Baseball’s PED-Day is set to launch. The question now is whether this will stop the drug cheats once and for all.
To Logan Morrison, the suspensions and shame and loss in salary might not be enough. To really deter them, the Miami Marlins’ first baseman suggests clubs pay a price, too.
“Maybe penalizing the teams for guys who signed — like Melky signing that $16 million deal — maybe the team should have to give up something,” Morrison said.
Which would be fine with Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis.
“We’re sick of it. Tired of it,” he said. “We don’t want the fans thinking everybody cheats. You listen to people talk and they associate baseball with cheating.”
“The teams maybe should look at some things. Not sign guys who are caught. That would be a good thing. Start taking guys’ money away,” Ellis said.
Major League Baseball was poised to levy significant drug suspensions Monday, with three-time MVP Alex Rodriguez and All-Stars Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta facing the stiffest penalties in the Biogenesis case. Overall, 14 players were facing discipline.
MLB has informed the Yankees that A-Rod will be suspended but can play while he appeals, a person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because no announcement was authorized.
Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal served suspensions after positive tests last year. They’ve been tied to this performance-enhancing drug case, but can’t be disciplined again for the same offense.
Cabrera, the MVP of last year’s All-Star game, finished his 50-game suspension in October. Released by the champion San Francisco Giants after the season, the outfielder signed a $16 million, two-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Will the upcoming penalties serve as a deterrent? Hall of Famer Joe Morgan will wait and see.
“It depends on what the punishments are. The thing with me is always the risk versus the reward,” he said. “What is the reward? Getting a $150 million contract. What is the risk? A 30-day suspension, a 60-day suspension? The risk doesn’t outweigh the reward.”
“Until that happens, it’s not going to change,” he said. “It’s very simple: The risk has to outweigh the reward.”
And that might mean something more drastic. Say, the risk of players immediately losing their rich deals if they’re caught.
“I know they’re talking about” terminating contracts, St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright said. “But I don’t know if you want to go down that road. Once you start, where do you stop?”
It’d be a start, Padres outfielder Will Venable said.
“My personal opinion is that the penalties need to get back to the contracts,” he said. “I believe that if you cross over and decide that you are going to use the banned substance, you also should forfeit the support of the players’ association.”
“They are not worthy of the support of the players’ association. I think the combination of that and somehow having to forfeit or void your contract that you’re under is something that needs to be the main focus of the penalties,” he said.
For Mark McGwire, the taint of scandal cost him a chance at the Hall of Fame. For Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the drug cloud landed them in federal court.
Rafael Palmeiro, with more than 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, became an outcast after a positive drug test. Manny Ramirez drew a suspension that ran him out of the majors, Steve Howe was banned seven times. In the 1980s, several players had reputations tarnished during the Pittsburgh cocaine trials, before that a few even went to prison.
Now, former MVP Ryan Braun is serving a 65-game ban and more big penalties are looming.
“There’s a thought that maybe the punishment isn’t steep enough because the guys are still doing stuff,” Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan said. “Is there a punishment that’s too stiff? I don’t know. It should scare anyone from doing it.”
A tough task, Yankees player representative Curtis Granderson said.
“I think as long as the ability to improve and the amount of money and fame and accolades are there, there’ll always be someone trying to do it,” the star outfielder said during a media session at Petco Park in San Diego.
“I mean, if you go back to all of us here standing here, I’m sure one of us at some point in time has cheated off of a test, finagled a resume, entrance exams to a school. And then you see in all the different other sports and stuff, the way people have been doing stuff from these Olympics to these sports to this game.”
Granderson added: “There’s always a way to try to get yourself better, especially when there’s a monetary value involved. Whether that be getting a scholarship, getting a job, getting a career in baseball. I think always someone’s going to be trying to do it.”
Hall of Famer Tony Perez, who works with the Marlins, understands the lure.
“You can make a lot of money. The temptation is hard to refuse,” he said. “I’m not angry at them. They made a mistake. I don’t know if I was in their shoes, I might have done it because of the money.”
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said baseball needed “to make the players aware of what’s acceptable and what’s not, that there are consequences for bad decisions.” And Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said the commissioner’s office “kind of set the precedent with Braun.”
Still, Cleveland manager Terry Francona said, “we’re paying a price for 15 or 20 years ago burying our heads in the sand. It’s not really fair to anybody.”
Not like the old days, Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax recalled.
“There’s talk that with 50 games and the millions players make, it might not be enough. I’m not saying that, there’s just talk,” he said. “Back then we had suspensions, but nothing like this with drugs.”
Fellow Hall of Famer Robin Yount said he hoped the Biogenesis case “will put an end to this, once and for all.”
“It’s just not necessary any more. With the drug testing in place — again I’m no expert on it — but I would certainly like to believe that it’s a good enough program that you can’t get away with it,” he said. “There was a day where there was an argument where you had to do it prior to drug testing, to keep up. I’d like to believe those days are gone.”
Angels player rep C.J. Wilson stressed that players taking PEDs affect more than themselves.
“The home runs that are hit because a guy’s on performance-enhancing substances, those ruin somebody’s ERA, which runs their arbitration case, which ruins their salary,” the pitcher said.
“So it’s a whole domino effect of things that can happen. If you think about it, the impact a performance-enhancing drug had on a guy who goes out and wins the All-Star game for his league, and then his team happens to get home-field advantage in the World Series and happens to win the World Series — I mean, there’s a consequence to every action,” he said.
Even so, major league home run leader Chris Davis isn’t sure this case will serve as a deterrent.
“Guys have obviously been suspended in the past and it hasn’t stopped everybody,” the Baltimore slugger said. “It’s a black eye for baseball. As hard as our testing is, as sophisticated as it is, why would you even try? But I guess there are people out there doing it.”
Boston first baseman Mike Napoli said he’s glad this latest drug episode seemingly is coming to a close.
“We want it to just be cleaned up and be over with,” he said. “People look at baseball and they’ve got to see Biogenesis stuff on TV all the time.”
“It kind of stinks,” he said. “They talk about it five hours during the day — Biogenesis this, that.”
And probably more drug cases in the future, Mets pitcher LaTroy Hawkins predicted.
“There is always going to be somebody that pushes the envelope. You know if you rob a bank and you get caught you’re going to go to prison, right? Does that stop people from robbing banks? No.”
“It’s life. It’s what happens. It’s the world, it’s society,” he added. “Everybody is trying to get ahead. I’m not condoning it, but that’s just the way it is.”