LARNED I really didn’t want to go there.
I really didn’t want to talk about illegal drugs in Major League Baseball and other sports. There has been enough said about the subject, written about the subject, to choke an elephant. Some things though, simply scream to be said.
First of all, l have no sympathy for anyone involved in the current mess. Certainly not the players, not the moguls of professional baseball , not the owners and most certainly not the players union.
None of them have addressed the problem to actually fix it, but, instead, to “doctor” it, to make it look like to the public that they are doing something positive to prevent rampant drug use in baseball, all the while looking the other way and winking at each other.
Would you believe any of these participants if they told you they were not using drugs? Every one of them has lied when first confronted. Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers told us last winter that “I have never used performance-enhancing drugs. Period. Anybody who says otherwise is lying.”
Isn’t there an old adage about the pot that calls the kettle black? Sadly, this story is repeated by every one of the miscreants who’ve been caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Regrets? Oh sure. The guilty now express some regrets after they realize they cannot continue with their lies but, mostly, they regret getting caught, not having committed the crime and why should they? The penalties that the players union and ownership have put together are simply too little too late. When the penalty for juicing is 50 games and in most cases they get to keep getting paid, well, you add it up. If you’ve got a shot at a multi-million dollar contract and the penalties are minor, what do you think most might do?
Here’s something you may not know: Ryan Braun is losing $3 million for sitting out 65 games this season. But he signed a $117 million contract. Doping helped him get it. The risk is too small compared to the rewards. Former Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent says that the only way to clean this up is a lifetime suspension, no excuses, no exceptions, no parole. Now that may change things! Don’t even think it though, that’s not gonna happen as long as there is a players union.
Meanwhile Pete Rose remains excluded from being recognized by professional baseball. He remains excluded from baseball’s Hall of Fame. For betting on games. For betting on his own team! Only on his own team.
It is this kind of craziness by those who run professional baseball that makes those of us out in the land of fandom shake our head and slowly but steadily take one more step away from being professional baseball fans. Those involved, players, owners, officials and union leaders can all claim a piece of this destruction, this dismantling. Sadly, it is all so unnecessary.
So, baseball fans, when you read these stories, listen to these sports show talking heads tell you that baseball (substitute football, basketball, soccer, swimming, track and field, bicycling here) is working hard to combat drug use in their sport, you only need to remember the old story about the lowest level of rank in the military being told to “dig a hole and when you finish, fill it back up”.
That is how much progress is being made.
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned.