Percentages
    AL/NL Correlation 88.98%
    Homoscedastic t-test 95.02%

    UCL and LCL are +/- 3 S.D. points of reference. Make a chart with them, and things become clearer.

    Very little difference between leagues on this statistic. But in 1994, a significant jump out of bounds happened in this statistic. And stayed that way for the next 11 seasons. Oh, in 1987, the Happy Haitian Baseball year, this stat was above the typical levels seen.

    Why I wonder? I DO not think suddenly, 50-100 MLB ballplayers started using steriods in 1994 to hit dingers and doubles, probably the number of ballplayers needed to get a substantive movement in this ratio. If they did, then it caught up more than a few icons too – if you look at players from that time and their aging performance being better than typical.

    I do think, and history supports is, that the baseball was modified internally. Happened more than once before: 1910, 1920-21, 1930, 1942-43. It is possible mistaken quality adjustments increased the ball’s coefficient of restitution, physics, and a whole topic by itself.

    Then the rash of bandboxes built by HOK sport, the SZ shrinking/adaptation with umpires being monitored, ball bat ‘improvements’, and YES, steroids/PEDs.

    Icing on the power cake.

    It seems too that if you are a user, you are either: a monster power guy, or a replacement level player holding on to your job. One has nearly all the talent to be the best, the other, all the talent many of us would hope to have back in our ‘glory’ days.

    Even pitchers, now, throwing much harder, just made it easier to clock balls out, when, or if, a ballplayer connects. (Since K rates have climbed significantly too.) Pitching steroid usage to improve recovery and velocity is to a factor.

    Lastly, as Dr. Bryan Denham, professor of Mass Communication at Clemson University outlines, the agenda building theory:
    1) The press highlights some events or activities and makes them stand out.
    Steroids prominently discussed on TV, Internet, radio sports talk, and the print media outlets.

    2) Different kinds of issues require different kinds and amounts of news coverage to gain attention. Critical editorials, leading newspaper’s headlines, Congressional hearings and national media focused on Steroids/HGH and home run hitting in the Major Leagues from 1998-2007.

    3) The events and activities in the focus of attention must be ‘framed,’ or given a field of meanings within which they can be understood. An illegal activity, threat to lifetime baseball records, and children being harmed are all ways in which steroids are ‘framed’ for public consumption.

    4) The language used by the media can affect perception of the importance of an issue.
    Much of the rhetoric revolves around key words: Illegal, BALCO, Biogenesis, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco (a.k.a. “the Typhoid Mary”) , cheaters, threatens the game, convicted of felonies, perjury, harmful, evil, causes death and many other negative or polarizing words to alter/continue perceptions of steroid users & usage.

    5) The media link the activities or events that have become the focus of attention to secondary symbols whose location on the political landscape is easily recognized.
    In tying so much of the recent home run power outburst directly to steroids, and the perceptions of the MLB played in the years prior to 1980 as being ‘pure’ and somehow ‘free of drugs’, the secondary symbols are old-time players that are well-known in the Americana of the National Pastime. The ‘purity factor’ has always been a strong motivating factor in the American Society in judging who or what is considered good. Baseball is such a symbol of the American society that even the ‘rule of law’ was altered and/or ignored for its betterment or survival.

    6) Agenda building is accelerated when well-known and credible individuals begin to speak out on an issue. As the steroid issue unfolded, prominent doctors, U.S. Congressman, Hall-of-Fame Baseball players, current MLB players, former Senate Majority Leader and the President of the United States, all spoke on the issue of steroids within the past few years.

    That’s only part of a piece I’ve been working on for a number of years. (Shelved for personal reasons until recently.)

    I hope it is food for thought.

    • bob

      Another factor in several of the power explosions was expansion. Not that the extra number of hitters raised the HR totals; the totals were raised by an influx of pitchers who would otherwise have been in the minors. This factor generally took 3-5 years to “normalize”, but the dilution of major-league caliber pitching from 16, to 24, on up to 30 teams is still a factor.

      • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

        Wouldn’t potentially a number of bad hitters come to the league with those bad pitchers? Their would be a wider variation, great hitters pounding bad pitchers, and great pitchers beating up on fringe hitters, but I can understand some of the argument there.

        The ratio I selected showed down seasons happening, 1968, and up seasons, 1987, pretty substantially, in quote “pre-steroid” eras.

    • MichiganGoat

      Someone call the Doc because I’m not doing all that math today… or any day

      • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

        I did other analysis methods too. Got very interesting results.

        But that’s the point: WHO really has DONE objective analysis? That HAS no skin in the legal battle?

        I saw a piece in a Baseball Prospectus Book (Johan Keri, editor) that showed very little benefit from those found using for a smallish sample done in 2005-2006. But it was early, and mainly on replacement level types. That skews.

        • MichiganGoat

          Jason I’d hope that there has been plenty of deep analysis of everything before the suspension get handed down. I’ll be curious what the evidence is and what the defense will counter with. Too bad this will take over the news… its going to be an exciting 2nd half for baseball.

          • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

            I don’t think MLB proper can do such complete and unbiased analysis. (It is not in their best interests to affirm certain facts going back into the 1990s, in their own operations, if they exist and skew their position at all.)

            But, for the current malaise, sure, I think they have done plenty of legal investigation and ferreted out the guys who obviously did not get the MLB MEMO.

            I have little pity for a ballplayer that got caught once, and goes right on doing it. Like an addict at that point. (And I know about addiction and punishment.)

            But I have my own opinions at least drawn from statistics and some research on the steroid subject – Dr. Charles Yesalis and Dr. Norman Fost, and various others, at least, gave me something to read and think about. It’s a social and baseball argument, which make it fun.

            We all have to find our closet proximate truths because absolute truth is unlikely to exist on this plane of existence.

    • Jed Jam Band

      Baseball Prospectus did a chapter on this subject in their book “Extra Innings.” It was fascinating and it seems that you would have a lot to discuss with them. The crux of their data was basically that steroids were likely responsible for a partial gain, possibly a very small one, with regards to increased power. But, two other factors played a key role: the changed size of the actual baseball and the influx of new stadiums that were built as smaller, baseball-specific stadiums.

      • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

        Thanks Jed. I think you are spot on.

  • Cheese Chad

    “You’re fans aren’t dumb.” THANK YOU! I would rather guys be a little more like Barry Bonds and tell me they don’t care about the fans than to think I’m stupid enough to believe that your testosterone was higher because the carrier kept your sample in his fridge for a weekend.

  • Scott

    “The rules have not been changed and, believe me, the players know the rules.”

    Doesn’t the fact that the players “know the rules” also help them to be able to work around the rules? If I know that my pockets are going to be searched before I enter a concert, then I can put my flask in my sock.

    • Myles

      True. But my point here was in reference to players pleading ignorance on what they’ve consumed/taken.

      • Scott

        I understood your point and I totally agree that the players should not be allowed to play the dumb blonde roll (I’m sooo sorry officer…I didn’t realize the speed limit dropped down to 30) without being looked at critically by your peers, the media, and the fans. Like you said, “Your fans aren’t dumb”
        I think that knowing what the band substances are gives the players loopholes and they will continue to exploit them.

  • Deez

    I am totally cynical but IMO A. Rod, Braun, & the others have hit it BIG. A. Rod is a known cheater & has been for seasons. He’s earned more than $325M & Braun $24M in salary & hasn’t been suspended nor has he given a DIME of it back. Who gives a SH… how History & MLB judges you when you’re RICH & get no jail time. I can’t get angry at them for getting away with the crime of the century with all of this willing contributors. Usually, when you defraud someone restitution is part of the penalty.
    I don’t have them as much for gaming the system I hate MLB for continuing to let this go on. That’s the biggest crime.

  • sven-erik312

    Intresting points. I more or less missed the whole period since I’ve been living overseas since 1992, but I did hear and read a little about it. There were several things I wondered back then:
    Changing the hardness of the ball was my first thought. I was also aware of the changes made to the ball in the decades that you mentioned.
    The second thought I had was had pitching quality fallen off so much as a result of the expansions in 1993 and 1998.
    Learning about the PED’s came afterwards and that was a great disapointment for me, but those were my thoughts at the time.

    • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

      No problem. Whatever becomes of the last decade’s turn on steroid/PEDs, will be historically written by the winners, the owners, and their usuall tie-ins to the media. Even Canseco will probably be praised for his outing…of players.

    • hansman1982

      There is a conspiracy theory out there that MLB changed the way the balls were constructed to increase the distance. If I remember, 1987 was a supposed test year for them tweaking the ball, thereby explaining that blip.

      • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

        I think the blip, was re-instituted. Offense, to some degree drives, box – meat in the seats.

        I have to feel with events surrounding the period, a potential strike becoming the real strike, and some bitterness going back to post-1987 when the owners were found guilty of collusion, depressing FA contracts, often as not, a conspiracy could be tied to that.

        Just all too coincidental. I don’t like coincidence. There is ALWAYS a reason – someone knows what happened behind the steroid/PED blather. If you wanted to cover that up, because you knew guys were ‘roiding up, wouldn’t it fit perfectly to do some adjustments to balls, ballparks, strike zones, bats?

        MLB did resilency tests on balls to prove no hanky panky. (Sorry for the misspelling.)

  • Timmy

    Suspend them all for the rest of the season and beyond. And suspend the Ricketts.

    • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

      I thought of you for this:http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/mlb/help/jobs.jsp?c_id=chc

      The second job is your way to improve on field performance. Instead of ranting against the owners, be apart of the solution. That, and you can get paid, too.

      • Timmy

        i already work for the cubs

        • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

          Cool. Congrats!

          • MichiganGoat

            do not feed… but if you want to go fishing I’ve got a ton of bait that i’ve collected over the last couple of days.

            • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

              Ha Ha!

            • Timmy

              i thought you just collected indignation

            • Fishin Phil

              You’ve been holding out on me Goat. :(

              • MichiganGoat

                Phil you get the beer and we can go meet up with TWC and Blue on their rafting trip.

                • Fishin Phil

                  Founders for us, and Natty Ice for them. Got it!

                  • MichiganGoat

                    perfect… and your in charge of grillin up those fishes afterwards… I’ll be drinking beer ;)

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      Great, I guess I’ll be pretending to drink the Natty Ice (while actually pouring it out).

  • Frank F.

    The thing about Braun in particular is that year after year he seems to have these nagging injuries, yet he narrowly avoids the DL every time.

    These same PEDa are also used to heel tissue faster. Is it impossible that the Brewers have been giving Braun, their heart and soul an “unidentified” pain killer all along so that he *wink* *wink* didn’t know what they were giving them? Funny that now that the cover’s been blown he suddenly misses extensive time rather than being a Wolverine style quick healer.

    On a side note, unlike his fellow alleged offenders, Braun is a clean cut white boy. For this reason, MLB almost has to nail him. Other than Braun, if you take my meaning, every other offender who has been suspended or implicated has had a last name ending in Z or A. If they end up suspending Rodriguez, Cruz, and Cabrera, yet Braun gets off with a slap on the wrist, that’s a whole nother headache for MLB PR. Again, if you take my meaning.

  • Bilbo161

    Cheaters need to be banned from the game forever.

  • Jed Jam Band

    UGH. Can we just stop with the “MUST GET RID OF TEH CHEATAHS!” attitude? The problem with this is that sports culture strongly encourages the gray. You are constantly being told that you have to be better than the next guy or else you are worthless. That’s a lot of pressure to put on people. Baseball is particularly bad, as cheating has long been a part of the sport’s history.

    My greatest issue with this witch-hunt (yes, it IS one) is that this is not about improving the fan experience. This is not about improving the sport. This is not about making the game safer for the players. This is not about putting power back in the hands of the players and fans instead of the billionaire owners. NO. This is about Bud Selig protecting his fragile ego. Does he really believe this will stop steroid use? The players will just find a better way to do it, one that the tests can’t figure out. They will always be a step ahead.

    Here’s an idea:
    High school athletes have been trying steroids in increasing numbers, often times leading to teen drug abuse. This is obviously a bad thing on many levels. MLB is spending millions to conduct this witch-hunt, ultimately doing more harm than good. Instead of leaving scorched earth everywhere they go, MLB could use these millions of dollars to implement education, outreach, and awareness programs to prevent and curb the tide of drug abuse (of all forms) among young athletes. This would be FAR MORE POSITIVE for our society as a whole, and since MLB seems so worried about its image, let me remind them that this would engender them with TONS of good PR.

    • wvcubsfan

      ^^^^THIS, 10,000 time this!

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